In a series of four books based on war, each with a different focus, G.S. Willmott has extensively researched war 'histories' and from them, has created 'his stories'.
This, the fourth and most compelling, recreates a multitude of experiences of the young men caught up in the frenzy and futility of World War 1.
Sex and death, eternal themes, bind together these individual stories; the shared experiences of love and death are the strong bonds which link these young Australian and British soldiers across France, Egypt, Flanders, even Syria. Their suffering is what makes us think deeply about ongoing conflicts which eternally destroy human lives and from which we seem to have learned nothing.
In Red Lights on the Somme, Willmott unearths surprising and positive aspects of war; man's inhumanity to man is counter-pointed by mateship between soldiers, tenderness between lovers, and trust and inter-dependence between humans and animals. The contrast between the nobility and loyaty of non-humans (including dogs, pigeons, horses) forms a stark contrast against the brutality and treachery of mankind.
'This book tells the stories of young men far from home in the battle of their lives, fighting ultimately for their survival. Evocative, gruelling and often brutal the book touches on most aspects of life as an infantryman on the western front and the harshness, sadness and realities of life for those who participated in the first world war. Historically accurate, factual and graphic this well written book is a must read for anyone with an interest in Australians in World War One.' — Christine McLean-McIntyre