Peter Phelps writes a personal story in The Bulldog Track, the story of his grandfather Tom and his courage and resilience in the face of great odds.
The book is set in 1942, and Tom Phelps is working as a carpenter in the goldfields of the New Guinea highlands.
The Japanese attack in the Pacific and take the northern cities of New Guinea. As word of the invasion and the atrocities being committed spread, Tom and his fellow workers, men of differing nationalities, trades and professions, were caught.
After the airfield was bombed, the Australian military told them to get out via the 'other' Kokoda Track. They set off through the jungle into the unknown. Kukukuku hunters and Ghurka allies would silently let them pass but did not do the same for the pursuing Japanese soldiers.
With no news of the men, back home in Sydney, his wife, Rose Phelps, their son, George, and three daughters, Joy, Shirley and Anne, were told that Tom had died. But travelling by foot, canoe, raft, schooner, train, luck and cunning, Tom Phelps would eventually make it back to Sydney, turning up at Central Station starving, suffering from malaria and wearing rags and the pith helmet he had kept with him the whole way.
The escape was documented on Tom's helmet in indelible ink. And his stories of New Guinea would lead his son and grandson to their own experiences with the country.
Seventy-five years later, Tom's helmet sat next to his grandson Peter as he wrote this book. The Bulldog Track is a grandson's story of an ordinary man's war. It is an incredible tale of survival and resilience and the indomitable Aussie spirit.
Phelps will launch the book at the Grand View Hotel at noon on July 31. The cost is $45 (GV members $40) which includes a two-course meal. Book on 3884 3000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The book is published by Hachette Australia, Trade Paperback RRP $29.99, eBook RRP $14.99