WALKER, Carlie Audacity: stories of heroic Australians in wartime Dept of Veterans Affairs/Australian War Memorial, 2014 56pp $19.95 pbk ISBN 9781877007934 SCIS 1654612
The eleven Australians featured in this collection may not have agreed with a dictionary definition of ‘audacity’ to describe their acts of bravery for which they won awards and honours but each of them boldly took risks helping others against extreme dangers which could have cost them their lives. Each of them is worthy of being remembered for their bravery in wartime and this series of tributes does the task well.
The range of the Australians covers all the wars Australia has been involved in over 100 years from the Boer War to the Australian involvement in Afghanistan. Major General Sir Neville Howse was a medical officer, a lieutenant in the New South Wales Medical Corps, when he was made our first Australian Victoria Cross winner for rescuing a young wounded trumpeter in action in Vrederfort in South Africa. Three others in this series also won the Victoria Cross, Sergeant Thomas Derrick, Warrant-Officer Ray Simpson and Trooper, later Corporal, Mark Donaldson. But the awards feature other medals such as for the Distinguished Service Order and the more recent Distinguished Service Cross, the Military Medal, and the Distinguished Conduct Medal among others. Two of the stories are of airmen, Wing Commander Peter Isaacson and Wing Commander Vance Drummond. There are two women among those featured – the indomitable Australian born Ensign Nancy Wake and Sister Claire Trestrail, an Australian nurse.
Each of the eleven stories is told over four pages with details of the heroic actions, the background to the relevant action in a box, an account of the medals and honours held at the Australian War Memorial with appropriate portraits and illustrations and questions for class discussion. There is a world map to show where the featured heroes served, a glossary of terms, key references and bibliography and index. This is an excellent book for young readers ages 9 and older to understand and appreciate the various forms of bravery which many Australians have shown in wartime.
reviewed by John D Adams