26 August 2014
Budding historians at the University of the Sunshine Coast are doing their bit to preserve the memories of local World War I diggers by signing up for an inspirational project called ‘Adopt a Digger’.
A group of USC students have been enlisted by Maroochydore historian Chrissy Fletcher, whose ‘Adopt a Digger’ project is encouraging community members to help gather information about all 2,400 soldiers and nurses with a connection to the Sunshine Coast.
“It’s great to have USC students signing up,” she said. “People can adopt one or 20 diggers if they like. We have everyone from school kids up to the elderly children of veterans taking part. So far 1,532 diggers have been adopted.”
USC Lecturer in History Dr Marcus Bussey said his students were excited to take part in this project armed with necessary research skills to carry out the mission.
“I think history is perceived incorrectly as being too bookish and what students like is engagement – real historians do research,” he said.
“What better introduction to research than finding out the fascinating stories of our local Sunshine Coast diggers? The sooner students get their hands 'dirty' the better.”
USC Secondary Education student Kaziah Sinclair was inspired to ‘adopt a digger’ after attending a workshop run by Ms Fletcher in May.
Kaziah has a passion for history and enjoyed learning how to find historical information online through the National Library, the Australian War Memorial, the archives of local newspapers and other sources.
Kaziah, a Chancellor State College graduate, investigated the life of Private Roland Halloway Oliver who is listed on the Eumundi and District Roll of Honour in the Eumundi Memorial School of Arts. So far she has discovered his military history and the fact that he died at the ripe old age of 85 in New Zealand.
“There is no photo of Roland in the official records, so I plan to spend some time tracking down his descendants in New Zealand to find a photo to add to his story, and to let them know that we haven’t forgotten him,” she said.
The Adopt a Digger Anzac Centenary exhibition will be held at the Buderim War Memorial next April. For more information visit the website www.adoptadigger.org.
— Jane Cameron