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Today's quote:

Monday, August 17, 2020

Australia's version of "All Quiet on the Western Front"

To read the book go to www.archive.org
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There were several similarities between John Hepworth and my best mate for almost thirty years, Noel Butler: both were born within months of each other, both fought in the AIF in New Guinea, and both died in 1995.

But while John Hepworth wrote about the bitter and bloody campaign along the savage north coast of New Guinea, Noel Butler never so much as mentioned the war, not to me and not to others. In this he was similar to my own father who, despite having been wounded to the point of being an invalid for the rest of his life, never spoke about the war either. Perhaps they all saw too much death around them, and felt guilty that they had survived and so many others had not.

John Hepworth and Noel Butler fought the Japanese in the area from Aitape to Wewak. Noel Butler later also took part in the Bougainville campaign. John Hepworth returned to Australia where, according to the introduction to this book, he kept "open house and cooking and cleaning for all who fetched up on his doorstep needing help, jollying and solacing and drinking along with their sorrows." Noel Butler returned to where he had fought during the war and settled in Wewak, also to keep an open house for all those who fetched up on his doorstep.

I was one of those he jollied and solaced and drank along with in my darker hours and I will be for ever grateful for his friendship. Reading "The Long Green Shore", itself written as an act of remembering mates who died, is my paying tribute to the memory of a good and kind man.

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