By Megan Spencer © 2018
Credits and additional information - Episode 1
Credits and additional information - Episode 2
Episode 3: “City as war memorial”
Harry Spencer was just a young boy when his older brother Dick died serving in the First World War. An identical twin, Private Richard “Charles” Spencer, No. 5218, 14th Battalion, was killed on the Western Front in 1918, a few days shy of his 19th birthday. No doubt Richard’s enlistment – and his twin brother Hugh’s – played a big role in Harry’s decision to join up in 1939.
Hungry for even more knowledge about her family’s military past, in Episode 03 Megan travels to Belgium to find out how, when, and why Richard died. It is the first time any Spencer has visited his grave. Alongside thousands of other “remembrance pilgrims”, Megan discovers an entire town built as a war memorial – and the incredible details of her great-uncle’s story.
In the muddy paddocks of Ypres and under the solemn Menin Gate, Megan shares common ground with total strangers, founded in history, empathy, and remembrance.
Credits and additional information - Episode 3
From a whisper to a bang! A six-part podcast series about war, remembrance, Australian prisoners of war in Germany during the Second World War, and an emotional journey of historical empathy, presented and produced by Australian broadcaster Megan Spencer.
With her grandfather’s handwritten wartime memoirs tucked in her back pocket, Spencer’s podcast takes her around the world and back: from the crumbling ruins of Germany’s Stalags and the historic battlefields and gravesites of Flanders, to the hallowed halls of Australia’s biggest shrines and institutions, and its unassuming neighbourhood RSLs.
Beginning with her family’s story, Spencer attempts to “walk a mile” in the shoes of her late grandfather, Corporal H.B. “Harry” Spencer, 2/7th Battalion. She will examine the inter-generational ripple effect of her grandfather’s wartime experience as a German prisoner of war after being captured in the battle for Crete in 1941.
One of 13 children, (five of whom served over two world wars), Corporal Spencer went from being a “39-er” on active service in North Africa and Greece, to overnight becoming a “Kriegie” – an Allied prisoner of war. He was interned between 1941 and 1945 in four separate camps, crossing vast distances and encountering innumerable hardships, the consequences of which have never really been talked about – until now.
Spencer’s podcast investigates the role of remembrance: what we remember and how we remember it, exploring the tenet of “Lest we forget” and whether it still means what it used to. One hundred years after the end of “the war to end all wars”, Spencer posits that perhaps the time has come to ask, do we remember well? Do we take the responsibility of peace seriously enough? In this age of “post-truth”, “unsocial” media, and “alternative facts”, are we forgetting the legacy of the two world wars?
From a whisper to a bang! includes rich and revelatory conversations with family members, military historians, civilians, serving members, Indigenous culture custodians, and experts on empathy. It also features discussions with battlefield “pilgrims” who, just like Spencer, are searching for answers about their own loved ones. Everyone has a story.
The narrative is punctuated by field recordings and intimate voiceover links, with music by Cretan–Australian duo Xylouris White, bridging the fateful shore on which Corporal Spencer’s wartime fortunes changed in an instant.
Each month’s episode will be released on the Australian War Memorial website and will be available through all major podcast hosts.
The opinions expressed in this podcast series are those of individual contributors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian War Memorial.
Credits from episode one of From a whisper to a bang podcast.
08 January 2019
My heart stops. There he is.
At the end of another endless click of the mouse – it’s him. Harry. My grandfather. Hiding in plain sight on the Australian War Memorial website.
“I found you,” I say out loud.