Troops needed to practice warfare before experiencing the real thing. But they probably didn’t expect to have children walking around the ‘battlefield’ watching them!
Production Company: Australasian Films
Source: National Film and Sound Archive of Australia
Catalogue Reference: NFSA title no: 1112
Location: Possibly Moore Park, Sydney
Mimicking warfare, to provide practical experience and knowledge for those training for active service, was reported numerous times in newspapers. A number of the mimic warfare events seemed largely designed to be observed by spectators. The Australian Governor-General and Lady Munro-Ferguson attended a mimicked warfare event at the Broadmeadows camp in Melbourne in 1916. Brigadier-General Ramaciotti attended an event in Moore Park, Sydney in the same year. Other mimicked warfare events appeared to take the local populace by surprise, such as at Mitcham, South Australia where the grenadier attack caused, “vibrations that disturbed the peace of a usually quiet neighbourhood”.
These events weren’t always without drama. One at Jubilee Oval in Adelaide resulted in two casualties - Private Ford, a soldier, and Frank McBride, a 17-year-old spectator of the bomb throwing exhibition who apparently lost an eye.
In this clip the Engineers’ Depot rehearse a raid on enemy trenches. It comes as a surprise to see a young girl in a white dress skip past the camera. Later we see children and others strolling about on the ‘battlefield’. The event was probably held at Moore Park, Sydney where the Engineers Depot was stationed, although for training exercises they were known to expand into nearby Centennial Park to take advantage of geographical features such as the lakes. A key role of the sappers – as engineers were also known - was to be the ‘bridge builders’, putting temporary structures made with basic materials over ditches and other obstacles to troop movement, and to construct lines of defence. Knowledge of bombs and hand grenades, particularly how to throw them effectively, was an important focus of their training in the modern style of trench warfare.
Possibly Moore Park, Sydney
Intertitle: MIMIC WARFARE. Troops form the Engineer's Depot rehearse a Raid on Enemy Trenches. Exclusive to this Gazette.
Soldiers training in a field. Spectators ocassionally walk past the camera.
Field radio operators