Review Blog

May 29 2013

They hosed them out by John Bede Cusack

cover image

Wakefield Press, 2012. 359pgs, (pbk.) ISBN:9781743051054
(Ages: 15 and up). Recommended. They Hosed Them Out is an Australian war novel based on the author's own experiences as an air gunner, flying for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) during the Second World War. Air gunners were considered a lowly position and they had a shockingly low life expectancy. As the title suggests, there are some confronting scenes in this novel. Hosing gunners out of their turrets was the only way to remove the blood and guts splattered in the confined space. Survival rates were distressing, resulting in the unwritten RAAF rule that after a friend or flying companion was lost you drank to his memory once only and never mentioned his name again. The well documented horrors of the brutal reality of war based on Cusack's logbook are well balanced with some highly entertaining stories about Cusack's time on leave. Cusack was a bit of a larrikin who was always getting into trouble for not following rules and protocols and when not on aerial operations, Cusack and his mates play up, drinking and gambling. This fictionalised memoir is a newly revised and expanded edition featuring chapters never published before; a fascinating biography by Cusack's daughter Kerry McCourt and a new introduction by the editor, war historian Robert Brokenmouth. This is an outstanding book about the air war and even if you are not that interested in Australia's military history, you will find this powerful story engaging. There's adventure, empathy, humour, emotion, fear and plenty of adrenalin rushes.
Michelle Thomson

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