News from Fort Campbell ACT 2612: Charles Bean Western Front diaries launched; Remembrance Day peace demonstration stopped

Yesterday saw the launching of a volume of Charles Bean’s Western Front diary entries. Present at the Australian War Memorial were the Deputy Prime Minister, the editor of the volume, Peter Burness, Bean’s grand-daughter, Ms Anne Carroll, and the Memorial Director, Dr Brendan Nelson. Fairfax and News had the story.

The publication (publishers NewSouth) is welcome as it will reveal more of the private Bean, the one that did not always appear in the Official History. Bean biographers like Peter Rees and Ross Coulthart have previously pointed to nuances in Bean’s written legacy. A Bean conference.

mark-v-tankTank on the Western Front (Anzac22nd battalion)

As is the case with such occasions, the words ‘sacrifice’ and ‘freedom’ would have been uttered frequently at the Bean ceremony. Freedom today does not extend, apparently, to the freedom to commemorate in a variety of ways. That has been shown by the decision of the National Capital Authority, controller of public spaces in Canberra, supported by the Memorial, not to allow a peace vigil in Anzac Parade on 11 November. The RiotACT and the Canberra Times had the story. Like the cumbersome tanks of 1918, the commemoration juggernaut lumbers on, resistant to any attempts to divert it from traditional paths.

David Stephens

4 October 2018 updated