Book launch 25 March: A Great and Restless Spirit


Harry Hawker MBE AFC (1889-1921) Image: George Grantham Bain Collection., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Dear friends and colleagues near and far

If you’re free and in the vicinity, I’d love to see you at the Brisbane launch of my new book on Friday evening, 25 March, 2022. (Covid permitting!).

The book is called A Great and Restless Spirit: The incredible true story of Australian Harry Hawker – test pilot, aircraft designer, racing car driver, speedboat racer, world-beater.

It will be published by an independent Brisbane publisher, Armour Books.

If Victorian-born Harry Hawker MBE AFC (1889-1921) was alive today, he’d be churning desert dust in the Dakar rally, strapped in a rocket on a SpaceX flight, or taking pole position on the Formula 1 start line.


Harry Hawker helped design and test numerous successful wartime aircraft in Britain in WWI. He was also a a master of looping the loop.
  • Hawker moved to England at age 22, and in his day flew faster, higher and for longer than anyone else in Britain. His one need was speed. And if he couldn’t find it in the air, he was a fierce competitor in racing cars and international speedboat races.
  • When he wasn’t racing, Hawker was designing and testing WWI planes. His boss, aviation guru Tommy Sopwith, was convinced the Australian was a genius.
  • In the book you’ll also meet Harry’s remarkable wife, Muriel, who mostly kept his feet on the ground. But even she worried about his need to go where no man had ever gone before.
  • And in the background there bubbled away an underlying weakness that would eventually contribute to Harry Hawker’s death in a flaming solo plane crash. He was just 32 years of age.

When he wasn’t in the air, Harry took to car and speedboat racing. Image: Copyright Brooklands Museum.

I hope you might be able to join me for the launch of A Great and Restless Spirit at Avid Reader Bookshop, West End, Brisbane at 6.30pm on 25 March. It should be a good occasion, and there’s no obligation to buy😊.

Please put the date in your diary. You’ll be able to register nearer the time on the Avid Reader website: avidreader.com.au

And if you’re not from Brisbane, please keep watch for the book’s publication. I hope it will be available in both print and electronic form.

Please feel free to pass this message on, or to post it on social media. All welcome.

Best regards

Darryl Dymock

Chalkies book launched

A sizeable and enthusiastic crowd gathered at Avid Reader Bookshop, Brisbane, on 8 October, 2016 to hear Colonel Katrina Schildberger launch my book, The Chalkies: Educating an army for independence.

It’s amazing how many will turn up when free wine and nibbles are on offer 🙂 Everyone I’ve spoken to said they had a good time, and lots of books were sold.

Colonel Schildberger is Head of the Royal Australian Army Educational Corps, and travelled from Sydney for the occasion. She gave a great speech to launch the book.

The Chalkies tells the little-known story of some 300 teachers who were conscripted into the Australian Army between 1996 and 1972 and quietly sent to the then Territory of Papua New Guinea while Australian troops were fighting in Vietnam. It is published by Australian Scholarly Press, Melbourne.

The conscripted teachers, colloquially known as ‘Chalkies’, were posted to the Royal Australian Army Educational Corps, and their task was to upgrade the educational levels of indigenous troops of the Pacific Islands Regiment in what turned out to be critical years leading up to the country’s independence. For many it was their first year of teaching and their first time out of Australia.

The Director of Army Education at the time, Brigadier Ernest Gould, described the initiative as ‘an educational scheme which for magnitude, scope, intensity and enlightenment is without parallel in military history’.

Yet most Australians have never heard about it.

With the aid of an Army History Research Grant, I drew on the recollections of more than 70 former Chalkies and archival sources to tell the story of how these conscripted teachers (one of whom was me) responded to the challenges of a life most of them never wanted or imagined for themselves. A small go group of ex-Chalkies gave me feedback on my research to help keep me on track.

It was very appropriate that Colonel Schildberger launched the book, because not only is 1966 the 50th anniversary of the scheme’s beginnings in PNG, it is also the 75th anniversary of the establishment of Army Education in World War II.

The jacket blurb says The Chalkies is ‘a unique tale of the good, the bad and the unexpected, told against the background of military and political developments of the day’.

A former Australian Governor-General, Major General the Honourable Michael Jeffery, who served two terms in PNG, wrote the foreword.

If you’re interested in reading The Chalkies, in Australia you can order a copy through your local bookstore, or direct from Avid Reader Bookshop in Brisbane. Alternatively, you could ask your local library to buy a copy. The ISBN is 978-1-925333-77-0.

Till next time

Darryl Dymock

 

What writers say

By the time you have perfected any style of writing, you have always outgrown it.                                                                                                                 ~George Orwell