Wrap-up of the 2016 Trans-Tasman Anzac Day blog challenge

On Monday, 18 April 2016, I issued my annual Trans-Tasman Anzac Day Blog Challenge.

It's where I invite people to submit their blogs, written from their research about family members who served in the wars.

This year it was the centenary of the First Anzac Day. Our remembrance day that we share with our mates across the ditch.

Attendances at commemorations were at a record high throughout New Zealand; and from what I have read, they were in Australia too.

It's thought provoking to see so many children and young people taking part in the march, the ceremony, or just as part of the crowd. A large number wearing medals of grandparents or great-grandparents...

What is it about Anzac Day that interests so many young people and motivates them to get up to the Dawn Parade, or the Citizens Ceremony a couple of hours later?

Sitting at the bottom of the world, with images of war on the news on TV, maybe makes war seem more real - combined with the learning the children get at school and the ensuing conversations at home about what "Grandad (<insert other family members' title here>) did in the war".

My two girls are in Year 11 now. Every year since they started school they've learned about Anzac Day. And each year, they have learned more and a bit deeper about the topic, broadening out - like building blocks of knowledge.

This year, we really had some conversations around the dinner table. They had learned such a lot about the First and Second World Wars - how they started, the politics, the Anzacs and the Allies. We discussed the Treaty of Versailles, the great campaigns like Gallipoli and Passchendale, how Hitler came to power and about the death camps.

We also discussed the impact on women (including those who served) and families left behind as well as the stories of the conscientious objectors.

My husband and I discussed with them, members of our own families who had served and what parts they played. It got very sad at times.

I was privileged to be able to guide my girls with their homework and their projects. and send them into my own place of work to do their own research, guided by my awesome colleagues (as it was a non-work day for me).

I don't remember learning this period of history so intensely and holistically when I was at school, such a very long time ago now. I think the learning at schools these days seems to be a lot more objective and delve more deeply into the topic than in my day (at least at my school).

Of course, researchers have been adding to the accumulated knowledge; while museums, libraries and archives have been collecting stories, and retrieving and preserving records. So much more is known by the general public now, than in the years following the return of our service personnel.

The most keen researchers of course, have been family historians. Those that have been researching their family. Apart from assembling genealogies, family historians research to pay tribute to and honour their ancestors by remembering them - even more poignant when it is someone who saw active duty.

It's this personal connection to the past that creates the interest to know what happened. And this I believe is what also brings people of all ages to the Anzac Day services.

This year, my Anzac Day blog challenge was issued late, but a number of bloggers still rose to the challenge.

I share their names and links here, so that you can read their research and stories of their family that they have chosen to share:

Alison: Anzac Day 1916 - Richard O'Brien & Hugh O'Brien
Jonas Mockunas: Baltic Anzacs in the First World War
Jennifer Jones: Ellenor Calnan – Bangka Island Massacre
Jill Ball: Herb Sullivan - a Fighter joins the fray
Fiona Tellesson: Major Hugh Quinn - The Man Behind Quinn's Post Gallipoli Turkey WW1
Fiona Tellesson: Gallipoli hero Captain Samuel William Harry - 100 years on
Barb: Two great-uncles of mine: Patrick Joseph Stettler and John Harold Stettler
Fran Kitto: Herbert Eric Cleveland Kitto #atozchallenge U – Uncle Eric
Kerryn Taylor: Bugler William John Pike MORGAN of Euroa
Shauna Hicks: The Finn Brothers – 2016 Trans Tasman ANZAC Day Blog Challenge
Pauleen Cass: Anzac Day 2016: Villers-Brettoneux and James Paterson
Alex Daw: U is for HMAS Una (oh allright and Uniforms too)

My grateful appreciation to the people who blogged this year. The majority of these bloggers come back every year and contribute to this blog challenge, and we get to learn a bit more about history through reading their family research,.

Please do take the time to read through these amazing blogs - and follow them as I know they will have more outstanding stories to share.

Happy reading


Lest we forget...