King George's Sound at Albany, where the ANZAC troop ships left from on the way to Gallipoli in World War One.
King George's Sound at Albany, where the ANZAC troop ships left from on the way to Gallipoli in World War One. Erle Levey

Albany honours the history of the Anzacs with dawn service

YOU CAN STILL HEAR THE SOUND OF SOLDIERS MARCHING

THE small West Australian coastal town of Albany has a big Anzac history - it's here the Anzac Day dawn service originated.

Atop of the town's Padre White Lookout is the perfect place to stand at dawn or as the sun sets and reflect on those who have gone before.

In the spring of 1914, thousands of men and hundreds of horses gathered at the town's railway station, coming there from all points of the country.

They marched down to the jetty to join those on the ships already anchored in the harbour, ready for their grand adventure, their journey across the seas to fight for king and country against the oppressor.

These were young, free-spirited men from a sparse continent on the other side of the world.

 

St John's Church, Albany.
St John's Church, Albany. Erle Levey

The Australians and New Zealanders responded to the clarion call of the British Empire.

It was Europe's war but these young men and a handful of women serving as nurses of this newly formed federation of states answered the call with "Australia will be there".

The first and second convoys carried the Australian Imperial Force and the New Zealand Expeditionary Force.

Twenty-six Australian and 10 New Zealand transport ships assembled in King George Sound and departed on November 1, 1914, escorted by three warships.

The second convoy of 15 Australian and three New Zealand ships departed unescorted on December 31, 1914.

Today you can stand on the headlands of Albany and look across the waters of King George Sound, the site where 30,000 Anzac soldiers and horses were gathered aboard a fleet of 40 ships before setting sail for Gallipoli in World War I - just as they had gathered at this magnificent harbour before heading off to the Boer War in 1899. Just as they would again for World War II.

If someone said spend a day at the Anzac Centre, you would wonder why you would spend a day at a war memorial and museum.

But you can. It's like a walk through time and history. Everywhere you look it's a reference to someone's life.

 

The ANZAC Centre, Albany.
The ANZAC Centre, Albany. Erle Levey

Stand up there on the top of the hill and virtually picture the scene - the departing ships.

You can do that at sea level as well, at the replica jetty on the edge of Princess Royal Harbour, next to Anzac Peace Park.

Among the men and women who gathered in Albany before departing toserve in World War I were the troops who landed at Gallipoli, including the Light Horsemen, who fought on the battlefields of the Middle East and who entered Jerusalem and captured Damascus.

Soldiers also fought in France and Belgium as part of the eight-month campaign.

Anzac Peace Park was opened in 2010 and pays tribute to the Australians who served in World War I and all those who have served the nation in conflicts and peacekeeping missions since.

As well as the Pier of Remembrance, the park features an Interpretive Walk and the Lone Pine Grove.

Each departing ship is represented by an engraved panel on the Pier of Remembrance as well as the HMAS AE2 submarine plaque that sits at the end of the pier.

 

Interior shot of The National Anzac Centre. The National Anzac Centre is located within the Princess Royal Fortress precinct of Albany Heritage Park.
Interior shot of The National Anzac Centre. The National Anzac Centre is located within the Princess Royal Fortress precinct of Albany Heritage Park. National Anzac Centre

The AE2 was one of two submarines commissioned for the fledgling navy and she joined the second convoy of AIF troops in King George Sound at Albany on December 31, 1914, going on to serve in the Dardanelles.

The Lone Pine Grove provides a major focus for the theme of peace within the park.

The memorial was planted in 1974 to commemorate the departure of the first contingent of troops 60years earlier.

It expresses a direct and living connection between Gallipoli and Albany.

The Battle of Lone Pine was between Australian and Turkish forces on the Gallipoli Peninsula and the ridge provided a vital position.

When Australian troops landed at Gallipoli on April 25, 1915, they saw a stunted pine grove growing on the commanding position of 400 Plateau.

It was held by the Australians until December 1915 when Allied troops were evacuated from the peninsula.

 

Exterior shot of The National Anzac Centre. The National Anzac Centre is located within the Princess Royal Fortress precinct of Albany Heritage Park.
Exterior shot of The National Anzac Centre. The National Anzac Centre is located within the Princess Royal Fortress precinct of Albany Heritage Park. National Anzac Centre

Two Australian soldiers collected pine cones from the Lone Pine Ridge in 1915 and from them seedlings were propagated.

The pier is a stretch of boardwalk, which curves into Princess Royal Harbour.

It provides a site for respite and reflection of those lost in the war.

The National Anzac Centre on Mount Clarence takes two to three hours to go through.

You can explore the outside, including great views of the ocean where the troops left Australia for the last time.

The old gun emplacements and ammunition storage areas are dug into the hill.

Walking tracks lead up to the peak and from here you can look over the whole city, including Anzac Peace Park.

The Garrison bar restaurant beside the Anzac Centre also gives a great vantage point of King George Sound in comfortable surrounds.

Perhaps the most touching monument is that to the Desert Mounted Corps - so gallant in the Middle East.

 

Padre White Lookout situated at the top of Mount Clarence, Albany Heritage Park.
Padre White Lookout situated at the top of Mount Clarence, Albany Heritage Park. Amazing Albany

That and the Padre White Lookout, a memorial to the man regarded as the instigator of the Anzac Day service.

The 10th Light Horse Regiment was the only regiment of mounted infantry recruited in Western Australia during World War I.

It formed part of the 3rd Light Horse Brigade and served at Gallipoli as infantry in the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps.

The regiment participated in the disastrous charge at the Nek on August 7, 1915, and their courageous actions were immortalised in the Peter Weir movie Gallipoli.

After Gallipoli, the regiment served in the Middle East as part of the Anzac Mounted Division and later the Australian Mounted Division.

The 10th Light Horse Regiment was largely supplied by the waler breed of horse that originated in NSW, hence the name.

The horses possessed amazing courage and endurance in harsh desert conditions, remaining alert and dependable even when short on rations.

The Light Horse combined the mobility of cavalry with the fighting skills of infantry. They fought dismounted, with rifles and bayonets. However sometimes they charged on horseback, notably at Magdhaba and Beersheba.

 

View from Padre White Lookout at Albany Heritage Park.
View from Padre White Lookout at Albany Heritage Park. Amazing Albany

On October 31, 1917, the Australian Light Horse bravely charged head-on into the machine guns to take Beersheba.

Never would history see such a full-scale charge again.

Horses usually need to drink about 30 litres of water a day. However during the campaign they often went for up to 60 hours without water while carrying a load of almost 130kg comprising rider, saddle, equipment, food and water.

At the end of the World War I, Australians had 13,000 surplus horses that could not be returned home for quarantine reasons.

Of these, 11,000 were sold, the majority as remounts for the British Army in India.

Of all the walers that served in World War I, only one made it back. Sandy was one of Major General Sir William Throsby Bridges' mounts.

The gelding accompanied Bridges to Gallipoli but was not landed.

 

Interior shot of The National Anzac Centre. The National Anzac Centre is located within the Princess Royal Fortress precinct of Albany Heritage Park.
Interior shot of The National Anzac Centre. The National Anzac Centre is located within the Princess Royal Fortress precinct of Albany Heritage Park. Tourism Western Australia

After Bridges was killed by a sniper, Sandy remained in Egypt until transferred to France in 1916.

At the request of the Australian Government, Sandy returned to Melbourne in 1918 and was turned out to graze.

Similarly, only one New Zealand horse that had served in the Middle East returned home. That was a mare named Bess.

From 1916-18 Padre White served as an army chaplain with the 44th Battalion and, upon his return to Australia, delivered sermons in remembrance of locals who died in World War I.

He led parishioners from St John's Church to the summit of Mt Clarence at dawn on April 25, 1932 - the site where he, along with so many others, gathered to watch the convoys depart in 1914.

Today the Padre White Lookout is the region's most visited lookout and serves as an enduring place of reflection: a lasting monument to Ernest White and Australia's first dawn service.


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