Today, I visited the exhibition 'Shell-shocked: Australia after Armistice' at the Cobb & Co Museum in Toowoomba. As the exhibition claims "after the war comes the battle". Many struggled post-war with physical and mental health problems, mothers grieved for sons with no known burial place, and war widows tried to learn skills to support their families. This was a great interest to me as post-war trauma is a theme of my forthcoming novella, All Quiet on the Western Plains. The exhibition runs until 6 May. See details at: http://www.cobbandco.qm.qld.gov.au/Events+and+Exhibitions/Exhibitions/2014/01/Shell+Shocked#.U1ttyUt-9aQ . Let me know your thoughts if you have seen the exhibition.
Researching Australian soldiers
Several years ago, I started researching three Brisbane men who had different experiences of World War I. One served in an Engineers Corps – earning a Military Medal; another served as a motor cycle messenger in the Motor Transport Corps and was ‘Mentioned in Despatches’ in 1918; while the third was an ambulance driver in the Balkans – a theatre of the war about which we rarely hear. They also all served on the Australian home front during WWII.
Researching these men was made easier by the wonderful resources provided by the National Archives of Australia. Digitised copies of the service records for Australian WWI servicemen are available online – free - making researching your ancestor, or person of interest, simple. These can be found here: http://www.naa.gov.au/collection/explore/defence/service-records/army-wwi.aspx
World War II records are similarly available online, if someone has paid for the initial digitisation. If the record is not yet digitised, getting them done costs a nominal fee.
Once you know the division and unit in which the soldier served, it is then possible to find the battalion's history and/or diary which tell where the unit was located at various times.
In commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I later this year, the Imperial War Museum has online exhibitions and projects underway. Go to: http://www.iwm.org.uk/history/first-world-war. Similarly, the Australian War Museum has new exhibitions to commemorate the centenary - see them at http://www.awm.gov.au/1914-1918/.
Inspired by reading autobiographies and diaries of Australian soldiers who served in World War I, my novella All Quiet on the Western Plains explores the aftermath of that conflict for an Australian soldier and an English nurse who move to the western plains of Queensland to escape their experiences. Instead, they find each other and hope for the future. Available 1 May 2014 from Amazon and other good book sellers.
Have you researched an ancestor who served in World War I? I would love to hear about him or her.