Christmas 1916, London was home to millions of people who were weary of war. The war had ripped apart the young men of England and her dominions for more than two years and was not yet satiated. The young men who survived were back in London and visible. War was visceral, the injuries often catastrophic.
Living in the heart of London was a woman from Rockhampton, a small hot humid town with a population of not quite twenty thousand in central Queensland, Australia. Her name was Annie Wheeler and during the war she found her calling.
Annie Wheeler’s original letters are part of the State Library of Queensland’s collection and I am using my 2016 QANZAC 100 Fellowship to research Annie’s life, and work, in London, during the first world war for a book I am writing. My book is set towards the end of 1916 and during 1917 and as I research and write I am often struck by the fact that the letters and diaries were written exactly one hundred years ago.
One hundred years ago Annie and her daughter Portia were in the middle of London, in the middle of the first world war.