AN APPEAL has been made for information on the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (Anzacs) based in Weymouth during the First World War.
The South Dorset Family History Society is compiling information ahead of the 100th anniversary of the war, to be displayed at an exhibition at Weymouth Library.
They are now appealing to residents of Weymouth and the surrounding areas who may be relations of the soldiers, or of the local brides who married the soldiers, to get in touch.
An estimated 120,000 Anzacs passed through the medical camps set up in Weymouth, where they were sent after suffering war injuries when fighting in the trenches.
Organisers hope to compile a fact-file on the soldiers, which will be on display at the library on August 4, and at another event in September.
The project is being organised by Philip Sherwood and four others from the group, and Mr Sherwood said: “Around 120,000 ANZACS passed through the camps in Weymouth.
“It completely changed the face of Weymouth during the war.
“The soldiers were very well received by the local community, a lot of the soldiers got to know local girls and nurses and married them.
“Of course, following the war, most of the soldiers took their brides back to their homeland but some of them stayed in Weymouth.
“We want anyone who has any memorabilia from the ANZACs or who had family relations to the ANZACs to get in touch and provide us with some more information.”
The military medical camp at Chickerell was first set up in June 1915.
The camp expanded rapidly resulting in more camps being built in Westham, Littlemoor and Verne.
Talking of the information already gathered, Mr Sherwood said they had received some “fascinating stories”.
He said: “We found that two of the people who are buried in the war graves were actually killed in a road accident with a taxi driver.
“The camp played host to Hugh West, who is believed to have been the first Australian soldier who escaped from a Prisoner of War camp, making his way through Holland and then being sent to Weymouth for medical treatment.
“Another fascinating story was that of Private Percy Brooks. He was actually born on Portland, who then moved to New South Wales in Australia when he was 16 and enlisted in the ANZACs.
“He fought at Gallipoli and the Western Front, where he contracted trench fever and was sent to Weymouth for treatment.
“During his time in Weymouth he married a local girl before moving back to Australia.”
To supply information to the group contact Mr Sherwood on 01305 770820 or email email@example.com
- The Dorset Echo will be running special commemorative publications to mark the centenary of the start of the First World War.
We are seeking any information readers may have about the war, including photographs, memorabilia or memories of the war.
If you have any please get in touch on 01305 830999 or firstname.lastname@example.org