Albany's Anzac connection
The first and second ANZAC convoys left from Albany. These convoys consisted of troop ships from all over Australia, as well as New Zealand, and included the flagship of the China Station and a Japanese battle cruiser as part of the naval escort.
Their final sight of Australia
Albany was chosen as the rendezvous because it was an important coaling and watering port and the convoy left Albany for Egypt, where the troops would train before being landed at Gallipoli to fight the Turks.
For the thousands of Australian soldiers who died at Gallipolli, this was their last sight of their homeland.
The first Dawn Service
Albany has another strong Anzac connection in that it was where the first dawn service was held. In 1918 a young Anglican chaplain, Padre Arthur Ernest White, who served as chaplain with the 44th Battalion AIF and was gassed and wounded at the Western Front, celebrated a Requiem Mass for the Battle Dead at the alter of St. John’s, Albany.
After the service he and some members of the congregation climbed to the summit of Mount Clarence. It was from this viewpoint that the people of Albany had gathered in 1914 to look at the great convoy of ships that had gathered in the Sound to carry the men to Egypt.
As Padre White looked over Princess Royal Harbour, he is reported to have said 'Albany was the last sight of land our troops saw of Australia. Perhaps we should commemorate them this way every Anzac Day.'
The start of a tradition
In 1929, Padre White was appointed Rector of Albany and decided to mark the next Anzac Day by celebrating a Dawn Eucharist. On April 25th, 1930, some parishioners who attended this 6 am service then accompanied their rector to the nearby war memorial, where he placed a wreath on behalf of the parish.
They then followed him up Mt Clarence to wait for a boatman to lay a wreath in the water at the entrance of the harbour where it would drift out into King George Sound. As it was laid, Padre White said these words, 'As the sun riseth and goeth down, we will remember them'.
When he entered the details in the church service register, he wrote, 'First Dawn Service held in Australia.'
The Ataturk Channel
Albany has commemorated our Anzac links by naming the channel, between King George Sound and Princess Royal Harbour, Ataturk Channel. There is also a large statue of Ataturk looking out over the channel.
And today ...
Two services are held in Albany for Anzac Day. The Dawn Service up on Mt Clarence at the Desert Mounted Corps Memorial starts at 5.30 am and the street parade and Anzac Day Memorial Service, held at Albany’s Anzac Peace Park on the foreshore.
For more information about Albany's association with the Anzacs, please email Albany Historical Society.
Anzacs - Walking with Angels
This wonderful collection of poems, prose, newspaper clippings, photographs and letters from the front, compiled by Beth Martin, is available from Albany Historical Society - see our Publications page for details of how to obtain a copy.
(With thanks to Julia Mitchell)
Anzac images from our Photography Collection