The remarkable translator of Erich Maria Remarque
WE TALKED OF OTHER THINGS: THE LIFE AND LETTERS OF ARTHUR WHEEN 1897–1971
edited by Tanya Crothers
Longueville Media, $55 hb, 448 pp, 9780987057013
Arthur Wheen, a nineteen-year-old signaller in the Australian Imperial Force, sailed from Egypt to France in June 1916. A month later he wrote to one of his younger sisters in Australia recounting, in highly fanciful language, his first experience of battle. After describing his difficulties with mud and barbed wire, he told her, ‘I got out in the end though and cantered across to the German trenches where I had much better luck with their barbed wire.’ Agnes Wheen would have had no inkling that her brother had just taken part in a disastrous battle in which more than five thousand Australian soldiers were killed or wounded.