In time for Anzac Day tomorrow, I bring you Tony Bradman’s Anzac Boys; a dyslexia friendly short novel on WWI as seen from the other side of the world. And a little bit from ‘our’ end as well.
Tony writes about orphans Bert and Frank, who first end up in a children’s home in London in 1906 when their mother dies. They are soon sent off to Australia, to a ‘better life’ as the priest at the orphanage says. Bert is 12 and Frank is 9, so Bert needs to look out for his little brother and promises him always to be there.
When they arrive in Australia they are separated and there is nothing Bert can do to help Frank, who is shipped off to New Zealand. What follows are eight years of hard work on farms, often being treated badly, but with life getting a little better for Bert once he’s old enough to be allowed to have a say in where he goes and who he works for. And then war breaks out.
Bert enlists and is sent off to ‘Europe’ to fight, and much to his surprise and delight he finds Frank again, with the New Zealand army. But Frank hates his brother for deserting him.
We follow the brothers to Gallipoli, and I’m not going to tell you what happens there…
This is very sad, and very inspirational, and most of the ‘ingredients’ are true, even if there were no actual Bert and Frank Barker.