ANZAC Spirit Study Tour
Five Darwin High School students who were winners in the 2018 Chief Minister’s ANZAC Spirit Study Award, have recently returned from a visit to Villers-Bretonneux where they attended the annual ANZAC commemoration.
Year 10 students Ellen Archibald, Angus Gurry, Joseph Haritos and Stephanie Scott and Year 11 student Faiza Choudhury, who were selected last year to participate in the 2018 Anzac Spirit Study Tour, were part of the NT delegation which placed a wreath on the Memorial.
Year 11 student Faiza Choudhury shares some of her key highlights from the study tour:
Departing Darwin, I was dreading the 13 hour long flight, but was super excited about travelling to Europe, going to different places and learning about WW1.
My first impression of France was the beauty and excitement of Paris, which kept me fully awake despite the eighteen hour journey. What stood out to me is that Paris is a is a city rich in history, with beautiful intricate architecture, hundreds of years old buildings with pretty french windows, sculptures from different places of the world, ancient churches and countless museums with famous exhibitions. We visited the Eiffel Tower, the Opera house, Notre Dame, Napoleon's tomb, the Arc de Triomphe and drove down the Champ Elysees. Standing in the places of great historical significance was definitely an incredible experience.
Most of the battlefields we saw were covered in green soft grass, and to the ordinary eye, it was like standing in front of vast farming fields; all bright yellow and green, and peaceful with birds chirping. So when our historian pointed and said things like "the Australians were advancing over that hill" and "you are standing on the German trenches right now", all we saw was a hill covered in green crops, and the ground we were standing on, a gravel path. This was truly an overwhelming experience for me to see the landscape of the battle fields today and compare it to the images of the same place during the war. It was a time to reflect on how scary the war was to turn the places into the battlefields we see in books and the huge sacrifice all the soldiers had made. Often we saw remains of pill boxes and the ground covered in bumps which were the remains of shell holes and mines, especially at Hill 60 which made us think of how many soldiers were resting right beneath our feet.
My favourite moment from the trip was when we dressed up as soldiers from the Australian 40th Infantry Battalion and literally walked, marched and ran in their footsteps through the battlefield of the Third Battle of Ypres. It was an opportunity to really understand the conditions the soldiers had to endure. We had to run in a heavy metal helmet, whilst carrying a heavy rifle and lots of otherweights strapped to our body, eat an authentic WW1 meal, put on gas masks in ten seconds, and throw grenades. It was a difficult and exhausting day for us, and it was scary to imagine what it would have been like to be under continuous artillery fire, shelling and mud, like the soldiers had been on that day.
I would recommend the Anzac Spirit Study tour to others because it gave me the opportunity to experience the Anzac Spirit in another continent. I got to see firsthand that the Australians soldiers were a volunteer force who fought bravely for a cause that they believed in, and for that, their sacrifice should never be forgotten.