Sir Harry’s Foreword to ‘The Desert Column: leaves from the diary of an Australian trooper in Gallipoli, Sinai, and Palestine’, authored by Ion Idriess and published in 1932 by Angus and Robertson: Sydney


I gladly send a few words of preface to Trooper Idriess' book on the Campaign in Sinai and Palestine. Not only is it a narrative of personal adventure which is full of interest, but it is, as far as I am aware, the only “soldier's” book yet written on that campaign. Several books have been written by officers and war-correspondents but in this the campaign is viewed entirely from the private soldier's point of view. It is of absorbing interest to a leader and should be to the general public.

At the same time there is an accuracy in the descriptions of operations which could only be provided by a singularly observant man. Idriess was, I think, above the average in this respect though I must say that the Australian Light Horseman was generally very quick in summing up a situation for himself. No doubt his early training in the wide spaces of the Australian bush had developed to an extraordinary degree his individuality, self-reliance and power of observation, and the particularly mobile style of fighting he was called upon to take part in suited him and brought out his special qualities far more than any trench warfare would have done. In addition to giving a vivid description of the campaign as he saw it, Trooper Idriess also shows the interest that was taken in the Holy Land and its previous history. I think that this was not peculiar to the Australians but was common to all British troops thanks very largely to the padres of all denominations who, intensely interested themselves, made it their business to interest others by lectures and personally conducted tours, etc.

I would commend this book to leaders who took part in the theatre of war with which it deals and also to the general public.


General Sir Harry Chauvel, C.C.M.G, K.C.B.

Commander Desert Mounted Corps