HONOURING THE PAST: Miles Historical Society president Kylie Bourne with her daughter and volunteer Sophie Bourne, and Miles Tourism Visitor Centre officer Nicole Franklin (back).
HONOURING THE PAST: Miles Historical Society president Kylie Bourne with her daughter and volunteer Sophie Bourne, and Miles Tourism Visitor Centre officer Nicole Franklin (back). Brooke Duncan

100-year-old pressed poppies

IT'S been years in the making, but the time has come for the Miles Historical Village Museum to launch the 'What War Meant to Miles: Heroes, Hardships and Heartfelt Stories' exhibition.

The permanent fixture is valued at around $100,000, with more than 1000 hours of volunteer work going into the exhibit.

Miles and District Historical Society president Kylie Bourne said the exhibition was made possible with Anzac 100 and QGC funding, allowing for the development of the displays as well as the complete cataloguing of the museum's war collection of about 4000 items.

"It's been a huge project and it's really exciting to see it coming to fruition,” Mrs Bourne said.

The exhibition launch will be held on ANZAC Day, and Mrs Bourne said she was excited to share some of the unique items on display.

"We've... got commemorative pennies, they were commonly known as Dead Man's Pennies and that's a terrible name for them.

"(They) were sent to families when their loved ones were killed.

"At the time they were quite contentious because of course some families were like 'well that's not what my son's worth, just a penny, thank you very much government', so some people hid them away or even sent them back.

"But we've actually got a collection of ten and each one has provenance to our community which is really quite significant.”

Displayed alongside the pennies are some of the medals those servicemen were awarded.

But it's not only pennies and medals on display.

"There's shrapnel... one of the pieces was pulled out of one of our soldier's horses, out of it's rump, and we've actually got that, that's quite an amazing piece,” Mrs Bourne said.

"There are just so many amazing things, we came across little diaries or notebooks and you open them up and there's pressed poppies in them from 1914, and your heart just does a flutter.

"Little things like that.”

The museum will also feature interactive displays, including listening posts where visitors can hear "beautiful, very heart-wrenching” letters, written by 'local blokes' the Freeman boys, read aloud.

"The theme of the exhibition is really to showcase what war means to small communities like Miles,” Mrs Bourne said.

"Enlistment, what's going on at the time, the journey to war, what's happening at the home front, coming home, all of that.”

For Mrs Bourne, putting together the unique exhibition brought emotions she wasn't expecting.

"Really, handling the collection on such an intimate level, I didn't realise really the scale and the importance of what we have until this project, and really not prepared probably for, sometimes, the emotional tug at the heartstrings you would get or the tear that might escape one's eyes sometimes,” she said.

"It really has been very, very special and I think our community is lucky to have such an amazing collection and people who've been so generous over the years to donate such really, really personal and special, important things that belonged to their family, or themselves.

"We're really excited about the launch and people being able to interact with the new display and seeing the objects in a whole new light.”

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