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Stanley Melbourne Bruce's Cigarette Case
Year of production - 2007
Duration - 5min 2sec
Tags - ANZAC, Australian History, civics and citizenship, Gallipoli, heroism, historical representations, icons, identity, image and reality, national identity, Prime Ministers, representations, representations of war, war, World War 1, see all tags
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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.
5.1 explains social, political and cultural developments and events and evaluates their impact on Australian life
5.4 sequences major historical events to show an understanding of continuity, change and causation
5.5 identifies, comprehends and evaluates historical sources
5.6 uses sources appropriately in an historical inquiry
5.7 explains different contexts, perspectives and interpretations of the past
5.8 locates, selects and organises relevant historical information from a number of sources, including ICT, to undertake historical inquiry.
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.
1. Interrogating objects
History sometimes involves the study of artifacts — often in a museum, as part of a site study. Objects and artifacts can tell you about a person or a time — but only if you can ‘interrogate’ them to find out what their story is.
Here are questions that you can use on museum objects, such as this one about the Prime Minister, to help reveal the meaning and significance of objects.
- Describe the object. (Size, shape, materials, function etc.)
- What does it show? — People? Symbols? Words? If so, who or what are they?
- What is its context? (Time, place, social group etc.)
- Who produced it?
- For what possible purpose/s?
- Who was it meant for? (Just one person, or a whole audience?)
- What might it tell us about attitudes and values — that is, those things that people believe are the right way to behave?
- What does it tell us about how people behaved at the time?
Now write a summary sentence beginning:
‘This object helps me understand or realise that . . . ‘
2. What happened to the returned soldiers?
We focus on what happened to the soldiers and nurses during the war — but what about after the war? The National Treasure tells us that Bruce was employed and performed public service after his return from the war. How typical was he?
- People had to come back to find jobs, and houses. What happened when the men returned to find their job taken by a man who chose not to go to war?
- Many were physically damaged and needed medical care. Many were psychologically damaged and needed care — but was that understood and given at the time?
- And what happened to the families of the men who came back — how did they respond when their father/husband/son returned, perhaps a very different person to the one who left.
- And the nurses — what happened to their hopes for a normal family life?
- How did the society respond to the building of memorials — were the memorials seen as honouring the men who fought, or were they seen as a perpetual accusation against the men who chose not to go?
Research these experiences and report on it in class.
Go to Australian War Memorial
See STUDIES magazine (Ryebuck Media) 1/2006 ‘What happened to Australia’s returned soldiers in the 1920s?
Two 2005 documentaries, Gallipoli and Revealing Gallipoli, explore the role of Kemal Ataturk at Gallipoli. A study guide for both is available at Metro Magazine