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Life On Board the Troopships at ANZAC Cottage

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It was not all beer and skittles
Life on Board the Troopships at ANZAC Cottage. Wounded and ill men returning to Australia on the SS Kyarra in mid-July 1915.
Wounded and ill men returning to Australia on the SS Kyarra in mid-July, 1915.

During World War I, the troopships were in constant use delivering new recruits and reinforcements to the battlefields and bringing the sick and wounded veterans back to Australia. Life on board these troopships has been immortalised in the many newsletters full of stories, poems and drawings produced on these voyages.

Sometimes poignant, sometimes cynical, revealing the feelings and thoughts of the men as they either faced an unknown future on their way to war or fought to overcome the horrors that they had faced on the front line.

ANZAC Cottage will open from 1:00pm to 4:00pm on Sunday, July 1, 2018, for visitors to browse at leisure and find out more about this memorial's fascinating history. Additionally, the Friends of ANZAC Cottage will present talks exploring some of these 'troopship' stories as recorded by the sometimes-reluctant sailors at 1:45pm and repeated at 2:45pm.

Keeping busy

The good humour and creativity of the men aboard these vessels, shone through, despite not always being comfortable with complaints about the quantity and quality of food a common factor.

Life on Board the Troopships at ANZAC Cottage. Life on the troopships during the World War I voyages was not all bad - some fun was to be had. Here we see some fellows indulging in a greasy pole pillow fight contest as they wend their way home on the troopship Aeneas (A60) in November 1919 through to January 1920 (Photo courtesy AWM H15559).
Life on the troopships during the World War I voyages was not all bad - some fun was to be had. Here we see some fellows indulging in a greasy pole pillow fight contest as they wend their way home on the troopship Aeneas (A60) in November 1919 through to January 1920 (Photo courtesy AWM H15559).

Though it was not all beer and skittles, the men often indulged in games and contests that helped to spend the time, and perhaps distract them from feelings of fear or bad memories.

Life on Board the Troopships at ANZAC Cottage. At Sea, the first of the welterweights about to start their boxing match on board the HMAT Takada (Photo courtesy AWM Image H01775).
At Sea, the first of the welterweights about to start their boxing match on board the HMAT Takada (Photo courtesy AWM Image H01775).

First class service

Let us not forget the invaluable nurses aboard many of these vessels, caring for the wounded and making the 'cruise' a little more tolerable.

Life on Board the Troopships at ANZAC Cottage. Nurses, prior to boarding the Australian Hospital Ship, SS Kyarra, Adelaide, South Australia, December 1914 (https://collections.museumvictoria.com.au/items/765478).
Nurses, prior to boarding the Australian Hospital Ship, SS Kyarra, Adelaide, South Australia, December 1914 (https://collections.museumvictoria.com.au/items/765478).

Welcome aboard

Entry is free, bookings are not necessary and afternoon tea is available for a gold coin donation.

All are welcome to attend this thought-provoking event, and access more information about ANZAC Cottage, by emailing chapan@highway1.com.au, or calling Anne on 0411 44 55 82. Check for regular updates on their Facebook page, and learn a little more about the Cottage and its importance to our history.


Photos are courtesy of the Friends of ANZAC Cottage from ANZAC Cottage Souvenir of the Monument Erected at Mount Hawthorn 1916 unless noted in the article. Artwork by John F.

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Why? Explore life on a troopship, from stories as recorded by the sometimes-reluctant sailors
When: Sunday, July 1, 2018 from 1:00pm to 4:00pm, with talks at 1:45pm and 2.45pm
Phone: Call Anne on 0411 44 55 82 or email chapan@highway1.com.au
Where: ANZAC Cottage, 38 Kalgoorlie Street, Mt Hawthorn
Cost: Entry is free with afternoon tea available for a gold coin donation
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