Alice Trask (nee Tudball) – Community Interviews 2020

Alice Trask (nee Tudball) was about 9 years old when she came to Bacchus Marsh in 1941. The family moved here because her father, Corporal Samuel Tudball, was a Military Policeman (MP) in the Army.   He worked at the MP’s headquarters which was located in the Drill Hall on the corner of Grant and Turner Streets, Bacchus Marsh.

It was a surprise to all when Alice’s father, Corporal Samuel Tudball MP, was identified in a photograph published in an earlier Facebook post from the Community Reflections series. Alice and family immediately recognised Samuel sitting proudly in a Military Police group photograph.

A portrait of Corporal Samuel Tudball MP in a group photograph of Australian Military Police from the Darley Military Camp. The photograph was taken outside the Merrimu Coffee Palace during World War II (1939-1945).

The Merrimu Coffee Palace no longer exists and was situated on the corner of Grant and Turner Streets, Bacchus Marsh where the current Hospital now stands.

Courtesy of the Bacchus Marsh and District Historical Society Inc. Collection

“I don’t remember much from that time because I was just a young girl playing.” “The troops used to march past our place down Grant St. from the station.

Alice Trask

The Australian Military Forces

The Australian Military Forces (AMF) was made up of units of conscripted and volunteer militiamen and units of specialist permanent soldiers, such as coastal artillerymen and fortress engineers. Unlike the all-volunteer second AIF, there were restrictions on where the AMF could be deployed. The AIF was given priority for uniforms, weapons and equipment. Because the AIF was serving overseas initially, the defence of Australia was the responsibility of the AMF.

As the war went on, the differences between the AIF and AMF disappeared. From early 1942 AIF and AMF personnel soldiered together in Northern Australia. They also fought side by side on the Kokoda Trail. By 1943 they were eating the same food and carrying the same weapons.

Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial

She recalls how they used to catch a bus to the Darley Army Camp hospital to take flowers from their gardens to cheer up the soldiers in the wards. Local parishioners from the Holy Trinity Anglican Church would take turns in visiting the sick soldiers.

AMF Officers Hut at the Darley Military Camp

Australian Military Forces (AMF) Officers Hut at the Darley Military Camp, Bacchus Marsh, Australia during World War II (1939-1945).

Courtesy of the Bacchus Marsh and District Historical Society Inc. Collection

My husband John was a paperboy working with Mr. Bell from the news agency and on a Saturday nights they would take newspapers up to the canteen for the soldiers to buy.

Alice Trask

 Back to Bacchus Marsh, 1957

It is clear that the Darley Military Camp (established late 1940) had a significant impact on the Bacchus Marsh community and surrounding district during World War II. Not only were there local enlistments, also non-combatants gave generous patriotic support, efforts which included a local unit of the Volunteer Defence Corps. The Camp accommodated the AIF, Militia and Women’s Units, an Officers’ School, Transport Schools, etc., as well as the United States marines and draftees, and the Netherlands colonial troops from Indonesia and Guiana.

After the defeat of the Japanese repatriated prisoners or war were brought to the Darley Camp Hospital by the Red Cross.

By 1957 only bitumen roadways and slabs of concrete indicated the former site of the Darley Military Camp.

Courtesy of Federation University Website

Read about Alice’s memories of Bacchus Marsh and the Darley Military Camp during WWII and learn how her husband stayed in touch with some of the Dutch soldiers who migrated to New Zealand.

Military personnel of Royal Netherlands Airforce from the Darley Military Camp stand in front of a bus for a group portrait during World War II (1939-1945).

Courtesy of the Bacchus Marsh and District Historical Society Inc. Collection.

Find out how the world changed after they returned to the Darley Military Camp many years after the war. Check out our Facebook page now.