The band of burning Bapaume

There are just over 50km of records at Queensland State Archives and our repositories contain public records about all sorts of topics – administrative, personal and historic. Looking for First World War records is a challenge, though – they’re dotted throughout the collection and may not always be described as records about the war. Gems have been found in a variety of records, including Chief Secretary’s correspondence, police files, school administration files, railway and council records.

Staff and many researchers know about our hunt for First World War records and they keep us posted on anything they find.

If you dig deep enough

A researcher looking through 1917 Chief Secretary’s Department general correspondence found a piece of historical gold – a letter from the Queensland Government Offices in London encloses an official photo taken on the western front. It’s a picture of an Australian band marching through a burning Bapaume street.

Australian band marching through a burning Bapaume street, 3 May 1917
Australian band marching through a burning Bapaume street, 3 May 1917

It’s always wonderful to find a photo in our collection, particularly when it’s tucked away in general correspondence.

Let’s take a closer look

This is a First World War photo of Australians in northern France in 1917, but it’s made its way to the Chief Secretary’s Office in Queensland. This is a permanent record for Queenslanders.

Further research shows this official photo is well known and found in other collections, including the Australian War Memorial which describes it as:

The Band of the 5th Australian Infantry Brigade, led by Bandmaster Sergeant A Peagam of the 19th Battalion, passing through the Grande Place (Town Square), playing the ‘Victoria March’.

Silent, black and white film footage taken at the same time and in the same place titled Bapaume is burning can be seen on the Australian Screen website.

Interestingly, the name of this French town is also geographically significant to Queenslanders as there is Bapaume Road (Holland Park West) and the town of Bapaume near Stanthorpe.

Where would you think to look for First World War records? Have you found anything interesting in your research?

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