LETTERS, photographs, uniforms and even a tin crown fashioned by servicemen are among the pieces of war memorabilia that have been brought in to the War Heritage Roadshow.
The two-day event, run by the University of Melbourne’s Grimwade Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation, is in Bendigo to help people learn more about their family history and how to preserve the relics that tell these stories.
Conservation services senior manager Jude Fraser said one of the pieces that stood out to her from the roadshow’s first day was a folder, full of letters, that had been written by a man during World War II.
Ms Fraser said the man, a truck driver turned cook who had been stationed in Australia, was an avid letter-writer who penned a letter nearly every day to one of his family members, even keeping track of who he wrote to and when.
“I was stunned,” she said.
Another standout was a collection of memorabilia that had belonged to a man who served on Australia’s first submarine, lost at sea near Papua New Guinea in 1914.
Ms Fraser said such memorabilia was important.
“It tells a story about the family or that particular person, and I think it’s really interesting to know about your family, it’s part of where you came from,” she said.
Event co-ordinator Sophie Lewincamp added that these items and the tales attached to them helped place the family in the broader story of Australia.
Junortoun resident Paul Monro brought along a collection of World War I Flying Corps memorabilia, including letters, a slouch hat dating to 1918, and an observer tunic believed to be 101 years old.
Some of the letters were written by a man to his mother, following his life from his departure from Australia to his death in France.
Mr Monro said he got some “great information” from one of the experts about his items.
For those who have pieces of memorabilia at home, Ms Fraser advised they take care with the storage and handling of items.
She said it was important such items were kept in a dry, clean environment, away from direct sunlight – this meant no sheds, attics or under the house.
Hands also held dirt and oils that could damage objects, she said, so they should be washed or gloved before handling items.
Ms Fraser also suggested people consider the possible weak points of items before handling them, for example, folds in paper.
The roadshow continues on Saturday at St Paul’s Anglican Cathedral from 10am to 4pm. Members of the public are invited to take in their own memorabilia, or listen to a talk at 10.15am.
Letters give insight into lives of past
“Darling, when we arrive home, the first thing is to get married, so that other people will not have a chance to claim you.”
Those were among the many words Bailey Edwards’ great-grandfather, gunner Mervin Herbert Webb, wrote to his beloved future wife in Melbourne while stationed in Darwin during World War II.
His letters were among the family memorabilia the 17-year-old took along to the War Heritage Roadshow yesterday, along with a certificate and a uniform.
Experts gave him advice on how he could best preserve these items for years to come.
Bailey also had a great-grandfather on the other side of his family stationed in Darwin during the war.
He said he wanted to go along to learn more about the actions of Australia’s service men and women to “keep the Anzac spirit alive”.
Bailey told the Bendigo Advertiser it was “special” to have physical reminders of his family’s history to help remember what they went through.