In 2015, Newington College commemorated the Centenary of the Gallipoli Campaign and the sacrifices of some 650 Newingtonians who served — and 111 who fell — in the First World War.
Living Links to Newington’s Fallen Soldiers
A highlight of the College’s Centenary of Anzac Day commemoration on 29 April 2015 was a moving ceremony in which relatives of our Fallen soldiers, along with representatives of the Newington community, affixed poppies to the Great War Honour Roll in the vestibule of the Founders Building. This ceremony had its genesis early in 2014 when The 70 Club, the College’s organisation for alumni aged 70 years or more, suggested that relatives of Newington’s Fallen be invited to take part in a re-dedication of the Honour Roll — a proposal readily taken up by the College. But how would we find these relatives?
We knew of some already as members of today’s Newington community. Lieutenant James Stokes Millner (ON 1901), for example, was a member of a family famous in Newington’s history; while we had learned in 2013 that current student James Hewish is a relative of Captain Arthur Leslie Hewish (ON 1908–1910). We also knew of some relatives, including those of Corporal Hubert de Vere Alexander (ON 1896–1905) and Lieutenant Clive Stanley Crowley, DCM (ON 1905–), through the relatives’ enquiries to the College Archivist Mr David Roberts. By August last year, however, we knew of relatives of only nine of our 111 Fallen.
Identifying relatives through research proved highly problematic. Sadly, many of our Fallen would have died before they had a chance to have a family and, so, would have no direct descendants. While there are excellent research resources about Australia’s First World War soldiers and their backgrounds available online, these do not lead the researcher forward to relatives alive today. The standard family history approach — starting with recent generations and working backwards, by identifying parents in successive earlier generations — does not usually work the other way.
In the end, advertising was the most effective strategy. In a range of College publications and in the Sydney Morning Herald’s ‘RSVP’ section, we called for relatives of our Fallen to contact the College. By March, 2015 we had identified 48 individuals or families, representing 21 of our Fallen soldiers, to invite to take part in the poppy ceremony. In some cases, we were even able to bring together people who did not know that they had a Fallen Newingtonian in common. The participation of the relatives of our Fallen in this special poppy ceremony added a dimension not normally seen in the College’s Anzac Day commemorations. The process of finding them enriched our community and brought us many new friends.
This article was first published in NEWS Spring 2015
The Many sides of our Anzac Centenary
The Centenary of Anzac Commemoration Service and Parade on 29 April 2015 was the culmination of a range of projects that took place behind the scenes at the College. On the day of the commemoration, visitors were greeted by images of 26 of Newington’s Fallen soldiers on banners hanging along the Memorial and Cowlishaw Drives. The images came from photographs in the College Archives, material lent to us by relatives, and the archival collection of the Australian War Memorial. The banners remained on display for the remainder of Term 2.