Actor Peter Phelps reveals his grandfather's war-time tale
IT'S MARCH 1942 and the world is at war. Australian Tom Phelps was working as a carpenter in the New Guinea highlands goldfields. No one expected the Japanese to invade the Pacific, let alone take the northern cities of New Guinea.
Peter Phelps's The Bulldog Track tells the story of his grandfather Tom and his extraordinary journey back home.
Tom and his fellow workers were caught in the middle. The local airfield was bombed and the Australian military told them to get out via the 'other' Kokoda Track. Kukuku hunters and Ghurka allies would let them pass, but did not do the same for the pursuing Japanese soldiers.
Back in his home town of Sydney, Tom's family were told he had died.
Travelling by foot, canoe, raft, schooner, train, luck and cunning, Tom eventually made it home, half-starved, suffering malaria and wearing the pith helmet he kept with him the whole way.
Peter Phelps is recognised as one of Australia's best loved actors. He grew up hearing the stories about his grandfather's incredible survival in New Guinea during WWII.
The Bulldog Track reveals the untold story after 75 years of Tom Phelps and the 'other Kokoda Track'. It's an unforgettable tale of resilience and survival. Incredibly, the escape was documented on Tom's helmet in indelible ink. It sat next to his grandson as Peter wrote this book.
Published by Hachette Australia, The Bulldog Track is available in bookshops and online. RRP$29.99.