“I AM just full of war and don’t wish to see any more of it,” wrote former Ballangeich soldier Private Michael Ryan.
The year was 1917 and Private Ryan was writing home from Norwich Hospital after receiving a shattered shoulder and almost freezing to death during a clash with German troops in France.
It’s just one of the letters featured in Fields Of War: Letters Home, which is the latest publication from the Warrnambool and District Historical Society.
The book is a reproduction of articles collected in a scrapbook during World War I by Mepunga girl Jessie Bonnett, society vice-president Janet Macdonald said.
“She cut them out (from The Standard and other newspapers) and stuck them into a lined exercise book, which already had maths and other schoolwork in it,” Ms Macdonald said.
The articles detail letters home from the troops, as well as newspaper reports on wounded and killed soldiers and reports on the homecoming celebrations of those lucky enough to return from the battlefront.
After Ms Bonnett’s death, the scrapbook came into the collection of the historical society, and member Jill Heathcote began the arduous task of typing up its contents.
She spent more than two years working on the data entry but unfortunately fell ill and died not long after its completion.
Her hard work will finally see the light of day when the book is launched at the WAG tomorrow from 5.30pm.
Ms Macdonald said many locals with soldier ancestors will be interested in the book, but even those without familial connections will be fascinated by many of the stories.
Copies of the book will be available at the launch on the night, or from History House in Warrnambool and Flagstaff Hill Maritime Museum.