A German Tommy

germtomm

 

 It's an extraordinary story and one that you would only imagine to be a screenplay for a movie or TV Drama. However, A GERMAN TOMMY is the true story of Walter Schwarz. A man from Australia but of German descent who, despite the backlash and hysteria against his kind at the outbreak of The Great War, enlists with the Australian Army as a gunner and is shipped to Britain. The anti-German harassment followed him, making life uncomfortable, and hearing he might be prevented from going to the front he deserts. He then enlists in the British Army, The Sportsman's Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers, as Walter Lancelot Merritt. Under his new identity he wins the Military Cross and Bar and is subsequently commissioned out of the ranks. His military career ended when he was wounded and lost a leg fighting in Belgium. The subterfuge only came to light when he confessed after the war as he sought a pardon from King George V as well as free passage back to Australia. The book traces his remarkable life from Toowoomba, a backwood town in Australia, to Europe and the Great War. It outlines how he kept his real identity a secret, the methods used, and the constant fear of being discovered. His confession caused consternation. After all, the King had personally decorated the young soldier, but he was both hero and officially a deserter. The pardon was granted and he was repatriated. A superb read.

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