It was dubbed the war to end all wars, and the thousands of graves of young Australians throughout the middle east and on the western front are a solemn reminder of the price paid to secure peace. Thousands come every year for ANZAC ceremonies at Villers-Brettoneux, among them, the winners of the Simpson Prize — is a national essay competition for Year 9 and 10 students. It’s organised by the History Teachers Association and the Australian War Memorial.
Essay entrants were asked to reflect on the significance of the western front – the battles fought in France and Belgium that were so significant to securing peace.
For one of those essay winners – Elizabeth Spollard – the interest was not just academic – one of her relatives fought and died there. For her and the other year eleven students on the tour, seeing those graves of young men of about their own age, the irony of that phrase ‘the war to end all wars’ has certainly not been lost. Just before Anzac day, I caught up with Elizabeth Spollard on the western front.