I know no way in which a writer may more fittingly introduce his work to the public than by giving a brief account of who and what he is. By this means some of the blame for what he has done is very properly shifted to the extenuating circumstances of his life. I was born at Swanmoor, Hants, England, on December 30, 1869. I am not aware that there was any particular conjunction of the planets at the time, but should think it extremely likely. My parents migrated to Canada in 1876, and I decided to go with them. My father took up a farm near Lake Simcoe, in Ontario. This was during the hard times of Canadian farming, and my father was just able by great diligence to pay the hired men and, in years of plenty, to raise enough grain to have seed for the next year's crop without buying any. By this process my brothers and I were inevitably driven off the land, and have become professors, business men, and engineers, instead of being able to grow up as farm labourers. Yet I saw enough of farming to speak exuberantly in political addresses of the joy of early rising and the deep sleep, both of body and intellect, that is induced by honest manual toil. I was educated at Upper Canada College, Toronto, of which I was head boy in 1887. From there I went to the University of Toronto, where I graduated in 1891. At the University I spent my entire time in the acquisition of languages, living, dead, and half-dead, and knew nothing of the outside world. In this diligent pursuit of words I spent about sixteen hours of each day. Very soon after graduation I had forgotten the languages, and found myself intellectually bankrupt. In other words I was what is called a distinguished graduate, and, as such, I took to school teaching as the only trade I could find that need neither experience nor intellect. I spent my time from 1891 to 1899 on the staff of Upper Canada College, an experience which has left me with a profound sympathy for the many gifted and brilliant men who are compelled to spend their lives in the most dreary, the most thankless, and the worst paid profession in the world. I have noted that of my pupils, those who seemed the laziest and the least enamoured of books are now rising to eminence at the bar, in business, and in public life; the really promising boys who took all the prizes are now able with difficulty to earn the wages of a clerk in a summer hotel or a deck hand on a canal boat.
The Bougainville Reports--by Jack Read, Paul Mason, and other coast watchers--are vivid accounts of the coast watching activities on Buka and Bougainville Islands in the Solomon Islands chain during World War II and describe in detail one of the most successful intelligence operations of the war. By the time war came to the South Pacific on December 8, 1941, an excellent intra-district communication network had already been established on Bougainville. A daily system of radio reporting was put into effect by Lieutenant Commander Eric Feldt, who later wrote: Few realized that when the first waves of United States Marines landed on the bitterly contested beaches of Guadalcanal, coast watchers on Bougainville, New Georgia, and other islands were sending warning signals of impending Japanese air raids almost two hours before enemy aircraft formations appeared over the island. Japanese shipping and aircraft activity was monitored and news of spottings was telegraphed to Guadalcanal Headquarters. Information on shipping was directly responsible for the American victory in November 1942, when 12 Japanese transports, loaded with reinforcements, were intercepted and destroyed. Jack Read summarized his activities as follows: Reviewing the course of our operations, we can see that coast watching on that most northerly peg of the Solomons had fulfilled its mission long before we were driven out--and to a far greater effect than even we realized. During the early and uncertain days of the American struggle to wrest Guadalcanal from the Japanese, the reports and timely warnings from Bougainville were directly responsible for the enemy's defeat. Admiral William Halsey praised the work of the coast watchers and said that the intelligence information from Bougainville saved Guadalcanal and that Guadalcanal saved the South Pacific. These edited reports tell the remarkable story of Read, Mason, and other coast watchers and depict their struggles for survival in the Japanese-patrolled jungles of Bougainville. They provide a fascinating account that will intrigue historians, World War II and espionage buffs, and students.
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