The 31st of July 2009 will mark the end of Operation CATALYST. CATALYST began on the 20th of March 2003 and defined the role of the Australian Defence Force in assisting multinational forces in the stabilization and security of Iraq. It also involved ADF support in the implementation of the country’s recovery programs.
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.
Embroidered silk postcards were first made in 1900 with popularity peaking during the First World War. Cards were generally embroidered on strips of silk mesh by French women. They were then cut and mounted on postcards.
The Memorial holds a small collection of paper napkin souvenirs from the era of the First World War. Printed on crepe paper from Japan, their fragility defies their survival for over 90 years.
Here is a napkin printed for the wedding of Lieutenant Colonel Athelstan Markham Martyn DSO, RAE (Royal Australian Engineers) to Miss Stella Swifte at St Mary Abbot's Church in Kensington, London, on 21 October 1916.
This honour roll was recently rediscovered in the Memorial's Research Centre during a cataloguing project focusing on documenting our oversize maps and souvenirs. Almost two metres in height and one metre in width, the honour roll consists of over 1,100 signatures, unit names, and hand drawn colour patches, insignia and medals of World War I veteran sailors, soldiers and nurses of all ranks.
Can you imagine receiving a message that signified a momentous event in living history?
It seems one of the most expedient weapons deployed personnel can have these days is a deck of cards. Yes, you read correctly. A common form of ephemera coming into the Memorial from those involved in recent conflicts like Iraq, are playing cards, which have been produced by Australia and the United States to reach beyond mere entertainment value into the realm of Intelligence.
It's one of those questions that doesn't get asked everyday, but when it is, the enquirer doesn't usually have to finish their question before we can help them. They usually start with
"I don't know if you can help me, I was in the World War 1 section and noticed a knitting pattern for..."
At this point I can jump in with:
"Knitting two socks at once."