Public diplomacy

The Essex Regiment reunited with some precious military history

January 2014

DFAT's Tasmania State Office and the Australian High Commission in London recently helped reunite the Essex Regiment Museum in Chelmsford, UK, with some important historic military records.

Mr Frank Deane of Evandale, Tasmania, had bought an old vellum-bound book at auction for $45. The book had been used as a Victorian children's scrapbook, but among the pages of pasted-in pictures he discovered handwritten records of the West Essex Yeomanry A Troop from 1852 to 1856. The records provide detail of the officers' muster roll, individual issue of accoutrements, attendances, duties and postings.

Mr Deane felt that historic documents such as these should not remain in private ownership, and wanted to donate the book back to the appropriate military organisation.

He located Mr Ian Hook, Curator of the Essex Regiment Museum in Chelmsford, through the internet. Mr Hook was most eager to see the book, as the museum's 19th century records were lost during World War II.

Mr Deane contacted the DFAT Tasmania Office, and arrangements were made with the Australian High Commission in London to receive the book. Brigadier Bill Sowry, Head of Australian Defence Staff, London, presented the book to Mr Hook at the High Commission.

These precious records are now in safekeeping at the museum for indexing by the museum team, and will be available as a family history resource across the English-speaking world.

Brigadier Bill Sowry with Mr Ian Hook
Brigadier Bill Sowry, Head of Australian Defence Staff in London (l), presenting the book to Mr Ian Hook, Curator, Essex Regiment Museum