Facebook messages from World War 1 battlelines

anzac-day-gallipoli-rsl-australian-soldier-war-vet21In August 1914, Australia pledged support to Britain in the conflict that was to become “The Great War”, “The war to end all wars”, and later the First World War. Placing Australia’s contribution into context, it was a small nation with a population of fewer than five million. Over 400,000 Australian troops and nurses served in this war, of which over 60,000 were killed and 156,000 wounded, gassed, or taken prisoner. Australia fought on the side of the Allies alongside troops from New Zealand. New Zealand’s population was just over one million and over 100,000 troops and nurses joined the fray, with a devastating 58% casualty rate.

The impact of the war on those who participated, either by fighting or supporting troops, is being remembered specifically in this the centenary of the fateful landing of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps at Gallipoli on Sunday, 25th April 1915. There are many events, online stories and exhibitions being held at this time to help commemorate this centenary and it is an ideal time to follow items that may be of use in developing your understanding of the original period.

The State Library of Queensland is running an exhibition called Distant Lines: Queensland voices of the First World War. There are websites devoted to this period from both State and Federal governments. These are all good sources for relevant information and for an inside look at how this war affected individuals, from those at the battlelines, it is worth following the real-time social media project ANZACLIVE.

Described as Facebook from the front, tweets from the trenches, this ground-breaking project recreates the lives of 10 people from the War, “living through the most monumental event of their time – posting their hopes, fears and humour on Facebook every day”. Their Facebook pages, posts and their replies will be based on the extensive diaries that many of the troops and nurses kept, and are being managed by a team of more than 30 experienced journalists and researchers.   Integrated with tweets and Instagram visuals, the project has been undertaken with the cooperation of the NSW State Library, where many of the original journals are kept, and the Australian War Memorial. The input of descendants of the characters has been used to help bring them to life via ANZACLIVE.

Image from Australian War Memorial, Creative Commons Licence