Train trip puts focus on Blackboy Hill
11th Battalion having lunch at Blackboy Hill. Picture: Courtesy of the State Library of Western Australia

Twelve days after World War I was declared, the first WA troops marched on to Blackboy Hill in Greenmount and began training for war.

After 2½ months, the first of the 32,000 troops to go through the camp began their journey to the Great War front on a train bound for Fremantle.

This train trip on October 31, 1914 will be re-created this year as part of the Anzac Centenary commemorations.

The WA troops departed on transport ships Ascanius, carrying the 11th Infantry Battalion, and the Medic, which carried the 8th Field Artillery.

They were joined at sea by the convoy that left Albany the following day.

Premier Colin Barnett said the commemorative train journey would include a memorial service and he hoped the event would shed more light on Blackboy Hill's place in WA history.

"While Albany was the point of departure for most New Zealand and Australian troops, the vast majority of WA troops departed from Fremantle the day before on the 31st October 1914," Mr Barnett said. "This important part of our State's history is not widely known.

"My hope is that the upcoming Anzac Centenary, to be observed between 2014 and 2018, will prompt more people to take the opportunity to learn about it."

The WA branch of the Returned and Services League will hold a service in Fremantle after the train arrives, which RSL president Graham Edwards said was a fitting way to recognise WA war heroes.

"While we have a focus on Albany with so many troops leaving from there, it's also very important we have a focus on Fremantle and Blackboy Hill because that's where all the local boys left from," he said.

The West Australian

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