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Australian soldiers in trench, Ypres 1917
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World War I

Is there an honour roll or memorial in your town or suburb? After World War I, most communities recorded the names of local people who had died during the war.

Some were shearers or students, carpenters or teachers. They left behind partners, children or parents.

The memorials do not record their stories but, with a little research, you can find out the story behind each name.

RSL-ANZAC Day-Toowong 2018-memorial

ANZAC Day, Toowong 2018

Finding out

War memorials or cenotaphs have been erected in towns and cities all over Australia. These memorials honour Australians who have served in war.

Ask an adult to help you visit your nearest war memorial or find pictures of one in your area. Read the list of names that appear on the monument. All these people once lived in your area. Write down any names that are familiar to you, or any unusual names.

Ask an older person if they have known anyone who lost their life while serving in Australia’s Defence Forces. Can you find their names on the memorial?

Sorting out

Look at your list of names. All these people risked their lives to keep others safe and keep peace in the world. They would have endured great hardship during their war service.

Does anyone on your list share your name? Are any of them members of your family? What else do you know about them?

Choose one of the people to research. Think about what you want to find out. List some questions you have about their military service. For example: what was their rank? Where and when did they serve? Were they awarded any medals or special honours?

Taking action

Use the Research Guide to investigate your chosen person. Follow the steps to search the records at the Australian War Memorial, the National Archives of Australia and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

Read the information carefully. Make notes as you find relevant or interesting information. Many of the scanned documents from the National Archives are quite old. You might need to ask for help from an adult to read handwritten information.

Talk to someone about what you found out. Explain how this person contributed to their country and to all Australians. How do you feel about the sacrifices this person made?

More for years 3 - 6

For teachers and parents

Teachers' notes for World War 1