Emeritus Profosseor of Anthropology, Christine Helliwell, has today been anounced as the winner of the Australian War Memorial's $10,000 Les Carlyon Lietrary Prize.
The prize, named in honour of historian, author and journalist Les Carlyon AC, is awarded for a publication relating to Australian military history, social military history or war history, published between July 2020 and June 2022.
Helliwell's winning non-fiction book, Semut: The untold story of a secret Australian operation in WWII Borneo, tells the story of Operation Semut, an Australian secret operation launched by the organisation codenamed Services Reconnaisance Department – popularly known as Z Special Unit – in the final months of WWII.
When hearing of her win, Helliwell said: "What a thrill to win this award" especially against the other books on the shortlist "any of which could have easily won it."
Four works were shortlisted from more than 30 submitted for the prize this year. The subject matter ranged from frontier violence to recent conflicts. The bulk of the entries being non-fiction with a strong representation from veterans, family historians, journalists and academics.
“Les Carlyon was a monumental figure in Australian writing: not only a great historian but a wonderful, wonderful wordsmith. It’s a huge honour to win an award that bears his name.”
The Les Carlyon Literary Prize is a way to support both emerging and established military or war history writers and to find and to encourage the best storytellers in Australia.