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Who are these mystery voices of Gallipoli?

Who are these mystery voices of Gallipoli?

Families with Hawke’s Bay connections are being asked to try and help identify the voices of ve unidentied Gallipoli veterans, recorded in the 1960s by the late Napier broadcaster Laurie Swindell.

The men’s recollections of landing at Gallipoli and the brutal conditions they encountered form a powerful radio documentary simply called “ANZAC”, which Laurie made in the studios of station 2ZC in Napier in January 1969.

The programme has been kept since then in the collection of Sound Archives Ngā Taonga Kōrero in Christchurch, where many of the most signicant historic broadcasts by Radio New Zealand and its predecessors are stored. In October 2012, the Sound Archives Ngā Taonga Kōrero were transferred from Radio New Zealand to the New Zealand Film Archive, and the Archives are currently undergoing a Review to establish an integrated national audiovisual archive by July 2014.

In preparation for the World War One commemorations this year, SANTK is digitising and describing all its recordings relating to the war and sta are trying to identify all the men and women who recorded memories of the conict over the years.

As was sometimes the style in documentary making in those days, the men taking part in this programme were not named. Because Laurie Swindell was based in Napier, it is believed the ve men she interviewed were probably all Hawke’s Bay residents in 1968 and 1969.

Unfortunately Laurie passed away in 2009 at the age of 95, after a long career producing many of New Zealand’s early radio documentaries. Before that, she was well-known as the host of national women’s radio programmes and as a director of many Hawke’s Bay drama productions.

The men would have been in their seventies when they were interviewed and they were still able to articulately recall their most vivid memories of Gallipoli. One man graphically recalls the desperate charges made by New Zealand troops across a eld known as “the Daisy Patch” in May 1915. He was wounded and describes how he lay helplessly watching as several more waves of men charged, only to be attacked by well-entrenched Turkish machine guns.

Another link to Hawke’s Bay is provided by a veteran who, after being shot, recalls how he was carried for three miles on the shoulders of Phillip Blake, who was a member of the 9th Hawkes Bay Regiment of the Wellington Infantry Battalion. Corporal Blake was a Junior Māori All Black from Hastings, who was to die on Chunuk Bair in August 1915.

Unlike some other radio programmes about World War One, in which veterans’ recollections are voiced by actors, Laurie recorded the men telling their stories in their own voices, which makes it powerful listening.

SANTK are hoping a family may recall that a grandfather or great-uncle who was a Gallipoli veteran took part in a radio documentary - or even recognise his voice from the programme.

The audio will feature on Radio New Zealand’s “Sounds Historical” on Sunday 20th April. It can also be played online on the SANTK website or the New Zealand Film Archive website.

We ask anyone able to contribute information on this documentary to please contact SANTK on or (03) 374 8440.

In addition to attempting to identify the mystery veterans in the Laurie Swindell documentary, SANTK and the Film Archive are currently working on several other World War One related projects. An active acquisition and digitisation project is currently underway. This seeks to locate and repatriate at least 100 lm and sound items relating to New Zealand’s participation in World War One from archives in Australia, France, and the UK.

Meanwhile, a joint Anzac website is being developed with the Australian National Film and Sound Archive. This will showcase audiovisual items in a series of thematic sections with contextual text. The site is due to launch in the lead up to Anzac Day in April 2015.


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