Bob Closter – Community Interviews 2020

A portrait photograph taken of Bob Closter September 2020

A portrait photograph taken of Bob Closter born in Bacchus Marsh 1933, when he provided the Historical Society of his memories of the Darley Military Camp. What it was like when the soldiers came to town during WWII in September 2020.

Courtesy of Bob Closter’s Personal Collection.

Bob Closter was born in Bacchus Marsh in 1933 and was 7 years old when the Darley Military Camp was built. He lived behind the green grocer shop, which his Mum operated on the northern side of Main Street, Bacchus Marsh. The layout of the shop had fruit and vegies on one side of the store and confectionary on the other. The family was kept very busy when the troops came to town.  

“Mum was always good to the soldiers in many ways too. One time Mum even hid a couple of soldiers being chased by the MP’s behind the lollies counter till the coast was clear.”

Bob Closter

During the war years the Australian Natives’ Association (ANA) building in Main Street opened a Billiard Room where the military and local men would spend their free time. 

  “Of course, us kids weren’t allowed in.”

Bob Closter

Bob recalls as a young boy the Camp Military Police with their arm bands riding motorbikes as they rounded up all the stragglers who missed their bus back to the Camp. 

Australian Quarter- Master supply wagons heading to the railway station depot to pick up supplies for Darley Military Camp.

Photograph taken along Gisborne Road near Darley Park roundabout looking east.

Courtesy of the John Hannah Collection.

“All provisions needed out at the Camp were transported in by train to a depot at the Bacchus Marsh railway station and horse and wagons would deliver these supplies out to the Camp.”

Bob Closter

Military personnel celebrate Christmas at the Darley Military Camp in the Hospital Ward during World War II (1939-1945).

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

“Doing their bit”

From the outset of the Second World War, Australian women were aware of the changing role of British women in supporting Britain’s war effort. To help “do their bit” for Australia’s war effort, women in Australia joined groups as diverse as the Australian Red Cross Letters Association, the Australian Comforts Fund, the Women’s Air Training Corps, and the Women’s Emergency Signallers.

The Women’s Australian National Service (WANS) was inaugurated in 1940. Training for members of the WANS included air raid drills, first aid, basic military drills, and even shooting, signalling, and mechanics. In the period leading up to the formation of the Australian Women’s Army Service (AWAS), the WANS demonstrated that women were capable of filling roles traditionally filled by men.

Eligibility criteria for entry into the AWAS included:

  • A satisfactory medical examination and X-ray
  • Age between 18 and 40 (extended to 50 under special circumstances)
  • Ability to commit to full-time military service for the duration of the war
  • Security check and clearance by the Manpower Authority
  • Character testimonials signed by a clergyman or municipal councillor.

Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial

Even after the war ended when the soldiers returned to their families and friends the buildings at the Darley Military Camp were dismantled and moved to various properties throughout the district. Some can still be found today.

Find out which structure was used to build Bob’s home and where the Darley Military Camp’s sewerage processing plant was located and how it was instrumental in establishing a productive market garden. Check out our Facebook page now.