Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Mapping our Anzacs replaced

Mapping our Anzacs, a major project of National Archives Australia for many years, no longer exists but has been incorporated into a new National Archives of Australia online resource, in association with Archives New Zealand - Discovering Anzacs.
"Explore a growing selection of government records about Australians and New Zealanders in World War I and the Boer War. Enhance a profile dedicated to the wartime journey of someone who served. Uncover the personal stories of service men and women through original archival records".
Searching Discovering Anzacs is easier than searching the previous resource and you can still view the files relating to each person who enlisted.

You can also add relevant stories and photographs about servicepeople listed in the database.

If you register on the site you can fill in the blanks from the official documents on to the summary screen for people who may be part of your research.

People you are researching can be added to your Favourites List.

Documents relating to servicemen can be exported or printed.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

First convoy leaves Melbourne

In October 1914 seventeen troop ships left Port Melbourne for Albany, Western Australia. The ships were  A1 HMAT Hymettus, A2 HMAT Geelong, A3 HMAT Orvieto, A4 HMAT Pera, A5 HMAT Omrah, A9 HMAT Shropshire, A10 HMAT Karroo, A15 HMAT Star of England, A18 HMAT Wiltshire, A20 HMAT Hororata, A21 HMAT Marere, A22 HMAT Rangatira, A24 HMAT Benalla, A25 HMAT Anglo Egyption, A26 HMAT Armadale, A27 HMAT Southern and A28 HMAT Militiades. Sixteen of the ships left between 17 and 21 October.

Although the departure of the ships was kept secret family and friends still flocked to Port Melbourne to farewell the troops. The ships departed from three piers - Town Pier, New Railway Pier (Princes Pier) and Railway Pier (Station Pier). The ships carried troops, nurses, supplies, weapons and horses.

See Anzac 2014-2018 Centenary for additional information:
HMAT Orvieto embarkation

Port Melbourne - First Convoy

Troopships to move a nation

First World War Embarkation rolls - Australian War Memorial (In advanced search search for name of ship)

Troopships - Adopt a Digger project

His Majesty's Australian Transports - Desert Column (photos and information about the ships

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Battle of Britain monument

The Battle of Britain memorial was opened on 18 September 2005.
It is located on the Victoria Embankment and overlooks the Thames River. A series of bronze panels depict scenes from the Battle of Britain during the Second World War. The image above shows the impact of the German bombing of London, beneath which is one of Sir Winston Churchill's famous statements: Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.
The Battle of Britain Monument website contains information about the project and detailed images of the monument as seen during the day and at night. It also has a list of allied aircrew during the Battle of Britain.
Other panels show the pilots scrambling to reach their aircraft to take on the German planes.

The panels mounted both sides of two granite walls measures 25 metres and is a most impressive site. The names of the 2,937 men - pilots and ground crew from 14 countries - who served in the airforce during the Battle of Britain are also listed in panels on the monument.

Additional information about the monument:

Bravery in bronze - the Battle of Britain Monument

Cleopatra's Needle, London

When in London in 2011 we were surprised to encounter two large sphinx on the Thames embankment.
The sphinx are either side of an Egyptian obelisk, part of which is shown in the photo below. The models of the sphinx, designed by George Vulliamy and modelled by C. H. Mabey, were added to the site in 1882. Unfortunately they are facing the wrong way - they should be guarding the obelisk, facing away from it.
The obelisk dates back to around 1450 BC and was originally erected at Heliopolis in Egypt on the orders of Thutmose III. It was one of three known structures erected at this time. It is known under the name of Cleopatra's Needle but has no connection with that Queen of Egypt. One of the plaques on base of the monument reads:
The obelisk was presented to the United Kingdom in 1819 by Muhammad Ali, ruler of Egypt and Sudan, in commemoration of Lord Nelson's victory against the French Navy at the Battle of the Nile in August 1798 and the victory of Sir Ralph Abercromby's troops against the French at the Battle of Alexandria in  March 1801.

It was not until 1877 that attempts were made to transport the obelisk to London. It was encased in an iron capsule named the Cleopatra and towed to England. All went well until a storm in the Bay of Biscay when it was thought that the capsule had been lost. However it survived and was towed to England by a second ship. The obelisk was erected on the bank of the Thames on 12 September 1878.

During the First World War on the night of the 4th of November German bombers dropped bombs on London. One of the bombs landed near the obelisk. Shrapnel from the bomb damaged the plinth of the obelisk and also one of the sphinx. The damage on these monuments remains as a memory of that raid. The blog, Great War London, provides information about the German raid and damage that occurred.
The Imperial War Museum has a photo of the sphinx after the air raid showing the damage not only to the monument but also more serious damage close by.