Coast schoolgirl wins trip to Gallipoli for anniversary

11 Mar
Emily Ireland with portraits of her great uncles, and her Premier's Anzac award. Picture: Luke Ireland

Emily Ireland with portraits of her great uncles, and her Premier’s Anzac award. Picture: Luke Ireland

By Luke Ireland, Bond University Journalism Student

A Gold Coast high school student has won her place in a trip to Europe next month for the 100-year Anzac Anniversary, where she will honour the memory of her relatives who fought in the Great War.

Palm Beach Currumbin High (PBC) student Emily Ireland will attend the Dawn Service at Anzac Cove, Gallipoli,before later visiting the graves of her two Great Uncles on the battlefields of France.

The Year 10 student was a winner of the Premier’s Anzac Prize, an initiative that will see her and 69 other Queensland students travel to the killing fields of World War One.

“I was totally speechless when I got the call to say that I would be on the trip and I just couldn’t believe that I would have the chance to represent my family on such a massive occasion,” she said.

To win the Premier’s Anzac Prize Emily had to create a five-minute video that explained what the Anzac legacy meant to her.

John Henry Elliott

John Henry Elliott

The 15-year-old said the opportunity to honour the sacrifices made by her two great uncles, as well as the service of another great uncle and her great-great grandfather, would be bittersweet.

“Ever since I was old enough to understand, my grandparents told me the stories of all of my relatives that have served Australia in war, including my two great uncles who gave their lives to make ours safer.

“It will be extremely emotional to actually be there to retrace the steps of my relatives and all of the Australian soldiers who fought for our future.”

The PBC student’s great uncles William Samuel Elliott and John Henry Elliott were soldiers in the 25th and 52nd Australian Infantry Battalions, tasked with retaking land and towns in north-eastern France.

William and John fought alongside their other brother Frank Elliott, as well as Emily’s great-great grandfather Robert John Taylor, who was friends of the brothers and came home to later marry their sister.

William Samuel Elliott

William Samuel Elliott

Frank and Robert survived their war and eventually returned to Australia with shrapnel wounds.

Emily’s uncles died in separate battles on the Western Front, where she will visit William’s grave at Adelaide Cemetery in Villers-Bretonneux and John’s grave at Querrieu Brtish Cemetery.

At the cemeteries Emily will deliver eulogies for the Elliott brothers, explaining how the Anzac tradition has shaped her family.

“It will be a great honour to speak about the Anzac spirit through the stories of my great uncles,” Emily said

Emily formally accepted her prize from State Parliamentary Member for Currumbin Jann Stuckey last month in an event to celebrate the achievement.

Mrs Stuckey said that Emily’s commitment to relaying her family’s war story was a lesson for all young people to never forget the Anzac legacy.

“I wish Emily the very best for her trip and I’m looking forward to following it very closely and hearing all about it when she returns,”Mrs Stuckey said.

Emily will fly to Istanbul on April 21 and spend 15 days exploring Turkey, France and Belgium, before flying home to share her experiences.

“When I’m at my great uncle’s graves I will be imagining that all of my family are right there with me,” she said

“We have talked about one day making the journey over together and that’s something that I feel very strongly about making happen in the future.”

To follow Emily’s trip you can visit the Premier’s Anzac Prize homepage at http://education.qld.gov.au/students/grants/scholarships/anzac/index.html from April 21 to May 6.

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