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.
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.
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.'