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The Lost Diggers

Coulthart, Ross (Book - 2012 )
The Lost Diggers


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During the First World War, thousands of Aussie diggers and other Allied troops passed through the French town of Vignacourt, two hours north of Paris. Many had their photographs taken by Louis and Antoinette Thuillier as souvenirs while they enjoyed a brief respite from the carnage of the Western Front. For all too many, this was their last moment away from the lines before being sent to their deaths in battles that are now part of the mythology of Australian nationhood - Pozieres, Bullecourt, the Somme. The weariness and horror of battle is reflected in their eyes, but the photos also capture a sense of camaraderie, high spirits and even a soupçon of romance. The Lost Diggers is the riveting detective story of the hunt across northern France for a rumoured treasure trove of antique glass photographic plates that led investigative journalist Ross Coulthart to an ancient metal chest in a dusty attic in a small farmhouse. The nearly 4000 glass plates he and his team from Channel 7′s Sunday Night discovered are being hailed by experts as one of the most important First World War discoveries ever made. But that was just the beginning. With meticulous research and the help of descendants, Ross Coulthart has been able to discover the stories behind many of the photos, of which more than 350 appear in the book. Part thriller, part family history and part national archive, The Lost Diggers brings together these wonderful images and the amazing stories behind them.
Authors: Coulthart, Ross
Title: The lost diggers
Publisher: Sydney South, N.S.W. :, HarperCollins,, 2012.
Characteristics: 399 p. :,ill., ports. ;,31 cm.
Notes: Includes index.
Local Note: 5 7 9
Additional Contributors: Australian War Memorial
ISBN: 9780732294618
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From the critics


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Comment by: YPRLFamilyHistory Report This Nov 20, 2012

Many serious genealogists would by now have heard about the discovery of the World War 1 collection of photographs of Australian soldiers found in France last year by Channel 7’s Sunday Night program and its journalist Ross Coulthart. Now a magnificent book has been produced which has documented both the story of the discovery of the hundreds of glass plates amazingly preserved for almost one hundred years, the photographers themselves and the stories of some of the soldiers themselves who have been identified – through a precise procedure itself to ensure no mistakes. The physicality of the book itself immediately has an impact when you see the book for the first time and I suspect that it is a good emotion to have when you read the amazing story of the “discovery” and the attempts in the past that were ignored to have the collection recognised and brought to light sooner that it was. The book is of course illustrated throughout with many photos from the collection – there are informal shots of young men, many in the prime of their lives with war in their eyes and mud on their boots. I recommend this book to anyone with the remotest interest in the First World War. The experience of reading and looking at the photos will stay with you long after you put it down. The photographs can also be viewed at www.sundaynight.com.au and on the Lost Diggers site on Facebook at www.facebook.com/lostdiggers Many are still unidentified, and many of these young men never made it back home – perhaps you can help.


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Many serious genealogists would by now have heard about the discovery of the World War 1 collection of photographs of Australian soldiers found in France last year by Channel 7’s Sunday Night program and its journalist Ross Coulthart. Now a magnificent book has been produced which has documented both the story of the discovery of the hundreds of glass plates amazingly preserved for almost one hundred years, the photographers themselves and the stories of some of the soldiers themselves who have been identified – through a precise procedure itself to ensure no mistakes. The physicality of the book itself immediately has an impact when you see the book for the first time and I suspect that it is a good emotion to have when you read the amazing story of the “discovery” and the attempts in the past that were ignored to have the collection recognised and brought to light sooner that it was. The book is of course illustrated throughout with many photos from the collection – there are informal shots of young men, many in the prime of their lives with war in their eyes and mud on their boots. I recommend this book to anyone with the remotest interest in the First World War. The experience of reading and looking at the photos will stay with you long after you put it down. The photographs can also be viewed at www.sundaynight.com.au and on the Lost Diggers site on Facebook at www.facebook.com/lostdiggers Many are still unidentified, and many of these young men never made it back home – perhaps you can help.

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