The remarkable life of one of Australia’s greatest war correspondents
By Mark Baker
Published by Allen & Unwin
RRP $32.99 in paperback
When one thinks of war correspondents from the Gallipoli campaign the names of Charles Bean and Keith Murdoch come to mind. But alongside these two giants was a young journalist from the Melbourne Age, Phillip Schuler, who was destined to live a short but heroic life.
The son of Frederick Schuler, the editor of the Melbourne Age for 26 years, Phillip travelled to Gallipoli via Egypt with Bean and the 1st AIF. His time at Gallipoli was brief, only six weeks, but in that period he witnessed and reported on several key battles, notably the Battle of the Nek.
His evocative report of the battle led Bean to write, “He wrote only what he saw. His letters were true, and only those who knew what oceans of false stuff have been poured on to the world in this war can appreciate what that means.”
Upon returning to Australia, Schuler commenced work on his classic account of the campaign, Australia in Arms which was published in early 1916.
Frustrated by his inability to influence the thinking of the ‘powers that be’, he enlisted in the AIF as a regular soldier and served as a driver attached to the 3rd Division. Tragically at the tender age of 27, he was killed in Flanders in June 1917.
About the author:
Mark Baker is a former Senior Editor of The Age, editor of The Canberra Times and Managing Editor (National) of Fairfax Media. During 13 years as a foreign correspondent for Fairfax, News Corporation and the Financial Times he had postings in China, Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore and Papua New Guinea. He covered the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and was wounded while reporting the civil war on Bougainville in the early 1990s. He has also served as Political Editor and Canberra Bureau Chief of The Age. A former president of the Melbourne Press Club, he is now the Club’s inaugural chief executive officer.
Casualty of Circumstance
By Kathryn Spurling
Published by New Holland
RRP $32.99 in paperback
In the early hours of 9 August 1942, Sub Lieutenant Mackenzie Gregory looked through his binoculars and was horrified to see six Japanese cruisers and one destroyer bearing down on his ship, HMAS Canberra.
Caught unawares, the cruiser was hit by 28 shells in less than three minutes and thus her participation in the Battle of Savo Island was over before it had begun, resulting in the loss of 84 young men.
On the face of it, the men of HMAS Canberra were unfortunate, the recipients of a surprise Japanese offensive but Kathryn Spurling believes that they were also the “victims of a litany of archaic, misguided policies, standards and beliefs promoted by the British Admiralty and successive puppet RAN Flag Officers”.
Strong words indeed but Spurling backs up her assertions with sound reasoning derived from extensive research.
The Japanese fleet was sighted by a RAAF Hudson surveillance aircraft and the crew risked their lives in breaking silence to report the sighting.
Upon landing they again reported their findings but inexplicably this information was not reported to the fleet until after the attack.
There was also a wide-held belief that the Japanese “would not have the audacity to attack by sea at night”.
Combined with inadequate radio communications it is clear that the odds were stacked against the crew of the HMAS Canberra.
A truly revealing account of a tragic event in our naval history.
Just a heads up for anyone in the Brisbane area on 15 October 2016, I’m having a one day sale of my military history books as follows:
LOCATION: Manly/Lota RSL Hall, 184 Melville Tce, Manly Qld 4179
DATE & TIME: Saturday 15 October 2016 from 9.00am
Books are priced from $2.00. Cash only.
Please share with your Brisbane friends.