Family link at Lone Pine hits home for Ben
Coming from a family of history buffs, Sydney high school student Ben Meller was surprised to discover this year that his great-great uncle fought at Lone Pine.
His family only discovered their great-great uncle’s past a few weeks before Ben attended the Anzac Day commemorations in Gallipoli in April as one of 100 students on the Centenary of Anzac school tour.
The year 10 student was able to walk in the footsteps of his great-great uncle, a 15th Battalion soldier who was declared missing-in-action after the battle of Lone Pine on August 6, 1915.
His family had been fascinated by their war connections but the story of his great-great uncle was a bit of a mystery.
“Being able to go there and see his name, and reflect on what it was like 100 years ago, where these men sacrificed their lives – there was a mixture of emotions, it’s hard to describe,” he said.
“It was very touching.”
He joined his tour peers at a special reception at NSW parliament on Thursday to mark the 100-year anniversary of Lone Pine.
Premier Mike Baird was impressed at the impact the tour had on students.
“What is clear is that our diggers will continue to get old and it’s not going to be long before they’re no longer with us,” he said.
“So there couldn’t be a better way to take today’s future leaders and to turn them into the next generation of leaders that are promoting and understanding what the Anzacs have done.”
Veteran Affairs Minister David Elliott could not hide his admiration for the students.
“As a politician who majored in history and then went on to join the army, having impressionable young historians and you talking about Gallipoli is like Christmas for me,” he said.
The NSW government spent $1 million to send 100 students from years 10, 11 and 12 to the Anzac Day centenary service in Gallipoli.