Sword and Baton is a collection of 86 biographies representing every Australian Army officer to reach the rank of major general from Federation to the outbreak of World War II. This is the first of two volumes, and its scope is broad, including chaplains-general, surgeons-general and British Army officers who served with the AIF or the permanent forces. Author Justin Chadwick portrayal of these officers careers provides a lens through which he examines trends such as the development of military skills which ensured that, by the commencement of hostilities in 1914, Australia boasted a pool of well-trained, albeit inexperienced officers. The effects of command under pressure of war and the enormous physical impact of combat are likewise portrayed in these comprehensive biographies. By the end of hostilities Australian officers had garnered immense experience and were among the best in the Allied forces. Ironically, this hard-won skill base was to be all but lost in the interwar period. Sword and Baton offers its readers more than a series of biographies. Rather, it describes a crucial period in Australian military history through the lives of the extraordinary men at its head.
Justin Chadwick holds an Honours in History from the University of Adelaide. He is a historian, lecturer and tutor. He is currently the editor at Sabretache Magazine which is a publication of the Military History Society of Australia.