The First at War

This is the story of the men of the 2/1st Australian Infantry Battalion 1939 – 1945

The men of the 2/1st Australian Infantry Battalion have given permission for a second print of their book, “The First at War”. This is the story of the men who were first to volunteer for Australia in 1939 and fought the enemy in North Africa, Greece, Crete, Syria and over the Kokoda Trail. It is a story of tough and determined men and their leaders who were still engaging the enemy when the war ended in August 1945.

This book will make a wonderful Christmas / Birthday gift and would be a reminder to the families of all Australians of the debt that is owed to these men.

Available from 15th October 2010.

Members special rates available.

To order your copy please send cheque / money order to:
Mike Waldron
P O Box 134, WANGI WANGI NSW 2267
02 49755478
Pay direct into any Commonwealth Bank Branch
Account Number – 062822 17310884
Add your name and phone number

Jellybeans in the Jungle

Jellybeans in the Jungle is one man’s attempt to make sense of his experience as a Nasho during Australia’s war in Vietnam.

In 1969 Bob Whittaker was called up for National Service as a primary school teacher working in western Queensland. He subsequently served in 7RAR during its second tour of duty in 1970.

This book tells the story of his recruit and corps training, his posting to 7RAR, his operational service in a variety of postings, and his return to Australia.

He describes encounters with both enemy and friendly troops, his R & R in Bangkok, a Saigon guard, and finally his return to Australia and his rehabilitation as a teacher of children with disabilities.

Bob returned to Vietnam in 2006 and 2007, and his reflections during these journeys provide a fascinating insight into conflict and reconciliation.


Prologue Rookies Getting Ready Jellybeans Sailing North On Operations Friendly Fire T.A.O.R. Night Moves Bunkers Jungle Liturgy Sony Radio Unauthorised Discharge Battle at the Horsehoe Not the Sistine Chapel Saigon Guard Rubbish Picquet “Welcome” Home Aftermath Epilogue – Going Back Reflections

To secure your copy go to –

‘Dr. NX22 -Memoirs of an Australian Doctor in Peace and War’ – C.H. ‘Tom’ Selby
ISBN 9780980-681925

RRP $35.00 Available from Roger Selby, 7 Woodford Street, LONGUEVILLE,
NSW 2066 – Email
Review by Lex McAulay

This book will have special significance for those original ‘Second Firsters’ from 1939-41. Tom Selby was the RMO through the early years from formation of the battalion, sailing on the first convoy, to Bardia, Tobruk, Greece and Crete. The book is worth reading for these events alone.

Tom Selby qualified as a doctor in 1933, then went to England to acquire extra experience and qualifications, returned to Australia and enlisted when war was declared, with the very low regimental number of NX22. He ended the war as a Lieutenant Colonel commanding a Field Ambulance in the Wewak campaign. He then went into private practice in North Sydney, retired in 1985 and died in 1996.

All his life, Tom Selby was interested in ships, and part of the memoirs describe his voyages on the pre-war liners, through to wartime journeys, to his love of sailing on Sydney Harbour. He made his way to England, and returned, by volunteering as a ship’s doctor. In those days, part of the fun was being at sea on what was a ship, rather than the floating hotel-palaces of today.

Another interesting part of the book is that the aspects of State Heath bureaucracies Tom Selby criticised in the 1970s and 1980s remain today! Here again the book is worth it for this segment alone.

Many years after the war, one of Tom Selby’s commanders remarked that he never understood why Selby did not receive the decorations for which he was recommended. When Defence files were available to the public, Tom Selby requested a copy of his file and found that recommendations for awards to him, approved by senior officers including the division commander, had been down-graded personally by General Blamey to MID. This was pay-back from some of the pompous incompetents in the senior ranks of the RAAMC who had been shown to be both liars and incompetent by Tom Selby. The records showed that Tom Selby had been Mentioned in Despatches four times.

One of Tom Selby’s ‘accomplishments’ was that all Allied maritime unloading and construction work at Milne Bay was halted and all work force available was placed under his command, despite his junior rank, until adequate field latrines and sanitation had been constructed to his standards. In later years he was introduced as the man who had everything stopped until the shithouses were built….

So I can recommend this book for several reasons. First, for the link to all members of the Association, and especially for those originals of the 2/1st still with us, and secondly for the account of the experiences of a suburban GP. But thirdly, this is a window into a society now gone. This is its real value. The book is available from Tom’s son Roger, at the address above.

(Disclosure: I edited the memoirs for Benn. Lex McAulay)