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C.E.W. Bean Prize

The annual C.E.W. Bean Prize for Military History is awarded to the best honours or postgraduate thesis submitted in any Australian university focusing the history of the Australian Army and has not been entered for the CEW Bean Prize in a previous year.

Entries are now open for the 2019 CEW Bean Prize for Military History.    

The CEW Bean Prize invites applications from Honours and Postgraduate students who have completed their theses in the 2017, 2018 and 2019 calendar years in any Australian university, focusing on the history of the Australian Army.  Theses entered in previous years are ineligible to apply.

Caption: Australian Engineers watch a Matilda tank crossing one of their rapidly constructed bridges on the Toko-Darara Road, Bougainville.  Image courtesy Army Museum of North Queensland, AMNQ 4489_51

For details of the prize and eligibility conditions, please read the brochure.

For enquiries or further information, please email ahu.enquiries [at]

Applications close on Friday 18 October 2019.

2018 Competition Winners

The two winning theses for the 2018 CEW Bean Prize for Military History have been determined.  The independent assessment panel were extremely pleased with the quality of applications received for 2018. The two winners each receive an inscribed medallion, a $500 cash prize, and personally receive their awards at the 2019 Chief of Army History Conference Dinner, Royal Military College Officers' Mess, Duntroon, Canberra. Details and citations of the two winners are listed below.


Jordan Beavis (Honours Division)
Studying with Very Great Interest: Information Linkages between the Australian and British Armies in the Interwar Period (1919-1939)
Honours Thesis, University of Newcastle


Jordan Beavis’ well-constructed thesis addresses the ways in which the Australian Army drew on the British Army in the context of imperial defence during the interwar period. The thesis shines a light on an as-yet-undiscovered aspect of the Australian Army, and therefore provides new insights into the Army’s history and the broader topic of information exchange between and within militaries.  Beavis’ thesis stands out above the other entries for its sophisticated analysis, depth of research and engagement with an important subject matter.

Beavis examines three modes of information exchange within the British Empire: official, individual and informal. These three themes, dealt with in successive chapters, build on each other, making the argument well-balanced and clear. As a result, the final chapter, which examines informal networks such as military clubs and military literature, is particularly strong, and represents an original contribution to discussion of the interwar Australian Army.

The analysis in this thesis supports Beavis' conclusion that the Australian Army was not as isolated from military developments elsewhere in the Empire as is popularly supposed. The thesis is one of a lamentably few scholarly works that addresses the Australian Army in the interwar period. Most importantly, it demonstrates the efforts made in keeping channels of information sharing and learning active after 1919.

Beavis has a good command of the secondary literature and makes excellent use of the archival material. This thesis is an exceptional piece of historical research, and fulfils the requirements of the undergraduate category of the CEW Bean Prize for Military History

Aaron Pegram (Postgraduate Division)
Surviving the Great War: Australian Prisoners of War on the Western Front, 1916-1918
PhD, Australian National University


Aaron Pegram’s thesis provides the first comprehensive study of the well over 3,000 Australian prisoners of war of the Germans on the Western Front during the First World War. The thesis is based on deep empirical research, and he has been careful in his selection of sources, focusing on new or relatively unexamined material rather than relying on the oral histories created in the post-WWII period which are, necessarily, influenced by later ideas and tropes of captivity. In this way, Pegram provides fresh insights into the burgeoning field of captivity studies and takes a nuanced and innovative approach to it, adding significantly to this field of research.

The thesis is structured around the different phases of capture; this format, and Pegram’s strong writing style, make for an engaging and detailed examination of the experience of capture and imprisonment. As well as being well-crafted and drawing on extensive source material, this thesis represents a clear and important intervention in the literature, touching on a broad sweep of Australian First World War history, including the process of capture, wartime prisoner agreements, the Red Cross, prisoner escape and treatment in German captivity. In particular, Pegram explicitly places the process and experience of capture and imprisonment alongside the conduct of the war, stating that ‘capture was also a function of the dynamics of the battlefield’.

Additionally, and importantly, the thesis challenges the overused narrative of victimhood and trauma in military history, shedding light on the agency of these men and how they coped with their captivity. Pegram’s thesis is a worthy recipient of the CEW Bean Prize for Military History in the postgraduate category.

For more information regarding previous CEW Bean Prize recipients click here. 

Last updated
13 September 2019
Army: Courage. Initiative. Respect. Teamwork.
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