Unknown soldier, tunnellers part of Mining Mud and Medals Project’s research

ANZACs left our shores in thousands to defend their beloved nation. 

Of those who never returned, countless remained unknown and unnamed on the battlefield.

The man pictured is the face of an unknown soldier from World War I, perhaps someone who never had children to mourn him.

The photo was taken by Thornton Studios Ballarat during wartime and was bought at an opportunity shop in the 1980s. 

It will feature among other objects at the Mining Mud and Medals Project this weekend in a hopeful bid to connect the photo to his family.

Mining Mud and Medals Project convenor Yvon Davis said the workshop would provide advice to people looking to restore wartime items, digitise memorabilia and display photos. 

However, the main focus would be on connecting people with World War I tunnellers who attended schools of mines at Ballarat, Daylesford and Clunes. 

“Experienced miners were sought after for tunnelling units and many held qualifications from schools

of mines,” Ms Davis said.

“Because of Ballarat’s mining culture, many went to war as tunnellers, engineers and carpenters after leaving their local schools of mines.”

She said the pictured unknown soldier was one of many connected to the area from a long research list but the chance of naming unknown soldiers was no easy task. 

“You always think, did they come back alive? I found tunnellers that came back to Ballarat and you wouldn’t know it because their grave has only the name of the tunneller and no mention of their war history,” she said.

She said one family would be travelling from Queensland to attend the event because their relative had attended the Ballarat School of Mines.

Ms Davis encouraged people who were aware of a World War I tunneller in their family to contact the Mining Mud and Medals Project. 

As part of the event, three World War I military specialists – including Ross Thomas, executive producer of the film Beneath Hill 60 – will deliver a seminar at Jackson’s and Co on Sunday.

This will be followed by a screening of the film at the Regent Cinemas.

Pre-purchased tickets are encouraged and are available at the Ballarat RSL, or by emailing miningmudandmedals@gmail.com or phone Di on 0424 963 294 or Yvon 

0438 140 756.

david.jeans@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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