Scates, Bruce: Horrors of aftermath

Scates, Bruce

Horrors of Anzac aftermath laid bare‘, The Age, 7 November 2013

Digitising a sample of World War I repatriation files

is set to change the way the Great War is remembered. We will see no more important initiative in the years of laboured, showbiz commemoration that lie before us. Digitising these records was the first and unanimous recommendation made by a panel of expert historians appointed to advise the government. It will prove of far more enduring significance than a makeshift program of ”anniversary events” (some completely unrelated to 1914-18) currently planned by Canberra.

As an example, Scates describes the case of Bertram Byrnes, whose was face, in Byrnes’s own words, was ‘practically shot away’.

With the centenary of the Great War upon us, we need to remember Private Byrnes. We have no need of fireworks, spectacles or re-enactments. And no need of the comforting platitudes much beloved by politicians that will sanitise and excuse the true cost of war.

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