Most people like to bring home a souvenir from their travels and soldiers in the First World War were no exceptions. The First World War led to great movements of people across the world, but especially through Europe. Many of these people ended up in Great Britain at one time or another. Despite difficulties in wartime, British companies still managed to produce a myriad of souvenirs for the visitors as reminders of their time in Britain, or as a gift for a loved one.
This week the Research Centre received a call from a fan of Sandy, Major General Sir William Throsby Bridges' favourite charger. November this year sees the 90th anniversary of Sandy's return to Australia, after a tour of duty which included the coast of Gallipoli, Egypt and France. Sandy's fan wished to confirm the information the Research Centre has about this much-loved animal in preparation for a ceremony to mark the anniversary.
A new permanent exhibition, Over the Front: the Great War in the air, will open on 28 November 2008 at the eastern end of ANZAC Hall. The story of military flight and aerial combat during the First World War will be brought to life through the Memorial’s collection of five original and extraordinary aircraft and an exciting sound-and-light show.
Captain Cedric Howell was one of Australia’s greatest fighter pilots. Initially serving as a sniper with No. 46 Battalion he transferred to the Royal Flying Corps in March 1917; part of the original group of 200 Australians recruited from the AIF. He joined No. 45 Squadron, RFC and saw active service with this unit in France and Italy.
Vietnam Veterans Day is commemorated on 18 August every year. The day was originally known as Long Tan Day, chosen to commemorate the men of D Company, 6RAR who fought in the battle of Long Tan in 1966. On that day, 108 Australian and New Zealand soldiers fought a pitched battle against over 2,000 North Vietnamese and Viet Cong troops in a rubber plantation not far from the small village of Long Tan. The Australians prevailed, but only after fighting in torrential rain for four hours.
The tragedy of the missing at Fromelles resonates once more 90 years after the battle. In June 2008 a further search for bodies began. It was initiated by a Melbourne school-teacher, Lambis Englezos. He was one in a group who became increasingly convinced that there were Australian and British bodies that had been buried by the Germans in mass graves who had not been recovered and re-interred after the war. Such claims needed to be backed up by careful research and this took some years to complete.
From March 1916 Australian divisions began arriving in France. Initially the troops found a pleasant land and a welcome change from sea voyages, the cliffs of Gallipoli, and the training camps of Egypt. There were four divisions, each about 20,000 men, and they were sent to French Flanders close to the Belgian border. Now, for the first time, the AIF was at the main theatre of the war.
Australian armed forces have had a long and proud association with surf lifesaving in Australia as reflected in this copy of ‘Surf in Australia’ magazine. It contains news and extracts of ‘letters from the services’ overseas, honour rolls of members killed in action, a report on the first R.A.A.F. surf lifesaving club at Evans Head run by the No.1 bombing and Gunnery School in New South Wales along with reports of fund-raising activities and news updates from Surf Life-Saving Association of Australia clubs all around Tasmania and across News South Wales.
Over the past few months the Memorial has been increasing its efforts to acquire photographs of men and women who died on active service whilst serving in the Australian military forces. 102,000 names appear on the Roll of Honour, and where possible, the Memorial has been trying to put faces to names by acquiring photographs of these men and women to link to their online Roll of Honour records.