By CHARLENE MACAULAY
WORLD WAR I and the Gallipoli Campaign are considered to be defining moments in Australian history.
It was also a defining moment for the thousands of young fighters across the West who fought for their country.
One of those was 18-year-old Thomas Duff Anderson Aitken.
At an age where people nowadays get their licence and are legally allowed to drink, the Yarraville resident joined the Australian Imperial Force and was assigned to the 31st Battery, 8th BA Brigade.
The qualified fitter rose to the rank of gunner as he was deployed to various areas, including France and Belgium.
He died of wounds sustained in action in Belgium on 4 October 1917 as part of the 2nd ANZAC Corps, aged 20.
Meanwhile, Sunshine resident Leslie Raymond Hensbergh enlisted as a 19-year-old brass finisher in February 1916 and was deployed to France and England as a private.
He was reported wounded and missing in France in May 1917 – only 15 months after enlisting – and was confirmed to be killed in action in December that year.
Then there’s 21-year-old Robert George Blackburne, who joined in January 1916 with two years of Senior Cadets experience in Williamstown.
He started off in Engineer Reinforcements 2nd MD and worked across France and England before returning to Australia at the end of 1918.
Thomas, Leslie and Robert were only three of thousands of young men across the West and Australia who joined the war effort in a showing of national pride and bravery.
One hundred years on, we will continue to remember them.