Australian Red Cross Wounded and Missing Enquiry Bureau

There are three impressive factors about the Australian Red Cross Wounded and Missing Enquiry Bureau: one, that it existed at all, two, that its files survived, and three, that they have been digitised. These files drill right down into the loss, fear and horror of war and into the care taken to discover the fate of every man.
The bureau was the work of Vera Deakin, the twenty-four-year-old daughter of the Australian prime minister, Alfred Deakin, who established it originally in Cairo in October 1915. With the ending of the Gallipoli campaign and the transfer of Australian troops to the Western Front, the bureau moved to London in May 1916.
Vera made it the bureau’s responsibility to find out what had happened to the men who were reported missing. To this end, an army of what were called ‘searchers’, were sent to interview the soldier’s comrades to see if they could piece together their fate. The care they took was endless, something that the digitised reports clearly reveal. They also clearly reveal how difficult it was, in the chaos of the moment, to be sure. Harold Temperley Green‘s file illustrates the case in point.

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