Blog: Anzac Connections
“On Saturday, 1 September, I was accorded the privilege of giving away the Bride at the marriage between Miss Caroline Elizabeth Edwards and ABUC Gordon Stephen Dempsey…A small wedding reception was held, after the ceremony, in my cabin.”
The Research Centre has now digitised and made available online the series AWM266 Australian Naval Force (ANF) Engagement and Service Records, 1903-1911.
The records in this series relate to men and boys – mainly residents of Australia and New Zealand – who served in the Australian Squadron of the Royal Navy under the terms of the Naval Agreement Act of 1903. Similar to attestation papers of soldiers in the First World War, they contain information on each individual engaged in the ANF between 1903 and 1911.
Today marks an important event in the annals of the Australian War Memorial’s centenary digitisation project, Anzac Connections. 50 000 pages have now been scanned for online access by all Australians and international researchers. This milestone comes as we celebrate the release of another thirty-eight personal collections to supplement the 153 collections already available online.
On 6 August 1914, shortly after the outbreak of the First World War, Australia agreed to a request by the British government to seize German wireless stations in the south-west Pacific, namely German New Guinea. Australia was also required to occupy the territory under the British flag and establish a military administration. For the first time, Britain called upon Australia to train, supply and command her own forces in defence of the empire. Consequently, the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force (AN&MEF) was born.
“…it is simply rotten here in the bad weather up to our knees in mud and water and no chance of getting dry …”
The Australian War Memorial is currently undertaking a project to create a comprehensive digital archive of the ANZACs and their deeds, and of the wider Australian experience of war. The collections are selected from our extensive archives and reflect the experiences of Australian servicemen, nurses and civilians during the First World War, not just well-known personalities. This project will digitally preserve the Memorial’s collections as well as provide full copies for research on the Memorial’s website.
General John Monash is considered one of the war’s outstanding commanders. Monash was an avid collector, and his papers held at the Memorial give a comprehensive view of his wartime military career: from his command of the 4th Australian Brigade on Gallipoli to the Australian Corps in 1918, and then his role as Director General of Demobilisation and Repatriation of the AIF at war’s end.
On the eve of landing at Gallipoli, 99 years ago, Sergeant Apcar De Vine of the 4th battalion took pen to paper to write of his preparations for the landing. Under orders to sail at 12am he records a meal of tea, bully beef and eggs. He describes packing iron rations for three days. “Two tins of Bully Beef, tea, sugar, biscuits, 2 cubes of Bovril, also rations for the first day of landing, bully-beef and biscuits, we had to rearrange our packs to get all the food in, also an extra ration of water ... in an empty lemonade bottle”. He also packed a billy to boil water for tea.
Private Cecil Anthony McAnulty was barely able to stand. Exhausted from the intense fighting of the previous two days, he used a brief period of respite to pen his experiences of the past few days to paper. Cecil had written in his diary every day since he had left Australia. When he had completely filled his first diary he began a second, writing on whatever scraps of paper he could find and often using the backs of envelopes sent from home. For many soldiers writing helped them make sense of what was happening.