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Expert Q&A :: Finding your Anzac using the Australian War Memorial

For our Expert Q&A on Thursday, 7 November we had the team from the Australian War Memorial Research Centre join us to answer your questions about the AWM collections and how to find your Anzac ancestor. Thanks again to Jennie, Dianne, Cameron and Liz for giving us all the benefit of their time and expertise.

Don’t forget our Expert Q&As happen every Thursday night on the Inside History Magazine facebook page.

When: NSW – ACT – VIC – TAS: 8:30-9:30pm AEDT | QLD: 7:30-8:30pm | WA: 5:30-6:30pm | NT: 7:00-8:00pm | SA: 8:00-9:00pm | Weekly on Thursdays nights!

Please find the transcript of the Q&A and links below.

Summary of links from the Q&A:

10th Battalion in formation on the deck of HMS Prince of Wales, 24 April 1915. The battleship is leaving Mudros Harbour on its way to Gallipoli. [AWM A01829]
10th Battalion in formation on the deck of HMS Prince of Wales, 24 April 1915. The battleship is leaving Mudros Harbour on its way to Gallipoli. [AWM A01829]

Transcript of Expert Q&A – Australian War Memorial

Our Expert Q&A with the Australian War Memorial Research Centre starts in 30 minutes at 8:30pm AEDT. Join us with your questions about how to find your Anzac ancestor or the Australian War Memorial collections.

Please ask your questions in a comment below, and Jennie, Dianne, Cameron or Liz will answer in a comment or reply. Questions asked before the session will be copied onto this post, so our experts can answer them here in one place.

Comment: IHM: Thanks for joining us tonight! Please join me in welcoming Cameron, Dianne, Jennie and Liz from the Australian War Memorial!
A. IHM: Tip :: Keep refreshing your browser to see the answers as they appear and remember to look through the entire list of comments, as Facebook will order your questions and answers out of sequence.
A. IHM: Details for the Australian War Memorial Research Centre ::
A. Marjorie: Many thanks Jennie, AWM and Inside History.
A. IHM: You’re welcome Marjorie, thanks for joining tonight 🙂

Q. From Farmer Dolly: Is there any way to pinpoint where a soldier died except for the general area? 
A. AWM: @Farmer Dolly. Depending on the conflict in which the soldier was killed there are different resources available. For all conflicts the first stage would be to check the soldier’s personal service record through the National Archives of Australia. You can find information on how to access these records online at The Unit war diaries will also be of assistance in locating where a soldier was killed. The Research Centre has digitised Army War Diaries from the First World War, Second World War, Korean War and South East Asian conflicts. While on active service army headquarters, formations, and units are required to keep war diaries recording their daily activities. Please note that not all war diaries held by the Memorial are available online. You can find the digitised diaries on the Memorial’s website at The remaining diaries may be viewed in the Reading Room of the Memorial’s Research Centre. Cameron
A. IHM: The #WW1 war diaries in your collection is one of the most moving and valuable military history resources that Australia has.

Q. From Chris: I am wondering if you can point me in the direction of any literature on the history of honour boards and rolls of honour? Thanks. Chris. 
A. AWM: @ Chris – one book that might be of help is Sacred places : war memorials in the Australian landscape / Ken Inglis. Assisted by Jan Brazier. This is mostly about Memorials but includes some information about Honour Boards. Dianne
A. Chris: Thanks for that info.
A. IHM: Here’s where you find “Sacred places : war memorials in the Australian landscape / K.S. Inglis” at your local library ::
A. Chris: Is there an equivalent of Inglis for Canada and UK?
A. AWM: @ Chris – we are not aware of one, but it may be worth checking the British Library or Canadian National library catalogues. Liz
A. IHM: Here’s the links for the The British Library :: and Library and Archives Canada ::

Q. From Helen: My great grandfather was wounded at Gallipoli and then returned to Australia and was discharged from the army. He is then listed in a number of Trove articles as the recruiting sergeant for the Lilley Electorate and did lantern slide presentations around SE Qld. Would this have been an official Government paid position? Would there be any records?
A. IHM: Hi Helen,  the AWM have kindly offered to research your question and come back with an answer either tomorrow or early next week.
A. Helen: Thank you. That is very kind of them.

Q. From Anne: Were there ever any photos taken of the WW1 servicemen, like were done for the WW2 servicemen and if so where are they located, because I haven’t come across any.

A. IHM: Hi Anne, re you looking for anyone in particular – please reply with their name and service number if you have it 🙂
A. AWM: Hi Anne, no photographs weren’t taken in WW1 like in WW2. In WW1 portrait photographs could be taken by commercial photographers and not everyone had a photograph taken. Photographs of servicemen are held in collections throughout Australia or may still be with the family of the serviceman. You can try searching collections of Australian institutions using Trove which includes the Memorial –
A. Anne: My soldier I am looking for Eugene Sullivan no. 2371
A. AWM: Hi Anne, I have not been able to locate a photograph in the Memorial’s collection that lists Eugene Sullivan in its description. You can search the collections of other institutions for photographs of Eugene using Trove. Jennie
A. IHM: We found a Eugene Sullivan, with Service No. 2731 – is this your Eugene? I think you swapped the numbers in the service no ::
A. Anne: Yes that is my gg uncle and was incorrect with the numbers. Sorry.
Q (b): Anne: I have been told by a family member that my gg uncle’s medals were donated to a war memorial. On searching AWM and Sydney War memorial (at Hyde Park) don’t have them. Can you tell me where else I could search? The family lived at Glebe.
A. AWM: @ Anne, I have checked the back end of our collection system to double check if we do have the medals of 2731 Eugene Sullivan as not all medals are online yet and I have not been able to find any reference to us having them so I can confirm they were not donated here. Sometimes people confuse us with RSL museums, which sometimes have the word ‘Memorial’ in their title. Other options are historical societies or regional / local museums. – Dianne
A. Anne: Thanks for that, will continue the search.
A. Anne: Thanks to all for advise and help. Sorry i didn’t this earlier. I had to go offline.
Q (c): Anne: A question I submitted earlier in the evening to be asked of the research wasn’t raised. Can I ask it now just in case someone out there knows the answer? It is: does anyone know what “His Majesty’s Service G. O. C” means? Also does it have anything to do with WW1 or before? And what country?

Q. From Marjorie: I have been searching for a photograph of the Cairns Aquatic Club’s Honour Board for WWI. The Board has been lost. Can you point me in a possible direction, please?
A. AWM: Hi Marjorie, unfortunately the Memorial does not hold much information or photographs of honour boards in local communities. I would suggest having a look at Picture Queensland,, includes historical and contemporary images from across the state. Another option would be to see if there are any articles about the honour board in local newspapers that could include a photograph. Trove could be an option for searching for articles, I just found this one that may be of interest Jennie
A. IHM: The good people behind the Queensland War Memorial Register may be able to help ::
A. Ros: Have you tried Trove there may have been a photo published in the Northern Herald and advertised in the Cairns Post. Alas the Northern Herald is not on Trove yet but it has been microfilmed. I’d look for you but it’s much more fun it you find it yourself 🙂
A. Marjorie: Thanks guys.
A. Marjorie: Ros, I have tried Trove, the Cairns Post (post 1954) and the Northern Herald (on micro-fiche). I will keep trying. Someone, somewhere has to have a photo. The original Board was stored under the Club and goodness knows how many years of tides washed over it. Then a Commodore found it and put it aside with the intention of repairing it. Before he could however, it disappeared, taking the names of all the soldiers who enlisted while members of the Club. I’ve researched for years to find the names of the boys and have been successful in establishing the names of about 50 of them. As you can imagine the task is gigantic. 300,000 men enlisted. I’m trying to find which 73 of them were members of the Club – not all of them were from Cairns or even Australia. They were, however, paid up members of the Club. I located a Membership book that listed about 20 of them, which was great, except that one guy listed had originally enlisted under another name. The rest I’ve located by trawling through the local papers, page by page, year by year – looking for references to the Club and serving members. So, yes, I’ve tried and had a lot of fun and frustration along the way. All I really need is a photo of the Honour Board and then I’d be in 7th Heaven. I have an online museum called Lost Cairns. You can find some of the photos and stories of some of the boys I’ve verified on there. Cheers

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