The Man Next Door: And Other True Stories of War and Peace - Mike Colman
For several years, the Courier-Mail featured a special Anzac day story by their Walkley Award-winning journalist, Mike Colman.
In The Man Next Door, Colman's superb writing about war - focusing on the men and women who saw the frontline and their loved ones back home - is brought together in one volume. The book opens with a never-before-told story, shocking but inspiring, of Ray McMillan, an aircraftman on the Hudson bomber that sunk the Awazisan Maru - an episode captured in Frank Harding's painting that adorns the front cover. Colman knew 'Mr McMillan' when he was growing up, but had no idea of his sacrifice until years later, when he read his next-door neighbour's war diary.
In the chapters that follow Colman captures Australia's wartime experience from Gallipoli to Vietnam in a way that has perhaps never been done before. He follows in the footsteps of his grandfather and great-uncle, who went ashore at Anzac Cove on April 25, 1915. There are stories of Keith Payne, Australia's most decorated soldier in Vietnam, war brides and the Rats of Tobruk, the fight for recognition for Indigenous Digger Charlie Blackman, and the search for the ill-fated hospital ship AHS Centaur.
In the final chapter we meet the children of Sutton Veny, Wiltshire, who for more than a century have honoured the 143 Anzacs buried there. To truly appreciate Sutton Veny, you have to go there. Fortunately for us, Mike Colman has.