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Wednesday 24 May 2023

Review: Deadly Waters: Australia's Second World War

It’s 1931. Cliff moves 300 miles from his rural life to Sydney leaving his friends and everything familiar behind. But his passion for cricket is nurtured at his new school, and a memorable view of Charles Kingsford Smith flying the Southern Cross over the Harbour bridge is added to his experiences.

The future brings change and great challenges when Cliff joins the Royal Australian Naval Reserves and trains for war. He is allocated the role of signalman learning flag semaphore. 

On the social front he meets Marie. Called into active service after war is declared, his first dangerous assignment is aboard a mine sweeper patrolling off the coast of eastern Australia. He is later transferred to HMAS Australia during War in the Pacific where he experiences battles and kamikaze (suicide bomber) attacks.

Never imagining how drastically his life would change, he finds himself more than capable in the roles he is given.

Through Cliff’s strong, flowing narrative voice, the gifted Helen Chapman brings to life and light, her father’s experiences in the RAN, an area of Australia’s Second World War that is rarely addressed in novels.

Perfect, crisp prose and descriptive detail sees the post-war years represented in the language, social norms and activities. Throughout the book, harsh realities are peppered with humour, lightening the life-threatening episodes experienced by the men on board.

Through Chapman’s cleverly built images we view the order of the different ships, how mines are moored to the seabed, what battle stations means and the fellowship and tragedy of the naval crew.

Deadly Waters is the fourth novel in the Australian Second World War series through Scholastic which concentrates on actual events. An Historical Timeline, and comprehensive maps close the book. Readers can find more information under War Casualties and the Merchant Navy.

Title: Deadly Waters: Australia’s Second World War
Author: Helen Chapman
Publisher: Scholastic, $17.99
Publication Date: 1 May 2023
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781743835104
For ages: 9+
Type: Historical Fiction