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More About This Title Absent Without Leave
Absent Without Leave follows three wide-eyed twenty-one-year olds from their enlistment at the Sydney showground in 1940 to disembarking in the Middle East before being plunged into jungle warfare in the Asia Pacific. Private Stanley Livingston and his two best mates, Roy Lonsdale and Gordon Oxman, would by the end of the war be brothers-in-law as well as brothers in arms as Stanley would marry Roy's sister Evelyn, while Gordon would marry Lily Livingston, Stanley's younger sister. Over the course of the war, these three young men would be court-martialled four times for abandoning their training units. They were not cowards, running from responsibility; rather, they were deeply committed family men who ran to the service of their families. Stanley's mother died just prior to the outbreak of WWII, and while in the midst of battle in the Middle East, Stanley received word of the sudden death of his father. Once back in Sydney, Pte Stanley Livingston skipped training camp to be with his younger sister Lily, who was deeply traumatized by the loss and had suffered a mental breakdown. After almost six months AWL, Stanley surrendered just in time to embark with his battalion to Milne Bay in New Guinea, where he was court-martialled in the field and pleaded guilty to all charges. He was fined twenty pounds before being plunged into the harrowing combat—with no jungle warfare training whatsoever. Illuminating, deeply moving, and told with no shortage of humor, Absent Without Leave is part biography, part family memoir, and part of Australian history that is largely forgotten, because no one ever really talked about it. Until now.