ABC war correspondent Chester Wilmot (1911-1954) pioneered the use of recording equipment in the field. He spent several months in Tobruk in 1941 during the siege by German and Italian troops when the Australian soldiers became known as the Rats of Tobruk. He recorded his dispatches on lacquer discs, sometimes with the sounds of gunfire or bombing raids in the background.
In October 1941 the ABC Field Unit recorded a concert put on by 400 Australian soldiers in an ammunition cave. Wilmot’s introduction places you right in the cave alongside the men and the musical performances (including the short song Bless Them All and a wistful saxophone and piano accordion instrumental) reveal the acoustics to be surprisingly good. The highlight is one soldier’s stirring rendition of The Legion of the Lost, with the massed voices of the makeshift military choir bringing the song to a rousing finale.