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Introduction to the stories

Bruce Scates introduces four stories on the physical wounds of war.
BRUCE SCATES: Welcome back to the 100 stories. I’m standing at The Nek It’s an exposed patch of ground on the very heights of the Gallipoli Peninsula. It’s here that Anzac and Ottoman forces faced one another in August of 1915. And it’s from here that four waves of the Australian Light Horse, one after the other, charged to their deaths. Most of those men are buried here. Hundreds of them. Very few of those bodies could be recovered until 1919, and they buried some of them behind me. The charge at The Nek was immortalised by Peter Weir’s compelling film “Gallipoli.” But like most art, Weir’s film takes really great liberties with history.
Australian troops didn’t die here because the British were breakfasting on the plains below us. Those futile charges, one after another, were a desperate diversion. A diversion to distract the Ottoman forces from the real thrust of the campaign. And the real thrust of the campaign are the New Zealand troops, charging up towards that hill behind us, Chunuk Bair. And really, it wasn’t just British officers who ordered these men to their deaths. The charge of The Nek is an indictment of Australian command, an Australian command that squandered Australian lives all through the August offensive. So in a way, Peter Weir’s film is really about forgetting as much as it is remembering.
And there’s something else which we get when we remember The Nek and indeed battles from the Great War generally. What about the men who survived? Not the celebrated dead, the men who were buried here, but those who came back, those who returned to Australia, those wounded men brought in from the battlefield when those great grappling hooks were thrown out across this ground and they were dragged back to the trenches. What of them? This module of the 100 stories is called War Wounds and it’s about the men who come back scarred from war. Let’s begin with the story of one of those men evacuated from Anzac, a man who battled with his injuries years and years after the guns stopped firing.

Bruce Scates introduces stories from The Nek, Gallipoli in Turkey.

After you’ve watched the stories, we’ll be asking you to reflect on how each explores aspects of the physical wounds of war and the battles continued after 1918.

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World War 1: A History in 100 Stories

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