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Line of Fire

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  57 ratings  ·  8 reviews
The little known and intriguing WWII story of an eleven-year-old Australian schoolboy who was shot by the Japanese in Rabaul in 1942 as a suspected spy.

It's hard to imagine this story as being part of our past, but in 1942, an eleven-year-old Australian boy, Richard Manson, and his parents either side of him, were shot by the Japanese for suspected spying in Rabaul in Papu
Paperback, 309 pages
Published January 23rd 2017 by 4th Estate - AU
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'Aussie Rick'
Feb 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
I was recently sent a copy of Ian Townsend’s latest book; Line of Fire, which is a story of an incident that occurred during the early stages of WW2 on Rabaul. This incident is one that I am sure many Australians are not aware of but they should be. It involved the execution of an 11-year-old Australian boy at the hands of the Japanese.

Firstly, for those not familiar with Rabual, it’s a town in East New Britain province, on the island of New Britain, in the country of Papua New Guinea. New Brita
Apr 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
This story is a fascinating account of the tragic demise of Australian citizens at the hands of the Japanese navy in World War II. Townsend begins his story with the firing squad execution of eleven year old Dickie Manson, his mother, mother’s partner, uncle and neighbour at the base of a volcano in Rabaul. He then reconstructs his narrative of what could have possibly brought them to this place and time and accusations of being spies. Through his narrative he weaves the life story of Dicky’s mo ...more
Cass Moriarty
Jul 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Line of Fire (Fourth Estate HarperCollins 2017) is an in-depth account of a fascinating World War Two story by former journalist Ian Townsend. Using not only his journalistic skills of research and reporting, but also his novelist’s flair, Ian presents a true tale of a ‘forgotten battle, a lost family, and an 11-year-old Australian boy shot as a spy’, set in tropical Rabaul in the midst of war. The author has attempted to collect the best evidence of what happened in this murky period of history ...more
Toni Kely-Brown
This is a story of a sad incident, involving the execution of 5 people, including an 11 year old boy, his uncle and his mother in 1942 in Rabaul for being spies by the Japanese.

The descriptions of Rabaul and the history of its volcanoes were fascinating as I could picture them clearly in my head as I visited Rabaul in 2014 and had photos with my family in the black ash at the base of the volcanoes and visited the observatory, etc. What I didn't know about was how the Japanese saw Rabaul as a st
Jan 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
'Line of Fire' is an extraordinary story of the execution of an Australian family by the Japanese in WWII New Guinea. And like much of our Australian history involving women, and like other stories has been swept under the historical carpet.

I can't remember learning much about New Guinea at school, certainly nothing of Rabaul, the Japanese, or WWII, and I thank you Ian Townsend for enlightening me.

For this was not just the history that culminated in unfortunate circumstances, but it was the ge
Jul 11, 2017 rated it liked it
How was an 11 year old boy executed as a spy during the Second World War? This is the question investigative journalist Ian Townsend attempts to answer in this book.

The book is well researched. Townsend reconstructed records (most being destroyed) and personal accounts to tell a tale of how this event could happen. It is a sad story where I found myself shaking my head at the poor decisions that led to this tragedy.

I didn't enjoy the start of the book as much as the end. I thought there was too
Nov 16, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The overview of this promised a compelling story, but it didn't feel adequately fleshed out. There were long sections (especially those about the volcanoes and vulcanologists around Rabaul) which read as blatant padding. This, coupled with the stilted fantasised conversations and thoughts of those involved, actually (for me) detracted from the pathos of this story. ...more
Mike Taverner
Dec 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Really important historic literature
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Ian Townsend is a journalist and radio documentary maker who worked for many years with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Radio national network. He has won numerous awards for journalism, including four national Eureka Prizes for science and medical journalism and an Australian Human Rights Award. His first novel, Affection, based on the 1900 outbreak of plague in Townsville, was shortlis ...more

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