Random House, 2014
hbk RRP $A24.99 9780857981943
Most of our students know the story of what happened at what is now Anzac Cove on April 25, 1915 and the days that followed. But how did the Australian and New Zealand troops get there? Surely they didn’t just sign up, get on a ship and arrive in the Dardanelles. In this new book, Claire Saxby explains what happened between the outbreak of war and that fateful day. In simple, straightforward text accompanied by appealing, muted illustrations which evoke the moods of the time, the reader learns of the growing fervour of patriotism as men rush to sign on for what was seen to be a great adventure, a way to see the world, or simply rescue a family from poverty. But instead of leaving immediately, “training camps for soldiers popped up like mushrooms after rain” and eagerness turned to impatience as time went on and the feeling that the war would be over before they got there grew. And impatience turned to frustration as instead of going directly to the front line, they went to Egypt for yet more training and waiting. Until the wait was finally over and they embarked for an unknown destination … but “war was like nothing they could have imagined.” Frustration becomes fear, and on that note, Saxby leaves the story to be told in other books and formats.
This is the 5th book in this series and it’s my favourite, probably because it reminds us of where the NZ in ANZAC comes from. It tells the story not often told before and shows how the camaraderie between the two nations that continues today began. Rather than a narrow narration of the facts, it provides an insight into these men with a clever juxtaposition of facts and then speech so there is a sense that these are real people, not faceless, anonymous participants.
With the centenary of ANZAC Day just over a year away, it is an ideal starting point for beginning to learn about this key element in our history and the inclusion of a timeline of the war itself puts the events in context. A must-have for your collection about this topic.