Archive | June 2016

New book: History of the 3rd Brigade, Australian Army


Anzac Cove to Afghanistan
The history of the 3rd Brigade
By Glenn Wahlert

Published by Big Sky Publishing
RRP $39.99 in hardcover
ISBN 9781925275551

Glenn Wahlert says he was thrilled to be asked to write the history of the 3rd Brigade as a part of the Centenary of the First World War, saying that he learnt a lot about not only the brigade’s history in writing the book but also about the Australian Army, as the brigade history is an integral part of the Army.

UPDATE 27 June 2016:

Glenn Wahlert also acknowledged the valuable contribution of Bob Breen and John Blaxland, who contributed to the book. John Blaxland looked at East Timor (as he was there with the brigade) and Bob Breen focussed on some of the brigade’s deployments in the 1980s and 1990s as he had already written extensively on that period.


The 3rd Brigade is one of the oldest formations in the Army having been initially raised in 1903, soon after federation.

The men of the 3rd Brigade were first ashore at Gallipoli, suffering appalling losses in the first few days.

The brigade went on to fight on the Western Front, with further losses – its four infantry battalions suffering around 14,000 casualties. After the fighting ceased the brigade was briefly disbanded and then re-raised as part of the militia.

Mobilised in 1941 to combat the Japanese threat, they served in Darwin, New Guinea and North Queensland.

Disbanded again in 1944, the brigade next saw action in Vietnam in 1967. A major change for the brigade was its move to the newly constructed Lavarack Barracks in late 1969 as part of 3rd Task Force.

The role of the brigade in more recent conflicts is also examined.

Wahlert has clearly set out to write a history of the Brigade’s 100-year journey rather than attempting to examine grand strategy or analyse the competence of high command.

The book has garnered very positive reviews since its release. Marcus Fielding’s assessment of the work is one I heartily endorse.

In telling the story of the 3rd Brigade Anzac to Afghanistan also tells the story of the Australian Army over a century of service to the nation. It is a quality publication that deserves to be read and take pride of place on the bookshelves of those interested in and concerned about Australia’s military history. – Colonel Marcus Fielding, writing for the Military History and Heritage Victoria blog. You can read his full review here.

Note: Marcus Fielding wrote Red Zone Baghdad – My War in Iraq, an account of his tour of duty in Iraq in 2008-2009, also published by Big Sky Publishing.


Surveying Gallipoli: what remains 100 years on


Anzac Battlefield
A Gallipoli landscape of war and memory

Edited by Antonio Sagona, Mithat Atabay, C.J Mackie, Ian McGibbon and Richard Reid
Published by Cambridge University Press
RRP $69.95 in hardcover
ISBN 9781107111745

Published as a result of a Joint Historical Archaeological Survey conducted during 2010-14 by experts from Australia, New Zealand and Turkey, this book, with its stellar cast of authors, examines the transformation of the Anzac landscape at Gallipoli in the 100 years since that ill-fated campaign.

This first comprehensive archaeological survey of the Gallipoli battlefield had its origins in the recommendations of a report by an Australian Senate enquiry in 2005.

In the five years of fieldwork that followed, the survey team recovered over 1,000 objects. Interestingly, the work did not involve excavations as all artefacts collected were lying on the ground.

The curator of the Melbourne Shrine of Remembrance Anzac Battlefield Exhibition, Dr Andrew Jamieson, noted that “the archaeological survey found fewer artefacts on the Turkish side of the battlefield compared with the countless food containers on the Allied side, where there were cans of bully beef. This showed that while the Allied soldiers had a diet of canned food, the Ottoman soldiers had access to fresh food, like bread and vegetables.”

Beautifully illustrated with both Ottoman and Anzac images and excellent maps, this fine book adds considerably to our understanding of the Gallipoli battlefield. The contemporary photographs showing the artefacts in situ are particularly interesting – it’s surprising just how much remained after a century of exposure to the elements.

New book highlights PTSD impact

Enemy Cover

A daughter’s story of how her father brought the Vietnam war home
By Ruth Clare

Published by Penguin Random House Australia
RRP $32.99 in paperback
ISBN 9780670079094

This book has been widely reviewed. Author Ruth Clare spoke about her experiences with Richard Fidler on his ‘Conversations’ program back in March. You can listen to the interview here. There is no doubt that Ruth’s experience of domestic violence growing up is a sobering read. Guest blogger Kylie Leonard has written about this book which really shines a grim light on the impact on families of PTSD.

In 2016 the effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder are still being uncovered. In 1974 when Ruth Clare was born it had not even been recognised.

The Vietnam War left Clare’s father a deeply troubled, emotionally distant and violent man. The effect of his war experiences would echo down through three generations. In this beautifully written but often emotionally disturbing memoir Ruth Clare explores her abusive childhood, troubled adolescence and new motherhood.

After her young son, as many young children do, started hitting her she feared that he had inherited a propensity for violence from his grandfather. Through the help of a compassionate therapist, the love of her husband and support from the Vietnam Veterans’ Association and Vietnam Veterans’ Counselling Service Clare comes to understand her father’s PTSD as a disease caused by his war experiences and not a genetic ‘defect’.

Remarkably, she is able to reconcile her love for a man who would never be able to return it with his violent, domineering and unpredictable behaviour.

Review by Kylie Leonard


Veterans and their families requiring assistance should contact:

Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS),  or by calling 1800 011 046.


New book on Bletchley Park: Endlessly fascinating

BletchleyPark_1_lr .jpg BletchleyPark_2

Bletchley Park
The Secret Archives
By Sinclair McKay

Published by Aurum Press, in association with Bletchley Park
Dist. by Allen & Unwin
RRP $49.99 in hard cover, in slip case with removable memorabilia
ISBN 9781781315347

Delving into this beautifully presented collector’s edition with its removable memorabilia is a bit like delving into Bletchley Park itself, full of secrets with its caches of documents slipped in between the pages.

There are some extraordinary facsimiles of original documents in this set – including some pages of (incomprehensible to me) workings by the remarkable Alan Turing (see the photo).

Another name that emerges in the collection is that of Ian Fleming, a young naval officer during WWII.

This is a delightful collection, showing us Bletchley Park in its many phases: as a country estate owned by Liberal MP Sir Herbert Leon, through its wartime requisition as a top secret code-breaking facility where the German Enigma code was cracked to its post-war dereliction and subsequent rescue as a museum whose visitor numbers have more than doubled in the past five years.

This edition features over 200 photographs plus the items of removable facsimile memorabilia.

It wasn’t until many years after the end of the Second World War that we heard about the work done at Bletchley Park. Since that time the story of Bletchley Park and its remarkable people have continued to fascinate.

Australian buyers can purchase the book set at this link:


Australia and the Great War: new book challenges the myth-making


Australia and the Great War
Identity, Memory and Mythology
Michael J K Walsh & Andrekos Varnava (Editors)

Published by MUP Academic
RRP $59.99 in paperback, 274pp
Also available in hardback and ebook
ISBN 9780522867879

This book is published as part of MUP Academic’s History Series. A casual glance at MUP’s website – link here – reveals the quality of the publishing undertaken at this august institution, not just in the History series but across a range of topics.

This collection of essays emerged from a conference entitled The British Empire and the Great War: Colonial Societies and Cultural Responses (20 -22 February 2014) held at the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.

The first essay in this collection addresses a very topical issue and is fascinating reading: Australia’s Great War: Contemporary and Historiographical Debates (Michael J K Walsh & Andrekos Varnava).

Put simply the authors tackle the thorny issue of the development of Gallipoli and ANZAC mythology in Australia that brands any challenge to it unpatriotic and unAustralian. They use the example of SBS sports journalist Scott McIntrye being sacked for what SBS management, and no doubt the public at large, deemed to be ‘inappropriate’ and ‘disrespectful’ comments contained in a series of Tweets on ANZAC Day 2015.

Walsh and Varnava write that Professor Philip Dwyer of the University of Newcastle wrote ‘a stout defence of McIntrye, premised on two fundamental pillars; that he was not entirely inaccurate, and, that in a country that has freedom of speech as a core value, he had every right to say what he pleased as long as he did not break any laws.’

I smiled too at this statement:

‘Frustratingly, public discourse within Australia has not evolved in line with these developments in the international scholarly literature. Popular histories, with little basis in archival research or the wider literature, continue to flood the bookshelves.’

I think it’s fair to say I’ve seen quite a few of these books come across my desk for review.

Brett Holman, in chapter 5, writes about The Enemy at the Gates: The 1918 Mystery Aeroplane Panic in Australia and New Zealand. In this essay, he writes about Australia’s and New Zealand’s ability to ‘manufacture’ a war, and especially the development of anti-German feeling. My own grandfather, already married with six children, was pressed into service as a test of loyalty because of his German name, although he went to great lengths to prove he was a Swiss national.

This is a book of thought-provoking essays.

Respected historian Peter Stanley, quoted in the first essay, believes that we ‘ought to question our assumption that there is something so important about the Great War that a hundred years on people ought to be thinking about it’.

This collection explores the immediate and long-term consequence of war, looking in particular at identity, history, gender, propaganda and nationalism. It is certainly worth reading.


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