Her eighth child was low in the family ranking. English hearts had warmed to Mr Schmitt’s streusels, but war dismantles loyalty. Amy’s eighth sailed 9000 miles to be known as Smith.
Creating the Centena
Finding out about Amy Schmitt (my great-great-aunt) and her son George involved many email exchanges with family members whose existence I had been unaware of before. George sailed to Perth, Australia, with two of his siblings in 1912, and joined the Australian Imperial Force in 1915, landing at Gallipoli before eventually joining the Allied Forces at Passchendaele and being fatally injured on the Menin Road.
Thanks to some prior research by my first cousin (once removed), I was able to look into the Assisted Immigration Scheme, which ran from 1848-1912. It became striking how ironic George’s fate was: to travel so far from his family, and finally be killed so close to home, with his mother unaware how close he’d been until she received the inevitable telegram.
The Australian War Memorial website provided basic information and the National Archives of Australia was also a helpful resource. Genealogically, ancestry.co.uk and myheritage.com (with its Australian counterpart) opened further avenues that promised great potential, had I had the time to research them fully.
Of course, the trouble with producing a centena is that most of the research goes unused, invaluable as it is in informing the approach. I hope Amy’s back story, that is only hinted at in my piece, sparks interest and empathy, and that George’s journey highlights the huge distances travelled from across the British Empire to fight for King and country.
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