"At Broodseinde during the period 26/27th October 1917 No 3648 Pte John Tognolini did excellent work on the morning of the 26th October. He was one of a party of eight carrying two stretcher cases to the Regimental Aid Post when a shell burst and severely wounded three of the party. Although wounded himself he continued with his work and made two trips back to get the wounded they had left on the way. He then returned to line and on the morning of the 27th October when several men were wounded by shell fire and all the stretchers in use. He dressed one man and carried him on his back to the R.A.P. All this work was under very heavy shell fire.
John Tognolini was Killed in Action on 25-4-18 at the Battle of Villers Bretonneux. The army had his age as 24 years old.
There is that view of why study history? It's about events that happened so long ago. The thing is those actions live with us in many ways. Through the people that lived and died because of them, through their families. My father had a picture of my Uncle John under glass looking down on us in the lounge room in Brunswick when I was kid. He and another brother went of to fight in World War Two. This is a picture of my Uncle Stephen, he survived Gallipoli and won the Military Medal twice, the man in front of him George Hunt was at Anzac too. He was awarded the Distigushed Conduct Medal, this photo was taken a week before the Battle of Hamel on July 4 1918. George was killed during it. I wrongly thought he was Aboriginal. His father was from the West Indies and jumped ship in Newcastle. Abbott and Morrision would have had George's father locked up on Manus Island.
There are World War One soldiers who would fit into Prior's idea of "unreflective critics" whose words still speak to us today:
H.R.Williams said after a costly attack by Australians....."On the way out I looked at some of the Australian dead. There were some people at home I wished see them too. One of the group of three wore the brass A on their red and black colour patches, which denoted their service at ANZAC on Gallipoli, and above the cliff on their right sleeve were the red chevrons of 1914 service. A sergeant had a golden wound stripe on his left sleeve and one other of the dead wore a similar badge. We covered them with their waterproof sheets, these three men of the peerless First Australian Division and went on our way with heavy hearts."
And Siegfried Sassoon wrote in his famous Soldiers Declaration
I am making this statement as an act of wilful defiance of military authority, because I believe that the war is being deliberately prolonged by those who have the power to end it.
I am a soldier, convinced that I am acting on behalf of soldiers. I believe that this that this war , upon which I entered as a war of defence and liberation, has now become a war of aggression and conquest. I have seen and endured the suffering of the troops, and I can no longer be a party to prolong these sufferings for ends which I believe to be unjust.