More than 140 Ballarat primary school pupils have marked the graves of every World War I soldier and nurse buried in the city’s cemeteries to commemorate Anzac Day.
Australian flags now mark the thousands of graves.
Ballarat General Cemeteries chief executive officer Annie De Jong said the idea behind the commemorative activity with the young students was to encourage more members of the community to remember those who volunteered during World War I.
“We know we have over 1000 soldiers buried here and at least 15 nurses, and we would really like to show that we do remember their service and sacrifice,” Ms DeJong said.
“In addition to those buried in our cemeteries we have identified 160 headstones that carry commemoration of a soldier who was killed, and still lies, at Gallipoli or France or Belgium or Palestine or the United Kingdom.
“They were all volunteers and they deserve to be remembered.”
More than 100 pupils from Ballarat North Primary School helped locate soldier’s graves at the New Cemetery, with pupils from Macarthur Street Primary School and Pleasant Street Primary School searching through the Old Cemetery with the assistance from cemetery staff and Ballarat historian Garry Snowden’s book ‘They answered their county’s call’.
Ms De Jong said it was promising to see so many young people get involved in commemorating the sacrifices of Australia’s men and women who fought during World War I and helping keep their legacy alive.
“They were so enthusiastic to find the soldiers and recognise their contributions,” she said.
“I caught a couple of the children saying a prayer and others saying thank you, it brought a tear to your eye.”
She said it was hoped the project would inspire the young children to share what they learnt and connect with the stories of those who fought.
“It’s important for young people to know about our history,” she said.
Proving such a success, Ms De Jong said she was hopeful the project would continue next year, with a broadened focus on remembering those who served in WWII and other conflicts since.