44 Days

Geoffrey Robertson presents a unique story of real Australian heroes. It's a story full of emotion and humour as the survivors of the 75 Squadron recall their times as Australia's front line defence.
In the early weeks of 1942, Japan had seized most of the Pacific and were poised to launch their offensive against Australia. It was obvious that Australia had little, if any, form of defence.
With the Japanese in New Guinea, it was imperative they be held there or Australia would be lost - this ominous task went to the men of 75 Squadron. Australia's airmen at the time were fighting in the skies over Britain and Africa, having been seconded in the 'Save Britain First' policy. Prime Minister Curtin wanted them back to save Australia. What he got was an order of Kittyhawks, originally destined for England, and a handful of pilots. Most of 75 Squadron were trained in ten days in Townsville before setting off for Port Moresby. Of the 24 planes sent to defend Australia, only one returned after 44 days of intensive fighting. Not only were young pilots having to fly against a superior and more experienced enemy each day, but sanitary conditions also threatened their performance. Even so, only 23 Kittyhawks were lost to an unbelievable 86 enemy planes.
In this special, Robertson interviews Saburo Sakai, Japan's only living war ace who fought the 75 Squadron in those early days, who credits the Aussies with having incredible courage and skill. This is also a tribute to the late John Jackson, 75 Squadron's first leader who, at one time, was shot down and had to crawl through the crocodile infested terrain while being chased by a Japanese patrol. Jackson died later in action.

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Production Year: 
60 mins
Series Episode
Standard $110
Schools $88

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