Army Major publishes first poetry anthology for Legacy

By Vanessa Wiltshire

LOCAL poet, author and popular founding member of Heathcote Pizza Poets Major Michael Carroll recently celebrated the launch of his book Brothers in Arms at the Tobruk Barracks Officers’ Mess.

The anthology of Major Carroll’s military poems was published largely in response to requests from colleagues in the armed services.

Mr Carroll said the book was inspired in large part by the early life experiences of his mother and her twin.

“They were both orphaned at an early age and both became Legatees. They were raised at Legacy House,” he said.

“I’ve been writing poetry for 35 years, largely connected to my experiences in the Army and those of others close to me, including family.

“This book is for them, and to raise money for Legacy. We published 500 copies through Defence Force Publishing, and we’ve already sold 350. I'd like to thank everyone who has helped me with the book and supported me along the way.”

Attending the launch was the Commandant of Army Knowledge Centre, Colonel Marcus Constable, Commanding Officer of the Army School of Transport and Tobruk Barracks Officers’ Mess Lieutenant Colonel Sally McClellan, Legacy Melbourne president Hugh Robertson, Seymour RSL sub-branch president Ross Stewart, Major Carroll’s parents, Maureen and Dennis Carroll, relatives, friends and more than 50 members of the Puckapunyal Military Area. Commanding Officer Sally McClellan, who wrote the foreword to the book, was master of ceremonies for the occasion.

Those gathered received a heartfelt rendition of two poems from the book, The Rats of Tobruk and Anzac Morn. The poem Anzac Morn relates to the WWII experiences of Harry Bird, a Changi POW, uncle of Major Carroll and brother of his mother, Maureen, and his aunt Marie Darby. Ms Darby responded with a moving account of her experiences growing up as a Legatee.

The poems are strongly evocative, and resonate not only with members of the armed forces, but with anyone who has had a family member serving, suffering or lost as a result of conflict or service. Michael writes with the passion and insight that can only be engendered by lived experience, so those involved in the military can easily relate to the sentiments expressed. Consequently, readers of and listeners to the verse find a healing consolation in relating to the horrors of war and the pride in defending their country and serving alongside their close mates.

This book is a great read and all proceeds from sales go to Legacy, an organisation that supports all families of current and past servicemen and servicewomen.

Copies for sale are $10 each and are available at Heathcote Post Office and Heathcote RSL.