Guest blogger: Historian Chrissy Fletcher and her WWI project Adopt a Digger
2014 is the 100th anniversary of Australia’s involvement in WW1. To commemorate the ANZAC Centenary, historian Chrissy Fletcher has launched a voluntary community project Adopt a Digger®. The Project’s aim is to create a complete online database of the names and military history of the 2000 soldiers and nurses from the Sunshine Coast region who served in World War One.
Local residents and historians, school students and descendants are invited to “adopt” a digger, research his military history and upload the information onto the website. The site has instructions on how to research a digger with links to all the relevant websites, such as the National Archives of Australia, Australian War Memorial and AIF Project.
Several smaller projects have now been initiated from Adopt a Digger®. A team have been researching the Beerburrum Soldier Settlement farm files at Queensland State Archives and nearly all 670 settlers have now been identified. Many descendants have now contacted Adopt a Digger with much mutual sharing of information and photographs.
The Sunshine Coast Honour Boards Project, which includes memorial plaques, avenues of trees and memorial church windows, has located many “lost” boards and is currently endeavouring to identify every name on every board and make a note and correction of the many errors. All this valuable information will be added to the site.
In April 2015 Adopt a Digger will hold an exhibition to display the results of years of research and effort by its community of researchers. Many local “gratitude” medals which were presented to the soldiers as they departed or returned from war are now coming to light, as well as diaries and letters. Within the next twenty years or so, most family members with living memory of these soldiers will be gone and so it is vitally important that we get the stories to share for future generations. Then “our boys” can be truly honoured and remembered as they deserve.