Foreword by Peter Cosgrove. AC, MC General (Retd)
With some historical figures, it is enough to know of their deeds and to read a detached analysis of their character and emotions. Others though, by their very humanity, cry out to breathe from the pages, to take on in our imaginations the flesh and blood of their famous lives. Albert Jacka, Australian warrior, is one of the latter. He was larger than life, the bravest of the brave. Recipient of one VC, in the opinion of many he certainly deserved another. In Michael Lawriwsky’s beautifully crafted story of Jacka and his mates we join them on the Gallipoli peninsula and travel the dangerous journey through the rest of the war in which so many of them died or were maimed. We walk the distance from Wedderburn to Flanders with Albert Jacka, the paladin of the AIF. Through his eyes and the words which Michael has given him, which resonate so strongly with this forthright, often pungent hero of his generation, we learn of him and those other remarkable men who found themselves in the family of 4th Brigade of the Australian Imperial Force. We learn too of Jacka’s mates and colleagues, of his men and his commanders, as people beyond the dry listings of pure history.
Meticulously researched, the rich dialogue of Hard Jacka rests on the firm foundations of a wealth of histories and accounts. It rings true. There is no doubt that Albert Jacka was a ‘handful’ – hard-nosed and under the stress and provocation of combat and the enormous risks to him and his men, sometimes insubordinate and intemperate. He was, however, their champion, not just in the heat of battle but when he apprehended the slaughter to which they were all too routinely exposed. This obvious dedication to the safety of the men to whom he was an Achilles offset what some saw as a great personal recklessness. He was in all respects a mighty foe, as the graphic depiction of his fight at Pozieres emphasizes.
The Australian Army has a pantheon of men like Albert Jacka looking on the men and women in khaki today. In the pantheon, there are none more inspirational, none more courageous than Albert Jacka, VC, MC and Bar. We thank Michael Lawriwsky for the skill, passion and reverence with which he has drawn this remarkable literary portrait of a great man.
Enjoy Hard Jacka!
Peter Cosgrove, AC, MC