Meningie student Charli Medlow wins Premier's Anzac Spirit prize for essay on William Harold Simcock, killed in WWI

A Meningie Area School student will be off to Vietnam in September after winning a competition for telling the story of her great-great-grandfather's death in World War I.

Charli Medlow was one of 16 winners of the Premier's Anzac Spirit School Prize named on June 6.

She spent recess and lunch times looking into service records, family histories and old newspaper articles online, finding out what she could about the family member no-one had known much about.

"All I knew was he was related to us, my pop's pop," she said.

As it turned out, William Harold Simcock was born on September 9, 1885 at Callington, the grandson of Cornish migrants.

He worked as a stock driver before the war, taking cattle or sheep along a three-day run from Wellington to market at Strathalbyn, and was married with two young children at home at Woodchester.

It was the death of his older brother at Gallipoli on May 2, 1915 that drove him to enlist the following year, a week before his son's first birthday.

"I believe ... when he found out the news about his brother dying, he felt that he had to go sign up and fight just like his brother had and finish what his brother started," Charli wrote in her essay.

"I think he felt that he had to do it, not just for himself but also for his brother and family."

He enlisted in Adelaide in January of 1916 and trained locally and in the United Kingdom before joining the 5th Pioneers, an engineering unit, on the western front.

He and his mates were building a tram line at Passchendaele, Belgium, behind the front lines of the so-called "battle of mud" in which 570,000 lives were lost, in 1917.

On October 16 he was wounded, with his leg broken by shrapnel and his lungs filled with gas.

He died the next day.

His tombstone remains in the Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, inscribed with the words "your name liveth forever in sunny Australia".

His widow had a notice printed in The Southern Argus: "in our home you are fondly remembered; sweet memories cling round your name; true hearts that loved in life, dear Harold, still love you in death just the same".

Charli will receive a certificate and medal from Governor Hieu Van Le at Government House on July 5; and go on a two-week study tour in Vietnam, visiting sigificant sites from the war there, from September 29.

She has been asked to complete another research assignment before then, and will focus on the late Murray Bridge infantryman Reg Phillips.

Education Minister John Gardner said the trip would be a "life-changing" opportunity for the students to gain understanding, empathy and a global perspective.

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