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The Commando: The Life and Death of Cameron Baird VC, MG. Written by Ben Mckelvey with thanks to Doug and Kaye Baird

Book review by Mr L. Macintosh


Gritty, honest, and exciting ‘The Commando’ is a book for soldiers.

This is a book for soldiers who want an insight into the realities of modern combat, for those who are looking for an example of junior leadership and for those who want to know what it is to lead

Upfront, this is a book for soldiers; gritty, honest, and easily read. Corporal Baird’s biography provides the reader an insight into the makings of an contemporary Australian combat soldier, before exploring Corporal Baird’s experience of modern conflict as an infantryman, and special forces operator.

Corporal Cameron Baird VC, MG lived a full life in his short time. This fact is easily understood when the military honours attached to the end of his name are considered. However, the reader will come to learn that Corporal Baird was shaped and moulded by his family, experiences, and time in the Army which culminated at the point of his death in Afghanistan on 22 June, 2013. The book features consistent examples of junior leadership, comradeship, and courage under fire that defined Corporal Baird and show a standard that all soldiers can aspire to.

Formed from the notes of family, official reports on 2 Commando Regiment’s contacts, and the perspectives of soldiers who served on the frontline with Corporal Baird, this book will resonate with all soldiers past, present, and future. No holds barred, Ben Mckelvey is honest in his portrayal of his subject and demonstrates that soldeirs are required to make hard and fast decisions with consequences that can remain for life. In part I hoped to see more on Corporal Baird’s leadership, in order to take something for my own toolbox, but I understand the generalist scope of this book that was required to provide an encompassing read.

All in all, a solid read that will appeal to our soldiers. I would recommend this to any Private or Junior Non Commissioned Officer getting ready for coursing, or just wants an example of what combat leadership looks like. I was given the book so if you see me around Trentham, or Linton in the next wee while Ill be happy to pass on my copy of the book.