It may surprise many of us to know that an analysis of the DNA of the bodies recovered from the Battle of Fromelles revealed that many of the predominantly Australian soldiers had identifiable Askanazi Jewish haplotypes. Yet the tradition of service in Australia’s defence forces of those of Jewish descent has d depth not often recognized.
Mark Dapin has written several well-reviewed works of fiction and the non-fictional The Nashos War about Nation Service and the Vietnam War. Perhaps as a consequence of his study for a PhD at the Australian Defence Force Academy, he has developed that comparative rarity, a non-military author with a very good understanding of the military and its strange parochial habits. He has backed this up by producing a work that is the result of careful research and extensive documentation.
There have been two books purporting to show the extent of Jewish participation in the Australian forces in the World Wars, but both have been mere listings and devalued by many errors. The listing of those Jewish soldiers, sailors and airmen (and women) in this book is almost sufficient reason to give it praise. Sadly, the long roll of those who served and those who died is printed in such small type that it hardly gives the honour these service personnel deserve. Mark Dapin’s book redresses this problem and in doing this does a service to us all.
A particular strength of this book is the selection and presentation of the photographs. It is a significant contribution to Australia’s military history.
Reviewed by Mike O’Brien, April 2017 for RUSIV
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