First Gallipoli wounded arrive home

15 July 1915

Walter Armiger Bowring painting, 1916 (Archives New Zealand, AAAC 898 NCWA 532)

The first large group of Gallipoli wounded to return to New Zealand arrived in Wellington on the troopship Willochra as part of a draft of around 300 men.

The ship arrived at about midnight on the 14th and anchored in the harbour. In the morning, dignitaries and journalists went aboard. Some relatives took boats out to welcome the ship.

Most people caught their first glimpse of the returning men as the ship berthed at Glasgow Wharf in the afternoon. About 2000 family members, officials and journalists waited in a reserved area.

The authorities organised an official reception at Wellington Town Hall. Members of the public crowded the galleries while returning soldiers mingled with their families and officials on the ground floor. Men not fit enough to attend were taken to hospital or stayed on board the Willochra.

A specially outfitted ‘Red Cross train’ – a New Zealand first – then travelled to Auckland along the North Island main trunk line. Men bound for South Island ports left Wellington on the Willochra two days later.

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