Re­mem­ber­ing them in re­gional gallery

Fraser Coast Chronicle - - NEWS - JES­SICA LAMB Jes­sica.Lamb@fraser­coastchron­i­cle.com.au

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.”

Photo: Alis­tair Bright­man

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.

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