Capel volunteer pieces together WWI veterans

Capel Cemetery Survey volunteer Jenn Thomson will be donating information about local WWI veterans to the Capel sub-branch on Anzac Day. Photo by Jemillah Dawson.
Capel Cemetery Survey volunteer Jenn Thomson will be donating information about local WWI veterans to the Capel sub-branch on Anzac Day. Photo by Jemillah Dawson.

A group of volunteers have been piecing together parts of Capel’s history which has culminated into local WWI veterans being archived for the RSL.

It all started with about 30 people who formed the Capel Cemetery Survey to help fill in the missing gaps of information.

One of the volunteers, Jenn Thomson said the group wanted to improve access to the cemetery as well as find the identities of the unmarked graves.

During this process they found some remarkable information, including the oldest reported inhabitant passed away at the age of 105.

But their work did not stop there. As they finished researching and collating information about the cemetery the group went off into different paths.

Mrs Thomson said most of the volunteers are researching local family history while she decided to research the local veterans.

“Once the research started I wasn’t going to be part of that so I tracked down the World War one service men and women. I did that thinking there would be about 30 and ended up with about 90,” she said.

Mrs Thomson went through the University of New South Wales who did the AIF project as well going through the National Archives of Australia, the Australian War Memorial, Capel RSL sub-branch and community members for information on each of the veterans.

Mrs Thomson has created two folders which have a dossier of veterans who served in the first world war from the Capel region.

As a natural history buff, Mrs Thomson said some of the stories were harrowing and she never became immune the more she read.

She said one of the stories which stuck out was of a boy who was 15 years old tried to enlist and was knocked back. He then stole his older brother’s ID and was accepted. However, he died in action and the Army told the mother it was the older brother that had died and not her youngest.

“Killed in actions were the most heart wrenching stories,” she said.

Mrs Thomson will be presenting her folders to the Capel RSL sub-branch on ANZAC Day. She said the RSL were really happy with her work and now she was working on WWII veterans.

This story Capel Anzac history first appeared on Bunbury Mail.