• The Simpson Prize trip 2009

    Tuesday 21 April 2009 by Andrew Gray. 7 comments

    The Simpson Prize is a competition for high school students from around Australia, with a winner from every state and territory getting the opportunity to travel to Turkey and attend the services on ANZAC Day at Gallipoli. The students this year are Varun Sundar (ACT), Lauren Tang (NSW), Madeleine Foote (TAS), Johanna Stott-Williams (SA), Megan Proutt (QLD), Nicholas Dyer (WA), Eleanor Lourey (VIC) and Erin Moriarty (NT).  The …

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  • Ypres, the Menin Gate and the Last Post

    Monday 19 May 2008 by Robyn van Dyk. 1 comments

    And the last post for the Battlefield Tour Blog 2008! Ypres Passchendaele Three major battles of the First World War were fought around the medieval town of Ypres. The first battle was a three week attack on British positions on the 18 October 1914. Here the British and French forces halted the German advance a few kilometres before the town. The town became a salient and the Germans continued to shell the town. The cloth hall at Ypres,…

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  • N’oublions jamais l’Australie - Never Forget Australia

    Friday 16 May 2008 by Robyn van Dyk. 5 comments

    Villers-Bretonneux and Bullecourt are two towns on the Western Front that continue to have an ongoing connection with Australia. Due to the warmth and hospitality of the locals in receiving us, the battlefield tour will also not easily forget these towns. The tiny town of Bullecourt includes a pub called Le Canberra and one of the finest private museums in Northern France. The Bullecourt Musée contains a jumble of rare and interesting …

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  • 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…

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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 …

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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…

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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 …

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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…

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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 …

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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 …

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