Book about female World War I stowaway Maud Butler to be launched in Kurri Kurri

EXTRAORDINARY STORY: Kurri Kurri girl Maud Butler, who dressed as a boy soldier and stowed away on a troop ship in an attempt to fight for her country in World War I. Picture: Australian War Memorial

EXTRAORDINARY STORY: Kurri Kurri girl Maud Butler, who dressed as a boy soldier and stowed away on a troop ship in an attempt to fight for her country in World War I. Picture: Australian War Memorial

Kurri Kurri girl Maud Butler embodied the spirit of ANZAC.

A resourceful waitress with a sense of adventure, the 18-year-old was desperate to be a part of Australia's war effort during the First World War.

Rejected and humiliated at the recruiting station, she cut her hair, dressed as a boy soldier, and stowed away on a troop ship – only to be discovered and returned home, twice.

Maud was undeterred by these obstacles and applied to join the Red Cross, but she was rejected as unqualified.

Maud’s never-give-up attitude allowed her to triumph over these challenges – and she found a way achieve her dream of helping her country in a time of need. 

Hunter historians John Gillam and Yvonne Fletcher and illustrator Paul Durell have brought Maud’s extraordinary story to life in the new book “You Can’t Fight, You’re a Girl!”, which will be launched in her home town this coming Saturday.

“It is a wonderful story and the message it conveys to young people about the need for resilience and determination to achieve your life goals is priceless,” Gillam said.

A life belt is being placed around Maud's waist before she is transferred at sea from HMAT Suevic to the Achilles 24 December 1915. Picture: Australian War Memorial

A life belt is being placed around Maud's waist before she is transferred at sea from HMAT Suevic to the Achilles 24 December 1915. Picture: Australian War Memorial

“Children of all ages will find inspiration in Maud’s story of determination in pursuing her dreams and succeeding.

“The drawings engage younger readers and convey the storyline to them.

“The narrative text is intended to engage the empathy of an older reader and their life’s experiences.”

“You Can’t Fight, You’re a Girl!” is Gillam and Fletcher’s fourth book. It is aligned to the national curriculums  for English and history and has permission to use the official Centenary of ANZAC logo.

Maud’s granddaughter Julie Goodall will travel from Canberra for the launch at Maud’s former primary school, Kurri Kurri Public School.

The front and back covers of the book “You Can’t Fight, You’re a Girl!” by John Gillam and Yvonne Fletcher.

The front and back covers of the book “You Can’t Fight, You’re a Girl!” by John Gillam and Yvonne Fletcher.

Federal Member for Paterson Meryl Swanson (who also attended the school) and State Member for Gosford and Paralympian, Liesl Tesch will speak about how the legacy of Maud’s story resonated with them.

The school ensemble will sing John Thompson’s song What Will we Do with Maud Butler? and Mark Wilson read his poem The Stowaway in Disguise

“You Can’t Fight, You’re a Girl!” will be launched at the Kurri Kurri Public School hall on Saturday, November 4 at 10am for a 10.30am start.

The authors will also present a talk at Kurri Kurri Library on Friday, November 10.

The talk will run from 11.30am to noon, with morning tea provided.

Bookings are essential; call call Kurri Kurri Library on 4937 1638.

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