The Forgotten Few by Doug Hurst

Discussion in 'Books and Films' started by Nostalgair, Aug 14, 2008.

  1. Nostalgair

    Nostalgair New Member

    View attachment 1951

    Hi All,

    Those Australians who served in the Korean War are often overlooked; somewhat like the conflict itself. The war was caught between the enormity of WW2 and the contoversy of Vietnam. Doug Hurst's book goes a long way to recognising the efforts of one particular unit, 77 Squadron RAAF. For a small contingent, their contribution was significant.

    Well written, the book will appeal to veterans and their grandchildren alike. Hurst, a retired G/Capt Navigator, has found the right balance between being informative and entertaining in this thoroughly researched book.

    Highly recommended.



    "The Forgotten Few" by Doug Hurst

    Publisher: Allen & Unwin, 2008.
    Description xiv, 253 p., [12] p. of plates : ill., maps, ports. ; 21 cm.
    ISBN 9781741755008 (pbk.) :

    Summary "In June 1950, No 77 squadron RAAF was in Japan and packing up to go home when North Korea invaded South Korea. Instead of going home to Australia, they found themselves with their mustang fighters in Korea as part of the UN forces opposing the rampaging North Koreans who occupied almost the whole peninsular within 8 weeks of the start of the invasion. The squadron played a major role in halting the invasion and driving the Koreans back almost to the Chinese border. Then the Chinese, equipped with their MIG 21 jet fighters, entered the war. The hopelessly outclassed mustangs were quickly replaced by meteor jet fighters to again play a major role in resisting the invasion forces. The squadron lost over 40 pilots over the course of the war, but succeeded in shooting down a number of MIG fighters and offering ground support to the UN forces. This is an action packed account of the men of that squadron."--Provided by publisher.
  2. Kyt

    Kyt Άρης

    Thanks Owen. I've been trying to track down a supplier in the UK, who isn't charging an extortionate amount, without much luck so far. Looks like I'll be ordering direct from Oz
  3. Antipodean Andy

    Antipodean Andy New Member

    Hmm, this looks rather excellent. If it's published by A&U, it is quite likely it will appear in the big department stores like Kmart and/or Big W especially as it's out in paperback. Hold fire, Kyt, I'll check for you as they'll have it quite cheaper than book stores etc.

    Your thoughts, Owen?
  4. Nostalgair

    Nostalgair New Member

    You may be right Andy.

    I'll see what I can find out at this end.


  5. Antipodean Andy

    Antipodean Andy New Member

    The book is available via Big W Online for $28. Should be cheaper in the stores. Will check tomorrow.
  6. Nostalgair

    Nostalgair New Member

  7. Kyt

    Kyt Άρης

    Cheers for the update Owen. A very reasonable price, and so have ordered a copy. Shame it's a week or more wait.
  8. Nostalgair

    Nostalgair New Member

    Cheers Kyt.

    I'm keen to hear what you think of the book.


  9. Kyt

    Kyt Άρης

    It would appear that Amazon UK are not able to supply this book. After waiting almost a week I checked status and the listing now states that the book is out of stock. Have cancelled the order as this normally means that Amazon don't have a clue when they will have it and if they should get copies it won't be for months!!

    Will try to track down another seller
  10. Kyt

    Kyt Άρης

    Well, Amazon are selling it again and I have ordered (again). Fingers crossed, it will be here next week
  11. Nostalgair

    Nostalgair New Member

    I hope you have better luck this time, Kyt!
  12. Kyt

    Kyt Άρης

    I have just finished the book, and I think it is an excellent read.

    I was, initially, rather concerned by the opening statement by the author that the book was not intended as an in depth, technical history of 77 squadron - I was expecting to end up as rather vague narrative highlighting a few incidents without any depth.

    However, once I got into the book, I found it quite well balanced between the history of the squadron, the recollections of those who he interviewed (and the reminscinces of those who were in Korea add a good personal touch), and the general situation in Korea at that time.

    At first I was rather concerned by Hurst's rather positive view of MacArthur, especially as members know my views of him - and the fact that many Australians don't hold him in very high esteem. But it seems that one of the few things that he actually did right, whether intentionally or not, was to get air support in place and fighting as quickly as possible, and that includes "persuading" the Australian government to allow 77 to start flying missions within a week or so after the invasion.

    The relationship between the Australians and the Americans on the ground seems to have been very good, and for the squadron it was essential to their very survival. Hurst highlights the terrible resupply situation and the fact that the squadron received a lot from the Americans because the Australian governemnt was so slow to sort out the issues of supplies such as aircraft parts, clothing, munitions etc. Hurst hints on the fact that the squadron was luckier than the Australian foot soldiers who were freezing to death because their governemnt failed to provide winter clothing.

    There were a couple of issues that I had with the book. The first is linked to what I said at the start - this book is not a "full" squadron history as some of us would understand it. It doesn't go into details about which aircraft was lost etc. But this can be remedied by accessing the squadron's ORB on the NAA (something that would not be so easy for a book of this style written about a RAF squadron). However, I would have quite liked a couple of appendices - maybe a Roll of Honour, and a Roster of aircrew.

    The other main problem is that, though many missions are described, sometimes the narrative format veers too much towards the experiences of the pilots and not enough about where and why a particular mission was flown. Though a wider picture is painted for a given time period, the smaller details that would have helped differentiate one mission from the last/next are missing. This did make some parts a bit repetitive - when you have several missions all basically saying that XXX ground troops were attacked from a particular airfield (the squadron moved around a fair bit) one start to lose track.

    But overall I think this is an enjoyable read - it flows well, dos generally keep one interested, and I would recommend it. :)

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