Remembering them in regional gallery
MOST of the black and white faces lining the walls of the Hervey Bay Regional Gallery do not have names.
The reprinted photographs taken by enterprising husband and wife Louis and Antoinette Thuiller were some of the last photographs of Australian soldiers who passed through the small French village of Vignacourt during World War I.
It was here for just a few francs soldiers could have photographic portraits taken and then printed as post cards to send home conveying simple messages of love, survival and comradeship.
At various times between 1916 and 1919 Vignacourt was home to thousands of Australian soldiers, either billeted in the village or camped nearby.
The negatives of these photos were found in a trunk and brought by Kerry Stokes in 2011 and donated to the Australian War Memorial in 2012.
Hervey Bay is the exhibition’s last stop on its national tour and will be open for viewing until November 11.
AWM’s curator of photographs Joanne Smedley echoed the wall greeting at the beginning of the exhibition: “We know next to nothing about many of these men. They are now merely faces, lost in time –their stories unremembered, their fates unknown.”
She explained that at each place where the exhibit was displayed the identification of more of the men in the photos was discovered.
“Of 800 negatives we have about 150 identifications from our records and the general public coming forward,” she said.
“We had two more in the last fortnight and we hope to find more in Hervey Bay.”
LATEST EXHIBIT: Australian War Memorial’s curator of photographs Joanne Smedley with the Remember Me – The Lost Diggers of Vignacourt exhibition at the Hervey Bay Regional Gallery.