Blog: Personal Stories
At the outbreak of the Second World War, there were some 450 Australians serving with the Royal Air Force (RAF) on short-term commissions. Once the Empire Air Training Scheme got underway, thousands more Australians arrived in Britain. Many of them were posted to Royal Air Force squadrons, even though they were members of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF).
As a curator cataloguing objects in the Memorial’s collections, I have had the chance to discover and research many interesting war time stories and experiences of Australian service personnel. One such interesting story that I found was of Sergeant Rolstyn Nicholas Tonkin. As a prisoner of the Germans during the Second World War, Tonkin risked severe punishment to provide intelligence for the Allied war effort.
This ANZAC Day marks the 95th anniversary of the start of the Gallipoli campaign, when tens of thousands of British, French and Dominion troops landed on the Turkish coast.
To acknowledge this anniversary, the Australian War Memorial’s Research Centre is displaying previously unseen original letters and diaries relating to the campaign. The Research Centre’s collection is a rich source of records that tells the story of Gallipoli in the words of those who experience it.
In the lead up to Anzac Day on 25 April, the thoughts of many Australians often turn to members of their own family who served during the First World War. The Australian War Memorial's databases hold a rich source of detail for families who may want to learn more about the service of their relative.
It has been a year since the first blog entry went up about Marthe Gylbert and her letter. In this time, with the help of some very generous people, I have been able to discover much about Marthe and her wonderful love letter. If you have not seen the previous blog entries, they can be found here and here.
Preparations for the Memorial’s new travelling exhibition Of love and war are nearly complete. The showcases are being built, all the labels and captions are being printed and we’ve been in the recording studio as well.
A large part of the Memorial’s collection relating to love during wartime comes from private records, particularly the letters that were exchanged between lovers separated by conflict.