Canberra’s war widows encouraged to seek help during inspirational speech by Linda Hurley | The Canberra Times


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War widows have been encouraged to seek help if they are struggling and that it is not weak, but rather courageous, to do so. That was the message from Linda Hurley, wife of Australia’s Governor-General David Hurley, at the Australian War Widows’ 26th Field of Remembrance Dedication Ceremony and Anzac Service on Friday. Mrs Hurley, who is a patron of the advocacy organisation, was guest speaker at the commemorations at RSL LifeCare in Lyneham. In an emotional gathering, she told widows, veterans and dignitaries about her experience as someone involved directly with Defence. “I’m a very proud Defence wife, but as we all know that is not without its challenges,” Mrs Hurley said. “I have the utmost respect for Defence wives and husbands and know how important it is that we support them. Mrs Hurley recounted her experience while her husband was deployed. “I have never anticipated that one day David would be deployed to Somalia,” she said. “As the commanding officer of the First Battalion, it was a very significant, exciting and ultimately successful time for him and the men of 1RAR. “About five weeks into the deployment, when I was saying prayers to our eldest daughter, she said, ‘Mummy, you don’t seem to be happy anymore’. “I was shocked, I genuinely thought I was coping pretty well.” Mrs Hurley said the incident was a “huge wake-up call to me from an eight-year-old”. “My friends and networks were a godsend. We shared many personal moments together and we experienced a close bond,” she said. “My message today is that help is out there and you can seek help. It is not a sign of weakness to seek help but it does take courage.” MORE NEWS She also paid tribute to organisations helping those involved in Defence. “David and I are pleased to be able to shine a light on the critically important role played by our fine service organisations like the Australian War Widows ACT,” she said. “The value of this network and its interactions cannot be understated. It can be life-changing. The Australian War Widows provides support to more than 100 widows in the ACT and surrounds. Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content:

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Swans and Giants not interested in war of words before Sydney derby


“While we do have that friendly nature with a few of the boys across the road, as soon as you cross that white line it’s still a game of footy to be won and it’s on, no matter what,” Hopper said.

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Twenty months on from the last time they met in Sydney, both teams will take on a different look on Saturday afternoon, and a handful players on each side of the fence will be running out for their first crosstown match. The injury-hit Giants are bringing through a new generation while the Swans are a little further advanced in that process, having opened the season 4-0 to the shock of pretty much every AFL pundit and observer.

The Giants, 3-1 after a much-needed win over Collingwood, will go in as rank outsiders – particularly with ex-skipper Phil Davis, the man who usually handles Lance Franklin, out through injury. Cameron said that job will likely be shared by defenders Sam Taylor and Lachie Keeffe, although he rightly noted that Sydney have multiple avenues to goal these days that need to be accounted for.

The Swans, meanwhile, will be without star forward Isaac Heeney and skipper Dane Rampe, who are both nursing hand injuries. Heeney broke his hand in Thursday’s win over Essendon while striking Brandon Zerk-Thatcher in an off-the-ball incident, while Rampe broke his finger at training in the lead-up to their win over Richmond two weeks ago – but, in typical fashion, played through the pain for as long as he could.

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Victoria’s potentially lucrative container deposit scheme sparks waste war


Six and a half cents doesn’t sound like much.

But multiply it by a year’s worth of soft drink cans, and it is the reason for a battle between Coca Cola and the waste and recycling industry.

The Victorian government plans to introduce container deposit legislation later this year, and roll out the scheme by 2023. It will be the last state or territory to have such a scheme. 

Like all schemes in Australia, the Victorian scheme will be funded by the beverage industry, with a 10c payment to consumers who collect recyclable containers. But after months of community consultation, the details are expected to be finalised in the coming weeks, and the fight is really getting dirty. 

Scouts groups are well-versed in organising children to collect cans and bottles, and then returning them to be recycled, and collecting 10c. 

They say they have raised $30 million through South Australia’s container deposit scheme. 

Jon McGregor, the executive manager of Scouts Victoria, said he hoped his community groups could cash in on the scheme in Victoria. 

“We’re certainly very interested in recycling, we’re an organisation that has an environmental focus,” he said.

But he said the way the government was proposing to run the scheme would make it unviable for the Scouts to participate. 

It all comes down to who can claim the 6.5 cents.

Scouts, and some other community groups, want to act as operators, allowing them to claim the crucial 6.5 cent handling fee for every bottle or can that is returned. 

This system already operates in Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia, and is run by the beverage industry, which oversees a network of multiple operators.

In New South Wales and the ACT, the scheme is split between two levels: a coordinator and a sole network operator. In NSW, the operator is waste company Cleanaway, which has installed reverse vending machines across the state. 

This system means community groups can set up refund points, sorting bottles and cans and claiming a handling fee, but the handling fee they receive is about 5c per container, although it requires less work because the system is more automated.

While the Scouts say it that is not viable for them, other community groups make money from the scheme, including the environment group the Boomerang Alliance and charity St Vincent de Paul.

In Victoria, despite growing pressure from the beverage industry and some community groups, Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio favours a split scheme similar to the NSW model, arguing it leads to more transparency and accountability. 

But the Scouts have joined a campaign by the Coca Cola-funded group, VicRecycle, calling for Victoria to change course. 

“Because we want to see the financial returns going back to the community rather than being in the hands of multinational recycling corporations,” Jon McGregor said.

The Victorian government estimates as much as half the state’s litter is recyclable bottles and cans, so the battle over 6.5 cents is no small fight. 

VicRecycle commissioned a survey of 1,000 Victorians, and found 87 per cent of them preferred a scheme where multiple community groups could operate.

Waste industry groups and some environmental groups say the characterisation by Coca Cola’s VicRecycle is not accurate.

The chief executive of the Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia, Gayle Sloan, said community groups would not get the full 6.5 cents, in any case. 

“The handling fee and the transport and logistics fee need to be paid irrespective,” she said.

Ms Sloan said a single-coordinator scheme, favoured by the beverage industry, would lead to less transparency and a smaller-scale program, with fewer bottles and cans recycled, costing the industry less, and with less of an environmental impact. 

She has accused the beverage industry, through VicRecycle, of trying to control the scheme. 

“We want the best opportunity to develop the best scheme for Victoria.”

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City’s “war on mosquitoes” underway


The City has launched a targeted mosquito eradication campaign following recent heavy rain.

“We are out there now spraying and fogging,’’ said Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate.

Mayor Tate said he expected the latest program to continue for the next week, given drier conditions across the coast.

“The main focus is through our fogging program which kills mosquitoes in wetlands, drains and other low-lying areas,’’ he said.

“To keep residents informed, all fogging locations will be promoted on our City website (under Alerts).  Fogging is carried out using City vehicles, clearly marked to identify the program they are undertaking.’’

The fogging program is approved by the national statutory body and meets all APVMA (Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority) guidelines.’’

“Before the recent four-day downpour, the warmer weather had created ideal breeding grounds for mozzies. The heavy rain has potentially washed away a lot of larvae but we still expect mozzies to be causing problems over the next fortnight.’’

Go to: http://news.goldcoast.qld.gov.au/alert-section

“Residents can help by checking around their yards and emptying all containers that can hold water. Tip them out and you’ll be doing your bit for the neighbourhood,’’ he said.

Initial target areas are Merrimac, Mudgeeraba and Carrara.

 

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Kremlin Says Not Moving Toward War With Ukraine


The Kremlin on Sunday said it was not moving toward war with Ukraine as Russia increased its military presence on the border with Ukraine’s eastern breakaway territories. 

In recent weeks fighting has intensified between Ukraine’s army and pro-Russian separatists controlling two regions in the country’s east, raising concerns of major escalation in the long-running conflict. 

“Of course, nobody is planning to move toward war and in general, nobody accepts the possibility of such a war,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in a televised interview on Sunday. 

President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman added that “nobody also accepts the possibility of civil war in Ukraine.”

Peskov insisted that Moscow is not involved in the conflict, adding, however, that Russia “will not remain indifferent” to the fate of Russian speakers who live in the conflict-torn region.

“Russia is making every possible effort to help resolve this conflict. And we will continue to explain this tirelessly,” Peskov said.

Ukraine has accused Russia of amassing thousands of military personnel on its northern and eastern borders as well as on the annexed Crimean peninsula.

The Kremlin has not denied the troop movements but insisted that Moscow does not intend to threaten anyone.

The White House this week said the number of Russian troops at the border with Ukraine was now greater than at any time since 2014, when the conflict erupted after Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

Fighting subsided in 2020 as a ceasefire agreement took hold last July, but clashes have picked up again since the start of the year, with each side blaming the other.

On Thursday Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy visited the eastern frontline, speaking with soldiers in the trenches. 

According to the president, 26 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed since January, compared to 50 in all of 2020.

Since 2014, the conflict in Ukraine’s east has claimed more than 13,000 lives and displaced many others, while negotiations for a lasting peace deal have stalled.

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F1 2021: Daniel Ricciardo Formula 1 social media war, Romain Grosjean crash


Daniel Ricciardo’s bad blood with Formula 1 executives is raging again after a social media post that left the Aussie driver shaking his head.

The McLaren driver this week hit out at senior figures in Formula 1 over the inhumane glorification of crashes in ongoing promotion of the sport.

The 31-year-old led the contempt directed at Formula 1 following a series of replays being shown of former Haas driver Romain Grosjean during his frightening fireball crash at last year’s Bahrain Grand Prix.

Stream Every Practice, Qualifier & Race of the 2021 FIA Formula One World Championship™ Live & On-Demand on Kayo. New to Kayo? Try 14-Days Free Now >

The former Renault and Red Bull racer was scathing in the aftermath of Grosjean’s crash, saying it was “disgusting” that the live TV broadcast continued to show a loop of replays of the scary incident during the hour-long break before the re-start of the race.

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Tensions are rising, another war is looming


Another round of tensions in Ukraine-Russia relations has raised many discussions about another war in the southeast of Ukraine. Both Russia and Ukraine have been increasing their military presence on the border between the two countries lately. Russia warned Ukraine against any military scenarios.

Ukraine plans to hold the Cossack Bulava military exercises, in which more than 1,000 servicemen from at least five NATO countries are to take part. The war games will be conducted to train military skills in repelling the attack of the aggressor country and going on the offensive. In response, Russia redeployed several of its military units closer to its southwestern borders.

Such a development cannot but raise concerns in the West. In particular, US State Department Special Representative Ned Price said on April 6 at a press briefing that Russia was provoking Ukraineю He also added that the United States would fully support Kiev in the face of “Russian pressure and aggression.”

USA’s full support subsequently materialised in the announcement of an opportunity to send warships to the Black Sea to support the groups already deployed in the region.

Noteworthy, a couple of weeks ago, the United States conducted “defensively offensive” naval exercises in the Black Sea.

The Pentagon “did not officially confirm” (it did not deny either) the information about the departure of warships to the Black Sea. One shall assume that US military officials wanted to intimidate Russia and see how the Russian administration was going to react.



In turn, Russia has repeatedly stated that the buildup on the border is taking place for the purpose of routine checks. Ukraine speaks of pressure and refuses to negotiate in Minsk.


According to Alexei Reznikov, the Minister for the Temporarily Occupied Territories of Ukraine, Ukraine will not send its delegation to the Minsk talks, since it believes that the position of Belarus towards them is too pro-Russian.

If we look back at the situation a year ago, the ceasefire between Ukraine and the unrecognized republics has been in effect since the end of July 2020, even though the feuding parties would still sporadically exchange artillery and machine-gun fire.

According to Putin’s official spokesman Dmitry Peskov, “the Ukrainians flatly reject the idea of ​​any dialogue,” but expressed a hope that the crisis would not escalate to the point of hostilities.

In late March, Ruslan Khomchak, the Commander-in-Chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, said that Russia was building up troops near the border in the north, east, south, and also in Crimea.

Russia explained that command and staff military exercises began in the Smolensk, Voronezh, Kursk, Belgorod, Bryansk and Moscow regions even earlier, on March 11 before they continued on March 18 and 19 in Crimea.

The United States started evincing more interest in the situation after Russia did not withdraw its troops from the above-mentioned regions on March 23.

The status of US forces at European bases was therefore changed from the category of “possible crisis” to “potential imminent crisis”.

The Americans claimed that the information about the location of the Russian troops did not coincide with the declared one. Peskov reminded that the movement of the Russian army on the territory of the Russian Federation was part of Russian internal affairs.

Ukrainian actor goes to war zone

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky, a former comedian and actor, started adding more fuel to the fire saying that the only way for Ukraine to retrieve uncontrolled territories to Kiev was to join NATO.

Ukraine soon had to make excuses for the death of a five-year-old child in the village of Aleksandrovskoye. The child was killed in a drone attack — the OSCE confirmed his death.

It appears that the string of the above-mentioned events makes a chain of planned actions that look like an attempt to drag Russia into a full-fledged war with Ukraine.

In a nutshell, the West has been creating circumstances for Russia to intervene in the Ukrainian crisis directly.

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky paid a visit to the zone of the so-called “Operation of the Joint Forces in Donbass”. Tellingly, a delegation of American military specialists and instructors also visited the front line. The Americans went to the settlement of Avdiivka, only 1,800 meters from the checkpoint of the People’s Militia of the People’s Republic of Donetsk. The telephone conversation between Angela Merkel and Vladimir Putin took place against the background of those visits.

Russia is currently going through the phase of diplomatic manoeuvres. In fact, Putin is persuading his European partners to take measures to calm Ukraine down.

A survey conducted among active and former military personnel about the crisis in Ukraine showed that many soldiers were ready to fight.


  • “I am ready to fight, we must close the question of Ukraine” — 54%;

  • “One should fight with Ukraine — there are brothers, relatives, friends there” — 37%;

  • “I am a serviceman, an order is an order” — 5%;

  • “I will refuse to fight, I will find a reason and a way” — 4%;

  • “Undecided” — 0%.

In general, almost 60% of the surveyed former and active soldiers are ready to take up arms and fight to bring clarity to the Ukrainian issue with the help of most radical methods.

Russia and Ukraine: How long will the war last?

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Joe Bide craving war with Russia and China: Ignoring History, Denying Reality


One of the most delightful things about Americans is that they have absolutely no historical memory.” Zhou Enlai

‘In the autumn of 1862, the governments of France and Great Britain proposed to Russia, in a formal but not in an official way, the joint recognition by European powers of the independence of the Confederate States of America. My immediate answer was: ‘I will not cooperate in such action; and I will not acquiesce. On the contrary, I shall accept the recognition of the independence of the Confederate States by France and Great Britain as a casus belli for Russia. And in order that the governments of France and Great Britain may understand that this is no idle threat; I will send a Pacific fleet to San Francisco and an Atlantic fleet to New York. Sealed orders to both Admirals were given. My fleets arrived at the American ports, there was no recognition of the Confederate States by Great Britain and France. The American rebellion was put down, and the great American Republic continues. All this I did because of love for my own dear Russia, rather than for love of the American Republic. I acted thus because I understood that Russia would have a more serious task to perform if the American Republic, with advanced industrial development were broken up and Great Britain should be left in control of most branches of modern industrial development.’ Czar Alexander II


Americans are exact replicas of Stoner Jeff Spicoli, a character played by Sean Penn in the movie Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

The new “hot” war novel 2034 co-authored by Admiral James Stavridis (USN, Ret.) and Elliot Ackerman (US combat veteran) depicts a future war between the US and China. 2034 the movie cannot be far behind or perhaps the rights to convert the novel into film has already been transacted between the two august military veterans and Hollywood agents. My bet is that this will be cameo filled movie with all the big-name stars of the day, sort of like The Longest Day, a movie depicting the D-Day invasion during WWII.

A similar themed World War III novel was written by Sir John Hackett in 1985 during the height of first Cold War pitting the United States against the former Soviet Union. What is the point of these tomes? What are the Las Vegas gambling odds on WWIII taking place? There are, indeed, gambling sites like Sportsbettingdime.com and @Everythingodds that will at least entertain the probability of WWIII and when it might happen.

Moral Derangement

What a coincidence that 2034 has been released just as President Joe Biden and other US government officials are is ramping up the political and economic pressure on China and Russia through sanctions and incendiary verbiage. Pentagon war planners likely consult these works to see if there is any useful information that can be included in the “real” WWIII plans. Who is the target audience for these doomsday works? The World Socialist Website, in a scathing review, makes a case that the preferred readership is policymakers in Washington, DC, defense contractors, think tanks and the US military writ large. They also point out that there are no works of art–books or films-recently produced that hardily critique any presidential administration about the folly of nuclear war with China or Russia. Everyone loses in that scenario.


“A normal person, that is, one for whom moral derangement is not a professional requirement, would read Stavridis’ book with horror and do everything to avoid the massive level of death it depicts. But the fact is that, for its intended audience within the Beltway and the Pentagon, the tactical nuclear exchanges depicted in the book, constitute, in the words of Dr. Strangelove’s Gen. Buck Turgidson, “getting our hair mussed”-an entirely acceptable consequence of the use of nuclear weapons. Stanley Kubrick’s masterful Dr. Strangelove, Sidney Lumet’s Fail Safe, and, more obliquely, John Frankenheimer’s Seven Days in May (all released in 1964) were scathing critiques of the military and of nuclear war. No such critical works are being written and produced today, and ground has been ceded to Stavridis’ sanitized depiction of nuclear war from the standpoint of a practitioner.”


Fungus

One of the best techniques to prepare for war is to turn an enemy into some sort of sinister fungus and through the use of government propaganda planted in the mainstream media, prepare the dismally educated public for war. Or gin up stories of Russia and China’s meddling in US elections (enough already!). US propaganda must avoid any reference to past friendly or helpful interest-based relations, or conflicts, between the three nations. In this case, Americans are not to be informed that China, Russia, and the United States have very similar economic and human interests. What good would a nuclear-or conventional war–do any of the three powers?

What do US policymakers and military leaders fear? The United States has a string of global military bases and intelligence outposts to which China and Russia have no real answer for, save for maybe nuclear weapons and espionage-cyber-information operations (the US has 17 well funded intelligence agencies to work the latter problem). Plus, the world knows that the US National Security Agency has unmatched signals intelligence (SIGINT) capability to eavesdrop on just about any international communications. Moreover, the US has air, space, sea (an undersea) assets that neither China nor Russia can match without the use of suicidal tactical nuclear weapons. Land forces are a different story: Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia; and, going way back, Vietnam have shown that it is capable to bog down US Army forces in irregular warfare. The US spends nearly $1.2 trillion per year on all its military, intelligence, and homeland security needs. At this moment it is modernizing all its strategic nuclear forces and adding intermediate range nuke missiles to the mix.  All of this is ostensibly aimed at “Great Powers” Russia and China. It’s as if the Pentagon brass wants to fight “real” opponents with air-combat, amphibious landings and tanks battles.

Any avid readers in the US taking a look at the New York Times or Washington Post (two mouthpieces for the US government) might think that the US is already at war, at least economically and via espionage, with China and Russia. But it would probably come as a surprise to most Americans that, in the midst of a new Cold War, Russia ranked third in oil exports to the US in 2020.

According to Bloomberg,


“Even as Washington champions energy independence and warns European allies against becoming too dependent on Moscow, American refineries are buying more of the country’s oil than ever before…Deprived of access to Venezuelan crude by U.S. sanctions on the regime of Nicolás Maduro, and facing reduced shipments from OPEC nations since the cartel cut output, US refiners turned to Russian oil in 2020 to fill the gap. The buying spree, combined with sharply lower Saudi shipments, catapulted Russia into the position of third-largest oil supplier to the US last year.”


Russia was also vital to the Union cause during the US civil war. There is a tendency to think that the US civil war was fought in isolation without any concern of the powers of the day in Europe or Russia(1860-1865). In the geopolitical drama of those years, Britain and France were maneuvering to take advantage of the worst-case scenario of the American Civil War: a victory by the slave-based economy of the Confederacy. They intended to recognize the Confederacy as a distinct country. The perception that Czar Alexander II might come to the aid of the Abraham Lincoln and the Union was disconcerting to Great Britain and France. While the Russian fleet docked in the San Francisco and New York harbors at the time might not have been formidable foes to the surface fleets of Great Britain and France, that and other maneuvers by US diplomat Cassius Clay (appointed by Abraham Lincoln as ambassador to Russia) significantly aided the cause of the Union forces. 

Vinegar and Global Corporations in China

China is home to a museum that pays tribute to WWII General “Vinegar” Joe Stilwell. Fluent in Chinese he was loosely in charge of all allied forces in the Burma-China-India theater of operations during WWII. Those allies included British and Chinese soldiers. Mao Tse Tung and Zhou Enlai would ultimately put their Red Army under his command. According to Smithsonian Magazine,


“…The Stilwell Museum in Chongqing, China, where the general lived while liaising with Chiang Kai-Shek, then fighting both the Japanese and a Communist insurgency that would spiral into Chinas long and brutal Civil War, ending in the establishment of the Peoples Republic. While Stilwell was there he grew increasingly disenchanted with corruption and subterfuge in Chiang’s Nationalist government, ultimately opening communication with the Red Army under Mao Zedong, earning him hero status in contemporary China.”


What do these global corporations have in common? Boeing, Walmart, Apple, McDonalds, National Basketball Association, Ford, and Koch Industries are just seven members of the US-China Business Council which lists scores of other American organizations to include law firms, pharmaceutical companies, financial houses, and consultancies that operate in China. Fly on a commercial aircraft lately? Components of the airplane are likely made in China. Likewise, there is the US-Russia Business Council with big names sponsoring the group like Caterpillar, Citi, Microsoft, Chevron, Exxon-Mobil, and General Electric.

Does the US want to nuke its own corporations?

Finally, US soldiers met Chinese ground troops in 1950 during the bloody and oft forgotten Korean War. That conflict has still not been settled by peace treaty and resulted in a stalemate. Thinking about waging a successful conventional land war with China is the province of lunatics.

Historical Lesson from 1918-1919

But let’s return to the US Army’s experience fighting the forces of a Leon Trotsky-led Red Army in 1918-1919. That return reminds of Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. US soldiers fought with bravery but they were given no specific guidance from Woodrow Wilson in Washington, DC. The US warfighters were caught in a quagmire: the Russian Civil War was afoot and the end of WWI changed the political landscape of Europe and Russia. Troops had no idea what they were doing in Russia. According to Smithsonian Magazine:


“‘Events moved so fast in 1918, they made the mission moot,’ says James Nelson, author of The Polar Bear Expedition. They kept these guys in isolated, naked positions well into 1919. The biggest complaint you heard from the soldiers was, ‘No one can tell us why were here,especially after the Armistice. Historians tend to see Wilsons decision to send troops to Russia as one of his worst wartime decisions, and a foreshadowing of other poorly planned American interventions in foreign countries in the century since…’It didnt really achieve anything-it was ill-conceived,’ says Nelson. The lessons were there that couldve been applied in Vietnam and couldve been applied in Iraq. Jonathan Casey, director of archives at the World War I Museum, agrees. ‘We didnt have clear goals in mind politically or militarily,’ he says. ‘We think we have an interest to protect, but its not really our interest to protect, or at least to make a huge effort at it. Maybe there are lessons we shouldve learned.'”


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One-man play to honour life of Tasmanian war correspondent Neil Davis


Thirty-five years after renowned war correspondent Neil Davis filmed his own death, his life story has been adapted for the stage.

The Tasmanian Theatre Company’s production “One Crowded Hour” is inspired by the book of the same title written by Tim Bowden.

Director and writer Terence O’Connell said he was captured by Davis’s life story.

“It’s not specifically a show about the Vietnam War, it’s really a story about a farm boy from Tasmania who ended up becoming this celebrated combat cameraman in South-East Asia,” he said.

For over 20 years, Neil Davis filmed from the front line, capturing images of war that were seen on television screens across the world.

He was renowned for being the first Western journalist to film the fall of Saigon.

“Apart from the fact that he was a great cinematographer and this great reporter and correspondent, he also had a certain sort of glamour,” said Mr O’Connell.

Neil Davis was born in Nala in Tasmania’s Southern Midlands and later grew up in Sorell.

He left school at 14 to work in the Tasmanian Government Film Unit before starting at the ABC as a cameraman.

“Because he was a cameraman and so much of his life and his work is through the lens of the camera … we’ve incorporated a whole lot of video into the show, which looks remarkable,” O’Connell said.

Davis steadies himself and takes cover against the body of a dead Cambodian soldier while filming close combat in Cambodia near Phnom Penh in 1973.(

Supplied

)

Davis’s last words were ‘oh, shit’

Playing Neil Davis is Sydney-based actor Ian Stenlake.

“Once I read One Crowded Hour, I was gobsmacked,” he said.

“It’s a fantastic story and Neil Davis, what I’ve got to know about him … I had a real affinity with his approach to life with his approach to his professional life, his personal life, ” said Stenlake.

He said he could relate to Davis’s knack for seizing an opportunity when it arises.

Head shot of a man smiling at the camera
Actor Ian Stenlake is playing renowned war correspondent Neil Davis in a new play.(

Supplied

)

While backpacking around Europe in his 20s, Stenlake, by chance, became an extra on the set of the film Godfather 3.

“A young American Franc D’Ambrosio, that was his first film … he said, ‘We’ve kind of found you, you’ve got a skill set that lends itself to acting now this is an opportunity, she’s knocking, are you going to let her in?’

“That conversation is why I am in Tasmania today.”

One Crowded Hour is his first one-man show.

“The process is humbling, the amount of work that it takes, you know I’ve never worked harder in my life but I am enjoying every second of it,” said Stenlake.

Neil Davis was killed by shrapnel on September 9 while filming a coup in Bangkok.

Stenlake said he has been researching Neil Davis’s thoughts on death.

“[He] worked in and around death constantly for many, many years,” he said.

“He was never afraid but he knew that at any time either a lucky bullet or an unlucky bullet could end his life very quickly.

“Very, very tellingly, his final words — documented by one of his great mates who was right there — he knew he was going to die and he knew he had not even seconds to go and he didn’t yell out, he didn’t scream, he didn’t exclaim, he was irritated.

“He went ‘Oh, shit,’ and that was it. It’s been pretty powerful, living this story daily.”

‘He would be astonished and delighted’

Author Tim Bowden became good friends with Neil Davis when they were both working in Vietnam.

He said the pair began working on a memoir of Neil Davis’s life before the correspondent died, with Davis supplying him with recollections recorded on a cassette tape.

Bowden said he was looking through the transcripts of Davis’s thoughts on fate and death.

He said Davis felt he had a sixth sense and would duck before a shot was fired.

Neil Davis working in Indonesia
Neil Davis in the Anambas Islands, Indonesia, in 1979, when he was covering the plight of Vietnamese refugees from the Communist regime. (

Supplied

)

“He finished that particular grab by saying you can always be unluckily killed,” he said.

Not long after writing down the quote, Bowden received a message that Davis had in fact been killed in Bangkok.

“That was really was just an extraordinary coincidence, Neil would have enjoyed it had he known about it,” said Bowden.

He said he can imagine how Davis would react to the idea of a stage play based on his life.

He hopes the stage show will give audiences a sense of a man who showed compassion and humanity in the face of the chaos of the wars he once filmed.

Bowden said Davis also paid for an artificial leg for a young girl in Saigon.

“But he never told her family or anyone else that he had done that,” he said.

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Albury war hero James Simpson remembered in new book by Patrick Mangan | The Border Mail


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It was a tin full of old spoons that planted the seed for the story. It had been many years since Patrick Mangan had seen his niece, Kristi Cossor (nee Simpson), and the coffee catch-up they organised was long overdue. As a “conversation point”, Kristi brought along a collection of enamel spoons that her great grandfather, James Simpson, had lovingly sent his wife Grace during his overseas travels during WWI. Kristi had heard much about James Simpson’s heroic past from his son – her ‘Pop’, Halliday (Did) Simpson – an Albury solicitor and tireless O&M football administrator. Mangan had just finished his first book and was looking for a literary grant to start another; fascinated by James Simpson’s life story, he jumped at the opportunity to draft the beginnings of a book. And while the literary grant was never forthcoming, the author says it has been an honour to help preserve the history of “one of Albury’s genuine war heroes”. On Thursday night, Mangan officially launched his book, Brave Lover James Simpson, at the Albury LibraryMuseum in conjunction with an exhibition showcasing his life and service through photographs and precious family heirlooms, including the collection of spoons. Mangan’s research began with four dusty boxes packed away in a study containing letters, trophies, a bible, postcards and papers all providing a wonderful insight into the family’s history. The author went on to examine WWI archives and public records, meticulously documenting dates to help him piece together the story. The book’s title intends to convey the love, learning and leadership that characterised the life of James Simpson, Mangan says. James was a natural leader and teacher, with his daring exploits on the sporting and battle fields well-documented. In fact it was during his time playing football for Albury (No. 9) and while he was a teacher at the then Albury Grammar School (now Scots) that he was to display the courage he would later show in battle, according to Mangan. In a match against Rutherglen in June, 1912, James “sustained a fracture of the collarbone during the third quarter of play,” according to a write-up in the personal and social column of the Albury Banner and Wodonga Express. “He, however, pluckily kept in the field until the end of play, when he consulted a doctor.” He carried that pluck into battle during WWI where he would be awarded the Military Cross for bravery at Gallipoli, the book reveals. “He won the Military Cross at Gaba Tepe for directing his battalion through unreconnoitred scrub singing with Turkish bullets and alive with snipers,” wrote The Bulletin, February 8, 1917. Fewer people would know of James’ devotion to his wife Grace (his beloved “Gra”) with whom he exchanged long letters from the time of their courtship and throughout the war, including a “regular dispatch” of teaspoons from wherever he was at the time. It is understood the pair met at the Yarra Street Methodist Tennis and Croquet Club in Geelong about 1901 but did not marry until 1909. James moved to Albury in 1904 to take up a teaching position at the grammar school, rising to the ranks of assistant master, sports master and cadet corps leader. Meanwhile Grace (Handley) continued to hone her considerable piano playing and teaching skills, even embarking on a trip to London where she gained the Pianoforte Playing Certficate from the Trinity College of Music, Mangan writes. It was shortly after she returned from her overseas sojourn – “during which she especially missed James, as her regular letters to him reveal” – that they married; on June 13, 1913 Halliday James was born. Mangan says the couple shared a blissful family and professional life. “Little did either of them realise James was about to embark on a serious military adventure where he had to shift from romancing his wife ‘hand in hand’ … to vicious ‘hand to hand’ battles,” he wrote. When war was declared in August, 2014, James was quick to enlist … the 31-year-old “left cricket and football to lesser men, said goodbye to his wife and son, and went out as captain in the 13th Battalion”. (The Bulletin) HIs courage under fire was to come at a cost in the “ill conceived and poorly planned Gallipoli attack”, writes Mangan. Wounded by a bomb on May 29, 1915, he soldiered on in horrific conditions but collapsed on June 6 and was sent to hospital at Malta with gastritis. When his condition did not improve he was sent to England to recover; Mangan says it is obvious in letters and photos from the time that James was making little progress and missing his wife and son terribly. A decision was made to send James back to Australia to recover and recuperate; he was suffering with fatigue, anxiety, headaches, heart palpitations, high blood pressure and neuralgia. “Albury’s most distinguished soldier in the present war” arrived home on November 26, 1915 to a rousing welcome at the railway station. As his “delicate health” improved, a number of public events were held in his honour and in one two-hour lecture he regaled citizens with tales of his war exploits – “to frequent applause”. But only months later, in a chapter titled ‘Duty Calls and Breaks Hearts’, Mangan reveals that on February 11, 1916 the medical board approved James Simpson as fit for duty. “It is believed Grace begged James not to return to the war front, but James felt he was letting his men down … perhaps Grace had a foreboding about his ultimate fate on the French battlefields,” he wrote. Tragically, “in a period of relatively quiet conflict activity”, 34-year-old Lieutenant-Colonel James Simpson was killed in action and buried at Armentieres. “After life’s fitful fever he sleeps well,” reads the inscription on his gravestone.

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