Battlefield Heroes or Frauds

Share the experience of the History Detectives

Host – Martin James

Anti-hero Rex Crane

Lynette Silver

Rex Crane claimed to have been the victim of unspeakable atrocities in captivity during World War Two. Lynette Silver heard him speak one day at a memorial service. She knew instantly that Crane was a fraud and she set about exposing him. Lynette tells Crane’s true story and of her part in revealing his fraud.

Robert Oestreicher – Hero of 19 February 1942?

Tom Lewis

Darwin has always looked for heroes of the first bombing raids. It seemed to have found one when American Kittyhawk pilot Robert Oestreicher claimed to have shot down two enemy aircraft on 19 February 1942. His claim was officially accepted – but recent research by Tom Lewis and others casts grave doubt on Oestreicher’s account. The episode has provoked lively debate between Darwin historians Alan Powell, who defends Oestreicher, and Tom Lewis, who says that Oestreicher was a fraud. Alan and Tom will discuss the issue.

Military Imposters Group

Michael Tyquin

Michael Tyquin reveals the work of a group of people who are dedicated to exposing fraudulent claims – its more common than you might think!

Abundant scope for questions and answers!

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Martin James

Martin is Director of History – Air Force and RAAF Historian. He is responsible for providing authoritative advice on history matters, including unit history records, customs, traditions and honours and awards.

Lynette Silver OAM

Lynette Silver is one of Australia’s most prolific and influential military and general historians; influential because much of her work has stood conventional history on its head or has unearthed dark and long hidden secrets. Perhaps her most significant book in this genre has been Sandakan – Conspiracy of Silence, first published in 1998, which brought the Sandakan tragedy right into the open. Similarly, The Bridge at Parit Sulong told the little known story of heroic Australian fighting at Muar in Malaya and the massacre of 110 Australian wounded at the bridge at Parit Sulong. Her books The Heroes of Rimau (1990) and Deadly Secrets (2010), revealed for the first time what happened on Operation Rimau, a covert mission that ended in disaster, and the fate of the 23 men who died. Lynette has been the recipient of many honours for her charitable and historical work.

Dr Tom Lewis OAM

Tom Lewis has written 14 books, many of them focussed on the events of the bombing of Darwin. He has been a school teacher; a naval officer from 1993 to 2012, with service in Baghdad and Timor; then he led the development and operation of the Darwin Military Museum. A new book, Lethality in Combat: A Study of the True Nature of Battle exposed the battlefield myths of several wars and is now recognised as essential reading for those concerned with the realities of armed conflict.

Dr Michael Tyquin

Michael Tyquin is a consulting historian based in Tasmania. He has published extensively in the areas of Australian social, medical and military history. He is the official historian of the Royal Australian Army Medical Corps; a recently retired Army officer and a former Adjunct Professor at the University of Queensland’s Centre for Military and Veterans’ Health. Michael was born in Melbourne and raised on a farm near Werribee in Victoria. He enjoys researching military, medical and Byzantine history; and is an avid reader and inveterate traveller. Widely published, Michael is currently researching the role of the Governor-General in Australia during World War One. He has also just completed his first work of fiction – set against the backdrop of the Boer War.

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