Don Groves is a Deadline contributor based in Sydney.
The Australian Army’s 34th Battalion fought fierce battles against the Germans in France during World War I. Now the unit’s little-heralded story will be chronicled in The 34th Battalion, a $A19M ($19.8M) Australian film with Luke Hemsworth, Charles Mesure and Les Hill. They join Nick Farnell, Clare van der Boom, Henry Nixon, Andrew Lees, Vince Colosimo, Ashley Zuckerman, Tony Bonner and Khan Chittenden in the ensemble cast. The 34th Battalion tells the story of four friends in Maitland in rural New South Wales who joined the Army in 1916 after the disastrous Gallipoli campaign. In their first engagement the battalion saved the French town of Villers-Bretonneux. Later the 34th played a role in the Allies’ offensive in the battle of Amiens and the battle of St Quentin Canal, the operation that breached the Hindenburg Line, thus sealing Germany’s defeat. Ian Sparke will serve as executive producer and his son Luke Sparke will direct. The father-son team also penned the screenplay. Shooting is due to start in early 2013.