The Map of Australia Trust was set up in July 2017 by a small group of volunteers dedicated to restoring a lost First World War chalk badge near Salisbury in Wiltshire. The Trust’s current members include two local residents and two Australians! Our researcher, Cathy Sedgwick lives in Sydney, Australia but had already done a huge amount of work contributing to a family history website based on the county of Wiltshire before she joined our project. Much of the research contained within this website is the result of her painstaking work.
The Map of Australia was a large chalk badge carved into the hillside by soldiers of the Australian Imperial Force staying at Hurdcott Camp in the fields below. Hurdcott was one of many military camps set up in the area during the early stages of the War. During 1915 and 1916, several British regiments including some from London such as the Royal Fusiliers, plus some of the Northern Pals battalions such as the Accrington Pals and the Sherwood Foresters stayed here. This website provides information about the history of Hurdcott Camp, the Map of Australia badge and what is being done to restore it.
The idea for the restoration of The Map of Australia Trust came in 2014 when one of the founders, who grew up in nearby Swallowcliffe realised that some of the chalk badges, familiar on trips to Salisbury as child could no longer be seen. Following investigation, contact was made with the Sutton Mandeville Heritage Trust (SMHT) who were embarking on a momentous project to save and restore two other ‘lost’ First World War badges located on the hillside near the village of Sutton Mandeville. The restoration of The Royal Warwickshire badge was completed in the summer of 2017.
Enquiries were made about the Map of Australia, and it became apparent that this badge was also being ‘allowed to fade’. A letter to the Salisbury Journal was written (published 29th December 2014) and contact was made with a researcher from Sydney, Australia who had already published a great deal of work on the history of several Wiltshire villages including Compton Chamberlayne. She is now an important part of the team and is busy adding more content to this website. Time was spent in 2015 and 2016 liaising with the landowner, receiving advice and support from Historic England and doing background research into the Map of Australia and Hurdcott Camp.
Permission to restore the Map of Australia was granted on 25th April 2017 (ANZAC Day!) and work began in earnest to get the project underway.
The Map of Australia Trust (MOAT) was created in July 2017 with the aim to set up a charity and work towards our goal of restoring the Map of Australia in time for the end of the First World War Centenary in November 2018.