The Power of Ten: a hero’s journey of discovery

Ben Roberts-Smith pictured at Gallipoli in a scene from Sunday Night: The Power of 10.
Ben Roberts-Smith pictured at Gallipoli in a scene from Sunday Night: The Power of 10. Channel 7

WHILE filming The Power of Ten, Victoria Cross recipient Ben Roberts-Smith met the families of his military heroes.

The two-part documentary series tells the stories of the 10 men who were awarded the Victoria Cross, Australia's highest military honour for bravery, during their service at Gallipoli.

But Roberts-Smith never expected to uncover never-before-seen documents during the production.

While interviewing the 80-year-old daughter of New Zealand's first Victoria Cross recipient Cyril Bassett, the Afghanistan War veteran uncovered an item of national significance.

"There was a trunk full of his personal possessions and she said 'you're more than welcome to look through it'," he told APN.

"At the very bottom was a small paperback book. It was actually his handwritten diary from Gallipoli. He was there on the beach and in the hills writing day to day. There were maps he'd drawn up.

"It was very special to be able to find that. Of course it was great for the show but the main thing was it was identified and we could give it to the New Zealand War Memorial."

Roberts-Smith hopes to preserve a slice of Australia's Anzac history in the series as the Anzac Day centenary approaches.

The full-scale Lone Pine trench recreation for Sunday Night's The Power of Ten.
The full-scale Lone Pine trench recreation for Sunday Night's The Power of Ten. Channel 7

"As you can imagine, after 100 years you lose what you'd call artefacts and bits of our history," he said.

"To be able to talk to the families and be allowed inside such an intimate space, handling the possessions of these men from Gallipoli, was pretty surreal."

The decorated war veteran spent four years developing the series, which was filmed over eight months at Gallipoli and in Australia, where all 250m of trenches from the battle of Lone Pine were recreated for dramatic re-enactments.

"What scares people off is when you start talking about the big numbers and military units," he said.

"If you tell someone's personal story, then that in itself is great.

"Because they were Victoria Cross recipients, you get to see the action that earned them the medal."

Roberts-Smith said he feels fortunate to be travelling to Gallipoli for the Anzac Day services.

"From a personal perspective, being a military man, I'm looking forward to that," he said.

"When you look back, what happened on the 25th of April drove our culture. I don't think the guys at Gallipoli gave us everything about our culture but it was definitely a defining moment in our history. It's part of what makes us Australian."

Sunday Night: The Power of Ten airs tomorrow at 8.30pm on Channel 7.

Topics:  anzac centenary ben roberts-smith channel 7 gallipoli sunday night

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