The Australian War Memorial has added some new names to its Roll of Honour operational service panels. These panels commemorate those ADF members who died in a range of non-warlike operational activities since the end of the Second World War. Having lived in Papua New Guinea in the early 1970s I have a particular interest in those ADF members who died during operational service ‘Papua New Guinea 1945-75’. The Role of Honour deaths for ‘Papua New Guinea 1945-75’ can be viewed by clicking here. This list is likely to grow in future years as more servicemen are identified and commemorated.
Well, it’s not exactly new as it was taken in September 1916. But it IS new to the Australian War Memorial and is a great addition to the very limited material on Martin O’Meara VC that exists.
It was taken in September 1916 (probably between 10-16 September) and shows O’Meara being congratulated by fellow patients at the 3rd London General Hospital at Wandsworth after receiving news of his Victoria Cross. The men are all wearing the common ‘hospital blues’ uniform. The man to O’Meara’s right (shaking his hand) bears a resemblance to Albert Jacka VC who was in Wandsworth around the same time (can anybody confirm if it is Jacka?).
The photo was recently donated to the Memorial by O’Meara’s relative Noreen O’Meara. The Memorial’s page for the photo is http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/P11930.001/
Another photo already in the War Memorial’s collection (see below) looks like it was taken at the same time.
This weekend’s commemoration of the departure of the first convoy of ships carrying Australian and New Zealand soldiers from Albany here in Western Australia represents a defining moment in Australia’s history. The men (and a few women) who sailed 100 years ago were the pioneers of a new Australian spirit and identity.
One of the most interesting themes is the way that conflict created a unique Australian identity… a few British history books have described the UK-born Australian soldiers as British-born soldiers fighting with the Australians, whilst the Australian perspective is that the were all Australians irrespective of where born. The ANZAC tradition that emerged included everybody who served, not just Australian-born men and women.
The Australian War Memorial has an interesting page on the first convoy here.
The Australian War Memorial’s ANZAC Connections project is an incredibly valuable resource for anybody with an interest in Australia’s involvement in the First World War. The project has now seen more than 150 items from its collection of private records – such as letters and diaries – digitized and published on the Memorial’s website. Many more will be digitized and published in the coming years.
I read, with much interest, Philippa Martyr’s account of Martin O’Meara VC on the ABC’s website over the weekend. Despite being a brave man who saved many lives on the Western Front during the First World War, the state of O’Meara’s mental health has been the subject of discussion since he returned from the war in 1918. I’ve managed to dig up a fair bit of information on O’Meara during the course of researching my upcoming (hopefully…) biography. Stay tuned….