Blog: Personal Stories
“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.
When we think of Christmas we think of presents, decorations and most importantly Christmas dinner. What was Christmas dinner like for those at war?
Private Charles Bennett (PR04245) writes in his letters home about the Christmas dinner he had in an English camp in 1916. He had: Turkey, Ham, Roast Potato, Peas, Parsnips, Xmas pudding, Café au Lait, apples, orange, bananas, saffron cakes, mince pies
At the outbreak of the Second World War, there were some 450 Australians serving with the Royal Air Force (RAF) on short-term commissions. Once the Empire Air Training Scheme got underway, thousands more Australians arrived in Britain. Many of them were posted to Royal Air Force squadrons, even though they were members of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF).
As a curator cataloguing objects in the Memorial’s collections, I have had the chance to discover and research many interesting war time stories and experiences of Australian service personnel. One such interesting story that I found was of Sergeant Rolstyn Nicholas Tonkin. As a prisoner of the Germans during the Second World War, Tonkin risked severe punishment to provide intelligence for the Allied war effort.
This ANZAC Day marks the 95th anniversary of the start of the Gallipoli campaign, when tens of thousands of British, French and Dominion troops landed on the Turkish coast.
To acknowledge this anniversary, the Australian War Memorial’s Research Centre is displaying previously unseen original letters and diaries relating to the campaign. The Research Centre’s collection is a rich source of records that tells the story of Gallipoli in the words of those who experience it.