Obsessed from a young age by the Anzac legend and intrigued by the mystery surrounding the identity of two diggers from a family photo, Damian sets out on a quest to put names to the faces. Whilst holidaying in Warrnambool, a series of curious events lead him to the discovery of a war diary in an op-shop that may finally link him to the legend.
Callinan brings to life the pages of the diary as we meet Paddy Callinan and his ‘push’ as they set off for ‘The Big Show. Along the way we meet Stanza the prankster poet, Bluey the outspoken union leader, Mocka the mumbling ladies’ man, Depot the scrounger and Pirate whose ability to talk could be the weapon that turns the war.
Callinan combines detailed research, hilarious but believable characterisations, black humour, absurdity and deft writing to swing the mood of the story from rollicking farce to aching pathos in a heartbeat.
Actual events are woven into the tapestry of the narrative to put a new spin on history: Depot sells a pantomime donkey costume to Simpson, the lads give a scathing review of a German painting found in a trench attributed to a Corporal Adolf H and a game of cricket in the trenches leads to the first trans-Tasman underarm bowling incident.
The Lost WW1 Diary is fresh take on the generation who travelled across the world to war and discovered that it’s a long way to Tipperary without a GPS.