BOOKS 

THE LAST LIGHT HORSE MAN

The story of Trooper Joe Clark – Australia’s last surviving 3rd Light Horseman of the Great War

By A J McAleer 

A year and a half after his older brother had been killed in action during the Battle of Pozieres, 20 year old Joe Clark went against his father’s wishes and left his job as a timber cutter in Tasmania to enlist in the Australian Light Horse.

Seventy-three years later, at the age of 93, he sat down with the Mt Evelyn RSL’s historian and for the first time recorded his wartime experiences.

It is a story of sacrifice and endurance, bravery and loss, good times and bad times. An ordinary young Australian surviving extraordinary times.

With a foreword by Major Tony Geyer

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MONASH’S MILITIA CAMP

Lilydale February 1914

By A J McAleer

100 years ago John Monash and 3000 citizen soldiers descended on Lilydale and camped for week where the Lillydale Lake is today.

While they were there they were visited by General Sir Ian Hamilton & Richard Williams of RAAF fame and held a huge ‘mock battle’ near Melba’s home in Coldstream.

Why were they there, what did they do, why was the event the most important in Monash’s pre-war military career?

To mark the centenary of this remarkable event the Mt Evelyn RSL has published a book that details in words and images the fascinating story of ‘Monash’s Militia Camp’.

With a foreword by Brigadier (rtd) Michael Phelps AM

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A STRETCHER BEARER’S WAR

The Story of Ralph Goode MBE

By A J McAleer

 

‘When we arrived in this part about a month ago there were seventeen of us from Lilydale in the 2nd Brigade, we march out today, not seventeen but two of us, myself and as far as I know George Milne. All the rest are killed, wounded or missing…… such is war’.

So wrote Ralph Edward Goode of Pozieres, a battle that would haunt so many families from his home town.

In 1914 Ralph became the first of many men from Lilydale, Victoria to enlist in World War One when he joined the 2nd Field Ambulance as a stretcher-bearer. Before he left for service overseas his fiancée gave him two small diaries in which to write down his experiences.

Over the next four years he painstakingly recorded what he went through in Egypt, on Gallipoli and throughout the Western Front. What he created on the pages of those little diaries is an extraordinary day to day account of the horrors and heroism of serving as a stretcher bearer in what they called ‘The Great War’.

But his life back home in those decades after the war was to be just as heroic. What he did to cope with the trauma of his war experience would benefit his community greatly and leave a lasting legacy for generations to come.

With a foreword by Dr Michael Cathcart.

 

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THE VAGABOND IN THE YARRA VALLEY

By A J McAleer

 

Observation of the Yarra Valley by one of the 19th Century’s greatest writers and journalists ‘ The Vagabond’.

His complete collection of articles written on the Yarra Valley from 1877 to 1894. Includes details of the early wine industry, a description of travelling here by coach and then by train, reports on the development of the townships and its residents as well as the Steels Creek gold rush.

Fully illustrated with images and photos of the Yarra Valley in the 19th Century – many never seen before!

With a foreword by Christine Fyfe MLA

Introduction by Jim Brown the poet.

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SCURRY

The Man Who Got Them Safely Off Gallipoli

By A J McAleer

 

On December 8th, 1915 there were 38,500 Australian troops occupying trenches on Gallipoli, facing a larger Turkish force of some 80,000. Twelve days later they had all been evacuated from the Peninsula without the loss of a man and without the enemy knowing. In hindsight their cunning escape had become the only success of the whole Gallipoli campaign.

How they did this was helped in no small way by an ingenious invention created by twenty year old Lance-Corporal Bill Scurry, a self-firing rifle with a primitive timer that would convince the Turkish soldiers that the Anzacs were still in their trenches shooting at them when in fact they had long gone. It would earn for him the Distinguished Conduct Medal and the gratitude of those who had got off Gallipoli safely.

But this was only a small part of the Bill Scurry story. Descended from a long line of adventurers and creative geniuses, he inherited both these qualities and put them to good use during his time in the army in two World Wars. 

From Egypt to the evacuation of Gallipoli, from Fromelles commanding his own trench mortar unit and on to Sailly where he lost a finger and the sight in his right eye after a bomb exploded in his hand. After months in hospital in France and England he was ordered to be sent home but convinced the authorities to let him stay on as an instructor at the ANZAC Corps School of Instruction. Here he stayed until the war’s end, apart from the last few months of the war when he used his leave to go forward and serve on the front line with his old unit. A young man of great courage and fortitude he finished the war with the rank of Captain and was mentioned in despatches as well as being awarded the Military Cross.

On the ship home he met a brave young Army Nurse from South Australia, Sr Doris Barry, who herself had served in France, Belgium, Italy and Salonika during the war. They later married and raised a family of four daughters, becoming soldier settlers at Silvan where they did much for the welfare of fellow veterans. During the Second World War he went into uniform again, serving as Commandant of an internment camp for enemy aliens, firstly German then Japanese civilians. His last years were spent at Croydon, playing golf and coping with the health issues of both he and his wife that were a legacy of their war service.

With a foreword by Dr Ross McMullin, author of ‘Pompey Elliott’

Introduction by the Hon Tony Smith MP, Speaker of the House

 

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WHO WOULDN’T BE A SOLDIER

The WWI Diaries of Sgt Thomas Arthur Dykes DCM – 23RD Battalion, AIF

By A J McAleer (ed)

 

August 2nd, 1916 -

‘I won’t forget last night as long as I live. The Hun’s barrage of shell fire was worse than ever, Dante’s Inferno was nothing compared to it, and we had to go through it….The place where once was the village of Pozieres was nothing but a rubbish heap, heaps of wood, bricks and dirt with big shell holes everywhere. We were falling down shell holes, scrambling over rubbish heaps; shells were exploding everywhere causing our clothes to be torn. Some of the chaps would get half buried, scramble out or be pulled out by their mates and run on again. It was hell, we never expected to get out of it alive but we kept going and got through it and went out in front crawling on hands and knees … stumbling over dead bodies’.

So wrote Sgt Thomas Arthur Dykes in one of the nine small, pocket sized diaries that he used to detail all of the harrowing experiences he went through in the service of the AIF’s 23rd Battalion in the First World War. Recorded here for the first time are the raw, uncensored and sometimes graphic account of an infantryman’s daily struggle to survive the Gallipoli campaign and the horrors of the Western Front.

This memoir chronicles Thomas Arthur Dykes story, from his childhood growing up in country Wangaratta to the working class streets of Abbotsford. At the age of thirty-two, married with four children, he volunteered to serve his country in its hour of need. An original member of the 23rd Battalion, he travelled with his unit from Broadmeadows to Egypt and on to the shores of Gallipoli. His personal narrative in these diaries doesn’t hold back and in typical Digger style he tells it how it was; surviving the sinking of the troopship ‘Southland’ and the harsh conditions and constant dangers in the trenches at Lone Pine until he was evacuated wounded only weeks before the campaign was given up.

From here he is thrown into the horrors of the Western Front; from Fleurbaix to the Somme to Ypres to Flers until he fell victim to the winter of 1916/1917 and trench feet. A year out of the line, he returned for the final push of 1918 and was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for his courage and bravery at Mont St Quentin. But his war wouldn’t end for him with the armistice; it just set him up for the struggles he would have to endure in those decades that followed.

If ever you wanted to know what a soldier of the AIF had to preserve in the First World War – this will tell you.

With a foreword by Major-General (rtd) Mike O’Brien CSC

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YARRA VALLEY VIETNAM VETERANS

Tell Their Story.

By A J McAleer OAM

 

Fifty years after they served Australia in the Vietnam War, sixteen veterans of that conflict who live in the Yarra Valley sat down with the Mt Evelyn RSL’s historian and revealed, some for the first time, their experiences before, during and after the war.

Their stories tell of our nation’s involvement in Vietnam and spans the period 1964 to 1972. They served with the Navy, with the Regular Army, with the CMF and as National Servicemen. Their backgrounds varied as much as their experiences ‘in country’ during that time.

Their story is one of sacrifice and endurance, bravery and loss, good times and bad times. It reveals the environment they were forced to exist in and the role they had to play as well as the moments that range from the mundane to the terrifying.

Surviving all of this they then returned home to a nation where many people ignored or even condemned them. For most, those decades after the war were an ongoing battle to deal with the physical and mental scars.

If ever you wanted to know what the Vietnam war was like for an Australian serviceman – these men will tell you.

 

With a Foreword by Neville Clark MC, OAM

Introduction by the Hon Tony Smith MP

ORDER HERE

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