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The Spirit Lives for 100 years: Commemorating Gallipoli and the Western Front.

Dec 3, 2014  ·  11 min read

By Sas Lyon

Between the years of 2014 and 2018, Australia will seek to commemorate, draw strength from, and praise the divinity of those who fought for our Nations freedom on the Western Front and Gallipoli during World War 1. While we live a life paved for us from the grace and bravery of these men and women, very few of us are deeply educated on the realities of what it was like to fight and serve our country in the battles that raged during this time.

The War Memorial in Canberra has dedicated the next four years to honouring this time in our history. Their plans show a high level of thoughtfulness, kindness, and a clear respect for the sensitive nature of such a sad time in our history.

Here is a special package to stay at QT Canberra that offers you a unique experience to add to your trip to the War Memorial:

Centenary of Gallipoli Package

The First World War helped define us as people and as a nation and the Centenary Program highlights milestones of special significance to all Australians.

Commemorate Australia’s military history with a tributary visit to the Australian War Memorial. Stay at QT Canberra to receive a copy of The Anzacs:100-Years On in Story and Song, overnight accommodation, full buffet breakfast in our hatted restaurant Capitol Bar and Grill, and parking at QT.

From $204 per night


Overnight accommodation in a QT Standard
A copy of ‘The Anzacs :100-Years On in Story and Song’
Breakfast in Capitol Bar & Grill daily
Onsite car parking at the Hotel

We have also collated for you here a series of experiences that have been divined in order to both further educate us, and to swell the sense of National pride that deserves to be felt for the actions of our troops. You will find within this list a strong focus on integrating Australia’s youth into the production and messaging. Ambitious projects such as the Roll of Honour soundscape, which is an audio of children’s voices reading out the names of those passed who fought in the war, and the Commemorative Crosses Project during which children who have visited the Memorial will be invited to decorate crosses with their thoughts on the experience, are poignant, thoughtful activities that will surely see a true connection with our Nations past and future souls.

There are also a great many new items of cultural significance relating to WW1 that will be seen for the first time during the exhibition. ‘A Camera on Gallipoli’ will host a wide range of never before displayed images from the War. This incredible exhibition is a real life account of a Turkish native who became an Australian medic was able to have a unique take on the war, which he captured on film. It is a narrative that ties all of the elements of the human war experience together in a seamless, visual display.

Here are our pick of the experiences on offer for you over the commemorative period:

Anzac voices exhibition

What Australians endured on Gallipoli and the Western Front, in the mud of Flanders and the deserts of Sinai–Palestine, was almost beyond description. It can never be fully comprehended by those who did not fight in these campaigns or witness them firsthand. And yet we can get at least an inkling of what it was like for the Anzacs by reading their own accounts. Their experiences of war emerge compellingly from the pages of their letters and diaries.

Drawing on the letters and diaries in the Memorial’s archives, this exhibition presents an intimate account of the First World War. Anzac voices is on display in the Special Exhibitions Gallery until late November 2014.

Anzac connections

Anzac connections is the Memorial’s major digitisation and web development project, which aims to make historic documents from the Memorial’s archive available online to all Australians. This ongoing project will deliver new digitised collections to the website, improve search and discovery on the site, and provide ways for people to interact with the collection, including the ability to comment, tag, and transcribe the collections.

To date, the Memorial has digitised 150 collections of private records related to individuals who served in the First World War. More collections, data, and web developments will be progressively released during 2014–15.

Visitors to the site will be able to read about soldiers’ experiences in their own words; letters written home in neat copperplate, or scribbled messages jotted down before battle. The Memorial’s digital archive now includes letters, private diaries, commanders’ unit diaries, official histories, memoirs, and postcards from soldiers to officers, nurses, journalists, and observers. These pages form a comprehensive written record of what Australians experienced during the First World War and are freely available to all online.

First World War dioramas

The Memorial’s iconic dioramas will remain an integral part of the First World War Galleries. Some of the original dioramas no longer exist, having been damaged or removed during earlier building renovations. 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 Sinai–Palestine 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 since the 11th Light Horse Regiment had the largest-known group of Indigenous Australians in one AIF unit.

Roll of Honour soundscape

From 4 August 2014 until the end of 2018 the recording of schoolchildren reciting the names of those who appear on the Roll of Honour will be heard throughout the First World War cloisters in the Commemorative Area.

This ambitious project will bring together recordings of each of the more than 60,000 names that appear on the First World War Roll of Honour panels. In partnership with the ABC, the Memorial invited primary school students from across Australia to lend their voices to the project. Each school’s students travelled to their closest participating ABC studio, where the children each spoke the name and age at death of a different soldier from the Roll of Honour panels.

The recordings will become part of the Memorial’s National Collection, a piece of history commemorating the centenary of the First World War.

A camera on Gallipoli

Over 2014–15 the Memorial will have a digital exhibition that showcases the photographs of Charles Ryan, drawn from an extraordinary private collection assembled during the Gallipoli campaign.

This exhibition will display iconic as well as previously unpublished images from a time and place that has become Australian legend, and in so doing will explore the extraordinary life of the man behind the camera. Amazingly, almost 40 years before the Gallipoli campaign Ryan, a senior medical officer, had served with the Turkish army. Back on the peninsula during the First World War, a brief armistice to bury the dead (one of the events captured by his camera) allowed the elderly Ryan to stand in no man’s land talking to Turkish officers about wars past and present. It was his sensitivity, his empathy with those on both sides, and his eye for the remarkable and the everyday that enabled him to capture, through a lens, the spirit of Anzac.

Roll of Honour name projections

From 4 August 2014 until 11 November 2018 the names of each of the more than 60,000 Australians listed on the First World War Roll of Honour panels in the Memorial’s Commemorative Area will be projected onto the exterior of the Memorial building.

Members of the public are invited to watch the projections taking place nightly at the Memorial. Names will be displayed from sunset to sunrise, and. each name will appear around 30 times over the course of the four-year period.

The Memorial has developed an online method by which the general public can receive information on the anticipated time and date that a particular person’s name will be displayed.

Australians at the Great War, Peter Burness

When war broke out in August 1914, Australia immediately answered the call. Hundreds of thousands of its citizens became soldiers, sailors, airmen, or nurses for the duration of the struggle. In all, more than 350,000 Australians – all of them volunteers – went off to serve on foreign soil, in the air, or on far-off seas. From the shores of Gallipoli and the sands of Sinai–Palestine to the muddy fields of France, they took part in some of the war’s most famous battles. But the cost of victory was high. More than 60,000 failed to return, having either died of wounds, been killed in battle, or succumbed to illness. Many of those who survived would continue to bear mental and physical injuries for the rest of their lives.

This publication, written by Lambert Gallipoli Fellow and Memorial Senior Historian Peter Burness, tells the stories of these men and women.

Anzac Treasures: the Gallipoli collections of the Australian War Memorial

Written by Dr Peter Pedersen, former Head of the Research Centre at the Memorial and author of seven other books on the history of the First World War, Anzac Treasures commemorates the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli campaign.

This beautifully illustrated book tells the story of the Gallipoli campaign in a unique and compelling way, focusing on the rich collections of Australian War Memorial objects, photographs, and works of art pertaining to the campaign, and containing a wide selection of fascinating personal stories.

Commemorative Crosses Project

In early 2013 the Australian War Memorial assisted in the distribution of some 2,000 crosses on which Australian schoolchildren had written messages of hope and thanks for those who have served in Australia’s name. These crosses have since been placed on the graves of First World War Australian soldiers on the western front.

The concept for this project originated in late 2010, when a small group of individuals based in Australia and Britain sought to pay their respects to those who had died while on active service. Led by the late Peter Pickering (Hobart), they produced small wooden crosses upon which Australian school children inscribed commemorative messages. These were then placed on Australian graves across the former Western Front battlefields of Belgium and France by Australians on Anzac and Remembrance Day.

The Australian War Memorial will broaden this initiative over the centenary years, 2014–18. It plans to draw on the commemorative experiences of school children visiting the Memorial by capturing, in the students’ own words, their individual reflections on those Australians who have sacrificed their lives in war and other conflicts. These thoughts will take the form of short messages on small wooden crosses, which the Memorial – working with Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), will arrange to be laid throughout the centenary period on Australian war graves and memorials. This will occur in countries such as Turkey, France, Belgium, Malaysia, Singapore, Greece, South Africa, and the Middle East.

First World War gallery redevelopment

The unveiling of the Memorial’s newly developed First World War Galleries will form a key part of the Memorial’s commemorations for the centenary of the First World War. The new galleries will meet the needs and expectations of a contemporary audience through the integration of technology and a chronological approach to the presentation of the war.

The galleries will commemorate the extensive losses Australia suffered in this war while explaining the context in which they occurred. The Memorial’s iconic First World War dioramas will return and more than 1,600 items from the National Collection will be on display.

The new galleries will officially open on 22 February 2015.

Indigenous commemoration

The Australian War Memorial is committed to the commemoration of the service of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. As part of this commitment the Memorial is producing a list of Indigenous personnel who served in the First World War, whose stories will be incorporated throughout the new galleries.

Remember to book your ‘Centenary of Gallipoli Package’ to make Canberra your base for your trip the the War Memorial.

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