Australia’s Great War: 1917, by Kelly Gardiner

The German planes patrolled in hunting squads. They flew fast fighting craft streaking across the sky in tight formation. The greatest of them was the Red Baron, the deadliest ace on the Front. He’d shot down twenty-one of our planes in a single month. And now we were right in his firing line.

Ace (Alex) has always been fascinated by planes, so the opportunity to work on them for the army is enough to get him to sign up for the army, even though his parents and family want him to stay home, and are against the war. Back home, his sister Maggie, is leaving school and entering the workforce, finding her voice as a young woman as she misses her brother.

1917┬áis the fourth title in Scholastic’s Australia’s Great War series. Set in England and the Western Front as well as home in Melbourne, the story offers one man’s experiences of the first world war, as well as tracing the opposition to the war which grew as it progressed, including the role of women including Vida Goldstein.

Both a moving, absorbing story and a useful first person insight into Australia’s involvement in World War 1.

Australia’s Great War: 1917, by Kelly Gardiner
Scholastic, 2017
ISBN 9781743622506

The Last Fifty Miles, by Adam Wakeling

They were fifty miles to victory and defeat, fifty miles to collapse and renewal, and fifty miles to a new place for Australia among the nations of the world. They were among the most significant fifty miles in our history.

After four years of conflict in Turkey, Palestine and Europe, both sides of the Great War conflict are weary and seeking to end the conflict. For the men of the five Australian divisions stationed in France, the end seems a long way away, though, and while they are battle weary they are able to come together under Major-General John Monash and play a decisive role in claiming the last fifty miles – the miles which will see an end to the war.

The Last Fifty Miles is an accessible, detailed account of Australia’s involvement in World War 1 and particularly its role in the final months of the conflict on the Western Front.

Readers are offered insight into the reasons for the war, the main personalities involved on both sides, and the impact of the war on Australians at home as well as those serving.

Suitable for amateur history buffs or anyone wanting to better understand the Great War.

The Last Fifty Miles, by Adam Wakeling
Penguin Books, 2016
ISBN 9780670079148

Eventual Poppy Day, by Libby Hathorn

Eventual Poppy DayShooting stars, kisses, grenades and the lumbering tanks. And the shrieking skies and the shaking comrades: ‘Up and over, lads!’
And I know it is time again to go into madness.

Even though he s only seventeen, Maurice Roche is determined to enlist, to follow his older brothers off to war and do his bit. It will be an adventure, an opportunity to see the world . Against his parent’s wishes, he signs up, leaving behind his parents, his younger siblings, his proud aunts and a girl, Rosie, who he is sure will wait for him. But war is not the adventure Maurice imagined. At Gallipoli and, later, on the Western Front he faces unimaginable horrors. It is only the mates fighting at his side, an occasional opportunity to sketch and draw, and his love for Rosie, that keep him going.

A century later, Oliver Day isn’t all that interested in his great-uncle Maurice, who he never met. But his great-grandmother, Dorothea, wants the world to know about her big brother, who died before she was born. It is especially important to her that Oliver hear Maurice’s story.

Eventual Poppy Day is an emotional tale of war and its impacts both on those who fight and those who are left behind, often across generations. The alternating stories of Maurice and Oliver are supplemented with scenes, letters and diary entries from other characters, to give a broad perspective of their emotions and motives. As the novel progresses, readers have an opportunity to connect deeply with the family.

A touching story.

Eventual Poppy Day, by Libby Hathorn
Angus & Robertson, 2015
ISBN 9780732299514

Available from good bookstores and online.