Lost Diggers at Queensland Museum

01 April 2014

Visitors to the Queensland Museum will be amongst the first in Australia to view the Australian War Memorial’s travelling exhibition Remember me: the lost diggers of Vignacourt.

The unique First World War exhibition opens on Saturday 5 April at the Museum and will travel to 22 different cities and towns over the next four years.

“The photographs being exhibited represent one of the most important and recent discoveries of material from the First World War,” said Queensland Museum’s Acting CEO, Jillian Marsh.

“It is such a privilege for us to be hosting this exhibition in the lead up to Anzac Day. 

“More than 57,700 Queenslanders enlisted in the First World War, and 10,200 lost their lives, and it is wonderful to have these photographs here to commemorate our State’s contribution to the war effort,” she said.

The 74 photographs in the exhibition are part of The Louis and Antoinette Thuillier Collection, re-discovered in 2011 after sitting undisturbed for nearly a century in the attic of a farmhouse in the French village of Vignacourt.

Behind the front lines of the Somme, Vignacourt was a staging point, casualty station and recreation area for troops.

The Thuilliers, an enterprising husband-and-wife team established a business taking portrait photographs in a makeshift studio in their stable yard, just off the main street of Vignacourt.

“The enduring appeal of photographic portraits is that they enable us to imagine the characters and their life stories,” said Dr Janda Gooding, Australian War Memorial exhibition curator.

“For this exhibition, we have uncovered the identities of some of these soldiers, and their personal stories are truly remarkable.”

The Thuillier collection covers many of the significant aspects of Australian involvement on the Western Front, from military life to the friendships and bonds formed between the soldiers and civilians.

The exhibition features prints of 74 of over 800 glass-plate negatives which were generously donated to the War Memorial by Mr Kerry Stokes AC in 2012.

Media representatives are invited to attend the official opening of the exhibition at 10.15am (for 10.30 start) Friday 4 April. Australian War Memorial Director Dr Brendan Nelson and Queensland descendants of some of the lost diggers will be available for interview.

Sarah McCormack 0434 566 852 or media@qm.gov.au