For Australia the First World War remains the most costly conflict in terms of deaths and casualties. From a population of fewer than five million, 416,809 men enlisted, of which over 60,000 were killed and 156,000 wounded, gassed, or taken prisoner.
In general terms with Australian unit histories the quality of authorship is very good, most of them share the common strength of making plentiful mention of the individual officers and men who served, fought, died, was wounded, or taken prisoner, or who came safely home at the end of it all. They are a prime source for genealogists and military historians.
WHALE OIL GUARDS (53rd Australian Inf. Bn)
An eccentric book by an eccentric author. His account is written in the style of a novel, about a unit which he does not specify but with characters who really existed and awards which really were made. The strange title of this book is attributed to the fact that the CO ordered his men to polish their steel helmets with whale oil so that they would shine!
Despite the strange behaviour of their CO and their Chaplain, the men of the 53rd were much respected for their fine services at Peronne, Le Catelet, Bullecourt, Polygon Wood, and the breaking of the Hindenburg Line. These battles are all covered in this unusual book. Appendixes, Honours & Awards.