Wesley explores war history

As the third generation of her family to worship at Hobart’s Wesley Uniting Church, Karen Woolford was familiar with the honour boards and stained glass windows which linked the church to World War I.

But – like most of her fellow parishioners – Ms Woolford knew nothing of the people behind the names.

So some months ago she decided to put life into the record by researching those whose names were honoured inside the church.

Much of the information she had to start with did not include Christian names, so research was done through online war records to match people with names. Some of this was also linked with names which appeared in old Sunday school registers.

The names and history of approximately 80 men and a woman who served as a nurse in World War I have been unearthed and will be displayed as part of a special Anzac service in the church on Sunday 26 April. Some of the names have not been recognised on the rolls in the past, including a father and son who both served in the war.

Wesley UC’s connection with World War I will also feature as part of a Heritage Month Tasmania display on 17 May.

Ms Woolford conceded that some of the research was extremely time consuming.

“Each person took an average of about two hours to research. It was an absolute challenge,” she said.

However, she said the work gave the church a much deeper understanding of its connection with the war.

It has also encouraged Wesley UC to develop a closer relationship with the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, The Friends of the Soldiers’ Walk in Hobart and respected Tasmanian war historian Reg A Watson.

Ms Woolford said the church will seek government grants to publish the research and also plans to invite descendants of those researched to visit and share their memories.

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