Review Blog

Jun 21 2012

Dangerous days - The true story of a digger's great escape by Ernest Brough

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Angus and Robertson, 2010. ISBN 9780732287511.
Recommended for secondary boys (and girls) who would enjoy this true story of Ernest Brough's experience in North Africa and Europe in World War Two. This book has been adapted from his adult novel Dangerous days: A Diggers Great Escape, published in 2009. Aged 89 when he co-authored this version, Ernest remembers it all vividly. He was a nineteen year old country boy from Drouin in Victoria's Gippsland when he enlisted in the Second Australian Imperial Force. He was sent to Libya in North Africa, where he became one of the famous Rats of Tobruk. These were Australians who withstood the German siege of the town for 242 days giving the Allies time to rebuild strength to confront Rommel, the German Commander, in the battles of El Alamein. This was possibly the last war where the 'rules' of war, eg not shooting an unarmed prisoner, were observed. It was just before the allied victory here that Ernest was taken prisoner by the Germans and ended up in a Stalag prisoner of war camp in Austria.
The story of his escape with two others and their hair-raising journey on foot to Croatia is indeed a thrilling story. They experienced life on the road with the Yugoslav partisans before pulling a plane out of the mud to fly to Italy. That he survived so much is more than lucky - it was a miracle. Boys today would be amazed to learn of the hardships, bravery, resourcefulness, mateship and stoic endurance of Ernest and his compatriots. Ernest is honest about living with the legacy of the war and he ends with his reflections on war and its effects.
There is also a very useful Readers' Notes containing information on World War Two, Australia's role in it, the structure of the AIF, the North African campaign, major figures of the war, the Yugoslav partisans and a Timeline of World War Two.
Kevyna Gardner

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