ANZAC Centenary 2014-2018: Sharing Victoria's Stories
  • Anzac Centenary House Plaques Trial

    March 22, 2016

    The Victorian Government is inviting Victorians living in homes once the residence of  World War I soldiers or nurses to purchase a commemorative plaque.

    Minister for Veterans John Eren announced on Friday 18 March 2016 a trial program that will connect today’s households with Victoria’s wartime legacy.

    The trial will be available to select households  in Williamstown, Hawthorn, Geelong and Ballarat. Selected households will be contacted directly and invited to participate.

    Many Victorians have a connection with World War I. More than 110,000 Victorians answered their nation’s call and enlisted in the war between 1914 and 1918. The rich legacy of our servicemen and women has been captured and preserved by historical writings, research programs and databases.

    The Victorian Government has identified 400 houses that were home to a World War I participant, and is now inviting current homeowners to purchase a plaque to commemorate their property’s place in our history. The plaques will cost $70.

    Our veterans deserve the greatest respect, and the Anzac Centenary House Plaque Trial Project is another fitting tribute to our servicemen and women.

    The Victorian Government will assess the success of the trial before deciding whether to roll it out across the state.

    If you want to check if a soldier or nurse lived in your home, in 1914-18, then visit the AIF Project, and search under your address. Make sure to tick the box to check on next of kin’s address too, as so many of those who enlisted were very young and still living in their parent’s home. The search results may also bring up others who lived in your street – make sure you share this information with your neighbours!

    Plaques at this stage will be restricted to the trial areas.

    However If you would like to register your interest to participate if the project is rolled out statewide, please email us at and we will keep your contact details for further information in the future.

  • Bringing Our Stories Home

    March 4, 2016

    The Victorian Government is pleased to support a six-part series Bringing Our Stories Home, through the Anzac Centenary Major Grants program.

    Produced by Open Channel, the series explores the untold stories of the First World War, focusing specifically on the impact felt at home in Australia, and the lasting effects of the war that shaped a nation. The series includes Economic Conscription, On the Margins, Putting a Brave Face On It, Six and Out, Doing out Bit and Every Night’s a Gala Night. The series will be released in 2016.

    Learn more

    Economic Conscription Every Nights a Gala Night On The Margins Putting A Brave Face On It

  • Stories of British Imperial Reservists – Issy Smith

    February 26, 2016

    Issy SmithIshroulch Shmeilowitz was born in Alexandria, Egypt in 1890. At the age of 11, for reasons unknown, Ishroulch stowed away on a ship bound for London. Just 3 years later, he joined the British army at the age of 14, and became a private in the Manchester Regiment. It was at this time that he adopted the pseudonym ‘Issy Smith’ at the request of the recruiting sergeant. After he completed his army training, Smith served in South Africa and India with the 1st Battalion of the Manchester Regiment.

    Having served eight years with the Regiment, Smith was discharged in 1912 and resided in London briefly before immigrating to Australia. Smith lived in Ascot Vale in Melbourne and took employment at the city gas company. Not having completed 12 years’ service, on his discharge, Smith was listed as a reservist, and at the outbreak of the war in 1914 was mobilised by the British army, sailing from Melbourne on the ‘Miltiades’ on the 21st of October 2014.

    The first Manchester Regiment sailed from India to France on 29 August 1914, arriving at the end of September and deployed to the front on the 26th of October. On re-joining his Regiment, Smith served at the battles of Givenchy, Neuve Chapelle and the ‘Second Battle of Ypres’.

    During a counter attack on the 26th of April 2015, Smith voluntarily moved towards the German lines in order to care for a severely wounded soldier, carrying him to safety while being exposed to gunfire. This act of bravery, and citation for bringing in a number of other wounded men on the day, resulted in Smith being awarded the Victoria Cross, the first Jewish soldier to receive the medal. Smith’s award for bravery at the expense of his own personal safety later granted Issy the unofficial title of ‘Our First VC’ at the Australian War Memorial.

    Issy was demobilised in 1919 and returned to London, where he married. Some 6 years later he returned to Australia with his wife and daughter and settled in the suburb of Moonee Ponds. Smith suffered consistent illnesses after his service, with medical records showing many visits to the hospital for respiratory complaints linked with the gassing sustained during battle. Smith died suddenly of coronary thrombosis in 1940 at the age of 50, leaving behind his wife Elsie, daughter Olive and son Maurice (pictured above wearing Issy’s medals). Issy Smith was buried in the Hebrew section of the Faulkner cemetery in Melbourne, with full military honours.

    Extract taken from HMAT Militiades Research Project Report – prepared for the Veterans Branch, Department of Premier and Cabinet by Archaeological & Heritage Management Solutions (AHMS). With thanks to the United Kingdom Government for their support of this project. Learn more about the project.

    Read Issy Smith’s full story and search the full British Imperial Reservist Database:

    British Imperial Reservists – Issy Smith Word 99kb

    British Imperial Reservists – Issy Smith PDF 103kb

    British Imperial Reservist Database

  • Leaving Gallipoli – the man behind the plan

    December 15, 2015

    Australian Lieutenant Colonel Cyril Brudenell White devised the detailed plan to evacuate Gallipoli in December 1915.   This involved elaborate deception operations such as the so-called ‘silent stunts’ of late November, where no artillery fire or sniping was to occur from the Anzac lines. It was hoped that this would accustom their opponents to the idea that preparations were underway for the coming winter. Hopefully, the enemy would not, therefore, interpret these silences as a withdrawal.

    1442308757011Brudenell White was no stranger  to this kind of detailed thinking and strategy.

    Learn more

  • Victoria Remembers Private Martin

    October 22, 2015

    P00069_001Sunday 25 October marks the 100th anniversary of the death, at Gallipoli, of Private James Charles (Jim) Martin. Jim Martin is thought to be the youngest Australian to die on active service.

    Jim was born in Tocumwal, NSW on 3 January 1901. Martin’s family moved to many different suburbs in and around Melbourne before finally settling in Mary Street, Hawthorn, in 1910. Having just left school to work as a farmhand, he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force in April 1915 at the age of 14 years and 3 months. He told the recruiting officers that he was 18.

    Jim joined the 1st Reinforcements of the 21st Battalion with the service number 1553 and trained at Broadmeadows and Seymour Camps in Victoria. In June he left for Egypt on the troopship HMAT Berrima. He embarked for Gallipoli on the steamer HMT Southland, “to have our share of the Turks” (letter to his family, 26 August). However, the ship was torpedoed by a German submarine off Lemnos Island and Martin spent four hours in the water before rescue.

    Private Martin landed with his battalion on Gallipoli on 8 September. They were stationed in the trench lines near Courtney’s Post on the ridge above Monash Valley. He wrote to his family (4 October) that “the Turks are still about 70 yards away from us… Don’t worry about me as I am doing splendid over here.” But on 25 October he was evacuated to the hospital ship Glenart Castle suffering from enteritis. He died of heart failure that evening and was buried at sea. His name is recorded on the Lone Pine Memorial at Gallipoli. Copy courtesy of the AWM.


    Jim Martin, pictured above with his family, is the subject of the book, Soldier Boy, by Anthony Hill.

    A list of ‘boy soldiers” from WWI can be found on the Australian War Memorial website,

    Victoria Remembers Jim, and all the many others who lost their lives whilst serving their country. Lest We Forget.

  • 5000 Poppies heading to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show

    October 20, 2015

    The Victorian State Government is proud to support the 5000 Poppies project in their adventure to showcase the stunning collection of knitted poppies at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

    Creator Lynn Berry will accompany acclaimed landscape gardener Phillip Johnson, as they take the poppies across the waters and display them for the world to see.

    Minister for Veterans, the Hon John Eren says “the 5000 Poppies Project is a stunning tribute to our servicemen and women. Now, people from all over the world will be able to pay their respects.”

    Learn more –

    'Planting' of the poppies at Federation Square, Remembrance Day 2013. IMG_0158

  • The George Warfe Memorial Elementary School

    August 15, 2015

    A school in Papua New Guinea is to be named in honour of former World War Two commando leader, George Warfe, explains Darren Robins, who is the grandchild of a former member of the 2/3rd Australian Independent Company, WX2048 H.W. ‘Bill’ Robins, who fought under the leader in the Wau-Salamaua Campaign.

    George Warfe WWII Commando LeaderOn the 14th of October this year, 2015, the primary school in Kamiatum , Papua New Guinea will be named in honour of George Warfe, for his service during the Wau-Salamaua Campaign. The then Major George Warfe was OC of the 2/3rd Australian Independent Company.

    In early March 1943, the Imperial Japanese Navy occupied the townships of Lae and Salamaua in the Mandated Territory of New Guinea. Between then and the re-occupation of Salamaua by Australian and U.S. forces in September 1943, the campaign directly occupied 10-and-a-half Australian and American infantry battalions and three Australian Independent Companies, and on the Japanese side, at least ten infantry battalions and elements of several Special Naval Landing Forces. Colonel George Warfe DSO MC, then a major, was OC of the 2/3rd Australian Independent Company, which served in the Wau-Salamaua Campaign between late January and mid-September 1943.

    George Warfe was born in Victoria and with the exception of his overseas military service, spent almost his whole life and career in his home state. It was George Warfe, along with Ken Mackenzie, who jointly chaired the first meeting in early 1946 that resulted in the birth of the Commando Association of Victoria. Komiatum (now spelt Kamiatum) was a village and ridge just inland from the Japanese coastal base of Salamaua. Komiatum Ridge dominated the enemy L of C between Salamaua and their most forward defensive outpost of Mubo. The Kamiatum area now is a collection of family ‘camps’ in the Burali Valley between the Kamiatum and Bobdubi Ridges. Local industry consists mostly of subsistence agriculture, with some cocoa, and further inland, coffee grown.

    A small but well-presented war museum in the Buiumbui camp was named the Bui Warfe War Museum after the nearby stream which was named in honour of then Major Warfe in 1943. Since the building of a new elementary school at Kamiatum two years ago, it has been desired to also name this in honour of Colonel Warfe, as a representative of the thousands of Australians who served in the area during 1942-43 and the official dedication is on the 14th of October 2015.

  • Victory in the Pacific

    August 12, 2015

    This Saturday, 15 August 2015, marks 70 years since the end of the Second World War – Victory in the Pacific, or VP Day.

    Nearly 1 million Australians served in WWII, around 30,000 were captured as POWs and 40,000 would never return home. We encourage all Victorians to acknowledge this anniversary and take the time to commemorate the service and sacrifice of so many.

    A commemorative service will be held at the Shrine of Remembrance at midday.

    Learn more

  • The 1st Royal Australian Naval Bridging Train

    August 11, 2015

    The 1st RANBT, arriving on the Gallipoli Peninsula in August 1915, set up its camp at what became known as Kangaroo Beach. It was responsible for a wide variety of tasks including: building and maintaining wharves and piers, unloading stores from lighters, controlling the supply of fresh water to front line troops, stock-piling engineering equipment, building a light railway for stores movements and carrying out repairs in an open-air workshop.

    Bridging%20Train%20Banner_1Engineering materials were scarce on the Gallipoli Peninsula, and faced with a lack of suitable bolts and iron dowels essential for pier construction, the men turned to a wrecked sand dredge to acquire the necessary material. It’s artificers removed guard-rails and rungs cut from steel ladders to fashion their own fasteners using a portable forge.

    From time-to-time men of the 1st RANBT involved themselves in other affairs as revealed by the following account told by a sergeant of the British 32nd Field Ambulance, stationed at Suvla Bay:

    Fairly late in the day, as we all lay sprawling on the rocks, I saw a small party staggering down the defile leading to this point. There were two men with cowboy hats and between them they helped another thin and very exhausted looking fellow, who tottered along holding one arm which had been wounded. As they came nearer I recognised my little lance-jack [lance corporal], very pale and a little thinner than usual. The other two were sturdy enough, one short and the other tall, with great rough brown hands, sunburnt faces and bare arms. They wore brown leggings, riding breeches and khaki shirts. They carried their rifles at the trail and strode up to us with the easy gait of those accustomed to outdoor life. ‘Australians’ said someone. “Where’s your boss” asked the tall colonial. “The adjutant is over here” I answered. “We’d like a word with him” said the man. I took them up to the officer and they both saluted in an easy going sort of way. “We found him up there” – the Australian jerked his head – “being sniped at and could not get away; he says he belongs to the 32 Ambulance, so here he is”.

    The two were about to slope off again when the Adjutant called them back. “Where did you find him?” he asked. “Up behind Jefferson’s Post; there were five snipers potting at him and it looked mighty like his number was up. We killed four of the snipers and got him out”. “That was very good of you. Did you see any more? We lost some others and an officer and a sergeant.” “No, I did not spot any, did you Bill?” The tall man turned to his mate leaning on his rifle. “No” answered the short sharp-shooter, “He’s the only one. It was a good afternoon sport, very good. We saw he’d got no rifle and was in a tight close-hitch, so we took the job on there and then, finished four of them, but it took some creeping and crawling.” “Well, we will be quitting this now” said the tall one. “There is only one thing we would ask of you sir, don’t let our people know anything about this”. “But, why?” asked the astounded Adjutant, “you saved his life and it ought to be known”. “Yes that may be so sir, but we are not supposed to be up here sharp shooting – we just done it for a bit of sport. Rightly we don’t carry a rifle; we belong to the bridge building section. We only borrowed these rifles from the Cycle Corps and we will be charged with being out of bounds without leave and all that sort of thing if this becomes known.” “All right, I will tell no one, but all the same it was good work and we thank you for getting him back to us,” the Adjutant smiled.

    The two Australians gave him a friendly nod and said “so long chaps”, and strode away along the defile.

    An excerpt from The 1st Royal Australian Naval Bridging Train, by John Perryman & Commander Greg Swinden, RAN

    Read more