The soldiers are being taken to their new location, the Messines Ridge in Belgium, when Woodward (Brendan Cowell) strikes up a conversation with the father and son under his command. Jim Sneddon (Alan Dukes) explains that his son Walter (Alex Thompson) joined up when a recruiter came to town and that he joined up to make sure the lad got home safely.
This is a tender and intimate scene. While low-key, it has an important function in exploring one of the film’s central themes – the importance of family bonds, especially between father and son. We’ve already seen Woodward taking the teenage shell-shock victim Private Tiffin under his wing, acting like a surrogate father to the boy. This relationship is echoed by the real father-son relationship of these two men under his command. Woodward’s interest in them might also be taken as paternalistic.
The earlier flashback scenes to rural Queensland showed Woodward (in his mid-20s) courting the 16-year–old Marjorie, who’s not much younger than Tiffin appears to be. Again, the film is making a point about the importance of family bonds.