When Australian soldiers returned from the First World War they were offered the chance to settle on 'land fit for heroes'. Promotional material painted a picture of prosperous farms and contented families, appealing to returned servicepeople and their families hoping for a fresh start. Yet just 20 years after the inception of these soldier settlement schemes, fewer than half of the settlers remained on their properties. In this timely book, based on recently uncovered archives, Bruce Scates and Melanie Oppenheimer map out a deeply personal history of the soldiers' struggle to transition from Anzac to farmer and provider. At its foundation lie thousands of individual life stories shaped by imperfect repatriation policies. The Last Battle examines the environmental challenges, the difficulties presented by the physical and psychological damage many soldiers had sustained during the war, and the vital roles of women and children.
Professor Bruce Scates is Chair of History and Australian Studies and Director at the National Centre for Australian Studies at Monash University, Victoria. Professor Melanie Oppenheimer is Chair of History and Chair, School Research Committee, in the School of History and International Relations at Flinders University of South Australia.
Part I. Managing the Men: 1. 'When the inspector calls': the yeoman quest; 2. 'Men on the margins': suspect soldiers; 3. 'I intend to get justice': moral economy; Part II. Battling the Land: 4. 'Droughts and flooding rains': markets and seasons; 5. 'A land only fit for rabbits': environmental degradation; Part III. Damaged Men: 6. 'War wrecked': sending cripples to the country; 7. 'From the farm to the asylum': mad and 'nervy' men; Part IV. Getting On: 8. 'Taking on a holding': women and families on the land; 9. 'Settling down': successful soldier settlers.