The Anzac Walk


  • 22 Victoria Place was a pub, the Duke of Wellington. The Mounted Divisions kept their horses in sheds in what is now a courtyard on the corner of Wellington Street and Duke Street.
  • Empire Theatre – (now the Medical Centre). Social events took place in the Empire Theatre in 1917. The theatre was owned by Charlie Leverett who was also the local printer and did the Anzac military and entertainment printing.
  • Crab & Winkle Line and station – Troops came and went from Brightlingsea Station.
  • Keeble’s Meadow was behind the station in the vicinity of today’s Lozenge Nature Area and was often used for entertainments like the Sports Day & Gymkhana in August 1917.
  • Brightlingsea Jetty and Hard – much of the AETD training took place in this area. Especially bridge and pontoon building across to St Osyth Stone opposite.
  • Victoria Place – a daily muster was held here and armed guards patrolled day and night in case of air raids, petty larceny, soldiers absent without leave, drunkenness and lewd behaviour. The open space was also used for entertainment and had structures built on it for Aeroplane and War Bonds Weeks. The Aeroplane Week in March 1918 raised £15,000 – £3 for every person in Brightlingsea.
  • Victoria Place – on 12th November 1918 over three thousand people assembled here under flags and bunting for a Victory Parade to All Saints’ Church. In Ladysmith Avenue a German flag was laid across the road so everyone could tread on it. The marchers included all four Australian companies, Brightlingsea Volunteers (similar to the Home Guard), police, special constables, river police, Naval people, shipyard workers, scouts, clergy, the men of the Mounted Section and the civilian population.  At All Saints’ the crowd was too large to cram in the church so the officers, town dignitaries, other officials and their families heard a sermon by the Reverend Fermor Randall and everyone else listened to the Reverend Harry Deans on land at Hall Farm across the road.
  • St James’ Church – two houses to the left of the church were the BIlleting Office and the Armoury.
  • High Street – offices, shops and houses along the High Street were at times variously commandeered. For example one housed the repair shop for the Anzac’s thirty bicycles. The Medical Officer’s Surgery began in High Street before moving to 66 New Street.

There was also the Depot’s Dental Officer’s surgery to be housed.  With a staff of five the Dental Officer was kept busy and he also had the task of fitting gas masks.  The Depot barber was also in a shop on the High Street.  One sapper signed “Mulga” wrote in 1918: “After being shaved by you last week I used the ointment you recommended and my face is healing wonderfully.  I will soon be about again.”

  • Queen Street – The premises of the Swedenborgian (or New) Church were especially in demand. While other denomination churches may have disapproved, many Non-Conformist churches loaned their halls for dances, lectures, winter mess halls and occasionally combined their forces to organise social events.
  • Queen Street – sited opposite the New Church an empty shop became the Depot ‘Orderly Room’ in which one officer, one sergeant and one corporal passed on orders. Each Company had its own Orderly Room sited in a house, office or shop.
  • High Street – No.9 – on this site (now an estate agency) stood The Ship Inn. In 1917 it was owned by Mr & Mrs Norfolk and billeted troops.  At the end of the war five of their Anzacs created and signed an illuminated scroll of thanks declaring No.9 to be a Champion Billet.
  • High Street – No.15 – the Swan Hotel was the go-to place for card players and there were whist and other games almost every night. A rough tennis court was set out on the fields behind.
  • High Street – No.94 – housed the Depot Clothing Store in the daytime and the Wallaby Sports Club which met every evening. Now a private house called “Shambles”.
  • New Street – No. 66 – Medical Officers’ Surgery – with long queues up the street every day on sick parade.
  • New Street – No.73 – Brightlingsea had no Catholic church so a temporary one was set up here.
  • New Street – No.98 – the Royal Hotel, owned by Mrs Kate Northover, was the Other Ranks’ Mess.
  • Sydney Street – No. 8 – the Foresters Hall (now the Freemasons’ Arms) was the initial base for concerts, boxing matches and other social events. In the beginning the three 9th, 10th and 11th Australian Field Companies worked with the Royal Navy & British military already here and the first contingent received a very warm welcome with a concert put on for them in the Foresters Hall the night after arrival in August 1916.
  • Tower Street – No. 37 – the Masonic Hall was the Australian Sergeant’s Mess and, like the Swan Hotel, a venue for card games and competitions.
  • Tower Street – No.43 – Sapper Louis Vasco was billeted here in the home of Mrs Crosby. Vasco was a famous Australian professional cartoonist; he died of influenza in Colchester in 1918 and is buried in Colchester Cemetery.
  • High Street – No. 55 – in 1917 the Australian YMCA took over the Recreation Rooms which had previously been a school and used by the combined churches for social meetings. A library, reading room, the Red Cross office and weekly sing-songs were set up.  It also acted as a voting booth in two Australian referenda as to whether or not the Australian public wanted troops to be conscripted, as would happen later in America, or remain volunteers.  The vote across the whole nation was No Conscription.
  • John Street – the vestry of the Congregational Church (now part of a private apartment) was the home of an Anzac Literary and Debating Society.
  • Well Street  – No. 18 Well Street and No. 14 Upper Park Road next door, were one house in 1916 and it was a canteen for Other Ranks.
  • Upper Park Road – No.44 – Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant Ernest Tubbenhauer from Wellington, New Zealand was one of the longest stayers at the AETD in Brightlingsea and lived here for two years with his wife, Dorothy. Having lived in Brightlingsea for one year and a day, in December 1917 he was granted the Freedom of the Cinque Port.
  • Church Road – No.75 – Mr & Mr Rose’s house. In early 1917 Sapper Caldwell wrote home from his billet here.