Butcher's boy Jimmy D'Aubin went willingly to war when duty called in 1916. Excited, thrilled to be part of a big adventure and determined to play his part in fighting the enemy.
Like so many of those fortunate to return, this son of a loving Melbourne family soon found his life had changed forever.
The bright-eyed lad had vanished somewhere amid the mud and trenches of the battlefields of France and Flanders.
Replaced by a man physically and mentally broken.
A stranger to all who once knew and loved him.
Even his parents.
His battle now is with alcohol. And with the thieving needed to sustain his addiction.
There are minor victories among his defeats. He marries, fathers four children but is incapable of supporting them.
Divorce follows. He lives on the streets, often sleeping where he falls.
He welcomes his frequent spells in prison as they provide a bed and a meal.
Help is offered but war has damaged him mentally as well as physically. He finds Billy, his battlefield mate, has fared no better.
Jimmy's story mirrors the life and times of the author's grandfather. It paints a vivid picture of mid-twentieth century Melbourne.
A period endured by many who went willingly to war and returned to find a bigger battle awaited them.