Blog: ANZAC Voices
The ANZAC voices exhibition features a number of rare documents displayed for the first time, such as some of Frederick Tubb’s diaries and John Simpson Kirkpatrick’s letters. It is also the first time the Memorial has displayed relics recovered from the Pheasant Wood mass grave at Fromelles.
They are a combination of personal and military issued items. Five of the six items are associated with unidentified remains, the sixth item, a scrap of gas goggles, is associated with Ray Pflaum who died of wounds as a prisoner of war on 19 July 1916 and who is featured in the exhibition. The goggles are very fragile and it is amazing that any part of them survived. You can still see one of the yellowed celluloid eye pieces and the holes where stitching has come undone.
I would not have joined this contingent if I had known that they were not going to England.
Private John Simpson, 3rd Field Ambulance, Christmas Day 1914
Some of the objects on display in the new ANZAC voices exhibition illustrate the ingenuity of the ANZACs when faced with insufficient supplies and equipment at Gallipoli. When the ANZACs landed there on 25 April 1915, they expected a quick advance to Constantinople [Istanbul] so did not carry the equipment or supplies they needed for trench warfare. Although supplies were brought in throughout the campaign by boat, these could be delayed or destroyed through bad weather or Turkish shelling, so the soldiers at Gallipoli had to be industrious and inventive. They made weapons, equipment, board games and stationary from the items they found around them.
ANZAC Voices is the Memorial’s new special exhibition on the First World War, which opened to the public today. It features treasures from the Memorial’s written archives; the voices of the ANZACs presented through their letters and diaries, and supported by a variety of other official documents, photographs, artworks and historical artefacts.
The curators chose the above photo to be the exhibition’s theme image for obvious reasons, given it’s built around the written record. We also thought it was a good strong image that could carry off the important exhibition ‘branding’ role. Who knows what he’s writing – we might imagine it’s a letter home to the family, but it could just as easily be some routine administrative paperwork.
“Pulled out of bed in the dead of night by a large monster that ultimately turned out to be a man with his gas mask on.” - Captain Robert Grieve of the 37th Battalion.
Gas masks saved lives but also caused fatalities. They were extremely uncomfortable and hampered the movement of the men, inducing fatigue, disorientation, and confusion.
ANZAC Voices, the Memorial’s new First World War exhibition, is currently being installed. The exhibition will open this Friday, 29 November 2013 and represents a rare opportunity to view original accounts of the First World War - letters to a sweetheart; a diary account of a hard-fought battle; postcards scrawled in the trenches and battlefields of war.