Media release

  • Will the Australian War Memorial tell the story of colonial conflicts?

    Note: the following was first published as a blog post on this website on 17 December 2013.  The post can be read at www.awm.gov.au/blog/2013/12/17/response-question-about-frontier-wars .

    Recently the Memorial was asked whether it was planning to tell the story of the conflicts between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Australia during the nineteenth century.

    The Australian War Memorial was conceived during the terrible fighting on the Western Front in the First World War. Charles Bean, Australia’s official war correspondent (and later official war historian), was determined that Australians should be made fully aware of the service and extent of sacrifice of members of the Australian Imperial Force. Bean’s concept was for a national memorial that would commemorate what the nation had done during the war.

    Today, the Memorial’s Council continues to adhere to Bean’s concept of honouring the services of the men and women of Australia’s military forces deployed on operations overseas on behalf of the nation.

    The “Frontier Wars” were a series of actions that were carried out by British colonial forces stationed in Australia, by the police, and by local settlers. It is important to note that the state police forces used Indigenous Australians to hunt down and kill other Indigenous Australians; but the Memorial has found no substantial evidence that home-grown military units, whether state colonial forces or post-Federation Australian military units, ever fought against the Indigenous population of this country. The Australian Defence Force (ADF) is proud, however, that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have served in Australian military forces since before the Boer War and continue to serve today. Their service is the subject of significant ongoing research.

    The protracted conflict that occurred during the colonial dispossession of Indigenous Australians is a tragic fact of Australia’s history, even if some details remain disputed owing to the paucity and unreliability of the records. The story of Indigenous opposition to European settlement and expansion is one that should be told, but which cannot be told by the Memorial. As defined in the Australian War Memorial Act 1980, the Memorial’s official role is to develop a memorial for Australians who have died on, or as a result of, active service, or as a result of any war or warlike operation in which Australians have been on active service. The definition does not include internal conflicts between the Indigenous populations and the colonial powers of the day.

    In September 2013, the Director of the Memorial, Dr Brendan Nelson, addressed this query at an address given to the National Press Club. On that occasion Dr Nelson stated that the Australian War Memorial is concerned with the story of Australians deployed in war overseas on behalf of Australia, not with a war within Australia between colonial militia, British forces, and Indigenous Australians.

    Dr Nelson agrees that our nation needs to reflect on the fact that the story of colonial conflicts has not been told in a national institution; however, the Memorial, concerned as it is with Australians serving overseas in peacekeeping operations or in war, is not the appropriate institution in which to do so. The institution best placed to tell those stories is the National Museum of Australia and perhaps some of the state-based institutions most likely to have artefacts or relics that exist from this period in our history. Dr Nelson has proposed to the National Museum of Australia that it consider presenting the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians through the course of the nineteenth century in a comprehensive way. Violent confrontation was one part of a broader history.

    References

    ·         Australian War Memorial Act 1980

    ·         Link to the full transcript of the National Press Club address given by Dr Brendan Nelson, 18 September 2013

     

    CONTACT DETAILS

    Liz Holcombe                     (02) 6243 4383            0409 600 038              liz.holcombe@awm.gov.au
    Moj Nozhat                        (02) 6243 4575             0409 600 038             media@awm.gov.au

     

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    Mon 27 Jan 2014
  • Announcement of new Executive Manager, ANZAC Centenary Touring Exhibition

    It is with great pleasure that the Australian War Memorial announces the appointment of Major General Brian Dawson AM CSC (Ret’d) to this new role which will be governed by a proposed ANZAC Centenary Touring Exhibition Steering Committee on behalf of the Federal Government.

    Major General Dawson AM CSC (Ret’d) will provide strategic direction for the ANZAC Centenary Touring Exhibition which will be a major feature of Australia’s commemoration of the First World War. He will work directly to the Memorial’s Director, Dr Brendan Nelson, in overseeing development of the exhibition through to and including its tour of Australia.

    Major General Dawson AM CSC (Ret’d) feels privileged to have the opportunity to contribute to the national commemoration of the Centenary of ANZAC.

    “After a 40 year career in the Australian Army, I believe I can help bring a deep insight to the extraordinary contribution and sacrifice of Australians in the First Word War,” said Major General Dawson AM CSC (Ret’d).

    Dr Nelson welcomed the appointment of General Dawson AM CSC (Ret’d), as he brings a wealth of experience to the position, which is critical to the delivery of these projects.

    “The Centenary Touring Exhibition is vital in helping Australians remember and understand our experience of war during this significant period, and we believe that Brian is the man to achieve this,” said Dr Nelson.

    “I look forward to working with the Director and the professional team at the Memorial to plan and implement the ANZAC Centenary Touring Exhibition,” said Major General Dawson AM CSC (Ret’d).

    Major General Brian Dawson AM CSC (Ret’d)Major General Brian Dawson AM CSC (Ret’d). Image courtesy Department of Defence

    CONTACT DETAILS:

    Moj Nozhat                  (02) 6243 4575            0409 600 038              media@awm.gov.au

    Marylou Pooley           (02) 6243 4383            0412 646 298 

    Media backgrounder

    Major General Brian Dawson AM CSC (Ret’d)

    His most recent appointment (May to October 2013) was as a member of a consultant project team that developed a proposal for the NSW Department of Transport regarding the implementation of a grain harvest management scheme, to provide mass tolerance and improved productivity for heavy vehicles transporting grain from farms to receiving sites.  Prior to this, he had a long and distinguished career in the Defence Force before retiring from the Australian Regular Army in April 2013 after forty years’ service.

    His final posting was as the Australian Military Representative to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and the European Union (EU) from 2010 to 2013. As the first Australian Military Representative, he established the new role and developed relationships with other international military and diplomatic representatives.  He was responsible for representing Australia’s interests with NATO, specifically the Australian Defence Force’s contribution to NATO in Afghanistan and facilitated the successful negotiation of a logistic support arrangement between NATO and Australia.

    Other appointments during his time in Defence included:

    • Headed the Australian Department of Defence Public Affairs Organisation from 2008 to early 2010.
    • Deputy Commander of the Australian Joint Task Force in Iraq from November 2007 to May 2008 based in Baghdad
    • Commandant of the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA) from 2006 to 2007
    • Chief of Staff Land Headquarters from December 2002 to December 2005
    • Leadership and staff roles in the Defence logistics organisations during a period of significant reforms 1991 to 1999
    • Served as a platoon commander in the 3rd Battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment and 2IC of the 8/9th Battalion. Postings as a troop commander and squadron commander with the Special Air Service Regiment, including a two-year exchange 1981 to 1983 with the United Kingdom Special Air Service Group.

    He was awarded Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in 2000 for work in Defence logistics and Conspicuous Service Cross (CSC) for service in Somalia in 1995.

    Major General Brian Dawson AM CSC (Ret’d) has visited and walked the ground of the major Australian First World War battlefield sites on the Western Front, and has read widely on these battles. He has also conducted informal battlefield tours for visiting Australian politicians and senior officials.

     

    Wed 11 Dec 2013
  • Memorial launches First World War exhibition, ANZAC voices

    "To win through safely would mean honour and achievement, on the other hand to fall would mean an honourable end."

        Brigadier General John Monash, 24 April 1915

    The Australian War Memorial will tonight launch a new exhibition, ANZAC Voices, to mark the upcoming Centenary of the First World War. The new exhibition, which will be officially opened by author and historian Dr Peter Pedersen, tells the story of the harsh realities of what Australians endured on Gallipoli and the Western Front, in the mud of Flanders and the deserts of Sinai-Palestine.

    Director of the Memorial, Dr Brendan Nelson, remarked that the exhibition was a two year project created in anticipation for the redevelopment of the First World War galleries. “Four Senior Curators have worked tirelessly to bring together an emotive and informative exhibition, to help Australians better understand this significant period in our history, whilst the First World War galleries undergo major redevelopment,” said Dr Nelson.

    The exhibition reveals treasures from the Memorial’s National Collection, drawing on the personal letters and diaries of those who experienced the war, and are supported by official documents, photographs, artworks and objects. The exhibition includes letters from the commander of the Australia Corps, General Sir John Monash; Private John Hector Croft’s pocket book which saved his life when it was pierced by a Turkish bullet on Gallipoli on 25 April 1915; and the original diaries of Charles Bean, Australia’s Official War Correspondent.

    Many of the rare and historic items in this exhibition are on display for the first time, including letters from John Simpson Kirkpatrick (of Simpson and his donkey fame); letters from an Indigenous soldier, Lance Corporal Charles Blackman; Captain Frederick Tubb VC’s last diary entry; and items recovered from the Pheasant Wood mass grave at Fromelles in 2010.

    Robyn van Dyk, one of the four Co-curators of the exhibition said that the eyewitness accounts and heart felt communications to those at home reveal many moving stories. “People were caught up in the excitement after war was declared. Many thought that the war would be over by Christmas, and enlisted from a sense of adventure and opportunity to see the world. ANZAC voices shows the changing attitudes and hardships experienced by Australians during the First World War.”

    “ANZAC voices offers a rare and intimate glimpse into the thoughts, feelings, and experiences of our very first ANZACs throughout the First World War. The words of these brave men and women help us form a deeper understanding of what it means to be an Australian,” said Dr Nelson.

    ANZAC Voices opens to the public on Friday 29 November 2013 and will remain on display until the redeveloped First World War galleries open in late November 2014.

    CONTACT DETAILS:
    For images relating to the exhibition, interview requests, or for a copy of Dr Peter Pederson’s official opening speech, please contact:
    Moj Nozhat        (02) 6243 4575    0409 600 038        media@awm.gov.au
    Marylou Pooley    (02) 6243 4383    0412 646 298

     

    Wed 27 Nov 2013
  • Thousands attend Remembrance Day National Ceremony

    Today marks the 95th anniversary of the Armistice on 11 November 1918 which ended the First World War (1914–1918). On 11 November each year, the Australian War Memorial commemorates through its National Ceremony the servicemen and women who have died or suffered in all wars, armed conflicts, and peace operations.

    Over 2,200 people braved the wet weather to attend today’s National Remembrance Day Ceremony at the Memorial.

    The National Ceremony was attended by Her Excellency the Honourable Quentin Bryce AC CVO, Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia; Senator the Honourable Michael Ronaldson, representing the Prime Minister; the Honourable Bill Shorten, Leader of the Opposition; the President of the French Senate, Senator Jean-Pierre Bel; and veterans and serving members of the Australian Defence Force and their families.

    This year the Commemorative Address was delivered by the Honourable Paul Keating, to mark the 20th anniversary of the re-interment of the Unknown Australian Soldier in the Memorial’s Hall of Memory. A bronze plaque cast with the eulogy for the Unknown Australian Soldier, delivered by Mr Keating as Prime Minister in 1993, was unveiled in the entrance to the Hall of Memory.

    “The National Ceremony was a tremendously moving occasion that honoured the enormous sacrifices of everyday Australians,” said Dr Brendan Nelson, Director of the Australian War Memorial.

    “The enshrining of former Prime Minister Keating’s towering eulogy for the Unknown Australian Soldier gives permanence to one of the most significant speeches in Australian history and is a great testament to the Unknown Australian Soldier, and to all those men and women who have given their lives in our name.”

    The National Ceremony followed a private ceremony to unveil the names of two Australian soldiers on the Afghanistan Roll of Honour panel: Corporal Scott James Smith; and Corporal Cameron Stewart Baird MG. The number of Australians on the Afghanistan Roll of Honour panel has now risen to 40.

    At the Last Post ceremony held later on Remembrance Day, the eulogy for the Unknown Australian Soldier was read by Corporal Ben Roberts-Smith VC MG. The eulogy will now be read at the Last Post ceremony each year on Remembrance Day.

    Here is their spirit, in the heart of the land they loved; and here we guard the record which they themselves made.
    Charles Bean, 1948


    CONTACT DETAILS

    Moj Nozhat  (02) 6243 4575 | 0415 228 603  media@awm.gov.au
    Marylou Pooley (02) 6243 4383| 0412 646 298

     

     

    Mon 11 Nov 2013
  • Remembrance Day 2013 background for media

    Remembrance Day 2013

    At 11 am on 11 November 1918, the guns of the Western Front fell silent after more than four years of continuous warfare. This year marks the 95th anniversary of the Armistice which ended the First World War (1914–1918).

    On this day each year Australians observe one minute’s silence in memory of those who have died or suffered for Australia’s cause in all wars and armed conflicts.

     National ceremony

     In accordance with the rich traditions of Remembrance Day at the Memorial, the National Ceremony will commence with the Tri-Service Guard of Honour, mounted by Australia’s Federation Guard, marching onto the parade ground accompanied by the Band of the Royal Military College.

    Wreaths will be laid by Her Excellency the Honourable Quentin Bryce AC CVO, Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia; Senator the Honourable Michael Ronaldson, representing the Prime Minister; the Honourable Bill Shorten MP, Leader of the Opposition; the Chiefs of the Defence Force; and members of the diplomatic corps on behalf of the citizens of their countries.

    Two Australian soldiers who died in Afghanistan in the past 13 months have this year been honoured with the addition of their names to the Roll of Honour. Corporal Ben Roberts-Smith VC MG will read their names: Corporal Scott James Smith, Special Operations Engineer Regiment, 21 October 2012, aged 24; and Corporal Cameron Stewart Baird MG, 2nd Commando Regiment, 22 June 2013, aged 32.  

    One minute’s silence will be observed to reflect on the sacrifice of these men and all of the Australians represented on the Roll of Honour.

    This year also marks the 20th anniversary of the re-interment of the Unknown Australian Soldier in the Memorial’s Hall of Memory. To mark the occasion, this year’s Remembrance Day Commemorative Address will be delivered by the Honourable Paul Keating, who first delivered the eulogy for the Unknown Australian Soldier as Prime Minister in 1993.

    The transcript and recording of the original reading of the eulogy by the Honourable Paul Keating can be found at www.awm.gov.au/commemoration/keating

    Following the commemorative address, 102 students from schools across Australia will lay poppies to symbolise the more than 102,000 Australian servicemen and women who have died in war. The students are from years 4 through 12, and will be attending from the following schools:

    • Merici College, ACT
    • Jerrabomberra Public School, NSW
    • Kenilworth State Community College, QLD
    • Port Dalrymple School, TAS
    • Girrawheen Senior High School, WA
    • Trinity Grammar School, VIC
    • St Francis de Sales College, SA

    A bronze plaque inscribed with the eulogy will then be unveiled in the entrance to the Hall of Memory. The new inscription on the southern end of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier will also be unveiled.  The previous inscription: “He symbolises all Australians who have died in war” has been changed to words from the eulogy: “He is one of them, and he is all of us”.

    In accordance with past tradition, the official party will lay floral tributes at the Tomb of the Unknown Australian Soldier, and pay its respects in the Eastern Cloisters by placing poppies on Afghanistan Roll of Honour bronze panel. Following the ceremony members of the public will be invited to place poppies in remembrance on the Roll of Honour or the Tomb of the Unknown Australian Soldier.

    Further information can be found at www.awm.gov.au/commemoration/remembrance

    Last Post ceremony

    At the end of the day, the Memorial will mark a new tradition at the Last Post ceremony: the reading of the eulogy for the Unknown Australian Soldier which was first read at the re-interment in 1993. The eulogy will be delivered by Corporal Ben Roberts-Smith VC MG at 4.55 pm. 

    The Last Post ceremony is also streamed live daily on the Memorial’s website at www.awm.gov.au/events/daily-closing-ceremony

    Background information on the Tomb of the Unknown Australian Soldier

    After the First World War, many nations began to commemorate soldiers who had died in battle but whose bodies had never been recovered or identified. Tombs containing the bodies of unidentified soldiers served as symbols for those who had fallen in the service of their country.

    Plans to honour an unknown Australian soldier were first put forward in the 1920s, but it was not until 1993 that one was at last brought home. To mark the 75th anniversary of the end of the First World War, the body of an unknown Australian soldier was recovered from Adelaide Cemetery near Villers-Bretonneux in France and transported to Australia. After lying in state in King’s Hall in Old Parliament House, the Unknown Australian Soldier was interred in the Hall of Memory on 11 November 1993. 

    Background information on the two soldiers whose names are being added to the Roll of Honour

    With the addition of the names of the following two Australian soldiers to the Roll of Honour, the number of Australians on the Afghanistan Roll of Honour panel has risen to 40. 

    • Corporal Scott James Smith

    Corporal Scott James Smith, Special Operations Engineer Regiment, was killed in action in Afghanistan on Sunday 21 October 2012. Corporal Smith was born in the Barossa Valley, South Australia, in 1988 and joined the Army in February 2006. He is survived by his parents, sister and partner.

    More information can be found at: www.defence.gov.au/vale/cpl_smith/cpl_smith

    •  Corporal Cameron Stewart Baird MG

    On Saturday, 22 June 2013, Corporal Cameron Stewart Baird MG, 2nd Commando Regiment, was killed in action by small-arms fire from insurgents in Afghanistan. Corporal Baird was born in Burnie, Tasmania, in 1981 and joined the Army in January 2000. Corporal Baird was on his fifth tour of Afghanistan and was awarded the Medal for Gallantry in 2007. He is survived by his parents, brother and partner.

    More information can be found at: www.defence.gov.au/vale/cpl_baird/cpl_baird

     "Here is their spirit, in the heart of the land they loved; and here we guard the record which they themselves made."    Charles Bean, 1948

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    Mon 11 Nov 2013
  • Prime Minister presents symbols of war in Afghanistan to Memorial

    The Prime Minister, the Hon. Tony Abbott MP, today presented the Australian War Memorial with two significant objects from Tarin Kot that encapsulate part of the Australian experience of war in Afghanistan.

    The two objects – an emblem featuring a kangaroo and a boomerang, and an improvised bell – were presented to the Prime Minister in Afghanistan yesterday. The Prime Minister, who arrived back in Australia this morning, presented both objects to the Memorial’s Director, Dr Brendan Nelson. These objects will go on display in the Memorial’s latest exhibition, Afghanistan: the Australian story.

    “I would thank the Prime Minister for personally transporting these significant objects back to Australia. They are important symbols of what Australians have endured and achieved in Afghanistan. The Memorial is proud to receive them into the National Collection,” said Dr Nelson.

    “These are the first of a number of objects from Tarin Kot that will become part of the Memorial’s collection. Objects such as these are a vital part of ensuring that the Memorial continues to uphold its commitment to telling the story of those Australians involved in fighting the war in Afghanistan and rebuilding the country.”

    For as long as Australians have been serving overseas, they have been decorating their uniforms, vehicles and buildings with identifiable symbols of our nation, including the kangaroo and the boomerang. Serving to distinguish Australians and to remind them of home, the kangaroo and boomerang emblem has become a badge of honour proudly displayed and worn by members of the successive Australian Task Forces serving in Afghanistan in areas of reconstruction through to mentoring and advising.

    The emblem presented to the Memorial was mounted on the wall of “Poppy’s”, a communal recreational area for off-duty troops named after Trooper David “Poppy” Pearce, who was killed while serving in Afghanistan in 2007.

    The bell has been improvised from a discarded artillery shell case, capturing the same make-do spirit Australian servicemen showed on the battlefields of the First World War. The bell hung outside the ‘Ghan chapel’ in Tarin Kot. 

    Afghanistan: the Australian story, which opened in August 2013, presents the experiences of Australian servicemen and women in Afghanistan and their families at home. The exhibition gives visitors to the Memorial a unique opportunity to recognise and understand the role of Australians in this conflict. It is both educative and moving.

     

    CONTACT DETAILS

    Moj Nozhat                     0409 600 038                       (02) 6243 4575

    Marylou Pooley                0412 646 298                       media@awm.gov.au

    Wed 30 Oct 2013
  • Preparations for Remembrance Day 2013 - Walkthrough

    Remembrance Day this year is not only the 95th anniversary of the armistice on 11 November which ended the First World War, but also the 20th anniversary of the interment of the Unknown Australian Soldier in the Australian War Memorial’s Hall of Memory.

    To mark the significant occasion, this year’s Remembrance Day will include The Hon. Paul Keating MP unveiling a bronze plaque in the Hall of Memory of the poignant eulogy first read by him at the interment in 1993.

    In preparation for the media coordination for Remembrance Day and the unveiling of the plaque, the Memorial will be conducting a walkthrough with Media this Wednesday 23 October.

    Due to space limitations in the Hall of Memory corridor where the plaque will be unveiled, it is recommended that television broadcast consider pooling to capture this moment.

     

    What:   Remembrance Day and plaque unveiling walkthrough

    Who:     Marylou Pooley, Head Communications and Marketing

                 Moj Nozhat, Media Liaison Officer

                 Alissa Gabriel, Acting Manager Events and Ceremonies

    When: Wednesday 23 October, 10.00 am

    Where: Australian War Memorial, Commemorative Area. Parking is available on ANZAC Apron.

     

    Please note the following enhancements and changes on the event day:

    • Commemorative Address at the National Remembrance Day Ceremony delivered by former Australian Prime Minister, The Hon. Paul Keating MP, who read the poignant eulogy of the Unknown Australian Soldier in 1993.
    • Ben Roberts-Smith VC MG will read the eulogy in remembrance of the entombment at the Last Post ceremony (from 4.50 pm).
    • Before the ceremony, Media are to go to the Media Tent (located near Simpson and his donkey) to collect media vests and go through the site induction. Access to the Media Pit and alternative locations will not be permitted without a vest.
    • The Audio Tent has moved to the Eastern Lawn (previously located on the Western Lawn).
    • There will be two audio splits; in the Audio Tent and at the Media Pit.

     

    CONTACT DETAILS

    Moj Nozhat                     (02) 6243 4575          0409 600 038        media@awm.gov.au

    Marylou Pooley                (02) 6243 4383          0412 646 298        marylou.pooley@awm.gov.au

     

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    Tue 22 Oct 2013
  • Media statement: Australian War Memorial's Military History Section response to the article by Kit Cullen, titled "The First Casualty".

    Please find below the Australian War Memorial's Military History Section response to the article by Kit Cullen, titled "The First Casualty", published in The Weekend Australian Magazine, September 14-15, 2013, pages 18-22.

    Australian War Memorial historians have examined Kit Cullen's claims that Charles Bean "deliberately altered the historical record" and purposefully "denied [some Australian soldiers] their place in history."  The following is a summary of some of our findings and conclusions:

    1. Bean may perhaps be legitimately criticised for one minor omission. The commanding officer of the Portsmouth Battalion Royal Marine Light Infantry did commend Heane and D Company of the 4th Battalion for their assistance in extracting the isolated British section of a platoon, and although Bean quotes this document, he does not link it to the battalion. For this action, Heane was recommended for the Distinguished Service Order.  However, Bean was perfectly correct in that the 3rd Battalion were clearly involved, and Meager and McLeod of the 3rd Battalion also received commendations for their actions. There is some indication that they were promoted as a result of their actions here, and not earlier in the day as Bean writes, but it is impossible to be sure.

     

    1. Cullen fails to recognise that this event was so insignificant at the time that it does not even rate a mention in the 3rd Battalion war diary, the 4th Battalion war diary, or the 1st Brigade’s war diary (except for the letter of commendation by Lieutenant Frank William Luard, OC Portsmouth Battalion RMLI). It is not a major element of Bean’s narrative, being only a later addition to his preface to the Third edition in 1934 of volume 1 of his official history volume, The Story of Anzac.  Bean's detailed preface updated his research findings since the original publication of his volume in 1921.  His receipt of further information allowed him to cast ‘further light’ on the matter in the preface, under the section: "The Marines on MacLaurin's Hill", pp. liii-lvi.  This section, incidentally, contained Bean's first reference (footnote 25) to the first VC awarded at Anzac to L/Cpl Parker of the Royal Marine Light Infantry--surely a more serious "omission" in the first edition, if a reader was searching for such items.

     

    1. Cullen’s conclusion that this demonstrates that Bean "deliberately altered the historical record" in order to claim "the credit for his brother’s battalion" makes no sense unless one accepts Cullen's tenuous conspiracy theory. Firstly, a reader should question what credit?  This is not a part of Bean's main narrative, merely a postscript. Nor is it a part of the narrative of these battalions or their brigade at the time. It is simply not important in the broader context of the major events of those crucial days during the consolidation of the Anzac positions, particularly the desperate fighting to attempt to seize the pivotal Turkish-held feature of Baby 700.

     

    1. It might be considered curious that Bean omitted covering the role of D Company 4th Battalion in his account, but given that this is not mentioned in official records of the time, he had very little to base his description of the event on.  It is quite likely that his principal source was an eye-witness (perhaps a deeper examination of his diaries and notebooks will reveal this) which could provide the explanation for the supposed "bias" of his account.

     

    1. Cullen makes much of his "eureka moment" with his "discovery" . . . "with heart thumping and palms sweating" of a diary purportedly covering the events of 1/2 May 1915.  Yet Cullen seems utterly unaware that the much-transcribed and annotated "diary" of Les Lott, which he quotes from in his article, is a contentious source; in particular, he failed to notice that Lott mentions the battle of Lone Pine, so his account could not have been written until after August 1915, and possibly much later - in which case it is a constructed "memoir", lacking the immediacy of a diary record. This amounts to an elementary error in the application of internal and external criticism of evidence in a source document, an oversight which would be penalised in an undergraduate history student's work.  Bean himself would have exercised greater caution in the use of such sources as he was aware of the risks in historians using such material, even to the extent of placing his well-known caveat on every volume of his own diaries and notebooks.

     

    1. Cullen should have recognised that Lott was clearly writing with hindsight long after the action he describes.  He states, for example, that 50 members of the attacking party were killed or wounded but the 4th Battalion did not possess accurate enough records to say what their casualties were for 1 May - although a cursory glance at the AWM Roll of Honour records does indicate that they were heavy, approximately 30 Killed in Action in comparison with some 4 or so for the 3rd Battalion.

     

    1. In conclusion, it should be perfectly clear to any reasonable person that Charles Bean did not "betray" these men, nor had he "denied them their place in history".  Bean was above all, a seeker of truth, and a man of conspicuous integrity: but he was human and prone to error, like all of us, and was researching and writing his history from one of the largest collections of documents ever amassed.  Cullen has identified just one almost insignificant omission. The remainder of his claims are extravagant and unsustainable. He would need to present much more substantial evidence to verify his claim that Bean "deliberately altered the historical record" in any meaningful way.

     

    CONTACT DETAILS

    Moj Nozhat     (02) 6243 4575           0409 600 038              media@awm.gov.au

     

    Thu 3 Oct 2013
  • Medal colours bloom at Floriade

    This year, Floriade recognises the Australian experience of war and its enduring impact on Australian society with garden beds inspired by the Victoria Cross, and the diverse colours used in campaign medal ribbons.

    The Victoria Cross is the highest military decoration awarded for valour “in the face of the enemy” to members of the armed forces of various Commonwealth countries, and previous British Empire territories. This award originated from a growing feeling amongst the public and in the Royal Court that a new award was needed to recognise gallant acts that were unconnected with a man’s lengthy or meritorious service. The varying colours displayed in the campaign medal ribbons garden bed are a visually appealing contrast to the repeated shape of the Victoria Cross.

    For more information regarding the Victoria Cross, visit the Memorial’s Hall of Valour which recognises the heroic acts of ordinary Australians under the extraordinary conditions of war or visit our website www.awm.gov.au/visit/hall-of-valour.

    This year’s Floriade theme, Innovation, has been inspired by the passion and creativity behind some of the capital’s greatest national achievements, which are celebrated or commemorated at our world-class national attractions.

    The Memorial will be offering a variety of informative public programs at the Memorial for the public to experience during the Floriade period, 14 September - 13 October.

    Innovation talks at the Memorial will commence at 1.45 pm, every Tuesday and Thursday. Join a Memorial curator for these special gallery talks exploring the Memorial’s collection through the 2013 Floriade theme – Innovation. Tours commence from the Orientation Gallery.

    Visitors will also have the opportunity to experience areas usually closed to the public, and see treasures up close and in detail. Behind the Scenes Flowers tours are held on Wednesday 18 September and 9 October in the Research Centre’s archive, to discover some of the Memorial’s rare and unique archival collections featuring flowers. Flowers offer hope and peace – they appear in the collection pressed into letters home, in souvenirs, in exquisite embroidered silk postcards and as sketches and drawings in letters and diaries. This tour is a chance also to have some of your military history questions answered. Bookings for this public program tour are essential, please contact public.programs@awm.gov.au.

     

    CONTACT DETAILS

    Diane Morris                           diane.morris@awm.gov.au                            (02) 6206 9825

    Jessica Hammond                    jessica.hammond@awm.gov.au                     (02) 6263 6627

     

    Fri 13 Sep 2013

Media alert

  • Today at 1.20 pm, Defence and Veterans Affairs Ministers lay a wreath in remembrance as their first official engagement

    This morning, the Coalition government will be sworn in at Government house by the Governor-General, the Hon. Quentin Bryce AC CVO.

    As their first official engagement, Senator the Hon. David Johnston, Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon. Michael Ronaldson, Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Special Minister of State and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC, Mr. Stuart Robert MP, Assistant Minister for Defence, and Mr. Darren Chester MP, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Defence, will lay a wreath in remembrance at the Australian War Memorial.

    The Memorial’s Council Chairman, Rear Admiral Ken Doolan AO RAN (Ret’d), alongside Major General Paul Stevens AO (Ret’d), will welcome the new Ministers as they commence their first day in their new roles.

     

    What:

    • Defence and Veterans Affairs Ministers lay a wreath as their first official engagement.

     Who:  

    • Rear Admiral Ken Doolan AO RAN (Ret’d), Chairman of the Australian War Memorial Council.

    • Major General Paul Stevens AO (Ret’d), Member of the Australian War Memorial Council, (representing Dr Brendan Nelson, Director, Australian War Memorial).

    • Senator the Hon. David Johnston, Minister for Defence.

    • Senator the Hon. Michael Ronaldson, Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Special Minister of State and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC.

    • Mr. Stuart Robert MP, Assistant Minister for Defence.

    • Mr. Darren Chester MP will be Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Defence.

     When

    • 1.20 pm, Wednesday 18 September (please arrive at 1.10 pm via front steps if possible).

     Where:

    • Australian War Memorial, Commemorative Area.

                                                                                                           

    Parking is available on ANZAC Apron.

    *Minister’s information has been generated with details sourced from the APH Press Release,

    A team to build a stronger Australia, disseminated on Monday 16 September 2013.

     

    CONTACT DETAILS

    Dennis Stockman                               0414 734 988                          dennis.stockman@awm.gov.au

      

    Wed 18 Sep 2013