In the time since World War II ended, historians have had the emotional distance to study records, speak to survivors, and analyse the events of that horrific period.
During that time, the 2/40th battalion of the Australian Imperial Force - the only battalion composed almost entirely of Tasmanians - has been given a nickname: the Doomed Battalion.
When the 919 men of the 2/40th assembled at Brighton Camp, near Hobart, in July 1940, they had no idea what awaited them: abandonment by their Australian superiors, months in Japanese prisoner of war camps, and death in Timor.
After nearly two years of training around Australia, the battalion landed in Koepang, Timor, on December 12, 1941.
For most of them, it was their first time overseas.
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But they had little time to explore the local culture. They were instructed to defend the Royal Australian Air Force operational base at Penfui airport; a task which, according to the Australian War Memorial collection, left them "ill-equipped and likely to be overwhelmed by enemy attack".
"The commanding officer made repeated requests for greater reinforcement, artillery, and supplies, which were never met," the collection records note.
The attacks from the Japanese airforce were relentless. Fearing a further escalation, the RAAF force they were supposed to be defending withdrew from Timor and returned to Australia on February 19, 1942 - but the 2/40th was left behind, purposeless.
The very next day, the Japanese overwhelmed them.
"The Japanese attack on Dutch Timor began on the morning of February 20, with an amphibious landing south of Koepang and a parachute landing to the east," explains the Australian War Memorial.
The Tasmanian soldiers destroyed the airfield and headed inland, fleeing for their lives with scarce food, water, and ammunition, with a Japanese army that outnumbered them 23 to one at their rear.
Within three days, the majority were prisoners of war.
Their postings as captives read like a list of WWII's most infamous locations: the Thai-Burma Railway, the Japanese mines, and a deployment within eyesight of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki.
George Lawson was one of those captives. The Northern Tasmanian veteran has since died - after living to the age of 96 - but he had shared some of his memories of the war with Rod Stone and Georgia Strickland of the 'Friends of 2/40th Battalion' group.
Mr Stone has given some of those recollections to The Examiner.
"Some of the men walked to a hill as close they could to see Nagasaki," Mr Lawson said, through Mr Stone, of the atomic bombing on August 9, 1945.
"All we could see was black devastation. About 20 miles of it. Only little chimneys, like crooked little fingers, reached up into the sky - no buildings, no cats, no dogs, no humans.
"Occasionally on a wall there would be a reflection of a human, sheltering from the blast."
Mr Lawson was forced to work in the Japanese Mitsubishi factory, where he stoked the furnaces - and where he did his best to advance the cause from behind enemy lines.
"It's a wonder they could fly any planes from the rubbish we threw into the furnace to melt down aluminium - we gave it our best shot," he laughed.
"But you had to be careful. If you were caught there was a bashing, and then with no shoes you would have to walk through snow to your camp home - sometimes three kilometres."
As for the Burma-Thai Railway, the conditions were such that for every four sleepers laid, one Allied prisoner of war died.
The surrender of Japan was announced on August 15, 1945, and that September the men of the 2/40th Battalion returned home.
The memories of the horrors they had lived through were pushed to the back of their minds, as they married, raised children, and returned to ordinary lives, with little outward sign of the three and a half years they had spent worked to the bone as prisoners of war.
Mr Lawson became a manager of the Ulverstone Bank, and played football for Wynyard. He said many of his mates in Tasmania had gone through similar experiences - but they never spoke of them.
"My memory is just about gone now but every now and again I think of the past," he told Rod Stone.
"It never leaves you. It never will."