This book, the result of many years of research, details the work of the Company from its raising in August 1914 until the end of the war in November 1918. Drawing on both official records and personal papers, it explores the varied activities of an engineering unit, ranging from the taxing work of building bridges and other vital infrastructure in and behind battle zones to the highly dangerous task of extending trenches and barbed wire obstructions on the front line.
From senior command levels down to the rank-and-file Sappers, the book combines a careful account with personal experiences and observations to present a compelling portrait of the unsung heroes of the AIF. As an example of the role of engineers in the First World War, Purple Patch offers an authoritative examination of the achievements of this most notable unit.
Darren Prickett was born and raised in Brisbane and after completing schooling he enlisted in the Royal Australian
Air Force. Following his military service, Darren joined the Queensland Police Service and spent the next 24 years as a police officer, most of that service as a designated Detective. Darren retired from the police service in 2018 and moved to Victoria with his family.
Elliott follows Oscar from his carefree childhood in the Blue Mountains through his training over the vast emptiness of Canada to the mist-shrouded patchwork landscapes of Britain and on to the hostile skies of occupied France. He uses the accounts of the two surviving aircrew to piece together the events of the fateful night that saw most of the crew of Lancaster JA901, affectionally know as Naughty Nan, perish as pilot Colin Dickson heroically manoeuvred his burning aircraft away from the towns and villages that dotted the landscape. This has been a difficult book for Elliott to write as it contains a harrowing description of his uncle’s last moments. The terrible impact of the deaths of the aircrew are vividly described alongside the miraculous tales of the two survivors.
But for the family of Oscar Furniss there would be no miracle, just the lingering weight of deep and lasting grief. This is a story that moves beyond the technical descriptions of bombing missions to describe the human toll of conflict. It underlines the crucial importance of commemoration, of refusing to allow those who perished in war to be forgotten. Theirs was a sacrifice that we who live in freedom should never forget.