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On Active Service
On Active Service is about men and women who lived in the Williams district who served in war zones. Residents of Williams have served in almost every major conflict since Australia's Federation.
They served in Egypt, Gallipoli and on the Western Front in the First World War. Some were killed in the great battles or died of their wounds. Others returned shell-shocked or as amputees.
In the Second World War they fought in Europe and in the Pacific region. Four flew in Bomber Command; one was lost in the Nuremberg raid over Germany.
On Active Service includes excerpts from the secret diary of an airman who ditched into the Mediterranean Sea and spent four years as a prisoner of war in Poland.
Some became Japanese prisoners and died as slave labourers on the notorious Thai-Burma railway. One in Z Force was executed.
Families were directly touched by war atrocities: a sister murdered in the surf at Banka Island, a father gassed at Auschwitz.
Returned servicemen from Korea, Malaya, Vietnam, Timor, Iraq and Afghanistan recount their experiences in their own words.
There are more than 200 personal stories, accompanied by 140 photographs. Higham has sourced official records and also drawn on private letters and diaries.
On Active Service is not just a record of military service, it is a social history of a rural community in Western Australia.
Born and educated in Tasmania, Louise Higham graduated from the University of Tasmania with Bachelor of Arts, Diploma of Education and Graduate Diploma in Librarianship. As both an historian and genealogist she has contributions in the Australian Dictionary of Biography and published articles in journals.
Louise comes from a family with several generations of service in the Armed Forces. Her father and his brother served in the British Army in the Second World War and both were awarded the Military Cross. Her paternal grandfather, who served in the British Army in the First World War, was also awarded a Military Cross. In turn his father, her great-grandfather Cyril St. Clair Cameron, fought on the North-West Frontier (Afghanistan), led the Tasmanian Contingent in the South African (Boer) War, commanded the Australian Commonwealth Corps at Edward VII’s coronation in 1902 and took part in the landing on Gallipoli.
Louise, who is married with two sons, lives in the Williams district and instigated the erection of a war memorial in Williams in 2015.