Opportunity For High School Students To Learn Australia’s World War I History In France

Jason and Renae Jenkins, Yvonne Fletcher, John Gillam, Meryl Swanson MP, and Air Vice Marshall Bob Treloar OAM (ret’d) with Michael (year 4) and Lachlan (year 2) holding the original medals.
Jason and Renae Jenkins, Yvonne Fletcher, John Gillam, Meryl Swanson MP, and Air Vice Marshall Bob Treloar OAM (ret’d) with Michael (year 4) and Lachlan (year 2) holding the original medals.

 
WITH the Centenary of Anzac commemorations having hit the halfway mark, there still remains interest in learning more about Australia’s involvement in World War I.

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Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter, Mr Scot MacDonald MLA and Minister for Veterans Affairs, Mr David Elliott have issued a call out for all school students in years 10 and 11 to enter a ballot to take part in a 13-day tour of the Remembrance Trail, tracing Australia’s involvement on the Western Front.

In an issued statement, Mr MacDonald said, “It is an incredible chance for students to visit key Australian memorial sites, and to witness firsthand the fields upon which our young men and women fought and forged the Anzac spirit.”

“The tour will bring to life the stories of the First World War and the Western Front that we read about in history books and hear of at Anzac Day ceremonies.”

Australia’s historical links to France and Belgium remain of key interest to many in the community.
Two weeks ago, approximately 60 gathered at Sketchley Cottage to, as the sign proclaimed, welcome home Private Herbert Hamilton.

Among the guests were Mr John Ridgeway who gave a stirring welcome to country in Worimi language, Ms Meryl Swanson MP, Air Vice Marshal (retired) Bob Treloar AO, and President of the Raymond Terrace Historical Society Mr Ken Barlow.

This was no ordinary homecoming.

Private Herbert Hamilton enlisted to fight in World War I and was killed-in-action.

Being an orphan and with no surviving family, Private Hamilton’s medals have never been claimed by a bonafide next of kin.

That is, until now, a hundred years after his death.

Historians and authors Mr John Gillam and Mrs Yvonne Fletcher, from Medowie, in a project they started in 2012 named The Missing Medals, can now claim their first success in a soldier’s next of kin receiving the original medals he was entitled to.

Kept in a vault, it is estimated there are over 2.5 tonnes of medals still waiting for collection.

The historians were able to prove that the Raymond Terrace and District Historical Society could prove next-of-kin status.

School principals should lodge an expression of interest by 5pm on 17 August 2017 at www.veterans.nsw.gov.au. The successful schools will be announced after 20 August 2017.

 

By Heather SHARP

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