* Copy courtesy of Hachette Australia *
Australian writer Ben Mckelvey has done a great job telling the reader about the life of Cameron Baird, VC, MG in The Commando - The Life and Death of Cameron Baird, VC, MG. With the help and blessing of Cameron's parents Kaye and Doug Baird, Mckelvey gives us an insight into the life of Cameron Baird, killed in action in Afghanistan in 2013.
Posthumously awarded the 100th Victoria Cross, Cameron Baird, VC, MG is one of Australia's most decorated modern soldiers. Mckelvey takes the reader back to Cam's childhood as a talented young football player, joining the Australian Army and his career as a soldier.
Here's a quote from Page 46:
"When building a modern soldier, the Australian Defence Force (ADF) prefers to start from a somewhat razed foundation, so in their early days at Kapooka the recruits can do no right. No matter how they make their beds, clean their bathrooms or fold their uniforms, they will have done it incorrectly. There will be punishments, and very loud vocal objections at their ineptitude. They are not permitted to contact their family or friends for the first week, though they are encouraged to write letters to loved ones back home."
And on Page 47:
"This is all part of ADF strategy. After an initial burst of harsh discipline, recruits are allowed to progress their skills, and to take pride in their development. This is when Cam began to feel a love of soldiering that rarely dampened ever after."
I easily related to this, having joined the ADF earlier than Cam and survived the rigorous Officer training at ADFA to go on and serve in the Royal Australian Navy. Prior to reading this biography, the name of Cameron Baird lived in my mind alongside those other greats of the Australian Army, Ben Roberts-Smith and Mark Donaldson, but now I have a sense of the man, the son and the soldier and what made him a hero.
According to the CO of 2 Commando Regiment, Cam "will never be forgotten by his regiment, his Army or his nation." In writing this biography, Ben Mckelvey is helping to make sure of it.
My rating = ****