France is Educated on Anzac Day

Anzac Day education in France is on the rise. France houses a number of dead soldiers from many wars, and that includes Australian soldiers who performed heroic actions during the First World War. This does not mean, however, that the people there by and large maintain much knowledge on those soldiers or on their impressive WWI performances. Their education on the matter is now increasing due to Anzac Day.

Schools in France have been increasing their efforts as of late to inform students as to the important relationship between their own nation and that of Australia wherein WWI is concerned. So far, many of the battles important to Anzac Day are not even mentioned in their classes and textbooks aside from special assignments. Such assignments are exactly where the effort is being concentrated.

A prize is given to students who excel in said knowledge. The prize is named after two Australian soldiers who aided a fight in Vellers-Bretonneux by taking out a number of enemy machine guns. The Sadlier-Stokes prize given for the Anzac Day project is named after Lt. Clifford Sadlier and Sgt. Charles Stokes, the latter of which was known to be highly remorseful of the deaths he caused through WWI violence, the Brisbane Times reports.

Some students are excited to learn more about the Australian war effort in France, as many of them share blood with French soldiers who fought alongside the Australian names they are learning through such education. Anzac Day for these students is a day on which they learn more about the men who helped keep their families and their country alive during the war. This provides a closer link between them and the history they are learning than they would gain from a simple textbook reading. Other students were completely unaware of their genetic links to the war until their projects began and they were granted increased knowledge of their own family’s past.

Every Anzac Day, the Foreign Affairs Minister of Australia hands out the Sadlier-Stokes prize, though this year is different. This year, Charles Stokes’ great-granddaughter will be in attendance. Due to the remorse Stokes felt toward his own heroics, he had asked his family never to talk about his actions in the war; therefore, Naomi Stokes never knew just what a hero her great-grandfather really was. This year, she will be able to celebrate Anzac Day from a new perspective, and the Sadlier-Stokes prize will be able to benefit more than simply the students who compete for it.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE