Memorabilia boosts in­ter­est in war­time

Pilbara News - - News - Ali­cia Per­era

A WA Mu­seum-sup­ported ex­hi­bi­tion show­ing the local Roe­bourne ex­pe­ri­ence of World War I through never-be­fore-seen re­search has opened at Kar­ratha Li­brary, as part of com­mem­o­ra­tions in the lead-up to An­zac Day.

The Re­mem­ber­ing Them ex­hi­bi­tion uses a range of pho­tos, doc­u­ments and arte­facts to ex­plore the mostly un­known sto­ries of the about 200 young men from Roe­bourne and sur­round­ing dis­tricts, in­clud­ing Cos­sack, Whim Creek and re­mote sta­tions, who en­listed in the war’s armed forces.

It is the prod­uct of 18 months work from the City of Kar­ratha local his­tory team and part of a project from the WA Mu­seum, Mu­se­ums Aus­tralia WA branch and Royal Western Aus­tralian His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety, funded by Lot­terywest, to as­sist re­gional com­mu­ni­ties com­mem­o­rate 100 years since WWI.

Open­ing the ex­hi­bi­tion last Wed­nes­day, City of Kar­ratha direc­tor of com­mu­nity ser­vices Mark Casserly said it showed how se­verely the im­pact of war had been felt by local res­i­dents, both at home and abroad.

“I think part of the value of the ex­hi­bi­tion is to recog­nise the sig­nif­i­cance of our par­tic­i­pa­tion and con­tri­bu­tion to that ef­fort from this district,” he said.

“It was sig­nif­i­cant in terms of the num­ber of peo­ple that went, in terms of a per capita ba­sis, and our losses were even more sig­nif­i­cant. And these were peo­ple who were re­ally pi­o­neer­ing in this district.

“The war was just 50 years af­ter Roe­bourne was es­tab­lished, so it was re­ally early days.”

The new re­search found about one-third of local sol­diers died at war, com­pared to about 15 per cent of sol­diers Aus­tralia-wide.

Among their numbers were also pris­on­ers of war in Ger­many and Turkey, mem­bers of the 10th Light Horse Brigade and in­dige­nous men who were dis­charged for be­ing “not of suf­fi­cient Euro­pean de­scent”.

On the home front, Roe­bourne res­i­dents fre­quently had to go with­out when sup­ply ships di­verted for the war ef­fort failed to ar­rive at Point Samson.

WA Mu­seum project of­fi­cer Polly Smith said the Re­mem­ber­ing Them Project was be­ing held in re­gional WA to com­mem­o­rate the cen­te­nary of WWI and foster strong con­nec­tions to his­tory.

Chil­dren have also had the op­por­tu­nity to view war­time arte­facts at the li­brary with the ar­rival of a new set of his­tor­i­cal “me­mo­rial boxes” on loan from the Aus­tralian War Me­mo­rial.

For the sec­ond year, li­brary staff have loaned three boxes — on Aus­tralia’s ex­pe­ri­ence in World War II, the Viet­nam War, and in­dige­nous and Tor­res Strait Is­lan­ders’ war ef­forts — con­tain­ing real and replica war­time items.

Pic­tures: Ali­cia Per­era

WA Mu­seum project of­fi­cer Polly Smith, cen­tre, and City of Kar­ratha local his­tory li­brar­i­ans Sally Cul­ver and Melissa Mun­day at the Re­mem­ber­ing Them ex­hi­bi­tion in the Kar­ratha Li­brary foyer.

Pil­bara Reg­i­ment reg­i­men­tal Sergeant Ma­jor Barry Tully with daugh­ters Laura Tully, 10, and Sara Tully, 12.

The me­mo­rial boxes on loan from the Aus­tralian War Me­mo­rial con­tain real and replica war­time arte­facts.

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