Blog: Personal Stories
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.
Nancy Bird Walton, a pioneer of Australian aviation died on Tuesday 13 January, aged 93. In addition to her life’s work promoting the place of women in civil aviation, she was a major force in leading the women’s volunteer effort on the home front during the Second World War. Walton was New South Wales and Australian Commandant of the Women’s Air Training Corps (WATC), a volunteer organisation that preceded the formation of the Women’s Auxiliary Australian Air Force (WAAAF).
When Kevin Wakefield found himself in an icy Canadian landscape, many miles from sunny Australia, he wrote a poem to express his feelings of homesickness. Sixty years later, one of the original hand-written copies of ‘My Home Land Far Away' has now been donated to the Memorial.
Recently I have been researching collection items relating to an interesting woman who helped feed and entertain soldiers on leave in London during the First World War. Her name was Minnie Augusta Rattigan.
A recent inquiry from a member of the public brought to my attention an interesting collection item held by the Memorial. It relates to Captain William Roy 'Bill' Reynolds from Victoria, who had served with the Merchant Navy, as well as working for a number of companies through Southeast Asia in the lead up to the Second World War.
In the Research Centre, we receive a lot of enquiries from people who want to know how and where their relatives died in the First World War. Finding out this information can be a difficult task. Quite often families know no more than that their relative died on a particular date in a particular country, and they'd like to know if we can help them narrow that down.