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Army April 28, 2011
By Cfn Max Bree
TWO new books chronicling one of
the Army's most battle-hardened bat-
talions and the plight of Australian
POWs in World War I were launched
in Hobart on April 13.
The books add to the ever-growing
library of titles released by the Army
History Unit (AHU).
DCA Maj-Gen Paul Symon and
Tasmanian Premier Lara Giddings
launched the books in front of more
than 150 people including politi-
cians and media at Anglesea Barracks
Battle Scarred, by Craig Deayton,
tells the story of the short-lived and
battle-hardened 47th Battalion of the
The 47th Bn often found themselves
in some of the worst fighting and most
costly battles the AIF was involved in
The 47th fought through Pozières,
Mouquet Farm, Beullecourt, Messines
and Passchendaele to the battle
at Dernancourt they faced possibly
the heaviest attack ever endured by
After disbandment on May 31,
1918, and being scattered into other
units, only 73 battalion members
remained at the war's end.
Maj-Gen Symon, who launched
Battle Scarred, said it was one of the
best Australian battalion histories.
"[Deayton] doesn't present the his-
tory of the battalion as one of endless
sentimentalism, populated by happy-
go-lucky 'bushies' wanting to get in and
have a go at the Boche," the DCA said.
"Craig tells us that the 47th was
largely constituted of the urbanised,
unmarried labouring classes and that,
for many, fears of nervous strain, or
that their courage would leave them
during an attack were as traumatic as
the fear of dying itself."
Andrew Richardson, AHU histo-
rian, said Battle Scarred dealt with unit
dynamics, discipline, courts martials,
poor command and suicides.
"It's trying to say: These guys did
amazing things, but the book doesn't
need to talk up their achievements and
surround them in myth because the
story speaks for itself," Dr Richardson
said.The second book, Crossing the
Wire: the untold stories of Australian
POWs in battle and captivity during
WWI, by David Coombes, tells the
often unknown story of Australian
POWs captured by the Germans in
Using previously inaccessi-
ble records, Coombes focused on the
Australian 4th Inf Bde to give an account
of POWs' "unpredictable" times in cap-
tivity and provide insight into Germany
during the last 18 months of the war.
Ms Giddings, who launched
Crossing the Wire, said she was pleased
with the author's work on a little-
"While much has been written about
POWs from World War II, very little
has been published on those who were
imprisoned during the Great War," she
said."This book provides rare, first-hand
accounts about what it was like being a
prisoner of the Germans in WWI."
AHU Head Roger Lee, said
Crossing the Wire showed the uncertain
future POWs faced.
"In the first war being a prisoner
of the Germans it was a bit of a lottery
whether you were well treated or badly
treated," Mr Lee said.
Hobart is home to both authors and
the Tasmanian State Government and
Department of Veterans' Affairs pro-
vided financial support for Crossing
Titles can be purchased from www.bigskypub-
lishing.com.au/ or from good book stores.
Two new Great War titles
History books: From left, DCA Maj-Gen Paul Symon, Battle Scarred author Craig Deayton, Crossing the Wire
author David Coombes and Tasmanian Premier Lara Giddings launch the new books in Hobart.
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