The main focus of the exhibition formed part of Western Australian Museum's commemoration of the centenary of the First World War in Western Australia. Ravensthorpe Historical Society took advantage of the offer to become one of the 23 rural museums who agreed to participate and became part of the State wide project.
The war memorial in Ravensthorpe lists 58 names of servicemen who enlisted for WW1, eighteen of which have an asterisk besides their name indicating they did not return. Their bodies are buried in the battle fields of Turkey, France and Belgium. A matrix and manuscript book of all these men, some really only boys, with their enlistment details formed part of the exhibition. Servicemen from The Phillips River District, as Ravensthorpe was then called, were mainly volunteers from farming and mining backgrounds.
Research centred not only on the servicemen who enlisted and their fate, but also on how families and local communities were affected by the Great War, how they supported the war effort, suffered the loss of loved ones and what happened to those who returned.
The exhibition consisted of a number of large panels illustrating several chosen local servicemen to represent the above criteria (still on view in the museum). Three secure glass cabinets displayed war medals, a 1918 personal war diary, trench art, letters and illustrated greetings cards, digger's hat, various badges, dead man pennies, photographs, etc. Surprisingly the museum's own collection was already rich in such objects which were put in the exhibition. Many other items loaned by community members for several months including the well-known large photograph of WW1 soldiers on the bunds of the Cheops pyramid in Egypt.
Historical Society members became deeply involved in research for over a year to finally bring together a truly remarkable collection of facts and memorabilia to display for the enjoyment of locals and visitors.
The official opening of the exhibition was held in the evening of 9th March 2015 at the Ravensthorpe Museum when a large crowd from around the State came to view the display. The final official item of the evening was delivered by the local Qualup Choir, who sang three WW1 songs, i.e. Keep the Home Fires Burning, solo bass rendition of The Green Fields of France, which brought tears to the eyes, and such well-known oldies as Pack up Your Trouble, and It's a long way to Tipperary in which the assembly was asked to join. Guests were invited to continue to study the exhibition and enjoy traditional trench tucker namely trench biscuits (in this case Sao) with bully beef and ANZAC biscuits.
Acknowledgements are given to WA Museum for their untiring help, the donation of an exquisite secure glass cabinet and printing of the panels, Lotterywest for funding towards the WA Museum project. Many thanks to those who kindly loaned and trusted us with their objects and school children for making beautiful red poppies.