an NFSA website

Australians at War (2001 - 2001)

Documentary series
8 episodes x 60 minutes

Series synopsis:

An eight-hour historical television series which chronicles significant events in Australia’s military history including the Boer War in the late nineteenth century, the First and Second World Wars, the Korean and Vietnam wars and recent peacekeeping operations in the Middle East and East Timor. A feature of the series is that it looks at how these conflicts have affected the lives of thousands of ordinary Australians.

The series makes extensive use of historical audiovisual footage drawn predominantly from official holdings at the Australian War Memorial, dramatic re-enactments, animated sequences, as well as interviews with veterans recorded especially for the series. The series is narrated by John Stanton.

Australians at War contains eight one-hour episodes: 'We’re On a Long Trek Now’; 'Who’ll Come a Fighting the Kaiser With Me’; '…Mateship was the Greatest Thing’; 'Here We Go Again’; 'The Thin Khaki Line’; 'The Forgotten War’; 'Trying Not to Remember’; and 'Faith Enough for All of Us’.

Curator’s Notes:

Australians At War was commissioned by the Commonwealth Department of Veterans’ Affairs in cooperation with the Australian War Memorial as part of the Centenary of Federation commemorations. It was produced by Beyond Productions on a lavish five-million dollar budget allocated as part of the Howard Government’s ‘Saluting their Service’ election commitment.

As a Centenary of Federation project, Australians at War emphasises the heroism, mateship, great sacrifice and national pride of all those Australians who fought for and served their country. It does this by contextualisng the historical footage with candid and moving interviews with some of the war veterans who remember the experience as though it was yesterday. These personal accounts are what give the series its emotional power. Without them the series would simply be a chronicle of events which, while presenting an historical record, would not have been as engaging or enlightening.

Each episode is thematically as well as chronologically structured to shape this epic series into a cohesive narrative. The commanding and engaging voice of series narrator John Stanton (who memorably portrayed Malcolm Fraser in the 1983 mini-series The Dismissal) adds a gravitas to the events depicted through the historical war footage on screen. The footage is remarkable – some of it shot by the nation’s most accomplished war cameramen – and is in itself a showcase for the Australian War Memorial’s impressive collection.

The Australians At War website was created to complement the television series and contains extensive additional resources including photographs, interview transcripts, references to the Australians at War Film Archive as well as an interactive game and primary and secondary school education kits.

The series first aired over eight consecutive weeks on the ABC with the first episode screening on 25 April (Anzac Day) 2001.

Titles in this series

Australians at War – The Thin Khaki Line 2002

During the Second World War, the outlook for Australia in 1942 was grim. When the Japanese struck at Pearl Harbour, only a ragtag group of conscripts was still at home in Australia. The AIF was overseas in Europe and the ...