Saturday, 1 November 2014

The first ANZAC troop convoy leaves Albany, WA.

One hundred years ago today, the first convoy of Australian and New Zealand troops departed Albany bound for England and the war in Europe.

Leading up to this were a number of events which were to effect the fate of this convoy.

Many years previously, the European nations had split into two distinct groups - Russia, France and England formed the Triple Entente; while Austria-Hungary leagued with Germany to form the Central Powers.

The Ottoman Empire was under the control of a group of "Young Turks" including Enva Pasha, since a coup a few years earlier. With their Empire in decline, the Ottoman's looked for a suitable ally.

Russia and the Ottoman Empire were still enemies from the days of the Crimean war (1850's) so this made it almost impossible for Turkey to align with the Triple Entente so they secretly signed a pact with Germany and became their ally.

The Ottoman's ignored the ultimatum.

Meanwhile in the southern hemisphere the threat posed by the German Pacific Fleet had been removed, and Australia and New Zealand could begin to move their troops by sea in readiness for the journey to Europe

HMS Minotaur of the British Royal Navy also escorted their convoy.

note: While I use the nickname "Kiwis" here this term in the early part of the 20th Century was not generally used in reference to people from the "Land of the Long White Cloud". Instead they were usually referred to as "Fern Leaves" 
or "En-Zeds".

On the 1st of November 1914, the combined New Zealand and Australian convoys departed Albany for the War in Europe. The troops all cheered excitedly as they weighed anchor.
This large convoy consisted of 38 troop ships and was escorted by four warships - The Japanese warship Ibuki, HMS Minotaur of the British Royal Navy and two Australian battleships - HMAS Melbourne and HMAS Sydney.

 They sailed across the Indian Ocean toward Colombo, Ceylon (now called Sri Langka), aware that the German raider "Emden" was still operating in these waters. The Emden had built a reputation as a dangerous foe and if the convoy was attacked there could be a disaster.

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