Premier's Anzac Memorial Scholarship 2016

Introduction to 'Through Our Eyes'

My name is Elizabeth Bowmer and early last month I was lucky enough to be selected and take part in the Premiers ANZAC Memorial Scholarship tour, for the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme. We were also lucky enough to attend the official ceremonies for the battle of Fromelles and Pozieres on the 17th and 23rd of July. And to be a part of these ceremonies and witness them first hand was incredible moving and something I will never forget.

The Tour was an incredible experience for me as I have always been interested in history. But to be able to stand on the battle fields of France, to see the actual trenches and areas where the ANZAC legend was cemented in the world’s history, was an honour. It was amazing to be able to walk in the footsteps of those who had walked and fought for our freedom. It was especially moving for me as we visited Mount Saint Quentin which is the site of a battle that my ancestor fought in. I was able to ask Brad – our tour historian- about the 17th Brigade and I was amazed to find that they had walked up the path that we had. I was literally walking in my ancestor’s footprints, 100 years after he had. The trip was full of moments like that, those moments that make you stop and think about exactly what was sacrificed and how brave and terrified the men fighting would have been. It also brings home the fact that they were human and often not much older or the same age as my older sister and I remember visiting many Commonwealth war cemeteries and Brad putting his slouch hat on the top of a grave stone and telling us that person’s story, it just made it feel so real. 

 


 

Across the trip we visited many battlefields including the Salient of Ypres near Flanders Fields, Pozieres, Fromelles, Polygon Wood and through this we visited the resting places of thousands of Australian and allied soldiers whilst learning about their fight and honouring their memory. I have never felt more proud to be a descendent of the ANZAC Legend or to call myself an Australian.

But I also went into the trip with a curiosity to see the other side of the war, the German side of the war. I am currently learning German and when I tell this to people I am amazed at the reaction I get and the stereotypes that still exist. It is because of this that I have focused my major work for the trip on evaluating and looking at the German perspective of the war. I would like to present that project to you now.