As seen from Breaksea Island looking back to the Bald Head on the mainland. Original Photo courtesy Albany Advertiser
The Anzac Fleet was the largest fleet ever assembled in the Southern Hemisphere. 10,000 men from New Zealand in 10 transports joined together with 28 Australian troop carriers carrying 20,000 men, and 7,477 horses. Only at Albany were all the ships seen together.
The fleet of transports left on Sunday November 1st, at 5.45 a.m. At that hour H.M.S. Minatour left the harbour, followed by H.M.A.S. Melbourne. The Minatour took the lead. The Orvieto then left her anchorage in the Sound and was followed by the transports in order, each line being taken in turn. Thus in Indian file they ranged past Breaksea, where two cinematograph operators were statioined to get a permanent record of the event....It was roughly, 6am when the departure was entered upon, but it was 10 o'clock before the last ship had disappeared round Bald Head. (Albany Advertiser, 1915)
The arrival of the Australian Warships
at Albany signalizes the veritable gathering of an Australian Armada. Never
in the history of the Southern Seas has such a fleet mobilized together
in one Harbor under the Flag. It is a proud day for Australia – a
prouder day for little Albany that she should be chosen as the meeting ground
of such a memorable gathering. On every hand, as our troopship, the Afric
rides at anchor, with the Union Jack and the Southern Cross floating bravely
in the breeze, we look around and see a circle of Sister –ships ---
all flying the same flags and all equipped for the same resolute, Imperial
purpose.We feel, then, we are fortunate, indeed to be born under Our Flag,
and to have the length and breadth of the Empire as our heritage. When,
in the grey dawn, we drew up at the anchorage, our propellers had thrashed
out safely the two thousand miles of sea wall in our eighteen thousand mile
ocean journey. One by one, hour after hour our Sister ships steamed in with
perfect order and settled down at their allotted positions. Safety and precision
so far and may it be safety and precision all the way through all the campaign.
It is a mighty task to properly transport nearly forty ships, thirty thousand
men, horses and munitions of war eighteen thousand miles across the seas.
May the smoothness of the first part be continued to the end, and if we
do encounter the enemy on the way, we have battleships by our side that
fight for victory or death. Australia’s lesson to the world is a lesson
never to be forgotten, for it shows that Britain is not England, Scotland,
Wales and Ireland, but a real, vast, world-extending Empire---powerful for
Peace, restless for War. Albany’s Bay will hold before we sail thirty-thousand
souls afloat, all intent, soldiers and sailors, with the one aim—to
serve the Motherland and to defeat her foes. Little did our old-time mariner,
Captain James Cook, the fearless navigator of these then unknown seas, foresee
that in later days an Australian troop-laden Armada, consorted by her own
and Allied battleships, would sail in majestic array, to stand, sword to
sword, bayonet to bayonet, rifle to rifle, shoulder to shoulder with the
dear old land that Cook birth. Well may the Empire be proud of the sentiment
that sets the steam that sails Australian Armada across the sounding sea.
From the Albany edition of "The Kangaroo"
the on board newspaper of the diggers
|Queensland soldiers heading back to their troopship - it was the height of the wildflower season in Albany and many of them have bunches of flowers in their hats or hands - a last memory of Australia Original Photo courtesy Albany Advertiser|