WW1 stories from our museums

 

To mark the 1914–18 centenary of World War 1, Sydney Living Museums has developed a special mini-website exploring the wartime engagement of individual men and women associated with our historic places.

These personal stories are framed by broader narratives relating to war service, the home front, ‘the enemy within’, and the aftermath of war.

The stories are all derived from our collections; some are short and intimate, while others speak to bigger national narratives. From the individual men who served in the army, air force or navy, to the patriotic fundraising efforts of the women of Meroogal and Rouse Hill House, and the anti-war activism of the pacifist Swann family of Elizabeth Farm, we show how ordinary lives were affected by war.

Among the stories is that of Ada Gallagher from number 52 Gloucester Street, The Rocks, and later from number 58 (Susannah Place), who saw all three of her sons enlist. Vinton, the eldest, was awarded the Military Medal in 1917, but that honour could not relieve Ada’s heartbreak over the death of her youngest son, Frank, killed by shell fire in France in 1918.

These stories will be available online from early May.

Round cardboard badge on thread with star shaped design. Words: ANZAC Day in celebration of the glorious landing April 25th 1915.
Badge: Authorised collector’s badge for Anzac Day, 25 April 1916. Caroline Simpson Library & Research Collection, Sydney Living Museums

The Gallaghers

Black and white photograph of family group.
Photograph of Ada and John Gallagher with their son Fred and daughter, Girlie, probably taken in 1919. Fred is wearing a British War Medal, first issued in 1919, beneath a Returned Soldiers’ Association badge. Martin Studios, Sydney. Private collection
Black and white postcard of young man in uniform
Postcard print photograph of Driver (later Corporal) Vinton Paul Gallagher. A handwritten inscription on the back reads: ‘Vinton P Gallagher driver No 1 Section. Divisional Ammunition Column 1st Australian Division A.I.F.’ His attestation papers describe him as being 5 feet 6 inches (183 cm) tall with fair hair and blue eyes and weighing 147 pounds (66 kg). Susannah Place Museum Collection, Sydney Living Museums
Black and white photo of young man in uniform.
Private Adolphus Frederick (Fred) Gallagher, 1915. His attestation papers describe him as being 5 feet 4 inches (164 cm) tall with brown hair and brown eyes and weighing just 123 pounds (56 kg). Susannah Place Museum Collection, Sydney Living Museums
Black and white photograph of young man in uniform
Private John Francis Cecil (Frank) Gallagher, 1916. Frank is shown here wearing a Returned Soldiers’ Association badge. His attestation papers describe him as being 5 feet 3 inches (160 cm) tall with brown hair and brown eyes and weighing just 130 pounds (58 kg). Photograph courtesy Gallagher family

About the Author

Head and shoulders photo of woman holding up card to face with conservator's white glove on hand.
Megan Martin
Head, Collections & Access
Megan is the head of Collections & Access at Sydney Living Museums. She has a particular interest in the working of the historical imagination, in teasing out the meanings of objects in museums collections and in crafting the stories that can be recovered/discovered through a close reading of those items of material culture.