Honest History E-newsletter No. 62, 5 May 2020

ISSN: 2202-5561 ©

This is our first newsletter for more than four months and, indeed, our first for 2020 but, with one thing and another, it has been a hectic year.

Recently on honesthistory.net.au, we expose the nonsensical claim that the Australian War Memorial has been forced through lack of space to neglect recent wars, like Afghanistan. Also a biographic view of Western history from 95-year-old Ian Buckley, Yorick Smaal and Mark Finnane on courts martial during World War I, and definitive New Zealand research confirms there were twice as many Kiwis at Gallipoli as the myths had it.

Among anniversaries, Captain Cook gets a low-key 250th and Anzac Day comes and goes quietly. The Spanish Flu pandemic of 1919 gives us a hook into coverage of coronavirus. Sue Wareham of Medical Association for Prevention of War hopes that the current crisis may make us focus more sharply on healthcare, rather than warfare. (What good will those tens of billions of dollars being spent on submarines do us, when the real threats are biological and climatological?)

Other recent features can be found here and book reviews here. Look out for Stephen Holt on Terry Irving on Vere Gordon ChildeMichael Piggott on many authors on Ken Inglis, and Kristen Alexander on Aaron Pegram on Great War POWs from Australia.

Heritage Guardians kept up the pressure on the ill-advised and unnecessary extensions to the Australian War Memorial. Coronavirus and some Memorial dithering in submission preparation seem to have slowed the approval process somewhat.

Finally, there were two contributions evincing rather different tones: Romain Fathi’s submission to a Senate inquiry on relations with France; new War Memorial Director Matt Anderson’s collected works, three war books for children.

‘If France and Australia want to develop a long lasting and large-scale positive relationship, that brings everyday French and Australian people together, there is a need to move beyond this economically founded, and at times cynical, [Australian] war commemoration diplomacy.’ (Fathi)

‘These are books mostly about what Australians have done in war, less about what war has done to Australia and Australians, and almost nothing about what war does to other people, non-Australians. But that is how the War Memorial generally plays it also, so Mr Anderson will be on familiar ground.’ (HH’s David Stephens on Anderson)