Victoria Cross Heroes of World War One
The Valley of Death at Gallipoli
By Robert Hamilton
384pp, in hardback
Published by Atlantic Publishing
Distributed in Australia exclusively via QBD Bookstores
Local bookseller QBD has taken something of a risk with this book, electing to order stock exclusively for their stores, an unusual move for a bookseller.
QBD director Steve Robinson said the company wanted to ‘pay homage to the 628 heroes of World War I including Australia’s Victoria Cross recipients’ of which 64 were Australian.
I was immediately intrigued by the introduction which says that this book is ‘an exhaustive record of the feats and lives of 627 extraordinary men’, which meant that one man must have won the VC twice.
The answer to that puzzle comes on p.234 under the headline: ‘The Great War’s double VC winner’. You will have to read the book yourself to discover the story.
There are familiar Australian names in the book, including Lance Corporal Albert Jacka, the subject of Michael Lawriwsky’s book ‘Return of the Gallipoli Legend: Jacka VC’, published in 2010.
As I read through this, I was immediately struck by the ‘ordinariness’ of the men who displayed the greatest acts of bravery under fire.
They were drawn from the ordinary and every day jobs and professions of civilian life, to which many of them returned, no doubt with the VC tucked away in the back of a drawer. Others, of course, were awarded the VC posthumously. Sadly quite a few survived the war but died from the effects of wounds only a few years after the war.
There were carpenters, commercial travellers, labourers and teachers; sons of gardeners and doctors; miners and farmers; plus of course the professional soldiers.
This is a wonderful collection of stories supported by an equally wonderful range of photographs. It has clearly taken a good deal of research to pull this together.
If you want to obtain a copy of this, I know that you won’t be able to miss it if you go into your local QBD store, where it is on sale for $39.99 (as against the RRP of $79.99).
QBD, a bookstore chain that started in Queensland, is well represented in most states (except Tas and WA) – check out the website for a store near you – or go online and order the book.
It would be good to see QBD’s initiative in making this book available locally rewarded with good sales.