AS a boy growing up on the Ardachy World War II soldier settler block near Branxholme, south of Hamilton, Tim Gurry sensed there was something special about the bond his father John had with the fellow soldier settlers around him.
But Mr Gurry said it took a big part of his adult life, which has included 25 years creating multimedia about Australia’s military history, for him to realise how special that bond was.
Mr Gurry, now of Melbourne, will tomorrow address Macarthur’s Anzac Day ceremony on the theme of “What Does Anzac Day Mean to Me? A Journey of Discovery”.
He said it had taken “a journey of discovery” for him to understand the Anzac values that had been instilled in his father and his mates and from them to himself.
That journey included hearing the stories about his parents and older brothers living in a tent while their home was built on their soldier settler block.
It also included the stories gleaned at the regular occasions when his family socialised with other soldier settlers in the area.
Those stories gave him an idea of the Anzac values that guided the former soldiers’ lives — self-sacrifice, teamwork, community spirit, respect and bravery.
Those values were the “glue” that held together the Ardachy soldier settlement area and numerous other communities, Mr Gurry said.
Mr Gurry said his journey had made him realise how lucky he was to grow up in the Ardachy area, where the positive values of the former servicemen had shaped his life.
“They looked to the future,” Mr Gurry said of the returned soldiers.
Mr Gurry, who was this year awarded an Order of Australia medal for his contribution to education and the community, said a turning point in his journey was finding out in 1994 that his uncle Peter Gurry had been among the Australian prisoners massacred by the Japanese on the Indonesian island of Ambon during the Second World War.
His family had previously only known that Peter Gurry had gone missing during the war, he said.
That upsetting information sparked a big interest in Australia’s war history — an interest that grew as he made numerous pilgrimages to Australia’s battlefields throughout the world for his work to create education projects for Australia’s Veterans’ Affairs Department and others.
Mr Gurry, 64, said he had interviewed hundreds of former Australian servicemen and women for the projects.
“None of them wanted to talk about it until I talked about it,” he said.
“It opened a watershed for the Diggers,” Mr Gurry said.
When those interviewed told of the horrific war experiences they went through, “they would shed tears and I would shed a tear”, he said.
One of the recent projects by his company, Ryebuck Media, is the evocative video Walking in the Footsteps of the Condah Anzacs that tells the story of white and Aboriginal men from the Condah area, south of Branxholme, who served in the First World War.
The video, in English with French subtitles, was created for the Anzac Centenary School Program that has linked several schools in Australia, including the Heywood Secondary College, with schools in France.
Mr Gurry said the Anzac values that had been instilled in him, a Baby Boomer, compelled him to try to pass them on to today’s youth and encourage them to contribute to their communities.
He believed one way of getting young people to learn about Anzac values was for them to choose the name of a person whose inscription was listed on an Australian war memorial and use the modern information technology now available to find out about them.
“The kids will do it easy,” Mr Gurry said of that challenge. “They are used to investigating things.”
Mr Gurry said this year’s commemoration of the centenary of the Anzac landings at Gallipoli had prompted extraordinary interest in Austalia’s war history.
Getting young people to do their own investigations would allow them to examine the myths and realities about Australia’s wars to find their own personal meaning for the conflicts, he said.
Mr Gurry will give his Anzac Day address at 11am tomorrow at the Macarthur Mechanics Hall.