HMAS Arunta leads ships of the Royal Australian Navy, Royal New Zealand Navy and the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force in a symbolic re-enactment of the first convoy departure, King George Sound, Albany (Photo: © Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)

Centenary update: First Anzac convoy remembered in Albany, Australia

Posted on centenarynews.com on 04 November 2014
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Tens of thousands of people joined four days of tributes in Albany, Western Australia, marking the 100th anniversary of Australian and New Zealand soldiers leaving for the First World War.

Against the spectacular backdrop of Albany's coastline, seven warships from the Australian, New Zealand and Japanese navies re-enacted the departure of the first troop convoy from King George Sound on November 1st 2014.

The Australian and New Zealand Prime Ministers, remembering the conflict which shaped their nations, opened the National Anzac Centre, a new $10.6million museum overlooking the Indian Ocean.

An estimated 40,000 people paid their respects to the bravery of the first Anzacs at the Albany Convoy commemorations between October 30th and November 2nd 2014. 

A century ago, Albany was the rendezvous point for ships carrying the Australian Imperial Force and New Zealand Expeditionary Force, which would later become collectively known as the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (Anzac).

Thirty eight ships, carrying 30,000 troops, formed the original convoy, guarded by four escorts from the Australian, British and Japanese navies. 

Gallipoli

Within six months of sailing, the Anzacs fought their first major battle at Gallipoli in April 1915. Australians and New Zealanders went on to fight with distinction on the Western Front and in the Middle East.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott told a remembrance service in Albany: "It was sacrifice on a stupendous scale and it was sacrifice shared by our neighbour, New Zealand – because of it, our countries will always be brothers. 

"On days such as this, we do not glorify war but we do acknowledge the selflessness and comradeship of shared struggle."

His New Zealand counterpart, John Key, joined in highlighting the First World War as a defining episode for both countries: "From colonies, we became nations," he said. 

France, which lost 10,000 troops in the Allied landings at Gallipoli, was represented in Albany by its Defence Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian.

City of Albany Mayor Dennis Wellington said the convey commemoration had been a massive success, beyond what he could have expected. "This was an extremely complicated event to deliver and it has involved a huge amount of organisation across all levels of government and the Australian Defence Force."

"It is a testament to the significance of Albany and the Anzac story that these events have been delivered without a hitch."

To discover more, go to the Anzac Albany website.

Sources: Anzac Albany; Australian and New Zealand Governments

Images courtesy of the Royal Australian Navy © Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence (CPOIS David Connolly)

Posted by: Peter Alhadeff, Centenary News