Friends and family wave banners of welcome at Woolloomooloo Wharf in the hope of catching the ...

Accession Number 122083
Collection type Photograph
Object type Black & white
Physical description Black & white
Maker McQuillan, Ernest Mervyn
Place made Australia: New South Wales, Sydney, Woolloomooloo
Date made 11 October 1945
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945

Item copyright: Copyright expired - public domain

Public Domain Mark This item is in the Public Domain


Friends and family wave banners of welcome at Woolloomooloo Wharf in the hope of catching the attention of returning members of the 8th Division as they disembark from the ship SS Largs Bay which brought them from Singapore, following their release from captivity as Prisoners of War. Identified are, left to right, members of the family of NX42978 Private (Pte) Leonard William 'Len' Day, of the 2/10 Field Ambulance: niece Patricia Richie (young child); sister Thelma Richie (nee Day); Pte Day's wife, Mavis Day (nee Darke) holding one side of the sign 'LEN DAY'; mother Ethel Maude Day; sister Olga Marianne Day; sister Doris Day wearing a headscarf and in uniform, brother Jack Neville Day. AS THEY DISEMBARK FROM THE SHIP SS LARGS BAY WHICH BROUGHT THEM FROM SINGAPORE.

Other banners in the crowd refer to NX24061 Lance Corporal Stanley Robert 'Stan' Hill, 2/12 Field Company; and 'Tosh' Doyle. The men were passing by on their way to the POW Reception Depot at Ingleburn, from where they were released on leave prior to discharge.
Olga Day later recalled of this moment:

"We had gone down to the docks at Woolloomooloo because my brother Lenny was coming home. He had been away more than three years. For eighteen months he was listed as Missing and we didn't know whether he was alive or dead. Then through the Red Cross we learned his unit had been captured in Malaya.

"The Red Cross would convey to prisoners of war messages of no more than 20 words from their families. My mother used to keep a record of every 20-word letter she sent to Lenny to avoid repetition and so make each one seem fresh to him. In her last letter she enclosed a small snap of me and his baby niece.

"I remember this day very clearly though I don't recall the photograph being taken. We were watching the soldiers disembark. It was a sea of khaki and flags. I remember feeling very excited and saying to my mother, "It's happening at last!" But she was close to tears and I don't think she believed it was really happening.

"My mother never left the house without her hat, gloves and handbag; pinned at the throat of her blouse is a photographic miniature of two of my brothers, Lenny and Neville, which she wore while they were away in the war. Mavis, whom Lenny married before being posted overseas, is wearing a similar miniature of him on her blouse.

"We had made the sign LEN DAY hoping that he might see it as he disembarked. He told us later that he didn't see it. We didn't see him either; we heard that ambulances took some of the soldiers away to the Holsworthy base and from there they were conveyed to their homes."