A Literary Breakthrough – ”Breaker” Morant – The Retrial

morant email photo

After decades of controversy surrounding the case of Australians, Lieutenants ”Breaker” Harry Morant, Peter Handcock and George Witton tried by the British military for war crimes in the Boer War, 1902, an exciting and compelling book backed by the resources of an international publisher, is being authored by James Unkles, military lawyer and Neil Pigot, award winning actor, documentary writer and presenter.

The book is an exciting, crisply written and intriguing exploration of Morant, a man who has captivated generations of Australians and brings to light newly unearthed documentary evidence to prove that he was not only who he claimed to be but that he was, in fact, a “Scapegoat of the Empire”.

The book will be popular history that reads like a novel, fast paced with short chapters, the book will not be bogged down in extraneous and trivial speculation, but presenting the facts as a clear and engaging narrative.

Unlike other books on the subject, this expose will be based on fact and credible research devoid of speculation and self-serving rhetoric.  It  focuses on who Breaker Morant was, his history, his relationship with Peter Handcock and George Witton and the manner in which they were treated by the British military.

It will culminate in the detail of the case for judicial review focusing on the manner in which these men were unlawfully tried, convicted and sentenced, that resulted in the execution of Morant and Handcock and the sentencing of Witton to life imprisonment.

The book also focuses on the dedicated work of James Unkles, his exhaustive research into the Morant story, both from a legal and historical point of view.  His dogged determination to secure posthumous justice for these men and their descendants is revealed as he has pursued pardons for Morant, Handcock and Witton which culminated in a petition being delivered to the Queen in 2010, having his case supported by the House of Representatives Petitions Committee and battling Governments to appoint an independent inquiry, a campaign that continues to this day.

The book highlights the principle that the passing of time and the fact that Morant, Handcock and Witton are deceased does not diminish errors in the administration of justice. Injustices in times of war are inexcusable and it takes vigilance to right wrongs, to honour those unfairly treated and to demonstrate respect for the rule of law. How we respond to this case remains a test of our values and is vitally important to the descendants of Morant, Handcock and Witton and those who respect the rule of law and seek justice.  In the eyes of the law and the Australian community a wrong is never diminished by the passing of time and it is our duty to put it right.

The book will be of interest to anyone who wishes to understand how three Australian bushmen, volunteers who sought adventure and support King and Country came to pay the ultimate price for the sins of their British superiors and caused a legend to become part of the Australian psyche of injustice and history!

The reader will not only come to understand the legend, but will judge whether these men were rightly treated as criminals or scapegoats of the British military who suffered a gross injustice that remains to be corrected.

Jim Unkles and Neil                    Jim Sth Africa and UK 053

Authors, Jim Unkles and Neil Pigot in Archives, Pretoria doing research and at the Pretoria cemetery at Morant’s and Handcock’s grave (2013)



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4 Responses to A Literary Breakthrough – ”Breaker” Morant – The Retrial

  1. wayne jones says:

    Why is Breaker Morant shown standing in front of the wrong colour flag? He would have been arrested for being in possession of a blue flag. The blue flag is that a”hole menzies flag. Get the real Australian flag, the red one.

  2. Geoff Neighbour says:

    Greetings Jim
    I have followed your blog for some time. I eagerly await your book. I have had an interest in this story since early childhood when I discovered that my Great Grandmother was Jane Martha Handcock, sister of “that poor fool Handcock”. I vividly recall my mother telling me that her family was invited to a ceremony in Bathurst when P.J. Handcock’s name was (finally) placed on the cenotaph in 1964. My Grandfather Henry George Dempsey was Jane Handcock’s son (I believe one of many children). Coincidently, my birthday is February 27. This has always had a chilling effect on me.
    Cheers and keep up the good work.

  3. jamesunkles says:

    Thanks Chris, my book will be published very soon, the most authoritative expose on the subject of Breaker and the case for pardons, cheers

  4. Chris Tannock says:

    Hello Jim,
    I can’t see where I can email you privately so hope this will be ok. Please don’t publish this to your blog site.
    Seems like you have made enormous progress for the next step, congratulations. I will certainly buy your book.
    My father in law (Jack Tannock) spoke with you a few years ago re his own father’s Boar War service and his memories of events ‘take no prisoners” and Breaker Morant.
    I just wanted to let you know that Jack wrote his own war memories down 20 years ago (Quilpie to Kokoda War Memories of Jack Tannock) and on 10th Jan 2015 we are holding a small family and friends of 2/25th function to celebrate the book launch. If you happen to be in Qld and were interested in attending or reading his book please contact me. Jack did not wish the book be made public until his passing. Kind regards Chris Tannock

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