THE FAIR DINKUMS

Glenn McFar­lane, MacMil­lan $35

The Courier-Mail - QWeekend - - REVIEWS - Grantlee Kieza

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.

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