Friday, 13 February 2015

The first troops march up to Broadmeadows Camp

Here is another image from the Geo. Rose series of stereogrpahic slides from the Coburg Historical Society collection.

In my last entry, I mentioned the excitement in Coburg as the first recruits headed up to the Broadmeadows Camp and showed you a photo of them marching along Sydney Road, Coburg. You will also find there links to previous entries that describe the march in more detail.

Just before the Coburg photo was taken, the men had eaten lunch at Royal Park, as you can see here. In the foreground I can see bottles of cold drink. I wonder if anyone can identify the nature of the liquid refreshments? I can also make out a long table in the foreground with some empty plates and I can see a tea cup. I'm pretty sure that I can see slices of bread with a butter knife next to them. And just off centre to the right is a chap in a dark outfit carrying a flattish white box - perhaps of sandwiches?

As I look at the photo, I wonder what the two men in the very foreground are chatting about. I wonder, too, about the two boys who are looking in the direction of the photographer. Were they anticipating the day, when they, too, were old enough to enlist? And did that happen? 

Then, just next to them, there is a well dressed older couple and a young (very young) soldier standing just near them - their son, perhaps? The couple look as though they don't quite know what to make of all this. Did they believe, like so many others, that the war would be over and their son would then come safely home to them? 

Many of these early recruits lost their lives the following year on the Gallipoli Peninsula. Others were injured and returned to Australia, changed for life. Others still went on to serve on the Western Front. Some died, some were injured and returned to Australia early, but some remained until the end of hostilities.

It is impossible to tell from this photo what the future held for these soldiers and their families and friends. It is impossible, too, to know who of them might have been members of the Coburg community, but it is certain that there were some Coburg men on that march. 


  1. The AWM has a useful webpage on AIF headwear here:

    I think the forage caps worn in the photo above (and there are quite a few in the line including the man with the newspaper) are from their pre-war militia uniforms. In fact, a lot of the uniforms may well be pre-war as well. If you go back to your earlier post about the troops marching to Broadmeadows, there is not a forage cap to be seen. I don't know how the timing fits together.

    All troops were issued with a British Service cap and a slouch hat. You can see in photos of troops at Port Melbourne waiting to embark that they wore their slouch hat and had their British Service cap attached to their shoulder.

    This page is excellent for soldiers' kit.

  2. Yes, the second photo I published was actually the first time they marched - on 22 August 1915. see
    The first photo, this photo, was taken after they'd completed their training, hence the men being in full uniform.
    Thanks for your comments, Lenore and thank you especially for the links to further information on uniforms. Very helpful indeed.