Friday, June 2, 2017

Wicked Stepmother?

Dr Nigel Boulton's second wife Marie was the widow of James Clayton Tofield, late of Leura, and the daughter of one of his patients Madame Memory, who my family remembers as a very eccentric woman but as an excellent pianist.

At some stage Madame Memory was the caretaker of a mansion diagonally opposite the house of Nigel's sister Thea Dennis. From early 1933 Thea lived on the corner of St Vincent’s Rd and River Rd, Greenwich with her five children, one of whom was my mother Julia. In my childhood, when visiting my grandmother Thea, we knew that neighbouring mansion as the Pallister Church of England Girls Home but it was off-limits to us kids and always a bit mysterious. We never saw much sign of any activity happening there. Where were the girls?  It’s now the Greenwich Hospital, specialising in palliative care.

According to my mother, Marie Ellen Tofield née Memory had long red hair and bred red setter dogs. Nigel married her at the Registrar General’s Office in Sydney on 24 November 1927, when he was close to forty and his boys Philip (Pip) and Peter were about ten and seven years old respectively.[1] In her mid thirties at the time, Marie was inexperienced with children and their needs.
Dr Nigel Boulton & second wife Marie
In Nigel's divorce from his first wife Mona, custodial rights to the two boys reputedly involved them staying with their father until the age of 14, when they were allowed to choose which parent they wished to live with. At this point, in the early-mid 1930s, both boys were placed in an invidious position by their step mother Marie, who reportedly took them aside and said she would leave their father if they chose to stay with him. They were thus given little choice but to choose their mother, which broke Nigel's heart, especially as his second wife Marie left anyway, a few years later.

According to my mother, she ran off with a poet in the later 1930s. (Update, 3 June: I've now been informed by Kate O'Neill, a researcher at Woodford Academy in the Blue Mountains, that this was Raymond Hanson, younger than her and a musician, not a poet. In October 2017, Kate will present a paper on Marie to the Blue Mountains Historical Society.)

The two Boulton boys sometimes found it difficult living in the home of their mother Mona and stepfather (Alphons James Dee) and, in his mid-teens, Peter (born in 1920) spent long periods living with his aunt Thea and his cousins (my mother Julia and her four brothers). His older brother Pip sailed off to Europe in May 1939.

During one of these periods, when Marie rented a holiday cottage at Patonga for 4-5 days, Peter came to stay with his father and step-mother, bringing a friend, and cousin Julia came too, with a friend. But the food was rationed out, even the biscuits were counted to make sure no-one ate anything additional to the rations. Cousins Peter and Julia long afterwards remembered how starved they felt and how they wished they could go home.

Nigel eventually divorced his long-absent wife Marie in 1950.[2] He found happiness with his third wife, another widow. Thelma Attwood née Robertson, a well-known antiques auctioneer, married Nigel at St Stephen's, Macquarie St in Sydney on 19 January 1951.[3]

Marie reverted to her maiden name and her death at Sydney Hospital on 24 May 1964 was registered as Marian Memory.[4] She would have been around 72 years old. Nigel died at his home in Ryde on 30 June 1969, aged 80.[5]

There is a street in Ryde named Memory St but I don’t know its history or possible connection to Nigel’s second wife and her family.

There's a great deal more about Nigel Boulton's life in my book 'Brothers in Arms: The Great War Letters of Captain Nigel Boulton, R.A.M.C. and Lieut Stephen Boulton, A.I.F.'.





[1] SMH, Wed 21 Dec 1927, p 12, col a
[2] SMH, Sat 27 May 1950, p 7, col e; and Decree Nisi, N P Boulton v M E Boulton, SMH, Fri 17 Nov 1950, p 9, col c
[3] Marriage Certificate No C850225, Original Copy, in possession of author
[4] Registry of Births, Deaths & Marriages, NSW, https://familyhistory.bdm.nsw.gov.au/lifelink/familyhistory/search/result?3
[5] Nigel Philip Boulton, Certified Copy of Death Certificate, Issued 18 July 1969, NSW Registry of B, D & M, Sydney

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Commonwealth Bank's WW1 Honour Rolls

Commonwealth Bank's 'missing'
WW1 Honour Rolls, Sydney
Commonwealth Bank honours its World War 1 dead - or does it?
Back in those distant 60s when I worked in the Commonwealth Bank's old head office building in Sydney, I entered my office each day through the Pitt St entrance. The WW1 Honour Rolls graced the lift foyer. Aged 20, it never occurred to me that any of the names listed there were relevant to my family.
Recently, when writing my book 'Brothers in Arms' I realised my error. Margaret Flockton's nephew Stephen Boulton worked for this bank before enlisting in January 1915. He survived Gallipoli, Pozieres & more but not the final, final push. His amazing letters have been honoured by the Australian War Memorial's digitisation project and his name should be on the CBA's Honour Rolls ... so I went looking for them.
Aghast, I discovered that the building has been sold, that the magnificent old banking chamber is now a shopping place and the Rolls are 'missing in action'.
An email to the Commonwealth Bank Archives Dept and several emails to Dexus Property Group revealed the Honour Rolls had been relocated to another spot within the building ... somewhere! The photograph on the left was sent to me, as proof.
BUT - although they are on the Official Register of War Memorials in NSW these Honour Rolls are clearly no longer easily accessible to the public. I've visited the building three times on various visits to Sydney (from Melbourne) and haven't been able to find them, nor can anyone at reception tell me where they are. By Remembrance Day in 2017, will these Rolls onc again be honoured in some way?

IMPORTANT UPDATE


Honour Rolls, May 2017
Photo Courtesy Catherine McKellar, Dexus Group
Catherine McKellar, General Manager for the Dexus & CBus Property co-owners of 5 Martin Place, contacted me on 18 May 2017 to explain that the Honour Rolls, in their new position inside the original building, will soon be accessible to the public. She said:
We are pleased to confirm that these Honour Rolls are in place and have not been relocated as part of the Development of 5 Martin Place finished in 2015.
They are located at each side of the main entrance doors off Pitt Street (on the inside) and are in their original condition.
The tenancy is locked at the moment as our new tenant is starting their fitout.
The Honour Rolls have been and will be preserved into the future. SP Boulton is on the Honour Roll.
The area will be opened to the public once our retail tenant opens in early September.
Stephen Philip Boulton was my great-uncle.
Photo Courtesy Catherine McKellar, Dexus Group
Thank you, Catherine, for clarifying the matter, providing the photos and kindly offering to give me a tour of the old Commonwealth Bank building next time I'm in Sydney. 

I'm pleased to have an answer, now, to my question at the start of this post - yes, the Commonwealth Bank's staff who served in the Great War will continue to be honoured. Remembrance Day has not lost its meaning.





Monday, April 24, 2017

Stephen Boulton, Anzac Day 1917

With Anzac Day coming up tomorow, my thoughts turn to my great uncle Stephen Boulton as I wonder - how did he spend Anzac Day on the Western Front one hundred years ago?

Corporal S P Boulton, 21st FAB, Jan 1917
His letters reveal that 1917 was a roller-coaster ride for him, with a series of UPs and DOWNs. He went on ten days’ leave  to England around 5 January 1917 (UP) but, being a victim of that year's extreme cold winter in France, he was already incubating the mumps (DOWN). He'd only been back in France for a day when the symptoms emerged and he went straight into a hospital isolation ward in Boulogne and then into a convalescent camp. He didn’t leave there for the Base Camp at Etaples until 24 February, when he underwent the required 10 days of training exercises before sick soldiers could rejoin their units.

Coincidentally, the 24 February was the day his mates in the 1st Division took part in casualty-laden action at Bapaume. So his stay in the hospital, the convalescent camp and the Base Camp was a high point on his 1917 ride, as being sick allowed him to stay relatively warm and dry through the worst of the winter weather and to escape some of the front-line horrors (UP).

After Bapaume, the 1st Division was rested from front-line service, and the authorities found it more convenient to leave Steve in the Base Camp, suffering the endless training regimes desiged to keep soldiers busy as he waited to go up the line. For strategic reasons the Germans had retreated in the Spring of 1917 to their well-fortified Hindenberg line of defence, which the Allied forces now determined to break through, as they had at Pozières in 1916. A veteran of the latter battle, and watching the comings and goings in the Base Camp, Steve was obviously well aware of the intended action, because he referred in a letter to censorship restricting his ability to mention what was going on at this time.

It was not until 29 March that Steve rejoined his old artillery mates, now relocated from 21st Field Artillery Brigade to the 1st FAB as part of a major reorganisation of the Allied forces prior to the fighting season of 1917. They were camped in the Béhencourt rest area north east of Amiens. The Arras offensive was about to commence, a definite trough in Steve's ride through 1917 (DOWN).

On 6 April the 1st FAB (except for one unspecified section) moved out of Béhencourt to a staging camp en route and next day moved into its position south-east of Arras and north-east of Bapaume where the Australian 1st Division was holding a lengthy (13,000 yard) section of the front line, running almost parallel to the German front-line with only a kilometre of No-Man's-Land between them. A few miles to the north, Australia’s 4th Division faced the Germans at Bullecourt, a French village which had been incorporated into the Hindenberg line, just like Pozières had been in 1916. The British General, Gough, ordered a poorly-planned attack on Bullecourt on 10-11 April, a battle which failed dismally and was very costly for the Australians.
Aerial view of Bullecourt, before the 1917 battles,
showing zig-zag lines of German trenches and, in front,
dark grey lines of barbed wire rolls
Source AWM J00276

With Allied defence of this section of the front line so thin, the German infantry saw their opportunity to pounce without warning. On 15 April they broke through a section of the front line held by the Australian 1st Division, at Lagnicourt. The Artillery had no rifles of their own to defend themselves and, while surviving unit war diaries do not specifically mention the 1st Battery in which Steve served, they did report that four 18 pounders of the 4th Battery and one Howitzer of the 102nd Battery were totally destroyed. The Germans were quickly pushed back, but this incident dented the otherwise proud record of the Australian forces in France. (DOWN)

Steve’s unit stayed in the line until 21 April, when the 1st FAB was withdrawn for a few days of rest in the wagon lines, where it seems that Steve and his mates spent Anzac Day in 1917.

Australian artillery in Second Battle of Bullecourt,
Source AWM E0600
Gough ordered a second Battle of Bullecourt, across the same ground as the first. It began on 3 May, and involved three Australian divisions, with some ground successfully recaptured from the Germans. The latter abandoned their efforts to regain their lost ground by 17 May and the Australians were withdrawn.

In the two battles the AIF suffered 10,000 casualties (killed and wounded) and many men were captured, for no important strategic advantage. Any residual Australian confidence in British command all but disappeared.

The 1st FAB was relieved in the line by a British artillery unit on the night of 19/20 May and moved back to reach the Béhencourt Camp by 22 May, for a rest spell before returning north to Flanders. If Steve ever wrote any letters during these busy two months of front-line action, they did not survive.

Corporal S P Boulton was selected for officer training in England and on 6 June 1917 he entered the Officer Cadet School for the Royal Field Artillery, run at Lord’s Cricket Ground in London.  (UP) A four-month gap in Steve’s letters ended on 29 July 1917 with a letter addressed from London to his mother.  Its context suggests he'd written some letters home during his previous two months in England, but they too are missing.

Artillery officers in WW1 required certain character traits to be demonstrated, as well as an aptitude for highly technical training, so their training was of much longer duration than officer training in the infantry, with a number of exams to be passed (DOWN). The training regime kept Steve away from the front line for five months, an absence which proved in hindsight to be another high point on his roller-coaster ride of 1917, because he escaped the bloodbath of the Battle of Passchendaele in Flanders in the second half of that year (UP), when many of his artillery mates were killed.

For more details, see Brothers in Arms: The Great War Letters of Captain Nigel Boulton, RAMC, & Lieut Stephen Boulton, AIF, available from a number of online outlets and several military bookshops.


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Ammunition Carriers at Anzac Cove, Gallipoli

On Anzac Day next week there will be much talk of Gallipoli. Some commentators might mention the dangerous daily work of the ammunition carriers and might even refer to the July 1965 issue of the Journal of Limbless Soldier's Association, when William H S Kerr wrote on p 83:
I refer to those gallant and resourceful men, Bill McDonald and Lieut McHattie, of Newcastle, who, from the crack of dawn as the saying goes, were in charge of those pack mules - sometimes two and three. They scrambled up those hills and valleys of thorny scrub and steep ridges, without roads or tracks, hour after hour and day after day, to be sniped at from everywhere and shelled from all directions and had to supply the troops with food and ammunition.
(Note: I'm not sure of Bill McDonald's fate but McHattie died of wounds on the Western Front in 1917.)

Here's another description of this very high risk task, from Stephen Boulton, who enlisted in January 1915 as an Artillery Gunner in the 1st Division of the AIF and also carried ammunition to the troops at Gallipoli. He outlines his duties in a letter to his mother back in Sydney, a letter written on 19 Nov 1915 from his hospital in Malta, to where he was evacuated from Anzac Cove with severe dysentery:
You ask what work I was doing on the Peninsula. For the first fortnight or 3 weeks I was attached to the Brigade Amm. Column and had my dugout amongst the rest of the Column in Shrapnel Gully and generally started work at 8 o'clock at night, just about dark. Then proceeded down to the Ammunition Park on the beach from where we carried shell to the different batteries round Anzac. Each shell with cartridge case etc. for the 18 pounder field gun weighs about 25 lbs each, so we only carry two at a time, one on each shoulder. This is not a great weight but having to climb gullies and steep hills covered with big boulders and rocks it fairly pumps the wind out of you and numerous rests are taken.
All this is done during the night, some nights we would only get one or two trips, but others, where a lot of firing and heavy bombardment had taken place, we would be kept going till the small hours in getting the required number of rounds up. This sort of work is always done at night when possible as there is a good deal of risk attached to it and the Turk snipers are always on the look out to stop ammunition from getting up, and the brass cartridge cases of shells make an easy target to pick up. Of course we use all the saps communications trenches and firing line for cover and you are always told to keep off the sky line even at night time.
For the first week my shoulders got terribly sore with carrying the shell. Other shell of course was carried heavier than these, but we only took one at a time then. The 4.7 gun, one that was used at Ladysmith in the Boer war, went nearly 100 lbs weight and meant a walk of nearly 2 miles from the beach. Then there was the 6 inch howitzer which shells went over 100 lbs. without their charge. This work of course was rather uninteresting, but being fairly out in the open all the time, there was a fair amount of risk attached to it and the infantry chaps in the trenches used to tell us when we rested alongside them in the firing line they would sooner have their job. Some nights we wouldn't get any shell to carry at all, but about a dozen of us would be told off with pick and shovel to dig a gun pit for a new gun to be in a new position and be concealed. This was always done at night so as to keep its position utterly unknown to the enemy.
After leaving the B.A.C. to be lent to the D.A. Park I moved as you know my dug out down to the hill rising off the beach and quite close to my work which was done on the beach alone, amongst all the Ammunition. In this case we generally worked throughout the day, stacking ammunition unloaded off the punts and barges on the beach. Also loading ammunition of all kinds on to mules to go to the trenches and batteries where they could get to.
These mules with their Indian drivers are wonderful animals and adored by the Indian Johnnies as they are called. A mule could carry as much shell on specially made saddles as 4 or 6 men, so you can imagine how valuable and useful they were. They indeed saved the situation for us and did wonderful work with their transport of stores munitions etc. The Indians take the greatest care of them and after getting his cart loaded should anything in the way of a case of jam or bag of sugar fall off the Indian will never stop to pick it up as the load is made all the lighter for his mule who is all he thinks about. They suffered fairly heavily from shrapnel fire, but the Indians used to say "plenty mule get killed" but "plenty more mule."
This work on the beach came pretty heavy as the lifting of the big shells and boxes of 18 pounders and .303 small arm, am sure affected my insides and never gave me a chance of getting well over there, as if I had a rest for a day I would be better, but as soon as I returned to the lifting the whole recurrence would occur as bad as ever.
Excerpt from Brothers in Arms: The Great War Letters of Captain Nigel Boulton, R.A.M.C. & Lieut Stephen Boulton, A.I.F., available online. For more details, see Louise Wilson's  website

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Book Club discussion points for readers of 'Brothers in Arms'

Authors love it when Book Clubs pick up their book for discussion. It's even better when feedback arrives - did readers enjoy the book?
Is so, why?
If not, why not?

Feedback for me will come soon, because Brothers in Arms: The Great War Letters of Captain Nigel Boulton, R.A.M.C. & Lieut Stephen Boulton, A.I.F. has been selected for reading by the Wednesday & Thursday Book Clubs at the prestigious Melbourne Athenaeum Library.  The first group will discuss the book on Wednesday 5 April 2017. The second group will do so on Thursday 20 July 2017.

As the 'author' (the Boulton brothers actually wrote the letters, not me), I was asked to devise a list of questions for these two sessions. Having achieved some distance from the pressures of compiling and producing this book about 18 months ago, and having gained more perspective on the letters within, it was a revelation for me to recognise the wide-ranging scope of its contents. The following discussion points are an indication:
  1. The Boulton brothers’ letters were not written with the intention of telling a story but, when they are read in chronological order, a powerful underlying story emerges, painting a cultural portrait of the times, a first-hand experience of life during one of the most significant periods of the twentieth century. Is this what you expected this book to be? What did you find most surprising, intriguing or difficult to understand?  How would you describe the themes in this book to others who have not read it?
  2. Many people are not at first attracted to the idea of reading a book of letters but many who have read this book say once they started it they ‘couldn’t put it down’. Was that your response, and why (or why not)? Did any specific passages strike you as memorable?
  3. The brothers were born in the Australian colonies of Queensland and Victoria of English parents. They attended primary school in New South Wales and, around the time of Australian Federation, they spent a few years at school in England, before completing their education in Sydney. What did you make of each brother’s concept of ‘home’ in this book? At what point do you think they became truly Australian? How else did the brothers change as the war progressed?
  4. One reviewer of this book headed her review ‘With heaps and heaps of love and kisses’. What did you make of the relationships in the book - between the brothers; between Nigel and Mona; between Stephen and Mona; between Dolly and her sons?
  5. What attitudes towards women surfaced in this book? Is this a war book for women? Does this book lack the voice of women?
  6. In their letters the brothers make occasional reference to ‘the enemy’, both in general terms and specifically (as Turks, Germans, etc), but is that concept personal for Nigel and Stephen?
  7. Erich Maria Remarque’s “All Quiet on the Western Front”, the classic novel about WW1 written in 1929 from the German point of view, describes in detail all the gruesome aspects of life ‘in the line’ for the infantry, especially the impact of the artillery. Remarque himself was called up for military service late in 1916, when he was eighteen, and served on the Western Front in 1917 until he was injured. Why do you think Stephen, serving in the Australian artillery, discloses so little of the day-to-day horrors of his war in his letters? Does that add to, or detract from, the book?
  8. How did you feel as you reached the end? Does the post-war story in this book sound familiar?
  9. The recipient Dora Boulton saved her sons’ war letters, had them typed in the 1920s and presented a copy of each typed set of letters to the new Australian War Memorial. Why do you think that museum requested and still holds both sets of the original letters? Why do you think Stephen’s were among the first sets of letters to be digitised by the Australian War Memorial.
  10. This is a non-fiction book, a set of historic documents in the form of letters … many letters were written in 1914 & 1915, less later on, and there are some gaps in the letter series. Did you notice this or wonder why, and did it matter to you?
  11. Did you find the letters repetitive? Would you have omitted any of them? Were the explanatory notes introducing some of the letters sufficient? Would you have handled this set of letters in a different way? What adjective would describe the stand-out feature of these letters for you?
  12. The two brothers wrote in an entirely different style but both were basically objective and occasionally ironic. Did you enjoy the language in their letters, so very different from the approach often used by later writers in books about WW1.
  13. The Past. Did you learn anything new about the history of WW1 or the role played by Australia from this book? Has it broadened your perspective on anything personal or societal?
  14. The Present. Do the issues described in the book affect lives today?
  15. The Future. The implications for the future raised by the book include, at the macro level, the problems of alliances dragging countries into a war they don’t want, and at the personal level, the consequences of a digital age. In one hundred years, will our great grandchildren have the same opportunities to know us, through our letters?
  16. Many books have been written about the Great War, examining the decisions of various generals and describing the exploits of the infantry in various battles. Can you think of any other war book like this one? At a time when so many new titles are being released to mark the centenary years of an appalling war, does this book have general applicability as a social and military history, beyond this particular family in this particular location? 
    If these questions have intrigued you and whetted your appetite for this book, why not add this title to the reading list for your own Book Club? The book is as relevant to English readers interested in WW1 as it is to Australians and has been well-reviewed in England.
    'Brothers in Arms' is available online through BookPOD in Australia (where the customer feedback for this book is excellent) and through the usual international online outlets.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Wounded Soldiers

There's a pleasing review of my book Brothers in Arms ... in the latest edition of Reveille, the bi-monthly journal of RSL New South Wales. (Vol 90, No 1, January-February 2017, p 39). The reviewer from the Returned and Services League (RSL) clearly read the book in its entirety, something which authors always appreciate, as many commentators about books take short cuts and simply rehash the back cover blurb. Thank you, Reveille.
Review of 'Brothers in Arms' in 'Reveille'
The Boulton brothers' letters to their mother in Sydney tell the day-to-day life story of a family living through four of the most horrendous years of the twentieth century. Without detracting from the suffering of the soldiers in that appalling Great War, and those who survived it damaged in mind and body, I felt a bit like a 'wounded soldier' myself as I compiled 'Brothers in Arms'.

This is me, sitting on the couch through the autumn of 2015, recovering from an operation on my right leg, one which involved sawing a bone spur off my heel and snipping my achilles tendon. It took months to recover.

How Louise Wilson wrote 'Brothers in Arms'
The computer mouse ran around busily on the tray on my right hand side. I got a crick in my neck checking the typed copies of the letters (on the pillow to my left) against the OCR scan of those letters previously loaded into my laptop. Every now and then I took a break and hoisted myself up to make a cup of tea.

Computerised scanning of the output of a 1920s typewriter created a huge number of transcription errors, as everyone who uses the National Library of Australia's wonderful Trove system will affirm. Luckily, as Stephen served with the Australian artillery, his letters were already digitised by the Australian War Memorial so, from my couch, I could easily cross-check the typed verson to the originals. I marked out all the places where the typed version of Nigel's letters did not quite make sense and later visited Canberra to view the originals, not digitised because he served as a doctor with the British forces. Sitting on the couch I could also Google various World War 1 history sites including the digitised unit diaries on the Australian War Memorial's website, thereby obtaining the information I needed for the linking paragraphs between the letters.

In case you didn't realise, the Boulton authors of that moving set of letters also feature in Margaret Flockton: A Fragrant Memory.  My book about the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney's famous botanical artist was published by Wakefield Press in November 2016. She was Nigel and Stephen's much-loved 'Aunt Mog'.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

'Brothers in Arms': Among the best first-hand accounts in print

So says former Warrant Officer Class One (Regimental Sergeant Major) Bob Dixon, RAMC. He joined the UK's Regular Army in 1991, trained as a Combat Medical Technician, moved frequently between the major garrisons in England and Germany, was deployed on operations in Northern Ireland, Croatia, Bosnia, Macedonia, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan primarily with front line units, and took part in overseas exercises in Kenya, Canada, USA, Belize, Jamaica, South Africa and Gibraltar. Bob also received the Meritorious Service Medal in the 2014 New Year's Honours Awards.
WO1 Bob Dixon (RSM),
Source Wirral Globe, photo by Geoff Davies

He has recently retired from the RAMC (Royal Army Medical Corps) and is actively pursuing an interest of his since 2004, as a military researcher working part-time with the Museum of Military Medicine.

He was proud to discover the grave of Staff Sergeant Wilfred Brooke, one of the Great War's most decorated RAMC medics, being awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal and Bar, Military Medal, Mentioned in Despatches and the Belgian Croix de Guerre. Aged 39, Brooke was originally buried in an unmarked grave at Wallasey's Rake Lane Cemetery in July 1920, after he succumbed to injuries sustained during the war. Realising Brooke had not been commemorated with a Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstone, Bob Dixon requested an official review of the case. The Wirral Globe newspaper subsequently reported on the special ceremony placing an official headstone on Brooke’s grave 95 years after his death and also featured on BBC North West Tonight and in the Liverpool Echo.

Given Bob Dixon’s extensive background experience, I’m very pleased to report his response to:
Brothers in Arms, compiled and edited by Louise Wilson
A thoroughly interesting book written from the first-hand accounts of two brothers of their experiences during the Great War.  The book dispenses with long-winded introductions, which I generally ignore, and goes straight into the story.  The letters have been carefully compiled and presented wonderfully and I simply couldn’t put the book down. Both men took a different route into and through the war, with the details of their movements, experiences and observations of the war through their eyes being openly translated to family back home in Australia.
One line that sticks out is “if only Steve had lived for six more hours”.  As if by cruel fate it was the last action that Stephen’s unit took part in, if only, what might have been if he had survived that fateful day. A terrible loss for the family especially being so far away and not having the immediate opportunity to visit his grave.  Dora Boulton departed Australia in 1928 alone to visit her son’s grave on what must have been an emotional 20,000 mile round trip by a devoted mother to close the chapter in her own mind, knowing he truly was at rest. 
I have read many books detailing the first-hand accounts of Generals, Officers and the ordinary Rank and File at the front and certainly rate Brothers in Arms amongst the best in print.  It was very moving to read and as a former career soldier I felt an affiliation with these men. I go to France regularly and next time I'm over there I will head over to Roisel Cemetery and place a Poppy Cross on Stephen's grave.
I would recommend this book to any who have the slightest interest in life in the Great War.
The 11 pages of contents is unusual; however, as a researcher, it makes life especially easy by not having to trawl through a 30-page chapter to find a particular piece of information and has altered my view on how I’m going to present my own book for print.
Bob Dixon
The Museum of Military Medicine in England now holds a copy of this book. For details of where to purchase 'Brothers in Arms: the Great War Letters of Captain Nigel Boulton, RAMC, & Lieut Stephen Boulton, AIF', see  Louise Wilson's website