The Desert Trail. With the Light Horse through Sinai to Palestine. By Scotty's Brother
Adelaide, Department of Repatriation, 1919 (second edition)/ 1919.
Octavo, viii (last blank), 90 (last blank) pages with 26 illustrations (after photographs, on 14 leaves, versos blank) plus a double-page folding map.
Original wrappers with a vignette silhouette of a Light Horseman on the front cover; bottom corner lightly bumped throughout; trifling signs of handling; essentially a fine copy with a contemporary ink signature (M.T.B. Tapp?) on the inside front offsetting slightly onto a blank portion of the title page. A cross-check of the signatures of all First World War Australian servicemen (and one female nurse) with the surname Tapp produced no match.
Charles Duguid (1884-1986), a Scottish-born doctor, was appointed captain in the Australian Army Medical Corps, Australian Imperial Force, in February 1917. 'He treated casualties in the Middle East (March-July) before returning to Australia in a hospital ship. His AIF appointment terminated on 5 October' (Australian Dictionary of Biography). The book was written in honour of 'Scotty', his brother William George Duguid. He was an original member of the 8th Light Horse Regiment, and served in Gallipoli, but had transferred to the 3rd Light Horse when he was killed in action on 19 April 1917, near Aseifiyeh. The author's foreword recounts in pathetic detail the circumstances of his death. This classic war memoir went through four editions in less than six months; in spite of that, this title is elusive, and fine copies of the true first edition are utterly rare. In forty years, we have not had a copy of the third edition (and the State Library of South Australia does not have that edition either), but the following information, not at all well-known, has been gleaned from copies of the other editions we have handled. The second and fourth editions are identified as such on the front cover (which also states 'Proceeds in Aid of Light Horse Memorial', replacing a small printer's device on the first edition cover). The first edition has the acknowledgements on page iii, and no testimonials; the second edition has a testimonial from Blackburn VC on page iii, with the acknowledgements on the verso; the fourth edition has testimonials from Blackburn VC and 'A Permanently Incapacitated Light Horseman' on page iii, with the acknowledgements on the verso. The fourth edition has approximately 40 more pages than the first two editions merely because it has been set in larger type. Some idea of the rapidity with which these editions appeared may be appreciated from the following: the Blackburn testimonial is dated 10 February 1919, the other testimonial is dated 6 March 1919, the State Library of SA has a copy of the fourth edition signed and dated by the author on 2 June 1919, and the processing date of the State Library's first edition is 29 April 1919. Read it and you'll understand why it struck a chord. Dornbusch 387; not in Fielding and O'Neill; Trigellis-Smith 263.