Remembering French-Australian wartime connections

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A UQ PhD candidate is leading the search for precious objects from World War I in France and Australia

The University of Queensland is seeking help from the public to piece together stories of the thousands of Australians who served in France during World War I.

The appeal for artefacts, souvenirs and mementos is part of a project titled Somewhere in France, Somewhere in Australiabeing run in association with the Queensland Museum.

The project commemorates this year’s centenary of the start of World War I, and aims to celebrate the strong and enduring connections that France and Australia have shared since that time.

Romain Fathi, undertaking his PhD jointly through UQ’s School of History, Philosophy, Religion and Classics and SciencesPo (Paris), is leading the search for precious objects associated with Australian men and women's war service in France.

“We would love to hear from you if you have items at home, either in pride of place or tucked away in a cupboard, that were sent home or brought back by the men and women who served in France,” said Mr Fathi, a Parisian who now lives in Brisbane.

“Memorabilia such as diaries, souvenirs and trophies collected during war service all help document the personal stories and experiences of those involved in the conflict, and paint a picture of life during the war.

“We hope to be able to provide people with any information we might have about their objects and help them better understand the stories and wider context behind them.”

A key part of the project will take place on 11 July, when French and Australian museum curators and historians will gather for a public symposium at the Queensland Museum.

The symposium will consist of two sessions; the first where academics and curators will deliver talks related to material culture of the Great War.

In the afternoon session, members of the public will take part in discussions about their objects and the context behind behind them.

“This is where those attending will hear some of the amazing stories we have uncovered during the project,” Mr Fathi said.

If you have any souvenirs and memorabilia inherited from Australian servicemen and women who served in the Great War that you’d like to share, please email romain.fathi@uq.edu.au

Media: Kristen Bastian, communications officer, UQ Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, ph +61 7 3346 1633, k.bastian@uq.edu.au

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