Wednesday 28 October 2009 by Jennifer Selby. 6 comments

Yesterday, 27th October was UNESCO's World Day for Audiovisual Heritage.

In 2005 the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) indentified the archiving and preservation of audiovisual documents as an outstanding issue needing addressing, stating that:

Much of the world's audiovisual heritage has already been irrevocably lost through neglect, destruction, decay and the lack of resources, skills, and structures, thus impoverishing the memory of mankind. Much more will be lost if stronger and concerted international action is not taken.  

The Australian War Memorial’s Film and Sound section work to document and preserve audiovisual items relating to Australia’s Military History, and to make these accessible to the public.

The sound collection comprises approximately 7,000 hours (over 4000 titles) of sound recordings, held mainly on disc, magnetic tape and increasingly as digital files. 

90% of the collection consists of oral history interviews covering the First World War, Second World War, Korea, Malaya, Vietnam, and peacekeeping operations. The rest comprises actuality recordings – radio transmissions, operational sounds of weapons and equipment; letters/messages recorded from servicemen overseas to their families in Australia; radio variety programs and documentaries; radio broadcasts, consisting of recruiting announcements, commercials, jingles, speeches and addresses; songs and military band music including marches. 

The film and video collection is currently comprised of over 7,000 titles (approx 3.25 million feet of cine film). Films in the collection includes footage of Gallipoli and the Western Front in the First World War, Official films and Newsreels sourced from the Department of Information in the Second World War and amateur footage from Korea and Vietnam. This collection also includes approximately 1000 hours of video encompassing video oral histories, as well as interviews and footage filmed in Iraq and East Timor on current operations.

Film donations are received from a range of donors from amateur film makers to documentary companies. Much material has been acquired from Department of Defence or via fee waiver agreements.  Material commissioned by the Memorial has recently increased the amount of contemporary, quality material to the National Collection

Below are some examples of audiovisual collection items held by the Australian War Memorial:

An unidentified seaman on the deck of HMAS Sydney looks at the wrecked German cruiser Emden An unidentified seaman on the deck of HMAS Sydney looks at the wrecked German cruiser Emden

Listen to an extract from an Oral History interview S00422.

S00422: Harold Arthur Freeman, as a crew member of HMAS Sydney during the First World War. Harold began his Naval Career as a 14 year old on the training ship HMAS Tingira. He then transferred to HMAS Sydney and was on board during the Sydney’s battle and victory over SMS Emden in November 1914.  


F00069: With the Dardanelles Expedition: heroes of Gallipoli. Filmed by British war correspondent Ellis Ashmead Bartlett in 1915 (/film/F00069)

F03455: 21st Light Horse Regiment  scene showing  a parade of the 4th Cavalry Brigade at Parramatta, 6 March 1940 filmed by Harold Conway (/film/F03455)

F03456: Dallas Cressey of the 2/3 Motor Transport Company, footage filmed as a  prisoner of the Japanese during the Second World War (/film/F03456)

F04775: The bombing of Darwin, 19 February 1942 filmed by Francis Sheldon-Collins (/film/F04775)

F01866: Assault on Salamaua filmed by Damien Parer, 1943 complete scene showing Private William Johnson being helped by Sergeant Gordon Ayre across a stream and along a muddy track. (/film/F01866)

F07532: 3 RAR in Korea filmed by the Military History Section – cameraman unknown. (/film/F07532)

F11557: Super8mm footage filmed by Michael Chapman, 3 RAR  on 12 February 1968 in Baria during the Viet Cong Tet offensive

F04691: Christmas message from Tim Fischer, Vietnam, 1968 filmed by Defence Public Relations (/film/F04691)

F08390: No Dramas: A documentary film made by Robert Nugent using footage taken in Iraq 2006 as the Australian War Memorial's Official Cinematographer


william spooner

looking for pictures of Noemfoor, New Guinea during WWII. My father in law was stationed there and spoke oftenly of the Australian's there. thanks,

Jennifer Selby says:

Hi William, You can find items which relate to Noemfoor Island in the Australian War Memorial's collection by searching for "Noemfoor Island" on our collection search located at Regards, Jennifer

jo hutt

Hi, My dad was in the 2/48th battalion and i am looking for any information, in particular live footage, that you could make available to me. Email as above and mobile 0407887297. Thanking you in anticipation. Jo Hutt

Joe Wallis

Sir, Does the Memorial collection of film include the following, During 1970/1971 after returning from Vietnam ,I was in a unit that was escort to a number of funerals of Vietnam War diggers . Does the memorial have film especially of military funerals in the Woolongong area during this 70/71 year?? Thank you very much Joe Wallis

Jennifer Selby

Dear Joe, We do not hold any footage of military funerals in the Wollongong area from the Vietnam Era. I would suggest you approach the Wollongong Library or a local RSL who may hold some footage of what you are interested in. Regards Jennifer

frengkly pandeiroot

how do you calculate the price if i want to buy some film documentry, I am looking for some footage of north sulawesi during the war. Thanks