As children in the 1950’s my brother and I would ride our bikes on the gravel mounds and cement foundations at Blackboy Hill without knowing its significance or even asking what was there before. During World War I and World War II it was a recruiting camp and training ground for the AIF and many young men who made their way from Blackboy Hill ended up on the bloody beaches, trenches and dugouts of Gallipoli. Private John Simpson (Kirkpatrick) even underwent basic training at Blackboy Hill Camp in 1914. It is now the site of a memorial where dawn and dusk services are held to commemorate Anzac Day.

The National Archives of Australia have a project called Mapping Our Anzacs that provides useful data for family history research. It includes a list of the 10399 people who enlisted at Blackboy Hill. Of particular interest are the poignant scrapbooks which have been added by families.

Cockburn Libraries are launching their Family Histories Group on Wednesday the 27th of April at Spearwood Library at 1pm. Book here – there are a couple of places left for the launch. Then regular meetings of the group will be held on the 4th Wednesday of each month from 1pm – 3pm. We are fortunate to have the services of Lee-Ann Atkinson, an educator and volunteer with the Western Australian Genealogical Society, who will help with your family history research. She will also show you how to make the best use of Cockburn Libraries’ free resources such as Ancestry.com. There is no need to book for the monthly sessions.

Why not start some of your family history research today? There is free access to Ancestry.com.au military records from 22nd to 26th of April.

– Luba, Adult Services Librarian