2009, 52 Minutes
Ninety years after the last shots were fired, two young Australian historians embark on an emotional journey to the battlefields of the First World War on the infamous Western Front.
History teacher Michael Molkentin joins battlefield historian Mat McLachlan in an exploration of the Australian soldiers’ wartime experience in Belgium. The two young men visit iconic sites, and join an archaeological excavation of the trenches and fields where 20,000 Australians went missing, their bodies lost, their graves unmarked.
While Michael and Mat fail to uncover any soldiers’ remains, a twist of fate sees local workers uncover the bodies of five Australian soldiers, while laying a gas pipe nearby. The discovery sparks a unique investigation, bringing science and military history together, involving Michael and Mat in a gripping forensic detective story that leads them back to rural Australia.
Through DNA testing, used for the first time on First World War remains, two of the soldiers are ultimately identified and finally laid to rest in graves marked with their names. As Michael and Mat trace the stories of the missing soldiers, and meet their descendants, they learn more about the cost of Australia’s involvement in the war. Speaking with the soldiers’ families, visiting the towns where they grew up, walking the ground where they died and finally standing by their gravesides as the men are laid to rest, Michael and Mat rediscover a vital episode in Australian history which illuminates the real sacrifice of the thousands of Australians who lost their lives in Flanders.
A Screen Australia National Interest Program in association with Intomedia & McLachlan Media. Developed with the assistance of the New South Wales Film and Television Office and the Australian Film Commission. Developed and produced in association with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. © 2011 National Film and Sound Archive of Australia.
Writer/Director: Geoff Burton
Running Time: 52 Minutes
Classification: Exempt from classification
Curriculum Links: English and Literature, Media Studies, History - of particular relevance to NSW History Stage 5 Topic 2 'Australia and World War One', SOSE/HSIE, Drama Studies, Civics, Science, Art and Photography.