Blog: Family history
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 return
“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)
Today, 1 September, is Ask a Curator day on Twitter. One of the first questions we had was this one:
Q: Is there an overall index to colonial defence personnel pre 1900 either for each state or together?
The answer is, not really, but there are some starting places. Because there is too much information to put on Twitter, we have written a blog post to list these sources.
There are a some books:
In the lead up to Anzac Day on 25 April, the thoughts of many Australians often turn to members of their own family who served during the First World War. The Australian War Memorial's databases hold a rich source of detail for families who may want to learn more about the service of their relative.
A donation came to my desk in the days following Anzac Day that caught my attention. It was a maroon and white identification badge that featured the image of a young girl, her name, an I.D. number and the words, 'C.S.I.R. Radiophysics Division'
Fortunately the depositor of the badge provided details of the original owner and I was soon speaking to Valerie Briggs who at 79 years of age still possessed all of the enthusiasm and intelligence that I saw in the eyes of the girl on the badge.
As an assistant curator at the Australian War Memorial, I deal with many personal stories of Australians and other nations during war time. One story has really inspired me lately, that of Ludwig Marx.