Digger: The Story of the Australian Soldier - John LaffinLondon: Cassell, 1959, Hardback in Dust Wrapper.
Condition: Good — in Good Dust Wrapper. Unlaminated dust wrapper a little edgeworn and faded with a little chipping to the head of the spine. Edges of the textblock heavily spotted. Text complete, clean and tight but a little age-tanned.
Contains: Black & white plates; Frontispiece;
From the cover: “In my life I have fought with and against many kinds of soldiers, but I have never seen any who carried themselves more nobly in battle, more daringly or more stout-heartedly, than those men of Anzac’. These were the words in which Field-Marshal Sir William Slim described his experiences of the Australian soldier, an exceptional figure, by any standard, in the annals of warfare. The apparent contradictions in Digger character — stubborn courage in battle balanced by gentle compassion for the suffering; fundamental cynicism cheek by jowl with an ideal of comradeship — are not easily understood by anyone who does not know Australians. For the Australian soldier is essentially a product of Australian society; his keen sense of democracy and the high value he places on his own individuality do not allow him to accept an authority which has failed to earn his confidence. In the past this was a trait which often made him suspect in the eyes of Western military pundits.
The Digger first hit the headlines during the South African War, when he countered the enemy’s cunning with his native sense of bush-craft, his success surprising both the Boers and the British high command, who continued to prefer more traditional methods of warfare. He received his true baptism of fire on the beaches of Gallipoli and in the fields of France and Flanders in the First World War, earning himself a reputation second to none in the shambles of the trenches. He proved his maturity at Tobruk and El Alamein, and in the jungles of New Guinea.
John Laffin presents an all-round picture of the evolution and character of the Digger, and by doing so explains those inconsistencies which seem puzzling to the outsider. A former Digger himself, he served throughout the Second World War with fighting units of the A. I. F., and so speaks from first-hand experience. His book is a fine tribute to those hard-bitten, fatalistic soldiers with their wry sense of humour, who will never be forgotten by those lucky enough to fight beside them or unlucky enough to fight against them.”