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Booksforever is an online bookstore that specializes in Australian Military history books; both new and rare.

The books available at Booksforever are for the most part from specialist Military publishers and authors who have dedicated themselves to Australia’s War history.

If you are searching for a rare, out for print book and can’t find it; email us. We probably can!

Visit: Military History Online Store

 

 

Sparrow Force Units

Sparrow Force was a World War 2 combined Unit sent to Timor to stop the Japanese Invasion. It consisted of the following Australian and British Units:

- HQ Sparrow Force
- 2/12th Field Ambulance RAAMC
- 2/40th Australian Infantry Battalion
- B Troop – 18th Anti-Tank Battery RAA
- 2/2 Independent Company (Commandos)
- 2/1 Heavy Battery RAA
- 23rd Brigade Signals RASC
- Australian Army Service Corps
- 75th Light Aid Detachment
- 22nd Dental Unit
- No. 2 Section: 2/11th Field Company RAE
- 2/1st Fortress Signals
- 2/1st Fortress Engineers
- Members of 79th Light Anti-Aircraft Battery

Battle Honours For Sparrow Force:
Koepang, Timor

For: DVDs On Sparrow Force

Buy – Doomed Battalion – 2/40th Unit History

 

Buy: Doomed Battalion  (this link will take you to our Australian bookstore for ordering)

The extremely popular unit history of the 2/40th (Second Fortieth) Australian Infantry Battalion is now available as a 2nd edition. After its original release in 1995 and later out of print status; the Doomed Battalion has been very hard to find and prices in the second-hand book market have reflected this. Now this second edition is available as a Hardcover (1st edition was only soft) with updated material; it is now easily available to everyone once again.

The 2/40th Battalion was raised in 1940, Tasmania and was part of the 23rd Brigade, 8th Division AIF.

Margaret Clark Q&A: Military Historian

margaret clark

Order Book Online?

Click Here> 36th Battalion Book

 

An introduction:

Margaret Clark is currently working as a volunteer at the Manning Valley Historical Society undertaking research and assisting with the mounting of display material. This work follows on from a varied career as a teacher, researcher and public servant. Margaret holds a Master of Arts in History from the University of Sydney.

Photos are copyright Margaret Clark.

Questions:

1/ Margaret, you have already written a book called ‘Postcards From the Front’ which was on Alfred Haynes postcards sent home during the Great War. Was Alfred a relative? Or was this book based on research you undertook for other reasons?

Margaret/ My first book, ‘Postcards From the Front’ was published by the Manning Valley Historical Society in 2010. It is based on over 200 postcards that I discovered in a box in the Archives. These postcards commenced with the departure of Alf Haynes from Australia until his final card stated that he had a ship and was returning home. The postcards deal with the issues of separation and of mateship. To enhance the message contained in these cards I drew upon other letters written by men from the Manning Valley who had gone to fight in Europe and to put it all in perspective also researched the role of the 36th Battalion in the conflict. This book was launched one year later in France as I had been caught by the ash cloud over Europe in 2010 and had been unable to arrive in Villers Brettoneux in time for Anzac Day.

2/ You must have got very emotional at times when doing research and spending many months and years of time researching someone’s life in War? Especially in the case of Postcards From The Front, which is based on just one Soldiers life?

Margaret/ It is hard not to become involved in the stories that the men tell through the medium of letters, postcards and of course their journals. It can be heart rending to discover on turning a page to discover that there are no more entries and the soldier has been killed.

3/ Your second book ‘Carmichael’s 1000’ (A History of the 36th Battalion AIF); is due for release at the end of April this year. What made you select this specific Unit to research?

margaret clark photos 2Margaret/ While undertaking research for this book I discovered that there had never been a history published relating to the exploits of the 36th Battalion so I contacted the Army History Unit which encouraged me to write ‘Carmichael’s 1000’. The Army History Unit were able to help with a grant that assisted me with travel/research costs. After several years of research and many wonderful contributions from descendants of the men of the 36th this book is finally ready for publication.

4/ Tell us just a little about the 36th Battalion AIF?

Margaret/ The 36th Battalion owes a lot to one man, Ambrose Carmichael. He was a member of Parliament on the outbreak of war and decided to put his considerable talents to use in raising a battalion. Carmichael went to France with the Battalion, serving as a Lieutenant. The Battalion was raised partly among rifle clubs throughout NSW and partly through the use of posters. The men came from the four corners of the State, although the majority enlisted in either Sydney or Newcastle. A number of the men joined the North Coast Marchers as they marched south from Coffs Harbour. The men tended to be older than earlier battalions raised at the commencement of war and given the number of wounded who had already returned home had no illusions about the conditions that they were to encounter.

The battalion trained at Rutherford near Maitland before leaving for Europe in May 1916. margaret clark photos 1Their training continued at Lark Hill and they finally arrived in the Armentieres sector just in time for one of the coldest winters in 30 years. They suffered through the winter and were in place, acting as the carry party for the Battle of Messines Ridge. Their next major engagement saw them trudging through the mud and slime of the Passchendaele campaign, where, although they reached their objective, were forced to turn back. The conditions were against them and they lost a large percentage of their force. After yet another winter they were rapidly deployed to combat the German breakthrough on the Somme. Here they gained their greatest victory as they definitively arrested the German advance in front of Villers Brettoneux. This was to be their final major battle as at the end of April 1918 the Battalion was disbanded and the men distributed among other battalions in the 9th Brigade. Their story as a battalion ends here but the men fought on – Amiens, the Hindenberg Line, the St Quentin Canal – in all of these engagements the surviving men of the 36th participated. Finally Victory and the long wait for a ship home for the survivors. Some, having survived the war fell to the scourge of the Spanish Flu.

5/ Was Alfred Haynes from the 36th Battalion?

margaret clark photos 4Margaret/ Alf Haynes, the man who inspired ‘Postcards From the Front’ served with the 36th Battalion until it was disbanded when he was transferred to the 33rd Battalion.

6/ Is there anything you found during your research on the 36th Battalion AIF for your book Carmichael’s 1000’, that didn’t make it to your final book – but you wish it had? I guess there comes a point when you have to set a finish date and with that there may be something that just got left out? Some special piece of information or photo you would like to share here?

Margaret/ So many people have contributed photographs and stories of events in the lives of these soldiers. Unfortunately space prohibited the use of all the material. These are a few of the photos that didn’t make it into the book. (Margaret is referring to the photos seen in this blog post for which we are very thankful)

margaret clark photos 37/ Now complete and getting ready for release; are you looking at other units to research and publish histories on? Your Father was in the 2/30th Battalion World War 2 and was a POW in Changi? So will the 2/30th history be written by you?

 

Margaret/ Following on from this book I will move towards WW2 and the experiences of my father who served with the 2nd/30th Battalion in Malaysia. While a POW of the Japanese he kept a journal into which he wrote letters that couldn’t be posted, a description of the events of 1942-3 and his early years of captivity. He also collected over 60 poems from men in Changi which I intend to publish shortly.

margaret clark photos 58/ With the Soldiers, Units they served in and the Wars they fought now moving further into the past; what do you feel should be done on a national level to ensure they are never forgotten? It would be great to see a copy of these Unit books in every school library for a start!

Margaret/ I believe that the story of Anzac will never be forgotten as it is deeply embedded in our consciousness as a nation. However, it is important that the subject continue to be a major part of the history syllabus and that encouragement is given to those wanting to add to our knowledge of these events and the men who participated in them. I believe that governments should play a major role in assisting those who wish to conduct research and publish books relating to past conflicts.

Margaret, thank you for spending the time to answer these questions for Booksforever about your two books! And good luck with the launch of ‘Carmichael’s 1000’. Authors who dedicate themselves to keeping history alive are very special indeed. We are proud and fortunate to have people like yourself dedicating your time to this cause! Thank you!

Q&A With Author Wes Olson

I have just finished a blog post covering an author Bio and Q&A with Western Australian author Wes Olson.

Wes is the author of three books to date which include Battalion Into Battle, Gallipoli – The Western Australian Story, Bitter Victory – The Death Of HMAS Sydney (with a fourth in the works on H.M.A.S Sydney II) due for release 2016. His latest book “Battalion Into Battle” sold out its first print run in 6 months. It is now in 2nd edition and available at Booksforever – while the 2nd edition lasts of course!

I contacted Wes to ask him to send a small bio of himself simply because i enjoyed the book and it is one of our top sellers here at Booksforever. I then also added some questions to finalize our chat. The hard part about asking questions to anyone is what to ask, and when to stop asking as not to push to much! So hopefully you will find the post interesting and enjoyable as I did writing it up.

For those who would like to hear more about this Military historian and author including our Q&A, please head here for the full blog post: Military Historian Wes Olson

Q&A With Author Tim Cook

Today I was lucky enough to have some questions answered by Author Tim Cook regarding his new book due for release this weekend; and appearing on bookshop shelves Monday. It is called ‘Snowy To The Somme‘ and it is on the 55th Battalion AIF in World War 1 and is the story of their battles on the Western Front.

Author Tim CookNot only is Tim a nice guy for doing this Q&A for Booksforever; he is also contributing to Australia’s Military history for which now and future generations will be very happy.

Unlike writing a novel for which you can alter and add story-lines as you wish; writing non-fiction histories is another challenge indeed. Added to this is the fact there are no surviving World War 1 members left to interview – and it can get very difficult and time consuming indeed.

Tim mentioned to me that is took around 5-1/2 years from the idea of writing this history to its completion. That is dedication! But considering there is no previously written Unit history on the 55th Battalion AIF; it comes not a moment to soon!

Now this history is available; family members of the Battalion, Unit history book collectors; bookstores, libraries and general Australian Military history enthusiasts can enjoy reading and adding Snowy to the Somme to their collection.

I am sure this book will be a winner. Australia’s thirst for past history in the Great War is an ever growing field of interest in the book world. So it is without a doubt by the end of the week many people will be/would have enjoyed this story. I know i will!

Like all authors who tackle the Australian Unit and Military History subjects; I am so glad to add this title to my bookshelf and online bookstore.

Thanks Tim for giving us one more book on our Australian fighting Units!

See full Q&A

Booksforever

Author Tim Cook Q&A: Military Historian (55th Battalion AIF)

tim cook authorA Brief Introduction:

Born and raised in Canberra, I graduated from the Royal Military College, Duntroon, and had a long career in the Australian Army as an intelligence specialist before I exchanged a uniform for a suit and moved into computer security roles in the Australian finance industry. I enjoy academic pursuits and have achieved postgraduate degrees in Information Technology and Defence Studies. As an avid amateur military historian, I have visited many of battlefields where Australians have fought. I also enjoy fitness pursuits, especially cycling and weight training. When possible, I pursue outdoor activities, and in recent years have undertaken some of Asia Pacific’s most iconic treks. I am also a keen follower of the mixed fortunes of Australia’s national rugby and cricket teams. I now live in Brisbane with my wife, Jane-Louise. I have two adult children, Amelia and Andrew, both of whom gave me enormous assistance in writing this book

1/ First off, congratulations on your book release: Snowy To The Somme – A Muddy and Bloody Campaign, 1916-1918. This book is due for release as we speak, so how long was this book in the making?

Tim/ After mulling the project over in my head for about six months, I spent about three years researching and two years writing the book.

2/ This book covers the story of the 55th Battalion AIF. Where did your interest in this World War 1 Unit come from? Do you have a relative or relatives who served in the 55th?

Tim/ I originally wanted to understand more about the wartime experiences of my great-uncle, William, who served with the unit until he was killed by a shell at Polygon Wood in 1917. As I read further into the events of his military service, and discovered the absence of a unit history, I realised there was a bigger story to be told.

3/ ‘Snowy To The Somme’ looks at the battles and daily life of the men of the 55th Battalion as they faced the horrors on the Western Front in places like Fromelles, Bullicourt etc. Can you tell us just a little about the battles and life of the 55th Battalion to give us an idea of what they faced?

Tim/ For most men of the 55th, the Battle of Fromelles was their baptism of fire. Australian forces suffered 5,533 casualties in a single night – I’ve frequently wonder how would the survivors, how would a small nation, deal with that? After Fromelles, the unit took several months to rebuild before serving throughout the Somme Winter of 1916/17. In 1917, the unit had significant engagements at Doignies and later Bullecourt, before having an extended break to refit and retrain. In September 1917, the battalion fought a major engagement at Polygon Wood and spent time after that battle holding the front line in the Ypres salient. In response to the German offensive in 1918, the 55th moved back to the Somme where it participated in defensive operations to blunt the German attacks. Subsequent to these actions, the battalion fought pitched battles at Peronne and Bellicourt. By the end of these two operations the unit could only muster eighty fit men.

4/ Has there been any other books written on the Australian 55th Battalion AIF or are you the first to tackle this job?

Tim/ I’m the first. After the end of the Great War there were a couple of attempts at writing a history by unit members. For whatever reason, these were never completed. I believe that the publication in 1920 of the ‘The Story of the Fifth Australian Division’ by A.D. Ellis did such a fine job summarising the activities of the battalions and brigades making up the 5th Division that the members of this division did not see a need to write of their own experiences.

snowy to somme 1st ed book5/ With no remaining World War 1 Soldiers to interview; how did you go about researching this book to ensure the dates, battles and stories were accurate in your book?

Tim/ My colleagues at work often asked me whether I was working on a fiction novel to which I always responded “I hope not…I’m writing a history”. As the events related in my book occurred nearly 100 years ago, so there is no-one alive today who was witness to the battles and trench life. However, we as a nation are blessed in the quantity and quality of material bequeathed to us by these men, and their families and friends. The number of personal records, such as diaries and letters, in the public domain is astonishing. The ongoing efforts by the War Memorial, National Archives and Mitchell Library in putting material online was also of great assistance.

6/ When writing a book, like any endeavour there is usually a set time we wish/or must complete the project by (although sometimes it is hard to stay within those confines)! Is there anything you now wish you could have added to the final book contents – but for whatever reasons (i.e. no time left) just didn’t make it? A specific story perhaps you would like to share?

Tim/ This book is exactly as I wanted it. I had no commitment to a publisher in terms of deadlines so I was able to spend the time I needed. While there is always the temptation to pursue perfection, after five years of research and writing many drafts I felt like I had achieved my aim of telling the story of the men of the 55th Battalion, and that it was time to have the book published. Of course, now the book is in the public arena, I’m hoping that if other material comes to light I can access this to correct erroneous content and improve any subsequent edition.

7/ Is this your first book?

Tim/ Yes.

8/ During your long hours of research (which I can only assume amounts to many thousands of hours); did you come across (cross reference) information on other Australian Units that you may now use to write another Unit history from?

Tim/ I have temporarily left the idea of another unit history behind. I’d like to explore another aspect of Australia’s military history, as well as challenge myself as an author and researcher, by tackling a biography. I was surprised to find that no definitive work on the life of Major General Sir Charles Rosenthal has been written, so I have begun researching this charismatic and influential leader.

9/ When writing a book with such importance and also knowing this will be used as a reference in itself for future generations; was there a point in your research however, you just felt like you couldn’t finish? Or did this book flow from start to finish?

Tim/ Once I set my mind to the task, I found I was able to fit in my professional and family life around research and writing. I always drew enthusiasm from the support I received from the descendants of men who were part of the unit. By far the most difficult task was compiling the Nominal Roll. The widespread use of aliases, and constant movement of men between Army units, made pulling together this list a painstaking business – I’ve given it my best shot but I suspect there may yet be some names overlooked.

10/ As you have dedicated an immense amount of time and expense to bringing ‘Snowy To The Somme’ to print for us all; have you found bookshops in general (online and off) showing the interest in this book you expected?

Tim/ I’m very excited to find this book is being stocked by several of the major book chains, as well as a pleasing number of specialist book sellers.

——

Tim, thank you for spending some of your weekend time answering questions on your book for us! I am sure it will be a success and thank you for adding another chapter of Australia’s World War 1 Units to the history books – for today’s generation and all others to come.

Carmichaels 1000 By Author Margaret Clark – New Book!

We have just had news that Margaret Clark’s latest book Carmichaels 1000 ~ Their Triumphs And Their Trials is to be released late April. Hopefully this will be just around ANZAC Day 2014.

This book will be Margaret’s second book; the first being Postcards From The Front which was based on the postcards sent home during the Great War by Soldier Alfred Haynes.

Carmichaels 1000 is on the Australian 36th Battalion A.I.F in World War 1 and is the first book to be written on this Unit. So for those with relatives that served, this will be of great interest to you as welll as general researchers and collectors of Australian Unit histories. Finally, you can look back and trace the Battalion’s footsteps in the Great War all from the one title.

The book will cover the Unit’s formation to its disbandment in 1918. Will contain Embarkation lists of those served.

So if you are looking to add a new Unit history to your collection, or are researching the 36th Battalion here it is!

If you would like to order this book, please click here: Margaret Clark’s New Book

As a great ty in, Soldier Alfred Haynes from Margaret’s first book, was in the 36th!

See our Q&A with Margaret

Author Wes Olson Q&A: Military Historian

Wes Olson - Historian

An Introduction: 

Wes has written three books so far: Bitter Victory – The Death of HMAS Sydney, his second book Gallipoli – The Western Australian Story and lastly Battalion Into Battle.

I have been lucky enough to have the opportunity to speak with Wes about his book Battalion Into Battle, for which I am very thankful.

—-

Wes Olson is a full-time locomotive driver for Pacific National, part-time historian/writer and anytime red wine drinker.

His first book, Bitter Victory – The Death of HMAS Sydney, was published by UWA Press in 2000, and covered the loss of the Australian cruiser on 19 November 1941. This led to Wes chairing the archival committee workshop for the Royal Australian Navy’s HMAS Sydney II Wreck Location Seminar in 2001. He subsequently assisted David Mearns in the lead-up to the successful search and discovery of the wrecks of HSK Kormoran and HMAS Sydney in 2008.

Eight years service in the Australian Army Reserve led to Wes becoming a volunteer at the Army Museum of Western Australia, where he was responsible for the mannequin and weapon displays in the WWI, WWII and Post-1945 Galleries. This work resulted in Wes receiving two Commendations from the Australian Army History Unit. Wes is now assisting the WA Museum with the new National ANZAC Centre in Albany, which is scheduled for opening in November 2014.

Wes’ second book, Gallipoli – The Western Australian Story, was published by UWA Press in 2006 and was short-listed for the WA Premiers’ Book Award.

battalion into battle / 2/11thHis third book, Battalion into Battle – The History of the 2/11th Australian Infantry Battalion 1939-45, was self-published in 2011. A second edition was released in 2012.

Wes is also a regular contributor to the West Australian Newspaper’s ANZAC Day and Remembrance Day wraps, and he is currently working on the history of HMAS Sydney II. The latter book is scheduled for release in 2016.

Wes has also made appearances in a couple of Who Do You Think You Are? episodes and also got an airing in the final episode of Coast Australia, which screened on Foxtel recently.

Questions:

1/ What gave you the motivation and desire to write about the 2/11th Battalion which led to the publishing of ‘Battalion Into Battle’ on the 10th December 2011? Why this specific Unit for you?

Wes? The initial interest was there because my original ARes unit, the 11th Independent Rifle Company was historically linked with the 2/11th Battalion. Our drill hall was named Retimo Lines. The idea for the book came from a 2/11th veteran – Ivan Walter – who provided information on his uncles for my Gallipoli book. While I was still writing the Gallipoli book he asked me if I would consider writing his battalion’s history.

2/ The first edition was a limited edition of 1000 copies and was launched at the Army Museum of Western Australia (Fremantle) in December 2011. How did you feel when it was finally done?

Wes/ I felt very satisfied, but also privileged to have been able to help tell the 2/11th Battalion story.

3/ How many years by the candle light did it take you?

Wes/ 6 years.

4/ Were you surprised to see it go out of print so quick? It was out of print in about 6 months. Even we didn’t get a copy of that edition!

Wes/ Yes and no. I thought 1,000 copies was about right, and that there would be enough 2/11th Battalion families to absorb the print run. To this end the first edition was numbered and where possible I would match the book number with their soldier’s service number. For example WX764 Norm Eaton received book No.764. Olwyn Green received No.121 because her late husband Charlie was NX121.

But I was surprised by the interest shown by folk with no connection with the battalion.

5/ Is it a surprise to you that there is still so much pride and interest in these Australian Units? I mean 1000 copies in 6 months on one specific unit shows something?

Wes) To be honest I would like to sell 2 or 3 thousand. The battalion’s story is incredible and I would like to spread the word far and wide. One copy has already found its way into the US Library of Congress.

6/ Now, as I have mentioned to you in past, Battalion Into Battle is a top selling unit history. Why do you think that is? What is it with the Western Australian Unit 2/11th and also 11th Battalion AIF?

Wes Olson - HistorianWes/ Perhaps it is because the 2/11th Battalion was one of the last 2nd AIF battalions to have its history written.

The 2/11th, like the 11th, was the first to be raised in Western Australia, so it is the State’s premier infantry battalion Interest in the 11th Battalion (1914-19) is also huge and I think a re-write of Legs Eleven might be in order.

7/ When doing research, with so few original 2/11th Unit members left; how did you go about tackling the research? Memories fade overtime and people can slowly forget. (I can only guess at the thousands of hours double checking dates, times with much online and library research to ensure the most accurate history possible).

Wes/ Fortunately I had the blessing of KT Johnson, and his endorsement of the project opened many doors within the 2/11th veteran community. I was also able to draw on the wealth of material collected by the battalion association in their attempt to produce a history in the 1960′s Archives, museums and the general public (though newspaper appeals) were also very helpful.

Wherever possible I asked the veterans to proof-read chapters and provide comment/recommendations.

8/ Fortunately the 2/11th has a book written on their history to pass down over the generations; this due to the dedication and discipline it takes for research by authors like you. However, many of our Military Units have not been so lucky in that department – and sadly never will have their War histories documented.

For this reason, do you believe at the very least primary/secondary schools should have some regular lessons on what our men and women did during the war to ensure those sacrifices and histories are kept alive (on top of the once per year ANZAC day remembrance)?.

Wes/ Yes. I’ve noticed that attitudes to war history are changing, and that schools, interest groups, the media and families are now seeking information on individuals and unit/ship/squadron histories.

I noticed this change, especially in the media, when we started losing the last of our WWI veterans. We now have another generation, the WWII veterans, in decline.

I think I was very lucky to have started work on the 2/11th Battalion history when I did because quite a few of the men I interviewed have since passed away.

So yes, we need to get out there and record the story before it is gone forever. There are three ex-HMAS Sydney II veterans still alive in WA and I’m racing against time to get their story written.

9/ Do you find larger bookstores (walk in and online) are getting more interested in these types of specialty Australian Unit books? Or is it more the smaller specialty stores like Booksforever and direct to Customer sales? (e.g. are the larger online stores staying with what they may believe to be the safer titles like Gallipoli, Kokoda etc.)?

Wes/ Major publishing houses rarely take on battalion histories because there is not enough profit margin in it for them. So self-publishing is the only way to go. There are three big hurdles to overcome.

(a) writing the book

(b) publishing the book

(c) marketing and selling the book

Thank God for specialist book sellers like Booksforever which make (c) a little easier.

10/ I see you are now in the process of attacking a book on the history of the HMAS SYDNEY II due for release in 2016. I will speak with you on that when it comes closer. So watch out! But I love World War 2 Battalion histories, so I have to ask: Any plans for another Battalion Unit history? Or has the 2/11th drained you – at least for now?

Wes/ I contemplated re-writing the 2/28th Battalion history, but HMAS Sydney II comes first, and I’m receiving encouragement to produce a new history of the 11th Battalion AIF. Somewhere in between I would like to produce a detailed account of the Sydney/Emden action, but that’s another story . . .

——-

I could add many more questions Wes, but glad to have you answer the above for Booksforever. I wish you all the luck in the world with your research on the HMAS SYDNEY II. We need more Wes Olsons to keep Australia’s Military History alive.