THE FAIR DINKUMS
Glenn McFarlane, MacMillan $35
Recruitment officers marketed it as a cheap way to see England and France and with the opportunity of adventure thrown in as heroes defending the honour of King and Country. It wasn’t until journalists such as Keith Murdoch began writing about the full horror on Gallipoli and the incompetence of the British generals that Australians truly realised the misery involved for troops fighting in World War I. Yet wave after wave of Australians still enlisted knowing the nightmare that awaited them – men such as “The Fair Dinkums’’, 152 soldiers of the 7th Battalion who sailed from Melbourne on August 26, 1915. A third of the battalion never came home. The remarkable stories of these men are told by Melbourne journalist Glenn McFarlane, who follows their lives from the farms or suburbs to the deadly coastline of Gallipoli and the hell of the trenches in France. McFarlane’s great uncle Alf Layfield was one of the Fair Dinkums. This book is the result of 20 years of research and the author has done a marvellous job in honouring Layfield and his brave mates.