On Valentine’s Day in 1917, a shell exploded in front of Sergeant Albert Hyde and a locket from his fiancee probably saved his life.

His story is among those featured in the Local Heroes military exhibition curated by the Altona Laverton Historical Society and on display at Altona Homestead.

Albert Hyde fought at many battles including Gallipoli and later at Flers where he was wounded by a shell.

As a young boy, Glen Hyde remembers being able to feel pieces of shrapnel in his father’s body.

“He had 26 pieces of shrapnel in his body and a broken leg, but what possibly saved his life was the locket that was hit by a piece of shrapnel around his neck,” Mr Hyde said.

He said his father had been wearing a locket on a chain around his neck from his fiancee Irene Newland, inscribed “Irene to Bert”.

The locket

Albert would return to marry Irene, whose four brothers have an incredible story of their own.

Of the four Newland brothers from Laverton, one was killed in action while another was awarded the Victoria Cross.

Glen, his son and grandson – the latter whom is currently preparing for Afghanistan – are also featured in the exhibition.

Organiser Maureen Lane said the exhibition contained memorabilia from the Boer War to Afghanistan.

“It really brings home that it was not an exciting, wonderful thing like a lot of the movies show,” she said. “It was a horrendous thing.

“The people who are serving now in Afghanistan, and all those who went to Vietnam and any of the other wars that we’ve had, have all been as valuable in their service as the people who were at Gallipoli.

“Some weren’t treated well … and I want them to know that they are just as important to our history … as any other person who served.”

The exhibition includes information for quilters and sewers who would like to make quilts and laundry bags for Australians currently serving in Afghanistan.

The historical society is seeking the names of people from Altona and Laverton who served in any war for inclusion on a database.

The exhibition runs until the end of June at Altona Homestead, 128 Queen Street, Altona.