The most valuable learning experience for both students and teachers is to participate in one of our facilitated programs. The goal of all our programs is to assist students to remember, interpret and understand the Australian experience of war and its enduring impact on Australian society.

An education program in the galleries.

Programs draw on real objects and fascinating stories, using hands-on items and interactive discussion to engage students. All programs are linked to national curriculum profiles for History, Civics & Citizenship, English, Visual Arts, Science and Technology.


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Education programs 2019- Term 2 2020

Valid to 19 July 2020


Facilitated programs
Anzac Legacy
  $7.70 1 hr
Australians and the First World War
  $7.70 1 hr
Australians and the world wars
  $9.90 75 min
Strange But True
$5.50 45 min
We Will Remember Them
$5.50 45 min
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Wartime Service
$7.70 1 hr
The Past in the Present
  $5.50 45 min
Cobber's Tales
Preschool & foundation   $3.30 30 min
dzone.png   $3.30 30 min

Discovery Zone can be booked in conjunction with one of the above programs.
*Cost per head is given for Mon - Fri only.


Education programs Term 3 2020 onwards

Valid from 20 July, 2020 onwards


Facilitated programs
Anzac Legacy
  $6.60 45 min
Australians and the First World War
  $6.60 45 min
Australians and the world wars
  $9.90 75 min
Strange But True
$6.60 45 min
We Will Remember Them
$6.60 45 min
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Wartime Service
$6.60 45 min
The Past in the Present
  $6.60 45 min
Cobber's Tales
Preschool & foundation   $3.30 30 min
Weekend Program**
$9.90 45 min
dzone.png   $3.30 30 min

*Discovery Zone can be booked in conjunction with one of the above programs. It is not available on weekends.
**Weekend programs can be booked from 12pm onwards.

Teacher-guided visit*

*Can only be booked from 10am onwards.

School wreathlayings and Last Post Ceremony

In addition to education programs, the Memorial has a specially designed commemorative activity for school groups: the School Wreath Laying Ceremony. If you would like to book a School Wreathlaying, please ensure that you note this in the "special comments" when you book online. Please note that this program is not available on weekends.

Students in the Hall of Memory for a School Wreathlaying Ceremony

There is also limited availability each day for visiting school groups to attend the Last Post Ceremony. You can email a request but please note that due to limited capacity, not all groups can be accommodated. Please wait for confirmation from the Memorial before arranging to attend the Last Post Ceremony. If attending, be aware that students will be standing for up to 45 minutes in the outdoors prior to and during the ceremony. Ensure you prepare adequately, bringing sufficient water and seasonally-appropriate clothing for your students.

Pre/post visit ideas

Visit the Learn section for resources and activities

Passionate about education?

So are we.

The Australian War Memorial can enrich your classroom by:

  • customising our stories to your curriculum needs
  • presenting creative, enjoyable skill development opportunities for your students
  • building imaginative and interactive learning experiences for students
  • integrating students' feelings, knowledge and imagination into a life-long love of learning
  • linking key learning areas in an exciting, challenging and creative way
  • making history real, personal and up close
  • being accessible.

A visit to the Memorial by the staff of your whole school or subject area will really give you the opportunity to become familiar with what we have to offer.

Book a session at the Memorial and our professional staff will tailor a program to suit your specific needs. Consider it as an option for your next professional development day.


Telephone: (02) 6243 4207 (after 9 am weekdays)

  • E02876


    After 70 years of exhibition in Queensland the First World War German tank Mephisto has arrived at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. To commemorate the centenary of the First World War, the Memorial has collaborated with the Queensland Museum to display Mephisto outside Brisbane for the first time since it was transported from Europe after the end of the First World War. Now on display in Anzac Hall.

  • Anzac connections papers

    Anzac Connections

    More than 50,000 pages of First World War private collections have been digitised and released online, as part of the Anzac Connections project.

    • Interested in transcribing letters and diaries? Find out more...
    • The Daily Digger project on Twitter uses personal quotes drawn from digitised private letters and diaries of First World War diggers and nurses.
  • Roll of Honour name projection

    Roll of Honour name projections

    During the Centenary period, the name of each of the 62,000 Australians who gave their lives during the First World War will be projected onto the façade of the Hall of Memory at the Australian War Memorial. The names will be displayed from sunset to sunrise every night, and can be seen from the Memorial's grounds. Each name will be visible for 30 seconds.

    Search name 

  • Silver bugle.RELAWM01070

    The Last Post Ceremony

    At the end of each day, commencing at 4.55 AEDT pm, the Memorial farewells visitors with its moving Last Post Ceremony.

    Live video stream

Filet crochet was a popular craft before and during the First World War. Women would make decorative or functional items for the home such as tray cloths, milk jug covers, tea cosies, tablecloths and cushion covers. They also made decorative items for clothing, such as crochet lace collars or cuffs. During the First World War patriotic military themes were popular. Images such as ships, flags, soldiers and medals, along with slogans such as: ‘Success to the Allies’, ‘God bless our brave boys’, 'God bless our khaki boys' and ‘Our hero we're proud of him’ were available.

Tray cloth commemorating the Gallipoli campaign.

Patterns were published in popular ladies magazines and newspaper supplements. Often individuals would mix and match designs, creating a wonderful variety of items, or they would combine them to create large items, such as bedspreads. The magnificent bedspread below is 260 cm x 200 cm and was made by Mrs Mary Griffith of Cathcart, NSW. Rather than crochet each pattern individually and sew or crochet them together, she drafted a design for a seamless bedspread with the help of one of her daughters, combining the many patterns she held.

Sometimes the makers would personalise their items to commemorate a specific serviceman. The cloth below was made to commemorate the death of Private Cecil Atherton. Atherton served in France with the 21st Battalion for only three months before he was mortally wounded by a shell on 20 March 1917. The design was adapted from one published in women's newspapers and magazines in about 1916 which commemorated the death of Earl Kitchener.

In addition to decorating the home or commemorating a loved one’s service, some items were made and sold at fetes and fundraising events for the war effort. One famous Australian designer, Mary Card, created a number of filet crochet doilies. She sold the patterns to the public, donating the money to war charities and also encouraged women to sell items made from her patterns to raise further funds for charity. Her most famous pattern was of an Australian soldier, which she designed in 1916 to commemorate the ANZAC landing on 25 April 1915. In 1918 she designed a matching sailor, which was published in October - a month before the First World War's end.

Patriotic filet crochet commemorating the Gallipoli Campaign

The cushion cover above is a nice example of how different designs were mixed together. The maker took Mary Card's Australian soldier pattern, which included the wattle and leaves design and the text 'ANZAC 1915' and added a Victoria Cross and the text 'OUR HERO WE'RE PROUD OF HIM', along with an elaborate scalloped edging, made up of a repeated pattern of Victoria Crosses.

Not all patriotic crochet motifs were of a military nature, as shown by this Australian coat of arms tea tray doilie.

The filet crochet cloths in the Memorial's collection are a tangible link with women on the home front, illustrating how they displayed their support for the war effort in their homes and commemorated  loved ones and important events.

“I had a very close shave...”
Private Charles 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.

Lieutenant William Henry Guard

platoon roll book

Lieutenant William Henry Guard's platoon roll book, 2DRL/0879

William Guard was a 21 year-old locomotive fireman when he enlisted in May 1915. This was not his first time in the army in the First World War – he had already been a part of Australia’s first overseas military contingent, the Australian Naval & Military Expeditionary Force (AN&MEF). This force was raised soon after the declaration of war and sent to take control of Germany’s territorial possessions in what is now Papua New Guinea.

A quick and almost bloodless campaign, some of the AN & MEF remained as an occupation force & military administration, while the rest returned to Australia and were discharged. Most of these men immediately sign up in the Australian Imperial Force (AIF), and Guard is one of these. Appointed to 20 Battalion, he is quickly promoted to Sergeant.

The 20th is sent to Gallipoli in August 1915 and spends most of the time until evacuation at Russell’s Top, overlooking the carnage of the Light Horse’s charge at the Nek. On 11 November he receives a shrapnel wound to the head, which sees him evacuated to Egypt.

After Gallipoli the AIF spends some time re-organising before they are transferred to France. In mid-1916 Sgt Guard and the rest of the battalion find themselves near a small town called Pozieres. The Battle of the Somme had commenced on 1 July and the first Australians were in action on the 23rd.

Commanding 14 Platoon of D Company, on 4 August Sergeant Guard is involved in his unit’s successful attack on the German OG 1 and OG 2 trenches just beyond the town. The rest of the battalion is relieved that night, but possibly acting as a guide for the new unit, he is sent to a post forward of the lines, leaving his gear behind in the trenches.

Returning later to the lines during a heavy bombardment with a wounded man, he himself is wounded. When he collects his belongings he discovers that his possessions have been wounded as well. The result being the hole through the notebook, and presumably, at least the coat that he had left it in.

In November 1916 he was again wounded slightly, but remained on duty. Soon after the action at Pozieres he was commissioned as an officer and promoted to Lieutenant. He survives the war and returns to Australia, later settling in Queanbeyan and Canberra. He donates his pocketbook to the Memorial in 1936.

Private Charles Henry Lester

Pocket testament and shrapnel that damaged it

Private Lester's pocket testament and the shell fragment, PR00129

Private Lester was a 22 year-old electro-plater when he joins the AIF in November 1916, and he’s appointed to 53 Battalion, joining it in Belgium in September of 1917. A mere 8 days later he is in the thick of the fighting for Polygon Wood, part of the Battle of 3rd Ypres, or Passchendaele.

He is one of 42 men of his battalion evacuated over these couple of days with shell shock, and this is not really surprising when you read the letter he composed a few days later. In this he describes that day’s events in which he is hit no less than 5 times by bullets, shrapnel and shell fragments!

The first hits the stock of his rifle he is carrying in his hands. The second travels through his haversack damaging various items such as his eating utensils, a tin of food, his shaving brush and ending in a tangle in his housewife.

Two other close shaves punch holes in his trousers, one grazing his leg. After helping evacuate a wounded officer he is heading back towards the line when a shell explodes in front of him. He is knocked to the ground winded and escorted to a dressing station where he discovers he has only a bruised and painful breastbone.

Examining his gear he finds the cause of the bruising to be a shell fragment, roughly 2x2x2cm has pierced his jacket, tunic pocket, testament and ended up lodged in his writing wallet. While he is recovering from this experience he writes this letter home to let his family know of his amazing luck.

In looking through the war diary for his unit there is reference to how the new method of carrying entrenching tools has saved at least three lives by acting as a type of body armour and stopping bullets! Private Lester it certainly not alone in having luck intervene for him during the battle.

After this exciting day he spends a couple of months recovering before returning to his unit. In January 1918 he is evacuated to hospital sick with diphtheria, which while he is there turns into tonsillitis, but he recovers and rejoins his battalion.

In September 1918 he is involved in the attack on Mont St Quentin, near the town of Peronne, but sadly his luck has run out and he is killed. He is buried in the Peronne Communal Cemetery Extension.

Private John Hector Croft

Shrapnel damaged pocket book

A glimpse of home and well wishes from the friends of Private Croft, PR03842

John Croft was a 23 year old labourer, born in Mittagong when he enlisted in November 1914. He joins 3 Battalion which is involved in the initial landings at Gallipoli on 25 April. For him the fighting becomes intense around midday and he reports many men are being killed and wounded around him.

He has a couple of close shaves at this point, including a spent shrapnel ball which hits him in the shoulder, but does no harm. He picks this up, (noting it is hot to touch), and shows it to an officer next to him who is then shot through the shoulder. He doesn’t have long to reflect on this however as he receives a blow to his heart which he fears is the finish of him.

He soon learns this is not the case as his pocket book has saved him, though the fact the bullet passed through his arm first also helped! The doctor tells him later that this took speed off the bullet and caused it to turn and hit the pocketbook side on. He notes that he was on the shore a grand total of seven hours before he was hit.

He is evacuated to Egypt where he undergoes a period of convalescence before being returned to duties. During this recovery he discovers that his wound has badly damaged the soft tissue of his arm and he cannot perform drill. He writes that he was nearly sent home to Australia, but managed to get sent to another hospital where he undergoes surgery to have his arm fixed.

This is a fateful decision, as he rejoins his unit and travels to France with them, but falls ill and has a couple of weeks sick in hospital. Four weeks after being discharged from the hospital he is fighting in the Battle of the Somme, where he is badly wounded in the left shoulder. He is evacuated by ambulance train, but dies on the hospital ship crossing from France to England. Initially listed as being buried at sea, he was in fact taken ashore and is buried in the grounds of what was the hospital at Netley Military Cemetery, United Kingdom.

Most of the above comes from two letters written by him that we have in our Private Records collection in which he describes that eventful day. With one of the letters he sent the pocket book, which is a very interesting object. While most of the pages are blank, it seems that it was purchased by his friends the Catt family, who wrote a few cheery messages and greetings in it before presenting it to him, possibly around the time he enlisted.

2/Lt Graham David Spinkston

One for those who think books are of no use! Have a look at our catalogue entry here - it says it all.

Bullet embedded in book

Book 'The Taste of Courage' which was penetrated by a bullet, RELAWM40961

Listen to an ABC 666 radio broadcast on Close Shaves here.

Vignacourt is an old rural village in France, larger than most, 12 kilometres north of the city of Amiens. During the First World War it stood behind the front-line of the Somme fighting, although the action was never far away and soldiers were always present.  For much of the time it was a forward rest area where troops arrived to recover from recent battle and prepare for the next. Men were billeted in the houses, lofts, stables and barns, and mixed freely with the villagers.

A photo from the Memorial's collection of an unidentified Australian soldier standing in a street in Vignacourt in 1919.

The comings and goings of the troops, British, Indian, French, Australians, and Americans, and even some of the Chinese Labour Corps, was recorded by a local photographer, Louis Thuillier and his wife. Throughout much of the war they photographed the fighting men who came to their humble outdoor studio in the courtyard of their house. Thousands of their photographs must have found their way to homes around the world, including Australia.

Remarkably the Thuilliers’ glass plate negatives still exist, sitting almost undisturbed for nearly a century.  They have recently been located by investigators from Australia’s Channel 7.   An unknown number of the photographs show Australian diggers, but they must number in the hundreds.

Research at the Australian War Memorial indicates that the Australian photographs were mostly taken in November 1916 and during November-December 1918.  Among the latter are scenes of celebration on the day the war ended, 11 November 1918. A study of the soldiers’ faces shows men pleased to be away from the dangers of the front-line, although many also show the strain of recent heavy action or that accumulated over years of fighting.

The first Australian troops in Vignacourt were men of the 1st Division who were billeted there only days before facing the horror of the fighting at Pozieres on 23 July 1916.  A few months later the survivors of the battles of Fromelles and Pozieres moved into the Somme trenches where they would face the misery of the wet and frozen trenches in an ordeal some found worse than heavy battle. Some of the exhausted brigades went to Vignacourt to recover.

The history of the 5th Australian Battalion records its move to Vignacourt:

The Australian regiment was weary, untidy, and muddy to the last degree ... their despondency was noticeable, though not to be wondered at, when one remembers the misery of the preceding days in the mud. The Fifth underwent a rigid course of training in Vignacourt.  New clothes were issued, and the men were refitted generally.  Five hours daily of hard work soon had its effect, and the Regiment rapidly regained its physical and mental fitness.

The Vignacourt photographs are a record of Australian troops in France and their interaction with French civilians, and present unique evidence of the life and experiences of men following battle. The story of the amazing photographs and their discovery airs on Sunday Night at 6.30pm on the Seven Network.

Update: There is also a Facebook page called Lost diggers with more photos, video, and details about who to contact if you think you can identify any of the soldiers.

A second large hole has been cut into the fuselage this week, this being for the lower tunnel gun position.  A large amount of modification to the airframe had been carried out to support flooring, and various large camera mounts thorughout it's time as a geo survey platform.  All these modifications were removed to clear the area, and open up the space ogininally occupied by the tunnel gun. 

Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, Ms Quentin Bryce AC, with Corporal Ben Roberts-Smith VC MG, in the Hall of Valour, 21 February 2011.

Before a gathering that included living Victoria Cross holders Keith Payne VC OAM, Corporal Mark Donaldson VC, Corporal Ben Roberts-Smith VC MG, Her Excellency Ms Quentin Bryce AC, the Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia officially opened the Hall of Valour on Monday 21 February.

The Hall of Valour honours the 98 Australians who have received the Victoria Cross, the highest award for bravery in action in the face of the enemy.  Symbolically located beneath the commemorative heart of the nation, namely the Hall of Memory and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier,  it is the home of the national collection of 63 Australian Victoria Cross medals as well as three British Victoria Cross and several George Cross medals.

Guests last Monday also included the descendants and families of more than 100 Victoria Cross and George Cross recipients including the Canberra based family of medical officer Major General Sir Neville Reginald Howse VC KCB KCMG, who was awarded Australia’s first Victoria Cross in 1900 for rescuing a wounded man under heavy fire while serving with a mounted infantry brigade during the Boer War.

Also in attendance was the Hon. Julia Gillard MP, Prime Minister of Australia, the Hon. Tony Abbott MP Leader of the Opposition, the Hon. Warren Snowdon MP Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Senator Michael Ronaldson Shadow Minister for Veterans’ Affairs.

The Hall of Valour has been one of the Memorial’s most ambitious redevelopment projects recently in the lead up to the refurbishment of the First World War Galleries in time for the centenary commemorations of the Gallipoli landings in April 2015.

The Victoria Cross was instituted in 1856 by Queen Victoria and made retrospective to 1854 to cover the period of the Crimean War. The metal used in all Victoria Crosses is taken from old captured cannons, reputedly from the Crimean War. 

For images of the opening of the Hall of Valour


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.

My research is continuing but it was the romantic notion of ‘The airman who married the General’s daughter’ that caught my attention. It is the story of Constance ‘Nancy’ Birdwood, the eldest daughter of Birdwood, who married a Western Australian grazier, Colin Craig. Nancy was an Australian Red Cross nurse while Colin was an airman who flew for the Royal Flying Corp during the First World War.

Nancy (back right) with other nurses in the grounds of No. 1 Australian Auxiliary Hospital (1AAH), Harefield, England, c. 1916.

Nancy (back right) with other nurses in the grounds of No. 1 Australian Auxiliary Hospital (1AAH), Harefield, England, c. 1916.

My first hint of the story was a letter from Colin’s former schoolmaster which was apparently in reply to an enquiry from Birdwood. Later I found several letters from Colin Craig to then Lieutenant General Birdwood. With the letters was a photograph of Colin looking rather dashing in his uniform (below).

Colin Craig in uniform

Colin’s letters are filled with nervous anticipation and reassurances as he introduces himself and explains his background and his desire to marry Nancy. He tries to be frank about the life Nancy would live on remote sheep stations in Western Australian. Apparently, Lady Birdwood approved of Colin but was distressed by the thought of Nancy being so far away.

From the letters and Birdwood’s own memoirs, it would appear the couple met sometime in 1916 and love blossomed. They first confided in Lady Birdwood before telling Birdwood. However, any thought of marriage must have been put on hold when Colin was shot down over Arras and held as a prisoner of war by the Germans. As a result, the happy ending to the story did not happen until March 1919 when Nancy married Colin at Brompton Parish Church.

Presumed to be Nancy Birdwood

Birdwood and his wife visited their daughter and son-in-law in Australia on several occasions. Their official tour in 1919-20 was extensively covered by the newspapers of the day and met with great enthusiasm especially by veterans. The visit happily also coincided with the birth of Nancy and Colin’s first child.

Update 21 March 2011

I've just found this picture of Colin and Nancy's wedding in the Memorial's collection. I do wonder how I missed it but then the Memorial does have over 300 000 photographs online!

Colin and Nancy's wedding

Three months into this phase of the project has seen significant progress on both the external and internal conservation of the tank. Externally, all original armour plate components have been repaired. Replica plating has been fitted to replace inaccurate or missing components, with some plates requiring considerable modification to fit this individual tank, and to correct minor errors in externally supplied fabrications. 

All the original running gear and mudguards have been conserved or remanufactured, and refitted, with replica components installed as necessary. Hubcaps on the track return rollers and idler sprocket are still to come, and the replica tracks have not been installed at this stage as further surface work is required on the hull exterior.

As a project 'milestone', all rear armour plating was fitted, and missing external fittings and equipment, replicated from collection images of other Ha-Go tanks, was made 'in house' and installed. The turret has not been reinstalled at this stage.

In parallel with this external work, internal transmission components were investigated for ease of removal. Given the severe degree of water induced corrosion inside the tank, the main gearbox and transfer gearbox were able to be removed, with badly corroded mounting bolts requiring removal by oxy cutting. Removal of the main gearbox enabled the final reduction gear and drive sprockets to be treated.  As these sub-assembies had very corroded and inaccessable fasteners, to reduce dismantling impact  it was decided not to remove these assemblies from the tank, but to treat in situ. After rust removal from the badly corroded brake drums, the final drives now rotate freely.

Given the past 70 years of weathering, neglect and abuse, it was surprising to find the main and transfer gearboxes were in virtually pristine condition internally, with no corrosion and no wear marks on the gear teeth. It appears that the tank was landed by the Japanese marine landing force at Milne Bay and travelled only a relatively short distance. It was engaged in four actions with men of the Australian 61st, 2/10th,  and 25th Battallions. It was stopped during the third encounter by Corporal JFP O'Brien, recovered by the Japanese, and  later captured after the fourth encounter by the Australians on 29th August 1942. (One careful owner, low mileage!)

Of considerable interest, after all these years, two more  cartridge cases from the 7.7mm Japanese machine guns were found under the gearboxes. These are highly likely to be relics from those actions in 1942, and complement the battle damage found on the tank.

The success of the progressive dismantling of the transmission has now enabled a serious attempt at removing the badly deteriorated engine for treatment. The tank had been sitting exposed  to the weather in a scrap yard for many years, with five of the six cylinder heads missing, and at this stage the engine appears to be rusted solid. Interior examination with a borescope shows no oil in the sump and the engine interior has surface rust.


Interesting aspects of this project are the identification and preservation of battlefield damage and relics still present that relate directly to the known history of the tank, and the progressive nature of the treatment, as initial unknowns are resolved and future actions become clearer.


The engine has been removed from the tank. Note the five missing heads.

(Tech specs: The engine is a 14.3 litre, six cylinder, air cooled diesel engine, of 240 BHP at 2000 rpm)

From now on it will be slow and steady work investigating, cleaning and treating the engine ,

 and the internal hull surfaces!

Part of the work involves sourcing or replicating missing components to complete the external appearance. For example, the tank jack mounted on the mudguard - 


Fortunately, a modern 10 tonne ratchet jack was virtually identical in overall appearance. After removing English lettering cast into the jack and unobtrusively stamping "AWM II" to identify it as a replica, it fittted perfectly into the replica mounting bracket (made in-house from an original image of a Ha-Go tank).

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