The little-known story of the day World War 1 reached Australian soil
By Nicholas Shakespeare
Published by Vintage Books (Random House)
I thought this was an unlikely author to find his way onto my review shelf. Nicholas Shakespeare is a highly regarded literary figure but not a noted military historian. I think though, for someone who divides his time between Oxford and Tasmania – literally worlds apart – the story of two disaffected ‘Turks’ (they weren’t actually Turks) who undertook the only enemy attack to occur on Australian soil during World War I was too hard to resist.
Today we would call the two men who attacked a New Year’s Day picnic train in Broken Hill terrorists. In 1915, just as we see a hundred years later, they were responding to a jihad against Britain and her allies. This is a forgotten story, tragic in its consequences, that resonates as much today as it did one hundred years ago. Two men, shunned by society and with a mounting sense of grievance, needed little urging to respond to the jihad directive.
There was a very good review of this book in The Monthly in November 2014 – I’ve linked it here for your interest.
The writing, of course, is superb.