Australian Biography - Jack Hazlitt

Shot Vision Audio In Point
1

Animated Film Australia Logo

00:01:30
2

Australian Biography Opening Sequence

Music

00:01:38
3

Fade up from black

Archival footage: A soldier playing the bugle

Music

00:01:46
4

Archival footage: Soldier marching in front of a pyramid

00:01:49
5

Jack

Jack sync: It was a spirit of adventure took me away.

00:01:51
6

Archival footage: Soldiers in a trench throwing grenade

00:01:54
7

Archival footage: Soldiers running as grenades explode

00:01:56
8

Jack

Jack sync: I think we were just like a lot of chooks in a chook yard -- if something hit us well that was it, if it didn't hit us we survived.

00:01:58
9

Archival footage: Soldiers getting out of trenches

00:02:10
10

Archival footage: Soldiers getting out of the trenches

00:02:12
11

Archival footage: Soldiers running across the battle field

00:02:14
12

Jack

Dissolve to:

Jack sync: I think that was then, I realise that there's no fun in this, but you couldn't just walk in and say I'm leaving.

00:02:17
13

Photo: Jack in his uniform, tilt up

Super: Jack Hazlitt
Born 1897
Gallipoli Campaign Veteran

00:02:27
14

Jack

Interviewer o/s: Where were you born? What kind of a household were you born in to?

Jack sync: In South Yarra in Melbourne. It was a two storey part of -- the way they built a lot houses those days, row of terraces -- Millswyn St., South Yarra.

Interviewer o/s: And what did your father do?

Jack sync: He was an actor and stage manager with JC Wiliamson.

Interviewer o/s: A theatrical family?

Jack sync: Yes, that's where he met my mother.

Interviewer o/s: Was your mother also interested in the theatre?

Jack sync: Well she was, but she was really a pianist and teacher, but she did mingle with the theatrical people quite a bit. In those days, that was the only source of entertainment wasn't it; theatre and concerts, none of these things and that's where they met, anyhow.

00:02:41
15

Jack

Jack sync: I was too young then but I knew, he and my mother weren't getting on even then, and I was only about two when he finally had a blistering row and left the family home, never came back.

Interviewer o/s: Did you see him again?

Jack sync: I never saw him again, no.

Interviewer o/s: So he really left?

Jack sync: Yes, he still went on with the JC Williamson of course,. He finished up as a, when they built that big theatre in Sydney which I think was the Theatre Royal in Pitt St., which I believe the biggest theatre stage they ever had -- it's now Woolworth's -- well he finished up as the manager of that.

Interviewer o/s: How did your mother manage?

Jack sync: Well I think we'd have starved or, in those day's there was practically no state run dole or anything like that, you know, if you didn't have any money, you just, that was it.

Interviewer o/s: Your father didn't send any?

Jack sync: Well he was suppose to send her a money order about every month for about I think, eight pounds. More times it didn't come than when it ever came.

00:03:45
16

Jack

Jack sync: But I knew that she was earning just enough teaching piano around private homes and so on, but one time she must, on a whim ,walked up South Rd and went into the college

00:05:01
17

Photo: Exterior Haileybury College

Jack v/o: and asked to see the headmaster.

00:05:18
18

Jack, zoom in to MCU

Jack sync: And he, she interviewed him, and when he found out that she was a professional, young professional pianist he warmed up quite a bit apparently, because he was very fond of music himself, in fact he wrote music in his spare time. At that time Haileybury only had about 20 boys attending it -- it was a boys' school -- and my mother put up the idea to him would he permit her boys to attend Haileybury College if she gave music lessons and singing lessons. So that was agreed to, and that's how we got there, because it wasn't a free school by any means, but this was in lieu of fees, you see, she used to teach some of the boys and this went on for quite a long time.

00:05:23
19

Archival footage: People walking down a street

Interviewer o/s: You were over

00:06:31
20

Archival footage: Cavalry on horseback

Interviewer o/s: in Western Australia with your brother, working on

00:06:34
21

Archival footage: People walking down a street

Interviewer o/s: the land when, in 1914, war broke out, now what affect did this have on your life?

00:06:37
22

Jack

Jack sync: I didn't take much notice of it, I was then only just barely -- I hadn't turned 17 I don't think, 16 -- late 16 but when my brother went off up to Perth and enlisted I want to go, too.

00:06:45
23

Jack

Jack sync: So he got into the army fairly quickly, there was no bother there, but of course I was 17 and they're not suppose to take them until they're 19. So I put my age up and I was fairly big and fat, strong, so I got, so I went in after him. Meantime he and his unit went off to Egypt

00:06:59
24

Photo: Jack at Blackboy Hill Camp with the rest of his unit

Jack v/o: and I went in to Blackboy Hill Camp in February. We lived in built tents there and

00:07:23
25

Photo: Jack

Jack v/o: I was with the 28th Battalion, which was a unit formed over in West Australia.

Interviewer o/s: Where did you do your training?

00:07:32
26

Jack

Jack sync: In Egypt, out in the desert.

00:07:42
27

Archival footage: Soldiers in front of the sphinx and a pyramid

Music

00:07:48
28

Archival footage: Soldiers riding camels

Music

00:07:52
29

Archival footage: Soldiers at a camp in the desert

Music

Jack v/o: There were long marches across the sandy

00:07:56
30

Archival footage: Soldiers in the desert, pan left to the Sphinx

Jack v/o: country. You had a 80 pound weight pack on your back, which held your groundsheet that you slept on, emergency rations and

00:08:02
31

Jack

Jack sync: there was some mad things and ill advised things done with marching men too far, you know, it happened in Egypt when we were at a place called Tel el Kebir Camp and we were ordered down to the canal when they thought the Turks were coming, and there is a railway line going down there and we could have been moved on the railway line, but some bright General thought it would be good practice for us to march down there, it's all desert country and the heat is absolutely blinding and a lot of people died on that march from Tel el Kebir to Suez Canal, just through rotten bit of organisation.

Interviewer o/s: And you all just accepted this; you didn't feel resentment of the Generals for making that sort of decision?

Jack sync: Well you see, in the Army, you absolutely have to respect commissioned ranks, you made an oath to that effect and you mustn't think otherwise or you'll get in to trouble. So in the end we just learned to accept bad -- there were so many bad decisions made on Gallipoli, we all know now, but it's long after the damage is done but it doesn't make. I don't think anybody I know had the feeling they want to go and hit somebody or shoot somebody because they made a mistake.

00:08:14
32

Archival footage: A ship on the water, firing bullets

Music

00:09:44
33

Archival footage: Row boats landing at a shore

Super: 1915 Gallipoli Landing

Music

00:09:45
34

Archival footage: Rowing in to land

Music

00:09:49
35

Archival footage: Canons firing

Music

00:09:50
36

Archival footage: Soldiers jumping out of row boats

Music

Jack v/o: My brother went off, as I say, in the landing and I got a scribbled note from him, what had happened,

00:09:52
37

Archival footage: Soldiers running up the beach

Jack v/o: of course it was all very heavily censored,

00:09:59
38

Archival footage: Canons firing

Jack v/o: and we knew

00:10:03
39

Archival footage: Soldiers running up the beach

Jack v/o: we were bound to go there,

00:10:04
40

Jack

Jack sync: when our unit moved up, the 28 Battalion, Seventh

00:10:06
41

Archival footage: Soldiers walking along a deck

Jack v/o: Brigade. My unit got there at the end of July

00:10:10
42

Jack

Jack sync: and my unit, the 28th Battalion, I was a signaller in that, there was 12 of us responsible for that communication side of it. We landed on the beach and tramped up into a little valley, Shrapnel Valley, it was named with good effect too, the Turks had that constantly under shell fire. However in the dark, it was fairly quiet, we could hear a lot of rifle and machinegun fire going off further up the hill but we just lay back on our packs and our first causality occurred. It must have been a stray bullet. I don't think it could have been a direct shot from long range, but one of the fellows in the next tent to me, I heard him call out, and he'd got hit in the groin and by the time they could stop the flow of blood he was dead, you see, because one of the main arteries was cut through. So that made us realise then that things were really getting serious.

Interviewer o/s: Were you very afraid? Were you afraid?

Jack sync: Oh, yes, yes. Oh well, it was, you had to really get making yourself harder and harder in your attitude, you know,

00:10:15
43

Jack

Jack sync: in the tent, there's a picture here of me in the tent

00:11:41
44

Photo: Jack and his unit, zoom in

Jack v/o: in that camp at Blackboy Hill. There was 12 in the tent and most of them never came back out of that 12. Those earlier battles, the slaughter rate was terrible.

00:11:44
45

Jack

Interviewer o/s: Now tell me about your job as a signaller. What did you have to do?

Jack sync: Well, firstly there was no radio, it was in its infancy. We never saw any radio, would have made a big difference to the whole picture if it had. So communication from where our front line was, whichever part of that Gallipoli Peninsula you're behind, it was never more than about a mile to mile and a half in from the landing where the coves, very narrow strip and all down in trenches, of course. So the only communication was we were given field telephones, Stevens [?] phones they were called and we use to reel off insulated land lines

00:12:00
46

Archival footage: A signaller reeling off a land line

Jack v/o: up from the front line, Battalion headquarters

00:12:49
47

Jack, zoom out to CU

Jack sync: back to Brigade headquarters, to keep in touch. Well, the Turkish shell fire was so terrific that the lines used to get busted up with bursting shells. Then the only communication was that's were the word runner was born. I was a runner, yeah. You had to take down an urgent thing about demanding some more help, or more reinforcements or more ammunition or more what not, or come up and bring back some of the wounded, it was all done by, mostly done by runners. Now, the runners life wasn't a happy one, because you see you couldn't make time following down zigzag trenches to protect yourself, you had to hop across the top, and you were in full view of the Turkish snipers and the average life of a runner in those days was about 24 hours. Well, I was knocked, I got missed so many times I couldn't name it, a noise like, it sounds like a bee flying past, whizzing sound, you know, of course the one that hits you, you don't hear.

00:12:56
48

Archival footage: Sniper in some bushes

Jack v/o: They were marvelous shots. They could,

00:14:07
49

Jack

Jack sync: they could knock anything, a 1,000 yards was nothing, and that's a long way away.

Interviewer o/s: Better shots than you were?

Jack sync: In many cases -- of course we had some good shots, and they all became

00:14:11
50

Archival footage: Soldiers in the trenches

Jack v/o: snipers on our side but I would say the average Turk, I remember, he was a much more dangerous

00:14:24
51

Archival footage: Men with a canon, lying on the ground

Jack v/o: man on aiming his rifle than the average

00:14:32
52

Archival footage: Soldiers running through a trench

Jack v/o: Aussie was.

00:14:34
53

Jack

Jack sync: And another thing was of course, the water supply. There was no natural water or rivers on Gallipoli itself, it was all just rocky mountain ranges and so on. And they used to bring tanks of water in from the ships moored out in the sea, but it was never enough. And we used to try and augment our supplies through ignorance, as we knew later, there were little creeks running down various parts of the ranges there, and we used to go and scoop up water there and we didn't always boil it. What we didn't realise was that that water was trickling down through thousands of corpses which are still lying there, unburied, and of course it was just a forerunner for dysentery. So a lot of us became causalities, but unless we were absolutely in the last stages, there was so many demand for troops there that we were kept going on our job as long as

00:14:36
54

Archival footage: Soldiers in the trenches

Jack v/o: we could make it. Well, I was

00:15:49
55

Archival footage: Soldiers in the trenches

Jack v/o: there from July to --

00:15:52
56

Jack, zoom out to MS

Jack sync: I think they carted me off in the last stages of dysentery about November, just before the evacuation.

Interviewer o/s: That was a bit more than 24 hours.

Jack sync: Oh, yes, oh yes.

Interviewer o/s: Now how do you think you survived?

Jack sync: Youth, mainly I suppose. We were all well trained, very strong and well, it's a hard question too, because we didn't even get -- I never saw a loaf of bread all the time I was a Gallipoli. We had tinned beef, very salty, which made you thirstier than you wanted to be, and so called apricot jam, which you didn't even need open the lid because you punched a hole in it and it would run out like syrup, dreadful stuff from some rascally English contractor no doubt. We had that, it gave it a bit of a flavour anyhow, and army biscuits which are just like the biscuits I have here for these dogs. We used to try and vary the thing by getting an empty shell case and putting a number of these hard biscuits in and then pounding them down with the handle out off your trenching tool, break it up and then tip a bit of this so called apricot jam in it, and a bit of water and make a sort of, of a sort of desert if you like. And then you ate the beef, Fray Bentos, another rascally contractor from South America where they took all the goodness out of the beef, then tinned the rest. That's what the army fed us on.

Interviewer o/s: And that was it?

Jack sync: That was it. I remember I was on mission down on to the beach there and there was sailor off one of the ships there and he had tin of condensed milk, and I, something I got wind that he had it, it was poked in his tunic and I gave him, I was so desperate, I think I gave him pound, or two pounds, notes - I had a bit of money on me -- for that tin of Nestles condensed milk and that was absolute luxury. But the food there was dreadful.

Interviewer o/s: Did you ever get anything fresh?

Jack sync: Never.

00:15:56
57

Archival footage: The camps at Gallipoli, going up a hill

FX: Machinegun fire

00:18:21
58

Archival footage: Aerial view of a soldier with a machine gun

00:18:25
59

Archival footage: A ship firing bullets

00:18:26
60

Archival footage: A ship firing bullets

00:18:27
61

Archival footage: A blast on hill

Jack v/o: As the months went by and the various attempts to

00:18:28
62

Archival footage: A soldier smoking a cigarette, looks through an eye piece

Jack v/o: overcome the Turkish army were failing, we

00:18:31
63

Archival footage: A hill at Gallipoli

Jack v/o: began to realise there that

00:18:36
64

Archival footage: Soldiers walking through dug outs

Jack v/o: we weren't going to overcome them, and I don't think that any of the old veterans who got off there

00:18:39
65

Jack

Jack sync: would ever admit to this, but there was a feeling of relief when the British general staff decided to call a halt and evacuate us. Well, I was about three weeks before they did that.

00:18:47
66

Archival footage: Soldiers carrying men on stretchers

Jack v/o: I was carted off hospitals condition.

00:19:01
67

Jack

Jack sync: So that was the end of the Gallipoli Peninsula position.

Interviewer o/s: And the start of your war in France?

Jack sync: We were taken across, from Marseille right across up to Belgium. I remember a lot of the poor fellows who didn't survive, I remember them. We were all excited because the train line took us within about sight of Paris, and we all thought we were going to get leave in Paris, we'd all read about Paris. The train kept going, right up, across the Armentier and into Belgium and that's where we were deposited.

00:19:06
68

Archival footage: Soldiers running

Super: 1916 Somme Offensive

FX: Gun and shell fire

00:19:51
69

Archival footage: Reverse of soldiers firing machineguns

00:19:56
70

Archival footage: Soldiers climbing out of trenches

00:19:58
71

Archival footage: Soldiers running across grass

00:20:00
72

Archival footage: Soldiers running

Jack v/o: The roaring

00:20:02
73

Archival footage: Soldiers running as a blast goes off

Jack v/o: of guns,

00:20:04
74

Archival footage: Soldiers running and jumping into trenches

Jack v/o: thousands of them, on both sides,

00:20:04
75

Archival footage: Soldiers loading ammunition into a canon

Jack v/o: went on

00:20:08
76

Archival footage: An explosion in the distance

Jack v/o: 24 hours a day, never stopped.

00:20:09
77

Jack

Jack v/o: Most of the trench lines were very close. Sometimes

00:20:12
78

Archival footage: Soldiers jumping into trenches

Jack v/o: the

00:20:17
79

Archival footage: A soldier holds a gun to another soldier

Jack v/o: Germans

00:20:19
80

Archival footage: A hat

00:20:20
81

Archival footage: Soldiers in a trench

Jack v/o: had their trench line only perhaps 20

00:20:20
82

Archival footage: A soldier on the ground as other run over him

Jack v/o: yards, sometimes 50 yards from

00:20:23
83

Archival footage: Soldiers in a trench

Jack v/o: ours. It had one advantage over Gallipoli --

00:20:24
84

Jack

Jack sync: when you went in the line there, after 10 days you were pulled out and replaced with another one, and you went back far enough you could still hear the guns but you could have a bath, shower and get some decent food. But of course, after the 10 days, in again you went, those of you that survived, but of course the carnage down on the Somme battlefield was infinitely worse than I ever saw on Gallipoli. The casualty rate went up, and they had, the Germans had far more machineguns than the Turks,

00:20:29
85

Archival footage: Two soldiers with a machine gun

Jack v/o: and they

00:21:11
86

Archival footage: Soldiers running

Jack v/o: largely did the damage. When our troops would try and

00:21:12
87

Archival footage: Soldiers running

Jack v/o: go forward, they'd mow them down, you know.

00:21:15
88

Archival footage: A soldier with a machinegun

00:21:18
89

Archival footage: Soldiers being attacked

00:21:19
90

Jack

Jack sync: My brother was in a different unit and I hadn't seen him for quite some time, and this was down outside of a position there, just near Pozieres, the Somme, deep ex-German dugout which our side had captured, it had been turned into a signal station, quite deep down, about 40 feet, dug down into the soft ground, that was down there. And we had a switchboard there where we used to connect up the various lines going from brigade headquarters into the front line, and I happened to be on duty, on one of these switchboards one night and there was a first class battle going on up ahead, you could hear it coming down, and steps came down and it was my brother. I hadn't seen him for many, many weeks and he was in charge of a bombing squad and he was on his way into the front line to relieve another unit. So we had a few minutes talk and he wanted to get extra directions, it was pitch dark outside, and that was it. He went off, and as far as I can tell -- I didn't know for a long time afterwards -- he was hit by a shell in the line and they got him out on a stretcher and then -- this will give you an idea of how intense that shell fire can get -- the stretcher was hit and one of the stretcher bearers was killed that was carrying him and he got another wound then, on top of the one he had previously. Anyhow, they finally got him out, and they got him into a casualty clearing station near Alberni and then they got him over to England. And he was put into a military hospital near Cambridge and he died three weeks later, because they couldn't deal then those days with gangrene and that's what got him. They couldn't stop it. They took one leg off I believe, and, but it had gone too far, so he died after three weeks. And then I heard all about this later because we didn't get much information about what was happening to any of our...

00:21:20
91

Photo: Jack's brother

Interviewer o/s: Did you miss him?

Jack v/o: Yes, well we always got on well together, and

00:24:10
92

Jack, zoom in to ECU

Jack sync: I think out of the three boys in the family, I think he was slightly the favourite with my mother.

Interviewer o/s: Not you?

Jack sync: I think I came number two. He was the one. Not that that matters but...

Interviewer o/s: Did it matter to you?

Jack sync: I don't think, I can't remember that, it's too... we didn't fight. At least we did throw stones at each other once when we were on holidays from Haileybury school and I had, threw a stone at him and it was a bit too big and hit him on the top of the head and knocked him out. That was about the closest casualty we had to injuring each other.

Interviewer o/s: But you still felt very close to him yourself and missed him a lot when he went away?

Jack sync: Yes.

00:24:23
93

Archival footage: An explosion

FX: Explosions

00:25:26
94

Archival footage: Soldiers exiting the trenches

Super: 1916 Battle of Pozieres

00:25:28
95

Archival footage: Men in a trench with a canon

Super: 1916 Battle of Pozieres

00:25:30
96

Archival footage: An explosion

00:25:31
97

Archival footage: Men running

00:25:33
98

Archival footage: Men running

00:25:35
99

Archival footage: Men in trenches

Jack v/o: I was on a mission. The phone lines were impossible to keep under repair

00:25:37
100

Archival footage: Men being attacked

Jack v/o: and I was carrying a message up to the front line,

00:25:45
101

Jack

Jack sync: and this pretty heavy weight shell, I'll never know what size it was, it went off, practically along side of me.

00:25:47
102

Archival footage: Soldiers running, reverse

00:25:57
103

Jack

Jack sync: And bombed me right out off where I was, but didn't do any damage to me structure, but it certainly did a lot of damage to my nerve system and I passed out, I never got to the front line. It was very close to it anyhow and I, next morning, I came to and felt, well I've got to try and crawl back to my own side of the line, because I knew I was near the front line with the Germans. And I didn't feel at all well, so I lay there. This hole, this shell must of made was about as big as an average room and I was at the bottom of it. And all of sudden I heard voices, hoping it was some of my own mob or even a stretcher bearer or two, but they were German voices.

00:25:59
104

Jack

Jack sync: So I decided I got to lie doggo down there for as long as I could until the next night. I lay in the bottom of that hole there, hoping another shell wouldn't go anywhere near me and I had the usual emergency rations which are carried in a little pack which you can use and a water bottle. So I lay there all that day and the next night -- in the meantime, I think I'd recovered some of my damaged senses -- I knew which way to go and as soon it got dark, I crawled out of this shell hole and gradually crawled back in the direction of the brigade headquarters where I was on the signal staff of. And I got back to the top of that thing and the officer in charge of our signal squad, a fellow called Schooler [?], he looked at me, I remember him saying, "Good God, you've had it."

00:27:00
105

Photo: Jack in his uniform

Jack v/o: They apparently decided I was more than half silly, bombed out,

00:28:08
106

Jack

Jack sync: I think they use the term, my brain was bombed out and I was, I didn't last until the armistice, they shipped me off back to Australia about a year before the war finished.

00:28:17
107

Archival footage: People celebrating in a street

Super: November 11, 1918
Armistice Day

00:28:31
108

Archival footage: Soldiers hanging out the side of a train

00:28:34
109

Archival footage: Soldiers legs beside a train carriage written with "Direct to Aussie"

00:28:35
110

Archival footage: A train

Interviewer o/s: Your story from the war is an extraordinary story of endurance,

00:28:37
111

Jack, zoom in to BCU

Interviewer o/s: you endured so much through that. How did you handle that, when you felt you just wanted to run away, when you felt that you were confronted with things that were really unbearable, how did you deal with those feelings?

Jack sync: I don't know that I ever felt that I wanted to run away.

Interviewer o/s: Not even for a minute?

Jack sync: No, when I, when we were in the line there and so on and things were looking as though we were on the losing end of it and things were getting worse and worse, I can't ever remember wanting to pack up my little kit and run backwards. And I never saw anybody else, for that matter, in my little unit, do that. So you stuck it out there until you either got killed, wounded or relieved.

Interviewer o/s: And it never occurred to you do anything else?

Jack sync: No. I don't think that's abnormal, by any means. You're in the army and supposed to be doing things and in any case, what use is a funny old term, run away, where do run, you'd be picked up by the military police pretty quickly and become a deserter.

00:28:42
112

Archival footage: Soldiers practising for combat

Music

00:30:05
113

Archival footage: Soldiers running through the mist

Music

00:30:07
114

Jack, zoom in to BCU

Dissolve to:

Interviewer o/s: You've faced death many times haven't you?

Jack sync: Oh, yes.

Interviewer o/s: Many more times than most people. Have you thought about it a lot?

Jack sync: No. See you take me at the present moment, now I'm hanging on but, you know, without sounding dramatic now or anything, I now that I can't expect to go much longer, though

00:30:11
115

Jack walking down the beach with his wife

Jack v/o: you read about some of these people up in the Himalayas and so on who are suppose to live to 130 and 140 but I know, I don't think I'll ever be one of them. But it doesn't, it doesn't impose on me, it doesn't make me feel miserable, it doesn't frighten me, not a bit.

00:30:41
116

WS Jack walking along the beach with his wife, masked with black.

Credits:

Interviewer: Robin Hughes
Research: Frank Heimans
Camera: Andrzej Lada
Sound Recording: Tim Parratt
Sound Mixing: Robert Sullivan

00:31:05
117

WS Jack walking along the beach with his wife, masked with black.

Credits cont.:

Production Manager: Kim Anning
Production Accountant: Megan Gilmour
Production Coordinator: Joanne Holliman
Post Production Supervisor: Brian Hicks

00:31:21
118

WS Jack walking along the beach with his wife, masked with black.

Credits cont.:

Film Australia would like to acknowledge the assistance of:

Jack & Lesley Hazlitt
Mike Spencer - F.A. Library
Haileybury College Melbourne

00:31:37
119

WS Jack walking along the beach with his wife, masked with black.

Credits cont.:

Producer/Director/Writer/Editor: Frank Heimans

Executive Producer: Ron Saunders

Film Australia [logo]
copyright MCMXCII

00:31:41
Copyright & Legal