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Lest We Forget – James Martin Award

11 Nov 2019

Congratulations to Ciara Braine who was awarded the James Martin Award.

The James Martin Award is presented by the My School Remembers Foundation, along with Swinburne University of Technology and the City of Boroondara. This award is named for James Martin, Australia’s youngest ANZAC.

James, who grew up in Boroondara and lied about his age so he could fight for his country, was only 14 years old and nine months at the time of his death.

In honour of the sacrifice made by James and thousands of other Australian soldiers, this award required students to research an ANZAC who was a resident in the Boroondara area and submit a piece of writing describing the person, their sacrifice and why it is important that we remember their service.

Ciara chose to write about a soldier named Stanley Burridge. After reading original documents relating to his service, Ciara wrote the following piece:

‘The Burridge Family History’, was the book Mum handed to me. “Look in there. Your father made that before he went and joined the army, he wanted to serve like his uncle Stanley. Look him up in there, there is a chapter dedicated to him”. I nodded. For my school competition, I need to research my family history and their involvement in wars. I’m really not looking forward to it. History! I mean why can’t I do geography all year?

I opened the huge book to the page for my great-uncle Stanley Burridge. I start my research. The more I read the more I wanted to continue reading. I couldn’t put this big family album down. I read through all the certificates. All of everything. I found out so much. I found out that my great-uncle left Australia to England on HMAT Marathon A74 on the 27 October 1916. He, Private Stanley Hauge Burridge enlisted when he was 28 on the 20 May 1914.

In the last plastic pocket of the Private Stanley Burridge chapter is what looks like an old, wet diary. I pull out the diary from the pocket. I carefully flick through the pages. Some torn. Some wet. Some pages missing.

In the diary, there are snippets of letters to his wife May Burridge. There are words he has written before going into battle. The names of all his friends. None, who came home. All his friends. Some from his childhood, some who he has just met because of the war, who he wouldn’t meet otherwise.

‘May dearie, I know this mighn’t reach you but I just need to tell you that I love you. We are about to dock in England, but never fear my darling. I will always love you. No matter where I am… I will come home’ - That was a snippet from one of the letters to his wife. ‘Today I lost my best mate. My best mate since childhood. He is gone. I never got to say goodbye’ That was written many times. For many different friends.

I can’t imagine what my great-uncle went through. Stanley came home safely. Unlike most of his friends. Lest we forget. Lest we forget all the people who died for our country. Lest we forget the family of the dead. Lest we forget to me means living out the lives of the people who never got to live them. Lest we forget means to me doing what these people would have wanted to do. Living their hopes and dreams. Because they never got to live them.