The Guardians: WWI Western Front to Resettlement
Essay by Louise Grayson
Graphic Design by Louise Grayson
English 2018, 172 pages, 30x30cm Hardcover
Limited Edition of 50
Journalist and photographer Louise Grayson uncovers the story behind the remarkable growth in what has become known as ‘battlefield tourism’ and gives readers an entrée into the surprising community of Australians, French and Belgians dedicated to gatekeeping the World War I (WWI) Anzac legend.
The Guardians is a personal journey from the Queensland Pikedale WWI solder settlement community in Australia, which was established around towns named after Western Front (WF) battlefields (Pozières, Amiens, Fleurbaix, Bullecourt, Passchendaele, Bapaume and Messines), to the same places in France and Belgium to explore how the Australian and European communities share a dedication to commemorating those who fell in battle or fought to build a new life post WWI.
Louise undertook recurring trips to these locations throughout the Centenary of World War I years 2014 – 2018. She writes about the monuments she visits, the commemorative rituals she attends and, above all, those self-proclaimed keepers of the Anzac legend she meets – whom she calls ‘The Guardians’.
Louise’s writing and photography create a personal journey to understand the deeply emotional connection the communities feel to the memory of the Diggers of WWI.
She interviews an Australian battler still working the resettlement farm allocated to his grandfather; a Belgian police officer who grew up around the memorials spread throughout the farmlands around his village and who today still has to deal with dangerous devices being found in those farmlands; an elderly French woman who has donated some of her farmland to allow the recovery of the bodies of Diggers; European tour guides amazed at the number of Australians arriving in their villages; everyday Australians battling to establish memorials around the Queensland suburbs named after WF battlefields; and many more.
Those who have already begun a personal search into their ancestors’ involvement in WWI, and those still to go exploring, will be fascinated by the insights into this community of Guardians that Louise shares.
Every chapter covers not only Louise’s exploration into the concept of ‘Battlefield tourism’, but also how communities on both side of the world feel compelled to commemorate the shocking events of WWI through the concepts of:
• THE REUNION
• THE EARTH
• THE MONUMENT
• THE MEMORIAL RITUAL
• THE EROSION
As the centenary machine charges forward, capturing an ever-growing audience, The Guardians is an ideal companion for those embarking on battlefield tours in person, or via Louise’s stories and images from the front lines.
This project was a collaboration with:
The Australian Federal Government,
Stanthorpe Regional Art Gallery,
FFFAIF Inc (The Families and Friends of the First AIF) Belgium, France and Australian Chapters, and
Amiens History Association.