Jan 292015

As I mentioned the fact the 7th Unlock the Past cruise was going to Albany was a major factor in my choosing to go on this cruise (apart from the fact I just love genealogical conference cruising!)

National ANZAC Centre showing some of the harbour

Albany had a deep harbour and so the convoy assembled in King George Sound.The First and Second convoys left Albany  originally to go to England but as we know actually ended up staying in Egypt. 

Dr Richard Reid said this had a lot to do with the quality of the accommodation available initially in England for the number of men so the idea was to hold them in Egypt until things could be sorted and then the Dardenelles campaign was decided upon and the legend of Gallipoli was born.

The National ANZAC Centre has been built in Albany and it is a must see item if you happen to be in that area. You will need to allow yourself at least two hours. It is an emotional tour.

On entry each person is given a card bearing the name of a person and you follow the story of this person through their time in the war. My card was for Captain Arthur Gordon Smith, who was in the Royal Navy. 

There are at least 30 different cards of Australians, Turks, British, nurses and more so covering many aspects of the participants.

You are also given a receiver pen which you use to activate recordings at set points.

The entry    

You enter into the gallery and find the first information stand where you put your card and it calls up the dossier for your person.

Then you move down and see the information panels where you can use your receiver pen by swiping across the A on the panel to activate a recording that you listen to on the pen.

There are many displays.

You keep following your person through their military service and yes, it is real life,  some are killed, others wounded and some survive the war. My person was the Captain of First Convoy to leave Albany. He survived the war only to die of pancreatic cancer in later life.

The Centre also highlights the cost not only in deaths of which there were too many but also all the wounded who came back and the effect this had on their lives and the lives of their loved ones forever more.

We Are The Maimed

In Flanders fields we do not lie

Where poppies grow and larks will fly

Forever singing as they go

Above the bodies, row on row,

Of those whose duty ‘twas to die

We are the maimed. Death did deny

Its solace. Crippled, blind, we try

To find on earth the peace they know

In Flanders fields.

Forget us not! As years go by,

On your remembrance we rely

For love that sees the hearts below

Our broken bodies. Else we grow

           To crave our peace with those who lie

            In Flanders Field

              WB France

I know Albany is many miles away but don’t despair, the National ANZAC Centre has a website and you are able to follow the cards through on the website as well (there are 32 available on the website). 

There is also a fantastic links section and a searchable list of all people on the First and Second Convoys.

This is my great-grandfather and he was one of 2663 men and women on this ship.

The visit was very emotional  and worthwhile.

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