During WWI the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) won fame through the ill-fated 1915 Gallipoli campaign in Turkey, and then from 1916-18 on the Western front where they came to be employed as an elite force. A high price was paid, with the memory of 60,000 Australians dead weighing heavy on the hearts of the country during the inter-war years.
Australia dutifully joined Britain on September 3 1939 in declaring war on the Axis powers. But there would be no repeat of the enthusiasm of the large-scale enlistments from some 24 years earlier. A high standard had been set; encouraging some enlistees, but daunting others...
The first half on the book deals with the raising of the 2AIF, the numbering of battalions, a list of the main infantry components of the 2AIF divisions and an explanation of militia formations and units. Deployments are covered next, ranging from Libya in the North African desert to the Kokoda Track in the jungles of New Guinea.
The second half of the book starts with many well illustrated colour plates highlighting the diversity in uniform and equipment due to differing theatres of service. The four AIF Infantry divisions (6th 7th 8th and 9th Divs.) are next covered, including an explanation of where they served. This is followed by text detailing the previous artwork.
The book has a large amount of B&W photographs sourced both privately but more extensively from the AWM, which make for interesting viewing.
- 64 pages
- 55 B&W photographs
- 7 pages of colour
- plates showing upward of 20 soldiers in different uniform
- 1 page of insignia in colour
- 3 tables of varying information
- 1 B&W map
The book's detailing of the AIF military organization can initially be a little hard to follow, but the fault lies with how it was actually structured as opposed to a critique of author's explanation. The many colour artworks coupled with an in-depth explanation of the uniforms and equipment shown are a fantastic resource from a modelling viewpoint. The brief campaign descriptions would hopefully compel the reader to conduct further research.
Overall an interesting read, and a must-have for modellers and history buffs alike if only to give an insight into a small countries' sometimes large contributions to many chapters of the eventual Allied victory.