WA s Anzac legacy unearthed
Notre Dame student Erin Taaffe, with some artifacts at Blackboy Hill with Dr Shane Burke. Picture: Sharon Smith/The West Australian

They are but small square patches barely visible in the dirt and scrub at the back of Blackboy Hill.

But they mark the site of an archaeological excavation on the edge of the former World War I training camp in Greenmount that is shining a new light on the story of the Anzacs.

The excavation, undertaken for the honours thesis of Notre Dame University history and archaeology student Erin Taaffe, focused on one 2m by 2m square and two squares just 1m by 1m.

Supervised by Notre Dame senior lecturer in archaeology and history Shane Burke, the dig went down only about 3cm but uncovered a wealth of material.

Among the many artefacts unearthed were glass fragments, ceramics, buttons, bullets, leather, bone fragments and even part of a harmonica reed.

Dr Burke said they had chosen to dig at part of the site they believed was used as the camp's rubbish dump.

He said glass fragments they had identified included parts of beer bottles, which was interesting because Blackboy Hill was a dry camp.

Other glass fragments app-eared to be part of a poisons bottle and also a section of a French perfume bottle.

The camp was set up in 1914 after Australia became involved in the war.

A total of about 32,000 men were trained at the camp.

After the war it was used as an isolation hospital during a flu epidemic in 1919, then as a shelter for unemployed and destitute men during the depression years in the 1930s.

The area is now the site of a memorial, landscaped gardens and interpretive boards that tell the story of the camp.

Miss Taaffe said that with the centenary of the war looming, it was a good time to be examining the site.

Dr Burke said that for nearly 100 years the Anzac soldiers were usually lumped into one category.

The dig would explore in more detail the lives of the men who had been at the camp and give more understanding about who they were.

The West Australian

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