Symbolic departure marks century since WWI convoy

This article has photo gallery Published on LEUT Will Singer (author), ABIS Bonny Gassner (photographer), LSIS Peter Thompson (photographer), CPOIS David Connolly (photographer), ABIS Julianne Cropley (photographer)

Location(s): Albany

Crowds gather to observe Naval Ships from Australia, New Zealand and Japan in King George Sound during the symbolic convoy departure as part of the Albany Convoy Commemorative Event.  (photo: ABIS Bonny Gassner)
Crowds gather to observe Naval Ships from Australia, New Zealand and Japan in King George Sound during the symbolic convoy departure as part of the Albany Convoy Commemorative Event.

Sightseers jostled for viewpoints around King George Sound spreading picnic blankets and securing camping chairs positions in time for the symbolic departure of the first convoy that took 30,000 soldiers to foreign shores.

Back in 1914, the Australian transport ships sailed in three columns with the New Zealand vessels following behind in two columns of their own. in 2014, the ships sailed north from their anchorage position towards Emu Point led by HMAS Arunta with HMNZS Te Kaha close behind embodying the ANZAC friendship with the rest of the convoy consisting of HMA Ships Stuart and Anzac, JDS Kirisame, HMA Ships Rankin and Sirius.

Onlookers waved miniature Australian White Ensign Flags from MountClarence as Arunta and Te Kaha broke formation from the convoy and proceededin to harbour past the newly opened National Anzac Centre high on the hill overlooking KingGeorgeSound. The other five ships followed a route passing Wooding Point and then returned to their original position before going alongside the Albany Wharf.

The panoramic views of the seven warships against the Albany landscape attracted many enthusiasts willing to capture the historical event. 

Perth spectator, Tony Hewitt, said that it was a ‘picture perfect’ opportunity to capture the convoy departure in the same way as the photographer did back in 1914 he said.

“It’s been fantastic. Replicating the anchorage scene and the departure of the Navy ships similar to the photographer’s work captured one hundred years ago is a challenge and a privilege,” Mr Hewitt said.

The symbolic convoy departure was the major event for many of the Defence personnel supporting the Albany Convoy Commemorative Event. Earlier in the day, personnel from 13th Brigade led a moving Troop March along York Street with representatives from the Australian, New Zealand, Japanese and French Defence Forces, cadets, the Royal Australian Navy Band and the ex-service community. Crowds were also treated to a fly past by four PC-9 aircraft from RAAF Base Pearce. 

The events over the weekend embodied the ANZAC spirit and left a lasting impression on all who attended.