Books for ANZAC Day
by William Kostakis - March 15th, 2010
Under A Bomber’s Moon by Stephen Harris
They were the best of enemies – dedicated, skilled and deadly. In the night skies above wartime Germany an RAF navigator-bomber from New Zealand and a Luftwaffe pilot seek out their targets, testing the gap between success and their own destruction as they cross each other’s paths. The odds are heavily against either of them making it through the war, but as this sobering realisation displaces their initial exuberant adventurism, both come to see in their youthful sacrifice the survival of all they hold dear. Under a Bomber’s Moon reaches across the divide of years, of geography, of nationality to tell their story largely in their own words – describing both the breathtaking clashes in the air and the camaraderie, humour, patriotism and personal tragedies that became their war. Stephen Harris began his journey of discovery because he wanted to know the truth of his great-uncle Colwyn Jones’ fate. With Col’s vividly written letters and diaries as a starting-point, he set out to discover what really happened on the night Col’s extraordinary luck ran out. Little did he know that his quest would lead him to a meeting with a former Luftwaffe pilot who might well have engaged with his great-uncle in the skies over Germany. Otto-Heinrich Fries proved to be both co-operative and articulate, eventually allowing Harris to tell his story in this book. The result is a unique and personal account of two highly successful airmen from opposing sides.
Devil’s Own War by John Crawford
Brigadier-General Herbert Hart landed at Gallipoli on 26 April 1915, commanded the Wellington Battalion during the closing stages of that campaign, then served as a battalion and brigade commander on the Western Front between 1916 and 1918. Throughout the war he kept a diary, in which he recorded his experiences in the great battles on Gallipoli, the Somme and Passchendaele. Hart’s diary is now widely regarded as one of the most important personal sources relating to the New Zealand Expeditionary Force. Exceptionally well written, it includes gripping descriptions of both combat and life behind the front line and on leave in France and United Kingdom. While Hart can appear quite detached at times, he is also a very human observer of the events around him, understanding the plight of his men, finding humour in the most unlikely situations and noticing unexpected details at moments of high tension. As a first-hand account of life in the firestorm of World War One, The Devil’s Own War is hard to beat.