The Thousand Doors Australian Doctors at War Vol 4, The Middle East and Far East 1939 – 1942 by Colonel Robert Likeman – Book Review

This book is Volume Four in ‘The Australian Doctors at War Series’ and contains over 700 short biographies of medical officers involved in Australian Army campaigns in the period 1939-1942. It thus covers campaigns in North Africa and Syria until the Battle of Alamein, campaigns in Greece and Crete, operations in Malaya until the Fall of Singapore, and the expeditionary forces sent by Australia to New Britain, New Ireland, Timor, Ambon, New Caledonia, Nauru and Ocean Island.

Braddon, Australian Capital Territory: Halstead Press, 2019
Hardcover 463pp RRP $65.00

The biographies are grouped together under the names of the units in which the medical officers served. Fortunately, the book includes a comprehensive Biographical Index so that a reader may search for an entry by the officer’s surname in the event they are not sure of the unit in which they served.

One Thousand Doors also contains fourteen very useful maps, numerous B&W photographs (mostly very small portraits of individual officers) and a Roll of Honour. Each biography contains brief information about the birthplace and education of the officer followed by detailed information on the various units to which they were posted and the locations and principal operations in which the unit participated, ending with a brief description of their activities after the war.

This is a reference work which will aid descendants of the medical officers included in the book to not only construct a family history but to appreciate and admire the discipline, devotion to duty and bravery of their ancestors.

Robert Likeman is a specialist in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Rural and Remote Medicine and Tropical Medicine. He served in the Australian Army for 24 years, first in the Army Reserve and then in the Regular Army. His last posting was as Director of Army Health in Canberra with the rank of colonel.

Reviewed for RUSIV by Robert Dixon, June 2020

Contact Royal United Services Institute about this article.

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