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.
On Christmas Day 1918 the Air-Mechanics of No. 4 Squadron, Australian Flying Corp, sat down to a Christmas dinner. Their quarters, located at the Bickendorf aerodrome, just outside Cologne, had been transformed with Xmas decorations. The Squadron was there as part of the Army of Occupation in Germany. Food for the meal had been sourced by members of the squadron from local supply depots and canteens. A German orchestra had been booked to play ‘English melodies' for the lunch.
One of the lesser known tragedies of the Second World War is the sinking of the Grimsby class sloop HMAS Parramatta. At the time, Parramatta was serving in the Mediterranean assisting with supplying the Allied garrison at Tobruk, which was under siege by German and Italian forces.