Mercy Regional College students embark on Spirit of Anzac Prize study tours

Australia’s involvement in World War II was brought close to home in more ways than one for a pair of south-west students.

Mercy Regional College Camperdown’s Joshua Newcombe and Lauren Huth both won places on study tours through the Premier’s Spirit of Anzac Prize, taking Joshua to Darwin and Singapore and Lauren to the nation’s capital.

Joshua said before the trip he knew little about how close war had come to Australia’s doorstep.

Study tour: Mercy Regional College students Joshua Newcombe, 17, and Lauren Huth, 17, won places in Spirit of Anzac Prize study tours. Picture: Christine Ansorge

Study tour: Mercy Regional College students Joshua Newcombe, 17, and Lauren Huth, 17, won places in Spirit of Anzac Prize study tours. Picture: Christine Ansorge

“I didn’t really know much about what happened to Darwin and what happened in Singapore,” he said. 

“We have mainly learnt about Europe and Africa. We didn’t really learn about how people were kept prisoner in Singapore by the Japanese, or the ways the Japanese bombed Darwin.”

For their entries to the prize, both year 11 students wrote short stories, drawing on their families’ own experiences in wartime.

“My great-great grandfather served in World War I and then him and his son went into World War II,” Lauren said. Both made it back home.

The pair then went through a group interview process with other students at Melbourne’s Shrine of Remembrance.

“That’s where we were chosen to go on either trip, or if you even got on a trip,” Joshua said.

More than 200 students applied for a spot on the study tours, with Joshua and Lauren among about 40 people selected. 

Joshua visited the military museum in Darwin and listed a visit to the Tiwi Islands to learn about indigenous culture and Singapore’s Changi Prison Museum and Kranji War Cemetery as among the highlights.

“I thought it would be a good opportunity to travel and learn about Australia’s history,” he said.

On Lauren’s trip to Canberra she visited both parliaments, the National War Museum and Aboriginal tent embassy.

“We also went to the National Sound Archives and learnt about how (the media) had a role in war and showing on the home front what was happening,” Lauren said.

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