On occasion a totally unexpected document walks in the front door and into Official Records. Recently a report made at Gallipoli was generously donated by Cindy Osborne to the Memorial. The document in question is a handover report from the Commanding Officer 26th Infantry Battalion to the Commanding Officer of the 28th. The Russell Top handover report is a most welcome addition to the Official Records held at the Memorial, for although we hold the War Diaries of the units involved, supporting reports such as this one are rarely present in the Gallipoli records.
Acclaimed British author and Second World War historian Antony Beevor will deliver the keynote address at the Australian War Memorial’s annual history conference to be held in Canberra in September.
The Pacific war campaign fought by the Australians on Bougainville in 1944–45 has long suffered from a poor reputation: during its first few months, the operation was disparaged by politicians and the media as “mopping-up”; for decades afterwards, it was criticised as “unnecessary”.
But in his new book The Hard Slog, Australian War Memorial historian Dr Karl James argues that the arduous fight that involved more than 30,000 Australians – 500 of whom were killed – against the Japanese on the South Pacific island was both important and successful.
Last month, the Memorial was delighted to accept a Royal Australian Naval Bridging Train (RANBT) diary, donated by Mr Martin Smee of Port Elliot, South Australia. Mr Smee made the trip to Canberra to personally deliver the diary, which has been part of his family's valuable family history for many years. The diary was written by his grandfather, Able Seaman Driver Laurie John Smee. Born in South Australia, Laurie ran away to sea when just 17. After serving on various merchant ships and making his way to England, he joined the Royal Navy and served on several British ships before returni