WHEN Neville Browning began collecting Australian Army history books in high school, little did he know it would lead him on the path to one of the country’s highest honours.
The Huntingdale resident (pictured right with his books) was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia on Australia Day for his service to the preservation of military history.
A descendant of multiple Diggers, he has written eight books about Australian battalions and serves as a tour guide for Australian tours of the Kokoda Trail and the Western Front.
Mr Browning said he was desperate to learn more about Australia’s military history, but upon being unable to find the books he wanted took it upon himself to write them.
“Over 20 years ago I was researching the WA 51st Battalion and wanted a book on them but there wasn’t one, so I decided to do it myself,” he said.
“Basically, over the years I have looked at battalions that do not have a written history and have sought to fix it.
“I get an incredible sense of satisfaction out of taking piles of old written records and reports and turning them into a finished book. I am driven by it.”
Mr Browning said his love of the military led him to become a tour guide for Kokoda Treks and Tours and Frank Taylor’s Australian Military History Tours.
“I specialise in World War I but particularly the Western Front. I can practically see those battles unfolding when I stand on those fields in France and Belgium,” he said.
“I first went to the Western Front as a guide in 2008 and met Frank from Kokoda Treks and Tours a few years after that.”
Mr Browning said he was surprised to discover he had been awarded the Order of Australia for something which was part of his everyday life.
“I was shocked to find out about the Order of Australia. I write battalion histories and help anyone at any time with researching their military ancestors,” he said.
“Receiving the Order of Australia is extremely flattering and humbling and I am grateful to those who thought me worthy of it.”