The individual stories of 13 Portlanders who fought at the Gallipoli campaign a century ago are coming to life again, thanks to the research efforts of Portland Secondary College students and their teacher.Six PSC volunteers ranging in age from 12-15 are taking on the complex task of finding out as much as possible about 13 young Portlanders who posed for a photograph just before embarking from Egypt to the Turkish coast in a costly and ultimately futile effort to attack the enemy in what was seen as their ‘soft underbelly.""Each student chose one of the soldiers in the photo," teacher librarian Jan Colliver said. "We have confirmed the identities of 11 of the 13 in the picture, which has been up for a while on the wall here at the library.
During that time, other students have posed questions about those 13, and our team will try to get the answers."Mrs Colliver said four of the 13 troops died at Gallipoli, two in the carnage of the first day.Tegan Barrington, 15, is a year nine student. She chose Leonard Papley, one of the two who died in the first assault, now commemorated as Anzac Day."I’m using the AIF website created by the Australian Defence Force Academy," she said, "and material from the National Archives. I’ve found out before the war he was a carpenter living in Percy St. He went to school at All Saints."She said her research has given her a much better understanding of the Gallipoli campaign than she had before this centenary year.The soldier of choice for Tom Drew, 12, is Murray Keiller."So far I have learned he was a labourer before the war," Tom said. "He was lucky – he came home in 1915. There was a very high death toll and I certainly would not have wanted to be there and have to try my chances."The average age for those 13 soldiers from Portland was about 22 or 23, just 10 years older than Tom is today.One very valuable resource for the youthful research team is a site called Trove. This is where thousands of pages of vintage newspapers can be found, including hundreds of editions of the Portland Observer and Guardian dating back to the 1850s.Mrs Colliver said the students will closely inspect those digitised pages during their research leading up to Anzac Day.
Also at the research session was Brad Jasper, a PSC student selected with 18 others from Victoria to attend the dawn service at Anzac Cove in Turkey this year.Thanks to sharp-eyed Portland Observer readers, there’s been further confirmation of another soldier in the photo. George Moore, who lived in Heywood, has been positively identified by his great nephew Frank Moore. He is contacting Heather Clark of the RSL, who is coordinating local commemorations, to supply more facts about his great uncle.
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Photos courtesy of the Portland Observer.