Wauchope author Greg Raffin digs deep into Western Front mutiny

Author Greg Raffin pictured with a set of medallions commemorating the Battle of Lone Pine.

Author Greg Raffin pictured with a set of medallions commemorating the Battle of Lone Pine.

Wauchope author Greg Raffin has thoroughly investigated a little-known mutiny which highlights the horrors of the Western Front.

Mutiny on the Western Front: 1918, which is a story about humanity in war, is the result.

The mutiny took place in September 1918 when men from an exhausted 1st Battalion of the AIF refused an order to go into battle.

As a result, more than 100 men were court-martialled and imprisoned for terms up to 10 years.

The book delves far deeper than the mutiny itself.

“I’ve attempted to take a balanced view of both sides,” Mr Raffin said.

“My thrust was not to pry or to denigrate these men but to try to understand the horrors that were the Western Front.”

Mr Raffin surveyed written opinions on the mutiny from Charles Bean to the present day.

The book also uncovers the touching biography of one of the men who anonymously expressed his views in the 1979 award-winning documentary Mutiny on the Western Front.

The research and writing process took three to four years.

“My approach was always to empathise, rather than sympathise,” Mr Raffin said.

“I didn’t want to just feel sorry for them.

“I wanted to put myself in their shoes.”

Mr Raffin admits it was a difficult book to write with some friends advising him to leave it alone as it was a blot on the army landscape and others of the opinion it would only underline the horror that was the Western Front.

He decided in the end that history should be “warts and all”.

Professor Peter Stanley, a well-known historian and book reviewer from UNSW, Canberra wrote the preface.

Mr Raffin said Mutiny on the Western Front: 1918 contained aspects of local interest.

“I focus on the big picture story,” he said.

“I also tell the very interesting story of the anonymous digger who spoke in that 1979 award-winning documentary and one of this man’s grandsons lives locally.”

The book also refers to an incident of extreme valor performed by Sergeant Andrews of Wauchope and four of his comrades the month before the mutiny.

Mutiny on the Western Front: 1918 is Mr Raffin’s second book.

The retired history head teacher’s first book, Australia's Real Baptism of Fire, gave a higher profile to the six Australians who were our first deaths in World War I, seven months before Gallipoli.

Go to Big Sky Publishing for more information about Mutiny on the Western Front: 1918.

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