One of the best little museums in Australia is tucked away on a cattle farm along WA’s south-west coast. Recollections of War, run by John and Kathryn Shapland, showcases military memorabilia, but their driving passion is discovering the stories behind the historical objects they collect. And those stories are not just human…
I visited the museum last week to research prosthetic limbs (yes they have several) linked to my Aussie STEM Stars title about Munjed al Muderis, and I was fascinated by some of their war animal displays. A toy pigeon wears a wartime message canister. A ceramic bulldog stands on display beside an original WWI pencil drawing, urging Britons not to drink alcohol during the war. Soldier replicas line up on horseback and there is a Light Horse slouch hat, complete with real emu feathers.
Perhaps the strangest animal memorabilia in the Shapland collection is their WWI camel. It was brought back from WWI by a wounded Australian soldier, Lieutenant J. Goddard, as a gift for his sister. The figurine is made from camel leather, has glass eyes that seem to follow you, and despite its age, is in excellent condition. I wonder what Lieut. Goddard’s sister thought of it.
War has been explored in many books via an assortment of animal eyes. A few of my favourite titles are included in this previous post, and also a post featuring mysterious Horrie; two books have been written about him. When you’re next visiting the south-west coast, don’t miss this wonderful museum. To read more: ABC article, ABC local or give them a call.