top of page

RSA chairman welcomes WWI children's book

Masterton RSA chairman Bob Hill says a World War I book written and illustrated by Michelle O'Connell is a wonderful way to communicate ideas of where we came from to young people.


He was speaking at the launch of 'Leaving for the Front' published by BMS Books Ltd in the lead up to Anzac Day 2015.


More than 30 people turned out at the Masterton District Library for the launch of a book local people took to their hearts as they remembered the disastrous campaign and the local men who went off to fight in the 1914-1918 war.


Bob Hill said he remembered when Michelle came to his home to talk about her idea for the book.


"I was just amazed that somebody had taken the time to research a house that she lived in; research who lived there; and then to take the time to not only write the story that she had but also to illustrate it and finally publish it.


"I think that is fantastic.  What a wonderful way to communicate with our younger generation by putting something so simple in a book like that.  


"The RSA embraces this way of educating and telling stories to our younger generation, so they have an idea of just where we came from to be here today.  So well done Michelle.


'Leaving for the Front' resulted from a project Michelle undertook as part of Masterton's commemoration of a march made by men who went off to war in 1914.  After assembling at the Town Hall, the soldiers marched up Perry Street to the railway station.  It turned out that a young man from the house where Michelle and her family lived on Perry Street was one of those who left for the war.  


Michelle and her son Christopher dressed in period clothes and joined in the commemoration, assembling at the town hall and following the soldiers in the march up Perry Street, where they boarded a heritage train.


The resulting illustrated children's book was officially launched by Masterton Mayor Lyn Patterson, who spoke about Michelle's commitment and research in producing the book.


"It was a great event, a great day, and I'm just so pleased that you have taken it a bit further and had this book published."


She congratulated Michelle and said she looked forward to another book.


"Well done, and it is my absolute pleasure to launch the book."


Michelle thanked Bob Hill and Lyn Patterson for their speeches and the launch of her book.  She  thanked the library staff, manager Sandy Green and children's librarian Jane Horsham for their support.  Michelle expressed her appreciation to those behind the Leaving for the Front event.


"I was just a mother, curious and interested and wanting to share a day with my son, and teach him something meaningful and historic." 


"All I can say is: don't underestimate the power of a book, or a story or art when it comes into the hands of children."


Michelle also thanked local bookshops stocking the book - Hedleys Bookshop, Masterton, and Almos Books, Carterton.


Listen to audio of launch

Hear the full audio of the launch of Michelle O'Connell's book 'Leaving for the Front'.


Leaving for the Front is available in the following shops:


Hedleys Bookshop in Masterton

Almos Boos in Carterton

The National Army Museum Shop, Waiouru

The Children's Bookshop, Wellington

Atlantis Books, Rotorua


To order, ask at your local bookshop or contact BMS for distributor outlets.

Buy this book

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE? You can buy this book via your local book shop or make a purchase safely online from BMS Books.

bottom of page