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Australian Army soldiers marching along Eddy Avenue next to Central Railway Station, Sydney

Date: 4 February 1915
Medium: Emulsion on glass
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Glass plate negative
Object No: 00024578
Place Manufactured:Sydney
Related Place:Central Station,

User Terms

    This photograph depicts Australian soldiers marching through Eddy Avenue next to Central Station amongst crowds of people possibly between 10:30am and 12pm on 4 February 1915.
    SignificanceThe Samuel J Hood photographic collection records an extensive range of maritime activity on Sydney Harbour, including sail and steam ships, crew portraits, crews at work, ship interiors, stevedores loading and unloading cargo, port scenes, pleasure boats and harbourside social activities from the 1890s through to the 1950s. They are also highly competent artistic studies and views - Hood was regarded as an important figure in early Australian photojournalism. Hood’s maritime photographs are one of the most significant collections of such work in Australia.
    HistoryOn 4 February 1915, about 2,000 Australian troops marched around Sydney in front of thousands of onlookers. In a show of might, the march was designed to inspire patriotic pride and further enlistments for the war effort. Melbourne's 'The Australasian' and 'The Sydney Morning Herald' published photographs from the day, including images taken from almost exactly the same view as Samuel J Hood's photographs in the museum's collection.

    The procession comprised men of the Light Horse, Field Artillery, Divisional Ammunitions Column, the Engineers, the Infantry, the Army Service Corps, the Army Medical Corps and the Army Veterinary Corps. As noted in the SMH, the route of the parade formed at Central Railway Station at 10:30am, and marched:

    ' way of George Street, Martin Place, Pitt Street, Circular Quay, Macquarie Street, Queen's Square, St James' Road, Elizabeth Street, and thence past the front of Belmore Park.'

    Source: 'Our Troops', 4 February 1915, 'The Sydney Morning Herald', p 9. []

    Two days later, a lengthy dramatic article was published in the SMH, illustrating the atmosphere and response from crowds on the day:

    'As the troops marched through the city on Thursday morning many thoughtful onlookers wondered whether the people who lined the streets were really impressed. Did they truly appreciate the fact that the men in khaki meant war - such war as the world has never seen before...?

    Certainly there was neither tumultuous cheering nor the strained rapt attention...In so many instances the helpless non-combatants who rejoiced at the marching men are now dead or mutilated, and the grim reality of war has robbed the survivors in Belgium and Northern France of any power to cheer or serve the hurrying squadrons. Just to indicate in this way the contrast between our own conditions and those of Europe at the present moment is to find an answer to the question with which we began.

    First, however, it is only fair to try to define the attitude of the onlookers as our men swung through the city on Thursday, filling the main thoroughfares with their steady tramp, and attracting all eyes by the vigour of their manhood.

    No one could say that indifference was at any time a mark of the reception given to them. At various points there were cheers, and whenever a demonstration was possible with the means at hand it was given. But there was an apparent quietness...Everybody was thinking of war but it was difficult to realise that its furors were so near...

    Every man almost was a centre of solicitude. Were the fathers and mothers watching their sons from scores of vantage points, wives straining their eyes for glimpses of husbands in the pulsing columns, and brothers and sisters following the files with absorbed vision to distinguish their special units from the rest? How could these be expected to cheer or create a tumult of excitement?

    ...Our own mad moments will come when the intense strain of this war is lifted, unless we learn in the earlier months what is demanded of us. That we are painfully adjusting ourselves to war as a definite local condition is manifest, but there is much to be mastered as more and more men offer for active service. The serious side of this business is to be found in the sacrifices which are being demanded, and will be required continually of us till the war is over.

    Parents are torn with grief and beset with anxieties as they hear details of camp life, and of the desperate fighting in and out of the trenches in France and Belgium...Is it any wonder that Thursday's route march found so many of our citizens thoughtful?'

    Source: 'The Route March', 6 February 1915, 'The Sydney Morning Herald', p 14. []
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    Web title: Australian Army soldiers marching along Eddy Avenue next to Central Railway Station, Sydney

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