Blog: Collection Highlights
“I had a very close shave...”
(Pte C H Lester, 1 October 1917)
As many soldiers will testify, war can be as much about luck as it is about training and equipment. Luck can take many forms, such as being in the right place at the right time, and the closely related not being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The men listed below are a few examples of these places and the sometimes very short distance between them.
Lt William Henry Guard (2DRL/0879)
Recently, I have been working on the papers of Field Marshal the Lord Birdwood, the First World War British General who commanded the Australian Corps for much of the First World War (including at Gallipoli). Amongst the papers, donated by the Birdwood family in the 1960s, I have found a story I think is suitable for a Valentine’s Day blog entry.
Recently while cataloguing battlefield relics from Fromelles I came across an item I had not seen before, a German ersatz (substitute) sandbag made from paper. A search on the Memorial's database shows that this was not the only item that used substitute material; there are many items in the collection, including an ersatz felt pickelhaube (spiked helmet) and a packet of ersatz 'coffee'. As with France and Britain during the First World War, Germany brought in measures to save resources for the war effort, these shortages of material and food affected civilians and military alike.
At Christmas time most people take the opportunity to stop and think about family and friends and pass on their greetings and well wishes by means of the traditional Christmas card. The Memorial holds an interesting collection of Christmas cards - different types, various shapes and sizes, and from all conflicts. One of our earlier and more unusual Christmas cards can be seen below.
The Memorial’s Research Centre holds over 900 First World War German Official and Regimental Histories in its Published Collection. These extensive holdings of rare German language histories are mainly due to the foresight and enthusiasm of Capt. J. J. Herbertson who was instrumental in the collection of these titles over the period 1922-1937.