Published: Wed 27 Nov 2013

"To win through safely would mean honour and achievement, on the other hand to fall would mean an honourable end."

    Brigadier General John Monash, 24 April 1915

The Australian War Memorial will tonight launch a new exhibition, Anzac Voices, to mark the upcoming Centenary of the First World War. The new exhibition, which will be officially opened by author and historian Dr Peter Pedersen, tells the story of the harsh realities of what Australians endured on Gallipoli and the Western Front, in the mud of Flanders and the deserts of Sinai-Palestine.

Director of the Memorial, Dr Brendan Nelson, remarked that the exhibition was a two year project created in anticipation for the redevelopment of the First World War galleries. “Four Senior Curators have worked tirelessly to bring together an emotive and informative exhibition, to help Australians better understand this significant period in our history, whilst the First World War galleries undergo major redevelopment,” said Dr Nelson.

The exhibition reveals treasures from the Memorial’s National Collection, drawing on the personal letters and diaries of those who experienced the war, and are supported by official documents, photographs, artworks and objects. The exhibition includes letters from the commander of the Australia Corps, General Sir John Monash; Private John Hector Croft’s pocket book which saved his life when it was pierced by a Turkish bullet on Gallipoli on 25 April 1915; and the original diaries of Charles Bean, Australia’s Official War Correspondent.

Many of the rare and historic items in this exhibition are on display for the first time, including letters from John Simpson Kirkpatrick (of Simpson and his donkey fame); letters from an Indigenous soldier, Lance Corporal Charles Blackman; Captain Frederick Tubb VC’s last diary entry; and items recovered from the Pheasant Wood mass grave at Fromelles in 2010.

Robyn van Dyk, one of the four Co-curators of the exhibition said that the eyewitness accounts and heart felt communications to those at home reveal many moving stories. “People were caught up in the excitement after war was declared. Many thought that the war would be over by Christmas, and enlisted from a sense of adventure and opportunity to see the world. Anzac voices shows the changing attitudes and hardships experienced by Australians during the First World War.”

“Anzac voices offers a rare and intimate glimpse into the thoughts, feelings, and experiences of our very first Anzacs throughout the First World War. The words of these brave men and women help us form a deeper understanding of what it means to be an Australian,” said Dr Nelson.

Anzac Voices opens to the public on Friday 29 November 2013 and will remain on display until the redeveloped First World War galleries open in late November 2014.

For images relating to the exhibition, interview requests, or for a copy of Dr Peter Pedersen’s official opening speech, please contact:
Moj Nozhat        (02) 6243 4575    0409 600 038
Marylou Pooley    (02) 6243 4383    0412 646 298


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