I have been trying to finish this post ever since I walked out of the Australian War Memorial's amazing exhibition Remember Me: The Lost Diggers of Vignacourt in tears on Sunday 10 March.
All I can say, really, is YOU MUST SEE IT!
|Kerry Stokes collection, the Louis and Antoinette Thuillier Collection. Unidentified member of the British Royal Army Medical Corps Field Ambulance on a motorcycle. Taken by Louis and Antoinette Thuillier in Vignacourt, France during the period 1916 to 1918. Copyright held by Australian Capital Equity Pty Ltd. Retrieved from: http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/p10550.117|
If you can't get to Canberra before the 31 July 2013, you can still see the photos online: http://www.awm.gov.au/exhibitions/remember-me/collection/
In fact, even if you can get to Canberra, you need to look online as well. Only 74 of the almost 4,000 photographs in the collection are on display. Kerry Stokes AC donated more than 800 of the original glass-plates that feature Australians to the AWM, but the entire collection includes British, French, American and Indian soldiers, the little known Chinese labour corps, as well French civilians.
Many of the men of remain unidentified. Maybe, just maybe, one of your diggers is in amongst the unidentified men - so it is definitely worth taking a look.
The photos depict an amazing array of characters - at times cheeky and irreverent, and at other times you can see the sheer exhaustion in the men's faces. My favourite print at the War Memorial was one of some Scottish soldiers, filthy, but smiling and drinking, one of the men was actually pouring a drink in to a glass as the photo was taken, leaving a blurry outline of the bottle and his hand.