ANZAC Day, for many Victorians, begins with a dawn service, but for the youth of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Maroondah Stake, it began the night before with a look into the past at some of their ANZAC ancestry.
Brett Stringer, youth leader said, “The night aimed to help the youth understand that the men and women who served so valiantly had lives just like they do and that they were prepared to give it all up in pursuit of something so much bigger than themselves.”
Working in groups, the youth researched names using the National Archives of Australia website along with printed war documents to build that person’s profile. Every name being researched belonged to someone in the group’s family. Brett said, “We wanted to lift the stories and experiences of their family members off the page.”
For many of these 11–17-year-olds this was the first time they had seen war documents such as a Service and Casualty Form. Most teenagers commented that deciphering handwriting on the documents was their greatest challenge.
Stories of military service in France, at Gallipoli, in Malaysia, at Alexandra and in Egypt were uncovered along with lists of injuries sustained. Information detailing the various service medals awarded were also of interest. Unfortunately, no research into war is saved from the upsetting words of “killed in action.”
Christian (13 years from Doncaster) knew his relative George Clifford Leslie Lee had served in World War I during the Gallipoli campaign, however discovered new information about his service during World War II. At 51 years, George enlisted in Ararat, Victoria. Christian discovered that the term “LoC” was next to his relative’s military rank of Signalman which stands for “Lines of Communication” and gained a better picture of his work during the war effort.
Tegan (11 years) came to the evening with stories of her great- great- grandmother, Mollie Norma Whitehouse, who served in the army during WWII as a cook. Her history noted she was to be promoted as a lance corporal but was denied this when she hit an officer with a rolling pin after he harassed her. When asked what she thought of Mollie, Tegan quickly and confidently replied, “I’m proud of her!”
Lucy (13 years from Boronia) said, “It was interesting to learn that people served in Egypt.” She worked with another Lucy (12 years from Bayswater) who expressed appreciation for the ANZAC’s service saying, “They put their lives at risk for our freedom.”
Sisters Dale and Cherie Clark, were on hand to share their knowledge of military documents which they came to understand whilst researching their own family’s involvement in the two great wars. Their family history research has taken them to Gallipoli, Ypres in Belgium and Villers-Bretonneux in France.
Family history is important to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as they seek to know those who came before them and work to link their families eternally. It was especially humbling for these Australian youth to learn of the valiant contributions to freedom of their ANZAC ancestry.