Anzac Buffet scrapbook

Place Europe: United Kingdom, England, Greater London, London
Accession Number PR06413
Collection type Private Record
Record type Collection
Measurement 5 custom sized boxes: 45 cms.
Object type Scrapbook
Place made United Kingdom: England, Greater London, London
Date made 1915-1919
Access Open
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

Item copyright: Copyright expired - public domain

Public Domain Mark This item is in the Public Domain

Copying Provisions Copying permitted subject to physical condition

Collection consists of a scrapbook from the Anzac Buffet in London, 1915-1919. Once a large bound book, due to significant water and mould/mildew damage this has been broken down into three volumes for preservation purposes. It is part autograph book and part scrapbook and may have begun life as a sign in book for visitors to the Anzac Buffet in London, as many pages are well laid out, while others have the names randomly inserted, possibly at a later date. Most signatures have been written directly in the book, a few have been pasted in. The entries are generally undated, and many include the number, rank, signature, unit and award/s where applicable of thousands of Australians and some New Zealanders, although in some instances water and mildew / mould have damaged the inscriptions. For those who received awards, it sometimes includes a piece of ribbon associated with that award. These were probably sourced by Mrs Rattigan or some may have been gifted by the recipients themselves as a thank you. In some instances the recipient had already received the award, in other instances the award abbreviations have been added in another hand – probably Mrs Rattigan.

Among the names are senior officers, including Lieutenant General Sir John Monash, Lieutenant General Sir Joseph Talbot Hobbs, Lieutenant General Sir William Birdwood and also many Victoria Cross recipients. Ernest Corey – the only recipient of the Military Medal four times has also signed the book. On one page is a list of several names of visitors to the Anzac Buffet’s canteen that was opened in late 1916 at 2 Australian Auxiliary Hospital (2 AAH) in Southall, London. This hospital was a specialist hospital for fitting artificial limbs and caring for amputees.

At the beginning of the book is a thank you letter to the Anzac Buffet from Lieutenant General Sir William Birdwood. Several of the early pages of the scrap book have come from a booklet produced by the Anzac Buffet, likely in 1919, to commemorate their activities and includes images and autographs, some published in the booklet and others glued in by Mrs Rattigan. The booklet also includes the names of those who volunteered at the Anzac Buffet during its time in London. Near the end of volume three is a handwritten list of those with over four years’ service with the Anzac Buffet.

As well as signatures, the book contains many photographs of soldiers who visited the Buffet (most are named and some have subsequent annotations if the person died or received an award), some scenes for the Western Front, images of the Anzac Buffet and some of its activities, and includes a few photographs of Mrs Rattigan herself and one of her husband, Alan Mansell Rattigan, who served as an officer in the British Army.

The book also contains textile and paper thank you notes and gifts, including a piece of aircraft fabric from a German aircraft shot down near Flers and a purple souvenir textile to the Buffet with an appliqued embroidered Australiana motif, with a Kangaroo and blue ensign – the same as one found on some examples of French embroidered silk postcards. It also includes Christmas cards, menus and other ephemera. Significantly, it includes an invitation to Mrs Rattigan from William Buckley to attend the investiture of his Victoria Cross from King George V at Buckingham Palace in 1919.

As well as the three volumes of the book, the original leather cover and metal rising sun badge attached to it have been retained and are housed separately, along with some preservation photographs and negatives showing the original water-damaged condition of the book before conservation treatment.

History / Summary

The Anzac Buffet was established by the London branch of the Australian Natives Association - an organisation of ex-patriot Australians, and opened in late 1915 to provide free meals and entertainment to Australian and New Zealand servicemen in London. At that time the bulk of the Australian forces were still in Egypt and Gallipoli and the Buffet would have catered more towards convalescing soldiers from the Gallipoli campaign, and a small number of Australians attached to units in France. The Anzac Buffet was originally located at 70 Victoria Street, then within two months moved to 130 Horseferry Road. In September 1916, it was relocated to 94 Victoria Road. Ostensibly this was because the original premises were required by military headquarters. However it was felt by some that the military did not want any competition for their newly opened Australian Soldiers' Club located nearby. The Club charged for meals and other comforts, while the Buffet continued to provide free meals and entertainment throughout the war.

The Buffet was open seven days a week and early on Mrs Rattigan ran the Buffet for two of those days a week, from 6am to 10.30pm. The staff at the Buffet generally fed and entertained 1000 Australian servicemen a day. In addition to serving meals, the Anzac Buffet had billiard, reading and music rooms. A highlight for Mrs Rattigan came on 20 November 1915 when she ran an event for six Australian and New Zealand Victoria Cross recipients; Hugo Throssell, Frederick Tubb, William Symons, Cyril Bassett, Leonard Keysor and John Hamilton.

The Buffet finally closed its doors for good on the 29th November 1919.