Molly Woolcock, a student at Launceston Grammar, was encouraged to enter the Frank MacDonald MM Memorial Prize by history teacher, Dr Nicolas Clements, and past prize recipients, Lachie Moore and Tom Watson.

Molly  researched the Tasmanian solider, Athelstan William Shoobridge to gain further understanding on why he chose to join the AIF and what he experienced on the Western Front as a Tasmanian soldier.

On 1 May 1918 at 9:30pm as the sky grew dark, a stray shell landed in the middle of the camp and exploded on the ridge-pole of one of the huts; the hut where Athel was staying in. It had an instantaneous fuse, and consequently the occupants received the full effect of the explosion. The shell killed 10 instantly and wounded 14, four of the wounded later passed away as a result of the inflicted injuries. The scene of the hut was described as pitifully tragic, for when the shell exploded many of the men were asleep in bed, while others were reading and chatting before calling it a night. Four other men had been playing a game of cards. One man was found with a writing pad and a half-written letter in front of him.

All the men who were killed immediately when the shell exploded were all buried in the one grave at Le Peuplier farm in a little grave yard.

Athel, together with Leslie Dale, (25 years) from Middleton, Bert Ivory (19) from Devonport and William Henderson (21) from Queenstown, Tasmania, had all been part of the 12th Battalion, 26th Reinforcements who travelled together to Europe aboard the Themistocles. David King (21) had lived in the same street in Ulverstone as Frank MacDonald, Malcolm Amos (25) had lived in Irishtown and John McKenzie was a butcher from Queensland.

In 1920, Robert Wilkins Giblin Shoobridge, Athel’s father travelled to France see his son’s grave at Le Caestre, Belgium.

In 2018, Molly visited Athel's grave as a member of the Frank MacDonald MM Memorial Study Tour.

Essay competition

For the Frank MacDonald MM Memorial Prize essay competition, Molly Woolcock, assessed this topic.

1917: the worst year of a hideous war (for Australia and Australians) wrote Max Blenkin, defence correspondent Australian Associated Press, 14 December 2016. How accurate do you think this statement is?