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Book Cover for: One Hell at a Time, Tracee Spiby

One Hell at a Time

Tracee Spiby

Albert Spiby had just turned 18 when he signed up to fight in the Great War in 1915. He was not a 'hero' in the traditional sense. He didn't receive special awards for bravery or gallantry. He did what hundreds of thousands of other Australian soldiers did - his job.

From the searing sands of the Egyptian desert to the blunders at Bullecourt, the stupidity of the Somme and the horror of Pozières to the mud and insanity of Passchendaele - One Hell at a Time follows Albert Henry Spiby and the 46th Battalion AIF from one hell to the next.

One Hell at a Time has been extensively researched, yet it is not a military history of how the war was won or lost. Nor is it the story of heroes. It's the story of what it was like for an ordinary man just doing his job and provides a glimpse into some of the extraordinary circumstances that influenced his survival.

One Hell at a Time reveals the humour, humanity and exasperation of Albert and his fellow diggers. The reader is privy to the transformation of Albert over four years of waste from a naive 18-year-old into Alby, a war-weary veteran questioning himself and what he is doing. And just wanting to survive the next hell and go home.

Book Details

  • Publisher: Tracee Spiby
  • Publish Date: Oct 15th, 2023
  • Pages: 314
  • Language: English
  • Dimensions: 9.00in - 6.00in - 0.66in - 0.93lb
  • EAN: 9780645889307
  • Categories: Historical - 20th Century - World War IWar & Military

About the Author

Spiby, Tracee: - Undeniably a country girl, Tracee Spiby has lived all her life in central Victoria, working in various fields including as a small business operator, in adult education, community development and child protection.With an interest in family history, she became intrigued by her grandfather Albert Henry Spiby's military history from the Somme to Singapore and embarked on a journey of research and discovery that developed into a passion. Determined to write it all down authentically, she set out to equip herself with the skills to tackle the project, do justice to her grandfather's story and honour the memory of all those who serve in wars.One Hell at a Time is Tracee's first book. She is currently working on a second manuscript telling of Albert Spiby's experiences during the Second World War as part of the AIF 2/4 Reserve Motor Transport Company in Malaya, and as a POW in Changi.
Praise for this book

'This is not a book about one of the 64 VC winners in WW1, nor about any of the diggers who won a medal, but of an ordinary Australian who joined up and had a hell of a war, like hundreds of thousands of his mates. Tracee's writing has you reliving the war with her grandfather Albert, as if he wrote those letters through her. You laugh with him, you weep with him, you face the gross stupidities with him and you just survive, as he did.

These letters are put into context within the broader war by a narrator.

By the end of the book, I felt they were tougher men back then than we are today and we are the poorer for it.'

- Gordon Clarke, Author of This Smuttee Squadron

Too many times of late you see mass produced histories of Australia's experiences during times of war. Most are factually correct, but lacking the personal empathy and warmth that will connect us with the overall story.

Then we come across an absolute gem that has been written from the heart, with all the love and sincerity that only a family member of a veteran can produce.

Tracee Spiby has produced such a gem of heartfelt devotion about an average Aussie digger from the 46th Battalion 1st AIF. One Hell at a Time is the story of Tracee's grandfather Albert Henry Spiby's time in the 46th during WW1. Written in the form of letters to home and actual events, it will immerse you in the personal story of Albert and his journey with the 46th. It will take you back in time with Albert and his mates, with the actual tragedies and victories of the battalion gleaned from unit diaries and other histories that are now available to the public.

To my knowledge, this is just the second known published work about the 46th Battalion 1st AIF and will prove to be an important part of any military historian's library.

Sit back, relax and enjoy this well-written and informative book on Albert and his mates in the 46th as much as I did. You won't be disappointed.

Ian Polanski

- Author of We Were The 46th. The History of the 46th Battalion in the Great War of 1914-18 June 2023

In the aptly titled One Hell at a Time, through juxtaposing the poignancy and laconic humour of 18-year-old soldier Albert's letters home with the tragic WW1 historical consequences of inept British military commanders using men as 'expected wastage', Tracee Spiby makes history accessible for today's reader. Effectively, she transitions from Albert's letters home to military facts of those events, giving a context for readers weak on history. The strength is the character of Albert who changes into the man Alby by war's end and who was based on the writer's grandfather.

Tracee acknowledges the useless, senseless bloodbath, but offers hope by portraying individual courage amongst the young soldiers.

Included are informative, imaginative viewpoints, like querying the impact of Gavrilo Princip, the assassin of the Archduke, who started the chain of WW1 chaos.

Tracee researched and workshopped this book thoroughly and it shows in attention-getting questions, intriguing opening paragraphs, military facts and the laconic humour. Many family historians write about their ancestors, but this wartime insight is for the general reader who never met this genuine 'anonymous' hero, 18-year-old Albert, but would like to.

- Hazel Edwards OAM, Author of over 250 books, including There's a Hippopotamus on our Roof Eating Cake, Patron: Society of Women Writers (Vic), 2022 Monash University Distinguished Alumni Award for Education