Gift from war veteran’s descendant brings Wyndham’s wartime history to life

victoria wyndham library

A Wyndham library has been gifted some of the most valuable and historical information in its history, helping to uncover the story of a local war hero

Almost 12 months ago the Wyndham Library Service, based out of the Plaza Library, received a letter from a man called Olav L’Orange from Steinkjer in Norway.

Mr L’Orange explained in the letter that he was the descendant of Han Christian Engerbrigtsen, who had travelled from Norway to Australia in 1882 at the age of 18. By June 1900, Mr Engerbrigtsen was living at the Metropolitan Farm in Werribee with his wife and their son, Erik Engebrigtsen.

Following correspondence between Wyndham City’s Family and Local History Librarian and Mr L’Orange and, the Plaza Library was gifted the personal photo albums of Erik Engebrigtsen’s.

The photos record Mr Engebrigtsen’s three years of service in WWI, fighting with the 39th Infantry Battalion in both Belgium and France, and his life after returning to Australia until the early 1960s.

Wyndham City Employment, Education and Training Portfolio Holder, Cr Heather Marcus, said while the future of the albums and their content was still being determined, the photos were being uploaded to the Wyndham History website for everyone to see and some of them would bedisplayed at the Plaza Library as part of the State Library of Victoria’s “Writing the War Exhibition”.

“Wyndham is extremely lucky to have been donated these excellent photo albums. They will be able to give residents a glimpse into what Wyndham, Australia and the world was like more than 100 years ago,” Cr Marcus said.

“They are also a reminder of the sacrifices that many Wyndham residents, including Mr Engerbrigtsen, made during WWI in their fight to keep Australia safe. Wyndham City staff and volunteers have been working hard to catalogue the information and photos contained within these albums so that they can be enjoyed by people for years to come. Without their work we may never have known about Erik Engerbrigtsen and the life he lived,” added Cr Marcus.

“This coincides with the painstaking work they have been doing as part of the Wyndham ANZAC Project, discovering and collating the biographical information of Wyndham residents who served in WWI,” she said.

“I encourage everyone who would like to learn more about an important part of Wyndham’s history to visit the Writing the War Exhibition when it comes to Werribee next month,” said Cr Marcus.

The Writing the War Exhibition will be on display at the Plaza Library from Friday, 9 September to Sunday 13 November. For more information visit For more information on the Wyndham ANZAC Project, visit

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