Gavin Long - Author & Historian


The WWII counterpart of C.E.W. Bean was Gavin Long (1901-1968). He was born in Foster, Victoria,  the son of George Long, who was the Bishop of Bathurst and the founder of the Australian Army's education service. After study at the University of Sydney, Gavin Long worked for a time as a teacher before traveling to Britain to take up journalism in 1926. He returned to Australia in 1927 and worked as a journalist for the Sydney Daily Guardian, the Argus and the Sydney Morning Herald.

In 1939 he became the editor of the overseas news service for the S.M.H., and was based in London. Following the outbreak of WWII, he gained attachment to the British Expeditionary Force as the correspondent for Australian morning newspapers. He also covered the war in Libya and Greece as an officially accredited correspondent for the A.I.F. He was recalled to Australia in 1941 and made two visits to New Guinea.

Of the twenty-two volume official history, Long wrote three himself ('To Benghazi', 'Greece,  Crete and Syria', and 'The Final Campaigns'). His wartime diaries and notes were widely used by others in the writing of those volumes dealing with military campaigns. In 1963 he resigned as general editor to take up a research fellowship at the Australian National University. His one-volume history of Australia's part in WW2 (The Six Years War) was widely acclaimed when published posthumously in 1973.

In 1943 he was appointed general editor of the official history Australia in the War of 1939-1945. In addition, he acted as a war correspondent for the rest of the war against Japan. As if these two jobs weren't enough, he undertook the burdensome task as editor of all military records.

All twenty-two volumes of the Official History are highly desirable collector items. Lucky for you if you have the complete set as well as a copy of The Six Years War.









As an example of his integrity, the criteria which Long himself adopted for choosing "the right" historians were

to  avoid
(a) left wingers who appeared to be so doctrinaire that they would be inclined to use the history to prove a political or historical theory;
(b) men who had been so closely associated with wartime administration that they would be asked to tell a story in which they found themselves to be leading actors;
(c) men inclined to be inoffensive, even where criticism was demanded. )