Blog: Personal Stories
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 war. In the horror, friendships were forged that endured even through death. This is the story of one such friendship...
Wednesday 12 August 2009 by Alexandra Orr. 9 comments.
News, Personal Stories, New acquisitions, Collection, Collection Highlights Prisoner of War, Theodore Detmers, HMAS Sydney, HSK Kormoran, Escape Maps
On the 19th November 1941, Australian cruiser HMAS Sydney II was lost, with all hands, off the coast of Western Australia after engaging with the German raider HSK Kormoran. The discovery in March 2008 of the final resting place of the Sydney and the Kormoran attracted much attention. Understandably, there has been much discussion over the circumstances surrounding the loss of the Sydney; however the story of the Kormoran’s Commander, Theodor Anton Detmers, and that of his crew, continued long after the battle.
A donation came to my desk in the days following Anzac Day that caught my attention. It was a maroon and white identification badge that featured the image of a young girl, her name, an I.D. number and the words, 'C.S.I.R. Radiophysics Division'
Fortunately the depositor of the badge provided details of the original owner and I was soon speaking to Valerie Briggs who at 79 years of age still possessed all of the enthusiasm and intelligence that I saw in the eyes of the girl on the badge.
As an assistant curator at the Australian War Memorial, I deal with many personal stories of Australians and other nations during war time. One story has really inspired me lately, that of Ludwig Marx.
As we ready ourselves to commemorate Anzac Day at the Australian War Memorial, we can gain a small insight what it was like at the Gallipoli landing. Personal diaries held by the Memorial describe what it was like landing at Gallipoli on Sunday, 25 April 1915 under the heavy fire of Turkish machine guns. Although the photos accompanying this blog post do not relate directly to the diary entries, they are able to illustrate the stories in a different way.
What do a concert pianist, an Indian bandmaster and an Australian militia bandmaster have in common? Each of these individuals composed a march that would eventually be adopted as the regimental march of an Australian Imperial Force infantry battalion during the First World War. Many were popular songs of the period.