New Book: Voices of Australian Veterans


This website has had little interest for readers over the past few years, but that is about to change. During the last few years, I have been engaged in writing my latest book. It is now in the publishing stages at Sid Harta Publishing, and the title is Voices of Australian Veterans.

There are eighteen individual voices, to be precise. Each of them tells their story directly to the reader in one chapter. All served with the Australian military at some time between 1940 and 1970. One veteran describes having breast milk squirted in his face, another tells of having his hands held behind his back as a knife is put to his throat. A brave veteran describes the incidents he experienced in the brothels of Malaya, and another explains why understanding science is so important to the military. The stories are very different, one from the other, but all are unique and interesting, many are hilarious, although some are very sad. One storyteller realised suddenly that their own troops had laid the mine, which caused the little girl he just met, to lose her foot. For some, their experiences in the services made them true believers, but in others, it had exactly the opposite effect.

In addition to the eighteen personal story chapters, there are another five which offer a more historical and Australian perspective on world affairs from 1940 to 1970. One describes Australian involvement in WW2, and another Australia’s experiences in Korea, Malaysia, and Ambon. This chapter also includes the UK’s use of Australian territory to test its nuclear weapons. There are also three separate chapters describing our involvement in the Vietnam War which, in many respects, is also Cold War related. When you read this book, and you will discover; —

  • how the value of the military training offered is celebrated by each of the eighteen who tell their stories here. All are proud of their military service, and many confess that they owe their success in civilian life to the training received while serving—in some cases, spectacularly so!
  • how the Australian Defence Force compares to that of other allied countries such as the USA and Britain. All who talk on this subject are very grateful they were with the Australian military.
  • how regular rules and routines can be manipulated to the benefit of the individual or group in many different situations. Where there are rules and regulations, there invariably is a way around them, be it during regular service in Australia or in exciting foreign climes.
  • Australia’s contribution to foreign affairs from WW 2 to Vietnam and how it changed from time to time, all depending on the politics.

Another plan I have for this website is to publish second editions of two books I published a while ago now. They are:

  • Digger’s Story—Surviving the Japanese POW camps was just the beginning, Five Mile Press, 2012, about David Barrett’s experiences, and written by us both, and
  • A Gordon For Me, Ringwood Publishing, 2017, about my time with the Gordon Highlanders in Cyprus in 1955 and 1956

Digger’s Story is all about how the Japanese treated their prisoners during WW2. David Barrett experienced it first-hand. He describes how the prisoners learned to scam, lie, cheat and hate the bastards with as much energy as they loved and protected their mates. Even post-war, until the end of the 20th century, David fought for reparations for Australian prisoners of war. He was successful in part as the Australian Government, not the Japanese, eventually awarded them all $25 000.00, including all widows. By this time Australia and Japan were such good trading partners that the Australian Government could not afford The Australian Reparations Committee to embarrassing them any further. Read all about this book in other parts of this website.

A Gordon For Me is about my own experiences in the First Battalion, the Gordon Highlanders, during their service in Cyprus, mainly in 1955 and 1956. At 18 years old and a conscript, it was an eye-opener. I just hope the British army has changed in the meantime. Read about this book in other parts of this website also.

Interestingly, each of the now three non-fiction military books which I have written all have something to say about bullying and rank and file behaviour which is very much being considered, spoken about and acted on, in Australia today.