Families, especially those with Hawke’s Bay connections, are being asked to try and help identify the voices of four unidentified Gallipoli veterans. Late Napier broadcaster Laurie Swindell recorded a powerful radio documentary simply called ‘ANZAC’ in 1969 in which the men were interviewed, recollecting on the landing at Gallipoli and the brutal conditions which they encountered. Listen to the audio here or here.
The radio documentary has been kept in the collection of the Sound Archives Nga Taonga Korero in Christchurch since then, where many significant historic broadcasts are kept. The Sound Archives were transferred to The New Zealand Film Archive in 2012.
In preparation for the World War One commemorations, Sound Archives are digitising and describing its recording relating to the war, and staff are endeavouring to identify men and women who feature in the recordings over the years. The men taking part in the ANZAC radio documentary are not named, as was sometimes the convention in those years. As Laurie Swindell was based in Napier, it is presumed that the men she interviewed were based in or around the Hawke’s Bay area in 1968 and 1969.
Unfortunately, Laurie passed away in 2009, at the age of 95. The men would have been in their seventies when they were interviewed and all articulately recalled their most vivid, grasping memories of Gallipoli. Because Laurie recorded the men in their own words, rather than being voiced by actors, the documentary is powerful listening. One of the men recalled how he was carried for three miles on the shoulders of Phillip Blake, a member of the 9th Hawke’s Bay Regiment of the Wellington Infantry Battalion. Corporal Blake was from Hastings and died on Chunuk Bair in August 1915.
One of the men featured in the documentary has been identified, with a great-niece coming forward to identify him. Rosemary Stearne heard an excerpt of the recording on Radio New Zealand and realised one of the men was her great-uncle, Joseph Gasparich. He was a young Auckland school teacher and signed up to serve with the Auckland Infantry Battalion. He was wounded three times and served on the Western Front as well as Gallipoli. He was promoted to the rank of lieutenant before being discharged due to injuries and returned home in April 1917. In his retirement, he lived in Hawke’s Bay where Laurie Swindell interviewed him for ANZAC. He passed away at 94 in 1985.
Sound Archives Nga Taonga Korero is hoping that a family may recall a family member who was a Gallipoli veteran and took part in a radio documentary – or even that someone hearing the documentary may recognise it as a family member.
Again, you can listen to the audio here or here.
The Sound Archives ask anyone able to contribute information about this documentary to contact them on firstname.lastname@example.org or call 03 374 8440.