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WA student wins National History Challenge

A Western Australian student has won the wartime experiences category of the National History Challenge (NHC) with a research essay on the Battle of the Coral Sea.

WA Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Dan Tehan presented Sarah Samnakay, a Year 10 student from St Mary’s Anglican Girls’ School in Western Australia, with the award for the Australian Wartime Experiences special category in the NHC.

The Battle of the Coral Sea took place from 4 to 8 May 1942 and involved naval and air forces from Australia and the United States and the Imperial Japanese Navy. It was the first naval battle in history in which neither fleet saw the other or engaged in direct combat. The battle was fought entirely between ships and aircraft.

“I congratulate Sarah on being the national winner in this special category of the NHC. She and St Mary’s Anglican Girls’ School should be very proud,” Mr Tehan said.

“The theme for 2016’s challenge was Triumph or Tragedy. The judges said Sarah’s essay responded to the theme and demonstrated an understanding of tragedy and triumph in the context of the Battle of the Coral Sea.

“The judges commented that Sarah evoked empathy for all combatants without being overly emotive and that her research was sound, drawing diverse resources in different forms and integrating them all in her topic choice.

“As a nation we remember the service and sacrifice of the men and women who serve in our armed forces and it’s important to instill in younger Australians an appreciation and respect for our wartime history. The NHC competition does an important job of encouraging school children across the country to learn more about Australia’s past.”

The NHC is administered by the History Teachers’ Association of Australia. Each year, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, in cooperation with the Australian War Memorial, sponsors the Australian Wartime Experiences special category.

Approximately 600 primary and high schools from across Australia participated in the competition in 2016.

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