Wednesday 28 March 2012 by Lauren Hewitt. 18 comments
Collection Highlights, First World War, Western Front, Photographs, Lost Diggers

Update 9 August 2012:

On 9 August Mr Kerry Stokes AC presented a collection of fragile First World War photographic glass plates to the Australian War Memorial.

These plates form part of the Louis and Antoinette Thuillier Collection, courtesy of the Kerry Stokes collection, uncovered in 2011 after sitting undisturbed for nearly a century in the attic of a farmhouse in the French town of Vignacourt. Mr Stokes is donating more than 800 of these glass-plate negatives, which feature Australian soldiers in informal settings. The discovery of these photographs represents one of the most important recent finds of material from the First World War. The donation is among the most significant to have been made to a cultural institution.

Remember me: the lost diggers of Vignacourt, an exhibition showcasing this unique collection, will open at the Australian War Memorial on 2 November 2012.


 

28 March 2012

Two unknown Australian soldiers

The Memorial has been working hard behind the scenes in preparation for the arrival of the Lost Diggers photograph collection. Kindly loaned by Mr Kerry Stokes AC, the collection of glass plate negatives provides a significant insight into the lives of our troops in France while on rest from the front line.

Planned for November 2012, and followed by a national tour, the exhibition ‘Remember Me: the lost diggers of Vignacourt’ will showcase a selection of photographs from the large collection, along with stories and items from some of the men themselves. Whilst the photographs in the collection are largely unidentified the Memorial, and Channel Seven, have been busy researching and working closely with the public to shed light on who some of these men might be, and what their stories might reveal.

Currently, you can see the Lost Diggers photos on the Channel Seven Facebook page or on the Sunday Night program website. In association with the upcoming exhibition the Memorial aims to make the photographs available online where you will be able to comment, share and research your own family stories.

To further help our research we are seeking help from the public in identifying the men in the photographs. If you think you recognise one of the soldiers, please use the form located at the link below to contact us. Be prepared with as much information as you can about your relative. If we need to contact you, we may ask for a comparative portrait.

Contact Us

Stay tuned for more updates as this project continues. The Memorial looks forward to caring for this collection and the many exciting discoveries to be made along the way.

In front of the photographer's house, Vignacourt
An unknown soldier with Robert Thuillier, the photographer's son

An unknown Australian soldier
A despatch rider

Comments

insun sony mustapha fenner

Thank you for the promo photographs. I will not be able to personally see them but will scrutinise every piece available online. This is because my granduncle, Thomas Richard Fenner of Ballarat, VIC, was killed in action (by friendly fire!) at Mouquet Farm in July 1916. The photographs give me insight into his uniforms and the general mood of the fighting men. I visited AWM last year and was totally impressed. Good job all round! Congratulations.

Carole Loudon

I have photos of my uncle in uniform, Thomas Loudon, who died in France in WW1 together with his colour patch and the bible he carried. Are these of any use to you?

Therese Jansan

I have a photo of my husbands grandfather - Isaac George Jansan - 3166 - 41st battalian reinforcements 1917 standing shaking hands with another man - unknown - perhaps someone knows him..... or they would LIKE to know him!! the photo is only a photocopy handed down to me...... can I post it on the web somewhere for him to be identified??????? seems a pity for me to "hide" him away from his family...... I know how desperately I search for a glimpse of my uncles/family members! regards, therese

Lauren Hewitt says:

Hi Therese, you could post it over on the Lost Diggers facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/lostdiggers) or on the NAA's Mapping our Anzacs site (http://mappingouranzacs.naa.gov.au/)

Denis Connelly

Well done to AWM ,Channel 7 and Kerry Stokes. You all should be appluaded. This is OUR history.

Alison McCallum

Bravo Australian War Memorial Team for your behind the scenes efforts to give these photographs the recognition they deserve by being housed in a professionally curated archive and, just as importantly, being sent on national tour. A query: Will duplicate sets of all images be also donated to the Maison des Australiens in Vignacourt. It would be most fitting for that to happen to allow all nationalities who participated in sitting for the photographs to have equal access. It would have been wonderful if the French Government had seen its way to purchase the Thuillier property where the photos were taken and where the glass negatives were stored. It could have been set up as a national and international heritage site. What a thrill it would be for descendants to see their WW1 ancestors' portraits and then be able to sit for their own portrait against the barn wall and in front of the canvas portrait backdrop which Louis and Antoinette Thuillier had used during the war.

ainslie gates

my grandfather , my father , my brother -in-law and my husband have all served in the services ww1. ww2 and vietnam and i know how important photos such as these are to not only them but as precious reminders for their grandchildren .thank you very much

Colin Rowley

Well done to all concerned in bringing these important artefacts to Australia. Once all the images are on display I hope families will gain a new record of their ancestor(s). When the story was first aired, I photographed from a 1917 book, 908 images of Victorian Soldiers and associated biographical notes for each one. It's only a small sample but these photos come with the soldier's name for easy identification. It's on facebook and I called this page, The All-Australia Memorial Photos. I hope this also helps. Colin of Pascoe Vale

Peter Lee

One of those pictures is of my great uncle 56infantry 5div Australian corps He was KIA and left where he fell the photo I saw as a kid was removed from his body by his friend who i meet 70 years later and he showed me the photo there is two photos this one above is the one I saw and there is another that appears damaged.

Graham

Use facial recognition technology. Same as that used by governments for passports and readily available on commercial websites. Load all the images onto commercial website (e.g. Google) then have relatives that have photos of positively identified soldiers load theirs with personal details. Then let the free system tag images that are similar. Hope this helps.

Claire Dujardin

This year, I was at Bullecourt for Anzac Day for the unveiling of the new Museum Jean and Denise Letaille.The other years I went to Ypres. I was also at Fromelles in 2010. I became a "fan" of your Diggers. Each year I am very impressed by the reverent ceremony for your Diggers. Then, I am so moving when I saw these photos of Vignacourt. These men are so sympathetic. "Lest we forget" Charleroi (Belgium)

Rob Ball

Thank you, Kerry Stokes, for your wonderful 'act of enrichment'. Yes, of course, you can afford it. More importantly, though, you thought to do it. Thank you!

Jillian Blight

How wonderful to find such a treasure trove of our past Aussie heros. Thank you to Kerry Stokes for being so generous in purchasing these plates and making sure our history is preserved. Pity other wealthy Aussies couldnt do the same.

Jeff Noble

My Great Uncle Roland Goddard enlisted at the outbreak of WW1 and was at the landing at Galipolli. He was then sent to France where he met a French girl and married. When the war finished he stayed in France and opened a Hotel called Hotel Anzac in Amiens (it is still there). I heard that there was a photo of an Australian soldier marrying a local French girl...i couldnt help thinking this could be my Great Uncle...i hope that these photos will be posted on the Internet to view. I think my Uncles story is unique in that he was a soldier who never returned, not because like so many who were killed, he stayed in France with his wife and began a new life.

John Scott Palmer

One of the photos that appeared in the Canberra Times was of a group of officers including LT George Leslie Makin of the 5th Bn. He was a relative who died in the last weeks of the war on the 8.9.18 after enlisting in 1914 and commissioned in the field. To have come so close to making it home! A number of his Makin relatives also fought overseas and luckily they all made it back. Very moving to see the photo. Thank you Kerry Stokes and thank you AWM! Rest in Peace George.

Jeremy

State Records of South Australia also holds a collection of name identified WWI servicemen. Perhaps the digitised copies of these could be used with the facial regognition software also. https://www.archives.sa.gov.au/exhibits/online/index.html

kym

need a military historian to identify rank / uniform / battalion etc - will help searching

Martin Stewart

The exhibition looks well worth it. I hope somebody can help me find my great grandfather's picture if 1 exists. His name is Joseph Cornelius Stewart, he was a Lance Corporal, enlist no. 5409 and fought and died in France in August 1918. Any help appreciated as we have no photos of what he looks like.