Cessnock student travels to Gallipoli to honour great-great uncle

HONOURING ALL THOSE WHO DIED: Cessnock student Lauren Wood, who will visit Gallilpoli in 2015. Picture by STUART SCOTTA young student will be on a special mission after she is rowed ashore at the Gallipoli beaches in a few months.

Lauren Wood, 16, will step ashore on the same beach her great-greatuncle Sydney Sawtell walked on when he was a soldier in the 2nd Infantry Battalion in April 1915.

Lauren, from St Philip’s Christian College in Cessnock, was chosen as one of 20 students to go to Gallipoli to attend the 100th anniversary of the ill-fated landing.

After just 13 days of service, Lauren’s ancestor was killed.

And soon, the young schoolgirl will be able to visit his grave at Lone Pine Cemetery.

“I have always been interested in stories about war and I know it brings out the best and the worst in people,” she said.

“My great-great-uncle Sydney Sawtell is buried at Lone Pine – I have his grave number. I want to visit his grave and pay tribute to him and, through this, to honour all those who died at Gallipoli.

“ I also want to look at this conflict from a Turkish point of view, too, and see things from their side.

“I am told Turkish people really like Australians and I want to meet as many of them as I can.”

Sydney Sawtell enlisted in the Australian Army in 1914 when he was 22.

“The day before he died, 42,000 Turkish soldiers attacked the 17,000 Anzac troops,” Lauren said.

“Through my research, I have gained a greater respect and appreciation for what Sydney and many other men and women did for their family, their country and for other nations.

“I am so proud Sydney is related to me and, in my eyes, he is a true hero, along with all the other men and women who sacrificed so much for us.”

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