At 11a.m. on the 11th November, 1918, an Armistice was signed and the guns fell silent. The Great War had ended but the repercussions would be felt for years.

If you get the chance, please buy a red poppy and wear it proudly, in memory of the fallen.

Australia was a small country in 1914, with a population of less than 4 million, yet we sent over 300,000 men to the front, Gallipoli in Turkey, Egypt, France and Belgium.  More than 60,000 of our soldiers lie on Gallipoli or in the beautiful cemeteries of France and Belgium, 12,000 miles from home.

Our pilgrimage commenced in Amiens where we were met by our guide Colin Gillard who runs Battlefield Tours with his wife Lisa. Colin has a wealth of knowledge regarding the battlefields. Using war-time maps, he was able to point to within a hundred yards, where my grandfather’s cousin was seriously wounded near the village of Hermes in 1917. Chills ran down my spine, I felt as if a hand was gripping me from the grave. Unfortunately, this relative died of his wounds, leaving a wife and two small children behind.  He is buried in the war cemetery at Rouen, and we were elated but sad when we found his grave.

We visited large cemeteries where hundreds of white headstones stood amongst green lawns with pretty flowers nodding their heads between the graves.

At Thiepval we saw a monument with thousands of names engraved on it, for English soldiers who fell in the area but have no known grave. One of the most memorable monument wasn’t very big.  It was at Fromelles, a bronze statue of an Aussie soldier carrying his wounded mate.


Cobbers statue at Fromelles.

The battle for Fromelles was fought on the 19th and 20th July 1916, Australia had 5,500 casualties the British 1,500.  For over 90 years no-one knew the fate of nearly 300 of these soldiers, but there had been rumours for many years of mass graves in the area, and it was only after a tenacious campaign waged for years by an Australian school teacher that the authorities finally acted, and four mass graves were discovered about three years after our visit. 250 soldiers have now been laid to rest in separate graves in a new Commonwealth war cemetery.  Of the 250 bodies, over 100 have so far been identified by name using DNA volunteered by relatives, but the authorities are still hoping that more soldiers will eventually be identified.

In the Belgium city of Ypres is a soaring stone archway at an entrance to the town. The Menin Gate memorial to the Missing has etched into its walls the names of 50,000 thousand British and other Commonwealth soldiers who served in the region but have no known graves. Even after all these years, they still play the last post every evening as a mark of respect for the fallen.

The largest Commonwealth War cemetery is Tyne Cot with over 12,000 graves in it. More than half the headstones have no name. They bear the inscription “Known Only To God.

We visited large war cemeteries here and beautiful and sad as they were, the most touching was a small cemetery near Passchendale with only a handful of white headstones. Night was falling as we passed through this cemetery, and as we stopped to read the inscription on an eighteen year old soldier’s grave, we whispered that someone from home had come to visit him. When we turned and walked away through the misty rain, all we could leave behind for him was our tears and a red poppy.


I have written three novels set against the background of World War 1, about brave soldiers and the stoic women who waited, sometimes in vain, for their menfolk to return.

My fourth novel, A Rose In No-Man’s Land, published by TWRP, is about an Australian army nurse.

Award winning, fellow TWRP author, Jo-Ann Power has also written a story, Heroic Measures, also about a World War 1 army nurse. Her powerful, highly acclaimed story is written from the American perspective.


An award-winning manuscript

Sister Amy Smithfield is carrying on her family’s military tradition in the only way she can, as an Australian Army nurse. Dedicated to her calling, she has sworn off interest in men for the duration of the Great War in Europe . When she literally runs into Mark Tremayne, an English captain in the Australian army, her real struggle begins.

Mark has his own reasons for keeping any relationship with the opposite sex in the casual mode, and he fights to deny his attraction to the petite blonde nurse who stirs his senses beyond the ordinary.

Their battle against love continues from Australia to the Mediterranean to France . When Amy is captured by German soldiers, Mark realizes how much she means to him — but can he overcome pride and find Amy after his jealous anger pushes her away?



Honoring those who have served their country in war, most focus on those who have fought on the battlefields. But one group’s heroics under fire have slipped through the pages of history, a group whose blood and sweat were left in operating rooms and hospital tents, a group whose heroism has seldom been measured.

             For nurse Gwen Spencer, fighting battles is nothing new. An orphan sent to live with a vengeful aunt, Gwen picked coal and scrubbed floors to earn a living. But when she decides to become a nurse, she steps outside the boundaries of her aunt’s demands…and into a world of her own making.

Leaving her hometown for France, she helps doctors mend thousands of brutally injured Doughboys under primitive conditions. Amid the chaos, she volunteers to go ever forward to the front lines. Braving bombings and the madness of men crazed by the hell of war, she is stunned to discover one man she can love. A man she can share her life with.

But in the insanity and bloodshed she learns the measures of her own desires. Dare she attempt to become a woman of accomplishment? Or has looking into the face of war and death given her the courage to live her life to the fullest?



Award-winning author of fiction and non at


Margaret’s other novels set during the Great War.


When Harriet Martin masquerades as a boy to help her shell-shocked brother, falling in love with her boss wasn’t part of the plan.


Captain Phillip Ashfield toasted his unexpected elevation to fatherhood as a barrage of artillery pounded the battle scarred fields around him.


Laurie Cunningham, carrying the out-of-wedlock child of a shell-shocked WWI veteran, marries another man who is being unjustly tried for murder.

Margaret’s Website:






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About margarettanner

WHO IS MARGARET TANNER? BIO: Margaret Tanner is an award winning, Australian author, who writes Historical Romance and Western Romance, with some contemporary romance as well. She loves delving into the pages of history as she carries out research for her historical romance novels. No internet site is too hard to traverse, or book too old or tattered for her to trawl through, and no museum is too dusty. Many of her novels have been inspired by true events, with one being written around the hardships and triumphs of her pioneering ancestors in frontier Australia. She has found from writing Western Historical novellas, that frontier Australia and frontier America, had many similarities, isolated communities, a large single male population and a lack of marriageable women. Margaret is married and has three grown up sons, and two gorgeous little granddaughters. Outside of her family and friends, writing is her passion.


  1. A fascinating personal account, Margaret! Right now I’m reading The Daughters of Mars, which you’re undoubtedly familiar with. I look forward to reading your WW1 nurse stories too.

  2. It was interesting and inspiring reading about Australia’s part, sacrifices and contributions.
    I remember always buying poppies when I was younger, but I never see anyone selling them today. I’ll have to check around.

    • Hi Ann,
      Thanks for dropping by, I appreciate it. They are still selling the poppies here, I always buy one, it is the least that I can do.



  3. Thank you for the reminder to wear a poppy. I bought one every year for decades never realizing Australia lost so many of their men to war. My father was stationed there for a time in WWII, and I’ve been fascinated with your island since seeing his photos.

    I’m glad to see more books highlighting women’s sacrifices and experiences. Maisie Dobbs is one of my favorite series (though it’s post WWI). Best wishes with your release.

    • Hi Ashantay,
      Thank you for dropping by. Isn’t that amazing about your Dad being stationed here. Well before my time, of course, but I remember my mum saying there were thousands of American servicemen in Australia during the war.



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