A literary ANZAC memoir

17 Apr
ANZAC literary tradition

Kenneth Slessor, Harley Matthews, Bill Rodie, Smiths Weeky & Anzac memoirs

I take an active interest in my son’s school work. Recently he told me that he had to research a first world war poet. I remembered something I had in a shoebox along with other memorabilia from my mother, Lois Rodie. I climbed up on a chair and found the box and rummaged around till I found it. A slim and dog eared booklet of poetry by Harley Matthews, with an inscription on the inside cover from the poet to my mother.

My father Bill Rodie was a well-known journalist and feature writer with first, Smiths Weekly and then the Sydney Sun. He was a friend and colleague of both Kenneth Slessor and Harley Matthews. He also served in the middle east and then with the multinational ‘Blackforce’ during the defence of Java, where he was captured and imprisoned in the Cycle Camp, Batavia.

*Harley Matthews remains possibly the best-known of the Australian war poets from the Middle East. He also has the distinction of being the model for the bust Spirit of Anzac by Jacob Epstein, (see book cover) depicting the steel-helmeted head of a warrior, on display at the Imperial War Museum in London

On his return to Australia he pursued a career as a journalist before founding his own vineyard. He wrote two epic Gallipoli poems, ‘Two Brothers’ (1931) and ‘True Patriot’ (1938).

I was thrilled to find this piece of my families personal history both for myself and for Max.

It’s amazing the stories you find in forgotten places.


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