Bowraville’s Frank Partridge Military Museum is hosting a special event on Sunday, in the lead up to ANZAC Day.
It is the launch of a new book, Beneath the Snow of Gnojnik (pronounced Goo-noik), by Macskville writer Tamara McWilliam, telling the story of long-time Nambucca Valley residents Joe and Ruth Pirecki, with Joe’s life as an eight-year-old in Poland just prior to World War Two as the starting point.
“I’ve known Ruth and Joe all my life, they used to come to me for haircuts – the story of how they met always made me laugh … there was Joe on a dodgy old motor bike passing Ruth on horseback on the Bowraville Road – apparently he nearly killed her,” Tamara said.
“I usually write romance as a way to unwind from my busy life, but this story is different – it is based on a true story, it is local history.”
Tamara said she changed all names and used artistic licence to track Joe’s life, taken from his family by the Germans as a 12-year-old and sent to work on a farm in Germany.
“He was 18 when the war ended and having no papers, he joined the American/Polish Army as a peace-keeper.
“When he was released, he came to Australia and never returned to Europe. Joe has passed now but Ruth has read the book and she loved it. Her story is about meeting and marrying a refugee here in the Valley when she was only 16.
“The book has pushed my boundaries, it includes Polish phrases, which were translated for me by a family friend and also lots of glimpses of the landscape around here.”
The launch is at 2pm this Sunday – hard copies are $25 and will be on sale. The book is also available online at www.tamaramcwilliam.com or as an e-book.