The Missing

Professor Melanie Oppenheimer, Chair of History, Flinders University. Still from the film ‘The Missing’, courtesy of Wind & Sky Productions.

The Red Cross Wounded and Missing Enquiry Bureau, London, 1918. Courtesy of Australian Red Cross Society.

Dr Bart Ziino, Historian, Deakin University. Still from the film ‘The Missing’. Courtesy of Wind & Sky Productions.

Burial Parties and Relocating to Proper Graves, France, circa 1919. Source: Marcel Pillon photograph collection, ANZAC House, Melbourne.[/caption]

Shrapnel Valley Cemetery, Gallipoli, circa 1915. Photographer: Victor Rupert Laidlaw. Source: State Library of Victoria.

Vera Deakin, daughter of Alfred Deakin, was integral to the operation of the international Missing and Wounded Enquiry Bureau. Image courtesy of Australian War Memorial.

The Melbourne Documentary Film Festival was the first Australian Documentary Festival to go online due to COVID-19

Audience questions at The Missing film launch. Photo by Kathie Mayer.

Panellists Carole Woods, Dr Bart Ziino, Professor Melanie Oppenheimer, Associate Professor Fred Cahir and interviewer Lucinda Horrocks at The Missing film launch. Photo by Kathie Mayer.

When WW1 brought Australians face to face with mass death a Red Cross Information Bureau and post-war graves workers laboured to help families grieve for the missing.

The unprecedented death toll of the First World War generated a burden of grief. Particularly disturbing was the vast number of dead who were “missing” – their bodies never found. This short documentary and online exhibition explores two unsung humanitarian responses to the crisis of the missing of World War 1 – the Australian Red Cross Wounded and Missing Enquiry Bureau and the post-war work of the Australian Graves Detachment and Graves Services. It tells of a remarkable group of men and women, ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances, who laboured to provide comfort and connection to grieving families in distant Australia.

Documentary Film

The short documentary features Professor Melanie Oppenheimer of Flinders University and Dr Bart Ziino of Deakin University, with original compositions by Dr Richard Chew of Federation University. Not to be missed are rarely seen archival images from the Australian Red Cross Heritage Collection and from Anzac House Victorian RSL headquarters.

Skillfully crafted and edited by director Jary Nemo, the eleven minute film is a moving and visually rich reflection on war, grief, commitment and loss, a fitting vehicle to commemorate the centenary of the Great War’s aftermath.

This Wind & Sky Production was directed by Jary Nemo and written and produced by Jary Nemo and Lucinda Horrocks, with executive producer Associate Professor Fred Cahir of Federation University.

Online Exhibition

A companion online exhibition was launched on the Victorian Collections portal in April 2021.

The ‘Missing’ exhibition provides some of the context of the crisis of the missing, the role of the Red Cross and the Graves Workers and the story of the creation of the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne to provide a place for people to mourn.

Curated by Lucinda Horrocks of Wind & Sky Productions the exhibition features contributions by historians Fred Cahir, Carole Woods and Sara Weuffen and essays by volunteers, archivists and family members who share personal journeys of people during the First World War and in its aftermath.

The exhibition features the stories of: Vera Deakin, determined head of the overseas Wounded and Missing Inquiry Bureau; Winifred Brotherton, dedicated volunteer bureau clerk who travelled from Castlemaine to London to be of use; Stanley Addison, Red Cross ‘searcher’ who looked in hospitals and battlegrounds for missing and wounded soldiers; Emma Tout, grieving mother at home of a son whose body was never found; Frank Cahir, the seasoned Gallipoli veteran who volunteered for extra duty to photograph war graves; and Will McBeath, young army recruit who was too late to fight and instead became a war graves worker, digging up graves and reburying people he knew.

Visit to view the free exhibition.

Screenings and Events

Online Exhibition Launch 19 April 2021, Victorian Collections.

Ogeechee International History Film Festival 2021, February 26-March 5 2021.

Setting Sun Film Festival 2020 (postponed due to COVID), 4-13 February 2021.

Veterans Film Festival 2020, 30 November – December 31 2020.

Melbourne Documentary Film Festival 2020 30 June 2020- 15 July 2020.

Film Launch: Friday 29th November 2019, Melbourne Shrine of Remembrance.

Awards and Nominations

Finalist, Best Documentary – History, 2020 ATOM Awards

Viewing the Film

The film is free to show, watch and share online at internet quality at The Missing on YouTube.

To arrange for a high quality screening copy for community screenings and events contact Wind & Sky Productions.

Viewing the Exhibition

The exhibition is free to watch, show and share online on the portal Victorian Collections.

In the News

Interview with Lucinda Horrocks, Heather Horrocks and Fred Cahir, Saturday Breakfast with Matt Tribe, ABC Radio Victoria, 24 April 2021.

‘ANZAC Exhibition’, Sam Mills, WIN News Ballarat, 23 April 2021.

The Missing: the inspiring Australians who went looking for the war dead, Peter Litras, Federation University News, 19 April 2021.

‘What did you do after the war?’ The Missing is short but packs a punch, David Stephens, Honest History, 14 January 2020.

The untold story of the ‘searchers’ who tracked down missing World War I soldiers, Elise Kinsella, ABC News Online, 30 Nov 2019.

PM daughters’ hunt for wartime missing, Yaz Dedovic, Flinders University News, 29 November 2019.

After the war: Remembering those who chose to stay behind, Peter Litras, Federation University News, 13 November 2019.

About the ‘Ordinary People in Extraordinary Circumstances’ Project

The film ‘The Missing’ is the first output of the ‘Ordinary People in Extraordinary Circumstances’ film and digital gallery project, which is supported by the Victorian Government and is a project partnership of Federation University, Wind & Sky Productions, Australian Red Cross and RSL Ballarat.

Media contact

For interviews and further information, contact Wind & Sky Productions.

Film Credits

Bart Ziino and Melanie Oppenheimer
Film Directed by:
Jary Nemo
Film Written and Produced by:
Lucinda Horrocks and Jary Nemo
Executive Producer on behalf of Federation University:
Fred Cahir
Music by:
Richard Chew
Research Advisors:
Fred Cahir, Moira Drew, Katrina Nicolson, Linda North, Melanie Oppenheimer, Sara Weuffen, Carole Woods and Bart Ziino
Archival photographs and footage courtesy of:
Anzac House RSL Victoria, Australian Red Cross Society, Australian War Memorial, Central Highlands Libraries, Deakin University Library, Family of Stanley Addison, Museums Victoria, State Library of New South Wales, State Library of South Australia, State Library of Victoria, University of Melbourne Archives and US National Archives
Sun Rim: Music by Richard Chew and Ian Dixon. The Windhover: Music by Richard Chew. Solo Violin; Stephen Morris. A View of the Sky: Composer Richard Chew. Produced by Richard Chew and Tom Robinson.
With Thanks to:
Gillian Anderson, John Cahir, Sandy Cahir, Julie Cotter, Joanna Day, Alan Douglass, David Fitzroy, Leigh Gilburt, Sam Henson, Andrew Hope, Heather Horrocks, Maurie Keating, John MacDonald, Georgia Melville, Kristine Morgan, Brendan Nelson, Paula Nicholson, Fred Pratt, Lynne Redman, Matt Smith, Alex Tascas, Kristen Thornton, Sharon Turley, Creative Victoria, Deakin University, Flinders University, the Melbourne Shrine of Remembrance and Royal Historical Society Victoria.
Produced in collaboration with:
Federation University Australia, Australian Red Cross Society and RSL Ballarat
Created with the support of:
the Victorian Government
Project production and development took place on the lands of the Wathaurung, Boon Wurrung Wurundjeri and Kaurna peoples. We would like to acknowledge these Traditional Owners and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future.
Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 4.0 International.
Production Company:
Wind & Sky Productions
Copyright with:
Wind & Sky Productions ©2019.



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