Sorry I’ve been a bit of a slack blogger – as you might have noticed I haven’t made a post since March. I guess I’ve just been devoting all my spare time to the book and have kept pushing the blog to a lower priority. Anyway, I thought I’d better provide a quick update on where we’re up to with the book. As I can see from the blog stats there are quite a number of people who check it out. I’m always happy to see and hear of the number of people interested in our project.
Over the past few months I’ve been concentrating on 1917 (a very eventful year) and have now finished writing the chapters on that whole year. The major battles were Louverval, Bullecourt, and the biggest was Polygon Wood. It literally took me months to properly research and write this, their biggest battle, in the sort of detail I wanted to. Since then I’ve moved into researching and writing about the first few months of 1918 and am now writing about the German spring offensive of March. Meanwhile, Nick has been beavering away on the earlier period; i.e. 1916 and the Egypt days. He is currently writing about Fromelles, the battalion’s first big battle.
So, we’ve been working very hard on the book over the past several months, getting done what we can in our minimal spare time. Both Nick and I have pretty demanding jobs at the AWM, so sometimes it’s a little difficult to find the time (not to mention the energy) to power on. Still, we both love working on the project and are still aiming to finish writing by the end of the year. I don’t know how long the editing and production process will then take, but we would hope it would be ready for release sometime next year.
In other developments:
We’ve recently launched a bit of an advertising campaign through NSW historical societies and newspapers. This Sunday we’ll have an advert in The Sunday Telegraph. Basically, we’re still on the lookout for people who might have personal letters, diaries, postcards or photos of men of the 56th. Already we’ve had quite a few people contact us.
Work on the nominal roll continues and is close to completion. We’re really confident that we have an exceptionally thorough list of men who served with the battalion, however briefly their stay might have been. We’ve now reached 3,500 names.
The collection of photos of the men continues to grow – we now know what almost 200 of the men looked like.
We’re still looking for papers from key figures (i.e. the more senior officers) in the battalion. While we have photos of many of them, try as we might, we still have no personal papers from any of the COs; Humphrey Scott, Adam Simpson, Frederick Oatley, Henry Cameron, Austin Holland or Norman Marshall. We’d also love to find something from other key officers like Majors Lucas and Roberts, and Captains Fanning, Anderson, Mann and Plomley. Oh well, we do what we can and we may yet get lucky on this front…
Anyway, enough blogging for now – I’ll try to not let it go so long before my next post…
Again, many thanks to all who take an interest in the 56th Battalion, and our history project.