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Jack Hazlitt - World War 1 Digger

Video clip synopsis – A World War 1 digger reflects on his work as a runner in the trenches at Gallipoli. Hopping across the trenches in full view of the Turkish snipers, the average life of a runner was 24 hours.
Year of production - 1991
Duration - 1min 35sec
Tags - ANZAC, Australian History, heroism, identity, soldiers, war, see all tags


Jack Hazlitt - World War 1 Digger

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About the Video Clip


Jack Hazlitt – World War 1 Digger is an excerpt from the program Jack Hazlitt (26 mins), an episode of Australian Biography Series 1 (7×26 mins), produced in 1991.

Jack Hazlitt: Born in Melbourne in 1897, Jack Hazlitt could be described as a “survivor’s survivor”. When war broke out in 1914, Jack lied about his age and enlisted in the Australian Infantry Forces. He survived the war, serving at Gallipoli and in France and Belgium. Jack Hazlitt was a daredevil, the archetypal Australian of a past era. His interview for Australian Biography was his last. He died in 1993, aged 96.

Australian Biography Series 1: The Australian Biography series profiles some of the most extraordinary Australians of our time. Many have had a major impact on the nation’s cultural, political and social life. All are remarkable and inspiring people who have reached a stage in their lives where they can look back and reflect. Through revealing in-depth interviews, they share their stories – of beginnings and challenges, landmarks and turning points. In so doing, they provide us with an invaluable archival record and a unique perspective on the roads we, as a country, have travelled.

Australian Biography Series 1 is a Film Australia National Interest Program.

Background Information


As part of Australia’s involvement in World War I, in 1915 Australian troops landed as part of an allied invasion force on the Gallipoli peninsula, in Turkey.

The aim was for the troops to move overland to the Turkish capital, Constantinople (now Istanbul) and defeat the Turkish forces. This would have taken Turkey out of the war and allowed the Allies to support Russia against Germany.

The landing was at dawn on 25 April, and the Australians and New Zealanders landed at a place they named Anzac Cove. The Turkish forces resisted the invasion and the Allied troops were not able to progress over the Gallipoli peninsula. In December the Australians were withdrawn.

Though Gallipoli was a military defeat, Australians believed that their troops had shown tremendous skill and courage, and that Australia had proven itself worthy as a nation. April 25 is celebrated each year as one of Australia’s most important national days.

Classroom Activities

  1. What is your image of Anzac Day and the first Anzacs?
    1. What aspect of the fighting does Jack Hazlitt describe?
    2. Do Jack’s experiences fit the image you first created?
    3. What is the most striking element of Jack’s experience—discuss these as a class.
    4. What impression does Jack give about the impact of the war experience on him?
    5. Some people argue that a soldier who has lived through the horror of war cannot or will not explain those experiences, but must ‘sanitise’ them to stay sane. Do you get any impression that Jack is producing a version of his memories that sanitises or moderates the reality? Explain why or why not.
  2. Interviews like this one are one way to uncover the experiences of a soldier like Jack. Yet, consider other means by which we can gain information, such as film, song, poetry, novel or artwork. List and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each of these five ways of finding out. Are some means better suited for different situations?
  3. We often hear commemorative speeches on Anzac Day referring to the soldiers as ‘heroes’. Was Jack Hazlitt a hero? Work out your definition and then argue a case for or against, drawing on evidence from the video clip.

Sniper: a gunman

Further Resources


Alistair Thomson, Anzac Memories, Oxford University Press, Australia, 1995.

Go to Australian Biography