Thursday, 2 February 2012

Why I wrote The Forgotten Land

I have always had two great passions, the Australian Special Air Service Regiment (SASR), and the Vikings.

First, let's look at the Vikings:


The Vikings are a severely misunderstood race of people. Yes, some were violent, yes, some of them did undertake lightning raids on all and sundry. But that time of history was a violent time, a time where tribes, clans and countries were often at war with one another. The Vikings' mark on our history is tainted mainly by the biased, literate Christian scholars that remember them in their writings. Today, modern historians and archaeologists are working very hard to shed light upon who the Vikings actually were. We know, for instance, that a Viking woman had the right to divorce her husband if she had grounds. We also know that the advice of a warrior's wife was usually heeded and often sought. Women in some areas of the world in 2012 do not enjoy that level of respect! The Vikings were also very cunning and intelligent traders, so much so, that present day York, which in Viking times was called Jorvik (pronounced Yorvik (from which the present day name is derived)) was, during the Viking reign, the trade centre of the world. The Vikings were a very colourful, sophisticated and rich culture. Oh, and they did not wear horned helmets!

Now the Aussie SAS:

The Australian SASR (Special Air Service Regiment) are an elite group of Australian soldiers. When the war in Afghanistan started, people might remember an offensive called Operation Anaconda. When that operation commenced, the Aussie SAS moved well forward of the advancing allied troops and set up hides or observation posts (OPs) underneath the noses of the Taliban. They fed back all sorts of information to the American head sheds, including enemy number, weapons, level of morale, locations and so on. When the fighting began, the Australian SASR were in a position to guide in airstrikes and give grid references for artillery and mortar fire missions. In another instance in Afghanistan an Australian SAS soldier was shot by Taliban fire. Rather then bother his mates who were still engaged in heavy fighting with the enemy, he managed to make his way to the closest vehicle. Knowing that he was losing enough blood that he may lose consciousness, treated the wound as best he could and then wedged himself between the bulbar and the vehicle's radiator. He tied himself to the bulbar and then continued to fire at the enemy. He did this so that if the Australians were to make a rapid fighting withdrawal, then the Aussie's withdrawal would not have been slowed by carrying him and then securing him in the vehicle.

There is something about these incredible soldiers that has always intrigued me. Every country in the world has a small elite group like the Australian SAS. They are for the most part, quiet, easy going, never consider themselves any better than the next bloke, but have the courage of a rabid lion. To date two Australian SAS soldiers have been awarded the Victoria Cross (the VC, which is the Commonwealth's highest military award) for actions in combat. Both lived to tell the tale.

So in The Forgotten Land, I bring together the Australian SASR and the Vikings, my two greatest interests.

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