THE war diary of a Gallipoli veteran proved invaluable to Port Writers Centenary of Anzac Day essay competition winner Mikaela McGuire.
The Heritage Christian School year 12 student claimed first prize in the high school section of the competition, which was organised by the Port Macquarie sub-Branch of the Returned and Services League.
Her interest in Gallipoli started in year 10, and has grown in the years since while studying modern history.
The piece on her personal understanding of Gallipoli drew largely on documentaries and the Australian War Memorial's website.
She said the research process was "pretty intense".
The most affecting aspect was the diary of her modern history teacher Michael Baldwin's grandfather.
"I started reading it and it was horrific," Ms McGuire said. "He talked about being constantly under rapid fire: I couldn't imagine how that would effect you mentally and physically.
"It blew me away."
The senior student, who is considering becoming a historian, summarised the essay's theme by saying it meant "a lot" to her.
"It showed the world what Australia is like, what we as its people are like. It was a huge thing for me to read about and research.
"I admit I was a bit emotional about the bravery and the loyalty to country. It was pretty intense."
St Joseph's Primary School captain Kaisha McGrath triumphed in the junior section by researching a combination of websites and books from the library.
She said Anzac Day is special because each year it reminds the community "how all the people gave up their lives or were prepared to give up their lives for our country".
The sub-Branch's Ray Chesher was grateful to Port Writers Inc for being comprehensive in providing a written report for each of the 16 schools' winners who submitted pieces.
The competition was the brainchild of sub-Branch president Greg Laird, who wants the next generation to carry the nation's rememberances into the future. Both winners, who have been rewarded with $2000 and $500 respectively and will read their essays at the main ceremony on Saturday.