Since attending the opening of the Australian War Memorial as a 10 year old, on November 11, 1941 with my father, this great museum has been very important to me. I have visited it hundreds of times, always a very moving experience. After I retired from surgical practice in the mid 90s, I attended a three week evening course at the Australian War Memorial to learn about the many databases available, about military history and about all the help we could give visitors in researching online at the Memorial and that is what I have been doing ever since.
There are thousands of visitors to the Memorial every year, and many come to learn about their fathers, brothers, husbands, uncles and all their relatives. They come to the Memorial’s computers in the gallery, where they are greeted by volunteers, who provide one-to one help, to learn much more about there loved ones, often a very emotional experience. They learn more about the war, about prisoners of war, what colour patches mean, help with finding relevant media. There may be photographs in the collection, interesting memorabilia, access to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, and to the National Archives to discover all the information in the member’s service record.
It is a terrific experience for them, and certainly for us as well. The visitors return home knowing much more about what happens in war, and what their family member did in the war. It is a privilege to be involved.
I retired from the Public Service almost six years ago. In retirement I wanted to remain active and engaged. Although I undertake part-time contract work, I also wish to do some volunteer work as a means of returning something to the community.
I volunteered to work at the Australian War Memorial over three years ago, primarily because of my interest in military history. Also, I see the Memorial as a place where the social and cultural history of Australia is displayed and explained.
The Memorial is an important national institution, not only as a Memorial and a repository of historical artefacts, but also education which goes beyond Australia’s participation in conflicts.
Volunteering at the Memorial has enabled me, first in the Discovery Zone, to assist in particularly school groups, via interactive environments, in the appreciation of Australia’s participation in conflicts and peacekeeping over the years.
More recently I have volunteered to work in the Communications and Marketing area. I have enjoyed this as it has given me another perspective on the work of the Memorial, particularly to its relevance to the wider Australian community.
Volunteering at here has allowed me to engage with the public, allowing me to explain and discuss Australia’s military and peacekeeping history. My involvement here has expanded my understanding and appreciation of this important aspect of our history and its ongoing relevance as a national Memorial. This opportunity has been not only satisfying, but has also brought me into contact with very dedicated and professional people.
“It has been a great privilege to do voluntary work at the AWM for several years. One is given the opportunity to meet and converse with interesting and appreciative visitors and to hear their stories. They offer the challenge of the hunt for information and express their gratitude for the effort to access the information they seek. Online volunteers derive great personal satisfaction from this interaction and from the opportunity to help.”
Ted was born 1925 and educated in Melbourne. In 1943 he joined the RAAF having had year training with ATC (Air Training Corps). He was selected as a pilot and trained at Benalla and Mallala flying Tiger Moths and Ansons).
Ted continued his training in England and finished on Lancasters with an Australian crew (now all deceased) in 550 Squadron RAF, North Killingholme. (No 1 Group, Bomber Command). Ted was too late for full ops but was engaged in many diversionary raids and on discharge was accepted into CRTS (Commonwealth Repatriation Training Scheme) to study medicine.
Ted graduated in 1947 and took up a country practice for 8 years before heading back to England to obtain Royal College Fellowships in Surgery. In the late 1960s he rejoined RAAF Reserve as Senior Surgical Specialist with an appointment to RAAF Base Fairbairn.
In 1967 Ted served as Medical Officer on Medevac (Aeromedical Evacuation) to Vung Tau and in 1972 he served as locum specialist surgeon at 4 RAAF Hospital Butterworth. Ted retired from RAAF Reserve in 1980 with the rank of Wing Commander.
In addition to his work as an Online Research Volunteer, Ted transcribes oral histories for historians compiling the Official History of Peacekeepers and extracts relevant articles from the three Service newspapers for the historians. Ted has also recently commenced volunteering on the new First World War Nominal Roll transcription project.