New book: Indebted – From a Quaker schoolboy to an Australian SAS soldier



From a Quaker schoolboy to an Australian SAS soldier

By Col ‘Sketchy’ Moyle
RRP $34.95 in paperback | ISBN 9780646968605

‘If I could bottle ‘essence of Moyle’, I would inoculate every Army recruit with it on Day 1. They’d get courage in abundance, wisdom, shrewdness, toughness leavened by compassion and endless good humour.’

So says current Australian Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (retd), one time Chief of the Australian Defence Force.

If it seems unusual for such a high-ranking officer to write a foreword to a very personal account of one man’s military life, it is easily explained by the fact that Cosgrove still remembers the young, inexperienced reinforcement he welcomed into his ranks when he was a platoon commander in Vietnam. In fact Moyle is mentioned by name in Cosgrove’s own memoir, My Story.

Col Moyle began his Australian Army career in 1969. He came from the wild west coast of Tasmania, where his family owned a hotel, and was educated in Hobart at The Friends’ School run by the Quakers, an unlikely breeding ground for a future SAS recruit.

The book is largely about his Vietnam service – covering eighteen months in the period 1969-1971 and about the rigorous selection process and training for the SAS, where he served the remainder of his regular army service up to 1993.

From 1993 to 2015, he served with both the Commandos and the SAS as a reservist, until he reached his ‘use by’ date at age 65.

There is little of his personal life in this account, except for a few paragraphs about his early family life in Zeehan and the tragedy of losing his wife Noeleen to breast cancer. He pays tribute to her ‘unrivalled courage’ in the face of a terminal diagnosis.

He credits strong family values, the hardship of a boarding school education, the character building and humbling experiences of surviving Vietnam not to mention the Australian culture with making him a ‘half-reasonable soldier’.

His former colleagues and soldiers in arms will enjoy the book for the memories it revives. Younger readers intent on an army career will learn something of what it means to be a successful soldier and perhaps be daunted by the rigorous SAS recruitment and training regime.

Throughout the book he uses the term ‘indebted’ to describe incidents and experiences throughout his life, hence the title of the book. It requires special insight to understand how we are shaped by the things we encounter in life and how even small things can sometimes be highly influential.

This is a self-published book available only via the author’s website.


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