Family Heroes Uncovered

Department of Defence

From the Mornington Peninsula to the shores of Gallipoli, Able Seaman Musician Laura Campbell will represent the ADF at the Anzac Day dawn service at Anzac Cove, Turkiye.

“Growing up I usually made Anzac biscuits and attended the services at school,” she said.

“I remember trying to imagine what the war would have looked and felt like while the bugle call was played.”

The bugle call will hit closer to home this year, as she stands on hallowed ground to perform and represent a nation as part of the Royal Australian Navy Band at Anzac Cove.

“When you join the band, this is the one performance that you are crossing your fingers that you get to experience,” Able Seaman Campbell said.

After learning she had been selected to play clarinet at Anzac Cove, Able Seaman Campbell decided to delve into the history of the Anzacs and was shocked to discover two of her own family members had served in World War 1.

Her ancestor, Private Leonard Louis Webb, enlisted at age 21 to serve in the 6th Infantry Brigade. He stormed the beach at Anzac Cove and was wounded, sustaining a gunshot to the jaw, but miraculously survived and returned home.

“I didn’t think I had any relatives who fought in WW1, and I never would have imagined that I would learn this much about what happened at Gallipoli, how my family was involved, and that I would soon be in the place where it all happened,” Able Seaman Campbell said.

Fascinated by the heroics of her family history, she also discovered the service records of Private Thomas Richard Webb.

Private Webb fought in the Battle of Fromelles, and was unaccounted for and declared killed in action. Ninety-five years after his death, a mass grave was exhumed and DNA tests revealed the identity of Private Webb, who then received a proper military burial.

“It was so amazing to read their letters, the records of their injuries or deaths and it was moving to see their pictures … particularly of them in uniform as it is such a reminder of what it means to wear my uniform every day,” Able Seaman Campbell said.

“It’s confronting to realise just how young they were during the war, how they must have felt leaving their families, not knowing if they would return.”

While more than 100 years have passed, the legacy of these brave men and the service and sacrifice of all the Anzacs, will live on as the new generation of ADF personnel return to pay their respects.

“I feel so privileged to be part of the Anzac Day service,” she said.

“It will be such an honour to be in the place where so many sacrificed their lives, and to be able to pay my respects to both my ancestors and all those who have served.”

When asked how she will cope with the nerves of performing in front of a global audience on such a significant occasion, Able Seaman Campbell said she would rely on the hours of preparation and rehearsal, but expected it to be an emotional day.

“I think it will feel quite surreal to put myself in their shoes, standing at Gallipoli to play in the dawn service … I’m expecting to get a bit teary eyed,” she said.

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