From Bomber Command to the French Resistance
By Michael Veitch
Published by Hachette CLICK HERE TO BUY
RRP $35.00 in paperback | ISBN 9780733637230
Many young Australian men volunteered to serve in Britain’s Bomber Command but not many also fought with the French Resistance. Barney Greatrex was one of the few.
He joined the RAAF and trained as a bomb-aimer before being despatched to England and serving in 61 Squadron, flying Lancaster bombers over Europe.
Good fortune was a commodity needed in spades if one was to survive these frequent bombing raids but Barney’s luck almost ran out on his twentieth mission. His plane was shot down over occupied France but fortunately for Barney, he was able to escape the burning aircraft and parachute to safety. He was the only crew member to survive. He then had a second stroke of luck.
After stumbling through the forest for days, he came across a small village and was taken in by a French family who had connections with the local resistance group. And so began the second part of Barney’s war experiences.
He became a fully paid up member of the French Resistance and was part of the group which greeted the Allies after the landing at Normandy, having evaded capture which would have meant sure death at the hands of the German army.
He was later awarded the French Legion of Honour but kept all this secret until approached by Michael Veitch to tell his story. Veitch is an accomplished storyteller who has brought Barney’s incredible story to life and ensured that his story is known to future generations.
Sadly Barney died on 17 February this year at the grand age of 97. RIP Barney. Lest we forget.
Charles Bean: Man, myth, legacy
By Peter Stanley (editor)
Published by New South Books/UNSW Press
RRP $39.99 in paperback • ISBN 9781742234892
As Australia’s official war correspondent during World War I, Charles Bean shaped Australia’s interpretation of the Great War. He was also the driving force behind the creation of the Australian War Memorial.
This book results from a conference held in July 2016 to examine Charles Bean’s legacy. It includes a stellar cast of Australia’s top military historians – including Peter Stanley, Peter Burness, Michael McKernan, the late Jeffrey Grey, Peter Edwards, David Horner, Peter Rees and Craig Stockings.
An exhibition Charles Bean: Life and Work was mounted at the Australian Defence Force Academy Library to complement the conference. It included, as Peter Stanley notes, family items which revealed facets of Bean’s life and character not easily visible in his official writing.
Bean’s granddaughter Anne Carroll OAM was a co-curator of the exhibition and has written a foreword for this book. In this she reveals that her grandfather had a bullet lodged in his right thigh, fired by a Turkish sniper on 6 August 1915. It was to remain there until his death in 1968. It’s interesting to hear of his social campaigns and his wish to see Australia become a compassionate, educated and healthy nation. It’s sad to know that he developed dementia in his final years, a cruel disease from which no one is immune.
Peter Stanley notes that one of the contributors – Jeffrey Grey – died suddenly just three days before the opening of the conference. His more-or-less finished paper was delivered by Tom Frame but his unexpected death overshadowed the conference.
The holy grail for collectors of Australian military history books is The Official History of Australia in the War of 1914 – 1918 (15 volumes), of which Bean was editor and of which he wrote six.
As this collection demonstrates, Charles Bean is not a footnote to history. He remains an important figure for Australian military historians and those who seek to understand and interpret Australia’s military history.
Examining the man, the myth and his legacy aims to contribute to the scholarship surrounding this most important of observers of Australia’s involvement in the Great War.
Beyond Gallipoli: New Perspectives on ANZAC
Edited by Raelene Frances and Bruce Scates
Published by Monash University Publishing
RRP $34.95 in paperback • ISBN 9781925495102
Some one hundred years after the Gallipoli landings, a cast of the world’s leading Gallipoli scholars gathered on the shores of the Dardanelles to discuss and debate that ill-fated campaign. This book brings together a selection chosen from around 100 papers from half a dozen countries delivered at this event. It approaches old questions in a new way, offering fresh perspectives on the Gallipoli landings.
The collection begins with two essays situating the Gallipoli campaign and challenging popularly accepted narratives of its history. Robin Prior, for example, argues that Gallipoli was an unwinnable battle. The campaign, he concludes, was a folly fought ‘in vain’, notwithstanding the bravery of the men who served there.
A hundred years on, sensitivities remain however. Papers from Turkish academics were withdrawn from the collection when they learned that the word ‘genocide’ would be used in other chapters given that the current Turkish government is keen to silence any discussion of the events of 1915 as ‘genocide’.
Sharon Mascall-Dare and Matthew Ricketson examine the ethics of war reporting within the context of Anzac and the prevalence of cliché in modern reporting.
There is a stellar cast of contributors to this collection beginning with the editors, Raelene Frances (Dean of Arts and Professor of History at Monash University) and Bruce Scates, (professor of History and Australian Studies at Monash). Each has taken a topic and teased out new ideas and insights.
For this reason alone, it is an important collection exploring some of the myths, misconceptions and legacy of Anzac.
As Bill Gammage observes in his essay ‘Anzac Day’s Early Rituals’, ‘no other national day marks so much loss for so little triumph, yet so quickly became a people’s day’.
It’s important to understand how we got to this position and to push back against false memory and distortion.
An elite force, a secret mission, a fleet of Model-T Fords, a far flung corner of WWI
By Barry Stone
Published by Allen & Unwin www.allenandunwin.com
RRP $29.99 in paperback
This is the story of the ‘Dunsterforce’, a secret force of elite solders hand-picked from across the Allied forces and sent to the ethnic powder keg of the Caucasus in 1918 to defend British interests from the Ottomans, Cossacks and Germans.
Little known today, this is an improbable but fascinating story.
‘Dunsterforce’, named for their leader Major General Lionel Dunsterville, matched wits with German spies and assassins. They fought the Turks. They dined with sheiks, outraged local mullahs, forged unlikely alliances with Russian Cossacks, helped Armenians flee genocide, and saved the lives of thousands of starving Persians – their efforts supported by a fleet of 41 Model T Fords.
Author Barry Stone really brings the narrative to life with the stories of individual participants and unlikely heroes.
He gives the reader an insight into what life was like, a century ago, in the Middle East, which was caught up in a battle among the major colonial powers of the day.
It is of course the need to protect British economic interests that lay at the heart of the ‘Secret Army’s’ mission. By then oil was well established as an important economic driver and the control of its supply was vital to western interests.
A hundred years on, nothing has changed.
The Battle of Messines
No.18 in the Australian Army Campaigns series
By Craig Deayton
Published by Big Sky Publishing
RRP $19.99 in paperback
On 7 June 1917, the British Second Army launched its attack on Messines Ridge, detonating 19 giant mines beneath the German front-line positions.
By the end of the day, one of the strongest positions on the Western Front had fallen, a place of such importance that the Germans had pledged to hold it at any cost. It was the greatest British victory in three years of war.
The first two years of the First World War had represented an almost unending catalogue of disaster for the Australians. Messines was not only their first real victory, it was also the first test in senior command for Major General John Monash who commanded the newly formed 3rd Division and would later be hailed as Australia’s greatest soldier.
Messines was a baptism of fire for the 3rd Division which came into the line alongside the battle-scarred 4th Australian Division, badly mauled at Bullecourt just six weeks earlier in one of the worst defeats of the war. The fighting at Messines would descend into unimaginable savagery, a lethal and sometimes hand-to- hand affair of bayonets, clubs, bombs and incessant machine- gun fire, described by one Australian as ‘72 hours of Hell’. After their string of bloody defeats over 1915 and 1916, Messines would be the ultimate test for the Australians.
This book is part of the Campaign series begun in 2004 to promote the study and understanding of military history within the Australian Army. Its aim is to focus on leadership, command, strategy, tactics, lessons and personal experiences of war.