By Rama Gaind
PS News Books
Stories of Love & War: From the Collection of the Australian War Memorial
By Rebecca Britt (New Holland, $35.00, hardback, 395 pages)
The pain of longing for a loved one can be excruciating, but when it’s told against the backdrop of war, the heartbreak is sometimes difficult to fathom.
Canberra-born Rebecca Britt presents memorabilia that tells heart-wrenching and poignant stories, both past and present, of lovers separated or brought together by war in this beautifully illustrated book.
Based on the travelling exhibition she curated, she captures the intensity of the emotional journeys through the “intangible” personal stories of generations of Australian servicemen and women. Through significant items they left behind, vivid stories are told of their private triumphs and despair, the sweethearts they left behind or the ones they met while serving.
Every letter, photograph, momento, ephemera, treasured gift and work of art in the Memorial’s collection tells a personal, moving story of love and war. They will pull at your heartstrings and reverberate emotionally.
While conflict is unpredictable, it is also divisive and destructive by its very nature. One may argue that in times of battle one of the strongest emotions to prevail is love. The need to be wanted, to share intimacies and to simply experience life is intensified in war and separation.
Rebecca Britt outlines “a typical story of the Second World War” with her grandparents Fran and Roy being “just one couple amongst so many whose lives were utterly transformed by the war…”
Some Stories of Love & War are sad and others end happily. Battery Sergeant Major Norman Ellsworth died on 4 August 1917 before he could pursue his love interest after being severely wounded at Zillebeke, Belgiun. David Ryan of Walcha in northern NSW, an airman, married Iva Windover and they were together until he died at 86 years of age.
“This book celebrates the passion and excitement of love during conflict, and acknowledges the longing and loneliness of those separated. War has delivered grief to countless homes across Australia, but the human spirit is resilient.”
That sentiment is just as true today with Australia’s current military commitments overseas.
To find out more about Rama Gaind click here.