Anzac history uncovered

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Shannon SmithAlbany Advertiser
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Albany has a rich Anzac heritage and local historian Sue Lefroy is uncovering a mountain of historical information about the servicemen buried at the Memorial Park Cemetery.

There are roughly 70 grave-sites in the cemetery relating to military service in WWI, although not all of them are marked.

Ms Lefroy is the local history co-ordinator at the Albany Public Library and has been studying these grave-sites.

She said it was important to recognise not only the gravestones of men who fought on the battlefields, but also the men who died before they made it there.

“Burial and cemetery records tell us where most of the unmarked grave-sites are located, but one or two cannot be pinpointed, or a death has occurred at sea,” she said.

“There is one marked grave-site of an Anzac at the Albany Quarantine Station, where a young Queensland soldier died from meningitis in 1918 on his way to the front.

“It’s important to consider that when we speak of Anzacs, we are applying the term broadly to include all those who served in WWI, on Gallipoli, in Europe and, of course, the Dessert Mounted Corps in Egypt and the Middle East.”

Some histories are unintentionally overlooked as without a headstone, there is no identifying marker of a grave-site.

Ms Lefroy said soldiers also fell ill on the transports which left ports in the Eastern States and were disembarked in Albany for immediate attention.

“By far the most common problem was meningitis, resulting in the deaths of about six soldiers on their way to war,” she said.

“Some soldiers were struck down by pneumonia, typhoid and measles, with death not uncommonly resulting from complications associated with these infections, but as the war progressed, the mortality rates associated with pneumonia, or Spanish Flu were particularly high”She said that many of these young men were desperately keen to sign up, to do their bit for their country and their mates, or to follow their brothers should they have enlisted.

“Telling the stories of these men raises awareness and promotes history and heritage from many different aspects such as place, time, family and forebears, all linking in with the military association and its legacy for Albany.”

The Albany History Collection and the Do You Have an Anzac in your Family? project provide archival information and material that people can access for personal research.

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