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Queensland students uncover our Anzac history

​2019 Premier’s Anzac Prize students and teacher chaperones connected personally with the Anzac tradition by researching service people who served in Australian conflicts from World War I onwards

It's not every day you discover your relative battled with Adolf Hitler, captured the sole-surviving 7V Sturmpanzerwagen German tank 'Mephisto', or graffitied the wall in the Caves of Naours.

Taking real life learning to a whole new level, a group of Queensland students and teachers have uncovered some extraordinary military history links thanks to the 2019 Premier's Anzac Prize.

As part of the Anzac Prize experience, the students and teacher chaperones connected personally with the Anzac tradition by researching service people who served in Australian conflicts from World War I onwards.

Teacher chaperone and Mundubbera State School Principal Peter Townsend discovered his great-great-grandfather's brother Edward Isaac Mason, who fell at the Battle of Fromelles in 1916, went into battle with a young Adolf Hitler.

"Mason's 32nd Battalion was tasked with assaulting the Sugarloaf Salient, a defensive position jutting out from the opposing lines which allowed the German defenders to pound the advancing Allies with machine-gun fire," he said.

"Not that Mason would know it, but across the cratered no-man's-land was a young German Lance-Corporal in the List Regiment who, a few decades later, would become known as the personification of evil — Adolf Hitler."

Ambrose Treacy College student Atticus Solomon, through his research, discovered that his great-grandfather Lance-Corporal Bert Chapman was in the battalion which captured the rarest tank in the world, the Mephisto.

"My great-grandfather was part of one of the most important battles in World War I, Villers-Bretonneux," he said.

"I was able to piece together that while in Villers-Bretonneux, on 14 July 1918, Chapman and the 26th Battalion captured the Mephisto — one of only 20 tanks of this design by the German army.

"Although the Germans launched a poisonous gas attack during the moving of the tank to the allies, the battalion showed the Anzac Spirit and persevered through, and that tank is now the last of its kind and exhibited at the Queensland Museum."

Pimlico State High School student Ella Magner focused her research project on Lieutenant John Patrick Ramkema, who left his mark on the cave walls at Naours in northern France.

"Ramkema fought at Gallipoli as a member of the 9th Battalion, with his first major action in France at Pozieres in the Somme Valley," she said.

"As I researched his story, I discovered that he marked his name on the cave walls at Naours as a legacy to his service and bravery during the Great War.

"At one point 3,000 people lived in this underground city — which stretches for kilometres about 30 metres below ground — building their own chapels, bakeries and stables with chimneys routed up through cottages above so no-one would know they were below ground."

The Anzac Prize recipients are currently on a trip-of-a-lifetime, visiting important memorial sites in London and the Western Front battlefields in France and Belgium.

Students will commemorate the sacrifice of each researched service person by reading a heart-felt eulogy at their grave or memorial over the coming days.

For full stories of each service person mentioned, visit the History Pin website.

More information about the Premier's Anzac Prize is available at the Education website.


Licence
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia (CC BY 3.0) (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/au/ )
Last updated
13 May 2019