Here in the Education section we love to know what you're working on in the classroom or at home. How are you researching and commemorating those who have served for Australia? Send in your pictures, poems, photos, or anything else you'd like to share to A selection of recent submissions is featured below.

Mount Barker Community College
Hayden Pitt, Year 10

This poem was written by Hayden Pitt, a year 10 student from Mount Barker Community College in Western Australia. It formed part of his HASS course, and entry to the Mt Barker RSL High School Anzac Day competition, in which students investigated Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in service personnel from the First and Second World Wars. The students presented their findings as a visual museum display.

Even the brave can be broken.

Soldiers. Stress. Courage. Death.

Men who were tough. Who once were there.

Came back broken. Fingers running through their hair.

They try and try but forget they not.

The trauma, the stress, the pain, the lot.

Suffer they do, through day and through night.

Though it be the loss, the death, the fright.

Flash backs come, unwanted they are.

From the bark of a dog or the horn of a car.

Many are hurt and scared within.

So we must understand the places they’ve been.

Students Alexis Mark, Sophie Richards, and Hayden Pitt, with their Sands of Gallipoli Medallions, which were prizes from the competition. They are pictured with Mt Barker RSL Sub-branch Warden, Wayne Hood, and MBCC principal Andrew Fraser.
Students Alexis Mark, Sophie Richards, and Hayden Pitt, with their Sands of Gallipoli Medallions, which were prizes from the competition. They are pictured with Mt Barker RSL Sub-branch Warden, Wayne Hood, and MBCC principal Andrew Fraser.

Wattle Grove Public School
Wattle Grove, NSW

Students from Wattle Grove Public School, created this film to show our solidarity in honouring our Defence Force Personnel for all that they have sacrificed so that we have the freedom that we have today.

Cathedral Catholic Primary School
Bathurst, NSW

Students and staff from Cathedral Catholic Primary School in Bathurst, created this film to show how they observed Anzac Day in 2020. Organised by the Religious Education Coordinator, and led by the school captains, the film demonstrates the school community’s commitment to the “Anzac at home” experience.

Sy, Ella, Tao, Kelby and Tintoela
Anzac Day

While Sy, Ella, Tao, Kelby, and Tintoela the puppy could not attend a Dawn Service or parade like they usually do, they participated in their own service at home. The children dressed in their school uniforms, and donned their parents medals and service hats. The Royal Australian Navy, Australian Army, and Australian Federal Police were represented. They spent the day thinking of the Anzacs, and other people who have served our nation.


Fraser Howard
Aged 8


A war is raging in our backyard
To stop it we will have to work ourselves hard
When I go to the battle, I expect glory
But when I get there it is just pointless and gory.

I wonder to this day what was the point of the war?
It caused horrible suffering but then, that opened a door
This door brought out the best in people, being true and mighty brave
And that had an effect, like a ripple, like a wave.

People felt united, especially when
You walked up to their graves and said "Never again."
Everyone in the war deserves a reward,
So we can give them our love and let us move forward

War is something we will always regret,
The least we can do is say "Lest We Forget".

St. Luke's Catholic Parish School
Capalaba, Queensland
Year 3

The children in these difficult covid-19 times have brainstormed words to express how the soldiers might have felt while being transported onto the shores of Gallipoli. 

The class carefully chose their words to match each soldier in the picture book. We noted there were 19 men in the boat and we discussed a variety of emotions and feelings.


Carly Pimlico State High School 2019

Genazzano College Melbourne
Aged 12

After visiting the Australian War Memorial with her year six class,  Bridget composed this poem:

Remembrance Day
'You ever realised what the ANZACS were willing to do?
They gave their lives for me and you.
You ever wonder it would be to see,
They died for you and me.
They had to live in blood and gore
They gave their lives to go to war.
You ever realise what they did
They gave their lives for us to live.
You ever feel bad when you’re alone
How ‘bout being a million miles
away from home?
Having to fight faithfully, hour after hour
inside their hearts were trembling outisde their muscle power.
They gave their lives for you and me,
They sacrificed themselves don’t you see?"

Central Coast Steiner School
New South Wales
Year 9

The Australia in the First World War Memorial Box has been used by Year 9 students at Central Coast Steiner School as part of an empathy task.  Students chose an item from the box to use as a stimulus in order to produce a poem, narrative or visual representation.  Their teacher commented that using the items from the Memorial Box was powerful for the students and she was delighted by the quality of the stories and poems that the students produced.  Here are two examples, Humanity by Lachlan and Death by Emma.  Congratulations students!   Here are the links:

Schools frequently borrow Memorial Boxes from the Australian War Memorial. See more information about our education outreach program

New South Wales
Aged 9

In his speech Lachlan explores Sir John Monash’s contribution during the First World War, in particular his role in the Battle of Hamel. Lachlan also shares insights from his great great grandfather’s war diary during his time in Gallipoli and France.

South Australia
Year 9

William recently submitted an entry in to the 2018 Premier’s Anzac Spirit School Prize competition. He researched an Australian serviceman who played a significant role on Armistice Day. William used various sources including photographs and enlistment documents as part of his research. Thank you for sharing the story of Private ‘Tiny’ Toop with us.

Truganina College
Truganina, Victoria

Students at Truganina College learned about the significance of Remembrance Day this week and contributed to a display. Every student in the school from Foundation to Year 8 was involved.

Students from Truganina College

Students working on the Field of Poppies display.

Truganina College Field of Poppies

Truganina College's Field of Poppies.

Luke W
Year 9

Luke made this model of a Sopwith Camel as flown by the Australian Flying Corps during the First World War. The model, and accompanying research, were submitted for Luke's Year 9 History assignment.

Luke's Sopwith Camel model

Australian Air League
Padstow Squadron

Members of Padstow Squadron, Australian Air League, produced this fantastic education display for the League's 2016 NSW Group Review. The theme this year was 'Australian Aviation in the Great War'. Cadets from 8 years and up made replicas of First World War aircraft, researching information and completing the display.


Marrara Christian College, NT
Year 9

After completing the unit of study, students submitted to the Memorial their reflections on the First World War.

To Sir/Madam,
I am a year nine student at Marrara Christian College. We have been studying World War One this term and I will be telling you about what WW1 means to me. Although I had learnt about Anzac Day before, I understand what had happened better, I see Anzac Day differently now... read more

St. Luke's Catholic Parish School
Year 3


Year 3 students at St. Luke's have been doing presentations, building a classroom exhibit, baking Anzac biscuits, and writing letters from Gallipoli. Well done Year 3.



Aged 9

The Daughter's Father in War

I am a daughter with a father in war.
He walked off;
I waved goodbye.
In the house there was silence.
Everyone was hoping we were going to see them again.

Continue reading...

Aged 13

My boys are at war

In a little white house in Watervale
Balbina a widow Mother began to wail
As her six boys were going to war
All her boys had enlisted to join the Army Corp
My boys have gone off to war
Leaving behind our Aussie Shore
I do hope my boys will return home soon
To tell us of their war stories in our family room

Continue reading...

Aged 11

Lest we forget

"The time has come" an Australian said,
"Bye" as he faced the door and ran ahead.
The war has started the battle begun,
Smack,boom,crash went the lethal gun.
Oww, the pain, other soldiers cried,
Most of their friends sadly died.
All the solders tried to laugh in glee,
But they all missed their family.

Continue reading...

Aged 13


A soldier stands, proud and stiff,
in the centre of our town,
With a rifle, never to fire again,
with its barrel pointing to the ground
Through, rain, hail, shine and wind,
he reminds us as time passes by
That life doesn't always go your way,
it's just a beautiful lie.

Continue reading...

Holy Cross Primary School, Kincumber

The night before the landing at Gallipoli

I peer through the darkness towards the shore's outline and it feels like it is thirstily staring back at me, daring me with its evil eye to set foot on its beach. The idea of dying brings a sharp pang to my gut and makes me feel uneasy. I huddle to the side of the boat and I can't keep my family from crossing my mind, that it may have been my last goodbye. Continue reading...

Corowa High School

Many thanks to Corowa High School for posting this film they made for the local Anzac Day dawn service in 2015, to mark the centenary.


Aged 10

Lone Pine

A mother's love for her son
A seed
Planted in the Australian soil
Drank tears of her loss
And grew.
We as a nation
Tend the tree
Like a new born
Feed with it Remembrance
Water it with Honour
And watch over it with pride
And never forget.

Year 6

Gallipoli Haiku

Gallipoli, friend
The soldiers fought for us then
Remember proudly
As men fell, death took
Those who died for us bravely
Do not forget them
Gunfire, blood, smoke
Deafening soldier's ear drums
Screams, screams, everywhere

Continue reading...

Aged 12

A True Anzac

T'was the 25th of April dawn about to break,
We had our rifles ready, oh how our shoulders ached.

I remember my mates silent, no-one dared to say a word,
We thought we saw some movement, but all our minds were blurred.

Some boots hit the sand, but some just sank straight down,
All I saw was a cliff face and a sea of khaki and brown.

Aged 13

13 year old Jess Love painted this artwork to represent the experiences of her family in wartime. Titled A Child's Sacrifice, the painting shows her father, Shaun, in the foreground. The image is based on a photograph taken while he was serving in Western Sahara. Shaun also served in East Timor, Iraq and Sinai. The silhouette is Jess' great grand-father, Ernest Gibson, who served during the Second World War.

A child's sacrifice.jpg

Mullumbimby Public School & St John's Catholic School

Students from these schools participating in the opening of Re-Membering Our ANZACS exhibition by Deborah Gower at Ex-Services Club Mullumbimby on 11 November 2014. The display shows a number of wooden crosses with hand-written messages. These crosses are part of one of the AWM's First World War Centenary projects, which commemorates those who served and died during the First World War. Photos: Paul Schneider Photographics.


Bunbury Cathedral Grammar, New England Girls School, Oakburn College, The Armidale School, Trinity Anglican School & Vivek High School

A group of 46 students and staff from these schools visited the Gallipoli Peninsula in October 2014. All these schools belong to the international network of schools known as Round Square. The students researched the campaign before their visit and participated in a ceremony at the Lone Pine Memorial, where they lay their commemorative crosses.


Photos: Grant Harris, recently retired Deputy Headmaster of The Armidale School.

Year 5

Gallipoli 1915-1916

On that dark and gloomy April night,
Away from our beloved hometown,
We loaded our guns – ready to fight,
Frozen with fear as we squatted down,

In the feared filled trench,
The blood of soldiers lost in the war,
Down low you could smell the stench,
Dead soldiers seek the white door.

Far back they sealed the fates of us all,
With each doomsday shell,
The ones were lucky that didn't fall,
No man could escape such hell.

Aged 14

The Young Aussie Diggers

The young Aussie boy
No more than seventeen
Split up into groups of six
Of blokes he'd never seen

One said "How's it going mate
You seem a bit too young!
You don't look that much older
Than a man of 21!"

He then said, "Pleased to meet you, I'm Martsson
But you can call me 'Mart'
Just as they had started talking
The boat was to depart

Continue reading...

Balmain Public School, Aged 11

The Unsung Hero

Mary-Anne Taylor, her mother and her brother and sisters were standing in the hot sun watching the parade go past. It was the spring of 1914 and war had broken out three months ago. Her father came to Australia to work in the goldfields but unfortunately made no money to go home. After years' worth of savings, he finally got enough money to take a trip to England. When the war started Mary-Anne's father was in England visiting his sick mother, so he joined up to fight for the British Empire. He was fighting on the Western Front against the Germans.

Continue reading...

Belconnen High School

Mirrored Memoirs

A sea of brown flows limitless –
Dry grass clumps and rutted earth.
The Germans stand in coalesce
Prepared to fight for all they're worth.

Much horror soon is yet to come,
Inferno's close, its breath grows raucous.
Silence – not a murmured hum,
The pending soldiers, greatly cautious.

The lines of men that stand prepared,
Are shielded by their masks of heft.
Their frail bodies – under – cared,
Are all the hope that they have left.

Continue reading...

St. Joseph's Regional High School


Ryan wrote and delivered this address for his school's Remembrance Day speech evening.

Year 6 students
Trinity College, Albury-Wodonga

Dear Sir/Madam,

On behalf of Year 6 students at Trinity College, we would like to thank you for touring us and showing us around the War Memorial. We really enjoyed the statues, the movie and the stuffed horse, all these things had stories about war heroes.

We remember when we saw all the huge aircraft and we saw the light show, the gift shop was full of interesting things.

We had great fun doing all the activities and looking at all the old features and we could touch so many different things such as hard tack and all different relics.

Kind Regards,
Vicke, Ava, and Danielle, Year 6 students
Trinity College.

Aged 10


Hughes, ACT - Aged 10



Fiona sent in this card for Anzac Day 2014.

Years 5/6 students
Hale School, Wembley Downs, WA

Middle School students from Hale researched an Old Haleian who was lost in a theatre of war and whose name appears on the Memorial's Roll of Honour. These posters summarise their findings.



Aged 14

The Unseen Murderer

The sky cries, all day it has cried
The cold sodden hearts and muddy earth are untouched
For not one but many have just died
And no goal has been reached.

Their precious lives lost, a generation wasted
Carried away by the wind and mustard gas
Erased from the earth by shells and false hatred
Their world razed while they watch in a trench pass.

Eating, sleeping and walking in their graves
Their Generals commanding kilometres away
Fighting against reason and living worse than slaves
Families praying the telegram never reaches their doorways.

The sky shrieks for the tortured men and cries
For one stone pillar cannot replace the millions of stolen lives.

Aged 9
Young Public School

Our Brave Young Men

Our brave young men went off to war
The Australian New Zealand Army Corps
Young and scared they stood their ground
Bullets and bombs flying all around

In Flanders field the soldiers bled
staining the ground an awful red
After the battle the poppies grew
In honour of our Anzac crew

On Anzac day we gather a crowd
remembering heroes our nation proud
They sacrificed and lives were lost
Their loved ones paid a heavy cost

Our brave young Diggers answered the call
Risking their lives for us all
Our brave young men went off to war
The Australian New Zealand Army Corps.

Briarna Allen
Age 9

Briarna has drawn this charcoal sketch of an Anzac soldier in Flanders Field.

Charcoal Sketch by Briarna

The Australian War Memorial does not necessarily endorse the views expressed within these examples of students' work, which remain the intellectual property of their respective authors.

The small French village of Vignacourt was always behind the front lines. For much of the First World War it was a staging point, casualty clearing station and recreation area for troops of all nationalities moving up to and then back from the battlefields on the Somme. Remember me: the lost diggers of Vignacourt  tells the story of how one enterprising photographer took the opportunity of this passing traffic to establish a business taking portrait photographs.

Captured on glass, printed into postcards and posted home, the photographs made by the Thuillier family enabled Australian soldiers to maintain a fragile link with loved ones in Australia. The Thuillier collection covers many of the significant aspects of Australian involvement on the Western Front, from military life to the friendships and bonds formed between the soldiers and civilians.

The exhibition showcases a selection of the photographs as handmade traditional darkroom prints and draws on the Memorial's own collections to tell the story of these men in their own voices.

Remember me: the lost diggers of Vignacourt collection

If you would like to ask a question about any of the images in Remember me: the lost diggers of Vignacourt, please read our Frequently Asked Questions. If you think you have identified a relative in one of the photographs in the Vignacourt collection, please contact our curators at

Tour dates

Completed Dates


Queensland Museum

April - July 2014

State Library of SA

Aug - Oct 2014

State Library of NSW

Nov 2014 - Jan 2015

Western Australian Museum, Perth

June - Aug 2015

Western Australian Museum, Albany

Sept - Nov 2015

Western Australian Museum, Kalgoorlie

Dec 2015 - Feb 2016

Western Australian Museum, Geralton

Feb - May 2016

Glasshouse Gallery

Dec 2016 - Feb 2017

Pinnacles Gallery

Feb - April 2017

Hamilton Art Gallery

Jul - Sep 2017

Warwick Art Gallery

Jan - Feb 2018

Murray Bridge Gallery

Mar - Apr 2018

Bundaberg Regional Art Gallery

May - Jul 2018

Cowra Regional Art Gallery

July - Sept 2018

Hervey Bay Regional Gallery

Sept - Nov 2018

Courtesy Kerry Stokes collection, the Louis and Antoinette Thuillier Collection

Proudly brought to you by Seven Network


The Louis and Antoinette Thuillier Collection contains almost 4,000 glass-plate negatives depicting British, French, Australian, US, and Indian soldiers, Chinese labour corps, and French civilians. More than 800 of these glass-plate negatives featuring Australians were generously donated to the Memorial by Mr Kerry Stokes AC in August 2012. You can view all the Thuillier images donated to the Memorial on these webpages.

The Australian War Memorial’s exhibition Remember me: the lost diggers of Vignacourt showcases 74 photographs specially hand-printed in the Memorial’s darkrooms from the original glass-plate negatives. You can see more images from The Louis and Antoinette Thuillier Collection on Seven Network’s Lost Diggers Facebook page.

Remember me: the lost diggers of Vignacourt photographs
View the collection

The glass-plate negatives from Vignacourt are significant because they offer insights into the reality of life on the Western Front. There are photos that show the laughter and the mateship among these soldiers, and the general feeling of life away from the line. Like any true portrait, many offer an insight into the character and mood of the subject. None of the soldiers in this post have been identified, but photographs created so close to the battlefields of the Somme means portrait subjects who have witnessed true horrors.




Far from the formal portraits taken at studios back in Australia, the expressions in many of these images tell a story very different to the optimism of life at home.  Features such as misshapen slouch hats and frayed colour patches suggest that these are men who have truly been ‘in the thick of it’. Other features such as the position of some of their hands together with a particular facial expression hint at war wounds that are beyond the physical.



 Now known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, the symptoms of ‘shell shock’, the term that emerged during the First World War to refer to the human reaction to trauma, would manifest in different ways. One was the expression on a soldier’s face, described as vacant and doleful. In later conflicts the term ‘Thousand Yard Stare’ emerged to describe this expression, and has come to be understood as the mind’s dissociation from traumatic events.




Sergeant Edgar Rule of the 14th Battalion provided a description of this condition on page 599 of Volume III of the Official History. He had seen the men of the 1st Division pass him on the road after they had been relieved at Pozieres:

‘Those who saw them will never forget it as long as they live. They looked like men who had been in Hell. Almost without exception each man looked drawn and haggard, and so dazed that they appeared to be walking in a dream, and their eyes looked glassy and starey.’




Vignacourt’s proximity to the fighting on the Somme gives this collection of images an honesty that many other photographs don’t possess, and it is this honesty that makes them significant. There are no polished studio portraits here, and no omissions courtesy of the censor’s pen. When viewing the faces of many of these men we can only imagine the horrors that they have witnessed and endured.

Many people have already looked at this collection of photographs on our website.

Look again.

You will always notice something you haven’t noticed before:




OMLT Delta leaves on patrol from Patrol Base Razaq. P09971.058

Half a world away Australians are serving their country by building another. The war in Afghanistan and operations in the Middle East have engaged thousands of Australian men and women, both military and civilian, for over a decade.

They have built schools, roads, and hospitals. They have mentored the fledgling army of a new, democratic nation. They have engaged in fierce fighting and have demonstrated bravery and dedication beyond compare.

On 11 September 2001, Australians felt outrage at al Qaeda’s attack on the United States. A year later, the devastating Bali bombings in Indonesia again brought home the threat of global terrorism. Some of those who planned the bombings had trained in Afghanistan. Australians were killed in both attacks.

Australia joined the United States and its allies across the world to take a stand against this threat. Afghanistan, a land contested by armies for centuries, became the focus of international efforts to contain terrorism.

The mission has evolved over the past decade in what is called the Middle East Area of Operations (MEAO). From counter-insurgency, through reconstruction, to mentoring, Australians have been working to create a democratic and stable Afghan nation. This mission aims to assist the people of Afghanistan, but also to promote the security of the region, diminish the influence of terrorist groups, and create a safer global environment.

A world away

Afghanistan and the Middle East are now indelibly linked to Australia’s national story.

Australia’s mission is clear: to combat international terrorism, to help stabilise Afghanistan, and to support Australia’s international alliances. Yet a mission statement cannot capture the challenges, the successes, and the comradeship of the Australian men and women who pursue it. Nor the joys and heartbreaks, or the loneliness and the dedication of those who wait at home.

Some of these experiences, set against the powerful imagery of a modern war, are told in this exhibition. Over time, the display will change and evolve as more veterans share their stories.

A view of the exhibition


Opening speech

The opening speech at the exhibition launch, given by General David Hurley AC DSC, Chief of the Defence Force, on 6 August 2013.

Afghanistan Last Post Ceremony


Donating items

Interested in donating to the collection? Please contact us.

This exhibition is proudly supported by Boeing.

Bringing historic documents from the Australian War Memorial’s archive to all Australians

Anzac Connections documents

Anzac Connections was originally established to mark the 2015 centenary of the Gallipoli campaign. Since then it has expanded to include collections relating to the Western Front and Sinai/Palestine. What began as a Centenary of the First World War project has now become an integral part of the Memorials work.

The private record collections of hundreds of individuals who served in the First World War are now freely available online.  The collection holds a wealth of stories: a young soldier on the Somme, freezing and up to his knees in mud, using a brief lull in the fighting to pen a letter to his parents at home; a nurse in one of the many field hospitals, exhausted and desperately trying to treat the mass of incoming wounded. From diaries to letters, postcards to photographs, souvenirs to ephemera, these collections tell the stories of ordinary men and women caught up in the extraordinary events of the war.

One hundred years on, their stories are now ours.

Daily Digger

Using personal quotes drawn from the digitised private letters and diaries of First World War soldiers and nurses, this narrative reveals the thoughts, actions, and responses of all ranks to the experience of active service during this conflict. To help share this initiative the Memorial Tweets a Daily Digger story, daily @AWMemorial

Find out more about the Daily Digger project.


Please email with any feedback on Anzac Connections.

John Croft’s pocket book was pierced by a Turkish bullet at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915.

John Croft’s pocket book was pierced by a Turkish bullet on Gallipoli on 25 April 1915.  PR03842

See larger version of image

The First World War Galleries are now open after a major redevelopment.


From 2014, the world will be commemorating 100 years since the start of the First World War. For Australians this is a momentous occasion. The redevelopment of the First World War galleries is the Memorial’s key contribution to the Anzac Centenary.

The current estimated cost of the project is $32.5 million (GST excl.) comprised of $28.7 million of Federal Government funding and $3.82 million allocated from Memorial capital reserves and Collection Development and Acquisition Budget. BHP Billiton Sustainable Communities has also generously donated $1 million towards the new galleries.

The Joint Standing Committee on Public Works reviewed the project in February 2013 and parliamentary approval for it to proceed was given on 18 March 2013.  You can access a copy of the Memorial’s submission and the Committee’s report here.

The architect for the redevelopment is Sydney-based multi-disciplinary design practice Johnson Pilton Walker.  The exhibition designer is Melbourne-based firm Cunningham Martyn Design.

You can follow the redevelopment by visiting this page, liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, and reading our blog posts.

Speeches from the official opening

The Galleries were officially opened on 22 February. 

The Redevelopment

Since the opening of the Memorial in 1941, the First World War galleries have undergone several major alterations and many small iterative changes.  Originally comprising the entirety of exhibition space in the Memorial building, they now occupy the prominent west wing of the Memorial’s ground level galleries. 

Before the process began, the old First World War galleries.


Despite changes down through the years, the galleries include some of the oldest and relatively unchanged parts of the Memorial building.  Significant heritage value can be found in the form of the architectural spaces; the fabric, fixtures and fittings; and the function and character of the galleries.  A major redevelopment of the galleries presents a significant challenge in retaining and restoring these values while simultaneously acknowledging the changed concept of commemoration and presenting the story of the First World War with veracity, depth and relevance to Australians today.

Exhibition Design

The design of the First World War galleries has been undertaken by Cunningham Martyn Design.  The exhibition will be staged to suit the restored gallery spaces and the story of the First World War will be returned to a chronological presentation commencing in 1914 and concluding with the immediate and enduring legacies of the conflict. 


Artist’s impression of the entrance to the new First World War galleries.

The spatial treatment provides open vistas to the length of each of the galleries and a clear separation between the interior fit-out and the c.1940s building allowing the volume of the original gallery spaces to be experienced.  The colour and texture of the exhibition will reference the period to reflect the time and place of the story. 

Exhibition Content

The Memorial holds one of the world’s great collections of material related to the First World War, and the redevelopment of the galleries presents a unique opportunity. Historic items which have been unseen for many years will be returning, together with significant newly-acquired items such as a 4.5” Howitzer and relics from the 2010 excavations at the Pheasant Wood mass grave site.


The iconic dioramas will remain an integral part of the galleries.  Some of the Memorial’s original dioramas no longer exist, having been damaged or removed during earlier building renovations when they were considered to be merely exhibition displays rather than works of art.  Today, 13 First World War dioramas are held in the National Collection.  Ten of these dioramas are planned for display in the new exhibition, including two desert campaign dioramas - Semakh and Desert Patrol - which have not been publically displayed since the 1980s.  Desert Patrol depicts a light horse patrol in the Sinai desert and will replace the Romani diorama.  Semakh depicts the events of 25 September 1918 when the 11th Light Horse Regiment attacked the village of Semakh, in Palestine.  Its inclusion in the galleries is of particular importance as recent research into indigenous service has revealed that the 11th Light Horse Regiment had the largest known group of indigenous Australians in one AIF unit. You can read all about the conservation of the dioramas on our blog.


Famous Australian leaders such as Sir John Monash and Sir Harry Chauvel will feature prominently in the story, along with lesser known – but no less important – soldiers, sailors, airmen and nurses. The new galleries will tell the story of Australia’s First World War in a coherent chronological fashion, allowing visitors to understand the progress of events as they occurred.  While the strong focus will be upon the battlefield exploits of the AIF, whose men contributed the vast majority of the nation’s 62,000 dead, other important aspects such as the war on the home front and at sea will not be neglected, and the enduring impacts on the nation is examined.

Construction timeline

The project is being undertaken in accordance with the Memorial’s specific delivery strategy for major gallery redevelopments which involves the staging of works in three phases:


Phase 1:  permanent construction to the base of the building to prepare it for the exhibition commenced in June 2013 and is scheduled for completion in February 2014


Phase 2: the second phase of work comprising exhibition-specific infrastructure commenced in November 2013 and is scheduled for completion in August 2014


Phase 3: the third phase of work comprising all items to be installed in the exhibition, such as collection material, has been undertaken concurrently with the first two phases of work and is scheduled to be completed in late 2014


It is planned to open the new galleries to the public in late 2014, prior to an official launch in February 2015.


Dr Brendan Nelson discusses the changes to the galleries

Director of the Australian War Memorial, Dr Brendan Nelson, discusses the changes to the Memorial's First World War galleries in the lead up to the Centenary.


Check out how the gallery redevelopment progressed on Flickr



This is the opinion piece I wrote for the Canberra Times; it appears in the 14 March 2013 edition of the paper.

Success in life requires three things - show humanity toward others, nurture the inner integrity of your intellect and keep an open mind – open to new ideas and people.

When recently in Afghanistan, an Australian soldier remarked, “Sir, when I take my son to the War Memorial, I can show him what his great-grandfather did. I can show him what his grandfather did. But I can’t show him what I’m doing.”

He’s right. Australian men and women have been serving our nation in our name, our uniform and under our flag for over a decade. Their story needs to be told through their eyes and voices - now.

It should encompass the entire Middle East Area of Operations and three services. It should show Australians not only the danger and valour of sharp end operations, but also the heroism of those who train Afghans, counter the threat of explosive devices, build bridges and schools, maintain aircraft and patrol the Persian Gulf among many others. It should also reveal the remarkable sacrifices made by families in support of them.

This exhibition will be in the Memorial this year and remain in place until the permanent display. The Afghanistan story needs to be told now to educate Australians about the conflict and the extraordinary efforts made on our behalf.

There is also a significant and growing “therapeutic” need of what is now a small army of veterans, many of whom are still serving. They must know their story is being told through their eyes and voices. They should be able to visit the Memorial to see, hear and feel something of their service.

If we had been able to present the Vietnam War a little sooner, perhaps those men might not have suffered quite as much.

Having examined all viable options, the only space for the Afghanistan exhibition is that currently occupied by the online gallery.

Established in the late nineties, this gallery has provided a greatly appreciated service to Australians researching their family’s military history, guided by volunteers on computers. Long before the ubiquitous availability of laptops, tablets and smartphones, it has helped thousands of visitors. While the search can be undertaken anywhere from any computer outside the Memorial, having a person help is a comfort.

However, it occupies the Memorial’s most precious commodity beyond its staff and volunteers – space.

We are looking at alternative delivery models for the service – fewer computer terminals in another area, tablets and online advice amongst them. But whatever the outcome, Afghanistan is an urgent priority going to the very core of the Memorial’s mission.

On another front, others have criticised me being photographed with Ben Roberts Smith VC in front of the Memorial with a Bushmaster promoting Anzac Day. The fact is we should be concerned that Australia’s young veterans from contemporary conflicts are not joining RSL marches around the nation on Anzac Day.

Many attend the Dawn Service but think marches are for an earlier generation of veterans. I asked Ben to consider coming to Anzac Day at the War Memorial in Canberra and to march. That he agreed to do so reflects deep leadership qualities and sense of service.

Young veterans of Afghanistan, Iraq, East Timor and the Solomon Islands should know it is for them as much as their forebears, that we are proud of them.

Some 25,000 people attended the Dawn Service at the Memorial last year. That is likely to grow. Some begin arriving around midnight to get a spot where they can see. One father told me he had stopped bringing his kids because they couldn’t see anything.

From midnight we will project in light onto each side of the Memorial the names of the iconic battle sites over a century, from Gallipoli to the Chora Valley across land, sea and air. As one name fades, another will appear. So too on the inner pillars we plan to project images of Australian service and sacrifice from the Memorial’s rich pictorial archive.

From 4.30 am there will be readings to the crowd – Charles Bean’s description of the Gallipoli landing, soldiers’ diary entries and letters, and Kokoda as examples. At 5 am, Ben Roberts Smith will similarly read evocative descriptions from Afghanistan. All will be quiet and dark at 5.15 am with the Dawn Service commencing at 5.30 am.

Two large screens will be placed either side at the roadside edge of the parade ground, well in front of the Memorial so that people may actually see the service. The only musical addition will be the Defence wives choir and other groups singing hymns during the service itself.

Far from detracting from its ambience, surely this can only enhance the experience.

Change for its own sake is dangerous. Change can also be very painful. But in facing new and distant horizons, the stories told within the Memorial and the experiences it provides on Anzac Day, are paradoxically more about our nation’s future than its past.

c March 1915. Sergeant Douglas Bernard Matthew Adams, D Company, 10 Battalion, AIF. Photograph taken just prior to embarkation for service abroad. H06022

c March 1915. Sergeant Douglas Bernard Matthew Adams, D Company, 10 Battalion, AIF. Photograph taken just prior to embarkation for service abroad.

During my first visit to Gallipoli in May 1996, in Beach Cemetery I chanced upon a grave of a 10th Battalion digger who had been a sergeant when he died of wounds at the age of 18 in early July 1915. The epitaph on the grave, “A bright young life sacrificed on the altar of duty. So dearly loved”, struck a chord with me, as I was only a few years older than he had been. I promised myself then never to forget him and to visit again when I could. The opportunity to return arose in May 2012, when I travelled to Gallipoli as part of a joint Australian War Memorial and Imperial War Museums study tour. The afternoon we arrived on Gallipoli, sixteen years to the day after my last visit, I was determined to find him and again pay my respects. Initially we stopped at Ari Burnu and visited the cemetery there before making our way south along the beach, then up into Beach Cemetery. It didn’t take long to find his resting place underneath the outstretched branches of the Judas tree at the bottom left of the cemetery as you look out to sea. The young man in question was Douglas Bernard Matthew Adams, born in 1897 at Alberton, Port Adelaide, South Australia, to Harry and Elsie Adams. Records reveal that he was educated at Port Adelaide primary school and then won a scholarship to Prince Alfred College. He was noted for his fine athletic ability, and as a cadet soldier reached the rank of second lieutenant. After his schooling Adams took up a position as a clerk with the South Australian Harbours Board, working from Outer Harbour, Port Adelaide. (At this point, I wondered if he had spent part of his weekends at Alberton or other grounds around Adelaide, watching the Port Adelaide Magpies terrorise the rest of the competition in the South Australian Football League. The Port Adelaide team were undefeated Premiers in 1914.) He enlisted for service in the AIF at Morphettville Racecourse on 10 December 1914, aged 18, and was posted with the rank of private to 4th Reinforcements, 10th Battalion. Promoted to sergeant in March, he embarked from Adelaide on 1 April aboard HMAT A17 Port Lincoln and reached Gallipoli on 5 June, where he was taken on strength of the battalion. At the time he arrived, the Battalion was holding the line on the southern end of the Anzac line around Silt Spur and he would have been involved in manning front line positions as well as taking part in carrying parties and other duties undertaken by the battalion both in the line and in support trenches. On 7 July, the 10th Battalion were resting behind the lines near Tasmania Post, when they came under Turkish artillery fire. Adams was struck in the head by shrapnel, suffering a compound fracture of the skull. He was transferred to 1 Australian Casualty Clearing Station, where he died a little while later, and was laid to rest in Beach Cemetery.


Corporal Reuben Weatherall, in a moving letter to his mother tells of the terrible pain he felt at the death of his mate and how he couldn’t face writing to Adams’s parents to let them know how their boy had died. Weatherall survived the war and returned to Australia in May 1919. The Roll of Honour circular filled out by Adams’s father, Harry, provides a glimpse of the pain the family were feeling at the loss of their boy, as well as their pride in what he had achieved in his all too brief life. This is especially evident in the circular’s biographical section, in which Harry stated that his son was “only an upright, sterling character”. In the aftermath of the First World War, the South Australian Harbours Board erected a memorial at Birkenhead to honour their fallen workers.

South Australian Harbors Board WWI Memorial

South Australian Harbors Board WWI Memorial

(Image used with kind permission of Jenny Scott) Like so many companies and organisations who had lost their workers and colleagues, this was one of the ways in which a working community could remember their fallen and also give the families a lasting place to commemorate their loved ones. For my own part, I do not know when next I’ll have the opportunity to return to Gallipoli, but when I do, I will be sure to visit Sergeant Douglas Adams. If I can, I will lay a sprig of wattle on his grave to fulfil a part of his great mate Reuben Weatherall’s wish.


This footage is an edited down version of a recent donation to the Australian War Memorial - F11790 - entitled 'The Great Arrival.' The footage shows Arthur John Carmody, who served in the RAAF, greeting his English war bride Mary Carmody (nee Oldroyd). According to the story passed down through the family, Mary arrived on Australia Day 1946 at Station pier in Melbourne and was on the first ship of war brides coming from Europe. Travelling with her (and seen in the film) was Mary's daughter from a previous relationship with Canadian airman (and  Arthur's best friend), Albert Ritchie. Legend has it that Albert was missing in action and/or believed dead at the time Arthur and Mary were married.

The audio comes from a lacquer disc - S03038 - which was donated to the sound collection by Nancy Hollaway (nee Allen). Seventeen year old Nancy Allen had herself recorded singing "My Hero" and "I'll see you again" to send to a friend, Roland Hollaway, who was a RAAF wireless operator stationed in Darwin during the Second World War.

In the letter accompanying her donation, Nancy describes how she and Roland first met. It has been transcribed below.

A Wartime Love Story

March 1944, three 17 year olds, who had attended High School together met, with one girl inviting the other two to tea the following Saturday. Her two brothers were home on leave, Jack the eldest in the Army, and Roland in the  Air Force. It was a fun night, and after a beautiful roast dinner, we played cards. However, Roland made arrangements to meet  a friend and left.

The next morning Nancy received a phone call from Roland who said I had left my identity card behind and he would ride his bike to my office, in the suburbs and return it. We spent a short time talking and that was that.

June 18, Nancy received a letter at the office, from Roland, who said he wondered if I would write to him. Already writing to 3 other service men, students of my father, I thought “why not.”

At the time I was a member of the Women’s Air Training Corp, with the intention of joining the W.A.A.A.F. when I turned 18 in the November. I was also a member of an official Red Cross Concert Party “The Regimentals” and was involved in singing at various camps round Victoria. I would go to work with a small case with an evening dress, some make up and songs catch a bus to Melbourne at 5:30 to join the others at 6. Sometimes we did not get home till 1 or 2 o’clock, but still be at work at 9 o’clock. After the war, some of the concert party decided to keep together, and we gave concerts at Mont Park Mental Home, Coburg Pentridge Gaol and Heidelberg Military Hospital. My social life revolved round the Youth Group at the local Presbyterian Church.

Over the following months I told Roland all about these things, and he seemed more than interested. (When he came home he told me he only wrote to me as a joke with his friend Bill, but his thinking changed as time went by.) About November his letter asked if I would be his girlfriend, when he came home. My reply was that I think we should wait until we met and spent some time together.

For a Christmas present, I made a record, at a local recording studio of My Hero and I’ll see you again. He had never heard me sing.

He was a wireless operator, in Darwin, and decided to play it one night, forgetting that a main switch to the camp was on, fortunately only a couple of phrases came over the speaker.

For me, peace was declared, so there was no way I was to be called up. Roland came home in March 1945 and we followed our letter romance to day to day romance, and in September 1948 we were married. His deferred pay paid a deposit on a weather board home and with the help of a War Service Home Loan, we moved into our home, and started a very happy life together. Sadly he died in 1976, but I have 3 happily married children and eight grandchildren.

-         Nancy Hollaway, June 2003.

‘It is unlikely that ‘Australia Day’ will ever be wholly forgotten by any who were privileged to take part in that magnificent outburst of giving. […] It seemed as if the whole community had abandoned itself to giving and spending all it had for the sake of the men on service.’

Official History of Australia in the War of 1914–1918, Volume XI: Australia during the War, pp. 729-730.

Fundraising ribbon for Australia Day, 30 July 1916.

While most of us associate Australia Day with 26 January, in 1915 that date was celebrated as Foundation Day and only in New South Wales, as each of the colonies had their own commemorations for their founding. During the First World War, the concept of a national ‘Australia Day’ was instead part of a wider fundraising plan where money was raised by declaring a special ‘day’ on which events such as auctions, stalls, performances and street collections were held to encourage the community to contribute to the war effort. Belgian Day, for example, held on 14 May 1915, was one of the first of these occasions.

Identification tag for authorised vendor.

It may have been the enlistment of her four sons that inspired Mrs Ellen Wharton-Kirke of Manly, New South Wales, to suggest an ‘Australia Day’ to the New South Wales Premier, Sir Charles Wade. Her eldest, Captain Errol Wharton-Kirke, having previously served with the Australian Naval & Military Expeditionary Force in New Guinea, enlisted with the AIF on 16 April 1915 and served with 18 Battalion in France. He was killed in action on 4 August 1916. Private Basil Everal Wharton-Kirke, enlisted on 19 February 1915 and was posted to the 2nd Australian General Hospital. Wounded at Gallipoli in October, Basil was invalided home and discharged on 21 February 1916. Lieutenant Hunter Wharton-Kirke enlisted on 13 April 1915 and served with 17 Battalion. He was awarded the Military Cross for his actions on 5 June 1918 and returned to Australia in June 1919. Clement Wharton-Kirke appears to have served with British forces.

Patriotic fundraising matchbox

Mrs Wharton-Kirke had seen the generosity of the Australian people during other fundraising days and saw an ‘Australia Day’ as a way of drawing on the pride of Australians in their soldiers’ recent achievements at Gallipoli. 30 July 1915 was the date agreed upon, and events were held across all of Australia. Ribbons, badges, handkerchiefs, buttons and other items, like this matchbox, were sold to raise funds, with phrases such as ‘For Australia’s Heroes’, ‘Help Our Wounded Heroes’ and ‘The Turks Struck their Match in the Australians’ which appealed to people’s sense of pride and patriotism. From a population of just under 5 million people, the day raised over 311,500 pounds in Victoria and more than 839,500 pounds in New South Wales. In today’s figures that would be close to $623,000 and $1.7 million respectively.

In recognition of her efforts, the NSW Premier arranged for a gold medalet to be presented to Mrs Wharton-Kirke. It is one of only four commemorative Gallipoli medalets that were struck in solid gold. Thousands of medalets were produced in gilded or silvered bronze to commemorate the landing on 25 April 1915. Mrs Wharton-Kirke’s was specially engraved with ‘Pres to ELLIE WHARTON-KIRKE BY SYDNEY CITIZENS 25.7.1915’.

Mrs Wharton-Kirke's gold Australia Day commemorative medalet.

Supporting the troops through patriotic fundraising was also a way that those unable to fight could contribute to the war effort. Edward Davison purchased this handkerchief on the first nominated Australia Day, 30 July 1915. Davison had been unable to enlist at the outbreak of war because, at only five foot two and three quarter inches, he did not meet the minimum height requirement for the AIF. When the minimum height was lowered at the beginning of 1916, Davison enlisted on 11 January. After basic training he was assigned as a private to B Company, 34 Battalion, service number 404, and sailed for service on the Western Front aboard the HMAT A20 Hororata in May 1916. During the Battle of Messines in June 1917, Davison was wounded in the arm and spent six weeks recovering in hospital. He returned to Australian in May 1919.

The success of ‘Australia Day’ in 1915 saw a repeat of similar events the following year, this time on 28 July, and in the subsequent years of the war.

Fundraising ribbon: Australia Day Anniversary, Adelaide, 28 July 1916.

The Memorial holds a variety of material associated with fundraising in Australia during the First World War, including many heraldry items and ephemera, which acknowledge the important role these fundraising days, such as ‘Australia Day’ in July 1915, played in the war effort.

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