The Christmas books
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.
Christmas book production figures:
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