A weekend of special events is planned on 17-19 June 2016 in Brightlingsea, Essex to honour the one hundred years since up to 10,000 Australian and New Zealand troops arrived in the town in 1916 to begin training prior to being sent overseas to fight on the Western Front and beyond. They came to an Australian Engineers’ Training Depot to learn how to build road, bridges and pontoons and to dig tunnels and trenches. The new recruits, freshly arrived from Australia and New Zealand, were trained by battle-hardened veterans of Gallipoli and the Western Front.
The many companies of uniformed men “from foreign parts” were initially met with scepticism by the Brightlingsea people. They were taller, broader and suntanned; they dressed differently and had a strange accent. But they soon became very much respected and admired by the locals, especially in winter when the men moved from their summer tent camp on the Rec into private houses in the town and billeted together – and several marriages ensued.
Reports returning to the town of friends that had been made being killed or wounded in action caused as much pain to Brightlingsea as it did in the casualty’s home town. The Town Council and Brightlingsea Museum are proud to commemorate them at their weekend events in June that culminate in a parade of uniformed organisations headed by the Lord Lieutenant of Essex, the Chairman of Essex County Council, the Commander of Colchester Garrison and many other, a wreath-laying ceremony at Brightlingsea’s war memorial followed by a cricket match between Brightlingsea Cricket Club and a team from the Australia House Cricket Team.
The events are as follows:
Friday 17th June
7pm – 10pm: A ticketed Reception to be held on the Bayard Recreation Ground, Regent Road (CO7 0NH) with canapes, champagne and a preview of the Art Show, including the Museum’s WW1 photographs and ephemera.
Saturday 18th June
Afternoon: ANZAC-themed Carnival Procession and Fete with entertainments, stalls, food outlets and live music.
Early evening: Family music event, with food outlets or bring your own picnic.
Sunday 19th June
Morning: 11:30 Service of Commemoration and laying of wreaths at War Memorial, Victoria Place, Brightlingsea, CO7 0AE.
Afternoon: 15:00 Cricket Match between Brightlingsea Cricket Club and Australia House Cricket Club team.
More information from:
Margaret Stone, Museum Curator, 01206 303286