“Robert’s War is an autobiographical account of a Queensland lad who lied about his age to join the army, to wear the uniform, to attract the girls and to emulate his two older brothers who were on active service ‘somewhere’.
But no sooner had he become the youngest soldier in the Australian Army than he volunteered for anti-malaria experiments being carried out by the Army, and spent considerable time in hospitals and convalescence establishments recovering from bouts of malaria and the results of over-stressing his weakened body showing off his swimming and diving prowess in competitions and in front of (mainly disinterested) girls. He spent much time at home on leave, visiting cinemas and dance halls in search of girls and in trailing an older, wilder brother and finding himself in trouble with the military police.
At last, towards the end of the war, he was finally cleared for service. He tricked the officials into permitting him to join the unit of the other brother (who had been discharged on medical grounds) and was sent up to ‘the islands’ where he saw some active service, especially, while on patrol duty, as an Owen gunner and a forward scout. He lost a boxing match that he should have won and was involved in the withdrawal of the Army back to Australia. He spent quite some time on post-war duty with the Army but was finally discharged, ready for his next adventure.”
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