The Shrine Collection

The Shrine Collection encompasses objects, photographs, uniforms, letters and works of art that illustrate the experiences of Australians at war and in peacekeeping operations.

Gun-boat Victoria (1886) by Albert Charles CookeShrine of Remembrance

Gun-boat Victoria, Williamstown

The steam sloop Victoria was the first ship of the Victorian naval fleet. The ship was ordered in response to the threat of Russian invasion at the time of the Crimean War. Victoria arrived in Melbourne in May 1856 and served in New Zealand in 1860, during the Maori Wars.

Victorian Mounted Rifles (c 1895) by photographer unknownShrine of Remembrance

Victorian Mounted Rifles

Prior to the federation of Australia in 1901, volunteer militias were responsible for protecting the colonies. This photograph is believed to be Victorian Mounted Rifles brigade stationed at Geelong.

In the 1880s, motivated by the fear of a Russian sea-attack, artillery batteries along the Victorian coastline were bolstered with additional troops and artillery.

Lotus shoes (c 1900) by maker unknownShrine of Remembrance

Lotus Shoes

Able Seaman Frederick Gries acquired these shoes during the Boxer Rebellion. Naval Brigades from Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia were sent to China in August 1900 to bolster British representation within the Eight-Nation Alliance that had formed to suppress the peasant uprising.

Lotus shoes are worn by women whose feet have been bound at a young age to restrict their growth. Foot binding had been practiced in China for many centuries, but by the late nineteenth century it was regarded by many groups, both Chinese and foreign, as an outdated custom. These shoes are probably from the area of Tianjin where the sailors from the Victorian Naval Brigade were stationed.

Queen Victoria chocolate tin (1899) by Hudson Scott and SonsShrine of Remembrance

Queen Victoria Chocolate Tin

In the first months of the Boer War Cadbury's produced, by order of Queen Victoria, 40,000 chocolate tins to be distributed as New Year's gifts to all soldiers and sailors serving in South Africa in 1899.

Private John Charlton Boer War memorial window (1903) by Brooks, Robinson & Co., Melbourne (designer & manufacturer)Shrine of Remembrance

Private John Charlton
Boer Memorial Window

John Charlton, of Castle Creek, Victoria had belonged to the Euroa Rifle Club before enlisting and departing for service in South Africa in 1901. Serving with the 5th Victorian Mounted Rifles (5VMR), he engaged with Boer forces across southern Africa, including the disastrous battle of Wilmansrust, Transvaal, where a Boer surprise attack resulted in significant casualties to the contingent.

Charlton survived battle only to succumb to typhoid. He died, aged 23, on 16 August 1901 and is buried in Pretoria. In far off Castle Creek a well-attended memorial service for him was conducted by the Reverend FW Wray of St Paul’s Church, Euroa, who had recently returned from South Africa, where he too had suffered typhoid fever.

Wray led community fundraising for this commemorative window, which was installed in St Paul’s in 1903. It was designed and manufactured by Brooks, Robinson & Co, Melbourne, in a simple Art Nouveau style. The central motifs and the underlying quotation from the Bible evoke a Christian warrior.

A moment’s thought on courage (c 1912) by Hodder & Stoughton, LondonShrine of Remembrance

A Moment's Thought on Courage

"Courage combined with energy and perseverance will overcome difficulties apparently insurmountable."

This booklet was given to Sergeant Major Graves Chapman Stanley by his son in June 1915. Stanley, aged 41, was an education department worker who had enlisted at Blackboy Hill, Western Australia, in September 1914.

He served in Egypt and Palestine until he was discharged as medically unfit in February 1918. Stanley was diagnosed with neurasthenia, a condition that would later be described as shell shock.

Autograph book (1912-18) by Leonard CoulsonShrine of Remembrance

The Autograph Book

Lieutenant Leonard Coulson's autograph book contains well wishes and humorous messages from fellow soldiers of the 14th Battalion and family members. The verse on this page is by Captain Albert Jacka, from Wedderburn, Victoria, who was the first Australian to be awarded the Victoria Cross in the First World War. He penned his entry in Egypt in 1916.

Folding trench lantern (1914) by Harvey, Shaw & DrakeShrine of Remembrance

Folding Trench Lantern

This folding trench lantern was made in Melbourne by Harvey, Shaw & Drake Pty Ltd in 1914. It belonged to Private Harry Trotman (Senior) who served in the First World War.

Locket with miniature photographs of Ypres (c 1914) by Antony d'Ypres Photographic StudioShrine of Remembrance

Miniature Photographs of Ypres

This souvenir locket was acquired by Reginald Robinson, 3rd Field Ambulance, some time between 1916 and 1919. The photographs depict the main attractions in the Belgian town of Ypres prior to the devastation and destruction of the First World War.

Primarily circulated as postcards before the war, these images would become even more well known after the war when they were reproduced alongside images of the same sites showing the destructive power of modern artillery and warfare.

Lusitania medallion, British issue (1915) by War Propaganda Bureau, Gordon Selfridge, Karl Goetz (after)Shrine of Remembrance

Lusitania Medallion

The original Lusitania medallion was struck by Karl Goetz to highlight the culpability of the British Government in the sinking of the Cunard liner RMS Lusitania by a German submarine in May 1915. The event, in which 1,190 civilians died, provoked outrage among allied countries and neutral America, despite a warning from the German government that ships flying the flag of Britain or her allies would be at risk of warfare.

The British version of the medallion was organised through the War Propaganda Bureau with the assistance of American-British retail magnate Gordon Selfridge, whose department store sold copies of the medallion to raise funds for St. Dunstan's Blinded Soldiers and Sailors Hostel. The medal was issued with a note claiming Goetz's medal was proof of the German government’s merciless military aims.

Field medical kit (1915/1915) by Parke-Davis & Co.Shrine of Remembrance

Field Medical Kit

This First World War field medical kit belonged to Corporal Reginald Robinson, 3rd Field Ambulance, AIF. The 3rd Field Ambulance landed on Gallipoli on 25 April 1915. Corporal Robinson carried this kit, but did not take part in the landing, arriving on Gallipoli in August.

The kit, intended for providing immediate treatment on the battlefield, contains a vial of morphine, which would have been used to give pain relief to wounded soldiers.

Helmet belonging to General Sir John Monash (1916-18) by John Leopold Brodie (designer), Thomas Firth & Sons, Sheffield (manufacturer)Shrine of Remembrance

General Sir John Monash's Helmet

The ANZAC's iconic slouch hat offered little protection from shrapnel and bullets. It was soon discarded by frontline troops in favour of a steel helmet.

From 1916 until the end of the First World War, the Brodie helmet was issued to Australian soldiers serving on the Western Front. It offered greater protection to the wearer's head and shoulders from shrapnel bursting above trench lines than previous designs.

Sir John Monash is widely considered one of the First World War's outstanding commanders. On the Western Front his innovative tactics, combined with extensive and meticulous preparation, met with great success. In June 1918 Monash was given command of the Australian Corps. He planned and commanded the corps first battle at Hamel on 4 July. Monash's own description was succinct: 'all over in ninety-three minutes...the perfection of teamwork.' Further successes followed, notably at Villers-Bretonneux and Amiens.

On 12 August, in a unique gesture, King George V invested Monash in the field with the Knight Commander of the Bath award.

39th Battalion flag (c 1914) by maker unknownShrine of Remembrance

39th Battalion Flag

The stencils on this flag record the battle honours of the 39th Battalion. The 39th Battalion was formed at the Ballarat showgrounds on 21 February 1916 and drew most of its recruits from Victoria's Western District. Together with the 37th and 38th Victorian battalions and the Tasmanian 40th battalion, it made up the 10th Brigade of the 3rd Australian Division, commanded by General Sir John Monash from July 1916 until May 1918.

Trench art tank (c 1916) by Private Frank PriceShrine of Remembrance

Trench Art Tank

The introduction of tanks to the Western Front in 1916 was intended to break the stalemate of trench warfare. It would be some time, however, before they were improved sufficiently to provide effective support for the infantry.

Vote Yes conscription badge (1916) by AW PatrickShrine of Remembrance

"Vote Yes" Badge

The conscription debate divided Australia. ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ campaigns vied to capture the imagination of voters for referendums held in October 1916 and December 1917. Neither referendum passed.

Star of hope badge (1914-18) by AW PatrickShrine of Remembrance

The Star of Hope Badge

Unlike the battles on the Western Front, the Sinai-Palestine campaign was marked by swift movement and rapid advances over great distances. 136,000 Australian ‘waler’ horses carried the Australians through the long, challenging years until ultimate victory in November 1918.

Concern for the well being of the horses was an issue for both soldiers, whose lives depended on them, and those at home. Badges such as this one were worn to raise awareness of the plight of the horses and to to raise funds medical supplies.

Turkish flag (c 1917) by maker unknownShrine of Remembrance

Turkish Flag

This Turkish flag was souvenired by Sergeant James Offord after the battle of Beersheba on 31 October 1917. Offord was a 33-year-old saw mill manager living in Bendigo when he enlisted in the 4th Light Horse Regiment on 4 January 1916. He served in the light horse throughout the Sinai-Palestine campaign, and was awarded the Military Medal

General Sir Harry Chauvel (2018) by Louis LaumenShrine of Remembrance

General Sir Harry Chauvel

Sir Harry Chauvel earned his reputation as a field commander of mounted troops during the Second Boer War (1898-1902) and as an army administrator in early 1900s prior to the outbreak of world war in 1914.

At Gallipoli, Chauvel commanded both the 1st Light Horse Brigade and, from November 1915, the 1st Australian Infantry Division. After the evacuation he became commander of the Anzac Mounted Division in Egypt and in this capacity oversaw a decisive victory over the Ottomans at Romani in August 1916. During the Battle of Beersheba in 1917, Chauvel gave the order for a mounted charge which led to the capture the town, a turning point in the Sinai-Palestine Campaign. Alongside General Sir John Monash, Chauvel is considered one of the greatest wartime commanders in Australia's history.

Christmas card from Henry Braithwaite (c 1917) by maker unknownShrine of Remembrance

A Christmas Card from Henry Braithwaite

Henry Braithwaite enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) 2nd Field Artillery Brigade on the 19th August 1914 and served as a Farrier Sergeant in the Middle East and on the Western Front with responsibility for tending and shoeing the unit's horses. Braithwaite was wounded on several occasions and spent his Christmas in 1917 recovering from the effects of poison gas at a hospital in England.

This Australian-themed card features an image of a bi-plane and kangaroo on the front and opens to reveal a colour image of silver wattle on the inside. The wattle had become Australia's official floral emblem in 1912 when it was incorporated into the Australian Coat of Arms. This romantic image of a bi-plane belies the fact that air travel between Europe and Australia would not become a reality until after the First World War.

French prayer book (c 1895) by maker unknownShrine of Remembrance

French Prayer Book

Private Joseph Anderton was a last maker from Collingwood, Victoria, before he enlisted in the 14th Battalion, Australian Imperial Force (AIF) on 14 February 1916. He found this beautiful French prayer book, abandoned when the Germans began shelling Villers-Bretonneux. On the inside cover Anderton reflected on 10 May 1918 on the suffering of civilians in war. 'There is not a house in the town untouched, all were smashed by shellfire… In a great many houses the tables were set for meals, and the whole place presented a pitiful and heartbreaking spectacle of the horrors and cruelty of war…'

Still life with helmets (1918) by unknownShrine of Remembrance

Still Life with Helmets

Private William Daniels (Army Medical Corps, August 1916 Reinforcements) brought this and another similar painting back to Australia at the end of the First World War. It was painted in France in April 1918 and is signed with a monogram (JHC) in the lower right corner.

The painting is a carefully arranged still life with two British Mark 1 Brodie pattern steel helmets and a red ribbon positioned on a chair draped with a white sheet. The helmet on the left displays evidence of shrapnel or bullet damage near the top of the crown. Variations on this style of helmet were worn by all soldiers fighting on the side of the British Empire in trenches on the Western Front. Juxtaposed with the two helmets the red ribbon seems laden with symbolism and meaning. One possible meaning might relate to the emblem of the Red Cross which would have been known to all soldiers fighting in the war and would have stood as an emblem of peaceful action amidst the chaos and destruction of war. The symbolism of the red poppy as an emblem of remembrance was not commonplace until 1921.

Still life with shell (1918) by unknownShrine of Remembrance

French flag (c 1914) by maker unknownShrine of Remembrance

French Flag

This French flag flew over the police station at Amiens throughout the war. Corporal Hurtle Jose souvenired the flag on Armistice Day, 11 November 1918.

Jose was 19 when he enlisted in the AIF on 5 August 1915. He joined the 2nd Pioneer Battalion in March 1916. Exactly a year to the day after he had enlisted he suffered a gunshot wound during the battle of the Somme and spent many weeks recovering in hospital. In early 1917 he transferred to the 4th Motor Transport Company where he became an artificer, driver and a motor mechanic.

After the cessation of hostilities Private Jose served as a driver for Prime Minister Billy Hughes, transporting him to and from the negotiations at the Paris Peace Conference. Before returning to Australia, Jose worked for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, helping to ensure that Australian soldiers were promptly laid to rest.

Bugle played by Albert Dawe at the Shrine dedication (1918) by Henry Potter & Co.Shrine of Remembrance

Albert Dawe's Bugle

This bugle was played by Albert Dawe at the dedication of the Shrine of Remembrance on Armistice Day 1934. It was also played by Dawe at the first Anzac Day service held at the Shrine in 1936. Dawe continued to play this bugle at the Shrine services every year until he died in 1974.

Children's peace medal (1919/1919) by Charles Douglas Richardson (designer), Stokes & Sons, Melbourne (manufacturer)Shrine of Remembrance

Children's Peace Medal

The 1919 Children's Peace Medal was commissioned by the Department of Defence to commemorate the end of the First World War. The obverse of the medal depicts the Roman goddess Pax (Peace) standing victorious while the reverse of the medal depicts an Australian soldier and sailor with the words ‘The triumph of liberty and justice’.

The medal was issued to all Australian school students aged 14 and under and to those aged 15 and 16 whose parents had served in the armed services. Approximately 1,670,000 copies of the medal were struck by five manufacturers.

The Graves of the Fallen (1919) by Imperial War Graves CommissionShrine of Remembrance

The Graves of the Fallen

The Graves of the Fallen was published by the Imperial War Graves Commission in 1919 with text by Rudyard Kipling and illustrations by Douglas Macpherson.

It is is based on a report by Sir Frederic Kenyon, the then Director of the British Museum, who had been tasked with examining the preferred design of military cemeteries for the war dead of Britain and her Dominions.

The report concluded that "in each cemetery there should stand a Cross of Sacrifice, and an altar like Stone of Remembrance, and that the headstones on the graves should be of uniform shape and size."

Kipling developed a deep personal interest in the commemoration of Britain's war dead after his only son Jack was killed in action at the Battle of Loos in September 1915. In 1934, at the request of the Victorian Agent General in London, Kipling composed an ode to be read at the close of the dedication ceremony for the Shrine of Remembrance. At Kipling's request the ode was cast in bronze and placed in the Shrine.

Private Cyril T Leishman (1915-22) by Violet TeagueShrine of Remembrance

Private Cyril T. Leishman

Private Cyril Leishman was born in St Kilda, Victoria and worked as a station hand prior to enlisting in the AIF on 17 March 1915 in Liverpool, New South Wales. Leishman landed at Gallipoli on 18 August 1915 with the 5th Field Ambulance, Australian Medical Corps. Tragically he contracted diphtheria and died on 12 October 1915, aged 20. Grieving the loss of her only son, Cyril’s mother Millicent had this portrait painted to commemorate him. The portrait artist, Violet Teague, worked from a photograph of Cyril and had Cyril’s sister sit to help inform her rendering of his facial features. Teague’s exceptional skill as a portrait painter won her international acclaim at the Paris Salon and the Royal Academy in London in the 1920s. This painting is a fine example of her work.

Donation receipt (1928) by Committee of the National War Memorial of VictoriaShrine of Remembrance

Books of Remembrance (1931-34) by Harry Green (bookbinder); Shirley Southby (scribe & illuminator); Charity Friend (scribe & illuminator); A.C. Collins (scribe); Alexander Beech (scribe & illuminator); Oscar Passey (scribe & illuminator); James Squair (scribe); H Geoffrey Bottoms (scribe & illuminator); John Parry (scribe & illuminator); James Forman (scribe & illuminator)Shrine of Remembrance

Books of Remembrance

The Books of Remembrance preserve the names of the 89,100 Victorians who were born or enlisted in Victoria and who served abroad in the First World War, or who died in camp prior to embarkation. Inscribed and illuminated by nine calligraphers over a period of several years the Books have been on public display in bronze caskets within the ambulatory of the Shrine for over 80 years.

The Books of Remembrance comprise thirty-eight Army and Flying Corps Books, one Naval Book and one Sundry Book, which contains the names of Victorians who served in non-Australian units. Names are listed in alphabetical order, by surname and initial, with military award/decoration if applicable, but no ranks are observed, except for nurses, and no annotation of asterisk or cross separates the dead from the living.

The Books of Remembrance record the shift from private to public remembrance in the wake of the First World War. The magnitude of the undertaking reflects the deep impact the war had on a young society and the need felt for public commemoration as a legacy for future generations.

Book of dedication (1934) by James Forman (calligrapher)Shrine of Remembrance

The Royal Book of Remembrance (1934/1954) by Harry Green (bookbinder); James Forman (scribe)Shrine of Remembrance

Poppy (1934/1934) by Maker unknownShrine of Remembrance


This is one of the poppies sold to the public at the dedication ceremony of the Shrine of Remembrance in 1934. The proceeds from the sale of the poppies were used to assist in the repatriation of returned Victorian servicemen.

Needlework of Shrine of Remembrance (1934/1960) by Christina HallShrine of Remembrance

Needlework of Shrine of Remembrance

Christina Elizabeth Hall created this needlework to commemorate her own sense of loss in the aftermath of the First World War. The needlework, which was proudly displayed in Hall's house for most of her adult life, served as a reminder of the sacrifice she and other Victorians had made during the war.

Matchbox cover (c 1940) by maker unknownShrine of Remembrance

Matchbox Cover

Matchbox holders such as this were given by local councils to departing soldiers during the Second World War. Engraved on the reverse is a message from the Mayor, Councillors and citizens of the city wishing the recipient a safe and speedy return.

Trench art boat (c 1941) by maker unknownShrine of Remembrance

Trench Art Boat

This sculpture of a sailing boat is an example of trench art from the Second World War. It is made out of a recycled .50 Browning Machine Gun cartridge shell casing. The sailboat design is that of a three masted barquentine. A related work in the collection features a smaller sloop rigged sailboat.

This item was in the possession of Harry Trotman (Senior) who served in the AIF during the First World War. Harry Trotman (Junior) served in the New Zealand Expeditionary Force during the Second World War. Harry Trotman (Jnr) was killed in action on 23 November 1941 during Operation Crusade in the Western Desert of Africa. The headstamp on the casing suggests that the sculpture was made sometime after 1941.

2/23 Australian Infantry Battalion colour patch (Pre-Tobruk) (1940-42) by maker unknownShrine of Remembrance

Australian Infantry Battalian Patches

2/23 Australian Infantry Battalion colour patch (1942-46) by maker unknownShrine of Remembrance

This patch for 2/23 Australian Infantry Battalion was created in 1942 replacing an earlier patch adopted from the First World War. The design is a reference to the siege of Tobruk and was chosen to recognise the bravery that the soldiers of the 2/23 Australian Infantry Battalion displayed during the siege. Soldiers wearing this patch served in North Africa and the South West Pacific during the Second World War.

Toy rabbit (1942/1942) by maker unknownShrine of Remembrance

Toy Rabbit

Lieutenant Kathleen McMillan, a 10th Australian General Hospital nursing sister, found this toy rabbit near Singapore Harbour wharf in the frantic days before Singapore fell to the Japanese on 15 February 1942. McMillan escaped the island with 2,154 evacuees aboard SS Empire Star, a ship which ordinarily berthed 29 passengers. The Empire Star was one of 16 vessels to leave Singapore Harbour on 12 February, and one of only two not sunk soon afterwards. McMillan hoped to reunite the rabbit with its owner but failed. She kept it the rest of her life as a reminder of those desperate days.

Changi prisoner of war camp identity discs (1942-43) by maker unknownShrine of Remembrance

Changi Prisoner of War, Identity Discs

These identity tags belonged to Corporal Reginald Robinson who became a prisoner of war in 1942 following the Japanese attack on Dutch Timor.

Robinson was a member of the 2/40th Australian Infantry Battalion which had been assigned the role of defending the airfield at Penfui. Under-resourced and facing overwhelming Japanese force the majority of the battalion surrendered or were captured in early 1942.

Within a year the majority of Australians had been transferred to Changi prisoner camp or put to work in a Japanese labour camp. Despite the hardship faced by Australian prisoners Robinson, who, at 49 years of age and a veteran of the First World War, survived his captivity and was repatriated back to Australia at war's end.

Rail spike from the Burma-Thailand Railway (c 1943) by maker unknownShrine of Remembrance

Rail Spike from the Burma-Thailand Railway

The Burma-Thailand Railway, which linked Bangkok and Rangoon, was built to supply Japanese forces fighting Anglo-Indian troops in Burma. To ensure its speedy construction, the Japanese employed the forced labour of 180,000 Asian workers and 60,000 Allied prisoners of war. Work began in June 1942 and was completed in October 1943.

Conditions on the railway were appalling, and an estimated 90,000 Asian labourers and 16,000 Allied prisoners died during construction. Among the dead were 6,318 British personnel, 2,815 Australians, 2,490 Dutch, 356 Americans and at least 4,000 Indians.

It is said that one man died for every sleeper laid.

Epaulette worn by Squadron Leader James Catanach (c 1942) by Gieves LimitedShrine of Remembrance

James Catanach's Epaulette

Squadron Leader James Catanach was the youngest son of William Mercer and Ruby Catanach. Joining the RAAF in 1940, ‘Jimmy’ began his career strongly, consistently scoring ‘Above the Average’ in his training missions.

Distinguished Flying Cross (c 1942) by Royal MintShrine of Remembrance

Distinguished Flying Cross

Jimmy joined the 455 Squadron in 1942 and received the DFC in June of the same year for ‘3 occasions despite severe damage aircraft returned to Base safe.’ This behaviour lead Jimmy to become the youngest Squadron Leader to command a squadron in the RAAF and the RAF.

Watch belonging to Squadron Leader James Catanach (1940/1940) by CYMAShrine of Remembrance

James Catanach's Watch

In September 1942 Catanach was forced to land his Hampden AT-109 behind enemy lines and was captured and interned in the German prison camp Stalag Luft III. On the night of the 24/25th March 1944, 76 prisoners, including Catanach, escaped from the camp in an episode that has become known as ‘the Great Escape’. Within weeks, however, all but three of the escapees had been recaptured by the Gestapo. Hitler ordered 50 of these men to be shot and Squadron Leader James Catanach was one of them.

The warring forties (1943) by Mick ArmstrongShrine of Remembrance

The Warring Forties

Mick Armstrong was a celebrated Australian political cartoonist best known for his work in the Melbourne Argus during the Second World War. Here he depicts the opposing wartime leaders: Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin (top line), and Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini and Hideki Tojo (bottom line).

Silk handkerchief (c 1943) by FougasseShrine of Remembrance

Silk Handkerchief

Fougasse was the pseudonym of Cyril Kenneth Bird, a British cartoonist and magazine editor. This handkerchief is based on Fougasse’s 'Careless Talk Costs Lives' poster series which were distributed widely around England as part of the British war effort during the Second World War. Bird joined the Royal Engineers in 1914 but was wounded at Gallipoli in 1916. He began producing cartoons while recovering from his injuries.

Surrender leaflet: To officers and men of the Imperial Japanese Army (c 1944) by Far Eastern Liaison Office (FELO)Shrine of Remembrance

Surrender Leaflet

This pamphlet was published by the Far Eastern Liaison Office, a propaganda and field intelligence unit, established by General Sir Thomas Blamey, Allied Land Commander for the South West Pacific Area, during the Second World War.

The leaflet, which is addressed to officers and men of the Imperial Japanese Army, contains instructions in Japanese on how to surrender to the Allied Forces and a note in English requesting that the person bearing the leaflet be treated in accordance with international law. The leaflet was distributed across Melanesia and parts of Indonesia and Malaysia.

Morotai cup and pennant (c 1945) by Maker unknownShrine of Remembrance

Morotai Cup and Pennant

Presented to Sapper Alfred ‘Mick’ Hoffman, Australian Land Headquarters, Morotai. Sports, such as Australian football, have always been valued by the military. The qualities displayed by sportsmen and women – courage, focus, teamwork, leadership, strength and skill – are also highly prized in the armed services. For Australian troops stationed overseas, or held in prisoner-of-war camps, sport was not just a welcome diversion; it was also a vital emotional and physical outlet, a means to reconnect with the ordinary life from which they had been removed.

'The missus expects' and 'Island sport' illustrated envelopes (c 1945) by Robert SutherlandShrine of Remembrance

"The Missus Expects" and "Island Sports"

Bombardier Robert Sutherland was stationed on Morotai Island, a key staging point and airbase for later Allied campaigns in the Philippines and Borneo. During his posting Sutherland sent his wife many airmails, each illustrated with a humorous scene.

Japanese flag signed by British Commonwealth Occupation Force (BCOF) members (c 1947) by maker unknownShrine of Remembrance

Japanese Flag Signed by BCOF

This Japanese silk flag was signed by members of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force (BCOF) – including George Trew who collected it – as well as Japanese civilians, at the Australian Army Canteen Service (AACS) in Kure, Japan. Kure was the location of BCOF headquarters. The port city had been heavily bombed during the war.

Your country needs you by Eric WestbrookShrine of Remembrance

Your Country Needs You

Eric Westbrook was born in England in 1915 and studied painting in London and Paris in the years prior to the Second World War. Despite his own initial enthusiasm for active service, he was rejected by both the International Brigades and the British Army on account of his size and stature. Nevertheless, Westbrook was able to contribute to the war effort as an intelligence liaison offer and army educator.

he title of this drawing refers to army recruitment slogans first popularised during the First World War. The drawing depicts a new recruit swearing an oath of allegiance to the King. The oath was required to be sworn by all new recruits who had passed their physical examination. The recruit, still dressed in his civilian clothes, holds a copy of the Bible while he recites the oath in the presence of two officers, one of whom appears to be a Recruiting Sergeant identifiable by his red sash and staff.

Jungle greens worn by Second Lieutenant Robin Hunt (1970) by Commonwealth Government Clothing FactoryShrine of Remembrance

Jungle Greens

The Vietnam War was a war of mobility. Australian soldiers spent much of their time patrolling and on operations away from the Task Force Base. This often involved carrying a rifle, ammunition, Claymore mines, water bottles and other personal equipment. These items were mounted on webbing belts and packs around the soldier's body. A piece of scrim fabric was invaluable as a sweat-rag and a toggle rope had numerous improvised uses.

Soldier's kit varied through the course of the war and in accordance with their role and personal preferences. The design of Australian uniforms changed under the influence of American equipment. Lighter fabric, better suited to tropical conditions, was introduced in 1966.

This uniform belonged to Second Lieutenant Robin Hunt, who was called up for National Service in 1969 and selected for officer training at 1 Officer Training Unit (1 OTU), Scheyville. 1OTU was created to meet the rapidly expanding Army's personnel needs, by training National Servicemen as officers in a short and intensive course.

In December 1970, Hunt was sent to Vietnam to become a Section Commander with 107 Field Battery. While he was in Vietnam the battery operated from the Task Force base at Nui Dat and Fire Support Bases in Phuoc Tuy Province in support of Operation Cung Chung III.

Safe-conduct pass (1965-67) by Joint United States Public Affairs Office (JUSPAO)Shrine of Remembrance

Safe Conduct Pass

During the Vietnam War (1962–75), the South Vietnamese government actively encouraged enemy fighters to defect. The defection program, known as Chiêu Hồi, or ‘open arms' involved dropping safe conduct passes from aircraft over known Viet Cong-controlled areas.

The intention was that members of the Viet Cong would find the safe conduct passes and understand that they could surrender without coming to harm. The flags of the different nationalities fighting on the South Vietnamese government’s side, along with the multilingual text, were intended to convey that the promise of safety bound all countries’ forces.

Having surrendered, former Viet Cong members were retrained in special Chiêu Hồi Centres, and many enlisted in the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN). Some 150,000 enemy soldiers defected under the program.

Combat Vehicle Crewmen (CVC) helmet (c 1995) by Gentex CorporationShrine of Remembrance

Combat Vehicle Crewman Helmet

Private Gregory Williams served in Afghanistan between February and October 2010. A member of 6th Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment (6RAR), he joined the Australian Army in 2007. Private Williams served with Combat Team Delta in Afghanistan, and his Battle Group was awarded the Meritorious Unit Citation.

The Combat Vehicle Crewmen (CVC) helmet incorporates a headset for communication and a bracket for head-mounted equipment. It was worn by Private Williams as a crew member for a Bushmaster combat vehicle. The Bushmaster, an Australian-designed armoured vehicle, is manufactured in Bendigo, Victoria.

Private Williams recalled in an interview the difficulty of distinguishing hostile forces from the civilian population in a war zone with no fixed front line and where the enemy did not wear uniforms:

'You look at everyone as an enemy first, while at the same time treating them with respect…. It is really hard to identify the threat.'

Afghan rug (2010/2010) by maker unknownShrine of Remembrance

Afghan Rug

Rug and carpet making is one of the great cultural traditions of Afghanistan and can produce designs of great beauty. In contrast, this design, with its tanks and AK-47 rifle, reflects the turmoil of war that has been endemic since the Soviet invasion of 1979.

There are more than 75 million AK-47 Kalashnikov assault rifles in the world. Introduced in the USSR in 1947, it has remained in production ever since, with variants of the original design produced in many countries. Cheap to make, rugged and reliable, it became the iconic weapon of guerrilla fighters in third world countries, including the Viet Cong in the Vietnam War, and the Mujahideen who fought the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

Pierrot (Sarbi) (2014) by Lyndell Brown, Charles Green, and Jon CattapanShrine of Remembrance

Pierrot (Sarbi)

The story of Sarbi the Explosive Detection Dog has become a talisman of the war in Afghanistan. It speaks of survival, mystery and the deep bonds between animals and their handlers: bonds that fascinated artists Charles Green and Lyndell Brown on their visit to Afghanistan as official artists commissioned by the Australian War Memorial. Jon Cattapan was also an official artist in East Timor. They all found their experience of modern conflict a turning point in their careers, stimulating a collaboration in which they have jointly created works reflecting on the aftermath of conflict.

Sarbi, selected as a Special Forces Explosive Detection dog for her curiosity and focus, was sent to Afghanistan to sniff out explosives. She went missing when a rocket exploded near her during a Taliban ambush – the same incident for which Mark Donaldson was later awarded the Victoria Cross.

Sarbi was listed as missing in action, but 14 months later, she reappeared, to a wave of media interest and the great joy of her handlers. What had happened to her in the intervening period remains a mystery: an unknown person or group seems to have looked after her.

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