Author – David Hill
Age – 10+
It’s 1951 and Russell Purchas is a 16 yr old ‘boy seaman’ sailing on the warship HMNZS Taupo, heading towards the Korean War. On the way he learns about life on the ship, performing his duties and following orders. When they come across a boat full of refugees, he wonders how long they can survive on the open ocean, even with the water and food they gave them. He pushes this aside with the thought they were probably communists or cowards like his uncle. Russell had always looked up to his brave Uncle Trevor, enjoying looking at his war medals for bravery. But one day he finds a hidden letter from the War Graves Commission – his mum hadn’t told him the whole truth.
When in Korea, Russell is part of shore parties to deliver supplies to the NZ Army base. He sees ravaged streets and buildings from the fighting. Tanks rumble past and helicopters thwack across the sky above them.
At first he finds it hard to trust the South Koreans, especially after a boy steals his blanket. But when he realises the boy is an orphan, he begins to understand how horrible it is for the Koreans they are fighting for. A sergeant tells Russell he knew his uncle, (he has an uncanny resemblance to him) and Russell finally learns the truth. When Russell and Sa-In are caught up in the fighting themselves, it leads to a tense, action packed event that will have readers on the edge of their seats.
Boys from age 10 will devour this story from the author of My Brother’s War – David Hill. The details of life on the ship and the camaraderie on board is fantastic, and not only is there action aplenty, the main character’s struggles with hiding his uncle’s past and who to trust make this character very credible.
(Korean War, NZ Author, Battleship, Family, Secret, New Zealand, Army, Navy)