Miniature pink underwear, artistic biscuits, autographed handkerchiefs – these may seem like odd Christmas gifts, yet these are just a few of the objects that Australian soldiers have sent home while serving overseas and which are now held in the Memorial’s collection. They include items from the South African War (1899–1902) and the two world wars, as well as from more recent operations, such as the Persian Gulf, and they range from the traditional to the humorous and sentimental.
Friday 13 February 2009 by Rebecca Britt. No comments.
The Memorial recently acquired a mysterious letter. It is beautifully written and decorated, but we don't know much about it. It seems it was written by a French woman to her sweetheart, and we assume he was Australian, as the letter ended up in Australia. We do not know who they were, but we do know that the letter was written on 25 August 1918 and was sent from Saint-Sulpice-les-Feuilles in France. The writer, Martha (or perhaps Marthe) Gylbert, obviously missed her soldier, and went to a great deal of trouble to decorate the letter.
As with other special occasions such as Christmas and birthdays, having to spend Valentine's Day apart from loved ones would have been sad and distressing for many serving men and women, and for those at home eagerly awaiting the safe return of their sweethearts and friends.
Fortunately, there is little that can stand in the way of love and many people overcame distance and time to send messages of love and admiration, not only for Valentine's Day, but throughout the course of wartime.
Nancy Bird Walton, a pioneer of Australian aviation died on Tuesday 13 January, aged 93. In addition to her life’s work promoting the place of women in civil aviation, she was a major force in leading the women’s volunteer effort on the home front during the Second World War. Walton was New South Wales and Australian Commandant of the Women’s Air Training Corps (WATC), a volunteer organisation that preceded the formation of the Women’s Auxiliary Australian Air Force (WAAAF).
When Kevin Wakefield found himself in an icy Canadian landscape, many miles from sunny Australia, he wrote a poem to express his feelings of homesickness. Sixty years later, one of the original hand-written copies of ‘My Home Land Far Away' has now been donated to the Memorial.
Recently I have been researching collection items relating to an interesting woman who helped feed and entertain soldiers on leave in London during the First World War. Her name was Minnie Augusta Rattigan.