A CENTENARY celebration is to be held to pay tribute to thousands of Australians and New Zealanders who fought in the First World War.

Between 1916 and 1919, nearly 10,000 Anzacs arrived in Brightlingsea to train, before supporting the British Army in the Great War.

They went to the military engineers’ training depot where they learnt to build bridges, pontoons and roads as well as how to dig trenches and tunnels.

When they left for war, they left behind a significant social and sporting legacy.

Now Brightlingsea Town Council and Brightlingsea Museum are joining forces to remember their brothers in arms.

They are to hold a weekend of special events to mark 100 years since the troops arrived for training before being sent overseas to fight.

The organisations are also asking for the public’s help to fill in some gaps in the history books. Some of the soldiers married Brightlingsea women and Brightlingsea Museum would like to trace descendants of the women’s families who may have kept in touch with the brides after they moved to Australia or New Zealand.

They also want to speak to any descendants of the women’s siblings or other family members.

The weekend of celebrations will begin with a champagne reception on the Bayard recreation ground in Regents Road, Brightlingsea, on June 17. It will include a preview to the art show and a selection of First World War photographs and collectibles. On June 18, there will be an Anzac-themed carnival procession and fete featuring entertainments, stalls and live music. On June 19, there will be a service of commemoration and laying of wreaths at the war memorial in Victoria Place.

Brightlingsea Museum will also be staging an open day on April 30 with a display of First World War photographs and other items.

Organisers are also keen to hear from anyone who has photographs or memorabilia which might be included in the exhibition.

Anyone who can contribute, or has information about the marriages, is asked to contact Margaret Stone, the curator of the museum on 01206 303286 or by emailing Margaret@bright97.freeserve.co.uk.

Australian soldiers married to Brightlingsea women 1917-1920
Harold Bird and Lucy Went; Sapper Robert Bruce and Glays Corder; Sapper Robert Roy Bruce and Lydia Cooper; Spr Charles Byatt and Amy Reynolds; QM Sgt Charles Clark and Florence Dent; Sgt John Clark and Beatrice Church; Spr Stanley Coker and Priscilla Marsh; Cpl William Conn and Annie White; Spr William Evans and Ada Elliston; Cpl William Evans and Agnes Hempstead;Sgt George Forbes and Janetta Minter; Lt Harold Fry and Olive Aldous; Lt Gordon Gabriel and Gwendoline French; Lt Harry Hadden and Gladys Reynolds; Air Mech Gordon Henderson and Kate Fieldgate; George Jenks and Nellie Firman; Spr William Marshall and Beatrice Crosby; Spt Arthur Muday and Alice Orman; Spr Patrick Murtagh and May Cross; Spr Charles Oliver and Grace Dove; Leonard Richards and Minnie Brown; Cpt Arthur Rickard and Lottie Woodman; Spr George Rickwood and Mabel Uncles; Sgt Stanley Stevens and Bertha Sellens; L/cpl William Tatt and Minnie Martin; Spr Troughton Walker and Edith Field; Spr James Westmacott and Thirza Day; Spt Walter Willey and May Holloway; Cpl Carl Wood and Olive Kidby.

New Zealand soldiers married:
Sgt James Body and May Underwood; L/Cpl Douglas Cheswass and Eva Sargent; Wilfred Paget and Annie Angier