Time and distance, trauma, and death conspire to keep lovers apart.
Separation may intensify their longing for one another but can just as easily erode the bonds that sustain their relationship.
The spectre of infidelity hovers over all couples in wartime.
by William Edwin Pidgeon (1909–81)REPRODUCED COURTESY OF THE AUSTRALIAN WAR MEMORIAL ART94590
Maintaining an open line of communication to a loved one serving overseas is among the greatest challenges faced by any wartime couple. News of pregnancies (wanted and unwanted), affairs, proposals of marriage, heart-felt apologies and break-ups have all been handled remotely. The letters of past wars have been supplemented by new communications technologies—telegrams, lettergrams, recorded messages, e-mail, satellite calls, Facebook and Zoom.
‘Macka’ sleeping in tent, Diego Garcia
by Peter Churcher (b. 1964)ON LOAN COURTESY OF THE AUSTRALIAN WAR MEMORIAL ART91760
…The young man is a mechanic for the FA-18 Hornets and had been on night duty. I was able to work on him in his makeshift environment whilst he slept through the day. Little moments in the image struck me as poignant: the teddy bear a parting gift from his wife; the photographs of his wife and dog along with the pin-up posters.
‘To Wish You a Speedy and Safe Return’ ,1918
personalised photographic postcard sent to Trooper James Robert Hay, 15th Light Horse RegimentSHRINE OF REMEMBRANCE COLLECTION
Female Relatives BadgesSHRINE OF REMEMBRANCE COLLECTION
For the Women of Australia 1917–18
Royal Australian Navy
To women of Australia: For duty done 1917–18
Australian Imperial Force
The Royal Australian Navy and Army issued these badges to the closest female relative of men serving overseas—usually a wife, or, for the unmarried, mother. The badges were an acknowledgment of the sacrifice the women were making and a call to other women to relinquish their own men to the war effort.
Heart shaped sweetheart brooch, c 1942–45
Gifted to Edna Lyons by her husband, Corporal William Lyons, Royal Australian Air ForceSHRINE OF REMEMBRANCE COLLECTION
Brooches of various designs—handmade ‘trench art’ and those acquired commercially—were commonly sent home to wives and girlfriends during both world wars. Men risking their lives far from home, no doubt, hoped the jewellery would ward off prospective suitors while they were away.