Stanley, Peter: Bad Characters

Peter Stanley

Bad Characters: Sex, Crime, Mutiny and Murder and the Australian Imperial Force, Murdoch/Pier 9, Sydney 2010

Australia’s long-standing love affair with the Diggers has blinded us to the dark side of the Anzac legend.  Bad Characters is a book that will do something no other book has tried to do. It will tell the story of the Australian soldiers in the Great War who were not heroes: soldiers who committed offences and crimes; those who malingered, deserted, robbed and murdered their comrades; those who took part in riots, strikes and mutiny.

The term ‘bad characters’ was used by the army to refer to those who caused unrest or were disobedient: their crimes ranged from avoiding battle, absenteeism, desertion, disobedience and self-inflicting wounds and contracting venereal disease, to the more extreme charges of murder and mutiny. (blurb)

The book was a joint winner of the Prime Minister’s Prize in History in 2010-11 and is reviewed here and here. The author talks about his book here and here. In its discussion of the sexual habits of our servicemen it qualifies for the section Expressing ourselves.

Peter Tatchell writes about similar issues in the British forces in World War I.


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