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 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, various 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 arrived at Glasgow Wharf in the afternoon. About 2000 family, officials and journalists waited in a reserved area alongside the berth.

Authorities organised an official reception at Wellington Town Hall. Members of the public crowded the galleries, while returning soldiers, family, and officials mingled on the ground floor. Men not fit enough to attend went straight to hospital or stayed on board the Willochra.

A specially outfitted ‘Red Cross train’ – a New Zealand first – transported men to Auckland or other towns along the North Island main trunk line. Those bound for South Island ports left Wellington on the Willochra two days later.

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