Among more than 400,000 Australians who enlisted for the war, 34,959 came from South Australia. Of the 330,000 who served overseas, about 60,000 died during the conflict. Many are buried on French soil in military cemeteries such as Villers-Bretonneux, where the bright red Flanders poppies grow and became a powerful symbol of remembrance.
To mark the centenary of the 1918 victory, Flinders University’s School of History and International Relations is organising a public event entitled South Australians in France to recognise and understand the enduring connections formed between France and South Australia.
The South Australians in France team is interested by items such war souvenirs and trophies and personal items of memorabilia currently held privately that relate to the experience of the war service of South Australians.
“It’s a kind of academic antiques roadshow which will bring together historians, material culture specialists and museum curators to tell the hidden stories behind these century old objects often cherished as family heirlooms,” says project leader Dr Romain Fathi.
Dr Fathi is Lecturer in Australian History at Flinders University and an affiliated researcher at the Centre d’Histoire de Sciences Po in Paris.
The project will be launched in September and, for five months, the South Australians in France team will engage with metropolitan and regional South Australians to expose extraordinary stories based on the First World War objects they hold.
The project will result in a public conference in February 2018 which will present the most exciting objects we find will be shared at a public conference in Adelaide in February 2018,” says Dr Fathi.
“The conference, which will involve other French scholars, will bring to life the revealing histories of many South Australian descendants.”
South Australians in France has the support of the French Embassy to Australia, the French Consulate in Adelaide, Alliance Française and Flinders University.
More information will be issued ahead of the September launch, or contact Dr Romain Fathi, Lecturer in Australian History at firstname.lastname@example.org
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