Episode 05: “Defending Country”

Warning: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander listeners are advised that the 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.

One of the most celebrated soldiers is Gunditjmara man Captain Reginald Saunders. While it’s not known whether they knew each other, “Reg” and Megan’s grandfather Harry served in the same battalion (2/7) during the Second World War, fighting the very same battles against the German forces in Libya and Greece, with both eventually stranded on Crete.

As soldiers they were equals, sharing very similar experiences. Back home it was a different story. In spite of his service Saunders and his young family faced continual discrimination and disadvantage due to his race. This did not happen to Harry.

Continuing further down the road of remembrance and historical empathy, in Episode 05 Megan explores the extraordinary yet unheralded story of Indigenous service and sacrifice for Australia – and the important recovery work being done to ‘square the ledger’ when it comes to this ‘quieter’ aspect of Australia’s military history.

Lest we forget.

Full episode credits

‘From A Whisper To A Bang!’ is produced and presented by Megan Spencer, commissioned by the Australian War Memorial.

Episode 05 of ‘From A Whisper To A Bang!’ was first published on the Australian War Memorial website on 27 May, 2019, to coincide with National Reconciliation Week. Dur: 58:25.



  • General Angus Campbell AO
  • Richard Cruise
  • Dr. Jackie Huggins AM (Bidjara/Birri-Gubba Juru)
  • Captain Reginald Saunders MBE (Gunditjmara)
  • Dr. Peter Read
  • Dr. Brendan Nelson AO


  • Heath Bigg


Additional didgeridoo/yidaki music:

  • Wing Commander Jonathan Lilley (Worimi)
  • Leading Aircraftsman Brodie McIntyre (Warlpiri)

And music from the ‘From our Country’ memorial dedication, recorded by Stephen Toaldo and performed by:

Special permission was given to perform the ‘Advance Australia Fair’ national by the AWM’s Indigenous Liaison Officer, Michael Bell, along with the For Our Country (memorial) working group. The Ngunnawal transcript of the anthem was provided by Tyronne Bell and Doug Marmion through the AWM. Tyronne and Doug translated the anthem into Ngunnawal language in 2017 and it was performed at Parliament House that same year.

Additional sound:


AWM Collection:

  • Film: Sons of the Anzac (1939-1943). Accession Number: F00188
  • Sound: Captain Reginald Saunders and Dr. Peter Read. Accession Number S00520 Listen to the full interview here
  • Sound: Brodie McIntyre playing didgeridoo/yidaki. Accession numbers: AWM2016.437.2 and AWM2016.437.3.
  • Listen to the recordings made at: the Aboriginal Plaque on Mt. Ainslie and at The Last Post ceremony NAIDOC Week 2016


  • Office of Strategic Services Audio, Courtesy: National Archives and Records Administration.

Special thanks:

  • Daniel Browning (Bundjalung/Kullilli ) from Awaye! , Corporal Garth O’Connell (Gomeroi) and Michael Bell for cultural advice and support.

Thank you:

  • To the ‘For our Country’ speakers and performers, and representatives: WC Jonathan Lilley, Lieutenant Commander Bertram Slape (Larrakia), Dr. Jackie Huggins, Major Thomas Dobbs, Major Darren Cole, Chaplain Maumau Monu, SL Gary Oakley, Erika Watson and Bindi Cooper; Amanda Jane Reynolds (Karingai) and Lisa Pellegrino; Aunty Glenda Humes and the Saunders family; Melbourne Museum and Kate McCabe; Amanda Dennett, Andy Heaney, the DEX team and staff at the Australian War Memorial; Jemahl Casper (Goreng Goreng); Gavin Malone; the Spencer family.




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