In 1943, with the Japanese advancing through the Pacific, Townsville was on the front line. In 1942, the population of Townsville went from an estimated 30 000 people, to somewhere between 90 000 to 100 000. Schools were closed, and handed over to the Americans to use, as were businesses, cinemas, hotels and as many as 200 private homes. In one street alone, thirty houses were commandeered by the Americans to use as a hospital. Slit trenches were dug in the main streets, and air raid shelters built. The airport, still in use today (and the only one remaining in Australia that is joint use between the civilian airlines and the RAAF), was built because of the war.
Townsville is my home city now, I guess. I mean, there comes a point when you have to admit that if you haven't moved in over a decade, this could be it. When I was a kid, I moved a lot, thanks to my dad's job. One of the places we lived was Bougainville, an island in Papua New Guinea. The war was still evident there, in rusted-out tanks on the side of the road, in roads and bridges built by the military, and, on a jungle hillside, a large red cross marking where Yamamoto's plane was shot down. It was impossible to grow up on Bougainville and not be aware of the war, even if it seemed as strange and mystical to a kid as the tales of the spirits in the volcanos.
It was in Bougainville that I first learned about the coastwatchers. The coastwatchers were men stationed on islands throughout the Pacific - planters and traders mostly - who, when the Japanese came, spied on their positions and reported back to the Allied Intelligence Bureau, based in Townsville. They were only a small group of men, but their impact on the Allied war effort can't be understated. They were the eyes of the Allies, behind enemy lines, and helped turn the tide of the war against Japan.
|Cover art by Natasha Snow|
Townsville, Australia, 1943.
Tanner is a captain in the US Army, stationed at a radio post on an island in the middle of nowhere.
Nick is a coastwatcher, a man whose voice Tanner has only heard before over the radio waves.
They meet in the middle of war, when nothing is certain but this: Tanner and Nick are owed one perfect night.
One Perfect Night is available from Amazon and Smashwords.