Billy Hughes visits the AIF’s home away from home
The First World War led to a major influx of Australians into Britain. From summer 1916 to the end of the war there were never fewer than 50,000 Australian troops present. In 1915 Horseferry Road in Westminster, London, became a home away from home for the Anzacs. The AIF Administrative Headquarters, the Australian War Records Section and the War Chest Club were located there (the Club was established to promote the welfare of all soldiers). Horseferry Road became a historically significant Australian location: it was where the Anzacs could create a community for themselves, and was filled with men wearing slouch caps and speaking with familiar accents.
In this film the Australian Prime Minister, William ‘Billy’ Hughes, doffs his top hat to the camera before inspecting soldiers at the AIF Headquarters. These visits were effective in raising troop morale, letting them know that, though far from their own country, they remained in the thoughts of those back home.
Marking the first Anzac Day in London
In April 1916, a year after the Anzac landings at Gallipoli, the first anniversary of the battle was observed in Australia, New Zealand and Britain. A grand memorial service was held at Westminster Abbey in London, attended by King George V and Queen Mary. Hundreds of New Zealand and Australian military personnel marched through the streets to the Abbey to attend the service.
Among them was Sydney-born Dr Agnes Bennett, who had been working in Egyptian hospitals treating the wounded from Gallipoli. Some 40 years later she recalled the experience in this excerpt from a radio ‘talk.’