The author of a vast number of letters from the Western Front during World War One, Driver Samuel Spittle saw a lot of the conflict close up: from the seat of a horse-drawn service waggon.
As a member of 18 Company, Australian Army Service Corps, Spittle (known by his second name Gordon) joined the First AIF in 1915, probably on the recommendation of the man who put the unit together, Ballarat's Captain John Alexander Smyth Brazenor.
Of the 145 men in the Corps, over 50 were from Ballarat and Creswick, including Spittle.
The Service Corps was responsible for the transport and provision of supplies and rations, other than machinery or ammunition, including the delivery of mail to the troops.
Mostly they used horses and waggons, and increasingly trucks and early tractors as the war progressed and the European mud took its toll. They were often in the firing line; Spittle writes about losing a consignment of bread loaves to a shell exploding behind him and destroying a carriage.
A new book by Ballarat Ranger Military Museum's manager Neil Leckie takes Spittle's correspondence, aligning it with his service in The Great War and his eventual safe return to Australia, to the farm he purchased before he enlisted, Mt Cavern at Ascot.
Creswick's War:Through the War Letters of S. Gordon Spittle MM 'The War Correspondent' includes background information on what was happening in the war that Spittle could not specifically identify: the villages they were 'billeted' in, the battles being fought around them.
Major Leckie says Spittle, like his mates in 18 Company, was a local man, selected for his knowledge of horses.
"They were country boys, farm boys," says Leckie.
"They could ride horses and drive waggons. So there was a third from around here, but even the men from Melbourne had those sorts of skills, useful to the Service Corps."
Born in Creswick North on October 5 1891, Spittle was educated at Creswick Grammar School (closed 1903). The youngest son of Sam Spittle and Henrietta Richards, he worked on his father's farm at Allendale
In 1912 Spittle purchased the farm 'Mount Cavern', near Ascot. He was due to take possession of the farm in April 1916; the war intervened.
Gordon felt it his duty to serve and enlisted in the AIF on July 17, 1915 and was allocated to 18 Company, leaving Melbourne in November 1915 for Egypt. In mid-1916 they transferred to France and for the next two-and-a-half years fought on the Western Front in France and Belgium. Spittle's father Samuel took possession of 'Mount Cavern' on behalf of Gordon.
During his four years of war service Gordon wrote back to Australia, saying he'd met many soldiers from the Ballarat and Creswick districts in the conflict.
Many of those letters survived. In 1994 the Spittle family had the letters typed and produced a book: The War Correspondent.
"He was known as 'The War Correspondent'," says Leckie.
"He sat down most Sunday nights and wrote letters to his family: one to Mum, one to Dad, one to each of his brothers. And he'd answer all of the letters he got from other people.
"Eventually he said, 'I know you share all the letters, so I'm just going to write one big letter.' And his brother complained Gordon wasn't returning his letters anymore.
""There's a war on', Gordon said."
Being a supply wagon driver Spittle had more freedom than most other soldiers, and he wrote about the many people he met along the way. He wrote of his 'leave' to the UK (twice), Paris and after hostilities had ended, Brussels in Belgium.
Like all soldiers, Spittle's letters were subject to censorship.
"He was very much censored," Neil Leckie says, "and would never identify where he was, writing instead 'somewhere in France' or 'somewhere in Belgium'.
"He couldn't say much about what was happening: for example the battle of Fromelles, the worst 24 hours Australia had with over 2000 men dead, all Gordon was allowed to say was, 'we lost a few men the other day - but it is war.'
Gordon Spittle returned to Australia and was discharged on 15 August 1919. In later years he became a councillor for the Shire of Ballarat, and was shire president for a year. He died in December 1942 at the young age of 51.
To celebrate the centenary of Gordon's discharge from the Army, the book Creswick's War: Through the War Letters of S. Gordon Spittle MM 'The War Correspondent' will be launched at the RSL Clubrooms in Creswick on Sunday August 25 at 2pm.