Friday 10 January 2014 by Dianne Rutherford. 2 comments
Collection, Military Heraldry and Technology, Anzac Voices, Pheasant Wood, Fromelles, Anzac voices

The ANZAC voices exhibition features a number of rare documents displayed for the first time, such as some of Frederick Tubb’s diaries and John Simpson Kirkpatrick’s letters. It is also the first time the Memorial has displayed relics recovered from the Pheasant Wood mass grave at Fromelles.

They are a combination of personal and military issued items. Five of the six items are associated with unidentified remains, the sixth item, a scrap of gas goggles, is associated with Ray Pflaum who died of wounds as a prisoner of war on 19 July 1916 and who is featured in the exhibition. The goggles are very fragile and it is amazing that any part of them survived. You can still see one of the yellowed celluloid eye pieces and the holes where stitching has come undone.

REL44989 the remains of Ray Pflaum's gas goggles

One common item found among the remains was iodine ampoules. These were packaged in First Field (or Shell) Dressings that the soldiers carried into battle. Amazingly only a few of the iodine ampoules held by the Memorial have been broken. Most are intact and still contain the iodine. They are made from hand blown glass and each one is a little bit different from the other. The packages and dressings that surrounded them have rotted away over the years, leaving behind the ampoules.

REL44975.005 iodine ampoule from the Pheasant Wood mass grave


Field dressing containing an iodine ampoule. Field dressing containing an iodine ampoule. REL34451


An iodine ampoule in original packaging. An iodine ampoule in original packaging. REL41507


Rising Sun badges and ‘AUSTRALIA’ shoulder titles are another common item found among the Australian remains. The condition of these items is poor and they have corroded and mineralised. Some even have mineralised fabric on them, which shows the weave of the uniform's material.

REL44975.088 Rising Sun collar badge


REL44975.133 'AUSTRALIA' shoulder title


There were the remains of many religious items found with the bodies, namely rosaries, medallions and leather, heart shaped scapulars. A crucifix from a rosary is on display, along with a religious medallion that had once been attached to it. The rosary also has seven loose beads that survived; however, these are not on display. The medallion shows the Virgin Mary holding the baby Jesus on one side and Saint Stanislaus Kostka, a Polish saint, on the other.


REL44975.085 remains of a rosary


REL44975.086 Religious medallion found with the rosary.


For further reading on the Pheasant wood grave, see the Memorial’s magazine Wartime, issue 44 available online.

The ANZAC Voices exhibition is on display till 30 November 2014.



I conducted a group of ADFA cadets around the memorial last week and included the story about the Pflaum brothers. One mentioned that he came from Birdwood in South Australia and went to school at Birdwood High School which is co-located with the primary school. The primary school is located in the former Pflaum house. Birdwood was one of the many South Australian town that had their names changed from their former German name during WW1. It was formerly callled Blumberg. Some towns had their former German names restored in 1934 - eg Hahndorf became Ambervale then back to Hahndorf but Blumberg remained Birdwood

Nicole Earnshaw

Hi , I have a photo of my Great Great Uncle Frederick Fletcher who was identified in 2011 through my brothers DNA, he is buried at Pheasant wood Cemetery. I have never seen a photo of him any where on your websites. If you would like one please let me know. I also have a photo of my great great grandfather Alfred Reginald Fletcher who also was in world war 1. Thanks Nikki