• The butcher and the grocer: A Western Front story.

    Friday 28 August 2009 by Craig Blanch. 12 comments

    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... Wally Brown was a grocer. He did not necessarily want to be a grocer but neither did he want to follow in the footsteps of his father as a miller. The small Tasmanian community of…

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  • The Not So Great Escape

    Wednesday 12 August 2009 by Alexandra Orr. 9 comments

    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, …

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  • The Liberation of Colditz Castle

    Friday 17 July 2009 by Dianne Rutherford. 2 comments

    Shrapnel from an American ranging shell, Colditz Castle 1945. REL38251 This 8 cm piece of shrapnel is a souvenir from the liberation of the infamous prisoner of war camp, Oflag IVC - Colditz Castle. It was collected by an Australian soldier, Lieutenant Jack Millett. Millett was an 'incorrigible', one of the prisoners held by the Germans at Colditz for making repeated escape attempts from other camps. In 1942, Millett was…

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  • Dr Phoebe Chapple: The first woman doctor to win the Military Medal

    Tuesday 30 June 2009 by Craig Blanch. 15 comments

    Phoebe Chapple (1879-1967) Image courtesy of the State Library of South Australia. B 25677/34 Phoebe Chapple was always going to be someone special. She grew up in a family of high achievers. Apart from her father, Frederic Chapple, who was headmaster at Prince Alfred College Adelaide, five of her seven siblings held university degrees: Alfred a lecturer in engineering at St John’s University Cambridge; Ernest, another…

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  • The girl on the badge

    Wednesday 3 June 2009 by Paul Taylor. 9 comments

     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 …

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  • Ludwig Marx - A unique Australian's story

    Tuesday 19 May 2009 by Michael Kelly. 4 comments

    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. I had an email from his granddaughter recently about his service medals we hold in the collection. As I read the catalogue records, the brief description "served German Army in the First World War, Imprisoned at Dachau" grabbed me. I…

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  • The Gallipoli Landing and the first Anzac Day

    Thursday 23 April 2009 by Annette Gaykema. 5 comments

    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…

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  • Australia's Gallipoli Victoria Crosses

    Thursday 23 April 2009 by Craig Blanch. 2 comments

    Anzac, the landing 1915 by George Lambert ART02873 For ninety four years the story of Gallipoli has galvanised Australians to remember, on ANZAC Day, those that have served, and continue to serve, in conflicts around the globe. The description by poet John Masefield in 1917 of the landing on Gallipoli creates an indelible backdrop to the fighting: Those who wish to imagine the scene must think of any rough and steep …

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  • Infantry Battalion Regimental Marches

    Thursday 19 March 2009 by Theresa Cronk. 7 comments

    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. The 23rd Battalion March was composed during the First World War by Miss Una Bourne at the request of Mrs Doris Carter. …

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  • The Coronation Contingent of 1953

    Wednesday 11 March 2009 by Annette Gaykema. 7 comments

      Cover of "Coronation Cruise of HMAS Sydney" (RC07761)   After the death of King George VI in February 1952, planning for the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth began. Tradition demanded a procession of all the Queen’s troops be present and so plans were put in place to form an Australian contingent. There were 250 official representatives from the armed forces sent to the festivities. These official delegates, along …

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