The centenary of the First World War is rapidly approaching and it is exciting to see the many different ways that the ‘war to end all wars’ will be remembered. Museum exhibitions, memorials, books, television shows, digitization projects, social media campaigns and much more. Importantly, many of these commemorations offer the public unique ways to make a valuable personal contribution. This is one such project.
The ‘Onward: Portraits of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force’ team are on a mission to find and publish a photograph of each and every member of the NZEF that served overseas during the war. They are making a special effort to locate previously unpublished material and are focusing on obtaining the highest quality photographs that they can. This is no easy task – some of the largest sources of photographs of New Zealand servicemen and women are poor quality images from old newspapers – so this is where members of the public can help.
Now is as good a time as any to scan those old wartime photographs from the family album and put them to good use. Having a digital backup of these invaluable family treasures is highly recommended anyway and in the next few years there will be many opportunities to share them with others and make sure that your ancestors’ wartime service is remembered.
The first volume of ‘Onwards: Portraits of the NZEF’ is already available for purchase, and the second volume is nearing completion. If you have any images that you’d like to contribute then you can get in touch with the publisher here. The first volume look fantastic and offers an important visual reminder that there was a unique individual behind every service number and wartime statistic. Theirs was a generation that gave so much, so it is great to see them remembered through this series of publications.
Over the next few years there will also be many other ways that you can get involved in the centenary commemorations and share your own family photographs and stories – the already amazing Auckland Museum’s Cenotaph database is currently being redeveloped and keep an eye on the WW100 website for other opportunities to contribute to projects both nationally and locally.
© Lemuel Lyes