‘Make sure you give your brother a big hug and remember his face as you will never see him again.’
These are the heartbreaking words of a father, addressed to his daughter, as her brother Bill Gunning went off to war. Tragically, his father’s presentiment came to pass and, like so many other young men who fought in World War II, Bill never did come back.
But almost seventy-five years later, Bill’s nephew, Commander Tony Vine, revisits the lives of the fifty young men, including his uncle, who trained at RAAF Narromine in New South Wales to become pilots and other aircrew in the European and Pacific theatres of the war. He takes us through their rigorous training, their successes and failures and gives us an insight into the ways in which their lives and the lives of their loved ones were changed by their experiences. Their story is both heartbreaking and exhilarating; by sharing in it through Commander Vine’s thoroughly researched narrative, we can come a little closer to understanding the generations-long impact of war and the simultaneous strength and fragility of the young people we send to fight it.
Soft cover, 356 pages.
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