Fraser Coast Mayor George Seymour congratulates Hervey Bay author Tony Matthews on the publishing of A Dawn with no Birdsong.
Fraser Coast Mayor George Seymour congratulates Hervey Bay author Tony Matthews on the publishing of A Dawn with no Birdsong. Contributed

Hervey Bay author to launch 30th book for WW1 anniversary

A HERVEY Bay author will launch his landmark 30th book as part of the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the end of World War 1.

Tony Matthews' new book, A Dawn with no Birdsong, is a work of fiction but it has been inspired by real historical events.

Mr Matthews said the book delves deeply into one of the most controversial aspects of World War 1, the policy of the British military in executing its own men, and those of its allied forces, for misdemeanours such as sleeping at a post, shell-shock, striking an officer, and other similar 'crimes'.

The injustice involved in almost all these cases has always been of keen interest to me - the courage, resilience and suffering of those men who volunteered, or were conscripted, to fight and often to die during that terrible conflict," Tony said.

"Generally speaking they didn't want to be there but were forced to fight and die through the fear of brutal punishments which were being imposed by the British military authorities and government including crucifixion to wagon wheels and execution by firing squad.

"Desertion, quitting a post, cowardice, disobedience, striking an officer, casting away arms, mutiny and sleeping while on duty, were all crimes punishable by death. During the four years of war a total of 346 men were executed by British firing squads for such offences.

"The Australian Government during the war banned the use of capital punishment and no Australians were executed with the exception of two who were serving with the New Zealand forces and one man who had been serving with a South African division."

"A Dawn with no Birdsong is a novel but it is also an examination and, I hope, a powerful indictment of the British military system of field punishment at that time."

Fraser Coast Mayor George Seymour will launch the book, in the Federation Room of the Brolga Theatre on November 17 at 1.30pm.



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