A collection of war-time correspondence from Bill Corby to his family is being shared in a new self-published book.
Tura's Greg Bartlett has published the collection titled "Yours lovingly, Bill", which gives enormous insight to the daily life of a soldier deployed for five years during World War II.
Bill, a signalman in the 6th Division, sent regular letters to his wife Thelma and had also mailed home memorabilia that was handed down to Thelma's daughter Fay as an adult.
"Bill's daughters Fay and Dawn were aged eight and 10 when he went to war," Mr Bartlett said.
"So what happened was that Fay as an adult was given this suitcase of letters - there were 300 in little shoeboxes along with memorabilia and documents."
Mr Bartlett transcribed the letters to preserve them and discovered the complete and fascinating story.
Mr Bartlett said the collection had now been gifted to the Australian War Memorial, where it was well-received as crafted items known as "trench art" are becoming incredibly rare.
"It's things that the soldiers made at the front - Bill was very practical - a tradie if you like. He would make wooden trays, boxes, jewellery boxes and more," Mr Bartlett said, adding he had been able to craft things out of pespex from crashed planes as well as handbags, belts and the like, sent home as gifts to his family.
"They were astonished by it, they were also interested in some of the photos that were fairly unique as Bill had access to a camera."
But the letters also provide almost limitless insight to a soldier's life at the time, with Bill serving in some particularly dangerous battlegrounds of Greece, Crete and the subsequent fleeing into northern Africa and Syria.
He also served in New Guinea and Borneo and spent two years on the northern end of Australia, which Mr Bartlett said Bill found the most isolating, being "home" yet so far from family.
Mr Bartlett said Bill had even gone AWOL in 1943 traveling from Esk to Sydney. It was the same weekend the mini submarines attacked. He was caught and punished, but found some solace in messaging home.
"All his letters were censored - anything pertinent to the war had literally been cut from his letters by the censor," Mr Bartlett said.
"But he was an enterprising man and in the box was a notebook - a very detailed and explicit notebook of that time where he had even been reported as missing in action," he said.
He wrote in depth about the experiences of being bombed by German Stukkas, shot at by machine guns and even scrambling to a Navy destroyer after his transport vessel had sunk on the retreat from Greece.
"He was aboard a boat called the Costa Rica that sunk underneath him and they had to leap on to a destroyer."
"Greece and Crete were in the worst state [of the war] and that period of time had a huge impact on his life as did the hardships of New Guinea," Mr Bartlett said.
However, Mr Bartlett said the letters formed the voice of a generation and there was a palpable sense of Bill's eyes being opened to the world through his postings.
"He was fascinated by the people and places he was deployed to, it certainly broadened his understanding of the world, but for me it was the voice, it was the generation of our parents and grandparents and their values.
"He was very humble, all he had written about the ship sinking was that he 'had a dip in the briny' - that dry Australian sense of humour."
Another letter describes seeing a tribal warrior dance in Guinea on Christmas Day and Bill keeping his rifle close at hand unaware if proceedings would turn hostile.
"We have Zoom and Skype today, but these letters were going across the world and revealing the things Bill was doing," Mr Bartlett said.
Copies of "Yours lovingly, Bill" are available now in local bookstores and newsagents as well as the Australian War Memorial and its online bookstore, and the Eden Killer Whale Museum.
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