From a whisper to a bang! A six-part podcast series about war, remembrance, Australian prisoners of war in Germany during the Second World War, and an emotional journey of historical empathy, presented and produced by Australian broadcaster Megan Spencer for the Australian War Memorial.
Across land and sea, through two world wars, three generations, and umpteen conversations, Megan has been on an epic journey, listening and leaning in to significant conversations about remembrance, its importance and possibilities.
Set against the recent Centenary of the Armistice, in this final episode, Megan reflects on what she’s learned across the series, from what others have said and by walking in the footsteps of her soldier grandfather.
>> Warning: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander listeners are advised that this episode (and its associated material) contains the names of, references to, voices and images of people who have since passed away.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have served in every conflict, peacekeeping and humanitarian operation in which Australia has been engaged.
“Lest we forget” is a phrase that memorialises those fallen in war. In this special Anzac Day episode of ‘From A Whisper To A Bang!’, Megan takes a step back to look at the world in which we now live, asking: Are we forgetting? What happens if we do? And, while we might remember, do we remember “well”?
City as war memorial
Hungry for even more knowledge about her family’s military past, Megan travels to Belgium to find out how Richard died. It is the first time any Spencer has visited his grave. Alongside thousands of other “remembrance pilgrims”, Megan discovers an entire town built as a war memorial – and the incredible details of her great-uncle’s story.
In the muddy paddocks of Ypres and under the solemn Menin Gate, Megan shares common ground with total strangers, founded in history, empathy, and remembrance.
Walking A Mile In Harry’s Shoes
In Episode 02 Megan visits the crumbling, 75-year-old ruins of two of the four stalags her grandfather Corporal Harry Spencer, VX1113, Prisoner No. 91985, was held in, between 1941-1945, after being captured in Crete by the German Army in WW2.
Harry’s story, Megan’s pilgrimage
Megan introduces the story of her grandfather, Corporal “Harry” Spencer. A prisoner of war in Germany during the Second World War. Corporal Spencer’s story is the catalyst for interviews, conversations, and insights that help broaden our understanding of history, remembrance, and the human consequences of war.
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Having knowledge- greater understanding.
Patsy Adams-Smith’s 1978 book “The Anzacs” introduced me to the story of Australian soldiers. Stan Arneill 1987 “One Man’s War” opened my eyes to the deprivations of Australian POW under Japanese. Margaret McMillan (David Lloyd George’s granddaughter)“The War That Ended Peace” explained the complexities of war. And now this podcast, have contributed hugely to my understanding & empathy for those who suffered in war.
It is was an epiphany for me to visit the Iran/Iraq War cemeteries in Iran. The headstones are plastic with a sizeable photo of the dead soldier & the Iranian flag attached. Until that moment I only had an Australian concept of war & loss.
Brilliant work Ms. Spencer.
PS I do remember you from your JJJ days.
Megan Spencer has covered so much ground and so many interesting topics in this series. From the deeply personal to untold or forgotten stories surrounding Australia’s history of war and those who fought it. The knowledge passed about the indigenous contributions makes it worthwhile alone, not to mention visiting sites in Europe and Australia while telling her story.
Episode 3 has further inspired me to continue my research: I think my grandfather was gassed in a similar attack at a similar time and place. I have his letters to my grandmother, unread for to the best of my knowledge, since the war.
One day opening them and following the path within will be my own personal ‘exercise in historical empathy’.