Charles Edwin Woodrow Bean
(1879-1968) has a unique place among military
historians and is owed a debt of gratitude by all
Australians for the recording and preservation of
Australia's experiences in the Great War (World
War 1 to later generations).
Bean was horn in Bathurst, NSW, and
educated in England at Clifton College and at
Oxford where he obtained a Master of Arts degree
in 1903 and a Bachelor of Civil Law degree in
1904_ After returning to Australia shortly
afterwards he worked briefly as a teacher, then
worked as a legal assistant to traveling judges
and wrote of his experiences, which ere published
He joined the same newspaper as a
journalist in 1908 and wrote extensively on
western NSW and the wool industry.
From 1910 to 1912 Bean was in
London reporting on the ships being built for the
RAN. In WW1 he was appointed official war
correspondent to Australian forces overseas. Bean
landed at Gallipoli on 25th April 1915
and began writing dispatches as well as further
risking his life by helping the wounded. In
August. he was wounded but refused evacuation.
Bean went to France with the
Australian forces and continued to operate there
as he had done on Gallipoli by being in the battle
area, writing extensive diaries and recording the
activities of the Australians in the context of
the overall campaign. When units were replaced for
rest, Bean remained in the line and it has been
said that he spent more time in the front line
than any other member of the A.I.F.
Bean was active in the production
of two wartime commemorative volumes.
The Anzac Book
The Rising Sun
In 1919 the Australian Government
accepted Bean's proposal for an official war
history and a national war museum. As the official
government war historian, Bean himself wrote six
of the twelve volumes of the
of Australia in the Great War
and edited the other six. The last
volume of' the
was published in 1942, the
Australian War Memorial meanwhile being opened in
1941 in the middle of WW2. In 1946 Bean's own one
volume abridgement of the series was published as
He declined a knighthood several
times but accepted other honours. He died in 1968.
aged 88, at the height of Australia's
involvement in Vietnam. Bean's enduring reputation as
an historian is such that all of his books are
valuable collector and reference items, an
original 12 volume
being worth a considerable amount.
Good luck finding any.