At the Front Line: Experiences of Australian Soldiers in World War II

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At the Front Line draws on a plethora of letters, diaries and documents written by over 300 Australian soldiers in the field to present a picture of the hardships and triumphs of their wartime experience. Mark Johnston analyses the suffering of front-line soldiers caused not only by the opposing force, but also by the conditions imposed by their own army. The book details the physical and psychological pressures of life at the front and shows how soldiers survived or surrendered to unbearable environments, fear, boredom and the constant threat of impending death. The myths of mateship and equanimity are brought under scrutiny. Much hostility can be explained by competition between ranks and the perceived hostility of superiors. The author investigates the immense strain that led to many breakdowns and the characteristic forebearance that saw so many others through.