State Library of South Australia

Students answer the call

Date: 12 October 2016

Our Community Learning Team offers a range of programs to school students. One program we particularly enjoy presenting is Coo-ee digger: Experiences of South Australian World War I soldiers.

Year 9 students from Ocean View College
Year 9 students from Ocean View College

In this program students discover what it was like to be a South Australian digger during World War I. This experience is brought to life through excerpts from soldiers' diaries, letters, postcards and photographs from the State Library collections.

One such description of the food at Gallipoli by Alexander Jamieson Meikle in a letter to F.B. Puckridge [D5895] reads:

"One gets accustomed to almost anything, even living on bully-beef hard biscuits, jam & tea. What wouldn't we give for a really decent meal & comfortable bed?"

Students get to handle food items such as hard tack and bully beef.

A highlight of the session is the chance to dress-up in soldiers', sailors' and nurses' uniforms.  Students have the opportunity to take photos and transition into an Armistice Day scene.

Students enjoy the chance to visit the State Library basement to see where the stories and memories of South Australian soldiers are stored.  They are shown original diaries and letters relating to World War I.

Recently, Year 9 students from Ocean View College at Taperoo participated in the program.  Caroline Victor a teacher from Ocean View College wrote: 

"I loved the interactive part which got kids to dress up - they always love this and get to feel some empathy for the soldiers and nurses. Going down into the archives is such a privilege and the students from last year still talk about this experience. Thanks to Karen and Stamos for a great day."

Student feedback showed that they also enjoyed the program:

"It was a fun experience and I had a great time dressing up as a nurse during the war."
"I enjoyed the day especially when we got to dress up."
"It was cool to see the basement and some of the primary resources

To learn more about our education programs visit Community Learning.

Story by Community Learning Librarians, Karen Brandwood and Stamos Ganiaris

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