In the lead up to Anzac Day, local author John Tognolini is questioning the way we have come to view Australia’s involvement in war.
“I think it is becoming too much of a celebration,” the local history teacher said.
“We’re spending very little on our veterans and very little time thinking about why we were going to all these wars, and we were basically fighting for Britain.”
Mr Tognolini said that in his novel Brothers (Part One: Gallipoli) he tried to take a fresh look at what WWI was like.
“I have attempted to show the horror of war for what it is. It has been my intent to show the hardship and suffering endured at Gallipoli.”
Mr Tognolini throws away the rose coloured glasses, saying that some senior Australian officers were just as bad as their British counterparts when it came to causing the slaughter of their own soldiers in “futile charges against machine guns”.
He even questions the nature of the landing at Anzac Cove and writes about the Australian soldiers’ rigged two-up games and bets placed on which hymns or psalms would be used on church parades.
Then there are the terrible conditions; water at Anzac Cove that tasted like petrol because of the cans it was carried in.
The biggest horror of all for him was the sheer number of men who died from disease or were slaughtered, and many were just boys.
His two uncles who fought in WWI inspired this story which spans from WWI through to 2010.
These uncles were joined by their two older brothers, one was listed as 24 years old when he died, but who was either just 16 or 17.
Mr Tognolini believes that like today there was a tendency to glorify war and many of the soldiers who fought at Gallipoli would have grown up on classics like The Iliad and had romantic notions about fighting.
He has aimed for historical accuracy throughout the novel and there is even a Wellington connection with railway ganger Joe Slack who could hear the Turks tunnelling nearby but was ignored by his superior officers, leading to the death of 13 soldiers in an explosion.
“I will be writing three future volumes to Brothers dealing with the Western Front in the years 1916, 1817 and 1918,” he said.
While there is yet to be a book launch, you can buy Brothers from Sharon’s Haircut Shop for $20, go online to writersandebooks.com or check out some of his other books at the library such as the Mountain City Murders and Singing Johnny Cash in the Cardiac Ward.
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