• How to make a "Butterfly" belt

    Tuesday 24 November 2015 by Dianne Rutherford.

    Butterfly belt made in New Guinea late in the war.

    Butterfly belt made in New Guinea late in the war. REL/21579.002 One thing I like to try and do with items held in the Memorial's collection is to get an understanding of how they were made or how they were used. So thought I would investigate how Australian soldiers made the beautiful butterfly belts we hold in our collection. Made from pieces of butterfly wing, cigarette …

    Read on

  • Sabotage!

    Thursday 5 November 2015 by Dianne Rutherford.

    An army marches on its stomach, or so the saying goes. Certainly the supply of food, equipment and weapons was such an important aspect of the First World War that it was targeted by both sides. German ports were blockaded throughout much of the war, leading to a decline in quality and quantity of German clothing, equipment and food as the war progressed. The Germans disrupted the supply of items to Britain through sinking ships bound …

    Read on

  • The merchant and the butcher: A Western Front story

    Wednesday 4 November 2015 by Craig Blanch. 1 comments

    Walter Wally Brown

    This is a revised blog first published in 2009 as “The butcher and the grocer: A Western Front story”. The revision covers Wally Brown VC’s pre-war employment and, additionally, his eventual fate. I would like to thank Wally’s daughter, Pamela Gould, for the previously unpublished material. The Western Front was epitomised by the brute force of men against machine and each other. Tens of thousands were lost in the maelstrom of …

    Read on

  • A fashionable end to Frocktober

    Friday 30 October 2015 by Eleni Holloway. 1 comments

    With the month of Frocktober* coming to an end tomorrow, the opportunity to survey the Memorial’s collection of “frocks” has presented itself. What follows is a pictorial overview of just some of our favourite dresses in the collection. REL/01748.001 This dress was made and embroidered by double amputees Private Joseph Allan Baillie, Private Malcolm Brown and Private Frederick Trice…

    Read on

  • The German Aviator's Leg

    Monday 26 October 2015 by Dianne Rutherford. 9 comments

    Luck can sometimes be a researcher’s most valuable asset. This is certainly the case for one item held by the Memorial that has fascinated many of the staff in my section – an artificial right leg worn by a German aviator during the First World War. RELAWM07698 The German pilots artificial leg The fact someone managed to continue on active service during the war after losing a limb is fascinating and fairly rare. There were only a …

    Read on

  • Australian issued rifles and bayonets of the First World War

    Wednesday 23 September 2015 by .

    Short Magazine Lee Enfield No 1 Mk III (SMLE No 1 Mk III).

    Short Magazine Lee Enfield No 1 Mk III (SMLE No 1 Mk III). REL/05562.001 During the First World War the principle long arms issued to Australian Forces were the Short Magazine Lee Enfield No 1 Mk III (SMLE No 1 Mk III) and the Short magazine Lee Enfield No 1 Mk III* (SMLE No 1 Mk III*). The difference between the two marks was that the SMLE No 1 Mk III had a magazine …

    Read on

  • Understanding Australian Identity Discs Part 3 : Second World War, Army

    Thursday 20 August 2015 by Dianne Rutherford.

    A member of the Second AIF wearing his compressed fibre identity discs, Australia c 1944.

    WEARING IDENTITY DISCS During the First World War, the army came to realise the importance of issuing two identity discs to each person so one could remain with a body and the other be collected for record keeping. In the Second World War, the identity disc remained the primary, and frequently only, method of being able to identify the dead. It was noted in various General Routine Orders (GRO) that not wearing identity discs would be …

    Read on

  • Australian home front badges of the First World War

    Wednesday 12 August 2015 by Craig Blanch.

    Imperial Silver War Badge

    From the early months of the First World War men perceived to be ‘shirkers’ or cowards were increasingly ostracised. The practice of sending white feathers symbolising cowardice, or shaming men in the street to enlist were commonplace. This worsened as casualty lists grew, bringing the war closer and closer to home. Non-uniformed men backing the war effort or those unable to do so sought ways to promote their contribution to relieve …

    Read on

  • Understanding Australian Identity Discs Part 2 : Second World War, Royal Australian Navy

    Tuesday 28 July 2015 by Dianne Rutherford.

    Members of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) in the First World War were not officially issued with identity discs. However, they were in the Second World War. In June 1939 Commonwealth Navy Order (CNO) 97 ordered that the RAN would follow the Royal Navy procedure laid down in Confidential Admiralty Fleet Order (AFO) 805/1939 that a single red circular compressed fibre disc would be issued to all naval personnel. Not everyone used the red …

    Read on

  • Military helmets - an introduction

    Monday 27 July 2015 by Amanda Rebbeck. 1 comments

    External and internal views of a Helmet, Steel, Mark I

    This blog covers the basic aspects and some variants of helmets worn by the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) during the First World War and the Second AIF during the Second World War. First World War Between 1916 and 1918, on the Western Front, Australians wore the British issue steel helmet as head protection. This helmet was called The Helmet, Steel, Mark I but is also sometimes referred to as the Brodie steel helmet or the Brodie Mark…

    Read on