Posts Tagged ‘ANZAC’

Book Club Pick: April 2019


Title: 1914: Riding into war

Author: Susan Brocker

Series: Kiwis at war series, book 1

Country: New Zealand

Publisher: Scholastic New Zealand

First Published: 2014

Pages: 215

Publisher Description:

Billy may have been fresh off the farm, but he was a good rider and an even better shot. When the world went to war in 1914, Kiwis rushed to enlist. For Billy and his best mate, Jack, joining the Mounted Rifles Regiment held the promise of adventure – little did they know that half the battle would lie in keeping their horses alive aboard the troopship as the journeyed halfway around the world.


Seventeen-year-old Billy Bowman, nicknamed Billy the Kid because of his youthful looks, is excited to enlist when war is declared in August 1914 and leave his farm job in small town New Zealand for an exciting adventure.

Billy lies about his age and he and his friend Jack Thompson and their two horses Tui and Spirit join the Mountain Rifles Regiment.

The story follows Billy and Jack’s training at Awapuni, their trip by sea to Egypt, and more training before they are sent to fight at Gallipoli without their horses.

The horses are also important characters and the boys’ relationships with their horses are an integral part of the story. Sadly we often overlook the number of horses that were killed in war.

Brocker is passionate about horses. She lives on a small farm with horses and many pets. She has written several books about horses, including Brave Bess and the ANZAC Horses, a true story of Bess, one of only four horses to return from war.

COV_Brave Bess.indd

The book also features a map of the ‘Journey of the NZ Expeditionary Force, October-December 1914’; timeline, glossary and bibliography for readers to learn more.

This was the first in a five book series ‘Kiwis at War’ released to commemorate the centenary of the First World War. The series was scheduled to be release one a year to coincide with the 100 years commemorations (2014 – 2018).

Characters will appear across several books to connect the stories. Although each book in the series can be read as a standalone novel.

I have read the next three books in the series – 1915: Wounds of War by Diana Menefy, 1916: Dig for Victory by David Hair, and 1917: Machines of War by Brian Falkner. I’m still waiting to read 1918: Broken Poppies by Des Hunt.

Brocker portrays the reality of war realistically without the novel being too graphic in its depiction of the horrors of war.


Susan Brocker Official Website

Susan Brocker on Facebook


Source: I borrowed this book from my public library.


This month’s book club pick is Jackie French’s novel A Rose for the ANZAC Boys. Today, April 25th is Anzac Day.


Anzac Day is a national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand that recognises all New Zealanders and Australians who have served during wars, conflict and peacekeeping operations. Anzac Day originally honoured those who served in the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZACs) and fought at Gallipoli during World War I.

As a scout I marched in an ANZAC Day parade and I have attended Dawn services in Auckland, Wellington and Sydney.

Anzac biscuits have long been associated with ANZACs. They are made with rolled oats, desiccated coconut, flour, sugar, butter, golden syrup, baking soda, and boiling water.

Legend has it the biscuits were sent to soldiers from family back home because the biscuits did not spoil during transportation. There is some evidence that a rolled oats biscuit was sent to the Front during World War I. Although majority of the biscuits were sold at home to raise funds for the war effort.

Below is a recipe for Anzac Biscuits:



1 cup rolled oats

1 cup desiccated coconut

1 cup flour

1 cup sugar

125g butter

2 Tbsp golden syrup

1 tsp baking soda

2 Tbsp boiling water


1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan bake). Lightly grease 1-2 baking trays or line with baking paper.

2. In a large bowl, sift in the flour. Stir in the rolled oats, coconut and sugar to combine. Make a well in the centre.

Anzac Biscuits

3. In a saucepan, melt the butter and golden syrup together.


4. Dissolve the baking soda in boiling water and then add to the butter mixture.


5. Pour the butter mixture quickly into the dry ingredients and mix to combine.


6. Roll spoonfuls of the mixture into balls and place on the oven tray, allowing enough room for biscuits to spread while cooking. Press biscuits down lightly with a fork.


7. Bake in the preheated oven for 12 – 15 minutes, cooking one tray at a time. Remove to a wire rack to cool, and enjoy!

The recipe is simple because for the dry ingredients it follows the one cup rule – 1 cup rolled oats, 1 cup desiccated coconut, 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar. You may wish to get creative and add other ingredients, such as vanilla essence, almonds, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, dried fruits (sultanas, cranberries etc).


Lest We Forget

Book Club Pick: April 2016


Book Details:

Title: A Rose for the ANZAC Boys

Author: Jackie French

Series: Stand alone novel

Country: Australia

Publisher: Angus & Robertson

First Published: 2008

Pages: 294

Publisher’s Description:

In is 1915. War is being fought on a horrific scale in the trenches of France, but it might as well be a world away from sixteen-year-old Midge Macpherson, at school in England learning to be a young lady. But the war is coming closer: Midge’s brother are in the army, and her twin, Tim, is listed as ‘missing’ in the devastating defeat of the Anzac forces at Gallipoli.

Desperate to do their bit – and avoid the boredom of school and the restrictions of Society – Midge and her friends Ethel and Anne start a canteen in France, caring for the endless flow of wounded soldiers returning from the front. Midge, recruited by the over-stretched ambulance service, is thrust into carnage and scenes of courage she could never have imagined. And when the war is over, all three girls – and their Anzac boys as well – discover that even going ‘home’ can be strange and wonderful.


A Rose for the ANZAC Boys focuses on the female volunteers of World War I, who nursed and cared for soldiers, drove ambulances, raised money for the War effort, sent food parcels and knitted clothing. Jackie French calls these women the ‘forgotten army’.

It is 1915 and sixteen-year-old Margery ‘Midge’ Macpherson from a Canterbury sheep farm in New Zealand is studying at Miss Hollington’s School for Young Ladies, a boarding school in England, while her two brothers Dougie and Tim serve in the Army during World War I.

Midge is worried as her twin brother Tim (who enlisted under another name because he was underage) is listed as missing in action. Keen to do her bit Midge and her boarding school friends Ethel and Anne open a canteen in France to feed and care for the soldiers returning from the front.

While working at the canteen Midge meets Slogger Jackson, a female ambulance driver (driving an old butcher’s van). After Slogger’s hands are badly hurt Midge takes her place as an ambulance driver and ends up assisting at field hospital. Midge suddenly experiences the true horrors of war.

ANZAC is an acronym for the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. Midge meets Harry Harrison, a son of an Australian sheep farmer. They share bond because of their connection as farmers.

Australian War Memorial, Canberra

Australian War Memorial, Canberra

Sydney Cenotaph, Martin Place

ANZAC Day 2014, Sydney Cenotaph, Martin Place

Majority of the novel takes place between 1915 and 1920, during and just following the First World War. But the narrative is bookended by two contemporary events – an ANZAC Day service in Biscuit Creek, a small Australian town in 1975 and ANZAC Day in Biscuit Creek in 2007.

The book is written in third person with personal letters sent and received by Midge interwoven between the chapters.

French does not shy away from the horror of War and there are some graphic depictions of the violence and consequences of War.



Jackie French Official Website


Source: I borrowed a copy of this book from my public library.