The Desert Poets of World War One
This is the first book which tells the history of the conflict in the Middle East in the First World War in both words and poetry. Indeed, this is the first book devoted to the poems written by men who fought or served in the Middle East in the First World War. Given the blood shed at Gallipoli and the gruelling desert battles which followed, this omission is surprising, especially as the soldier poets include Rupert Brooke, Leon Gellert, A.P.Herbert, ‘Banjo’ Paterson, John Masefield (who arranged a sea ambulance service), James Griffyth Fairfax, Harley Matthews, Clem Attlee, T. E. Lawrence, Edwin ‘Trooper Gerardy’ Gerard and Siegfried Sassoon. Most anthologies concentrate solely on the war poetry of the Western Front, and nothing or little will be found in them written contemporaneously on the shores of the Eastern Mediterranean or Mesopotamia. The book covers many facets of the advance including the tensions between British officers and Australian soldiers which developed into what is now known as ‘‘Pom-pricking’ and ‘pom-baiting’ almost became a sport in Egypt and Palestine during the First World War. Indeed, the tradition of started in the First World War. London Punch carried cartoons which illustrated the laid-back ‘independence’ of the Australian character. One showed a London street in which all the very tall lamp-posts were bent over at the top, from having been leaned on by Australian solders.
Steve Gower, Director of the Australian War Memorial, writes in the Foreword, ‘From Gallipoli to Gaza constitutes a notable achievement in our understanding of this part of the Great War, and the author deserves our congratulations and thanks.’