• Finding a relative on the Western Front

    Sunday 11 May 2008 by Robyn van Dyk. 2 comments

    Dawn and Geoff Harwood were surprised to find that they had a relative buried at Vignacourt British Cemetery. They recognised him as family by his home town and his unusual surname. Geoff and I sat together after dinner last night and using the memorial's website and databases we were able to uncover a little bit more about George Radnell. Pte. George Duncan Radnell died of wounds 1st June, 1918 and is buried at Vignacourt British …

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  • Lochnagar Crater

    Saturday 10 May 2008 by Robyn van Dyk.

    When walking the battlefields of the Somme it is evident that most of the visible signs of destruction caused by the First World War have disappeared. The enormous Lochnagar Crater is one of the few surviving scars left on the terrain in this region. A monument to the devastation of war, this crater was caused by a 60,000 lbs mine and is 100 metres in diameter and 30 metres deep. It is hard to capture its sheer size in a photograph. The land …

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  • Touring the Somme 1916

    Thursday 8 May 2008 by Robyn van Dyk. 11 comments

    The major battles of 1916 took place on the Somme. The offensive began on the 1st July 1916 and would become one of the most costly episodes of the war. Between July and mid November the losses reached a total of 1,300,000 men. On the 23 July, not long after the Battle of the Somme commenced, the Australians took over and captured the main German line at Pozieres. The Australian 1st Division Memorial at Pozieres stands over this line. At the cost…

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  • Mother’s day message from a crew member of HMAS Sydney

    Wednesday 7 May 2008 by Kathryn Hicks. 5 comments

    When searching through the Memorial's Private Records collection this item was found. The telegram was sent from Able Seaman Rex Cooper to his mother on Mother's Day 1941. Born in 1920, Rex Cooper joined the RAN in March 1938. He became part of the crew of HMAS Sydney as an Ordinary Seaman in September 1938. He was promoted to Able Seaman in 1939 and served on the Sydney until his death in 1941. Also held in the collection is a diary written by …

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  • Don't Forget To Send That Card!

    Tuesday 6 May 2008 by Pen Roberts. 2 comments

    Around Australia this week people will be rushing to the post office to send off their last minute Mothers Day cards. Back in the Second World War, with no nearby stationers' shops, what did servicemen and women in the field do? Obviously they could have written a letter, but it just wasn't the same as sending a dedicated card. A number of philanthropic organisations printed cards to ensure the forces didn't forget their mums on their special …

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  • D Day

    Tuesday 6 May 2008 by Robyn van Dyk. 1 comments

    The battle field tour, following a strategic withdrawal from Gallipoli, is now touring the battlefields of France. Reinforced with fresh recruits from Australia we travelled to Normandy and viewed the Bayeux Tapestry and then on to the site of the Second World War D Day landings. Scarred terrain at Pointe Du Hoc and cliffs The Normandy battlefield at Pointe Du Hoc covers 30 acres of undulating and scarred terrain from the D Day …

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  • Last post

    Monday 5 May 2008 by Andrew Gray. 3 comments

    This is the final post for our 2008 Simpson Prize blog, with some reflections on the trip, as we all try and settle back into 'normal' life. The trip is without a doubt a once-in-a-lifetime expereince and we were lucky to share it with such a special group of people. Like all travel, it's often the connections that you make with people that are the highlights, more than where you go. However, going to Turkey and being at Gallipoli for Anzac …

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  • Shrapnel Valley Cemetery

    Thursday 1 May 2008 by Robyn van Dyk.

    The tour visited Shrapnel Valley Cemetery in the late afternoon and were touched by the sad expression of loss on the grave of Private John Edward Barclay of the 8th Battalion. He was killed in action on the 21 June 1915 and was the husband of Louisa Mary Barclay. He is buried at Shrapnel Valley Cemetery Anzac. The grave of John Edward Barclay Shrapnel Valley gained its name from the heavy shelling that it received from the …

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  • Plugge’s Plateau

    Thursday 1 May 2008 by Robyn van Dyk. 2 comments

    Pearl McGill's great uncle died of wounds on Anzac Day and is buried at Plugge's Plateau. Private George Bell of the 11th Battalion was killed in action on 25th April, 1915. He was 28 years old and the son of Jane McFadyen Bell. Pearl is the first person from the family to come back and visit his grave. We were moved when Pearl shared his story with us and read some prayers. Pearl McGill at the grave of her great uncle George Bell…

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  • Walking the battlefields

    Thursday 1 May 2008 by Robyn van Dyk.

    The Walk from Chunuk Bair down Rhododendron Ridge to the northern outposts gave the tour an appreciation of the difficulty of the terrain around this area of the peninsula. Gallipoli terrain from Rhododendron Ridge A bush fire several years ago reduced the vegetation, opened up the view and exposed parts of the landscape including old trenches. The vegetation has now grown back to about chest height which would have been its …

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