• The Devil Came on Horseback (SBS)Source: SBS
A collection of war documentaries available on SBS On Demand.
Shane Cubis

22 Apr 2016 - 12:45 PM  UPDATED 22 Apr 2016 - 12:46 PM

Anzac Day is a time to commemorate the sacrifices our soldiers have gone through over the course of our nation’s short history. Vietnam: The War That Made Australia, still available on SBS On Demand, tells the story of the Australian Army Training Team Vietnam, who fought alongside the Vietnamese army and became the most decorated unit of the war.

But it’s not the only war documentary you can watch right now. Here are eight other titles that explore the many different aspects of military conflict, from the past to today.


Jihad: A Story of Others

Emmy-winning Norwegian director Deeyah Khan serves up an intense investigation of Muslim radicalisation. Filmed across two years, Jihad: A Story of Others grants access to the inner workings of why some Muslims living in the West are drawn to violent extremism, fight in holy wars and occasionally reject the ideology entirely.

Frontline Fighting: Battling Isis

The story follows three British men – Harry, Jac and Jim – as they leave their civilian lives to head to Syria and join Kurdish fighters to take back Rojava from Islamic State. With on-the-ground footage, this documentary explores the reasons Westerners volunteer for the cause and the consequences of their actions.

Isis: The British Women Supporters Unveiled

Delve into the fascinating result of a 12-month undercover investigation – spanning social media as well as real-life meetings – to discover the identities of Britain’s most prominent ISIS supporters. The role of these women is to encourage local Muslims to travel to Syria and sign up to ISIS. They walk a fine line, careful not to incite violence while pushing a fundamentalist ideology.

Churchill’s Traitors

Pearl Harbour looms large in any telling of World War II, as does the Fall of Singapore. Churchill’s Traitors, as the name implies, reveals two British air force officers who betrayed their wartime PM to the Japanese. William Sempill and Frederick Rutland spied for Japan, to the point of being involved in the establishment of a secret spy base in Hawaii years before Pearl Harbour. Ths doco tells their stories, and what happened to the men when they were found out... which only raises more questions.

Afghanistan: The Great Game

Once the chessboard on which Great Britain and Russia struggled for influence in Central Asia, Afghanistan has become a quagmire for the USA in the past decade. In this two-part series, former charity worker Rory Stewart presents two centuries of foreign intervention in Afghanistan, showing how that history has shaped the nation of today – and asking why invaders find the isolated, barren, landlocked region so irresistible, yet so unwinnable.

Insight — Child Warriors

This episode of Insight focuses on people who chose or were forced to join extreme causes as children. From a Sudanese man trained to be a soldier from early childhood to an American who joined the neo-Nazi movement at 14, the guests open up about their feelings of guilt and betrayal, and demonstrate how they have tried to move beyond their extreme childhoods to live normal adult lives.

Waltz with Bashir

You don’t see many animated documentaries, especially ones about war. This Israeli film, written and directed by Ari Folman, sees him searching for repressed memories of his experiences as a soldier in the 1982 conflict with Lebanon. A powerful look at the impact war can have on one man, Waltz With Bashir uses the personal to elucidate a broader story about individual culpability in military operations.

The Devil Came On Horseback

An outsider look at the genocide in Darfur – where black citizens were routinely liquidated by the Arab-run government – The Devil Came on Horseback reveals the extent of the tragedy through the eyes of an American witness. Brian Steidle was an official military observer, privy to sights and experiences that most people, including journalists, would never be allowed to see. Frustrated with the global response, he made it his mission to raise awareness and spark action. Devastating viewing.