• Wilfred Upchurch photo, who enlisted in March 1916
  • Pocket bible given to Wilfred Upchurch by his sweetheart Lucy Lucas in 1916.
  • Pocket bible given to Wilfred Upchurch by his sweetheart Lucy Lucas in 1916. Stopped a bullet in 1918 and saved his life.
  • Frank Bethune in April 1918, wounded in the left foot and knee.
  • Laura Bethune with her children Angus, Malcolm, Helen and Mary.
  • Postcard sent by Frank Bethune to his son Angus after he was wounded on 29 April 1918.
  • Eric, Stanley and Fred Burge who grew up in Burnett Street, North Hobart. Eric and Fred survived the war.
  • John and Sarah Burge in their back garden in North Hobart, c. 1920s
  • The Department of Defence issued badges to Australian women whose sons or husbands left Australia on active service.
  • Envelope of letter sent by Fred Burge to his sister Alma in 1918.
  • Stan Burge wrote this postcard before leaving Cairo for Gallipoli in 1915.
  • Families kept the postcards sent home to them from the front.
  • John Burge wrote this letter to authorities fearing his son Stan had been killed at Gallipoli in 1915.
  • Two weeks after Hedley Venus was killed in France in June 1916, his only child Betty was born in Hobart.
  • Hedley Venus's wife received this telegram in July 1916.
  • Ellie and Betty Venus planted a tree in honour of Hedley in August 1918.
  • Plaque hung from Hedley Venus's memorial tree from 1930.
  • If a man died while serving, Mothers' and Widows' badges were presented to his mother and widow.

During the Great War, Tasmanian families suffered anxiety wrought by distance. What would become of their sons, daughters, husbands and fathers? Why was the local priest walking up the front path looking so serious?

Today, serving soldiers can be in instant contact with their families and friends using modern technology. In 1916, mail took several weeks to travel between Australia and the front line. Tasmanian families waited anxiously for news. Often they received letters from loved ones weeks after being notified of their deaths. The impact was devastating.

Letters and postcards reassured Tasmanians that their loved ones at the front were unhurt. Sometimes servicemen revealed the horrors faced in the trenches – more often they did not.

Drawn from TMAG’s rich collection, these images illustrate how the war impacted on Tasmanians at home and how family, friends and the wider community coped with the prolonged absence – and often death – of their loved ones.

Visit the Resources section of this website to learn more about the unbearable wait some families endured.