October 19th, 1914 - Departure of the Anzac Convoy
Pictured - Fond farewells at the pier of Albany, & the Japanese battlecruiser Ibuki.
The convoy system was first used to a large extent in World War One. Troopships and supplies, rather than depart singly, traveled with more heavily armed support for protection. The first great convoy was the Anzac Convoy.
Australia and New Zealand rallied to their mother country in 1914, thousands of men patriotically volunteering. In October 1914, ten troopships full of spirited New Zealanders departed from Wellington, guarded by the Japanese battlecruiser Ibuki, They traveled to Albany in Australia, where a further 28 troopships joined them, crowded with eager Australian troops. Following their Japanese leader, all 38 troopships steamed for the gulf of Aden, the Japanese cruiser Chikuma joining them in the Indian Ocean.
The convoy reached Aden on the 25th, and while the British government badly needed the troops from the Dominions, since the murderous Battle of Ypres raged in October and cut down the majority of the pre-war British Army, it was decided to leave the Australian and New Zealand troops in the Mediterranean for the time being. Arriving Canadian troops had to spend a miserable drizzly English autumn quartering at Salisbury Plain, so it was decided to divert the Australian and New Zealand troops to Egypt rather than subject them to an English winter. Originally, the formation was to be named the Australasian Army Corps, but irritated Kiwis protested, and so it came to be known as the ANZAC (Australia & New Zealand) Army Corps.
The Japanese contribution to Australia’s war effort has been largely ignored in light of the “Yellow Peril” and bad blood from the Second World War, but Japanese ships were vital in guarding Anzac troop convoys and also to protect Australian waters during the war.
Image Source: (http://anzaccentenary.vic.gov.au/firstconvoy/)