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Stanley Melbourne Bruce's Cigarette Case

Video clip synopsis – Stanley Melbourne Bruce treasured Turkish President Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s gift of a gold cigarette case throughout his life.
Year of production - 2007
Duration - 5min 2sec
Tags - biography, commemoration, international relations, national identity, Prime Ministers, representations, representations of war, Vietnam War, war, World War 1, see all tags


Stanley Melbourne Bruce's Cigarette Case

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About the Video Clip


Stanley Melbourne Bruce’s Cigarette Case is an episode from the series The Prime Ministers’ National Treasures, produced in 2007.

The Prime Ministers’ National Treasures
Award winning cartoonist and yarn spinner, Warren Brown, reveals the emotional lives of Australian Prime Ministers through 10 objects they used every day or even adored – from Robert Menzies’ home movie camera, to Joseph Lyons’ love letters, Harold Holt’s briefcase and Ben Chifley’s pipe. These treasures reveal the nation’s leaders, as you have never seen them before.

The Prime Ministers’ National Treasures is a Film Australia National Interest Program produced in association with Old Parliament House and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Curriculum Focus


Speaking and listening Standards
At Level 6, students analyse critically the relationship between texts, contexts, speakers and listeners in a range of situations. When engaged in discussion, they compare ideas, build on others’ ideas, provide and justify other points of view, and reach conclusions that take account of aspects of an issue. In their presentations, they make effective use of the structures and features of spoken language to deal with complex subject matter in a range of situations.

This material is an extract. Teachers and Students should consult the Victoria Curriculum and Assessment Authority website for more information.

Background Information


Stanley Melbourne Bruce was born into a wealthy commercial family, and was an outstanding athlete at school and later Cambridge University, where he qualified as a barrister.

He was in England when war was declared in 1914, and enlisted in the British Army. He was awarded the Military Cross, a high order award for bravery in battle, at Gallipoli.

He was wounded and returned to Australia in 1917. He entered the Commonwealth Parliament in 1918, and served as Treasurer, and then Prime Minister. He served as Australia’s High Commissioner to Britain between 1933 and 1945.

Until the day he died, Stanley Melbourne Bruce kept two photographs in his study – one of his wife and one of Turkish President Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the modern Turkish state. As young men they were enemies at Gallipoli, but during the post-war years of international reconstruction, they forged a mutual admiration as passionate advocates of secularism. After the League of Nations Montreux conference in 1936, that successfully organised the international passage or warships through the Dardanelles and Bosporus Straits of Turkey, Atatürk presented Bruce with a gold cigarette case, which he treasured for the rest of his life.

Stanley Melbourne Bruce (1883 – 1967) was Prime Minister of Australia from February 1923 to October 1929. Stanley Melbourne Bruce’s cigarette case is held at the National Archives of Australia in Canberra.

Classroom Activities


The language of commemoration

War and commemoration often use special words. Here are some aspects to explore.

  1. The language of war memorials.
    Look at war memorials in your own area.
    1. What are the attitudes and values that are praised? Why?
    2. What are the attitudes and values of the time that are reflected in them? Look in particular at the language of the Australian Vietnam Forces National Memorial in Canberra, where a wall of words captures the language of the time. See STUDIES magazine (Ryebuck Media) 3/2007, ‘Welcome home, digger. Tell me about your war.’ (STUDIES magazine is sent free of charge three times a year to every Australian secondary school.)
  2. The language of commemoration
    1. Read and listen to the following eulogies of the Unknown Soldiers of Australia and New Zealand. Paul Keating 1993 Remembrance Day Speech and Dame Silvia Cartwright 1994 Speech
      What are the ideas and values that are presented there? Why?
    2. Look at the language of the Turkish memorial to Australians at Gallipoli — comment on the ideas, values and language that are used there. Click here to see the Ari Burnu Memorial
  3. Prepare a speech or eulogy for a commemorative service at your school. Explain how the language you use is different from, for example, an essay you might write on the same topic. Give at least five differences.

Further Resources


Go to National Archives of Australia – Australian Prime Ministers
Go to the Australian Dictionary of Biography