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AWM Launches World-first Hamel VR Experience


The Australian War Memorial has launched the ‘Battle of Hamel Virtual Reality Experience’ which uses the latest VR technology to deliver a synchronised in-theatre experience for the first time worldwide.

During the 10 minute interactive, audiences of up to 45 people will wear VR headsets and headphones that will give them an up-close view of the battlefield at Le Hamel. It is the first time the newly-released Oculus Go VR headset has been used to create a synchronised interactive VR experience on this scale.

Australian and US troops dug in on their objectives outside Le Hamel on 4 July 1918. (Courtesy of AWM)

From 22 June to 22 July, the French countryside of the First World War will be brought to virtual life in the Memorial’s theatre. Audiences will be immersed in the story of this key action on the Western Front, fought on 4 July 1918. Audiences will hear how Lieutenant-General Sir John Monash meticulously planned the combined-arms battle, before they choose to continue from the perspective of an airman, infantryman, or tank crewman. Aircraft, tanks and the battlefield will be presented in a combination of 3D and 360-degree video.

Memorial Director, Dr. Brendan Nelson, said it was important to showcase new technologies as avenues to tell the stories of the likes of Sir John Monash, considered one of history’s greatest Australians.

He explained: “On 4 July 1918 the Australian Corps, led by General Sir John Monash, was victorious at the battle of Hamel. Leading Australian soldiers alongside Americans for the first time in history, Monash meticulously planned out the battle to last 90 minutes – it took 93.

 Monash meticulously planned out the battle to last 90 minutes – it took 93.

“This immersive technology gives people today a unique insight into the events at Hamel almost 100 years ago. I encourage everyone with an interest to book your free ticket the Hamel VR Experience and learn a bit more about what men like Monash did for us.

“Importantly the Hamel VR experience uses the Memorial’s own artefacts to present the story of the battle and its human dimensions, avoiding any semblance of entertainment”.

Australian Lewis gunners track an enemy aircraft, taken circa 1918 by Australian photographer Frank Hurley.

Managing Director of Start VR Angus Stevens says the ‘Battle of Hamel Virtual Reality Experience’ presents a piece of Australian history in an entirely new light. “By merging the Memorial’s archival material with a VR rendering of the battle, people can see, hear, and feel history in a way never before encountered”, he explained. Adding: “[To] know that this experience will unlock a key moment in Australia’s history that many people are unaware of, makes it all the more exciting.”

To book tickets for ‘Battle of Hamel Virtual Reality Experience’, developed with the support of Boeing Australia, go to the Memorial’s website.

If you would like to learn more about the Battle of Hamel and its commander, AWM historian Dr. Aaron Pegram examines the role of Sir John Monash during the First World War including at Hamel and during the Hundred Days in the upcoming August issue of Britain at War magazine. On sale 26 July 2018.

You can also watch the talk Dr. Pegram recently gave at AWM, ‘Hamel: The Orchestrated Battle, 4 July 1918’.

A breakdown of the battle can also be read here.

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