A poignant collection of photographic portraits of ‘lost diggers’, discovered in a French farmhouse almost 100 years after the First World War, will go on public display at the State Library of NSW from Saturday 1 November.
Presented as part of the State Library’s WWI centenary campaign, the free exhibition Remember Me: the lost diggers of Vignacourt features 74 hand printed photographic portraits taken of WWI soldiers in Vignacourt, the small French village which became the recreation and recovery point for troops moving to-and-from the battlefields of the Somme.
Thousands of Australian soldiers and other Allied troops passed through Vignacourt, located two hours north of Paris. Many had their photographs taken as souvenirs by Louis and Antoinette Thuillier, the enterprising husband-and-wife team who set up a makeshift studio in their stable yard, just off the main street of the village.
According to Alex Byrne, NSW State Librarian & Chief Executive: “During the First World War NSW was the largest contributor of Australian troops to the Western Front. They fought on the awful battlefields of the Somme, Pozieres and Ypres across northern France.
“The photographic portraits featured in Remember Me capture a sense of camaraderie among the Australian soldiers and offer a unique glimpse into their wartime experiences behind the front lines,” said Dr Byrne.
See the full media release attached.