December 2016

75 years of the Australian War Memorial

Last month, Memorial staff gathered for a group photograph marking the 75th anniversary of the building being opened to the public.

It was also an opportunity to say farewell to the Memorial’s longest serving full time staff member, Senior Historian Peter Burness, who is retiring after being with the Memorial for 43 years. We wish Peter all the very best for his future and thank him for his heartfelt commitment and contribution to the Memorial.

Additional images are availble on our Flickr page.

“Lost with all hands”: HMAS Sydney (II), 19 November 1941. 

On 19 November 1941 HMAS Sydney (II), a light cruiser of the Royal Australian Navy, was lost following a battle with the German raider HSK Kormoran off the Western Australian coast. The loss of the Sydney with its 645 crew remains Australia’s worst naval disaster. The Kormoran was also sunk in the battle, but 317 of its crew of 397 were rescued.

Read the full article.

Spirit of Anzac Centenary Experience

The Spirit of Anzac Centenary Experience is the flagship event of the national Centenary of Anzac program. More than 200 artefacts from the Memorial’s National Collection are included in the exhibition, which recently closed in Port Augusta having welcomed more than 242, 000 visitors during its run.

The exhibition will be on display in Perth from 29 November to 11 December. In 2017 it will be moved to Eaton near Bunbury, then onto Kalgoorlie, before moving back to the east coast in February for display in Geelong, Newcastle, and Orange. The Spirit of Anzac Centenary Experience will end its tour in Sydney in April 2017.

For more details and to book tickets visit

Special events for Friends of the Memorial

Australian stories from the battles for Malaya and Singapore

Friends of the Memorial are invited to join a Military Heraldry Technology Curator and a Military Historian for a special 75th anniversary gallery presentation on the Australian campaign in Malaya and Singapore. As a special event, some rarely seen relics from the campaign will be brought out from the National Collection for close-up viewing.

2.30 pm to 3.30 pm, 24 January 2017
For Country, for Nation tour


As a special event for Friends of the Memorial, please join Indigenous Liaison Officer Michael Bell and Memorial Curator Garth O’Connell for a special tour of the new exhibition For Country, for Nation. The tour focuses on the theme of inter-connections and family links, with many items on display for the first time. Several rare historical items will be available for Friends to view up close.

(*”Hello” in the traditional language of the Gomeroi people of New South Wales)

11 am to 12 pm, 17 January 2017

See our website for more information on how to join our Friends of the Memorial program.

A home on a southern hill

Launching in the 75th anniversary year of the Australian War Memorial, A home on a southern hill is a series of showcases which tell the story of how the Memorial was brought to being, exploring its history and continuing relevance.

The series takes its name from a poem by Will Dyson written to accompany his 1928 cartoon, Calling them home, which depicts a ghostly bugler calling the spirits of Australia’s war dead to the yet-to-be-built Memorial:

The works presented in the Reg Saunders Gallery and the Reading Room have been chosen to explore the conception and purpose of the Australian War Memorial: a place for the living to remember, grieve, and understand, and for the fallen by way of a tomb fitting of their sacrifice, and a place for their spirit to reside.

Talks and tours

Visit our events calender for the full list of public tours and talks being offered at the Memorial this November:

The longest war

The longest war, an exhibition of a series of portraits depicting the impact of war on the family of Australian servicemen and servicewomen, is now on display at the Memorial.

Painted by Australian official war artist Ben Quilty, these portraits focus on the partners, children, and parents of Australian soldiers who served in Afghanistan. While family members have always played a vital role in Australian military history, their stories are often little known.

The Memorial commissioned Quilty to create portraits of people whose loved ones either were killed or suffered the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of their service in Afghanistan. The aim of the paintings is to raise awareness of the experiences of families in the aftermath of war, while acknowledging the unique and inspirational role they play.

Subjects Leesa Kwok, Elvi Wood, and Elle-Lou Diddams each had enormous pain and sorrow thrust upon them through their loved ones’ service in the Australian Defence Force. Quilty says he wanted to emphasise the ongoing battles that these women, and many others like them, continue to experience in what he calls Australia’s “longest war”.

The longest war will be on display at the Memorial until May 2017.

Online shop

DVA 2017 Calendar: animals in war

The 2017 Department of Veterans’ Affairs commemorative calendar focuses on the many roles that animals have played in Australia’s wartime history. Beginning with the contribution of military working animals such as horses, donkeys, camels, dogs, and pigeons, the calendar goes on to explore the role of animals as mascots and companions, and their appearance of animals in Australian military heraldry, art and advertising.

Fully illustrated with images from the collections of the Australian War Memorial and the Department of Defence, the calendar provides engaging insights into the experience of Australians in wartime through an examination of the animals that have accompanied our servicemen and servicewomen into war and on operational service.

Buy your copy now.

One woman’s war and peace
By Sharon Bown

In 1999 the idealistic 23-year-old Registered Nurse Sharon Bown left her comfortable family life in Tasmania and joined the Royal Australian Air Force. Through her 16-year military career she was deployed on three operations, barely survived a helicopter crash, struggled to return to military service, mixed in political circles in Canberra and around the world as aide-de-camp to the Minister for Defence, and commanded a combat surgical team during some of the most intense fighting in Afghanistan. During this time she lost her mother to breast cancer and almost lost her policeman father.

From teaching East Timorese orphans to learn English to tending to wounded coalition soldiers, Sharon’s story is that of a sheltered civilian becoming a military nursing officer and a commander. Her military service was varied and far-reaching but came at the cost of her physical and mental health.

Buy your copy now.

Christmas trading

The Memorial will be closed on Christmas Day and trading as usual every day over the holiday season. See our website for more information.

Be sure to visit our events calendar or follow us on Facebook to keep up to date with our range of tours and activities throughout December and January.

Wishing you and all of your families a safe and happy Christmas and best wishes for 2017.





6240 Total Views 2 Views Today

Posted by Brian Hartigan

Managing Editor Contact Publishing Pty Ltd PO Box 3091 Minnamurra NSW 2533 AUSTRALIA

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *