Veterans may have faced death and injury on the battlefield but their fiercest battle was yet to come after the war effort was over and armistice was declared.
That was the topic and theme of two Northern grade 9 students essays who have been chosen to represent their schools and communities for the 2018 Frank McDonald Prize.
It remembers World War 1 veteran Frank McDonald, who was born at Ulverstone in 1896 and died in August 2003 at the age of 107.
Lydia Kelly, of St Patricks College, and William Scott, of Scotch Oakburn College will join four other students from across the state and travel to France and Belgium for Anzac Day 2019.
Miss Kelly said it was her family’s connection to the war that spurred her on to apply for the prize.
“My Dad and I have always gone to the dawn service in Launceston and we are very proud of our family’s participation,” she said.
Miss Kelly said her grandfather and one of her great-uncles suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and shell-shock after they returned from the war and it was that experience, recalled to her by her father, which formed the topic of her application essay.
“My grandfather had a famous saying, he used to say about my great-uncle, that he [the great-uncle] ‘lost an eye and half his sanity to a German bayonet’,” she said.
Despite also having a family connection to the war, Mr Scott said it was anticipation of learning something new that inspired his application essay.
“I am really passionate about history...and I always believe that it’s only through the appreciation of the past that we can inform the future,” he said.
Mr Scott’s essay was also focused on the “battle after the war” but he saw it through the lens of the struggles of Indigenous diggers.
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“I didn’t know anything about Aboriginal diggers but read about them in some research books,” he said.
‘I found it fascinating that they were called comrade during the war but then when they returned home they were denied support services and were not recognised.”
Acting Education Minister Elise Archer said the six students would participate in a 10-day study tour of the Western Front in many of the areas Frank McDonald served.
”The trip provides an opportunity for young Tasmanians to link with veterans and gain a greater understanding of Tasmanian and Australian war history, and the role of Tasmanians in WWI and other wars and conflicts,” she said.
“It plays a key role in helping Tasmanian students to learn more about Tasmania’s rich military history and in passing on the history of WWI to new generations of young Tasmanians.”
Both Ms Kelly and Mr Scott said they were looking forward to participating in the Anzac Day service at the Australian National Memorial, in Villers-Bretonneux, France.
The Frank McDonald Prize was established by the state government in 2004 and is supported by RSL Tasmania. The prize is awarded to grade 9 students each year.
Frank MacDonald was one of the last of the 40th Infantry Battalion, Australian Imperial Force; the only all-Tasmanian Battalion raised in WWI.
He was responsible for repairing signal lines between headquarters and trenches and received the Military Medal for working courageously under heavy fire. He also served in WWII and received the Legion of Honour in 1998.
The other recipients of the Frank McDonald Memorial Prize are Griffin McLaughlin (Tarremah Steiner School), Jenna Stacey (Mount Carmel College), Mia Cooper (Ogilvie High School) and Nell Hentschel (Bayview Secondary College).
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