The Fair Dinkums
After Gallipoli, Australia needed… The Fair Dinkums
By Glenn McFarlane
Published by Pan Macmillan Australia
RRP $34.99 in paperback
We have a guest blogger for this post – Kylie Leonard. Earlier this month, Kylie’s daughter, 12 year old Rebecca reviewed A Soldier, A Dog and A Boy by Libby Hathorn. Kylie’s grandfather served in WWI (see below).
The original ANZACS that landed at Gallipoli Cove on the 25th April 1915 left Australia with a sense of adventure and with the hope that the war would not be over before they arrived at the front and if not by then, it would definitely be over by Christmas. Those that followed had no such illusions, they had seen the causality lists, read the growing lists of dead and missing and yet they still enlisted.
The men of the 8th Reinforcements of the 7th Battalion Australian Expeditionary Force earnt the nickname the “Fair Dinkums” as they must have been have been fair dinkum about their loyalty to King and Country to sign up to serve after the mess of Gallipoli was known.
Through the use of personal letters, individual war records and diaries, Glenn McFarlane traces the war and post-war lives of members of the Fair Dinkums. The Fair Dinkums were amongst the last to arrive at Gallipoli, arriving only a month before the withdrawal, but were among the last to leave. It was due to the invention of delayed action rifles by Fair Dinkum member, Billy Surry, that the withdrawal was completed with ‘hardly a casualty’. The Fair Dinkums then went on to serve in Egypt and the Western Front.
This is an in depth, deeply personal and at times moving study of the lives of the men of the Fair Dinkums. Very few of these men lived into old age, either dying as a direct result of battle or the physical, emotional and psychological effects of the war once they returned to Australia.
This book has special significance for me, as I believe my Grandfather William Cedric Smith was among those men mentioned although his story in this book doesn’t accord with what has been passed down in the family regarding his wartime experiences, although the service number is identical. – Kylie Leonard