Soldier Boy is a fabulous novel as it tells the readers the life Jim Martin had before, during and after the war. This is Jim’s strange story of how an inexperienced and excited school boy became Australia’s youngest Anzac. The main theme of Soldier Boy is about the life of war. The story starts with the death of Jim aboard a hospital ship. It explains how he dies and the way the family were notified by the nurse sending a letter to them. Then his story starts from the beginning reflecting on the early part of his life in the country.
The families move to Melbourne and Jim’s school days particularly his time in the school cadets. The cadets were school units who were trained to be able to shoot and the art of survival. The family moved into the guest house and war being declared, with Australia becoming involved and the rush to enlist to be part of the big adventure. The whole country was caught up in the War commitment. Jim enlists in the Infantry. He forces his family to sign the form to allow him to enlist saying he would go anyway and not write to them, and he was going in place of his Dad. His early training was at Broadmeadows.
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Gallipoli begins and Jims training continues at Seymour, then the battalion is shipped out. The trip to war on the “Berrima” sharing his secrets with Cec. They had a stopover in Colombo then landing at their arrival at Cairo. Arriving at Egypt to train there, in the sand and heat and visiting the hospital and hearing horror stories, did not frighten them but made them keener to get into the action. Then came the trip on the Southland towards battle, being destroyed. Lifeboats were faulty and many were lost, they all thought they would be drowned but then they were rescued from the ocean by ships in the area.
Taken aboard the French torpedo boat and taken ashore to Mudross Bay, then the Southland limping into Mudross Bay, they were able to save personal items. Then transferring to Transylvania, onto the Abessiah where life jackets had to be worn at all times. Heading towards Gallipoli, then landing in Anzac Cove, where there was the rotten smell in the air of rotting bodies, under fire for the first time from the Turks and seeing the death and diseases first hand, the soldiers were still keen to get into the action. The realities of trench life was about trying to get through winter, hurling bombs and hand grenades into each other’s trenches.
The first subject was realizing that Germany was the real enemy not the Turks. Between shooting at each other they were digging trenches at Lone Pine. The start of disease due to the poor diet and hygiene and pests had started during this time. Winter starts to set in, making life harder for the troops, hurricane like winds and heavy rain washing them out of the trenches. The troops were ordered to dig deeper trenches to protect them from the snow and severe cold. Jim starts to feel sick he wants to stay in the trenches and claims he is okay.
The symptoms get worse daily and he battles on, afraid if he goes to the Medical Tent they will discover his true age. Finally he collapses and is taken to the medical tent, they realize he is very sick and transfer him to the hospital ship. Jim then … unfortunately dies. Matron Reddock’s send a letter to the family from his friend Cec. Hogan and the local Member of Parliament informing them of his death. In all of these no sign was given that they knew he was only 14. Two months after his death the Melbourne newspaper wrote a story about him being the youngest soldier.
Soon after the troops are withdrawn from Gallipoli, the cold and wet takes its toll on the soldiers. The removal of Gallipoli has to be planned so that the Turks don’t realize they are moving out. The fact was pointed out that there were more soldiers were sick or died of disease than were injured or killed by war Facts about the removal and going to the Western front by Jims battalion The huge number of losses which occurred in the battle of Gallipoli, the ruining of the Hospital ship Glenart Castle near England and the loss of many doctors and nurses.
Most of this chapter is taken up by what happened to people who were involved after this war and how it changed everyone’s lives. This theme is very important to me because it has been conveyed in the novel. The life of war is all about what has happened to James Martin as it explains what happens to him before, during and after war. Also all the problems, memories and times he had during the war. … Thank you.