Books That Were A Little Too Close To The Bone

I’ve recently been fortunate to read three very different memoirs outlining the exploits during World War 2, of the fathers of some of my good friends.

Doug Roberts became a first time author at the age of 96 years, sharing his stories of growing up in a different England to the one we know today. A pilot in North Africa during WW2, during which time he met and married his wife of over 65 years, this is tale of conflict, of love, of struggle, and making one’s own world a better place.


We recently lost Doug, but are grateful that he shared so very much of himself. Lovely, too, to meet Bert, whom I have heard so very much about over the years. His daughter inherited his eyes I feel sure.

Margaret Szalay’s father, Jack Schmidt, would have celebrated his 100th birthday in 2016. Margaret, a keen genealogist, wrote Jack’s story to share with his descendants. It too is a fascinating read about a pioneering family from Brisbane featuring historical references that most locals will be familiar with today.

Jack served in Bomber Command as a Navigator and towards the end of the war was a member of Tommo’s Mobs On Ops Again, a Halifax in 466 Squadron. For those of you familiar with the nose art of this plane, Jack is the figure depicted with the walking stick as he was the oldest member, or “the old man” at 26 or 27, of the flight crew. Jack kept notes after each operation and his hand written scrawls indicate the measure of the man. Personal, too, in that this was my own fathers crew.


To “War On Our Doorstep” edited by journalist, Gabrielle Chan. This book is a series of extracts from the diaries of Australians at the frontline in 1942, the year that the war came to our doorstep.

Meeting Corporal Shears, a Prisoner of War, and others, was both an honour and an eye opener. Although I have previously read so many accounts of POWs this book brought home life after war was over, not only for the service personnel but for the families too.

Bernadette, this one made me cry. Thank you for sharing.


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