Blog: Private Records
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.
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.
At Christmas time most people take the opportunity to stop and think about family and friends and pass on their greetings and well wishes by means of the traditional Christmas card. The Memorial holds an interesting collection of Christmas cards - different types, various shapes and sizes, and from all conflicts. One of our earlier and more unusual Christmas cards can be seen below.
When Leonard Walter Jackson of Neutral Bay joined the AIF on the 6th of August 1915, he must have been one of the youngest Australians ever to enlist in our military services. Using the assumed name Richard Walter Mayhew, and claiming to be an 18 year old orphan, young Leonard, who was born on 27th August 1901, was actually 13 years 11 months and 10 days old on the day he "signed up".
The Memorial recently acquired a mysterious letter. It is beautifully written and decorated, but we don't know much about it. It seems it was written by a French woman to her sweetheart, and we assume he was Australian, as the letter ended up in Australia. We do not know who they were, but we do know that the letter was written on 25 August 1918 and was sent from Saint-Sulpice-les-Feuilles in France. The writer, Martha (or perhaps Marthe) Gylbert, obviously missed her soldier, and went to a great deal of trouble to decorate the letter.
Forty years ago, in May/June 1968 Australian soldiers fought their largest, most sustained and arguably most hazardous battles of the Vietnam War. Units of the 1st Australian Task Force (1ATF) confronted regimental-sized formations of the North Vietnamese regular army in fierce actions around Fire Support Patrol Bases (FSPB) Coral and Balmoral in what was then known as Bien Hoa province.
When searching through the Memorial's Private Records collection this item was found.
Crashes and fires were everyday hazards for the First World War flier. Second Lieutenant Frederick Gulley suffered both when trying to land his aircraft in England on 17 October 1918. Gulley was on a cross country flight and struck a post whilst attempting to land in a field close to Tidworth Barracks, Wiltshire. In the resulting fire Gulley’s clothes, harness, face and hands were burnt. He was taken to Tidworth Hospital with superficial burns to his face, neck and both hands, including all fingers.