‘That faraway experience: some thoughts on family history and the Western Front‘, Honest History, 7 October 2014
This article is based on a talk given to launch Family History Month at the National Archives of Australia head office, Canberra, on 1 August 2014. The written-up version is reproduced with the author’s permission.
Today’s modern ceremonies have little to tell us about past remembrance, about the feelings of the generations who actually experienced the war, experienced its real, not imagined or digitally-recreated loss. To get at what that might have been like, to have any chance of understanding them, we have to stand, I feel, somewhere different, away from the bright lights and carefully constructed sentiment of a modern Anzac event.
The author weaves family stories into larger themes of war and commemoration, particularly with reference to Villers-Bretonneux.