State Library of South Australia

Remember me… the Lost Diggers of Vignacourt

The Australian War Memorial exhibition Remember me...the Lost Diggers of Vignacourt exceeded our expectation in many ways. The visitation reached 22,789 at the close of the exhibition on 19 October.

Lost Diggers exhibition
Lost Diggers exhibition

We held a series of complementary events throughout the exhibition season, all of which were well supported, including a presentation by Ross Coulthart, the Channel 7 journalist who discovered the glass plate negatives in a dusty attic in France. The Library was also supported by the Australian War Memorial with presentations from the curator and their staff, while Library staff made presentations, conducted tours and assisted with enquiries at the desk for visitors keen to trace their family history and soldiers who fought in World War 1. The complementary exhibition in the Treasures Wall featuring items from our World War 1 collection attracted an unprecedented level of interest.

We were also pleased to see many interstate and overseas visitors to the exhibition who were enthusiastically welcomed and hosted on tours by our trained Ambassadors and Tour Guides, whose commitment to this exhibition is acknowledged and which added considerably to the visitor experience.

Discovered at the State Library!

The War Memorial exhibition is aptly titled "Lost Diggers", not only for the high causality rate, but also because of the more than 4000 glass plate images discovered in three trunks, one of which we had on display. Only about 10% of the 800 images identified through their uniforms as being Australian, were named. The Library was therefore delighted when local exhibition visitor, Mrs Gillian Mibus, visited in the last weeks, and on a hunch, extensively searched the 800 images on the media console, and discovered a photograph believed to be her grandfather, 1092 Private Alexander Duncan Cameron of the 29th Battalion, who had enlisted in Victoria. Mrs Mibus contacted family members about her exciting find of the previously unknown photograph, who confirmed her discovery. The information was passed onto the War Memorial, which has a comprehensive forensic procedure for confirming identities of "The Lost Diggers" and they were pleased to advise that not only was the identification confirmed but that this was the 100th soldier in the Vignacourt collection to be named.

Story by: Bev Scott

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