In 1941, John Treloar (Director of the Australian War Memorial) suggested the publication of illustrated books about the Australian Military forces during the Second World War. They would be written in popular style and contain a strong personal element. Money raised by the books would go towards the completion of the Memorial building in Canberra.

The books were very popular. They helped lift troop morale and provided a link between service personnel on active duty and their loved ones back home. They held great sentimental value. To this day many Australian homes still have at least one Christmas book in their library.

The Memorial published the first Christmas book, Active service, in 1941, with an initial print run of 94,531 copies. This was the largest print order in Australian history at the time. Jungle warfare was the highest selling title, with sales of 230,407 for its first print.

Despatching the first issue of 'Soldiering on' Despatching the first issue of "Soldiering on" the 1942 edition of the Christmas Book published by the Australian War Memorial.
AWM 027519

Christmas book production figures:
Cover art Titles Total number printed
[to June 1957]
H.M.A.S 73,710
H.M.A.S Mk II 69,575
H.M.A.S Mk III 67,423
H.M.A.S Mk IV 53,899
Active service 138,208
Soldiering on 143,784
Khaki and green 237,620
Jungle warfare 268,278
Stand easy 162,240
On guard 41,007
Signals 41,159
These eagles 98,478
RAAF log 87,953
RAAF saga 95,730
Victory roll 53,238
As you were 1946 76,038
As you were 1947 55,975
As you were 1948 52,157
As you were 1949 46,349
As you were 1950 44,644