September 1914: Embarkation of troops from Pinkenba

Without accident or injury to person, horse or property: On 26 September 1914, John Dunn, Sub-inspector from the Traffic Office, Queensland Police Department penned these words in a report to his superiors. The words describe the success of the police involvement during the embarkation of the Queensland Quota of the Australian Expeditionary Force from Pinkenba.

European war: embarkation of the expeditionary force, 1914 - 1916
European war: embarkation of the expeditionary force, 1914 – 1916

Sub-inspector Dunn’s report is one part of a series of documents relating to the embarkation of troops from Pinkenba. Contained in these documents (Digital Image ID 24338) is an urgent and confidential memorandum outlining the logistics for the embarkation on 23, 24 and 25 September 1914 including details of the units involved, numbers of men and horses and tide times. There is even a reference to the nominal rolls of horses. Each horse had a registered number and gummed back cards bearing these numbers were placed near the horses’ stalls. Nominal rolls were prepared showing the horses’ numbers which reflected the sequence they would be placed in the stalls.

Correspondence from the Railway Department confirms 24 September as the day when very early special trains would be needed to convey troops from Enoggera to Pinkenba. Truckage was also needed to transport the soldiers’ kits each weighing on average of 30 pounds.

It took four ships – the Anglo Egyptian, Star of England, Omrah and Rangatira – to carry the Queensland troops, horses, baggage, equipment and sundry supplies from Brisbane.

The ships used to transport members of the Australian Expeditionary Force were mostly merchant ships that were bought or leased by the Commonwealth Government. Ships that were fitted out in Brisbane for Queensland’s and for other states’ troops required the skills of many workers including carpenters, fitters, plumbers, painters, electricians and boiler makers.

A thankyou letter (Digital Item ID 24561) addressed to the Premier of Queensland from Commander C. Burford of the Naval Staff Office explains how he had to call on Police, Fire Brigade, Harbours and Railway Departments to assist the preparation and execution of the first embarkation from Queensland. It is evident after reading these letters and memos that there was a great deal of necessary negotiation and cooperation between the state and federal governments during this time period.

Letter to Mr Denham, Premier of Queensland from Commander C. Burford of the Royal Australian Navy, regarding the successful completion of fitting out of ships for transporting Australian troops for the Expeditionary Force, 28 September 1914
Letter to Mr Denham, Premier of Queensland from Commander C. Burford of the Royal Australian Navy, regarding the successful completion of fitting out of ships for transporting Australian troops for the Expeditionary Force, 28 September 1914

From Brisbane these ships went to Melbourne where the troops stayed till October. Australian and New Zealand troop carriers then made their way to Albany where they assembled and travelled in convoy from King George Sound, Western Australia on 1 November 1914.

About Queensland State Archives

For more information about Queensland State Archives visit www.archives.qld.gov.au

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