Alfred’s War By Rachel Bin Salleh




Alfred’s War uses the character of Alfred George to tell an all-too-common and sadly forgotten story of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders who fought for Australia in times of war.


Alfred George, like many others, had dreamed of adventure and travel. When he was able, he joined Australia’s armed forces and went to fight in The Great War (World War 1). However, unlike white Australians returning from war, Alfred was not given land and he was not allowed to enter townships and simply have a drink at the pub with his comrades.

His experience of war had been the same, but his experience on returning home, was vastly different.

Why I love it:

This book is a history lesson and an extremely important one. It is disgraceful to think that, as a nation, we treated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander returning soldiers, so differently to white Australians.

There is a double-page of factual information included at the end of the book and it is from this, that valuable discussion will take place.

Stories like Alfred’s War are so incredibly important, so we can acknowledge the contribution of all past soldiers and, in doing so, rectify some of the mistakes made at the time.

Themes to discuss with your child:

  • Sacrifice
  • War
  • Bravery
  • Comradery
  • Acknowledgement
  • Rights
  • History
  • Friendship
  • Compassion

Questions to ask your child:

Before reading:
  • What do you think this book might be about?
  • Do you think this is a fiction book (a story) or a non-fiction book (facts)?
  • Is this a book you want to read? Why/why not?
  • How many soldiers are pictured on the cover?
  • Do you think the war, written about in this book, is modern day, or a long time ago? What makes you think this?
  • How do you think the soldiers, pictured, are feeling?
  • How would you feel if you were going off to fight in a war?
After reading:
  • Did you enjoy this story? Why/why not?
  • Did you learn something new from this book? Tell me about it.
  • Why did Alfred have to sleep outside townships?
  • Why did Alfred sign up for war?
  • On nights when Alfred had bad dreams, what were the dreams about?
  • What do you think it would be like to fight in a war?
  • How was Alfred treated when he returned home?
  • Do you think it’s fair that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander veterans had different rights to other Australian soldiers? Tell me about your thoughts.
  • Why do you think it would be hard to settle back into ‘normal’ life after being at war?

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