Thursday, 17 November 2016

Writing the War : the State Library of Victoria's travelling exhibition to commemorate WW1

The State Library of Victoria has an extraordinary archive of diaries, letters, artefacts and visual material relating to World War One, revealing the experience of Victorians during The Great War 1914 – 1918. Seven personal stories from this rich collection have been selected for the touring exhibition to Victoria's public libraries as part of the Statewide Public Library Development Projects.

The great news is that the Writing the War exhibition arrived in Ballarat Library today.  After a morning of hecticness while we set it up, we are thrilled to invite all to come and view it.

As well as the panels, stories and audio visual material provided by the State Library, we have also on display some precious items from our own collection, which are not often shown due to age and fragility.  These items include letters, diaries, and photographs from World War 1.

The Writing the War exhibition will be at Ballarat Library until January 8th.  Keep an eye out for the great program of events we have devised around the exhibition. 

The SLV's featured stories are :

Alice Kitchen
 Alice Kitchen was a nursing sister, born in Ballarat, Victoria. She was 40 years old when she enlisted in the Australian Army Nursing Services in August 1914, sailing to Egypt with the first detachment of the Australian Imperial Force. Kitchen served in Egypt, France and England. She was working at the No. 1 Australian General Hospital in Cairo when the first group of casualties from Gallipoli arrived, and later on a hospital ship in Anzac Cove. Alice served for the duration of the war and was repatriated to Australian in August 1919.

Percival Langford
 Percival Langford was born in Victoria.  He was teaching at University High School when he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force in August 1914, aged 30 years.  A lance corporal, he served in the 4th Light Horse Regiment in Egypt and Gallipoli. On 24 May, Langford witnessed the armistice between the Australian and Turkish forces on the Gallipoli Peninsula. After serving at Gallipoli, he was discharged as medically unfit in September 1916, and for the remainder of the war was based at the Melbourne Recruiting Centre with the rank of Lieutenant.

Keith Murdoch
1885 – 1952
Sir Keith Murdoch, a journalist from Camberwell, Victoria, was 33 years old when Prime Minister Andrew Fisher sent him to Gallipoli in 1915. Murdoch spent four days on the peninsula. While there, Murdoch met with war correspondents Charles Bean and Ellis Ashmead-Bartlett. After failing to smuggle a letter written by Ashmead-Bartlett past the censors, Murdoch wrote and sent his own 8000-word letter on the Gallipoli campaign to Fisher. This letter is said to have influenced the eventual withdrawal of troops from Gallipoli.

Eric Chinner
 Eric Chinner was a 20-year-old bank clerk from Peterborough, South Australia, when he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force in August 1915. A first lieutenant, he served in the 32nd Battalion in Egypt and France, and first saw action at the Battle of Fromelles on 19 July 1916. During this battle, Chinner was mortally wounded while leading a party of grenadiers. That night, 5533 soldiers were lost. In 2010 Eric Chinner was one of 96 soldiers to have his remains identified and re-buried at a new cemetery in Fromelles. 

Vida Goldstein
1869 – 1949
Vida Goldstein was born in Portland, Victoria. A veteran of the women’s suffrage movement and a staunch pacifist, Goldstein was 45 years old when war broke out in 1914. She used her newspaper, The Woman Voter, to protest the war and Australia’s involvement in it. In 1915 she became the chair of the newly established Women’s Peace Army and worked hard promoting peace and anti-war propaganda. Goldstein actively campaigned against conscription in both the October 1916 and December 1917 plebiscites.

George Auchterlonie
 George Auchterlonie was born in Gippsland in 1887. He enlisted in August 1915 and served in the 8th Light Horse Regiment in Egypt. Auchterlonie was a keen photographer and took with him a small box brownie camera. His photographs and diary entries provide a thorough glimpse of his military life through Egypt, Sinai and Palestine. The 8th Light Horse was made up solely of Victorians and commandeered by Colonel Lionel Maygar.  Auchterlonie fought in the battles of Gaza in March, 1917 and the Battle of Beersheba in October 1917. Auchterlonie finished service in 1919 and returned to Australia in 1920

 Jessie Traill
1881 - 1967
Australian artist Jessie Traill was born in Brighton, Victoria. In late 1914, Traill sailed to England and joined the British Voluntary Aid Detachment. Following her training, Traill worked at the No. 8 British General Hospital near Rouen, France, from July 1915 until February 1919, providing basic first aid, nursing and care to the sick and wounded men fighting on the frontline. She returned to Australia in the early 1920s, dedicating the rest of her life to her art.

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