The RSL Book of World War 1

RSL Book of WWI

The RSL Book of World War 1
True Stories of Aussie Courage and mateship from the annals of the RSL
Edited by John Gattfield with Richard Landels

RRP $28.25 in paperback
Published by HarperCollins
ISBN 9780732299651

Published in the run up to the centenary of Gallipoli, this collection of 100 true stories of Aussie courage and mateship in World War I is the first in a series carrying the imprimatur of the RSL.

The stories have the human element: intimate, eyewitness accounts across the breadth of Australia’s war from Gallipoli to the Western Front, related with humour, pathos and vivid detail.

I can’t help feeling though that there was a collective groan when this book was delivered and the date in the introduction was noted – it has the first Australian soldiers returning on the hospital ship Kyarra on 5 February 2015. I think it was a hundred years earlier. Everyone in publishing has made such bloopers, I can assure you.

This shouldn’t distract from the stories contained in this volume and warm applause for the RSL for undertaking the work.

Stories include:

  • the Gallipoli landing as related in an Anzac’s letter home
  • An engineer who was one of the first ashore at Gallipoli and who cut steps up the cliffs for those who followed
  • General Monash on a mysterious meeting on an Anzac beach.
  • Major General Pompey Elliott’s story of a crackshot sniper
  • the curious case of the stolen cheese
  • Firsthand accounts of HMAS Sydney’s victory over the Emden and a battle between HMAS Sydney and a Zeppelin
  • Charles Kingsford-Smith on meeting a German pilot after the war
  • A Light Horse patrol daringly slipping through advancing Turkish troops to warn their mates of danger
  • A sapper’s account of the battle of Fromelles
  • How the Melbourne Cup was run on the Western Front

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