ANZAC JOURNEY: Douglas Gemmell will commemorate Anzac Day at the Western Front in France where he will honour his family's war history.
ANZAC JOURNEY: Douglas Gemmell will commemorate Anzac Day at the Western Front in France where he will honour his family's war history. Contributed

Lest he forget

ON THURSDAY Australia will pause to commemorate Anzac Day and the sacrifices of our fallen, returned and current service personnel.

For 15-year-old Douglas Gemmell, the day will be spent on the Western Front battlefields to pay respect to his family's war history.

The Year 10 Good Shepherd student was one of eight young people selected to take part in the Queensland Government's Premier Anzac Prize for a 16-day tour of London, Belgium and France which began on April 12.

Douglas grew up with a deep understanding of the bravery of Australian soldiers, particularly of his great great uncles who died in World War I.

"Since I've been young we've always gone to Anzac Day ceremonies at Tewantin and it's always been a quite a big part of our family traditions,” he said.

"It will be really good to be able to commemorate them over there.”

As part of his journey, Douglas was tasked to research three soldiers.

"I've got Gordon Gemmell, which is my dad's great uncle, Arthur Trapp who's my mum's great uncle and George Lamerton who's buried next to Gordon.”

"When we are over there we will say our eulogies at their graves.”

"I've talked to some of the previous prize recipients and they said when you are doing all the research you think 'Wow' but when you actually get over there it is so much different and gets so much more emotional.”

HONOUR: Douglas Gemmell (right) with Brigadier Michael Bond at the formal send off for the Premier's Anzac Prize recipients   on April 12.
HONOUR: Douglas Gemmell (right) with Brigadier Michael Bond at the formal send off for the Premier's Anzac Prize recipients on April 12. Contributed

This might be Douglas's first time overseas but it is not the first time a family member has had the privilege to visit the Western Front - his sister went for the 100th anniversary in 2015.

"My sister has been to Gordon's grave so I'll be the second Gemmell to go there,” he said.

Gordon was one of three brothers who served in World War I and two died in action - Gordon on his 25th birthday.

FAMILY HISTORY: Brothers Gordon, Jim and Rice Gemmell.
FAMILY HISTORY: Brothers Gordon, Jim and Rice Gemmell. Contributed

After his death, Gordon's diary was returned to the Gemmells and is now a 100-year-old treasured family heirloom.

"These have some of Gordon's old letters in there and old artillery maps.”

Douglas will spend Anzac Day at Heath Cemetery in France where Gordon is buried, almost 101 years after the young soldier's death.

Closer to home, Tewantin's main street will close down for the Anzac Day dawn service and main parade on Thursday.

A special artwork will be unveiled at this year's dawn service, which begins at 5.30am at Tewantin Cenotaph.

The street parade will start at 9am from Sidoni St along Poinciana Ave.


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