Monday, November 12, 2012

Expert Q&A :: Australian War Memorial - Lost Diggers

For our Expert Q&A Thursday, November 8 we had Janda Gooding and Lauren Hewitt, Curators at the Australian War Memorial Remember Me exhibition, join us and answer questions on how to research cemeteries in Sydney & NSW. Thanks again to Janda and Lauren for giving us all the benefit of their years of experience. We look forward to having the Australian War Memorial team back sometime very soon.

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

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

Janda Gooding is Head of Photographs, Film, Sound & Multimedia & Curator for the “Remember me: the lost diggers of Vignacourt” at the Australian War Memorial. Lauren Hewitt is the assistant Curator for the exhibition.

Top tips from Janda Gooding and Lauren Hewitt:
  1. Examine your photograph really carefully and extract all the details and information you can before heading off to do research. You never know when that small mark or insignia that you recorded will save you hours of frustrating research.
  2. The WW1 service records from the National Archives of Australia have a wealth of information in them for family historians. They are sometimes hard to decipher but reward careful looking and the correspondence from soldiers or their families in the file often carries the story into the post war period.
  3. Lots of people recommend using TROVE for a very good reason because it is amazingly helpful in establishing key dates and getting information for stories. 
  4. Check out the AWM’s Honours and Awards database on our site.
  5. Don’t leap to a conclusion before having some good corroborated evidence. Nothing worse than having to backtrack. I have had to re-do research so often because I got excited and moved too quickly!
Summary of links from the Q&A:

Read more about the Lost Diggers in our Issue 13: Nov-Dec edition.
Courtesy the Kerry Stokes Collection, The Louis and Antoinette Thuillier Collection. 


Transcript of Expert Q&A - Lost Diggers & researching your military ancestors using photos and the Australian War Memorial collection:

Our Expert Q&A with the Australian War Memorial [AWM] starts in 15 minutes at 8:30pm AEDT. Topic: The Lost Diggers & researching your military ancestors using photos & the AWM collection. Please ask your questions in a comment below and Janda or Lauren will answer in a comment.

Comment: IHM: Welcome everyone, thanks for joining us tonight. Please welcome Janda and Lauren from the Australian War Memorial and ask your questions below.
A. Lauren: Hi all, welcome. Thanks for joining us.
A. Janda: Hi everyone, great to be online for Inside History.

Q. From Jeff: I have old photos and diaries from WW1. How do I donate them to the Australian War Memorial?
A. Lauren: Hi Jeff: if you are interested in donating items to the Memorial, please see our information page about donations where you can download a donation form, or contact us on

Q. From Christine: I found a story whilst reseraching my thesis, printed, Sunday Times, Perth, 3rd August 1930, about a soldier from 10th Light Horse, a native of Perth, after various incedents, went back to Aus, then back to Egypt, studied languages, married a French Turkish lady and finally was allowed to be a professional guide at Gallipoli, he concealed his right name, and went by a Turkish one, but he sent the details of what happened to him to his family, that month!!!! Any way of finding out who he was? Your book Gallipoli Revisited is brilliant.
A. Janda: Hi Christine, we managed to find the article and then do a couple of quick searches for you. Try the Australian War Memorial series AWM 30 - you'll find it listed on the NAA website. When you search that series that relates to POWs in WW1 you'll get 309 returns for Prisoner of War Statements. It will be a hard slog, but perhaps you will find the 10th LH person you are looking for.
A. Christine: oh, thanks, so much, can I do that online?
A. Lauren: Christine, you can, however you won't be able to see the full report, only the report title. If you go to the National Archives Record Search site:
And Christine, if you click on 'Advanced Search' and select 'Series' and search for AWM30 it will give you results for the Prisoner of War statement series. Click on the number of items in this series (309) and it will take you to a listing of all the records in the series.

Q. From Amanda: What is the best way to research a family member who fought in the Boer War? My great-grandfather was in the 2nd NSW Mounted Rifles.
A. Janda: Amanda, there is a page on our site to help you start your research . There are also some very good reference books that you will find listed on our pages. Just go to and search for 'Boer War'. The State Library of NSW may also help with more detailed information. Good luck!
Q (b): From Amanda: Another question if I may: is it known if the 19th Battalion was stationed at Vignacourt? Two of our relatives served in the 19th and were killed in 1917. I have been through the Vignacourt photos looking for them, but wondered if their battalion was perhaps not stationed near there.
A. Janda: Amanda, they were definitely in Vignacourt 7 Oct - 21 Nov 1918 - for the Armistice.
A. Amanda: Thanks so much Janda and Lauren for giving up your time for our questions tonight, and for everything you do at the War Memorial.

Q. From Wendy: G'day Lauren, Janda and ISHM :) I recently ID an unknown photo of a WW1 Soldier via 'The Bendigonian ' Newspaper at TROVE , Pte James Gordon DUPUY, 568, 14th Bn he was KIA at Gallipoli on 8th Aug 1915 and has no known grave . How do I go about having his photo included on the Roll Of Honour ?
A. Lauren: Hi Wendy, you can contact our Photographs section on in regards to the photo for the Roll of Honour. Do you have the photo of Pte Dupuy or is it on Trove?
A. Wendy: Thanks Lauren , we have the original at our local Historical Society but it had no id, found a photo of him in the paper with his name ... did a big happy dance !!
A. Lauren: Hi Wendy, that's great. The Photographs team will likely ask to either borrow the original photo, or ask you to have it scanned at a high resolution to include on the ROH.
A. Wendy: Thanks, I love it ;) Was it one of you ladies that helped me earlier today by linking Jack Antonios photo to the Roll of Honour ?
A. Janda: Wendy - great. I don't think you spoke with us in particular but someone in the Photographs team here at the Memorial.
A. Wendy: Stewart Jack's photo was in the AWM collection but not with him on the Roll of Honour . Done an hour after posting a query on your page!! Great work from the team at the Memorial, you all do an amazing job , thank you :)

Q. From Leonie: Are there any records of hospital ships that carried wounded from Gallipoli to Malta. My great uncle was transported on the Dunluce Castle to Malta where he died. I would like to piece together the story of his last few days.
A. Janda: Leonie, re the hospital ships, we'll have to refer your enquiry to our Research Centre as we don't think its something we can answer in this session. We will come back to you as soon as possible with some suggestions. Thanks for the enquiry.
A. AWM: We typically don’t have detailed medical records or records of individual patients. We have a few records in our collection relating to the Dunluce Castle, but they date from 1918/1919. There may be some general information about hospital ships in the medical volumes of the Official History, which are available to read online here: If you know which hospital your relative was transferred to, there could be records of that unit, but again, they are unlikely to mention individual cases. There could be some mention of the movements or work of hospital ships in some of the administrative medical units’ war diaries (for example, the relevant Director/Deputy Director/Assistant Director of Medical Services):

Q. From Dan: Hello there, my grandfather served in the 64th Australian Infantry Battalion during WWII, and didn't speak much of the war before he passed away, I was wondering how to find out a bit about what he got up to and some info on his battalion? Thank you for any help you can offer!
A. Janda: Dan, many veterans did not talk much about their experiences. However there is lots of information about the 64th Battalion. Some of the unit diaries are online on our site here and there are unit histories that you can locate in lots of libraries. The official history of WW2 is digitised and online here and will give some clues about the battalion and its role in the war.
A. Dan: Thank you Janda! I look forward to reading whatever I can find :) I understand why some veterans kept mum, my brother deployed with MTF-1 to Afghanistan in 2010, and doesn't speak much about it (not that I press the issue). I hope he can write it down one day, maybe so in 100 years or so our decendants can get some idea about what he went through. Thankyou, once again
A. Janda: We are now working very closely with Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and they have amazing stories that they are sharing through photographs and oral histories in particular. We believe it is so important to work with veterans from recent conflicts and record their stories and experiences now. Stay tuned over the coming year for some news about great projects we have in the pipeline.
Q (b): From Dan: Hello again, my great-grandfather was Private Lawrence Alfred Pomeroy, number 7530, he was wounded at Molaveont during the Battle of Amiens on 8-8-18, had part of his leg amputated at 32 Waiting Hospital Bologne, taken to Wimereux 32 Stat Hospital & then evacuated to England for further amputation. Family legend has it that he was 15 when he enlisted and 16 when he lost his leg. I was wondering if there was any way to verify this? Thank you :)
A. Lauren - AWM Research Centre: Pte Lawrence Alfred Pomeroy, Genealogy SA site has him listed in the birth register. He was born 1899, which would have made him about 18 when he enlisted in 1917. Click to go to Genealogy SA Online Database Search.

Q. From Mary-Rose MacColl I'm looking for information for some stories I'm writing. Anyone who has boy soldiers who served in WWI... the youngest known Australian was 14, I think. I'm also looking for anyone who has any information on Millicent Sylvia Armstrong (I have her brief bio) who served at Royaumont Hospital in WWI.
A. Lauren: Hi Mary-Rose, that question might be more easily answered by our Research Centre staff. Leave it with us and we will see what we can find.
A. AWM: We have a list of boy soldiers identified on the Roll of Honour here: Boy soldiers can be difficult to trace because they would have lied about their age. There have also been some memoirs written, though most of them are British. You can see a selection in our books catalogue: We probably won’t have much about Millicent Armstrong, as she was living in England and seems to have been serving with British hospitals. The National Archives of Australia has a record of her return to Australia here: Most records will probably be held at the National Archives of the United Kingdom:

Q. From Donna: Hi. My grandfathers brother died at Beersheba whilst serving as part of the camel corp. what resources ate available for researching the camel corp.
A. IHM: Hi Donna Cooke, here's the link to the Imperial Camel Corps info ::

Q. From Wendy: I am currently researching our local WW1 Diggers as a Commemorative Project for our RSL and was wondering what sort of a deal we could get if we order lots of photos you have of our local lads ? My Page We Will Remember Them is for this project and I also admin WW1 Lost Boys.
A. Janda: Wendy, you would need to discuss this with our esales team
however, the images we post on our website are available for anyone to use for personal use and for projects such as yours. If you want to purchase better quality then esales can help...Its great work your'e doing!

Q. From Christine: if I may, here is another query, how do you go about finding people with the same name and initials, trying to find out about George Elliott, prisoner of war, looked after by Turkish doc in prison, became best of friends, and when George died, the Turkish family always put flowers on his grave, when his brother arrived in 1939, he still carried a great deal of hate, but when he found out how the Turks had looked after his brother, he felt a great relief had been lifted, ??? same site you said earlier?
A. AWM: If you’re looking to find lists of people with the same initials and surname who served in the same war, you can do this using the nominal rolls. The Memorial’s First World War nominal roll is alphabetical by surname then initials. This should help narrow down the person in question: . You can use the Memorial’s Roll of Honour to find everyone with the same name who died: I can’t find anyone who seems to match the details the client has given, but if they know any more details, they can try searching the National Archives of Australia’s database for the service records: You can search for “George Elliott” and then use other details like place of birth, middle name, next of kin, etc. to narrow down the correct individual

Q. From Kerry: Hi my name's Kerry and I am researching two brothers ww1 medals three belonging to one brother jack hunter who died in France and was never recovered and his brother Hugh who survived these medals have been in our family for 75 yrs and believe they where pawned to the families pawn shop by Hugh in the depression i have found jack gr gr nephew but he is unaware of the brother Hugh i have found he had three girls in Sydney then trail dies also how can i find if they are in the lost diggers photos. Thx any help be great.
A. Kerry: Please any help would be appreciative i have been trying to get these medals home for a year now if these records could help in any way I have searched trove/awm databases and found one part of the puzzle but can not find Hugh family his own gr gr nephew didn't know of him. I feel it is my duty these medals make it home unlike Jack still buried out there
A. Lauren: Hi Kerry, for information about medals and replacing lost medals see our information page at: The Lost Digger photos did not come with any names or records against the photos as to who is in them. You will need to search through the photos in the collection and see if you recognise any of the Hunter brothers in them. Do you have known photos of them that you can compare to?
A. IHM: Hi Kerry McMurray, I'd recommend talking to Gary Traynor at Medals Gone Missing as well ::
A. Kerry: Ty so much i have no photos they don't belong to my family. I actually used them for a conditions report for my studies after hearing jacks story and finding they don't belong to our family i want get them home i have found jacks gr gr nephew but he knows not of Hugh . So i can't return Hughes. Jacks get gr nephew told me a story while jack was reported wounded missing in action that night he sat on his mums bed and told her good bye. I will try the link you gave me i really appreciative.
A. Kerry: Ty for tonight was great.

Q. From Jenni: Do you know if any of the diggers were from the 31st Battalion in 1917.Am looking for an Ernest McMillan, his grave was lost and he is on the Menin Gate wall. Note: jack was in the 13th battalion.
A. Janda: Jenni, re 31st Btn, we know that they were stationed very close to Vignacourt 7-18 November 1916 at St Vast. Men often walked to the next town and it is also possible that 31st Btn men passed through on various errands. So have a look at the images on our website and if you think you can help us identify someone, leave a comment and we'll work on it. Good luck.

Q. From Donna: About donations: how would I go about finding out if some missing Korean War medals have been donated to th awm? My uncle was killed after his return to aus and we now cannot find the medals. His surviving siblings are unsure where they are but one of them claims they were 'donated to the museum'. We can't work out which one though.
A. Janda: Donna, we can certainly search for you and see if someone donated them in the past. Do you mind contacting our Military Heraldy and Technology section (who are all home sleeping right now!) tomorrow and ask them to check our database
A. Donna: Thank you... I will def do that.
A. Donna: Thank you for your time!

Q. From Chez: Hello a quick question...and I do have some documentation. My Great Grandfather was a Trainer at Bathurst during WW1 a bayonet trainer...he was sick of sending boys off to war and asked to go to war....he was given the position of Lance Corporal my grandmother and father who both knew him have always maintained that it was the first time that rank was given in Australia. It was done so due to his sacrifice of giving up a safe post. Is there anyway to verify this?
A. Lauren: Hi Chez, what was your great Grandfather's name and unit?
A. Chez: Robert Joseph Jansen. I think first field co. engineers.

Q. From Alison: Just wondering if the AWM has an arrangement with archivists at the various state Libraries and Museums whereby those archivists automatically advise AWM when they (1) receive photos of soldiers or (2) when they receive research to identify previously unidentified portraits of servicemen?
A. Janda: Hi Alison, nice to hear from you. We don't have any specific arrangements with other institutions but are often contacted by them to assist in cataloguing or verifying details.
A. Alison: Thanks Janda, The reason for my query was that I completed research to identify the previously unidentified soldier in this photo ( and advised Beverley Jennings of the Archival Processing Team at State Library of South Australia who kindly changed the description to read "Soldier in uniform, identified by a researcher as Robert McGowan, Service number 3977. " However not being the person in possession of the original photograph or any relation was unsure of best way to have that photo linked with the AWM records for this soldier via Honour Roll.

Q. From Marjorie: Why do some WWI soldiers have the same service number?
A. Lauren: Hi Marjorie, good question! It can be frustrating. At the beginning of the war there was no centralised system, and enlistments were taken on a state by state basis. Numbers were also reused as soldiers returned home or were killed in action.
A. Marjorie: Thank you Inside History Magazine, Lauren and Janda for this opportunity. Got a rather perplexing question of mine answered for which I am grateful.

Comment: IHM: Time flies! If we've missed your questions, Janda and Lauren have kindly agreed to followup over the coming days :) To finish, Janda and Lauren, what are your top tips for researching military ancestors in the AWM collection.
A. Janda: Top Tips from Janda and Lauren:
  1. Examine your photograph really carefully and extract all the details and information you can before heading off to do research. You never know when that small mark or insignia that you recorded will save you hours of frustrating research.
  2. The WW1 service records from the National Archives of Australia have a wealth of information in them for family historians. They are sometimes hard to decipher but reward careful looking and the correspondence from soldiers or their families in the file often carries the story into the post war period.
  3. Lots of people recommend using TROVE for a very good reason because it is amazingly helpful in establishing key dates and getting information for stories. 
  4. Check out the AWM’s Honours and Awards database on our site.
  5. Don’t leap to a conclusion before having some good corroborated evidence. Nothing worse than having to backtrack. I have had to re-do research so often because I got excited and moved too quickly! Hope these help!
Comment: IHM: Thanks again to Janda and Lauren for joining us tonight! We’ll publish the questions, answers and links from tonight’s session in a blog post this coming week. Make sure you get to Canberra for the “Remember me: the lost diggers of Vignacourt” exhibition at the Australian War Memorial ::

Next Week: Who's joining us for next Thursday's Expert Q&A? Virginia James and Mark Raadgever from the Trove team at the National Library of Australia are back.

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.

See you next Thursday, November 15 for more on the amazing Trove.


Read the previous Expert Q&A transcripts:
[1]  Thursday, July 26 :: How to get the best from Trove Australia
[2]  Thursday, August 16 :: How to get the best from BDM Certificates
[3]  Thursday, August 23 :: Getting the most from NAA
[4]  Thursday, August 30 :: Interpreting photographs for family history
[5]  Thursday, September 6 :: How to get the best from
[6]  Thursday, September 13 :: Using Trove for research
[7]  Thursday, September 20 :: Today's toolkit for the digital historian
[8]  Thursday, September 27 :: Preserving your artefacts with NAA
[9]  Thursday, October 4 :: Studying and doing research at UNE
[10]  Thursday, October 11 :: How to research war graves and Anzac ancestors
[11]  Thursday, October 25 :: What's new at
[12]  Thursday, November 1 :: How to research cemeteries in Sydney & NSW
[13] Thursday, Nov 8 :: Australian War Memorial - Lost Diggers
[14] Thursday, Nov 15 :: Getting even more from Trove
[15] Thursday, Nov 22 :: Getting the most from findmypast AU & NZ
[16] Thursday, Nov 29 :: Using NAA defence records
[19] Thursday, Dec 20 :: What's new at

One of the many Lost Digger images discovered in a barn in France last year by Ross Coulthart and the Seven Network's Sunday Night team. Courtesy the Kerry Stokes Collection, The Louis and Antoinette Thuillier Collection. Now on display at Australian War Memorial exhibition, Remember Me.

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