Blog: Personal Stories
As senior curator of Film and Sound at the Memorial, I was greatly privileged in February this year to go with the ADF to the Australia’s area of Middle Eastern Operations. Not only did I meet with and interview an amazing range of ADF members based in or around Al Minhad, Kandahar, Tarin Kot and Kabul, but I found myself in the rare position of being a female civilian, totally immersed in the ADF’s world. I trained with ADF. I wore body armour. I travelled by armoured convoy and by Hercules aircraft.
Well, we got wind in the morning that the Armistice was either signed or about to be signed... And the word finally came through and of course there was great excitement... I was only sorry I hadn't arrived there Armistice night because the chaps that got off the train, the girls just formed a ring around them..
The Australian War Memorial's Heraldry collection contains a number of commemorative badges and brooches which display a high level of beauty and craftsmanship combined with poignant individual stories. A recently donated brooch demonstrates these characteristics excellently.
Visitors to the Memorial’s exhibition Rats of Tobruk 1941 will have noticed the unofficial Rats of Tobruk medal presented, according to its engraving, by Lord Haw Haw. Around twenty of these medals were made at Tobruk, which illustrates one of the earliest examples of the town’s defenders reclaiming the title ‘Rat’, bestowed on them by the propaganda radio program ‘Germany Calling’. Visitors may also notice the brasso caked around the small copper rat on this medal, the result of many years of cleaning.
“I had a very close shave...”
(Pte C H Lester, 1 October 1917)
As many soldiers will testify, war can be as much about luck as it is about training and equipment. Luck can take many forms, such as being in the right place at the right time, and the closely related not being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The men listed below are a few examples of these places and the sometimes very short distance between them.
Lt William Henry Guard (2DRL/0879)
Recently, I have been working on the papers of Field Marshal the Lord Birdwood, the First World War British General who commanded the Australian Corps for much of the First World War (including at Gallipoli). Amongst the papers, donated by the Birdwood family in the 1960s, I have found a story I think is suitable for a Valentine’s Day blog entry.
When we think of Christmas we think of presents, decorations and most importantly Christmas dinner. What was Christmas dinner like for those at war?
Private Charles Bennett (PR04245) writes in his letters home about the Christmas dinner he had in an English camp in 1916. He had: Turkey, Ham, Roast Potato, Peas, Parsnips, Xmas pudding, Café au Lait, apples, orange, bananas, saffron cakes, mince pies