Mention is sometimes made of personal events in the war diaries of the first Australian Imperial Force (AIF), currently being digitised by the Research Centre.
Just a year after the end of the First World War, and only a decade after the short first powered flight in Australia, a twin-engine Vickers Vimy, with a crew of 4, flew from England to Australia. This 1919 exploit exemplified the progress in world aviation. During the First World War there were men who had never before seen an aeroplane or driven a motor car, who had learned how to fly.
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.
In March 1919, four months after the war was over, the Australian government announced that it would give a £10,000 prize for the first successful flight from England to Australia. Despite the obvious dangers, this appealed to some airmen, not yet discharged, who were awaiting repatriation home.
Monday 11 February 2008 by Janda Gooding. No comments.
George Lambert: Gallipoli and Palestine Landscapes Exhibition, Exhibition Tour
A sketchbook of humorous pre-First World War caricatures has recently been acquired by the Australian War Memorial. Members of the Royal Australian Artillery (RAA), located at Queenscliff, Victoria, are depicted in this work dating from 1909-1910. Referred to as the "budget" of the regiment and located in what once appeared to be an accounting book, the works were created by an anonymous artist using the name "Zif".
It is not unusual for servicemen and women to carry with them good luck charms while on overseas service. However one particularly superstitious serviceman was Aircraft Mechanic 2nd Class Henry James Marston, of No. 3 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps (AFC). Marston wore a wrist chain with an identity tag and three lucky charms – a boomerang, a black cat and a doll.
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."
The aircraft of the 1914-18 period were visibly frail and delicate and quite unlike the capable machines we know today. First World War aircraft were prone to structural or mechanical failures and could easily catch fire. Armament was limited to rifle-calibre machine guns and protection for the crew through armour and parachutes were only beginning to be used in the closing stages of the war. Aircrew operated with few aids to navigation, and were usually exposed to the elements while in flight.
In war there has always been the need to see the enemy behind the hill; reconnaissance became a role of cavalry. Eventually observation balloons played a part as well. By the First World War, it was apparent that aircraft, being able to get above and well behind the enemy’s lines, could do it so much better.