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Facing World War One: Stories of Loyalty, Loss and Love

Home > Brisbane > Books and Writing | Exhibitions | Free | Indoor | Museums
by Damsel Martin (subscribe)
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Museum exhibition reveals the beating hearts of battle
facing world war stories love loss loyalty museum brisbane
Unknown soldiers. Photographer: Charles Bean. Courtesy of the Steadman family.

He's the only one I have in the world and I want him not to leave me ... These are the words of a woman desperate not to lose her husband to the horrors of war. Her poignant plea is captured and amplified alongside hundreds of others in a moving new exhibition exploring the human impacts of war.

Opening to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the city's first Anzac Day parade, the Museum of Brisbane's new Facing World War One: Stories of loyalty, loss and love exhibition features many previously untold stories and unseen photographs from private collections.

facing world war stories love loss loyalty museum brisbane
Charles Ernest Steadman (left) and an unknown soldier (right). Courtesy of the Steadman family.

From the touching account of a mother searching for her missing son, through to a wife's plea to have her husband return home, Facing World War One includes letters, postcards and journals written by the loved ones of men enlisted in Brisbane, to the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) Base Records in Melbourne.

Base Records was the records office of the AIF and acted as the link between those on active service, the authorities and those at home. During October 1914 to December 1921, it sent out nearly 1.5 million letters, 163,840 telegrams, 4,809 cable messages and 31,608 parcels.

facing world war stories love loss loyalty museum brisbane
A riderless horse and an unknown soldier from 5th Light Horse at the grave of Jack Draney. Courtesy of Janette Burchard.

The filmic content of the exhibition by Facing Australia (Karen Donnelly, Tony Nott and Raimond de Weerdt) explores the impact of war on those who enlisted and those who awaited their return. A moving finale is comprised of portraits of 50 soldiers and 50 nurses, superimposed to create the 'Face of the AIF' and the 'Face of the Australian Army Nursing Service (AANS)'.

Museum of Brisbane Director Peter Denham said the First World War had an enduring legacy and the letters from Base Records were a stark reminder of its effects. 'This exhibition shows the power of the written word,' he explains. 'We have also chosen to tell the stories of two Brisbane men who used poetry to express their experiences of war.'

facing world war stories love loss loyalty museum brisbane
Albert Robert English. Courtesy of Richard Lucke.

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Why? Hear the stories that secured freedom
When: 22 April to 28 August 2016
Phone: 07 3339 0800
Where: Lvl 3, City Hall, Brisbane
Cost: Free
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