Dust, Donkeys and Delusion examines and clinically debunks the myth that has grown up around Private John Simpson Kirkpatrick, the so-called `Man with the Donkey', the quintessential Australian `hero' of Gallipoli. While the various elements of the Simpson myth have now become popularly accepted as `history', Dust, Donkeys and Delusion shows clearly, based on historical documents, both official and unofficial, that almost every word ever spoken or written about Simpson following his death is false.
Graham Wilson was passionate about myth-busting. While the author of Bully Beef & Balderdash and Dust, Delusions & Donkeys passed away on 17 April 2016, his last work, the second volume of Bully Beef & Balderdash, has been published posthumously and, in true Wilson style, launches itself bodily at another collection of famous myths of the AIF. A childhood spent reading his grandfather’s books on World War I produced a love of military history that gradually shaped Graham Wilson’s life. He never boasted lofty qualifications in military history, asserting instead that his extraordinary knowledge and determination to correct historical inaccuracies were the result of an ability to think critically and question assumptions developed during his lengthy military career. He combined these with an inherent curiosity and a mania for the truth. The business of debunking myths was a source of obvious satisfaction to Graham Wilson and his delight is clearly evident in his last hurrah, his second volume of Bully Beef & Balderdash. However he emphasises from the outset that his aim is not to disparage the AIF. Quite the reverse, in fact, and among the last words he penned was a final salute to the AIF of which he was undoubtedly proud: ‘Finally, I acknowledge with the most profound respect the men and women of the AIF who, from a chaotic beginning, built one of the finest fighting machines of the twentieth century and whose story does not need and never has needed myth to bolster it.’ Vale Graham Wilson to whom Australians owe an enormous debt in returning the men of the AIF from the realms of lesser gods to the ranks of ordinary humans who lived and died in the service of their country.