Remembering Great Uncle Tom

For a long time, Anzac Day just meant to me another public holiday and yummy Anzac biscuits for morning tea, until our family discovered a personal connection. Delving into our family history, we discovered that my grandmother’s favourite brother, my Great-Uncle Tom, had fought and died at Gallipoli on Anzac Day, which was poignant for me and fascinating for my sons!

We checked out some of the military history books in the library, in particular Bloody Gallipoli: the New Zealander’s Story and Gallipoli : the New Zealand Story, and amazingly discovered a couple of references to Great-Uncle Tom in the descriptions of what happened at Gallipoli. The description of his death was particularly moving.

Corporal Gillanders, modest and brave, was shot through the head whilst passing an order.

We also found more information about him on the Cenotaph database. Now on Anzac Day we always set up a photo of Great-Uncle Tom, with a poppy next to it. We will remember him.

Many New Zealanders have a relative who fought, and possibly died at Gallipoli or in other World War One battles. Christchurch City Libraries’ New Zealand At War and Anzac Day resources have an amazing amount of information for people interested in the wars that New Zealand has been involved in and researching the personal stories of soldiers.

Has anyone else researched their relatives who fought at Gallipoli? How do you mark Anzac Day? Is it more than just Anzac biscuits for you?

One thought on “Remembering Great Uncle Tom

  1. Juliet McAra 12 April 2010 / 1:45 pm

    It’s fascinating getting the family history in greater detail and deepens your understanding of the significance of ANZAC day. I’m lucky plenty has been achieved already by older family members, our family certainly has appreciated my mother’s huge efforts with the wider family tree and also interviewing Crete veterans for her book Stand for New Zealand : voices from the battle of Crete / compiled by Jill McAra. 2004 . My grandfather Ed McAra was killed there in 1941 and we really appreciate knowing about him from his letters, and what it was like in the war for him and his peers from the book.

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