Blog: Personal Stories
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.
As we ready ourselves to commemorate ANZAC Day at the Australian War Memorial, we can gain a small insight what it was like at the Gallipoli landing. Personal diaries held by the Memorial describe what it was like landing at Gallipoli on Sunday, 25 April 1915 under the heavy fire of Turkish machine guns. Although the photos accompanying this blog post do not relate directly to the diary entries, they are able to illustrate the stories in a different way.
What do a concert pianist, an Indian bandmaster and an Australian militia bandmaster have in common? Each of these individuals composed a march that would eventually be adopted as the regimental march of an Australian Imperial Force infantry battalion during the First World War. Many were popular songs of the period.
Although outside main combat areas during the Second World War, India became an important region for the RAAF, and for many RAAF personnel attached to RAF units. In some RAF squadrons, ten percent of the crews were Australians, many of them transferred from training or bomber units based in England.
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.