About Dad’s War Photos: Adventures in the South Pacific

Curtis Bertrand was just a country boy with a camera when he entered the U.S. Army in World War II. He returned home from the Southwest Pacific Theater with over 600 photos to share with family members and friends, never realizing the importance these unique views of the war would provide.

Thus far, the World War II photo memories and story of Curtis Bertrand have remained private. Now these never-before-seen pictures, along with official battalion diary entries, are being made available to the public, bringing to life his battalion’s camaraderie and their heartbreaking and harrowing experiences.

The 863rd Engineer Aviation Battalion was stationed in three Australian cities during the summer of 1943: Sidney, Brisbane, and Townsville. Brisbane became the Pacific headquarters of U.S. General Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Allied Commander, after the Japanese forced him out of the Philippines in December 1941.

Each stop was necessary for the complex task of getting the numerous battalions organized, fully equipped, and putting the finishing touches on the engineering and battle planning strategy.

After that it was on to the New Guinea Campaign, including Dobodura and Saidor. New Guinea was key in defeating the Japanese bases as laid down by General MacArthur’s strategy called Operation Cartwheel. There are 81 photos depicting men building airstrips, camp life, native scenery, and more.

In a chapter on the Battle of Biak, the near death experiences of Curtis and his war buddies as their boat approached the island are graphically displayed. A photo taken of Curtis’s good friend Clifford G. Wynne, Jr. is included, just weeks before he died on Biak. Another 60 historical images are contained within this section.

Finally, on December 21, 1944, the battalion arrived in the Philippines. Eighty photos cover the destruction of the Battle of Manila and its reconstruction. Curtis’s medals and souvenirs are depicted, along with the Japanese rifle and bayonet he brought home with him.

The homecoming and post war life chapters give an intimate view of what many returning soldiers faced. For Curtis it was getting back to work on the farm, meeting his lovely wife, and trying to put bad memories aside.

Two appendices include extensive photo coverage of WWII aircraft nose art and the daily lives of natives in the South Pacific.

Dad's War Photos: Adventures in the South Pacific

For wholesale or bulk orders, please contact us.

Images From
the Book

  • Japanese Arisaka Rifle and Bayonet Found Inside Walled City of Manila

  • Feeding Pet Wallaby

  • Curtis’s Telegram to His Mother upon arrival in San Francisco, Nov. 22, 1945

  • New Guinea family in Homemade Boat

  • Nose Art of B-24 Bomber Reconnaissance Aircraft

  • Ribbon Awarded Curtis by Philippine Commonwealth

  • P-47 Coming in for Landing

  • This Jap Truck shot up on Biak

  • C-47 Cargo Plane, Clark Field, Philippines

  • Curtis Admiring Nose Art on P-40 Warhawk

  • Training Local Militia, Saidor, New Guinea

  • Mayon Volcano in the Philippines

  • New Guinea Man

  • New Guinea Family

  • Unloading Liberty Ship, Saidor, New Guinea

  • Japanese-issued Currency for the Philippines

  • Captured Jap Bomb dump, Biak Island

  • Japanese Stamps

  • We Are Finally Ready for Guard Duty

  • “Fuzzy Wuzzy Angel” Carried Wounded Soldiers to Safety

  • Dad in His Postwar Uniform

  • Crane Emptying a Dump Truck

  • Laying Pierced Steel Plank for Landing Strip

  • Troops Coming Ashore in a Duck

  • Battalion Sign in the Philippines

  • 240-mm Howitzer M1 Helped Liberate Manila

  • Curtis Bertrand, wife Edmay, Neal and Karen

“The photographs provide a compelling story of a young man seeing strange people, exotic lands, death, weapons of war, and the camaraderie of American soldiers. This book is a testimony to a soldier who will not be forgotten.”

Alma Brunson ReedAuthor, Eunice, LA

“Every page is a new discovery filled with teachable moments, stories of horror and heroism, discussions, lessons . . . a pictorial treasure trove of ideas for introspection, analysis, and consideration of the human condition.”

Matt HarmonTeacher and Principal, Lafayette, LA

If you’re interested in wholesale or bulk orders please contact us!