C.E.W. Bean’s Passchendaele – Upcoming conference presentation in Singapore

Next week I’ll be attending the conference The British Empire and the Great War – Colonial Societies / Cultural Responses, which is being held at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, from 19-22 February 2014.

I’m excited to be presenting a paper titled “C.E.W. Bean’s Passchendaele”, which is drawn from a chapter of my forthcoming PhD thesis. When I responded to the call-for-papers in July last year I gave this abstract:

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Pension for Mum, medals for Dad

During the last few months I’ve been spending a lot of time with the records of C.E.W. Bean, the Australian official correspondent and official historian of the First World War. Like his official history, Bean’s diaries, folders and notebooks (digitised and made freely available by the Australian War Memorial) teem with references to individual servicemen. A reference to two soldiers of the 10th Battalion, Private Clarence Tidswell and Private Hartley Oborn, took me on quite the adventure in the archives, which I’ll share with you in this post. The fate of Tidswell and Oborn is a fascinating story in its own right, and it also raised some interesting questions for me about the ways in which different family members remembered – and were allowed by the state to remember – the war dead.

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Darkness in remembrance of a dark day

The centenary of the First World War has not yet begun and already we’re seeing new and interesting forms of commemoration of the conflict.

This past weekend, the exterior of the Auckland Museum was – for the first time – not lit on the evening of Saturday 12 October “as a mark of respect to [New Zealand’s] Passchendaele losses”: during the First Battle of Passchendaele on 12 October 1917, 845 New Zealanders were killed and 2,700 wounded.[1]

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