Cowra, 5 August 1944, about 2 am: a Japanese bugle call pierces the cold night in outback New South Wales. Next comes the battle cry.

Hundreds of prisoners shout ‘banzai!’ in unison, flinging themselves across the eight-foot-high barbed-wire entanglements, armed with makeshift clubs, baseball bats and sharpened kitchen knives. The guards on duty open fire and are soon reinforced. The largest military prison break of World War II, if not modern history – and the only land ‘battle’ fought on Australian soil during the war – had begun.

Though conditions were good in the Cowra No. 12 Prisoner of War Compound, for some Japanese

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