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Video Clip Synopsis:
A World War 1 digger reflects on his work as a runner in the trenches at Gallipoli. Hopping across the trenches in full view of the Turkish snipers, the average life of a runner was 24 hours.

1min 35sec

Jack Hazlitt - World War 1 Digger is an excerpt from the program Jack Hazlitt (26 mins), an episode of Australian Biography Series 1 (7x26 mins), produced in 1991.

Jack Hazlitt: Born in Melbourne in 1897, Jack Hazlitt could be described as a “survivor's survivor”. When war broke out in 1914, Jack lied about his age and enlisted in the Australian Infantry Forces. He survived the war, serving at Gallipoli and in France and Belgium. Jack Hazlitt was a daredevil, the archetypal Australian of a past era. His interview for Australian Biography was his last. He died in 1993, aged 96.

Australian Biography Series 1: The Australian Biography series profiles some of the most extraordinary Australians of our time. Many have had a major impact on the nation’s cultural, political and social life. All are remarkable and inspiring people who have reached a stage in their lives where they can look back and reflect. Through revealing in-depth interviews, they share their stories - of beginnings and challenges, landmarks and turning points. In so doing, they provide us with an invaluable archival record and a unique perspective on the roads we, as a country, have travelled.

Australian Biography Series 1 is a Film Australia National Interest Program.

Study Module

Curriculum Focus: SOSE/HSIE
Year: 9-10
Strand: Time, change and continuity
Theme: Wartime Work

Key Concepts

War; Heroism; Digger; Evidence; Representations; Commemoration; Memory

Curriculum Applicability Notes

ACT:Time, continuity and change, High school band
NSW:History, Stage 5, Topic 4
NT:Social systems and structures — Time, continuity and change Band 5, SOC 5.1
Qld:History Years 9 and 10, Time, continuity and change Level 6, TCC6.1
SA:Time, continuity and change, Standard 5
Tas:Social responsibility — Understanding the past and creating preferred futures
Vic:History Level 6, 6.2
WA:Time, continuity and change — Early adolescence

Context / Background Information

As part of Australia’s involvement in World War I, in 1915 Australian troops landed as part of an allied invasion force on the Gallipoli peninsula, in Turkey.

The aim was for the troops to move overland to the Turkish capital, Constantinople (now Istanbul) and defeat the Turkish forces. This would have taken Turkey out of the war and allowed the Allies to support Russia against Germany.

The landing was at dawn on 25 April, and the Australians and New Zealanders landed at a place they named Anzac Cove. The Turkish forces resisted the invasion and the Allied troops were not able to progress over the Gallipoli peninsula. In December the Australians were withdrawn.

Though Gallipoli was a military defeat, Australians believed that their troops had shown tremendous skill and courage, and that Australia had proved itself worthy as a nation. April 25 is celebrated each year as one of Australia’s most important national days.

Discussion Pointers

  1. What is your image of Anzac Day and the first Anzacs?
  2. What aspect of the fighting does Jack Hazlitt describe?
  3. Look back at your image — does Jack’s experiences fit this image?
  4. Jack was part of the reality of what happened at Gallipoli — do you need to change your image to fit this reality?
  5. What impression does Jack give about the impact of the war experience on him?
  6. Some people argue that a soldier who has lived through the horror of war cannot or will not explain those experiences, but must ‘sanitise’ them to stay sane. Do you get any impression that Jack is producing a version of his memories that sanitises or moderates the reality? Explain why or why not.

Suggested Classroom Activities

  1. There are many ways we learn about people like Jack, their experiences, their feelings and their responses to war, other than by an interview, We can learn about a person through a novel, a film, a poem, a documentary made at the time. List and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each of these five ways of finding out. Are some means better suited for different situations?
  2. We often hear commemorative speeches on Anzac Day referring to the soldiers as ‘heroes’. Was Jack Hazlitt a hero? Work out your definition and then argue a case for or against, drawing on evidence from the video clip.

Modules That Use This Clip

English Year 7-8, SOSE/HSIE Year 9-10, SOSE/HSIE Year 11-12