a Tommy in every doorway, Tommies in every barn, a Tommy's khaki jacket showing through every kitchen window; until at last towards evening we reached a country populated by the familiar old pea-soup overcoats and high-necked jackets and slouch hats of Australians.
There they were, the men whom we had last seen on the Suez Canal--here they were, already, in the orchard alongside of the old lichened, steep-roofed barn--four or five of them squatting round a fire of sticks, one stuffing his pipe and talking, talking, talking all the while. I knew that they were happy there before ever they said it. A track led across a big field--there were two Australians walking along it. A road crossed the railway--two Australians were standing at the open door of the house, and another talking to the kiddies in the street. There was a platoon of them drilling behind a long barn.
A long way ahead of that, still going through an Australian country, we stopped; and a policeman showed us to the station entrance w
In modern terminology Bean would be considered an "embedded journalist" and as the official war historian he was in the middle of the action during the involvement of Australian troops in the battles in the Somme in WW1.
He has a poetic writing style that paints a clear picture and he does not sugar coat anything.
Having recently returned from a tour of the Somme gave this book an emotional connection for me and I still find it hard to equate the green fields I saw with the mud and destruction described by Bean.
Read this and then hunt down Bean's other books, especially his writings about Gallipoli.
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