Riverton man’s book about the Pay Corps filled with fascinating facts

Riverton man’s book about the Pay Corps filled with fascinating facts

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Riverton author, Brendan Cook with a photo of his grandfather. Photograph — Aaron Van Rongen.

A Riverton resident has identified and examined in detail 1100 men who served in the Australian Army Pay Corps for his upcoming book about how life was during the First World War.

Brendan Cook, who is also the RSL Claremont Sub-Branch treasurer, dived into extensive research in early 2015, but his passion for military history has run in the family since the 70s.

His grandfather, who served in the second and fourth Machinegun Battalion at the fall of Singapore and spent the rest of the war as a prisoner of war at the Changi Prison, was the reason behind Mr Cook’s strong interest in military history.

“He really piqued my interest, and like many veterans, he rarely spoke of his experiences, so I started reading to find things out for myself,” he said.

“The more I found that my relatives had served in other wars such as the Boer War and the First World War my interest and reading grew.”

‘To their credit – the story of the Australian Army Pay Corps of the 1st AIF’ will tell the story of the men and women who managed the Army pay services during WWI.

Mr Cook said he was inspired to write this book to acknowledge the efforts of Australia’s biggest financial administration.

“Throughout the war over 330,000 men served in the Australian Imperial Force (AIF), each of them needed to be paid, their allotments and allowances, this effort took a huge commitment and involved many hours of tedious and dangerous frontline work” he said.

“Maintaining accurate and timely payment of soldiers as well as allotments and allowances to dependents was critical to morale and the maintenance of social order during the war.

“To put it in perspective, Woolworths employs just over 200 thousand people, managing the payroll with advanced financial systems.

“The Pay Corps had to do everything manually.”

After four years of researching, Mr Cook said he found a raft of interesting characters and events including Albert Farr, a descendant of Bounty Mutineer Fletcher Christian, a mother who moved to England to be near her sons who were at the front and who ended up becoming the first female superintendent at the AIF headquarters.

“I hope the eventual readers of my book get an understanding of what life was like for those who served and who were not in the front line and that the time they had of it was not that easy,” he said.

“I also hope that they get an appreciation that managing a war is much, much more than sending men in to fight.”

Mr Cook and his family will be taking part in this year’s Driveway Dawn Service and he will be laying a wreath at the grave of Sergeant Martin O’Meara VC at Karrakatta Cemetery.