Five Soldiers: Remembrance Documentary

As the centenary of the armistice of World War One approached, The Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences sought to explore and better understand the contributions to the national war effort of pharmacy students from its predecessor institutions, The Melbourne College of Pharmacy/The Victorian College of Pharmacy, which merged with Monash University in 1992. Through extensive historical research, undertaken by Andrew McIntosh and his team from the Faculty, 30 pharmacy students were identified as having paused their studies to enlist in the medical corps and infantry. Four of these students, namely Alan Couve, Eric Bisset, Gordon Jewkes and Malcolm Jones, were killed in action.

Monash University conferred posthumous B Pharm (Honours) degrees in the name of each student soldier. The testamurs of these posthumous degrees were presented to a member of each student’s current day families during a bespoke graduation ceremony conducted in Cossar Hall (Parkville campus) on April 30, 2019. The service and contributions of a fifth student, Frank Cahir, was also recognised during this ceremony by the award of a Certificate of Recognition and Appreciation. This project provided a further opportunity to explore the historical links between the former Victorian College of Pharmacy and Sir John Monash.

The Faculty engaged the services of Rob Sutherland (Silvereye Eye Films), a talented freelance screenwriter and director, to produce a documentary capturing the stories, history and significance of this remembrance project.

I am extremely grateful to the families of the student soldiers, who were so generous in their support of this project, to the Faculty and University team and staff who brought this project to fruition, to current Faculty Dean Arthur Christopoulos for his ongoing support, and to the Vice Chancellor (Professor Margaret Gardner AC) and Chancellor (Simon McKeon AO) for their support and engagement in this milestone event in our Faculty’s proud history.

William N. Charman

Former Dean (2007-2019), Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences

Sir John Monash Distinguished Professor

Rob Sutherland – Documentary Producer

Rob Sutherland is a freelance screenwriter, director, producer and editor. His production company Silvereye Films has produced numerous video projects for the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, including The Sissons Mural Revealed, and the history documentary Years of Determination: From College to Faculty.

Crafting an engaging narrative from complex material is Rob’s speciality. Five Soldiers began in March 2018 with the Faculty’s plan to document the Remembrance process. It includes extensive interviews with the families of the five soldiers, and Sir John Monash. Set against the historical backdrop of the Faculty and the Pharmacy profession, Five Soldiers explores themes relating to Australia’s national identity, the multi-generational impact of war, and the transformative power of art. The production involved a journey to Albany, Western Australia, to follow in the footsteps of the soldiers and Sir John Monash as they departed for World War 1; and the laying of a wreath by Professor William Charman at the gravesite or headstone of each of the five soldiers. The shoot culminated in the Remembrance ceremony on 30 April 2019 to confer posthumous recognition upon the five soldiers.

Rob’s expertise enabled him to weave these diverse narrative threads into a cohesive, empathetic and engaging documentary. The result is a finely-balanced, engaging and deeply moving story of five far-too-young men thrust into unspeakable horrors of World War One.