Geelong Voices... WWI ...
Stories of World War 1, World War 2 and the Vietnam War as told by Geelong residents.
During World War 1 and World War 2 Geelong residents - whether joining the Armed Forces as soldiers, nurses, pilots, or helping out at home on projects such as the Australian Women’s Land Army - were swept up in the action. Motivated by youthful enthusiasm, the desire for adventure, and intense feelings of patriotism, they joined in hordes. For many, however, the war was not what they expected.
The Geelong Voices Oral History Project was established in 2001. The project collected recordings of diverse programs broadcast by a range of groups - including multicultural groups, women’s groups, trade unions, Aboriginal groups, youth groups and Senior Citizen’s groups - on 3YYR, Geelong Community Radio from 1988 to 2000.
Keeping in Touch and Koori Hour were two such programs. Keeping In Touch was a nostalgic program hosted by Gwlad McLachlan. Gwlad conducted interviews delving into historical aspects of Geelong and Geelong West, including world scale events such as WW1 and WW2, that shaped both the city and its people.
Koori Hour was a Wathaurong Aboriginal Co-operative Radio Program hosted by a range of people including Richard Fry and Gwenda Black, and consisted of talk about community activities, messages to friends and family, music and discussions about current events. One such event was the launch of “Forgotten Heroes” a book about the overlooked contribution of Aboriginal people to the Australian Armed Forces.
Over 200 of these interviews were recorded off the radio by Gwlad’s neighbour and her husband, Colin. Many of these recordings have been preserved and are available to listen to in digital format at the State Library of Victoria and the Geelong Heritage Centre.
World War One: Coming Home... WWI ...
From 1920 until 1993, Bundoora Homestead Art Centre operated first as Bundoora Convalescence Farm and then as Bundoora Repatriation Hospital.
For more than seventy years, it was home to hundreds of returned servicemen. These men were not only physically damaged by their wartime experiences, their mental health was also dramatically affected. Despite the severe trauma, sometimes it took years or decades for the conditions to emerge.
For some servicemen, this meant being unable to sleep, hold down a job, maintain successful relationships or stay in one place, whilst others experienced a range of debilitating symptoms including delusions and psychosis. While these men tried to cope as best they could, they were rarely encouraged to talk openly about what they had seen or done. The experience of war haunted their lives and the lives of their families as they attempted to resume civilian life.
At this time, there was little understanding around trauma and mental health. For some returned servicemen and their families, it was important that their mental illness was acknowledged as being a consequence of their war service. This was not only due to social stigma associated with mental illness generally, but also because war pensions provided families with greater financial security.
This is as much the story of the Bundoora Repatriation Hospital as it is the story of a mother and daughter uncovering the history of the man who was their father and grandfather respectively. That man was Wilfred Collinson, who was just 19 when he enlisted in the AIF. He fought in Gallipoli and on the Western Front, saw out the duration of the war and returned home in 1919. He gained employment with the Victorian Railways and met and married Carline Aminde. The couple went on to have four children. By 1937, Wilfred Collinson’s mental state had deteriorated and he would go on to spend the remainder of his life – more than 35 years – as a patient at Bundoora.
We know so little about the lives and stories of men like Wilfred, the people who cared for them, the people who loved them and the people they left behind. For the most part the voices of the men themselves are missing from their own narrative and we can only interpret their experiences through the words of authorities and their loved ones.
Against the Odds: The victory over conscription in World War One... WWI ...
In October 1916 and December 1917 two contentious referendums were held in Australia, asking whether the Commonwealth government should be given the power to conscript young men into military service and send them to war overseas.
These campaigns were momentous and their legacy long-lasting. This is the only time in history that citizens of a country have been asked their opinion about such a question, and the decisive 'No' vote that was returned remains the greatest success of the peace movement in Australia to date. Yet the campaigns split families, workplaces and organisations, and left an imprint on Australian politics that lasted for decades.
Many of the actors and events that were central to these campaigns were based in the northern Melbourne suburbs of Brunswick and Coburg. In many ways, these localities were a microcosm of the entire campaign. Against the Odds: The Victory Over Conscription in World War One tells the story of the anti-conscription movement in Australia during World War 1 through this lens.
The Missing... expectations around how the government should honour the dead. Prior to WWI, officers might have been memorialised with grave markers, but most front-line soldiers were buried unmarked, often in mass graves. However by the early 20th century there was now ...
When WW1 brought Australians face to face with mass death, a Red Cross Information Bureau and post-war graves workers laboured to help families grieve for the missing.
The unprecedented death toll of the First World War generated a burden of grief. Particularly disturbing was the vast number of dead who were “missing” - their bodies never found.
This film and series of photo essays explores two unsung humanitarian responses to the crisis of the missing of World War 1 – the Red Cross Wounded and Missing Enquiry Bureau and the post-war work of the Australian Graves Detachment and Graves Services. It tells of a remarkable group of men and women, ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances, who laboured to provide comfort and connection to grieving families in distant Australia.