Filmmakers mission to keep Diggers’ stories alive

Published 4:00pm 25 February 2022

Filmmakers mission to keep Diggers’ stories alive
Words by Ashleigh Howarth

Documentary filmmaker Jeff Hughes is dedicated to preserving Australia’s history by sitting down with veterans to hear their war stories before they’re lost forever.

Mr Hughes interviews men and women who stepped up to defend our country and transforms their life stories and anecdotes into a short film through his not-for-profit project called This Story.

The Albany Creek resident, who co-founded This Story Australia about three years ago, said it was important to capture authentic and personal accounts of history by those who experienced it first-hand.

“When you look at Anzac Day, Remembrance Day, The War Memorial, the Shrine of Remembrance and any of the Cenotaphs around, they are all fantastic representations of dates, times and names, but what’s missing is the personal element,” he said.

“That’s where This Story comes in. We will sit down with a veteran at their home, sometimes for two or three hours, and they can share with us whatever they feel comfortable with, creating that personal connection.

“I always like to start off with things that helped to shape their life – what are their origins, what life was like growing up before asking them why they enlisted, or in the case of Vietnam, being conscripted.

“By being able to see their laughter, smiles, tears and facial expressions all on film, it creates a better connection to these people to really get to know the person behind the uniform.

“Veterans also tell us stories they might not have told anyone else - not even their families because it might have been too difficult or painful for them.”

These raw and emotional tales of bravery are then archived at the Queensland State Library for future generations to learn from and can be accessed online. The videos vary in length from 30 minutes to one hour.

Our local heroes

Mr Hughes has interviewed veterans from all over the state who served in various conflicts, including WWII, Vietnam and Afghanistan.

He has also interviewed four veterans from the Moreton Bay Region, featured in the gallery above. 

The first veteran he spoke to was Terry Walker, who was born in India but lived in Redcliffe later in his life. Terry was a Trooper in the Royal Hussars, a cavalry regiment of the British Army, during WWII. Sadly, he passed away in 2021.

He also spoke with Arthur James McClure from Caboolture, who was a Sapper in the Army during World War II.

In an emotional video on the This Story website, Mr McClure speaks about why he decided to enter the war, his time in Darwin after it was bombed in 1942, his duty of topography of the Daly River in the Northern Territory, as well as being sent to Papua New Guinea and Borneo.

John Russell, who was born in London and lives in Deception Bay, was a Corporal in the Army who came to Australia when he was 18. He served for Australia in WWII before joining an expedition to Antarctica by Sir Douglas Mawson.

Lastly, Herbert Claude Bleakley from Woodford was a Leading Aircraftman in the Air Force in WWII.

In addition, Mr Hughes also works closely with a number of RSL Sub Branches where he works on a number of historical projects to commemorate events, significant dates and battles.

Filmmakers mission to keep Diggers’ stories alive

Show your support 

Mr Hughes relies heavily on grants, donations and corporate sponsorship, which pays for the film crews and editing process. 

Mr Hughes will be hosting a special screening of a second generation Anzac, 104 year old WWII Veteran Alf Carpenter, on Wednesday, March 30 at the Greek Club, 29 Edmondstone Street, South Brisbane.

Tickets are $27.50 each and can be purchased online at Eventbrite

He also plans to host a golf fundraiser on July 1 in Virginia, and is hoping local businesses will come on board and support the cause while enjoying a day on the green. 

Visit thisstory.com.au to view the videos of the veterans and to contact Mr Hughes about forming a team for the golf day.

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