When recruitment for volunteers to join the Australian Imperial Force began there was a scramble from young men in Broome who feared they would miss all the action and the subsequent victory. The first contingent of eighteen men left for the Blackboy Hill training camp in October 1914, and were soon followed by hundreds more.
Broome soldiers kept track of each other during the four years of war. Letters sent home were full of news about which ‘Broomeites’ had been seen, wounded or killed. A reunion was organised for December 1915 at the Metropole Hotel in Cairo, where thirty-five Broome men were treated to a special menu reminiscent of home, such as “Cauliflower a la Roebuck Bay” and “Fish from the Jetty”.
Several Broome men from the 28th Battalion served in the Battle of Pozières in July 1916. The Battalion suffered heavy losses during a night attack when soldiers were caught on barbed wire that a preparatory bombardment had failed to destroy. Six men from Broome died that night, and dozens more were injured.
By the end of the war over 250 men from Broome had enlisted, which was effectively 95% of the available population, and a record for any town in Australia. Over sixty of these men did not return.
Click here to go to Life in Broome after the Great War