Sound Collection Online: First World War Experiences
Monday 11 November 2013 by Jeffrey Wray. No comments
First World War Centenary, Collection, Collection Highlights, First World War, Gallipoli, Western Front, Victoria Cross, oral history, Sound, Remembrance Day
The Sound Collection at the Australian War Memorial consists of over 9,000 oral history interviews with individuals who served during war and peacekeeping efforts. To showcase highlights from this collection the Australian War Memorial will create Sound show reels.
This debut Sound show reel gives us insight into the lives and experiences of three men who served during the First World War. Recorded in the 1970s, 80s and 90s, these men discuss the memories that were etched into their minds forever. They paint a picture of what it was like to be on the front line and the resourcefulness and resilience of diggers. It is from the spoken word that the Anzac spirit comes through, as they weave stories of individuals in extraordinary circumstances.
Stephanie Boyle, Senior Curator of Film and Sound introduces the Sound Reel, which begins with Colonel James Lumsden McKinlay describing himself as a young man at the Gallipoli landing. McKinlay talks about playing “war games” with the Turks during combat, and recalls being wounded as the luckiest day of his life. He was a member of the 4th Divisional Signal Company, AIF, Gallipoli and France 1915-1918, and was awarded multiple times for his actions on the Western Front. For the full interview see S00287 in the Memorials online collection database.
Next is Angus John McGillivray as a private in the 29th Infantry Battalion AIF, France 1917-1918, interviewed by Dr Alistair Thomson. He describes using a blanket for protection from bullets and shelling on the Western Front. Private McGillivray went on to serve in the Second World War during which he was captured by the Japanese and became a prisoner of war. For the full interview see S01319.
Finally is Private Thomas Brain, 59th Battalion, who fought on the Western Front recalling his return home, a different and unrecognisable man. For the full interview see S02096.
These four snippets of oral histories are a small window into the life of a First World War serviceman. The Australian War Memorial continues to actively create and collect oral history interviews with veterans, those still serving in current conflicts, and their partners.