• Puddings on the Veld and kangaroos in the Gulf: Christmas in the Memorial’s collection

    Friday 13 February 2009 by Rebecca Britt.

    Christmas plum pudding, Trooper T Ashford, 2 New South Wales Mounted Infantry

    Miniature pink underwear, artistic biscuits, autographed handkerchiefs – these may seem like odd Christmas gifts, yet these are just a few of the objects that Australian soldiers have sent home while serving overseas and which are now held in the Memorial’s collection. They include items from the South African War (1899–1902) and the two world wars, as well as from more recent operations, such as the Persian Gulf, and they range from the …

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  • Lockheed Hudson A16-105 and Ray Kelly

    Friday 13 February 2009 by Chris Goddard.

    Early in 2001, the Australian War Memorial acquired a Second World War Lockheed Hudson (A16-105). Since then, curatorial staff have been trying to contact crew members they had identified as having been associated with this aircraft during its war service. In November 2001, they discovered that Canberra resident Flying Officer Ray Kelly, who trained with No. 1 Operational Training Unit (OTU) at Bairnsdale during late 1941 and most of 1942, had …

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  • First Aboriginal commissioned officer – Reginald Saunders

    Friday 13 February 2009 by Garth O'Connell. 4 comments

    Many thousands of Australian Aboriginals have enlisted and served in Australia’s defence forces since 1901, and several have won decorations, but the first to be promoted to a commissioned rank was Reg Saunders of Victoria. Reginald Walter Saunders was born a member of the Gunditjmara people, just outside Framlingham Aboriginal Reserve in the western district of Victoria on 7 August 1920. His …

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  • Valentine’s Day Love Letter

    Friday 13 February 2009 by . 13 comments

    The Memorial recently acquired a mysterious letter. It is beautifully written and decorated, but we don't know much about it. It seems it was written by a French woman to her sweetheart, and we assume he was Australian, as the letter ended up in Australia. We do not know who they were, but we do know that the letter was written on 25 August 1918 and was sent from Saint-Sulpice-les-Feuilles in France. The writer, Martha (or perhaps Marthe) …

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  • Happy Valentine's Day from ‘The Love Controller'!

    Thursday 12 February 2009 by Alexandra Orr. 4 comments

    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 …

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  • The Victoria Cross

    Thursday 22 January 2009 by Nick Fletcher. 20 comments

    Victoria Cross, the highest award for bravery in time of war The Victoria Cross was instituted by Queen Victoria's Royal warrant in 1856, and the first examples were presented by her in June 1857.  These first 62 awards were retrospective, for gallant actions by sailors and soldiers during the Crimean War of 1854-56.  Throughout its life, the Cross has been manufactured by Hancocks and Co, Jewellers of London.  Famously, they …

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  • Trooper Mark Donaldson loans his Victoria Cross to the Australian War Memorial

    Thursday 22 January 2009 by Nick Fletcher. 6 comments

    Trooper Donaldson VC with the Director of the Australian War Memorial, Major General Steve Gower In a ceremony this morning, Trooper Mark Donaldson VC loaned his newly awarded medal to the Australian War Memorial for public display.  Trooper Donaldson, who on Friday became the first Australian serviceman in almost 40 years to be awarded the famous medal, is also the first to receive it under the title of 'The Victoria Cross for …

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  • Australian Engineers in the First World War

    Wednesday 21 January 2009 by Alessandro Antonello. 21 comments

    The First World War unit war diaries (AWM4) of the Australian Engineers have been digitised and are now available on the Australian War Memorial’s website. The diaries provide a wonderful testimony to the ingenuity and initiative of Australian engineers during the War, and the daily difficulty of building and maintaining structures and machines to ensure the success of the war effort. Engineers, also known as sappers, were essential to the …

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  • Research Centre display: Sailor art and the Second World War

    Friday 16 January 2009 by Craig Berelle. 1 comments

      A new display of art by sailors of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) is now on show in the Memorial's Research Centre. These pieces were prepared for inclusion in the RAN Christmas Annual, H.M.A.S. Mk IV, and in most cases, never used. H.M.A.S. Mk IV  was one of a series of Christmas books published for the RAN by the Australian War Memorial between 1942 and 1957. The purpose of these books was to help honour those who …

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  • Nancy Bird Walton, Aviation Pioneer and Wartime Volunteer Leader

    Thursday 15 January 2009 by Alessandro Antonello. 2 comments

    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 …

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