Guide to the Entertainment for the Troops Collection


Title: Entertainment for the Troops Collection.

Date range of collection: 1912-1991.

Collection number: Souvenirs 4.

Scope and content note: The collection contains a diverse range of items such as invitations to afternoon teas, dances, dinners, parties and receptions, maps and guides to cities, accommodation and transport, and details of tours and excursions. There is material produced specifically for the troops as well as items of a more general nature, and the collection spans the period from the First World War through to Vietnam.

Provenance: The collection has been acquired over many years, from many different sources and donors.

Extent - Space occupied: 2 boxes (0.4 metres)

Extent - Number of items: 250 items.

Location: Published and Digitised Collections, Research Centre, Australian War Memorial.

Related collections: Concert and Theatre Programs, First World War, 1914-1918; Concert and Theatre Programs, Second World War, 1939-1945.


Administrative information

Processing history: Finding Aid updated and collection re-numbered and re-housed in 2004.

Access: Open.

Publication rights: Contact Curator, Published & Digitised Collections.

Copyright: Contact Curator, Published & Digitised Collections.

Preferred citation: Entertainment for the troops, Australian War Memorial, Souvenirs 4.


  • Concerts
  • Cinema
  • Entertainers
  • Entertainment
  • Variety shows
  • Sightseeing
  • Music
  • Theatre
  • Recreation


Historical background

Entertaining the Troops

A key element in the success or failure of any military endeavour is the morale of the troops. During the First World War it was realised that an important factor in morale was having a wide range of recreations available for the soldier on rest (approximately three-fifths of a soldier's overseas service was spent in the rear of the lines). Faced with the grim reality of conflict, troops sought entertainment as a form of escape, in order to mentally survive and continue functioning effectively. The Second World War saw an even greater emphasis placed on recreation and entertainment as a result of this Great War experience.

Many of the entertainments available to service personnel were intended to remind the troops of home and its normal civilian pursuits, such as dances, parties, dinners, clubs and visits to other establishments providing familiar food and drinks. In this way troops made a connection with the home front and were reminded of what they were fighting for. Sightseeing was also a popular form of entertainment and provided service personnel with the opportunity to visit places that they may otherwise have never been to. These activities included tours of the Holy Land, sightseeing in cities such as London, Paris, Rome and Cairo, and admission to the cricket at Lords or to the State Apartments at Windsor Castle.

Like humans everywhere, troops did what they could to make their lives and environment endurable. As J.G. Fuller says, they had "learned from long experience that it was better to concentrate on pleasures than hardships, that the best way to render tolerable the worst conditions was to make a joke of them, that moments of escape ...should be exploited to the full."


Fuller, J. G. , Troop Morale and Popular Culture in the British and Dominion Armies 1914-1918 (Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1990).

Rickards, Maurice , The Encyclopedia of Ephemera (New York, Routledge, 2000).


SERIES 1: Dinners, lunches and mess dinners, 1912-1991

Description: Invitations to a variety of meals and other entertainments, ranging from a moonlight excursion for the 29th Infantry (Australian Rifles) in 1912, to an invitation to dinner with a Brigade Commander (Unit not specified) in May 1991. (15 items)

Number Contents
1/1/1 29 Infantry (Australian Rifles) Sergeants' Mess, Moonlight Excursion ticket, Sydney, 20 December 1912.
"Mess Rules", translation of captured German WWI document.
24 Australian Infantry Battalion, invitation to Mess opening night, 20 September 1945.
Invitation to dinner honoring Allied Forces in Labuan, 1 September 1945. (2 copies)
Invitation to luncheon on board Blue Funnel liner "Aeneas" for Anniversary Regatta, Sydney, 26 January.
4 Brigade Australian Field Artillery, Sergeants' Mess card for Mess dinner, 28 March 1935.
14 Australian Workshop and Park Squadron RAE, invitation to unit disbandment dinner, 9 November 1948, Hiro, Japan.
Headquarters Signal Mess dinner invitation, December 1917.
No. 5 Manning Depot RCAF, Officers' Mess member card, Lachine, Quebec.
Card: "No. 1 Dining Saloon, First Class, Table no. 8, 1st. sitting".
Invitation for dinner with Brigade Commander, 22 May 1991.
Invitation to Home Warming for Mess of 2/24 Infantry Battalion, 30 December 1942.
Programme for Sgts Mess of 2/24 Battalion.
Invitation/Roll of Officers to cocktail party on board "Queen Mary", 21 November 1941.

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SERIES 2: Parties, 1914-1951

Description: Invitations to parties, cocktail parties, smoke socials, afternoon teas, dinners, a steamer trip, dances, and the theatre. (19 items)

Number Contents
2/1/1 Card: "A Corner of Blighty in Paris".
Card: "A Corner of Blighty for Our Boys from the Front", Paris.
Card: "The Blighty Touch", Ealing.
Card: "Hospitality during Furlough", Australian Red Cross, London.
3 Battalion Tropical Force (Druids), Farewell Dinner for Sir S A Petheridge, Namanula, Rabaul, 12 October 1917.
Officers' Mess, Rabaul, invitation to Boxing Day dinner, 26 December 1917.
Acting Administrator and staff, Rabaul, invitation to steamer trip on SS Madang, 31 December 1917.
Acting Administrator and staff, Rabaul, invitation to social evening on 31 December at Government House, Namanula.
Invitation to Victoria Palace Theatre on 19 October and after at 41 Park Lane, London.
Brigadier and Mrs John W O'Brien, invitation for seasonal greetings and farewell to Sgt Thompson, 28 December.
1 ANZAC Corps School NCOs Mess, invitation to smoke social, 7 November 1917.
4 Australian Tank Regiment Officers' Mess, invitation to cocktail party, 15 November 1941
2nd Convalescent Depot Officers Mess, invitation to cocktail party, 16 October 1941.
6th Australian General Hospital, invitation to afternoon tea celebrating first anniversary in Middle East, 21 November 1942.
6th Australian General Hospital, invitation to Ward F party.
6th Australian General Hospital, invitation to E Ward cabaret dance, 26 August 1943.
The New Nut House, invitation to nightly private party, London.
Major J M Smail and the BCOF staff Kawana Hotel, invitation to cocktail party, 24 March 1951.
QL of C Area, Leave and Transit Depot Officers' Mess, Moorooka, invitation to social evening, 1 March 1946.

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SERIES 3: Receptions and welcomes, 1918 - 1975

Description: Invitations to and programs for receptions and welcomes to troops in England, Australia, Italy and South Africa. (21 items)

Number Contents
3/1/1 Mayoress of Exeter and Committee, card: "Wishing you good luck".
Programme for Welcome Home to the Original ANZACs, Sydney, November 1918.
Duke of the Abruzzi, reception on 19 September for Commonwealth Defence Forces.
3rd Military District, ANZACs on Furlough programme, Victoria, November 1918.
Capetown Citizens Welcome Home Meeting programme, 3 August 1919. (2 copies)
Citizens of Tamworth and District, menu for banquet to returned soldiers, sailors and nurses, 5 February 1921.
University of Sydney, programme for garden party to welcome returned University soldiers, 29 October 1919. (2 copies)
Programme for reception to returned University soldiers, Melbourne, 24 October 1919.
Ribbon: "Welcome to our ANZACs - 1918".
Menu for Booligal district Welcome Home presentation dinner and ball, 7 November 1919.
Warwick Welfare Hospitality Committee, programme and timetable of garden party for Allied forces, Warwick Castle, 30 June 1945.
Warwick Welfare Hospitality Committee, ticket to garden party, Warwick Castle, 30 June 1945.
Acting United Kingdom Political Representative, reception at British Embassy in honour of HM King George VI birthday.
Stanthorpe Girls Club, welcome home in honour of returned soldiers of Stanthorpe and district, 10 October.
RAF Mongwell Park, opening of No. 5 Medical Rehabilitation Unit, Wallingford, UK, 13 July 1945.
Hobart High School, souvenir programme for welcome home to ex-servicemen and women old scholars, 11 December 1946.
R & R Hospitality Service, recognition ceremony, Sydney, 21 January 1972.
Lady Cutler, invitation to meet HRH Princess Margaret at Government House, Sydney, 29 October 1975.
Lord Mayor of Hobart et al, invitation with two supper tickets to a Public Welcome, Hobart City Hall, 31 October 1945.

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SERIES 4: Tourist activities for the troops, 1914-1945

Description: Guidebooks, maps, accommodation and tour information written to inform troops in Great Britain, France, Italy, Egypt, Palestine, South Africa, India, Ceylon, Australia, New Zealand and the United States.

Subseries 1 : FIrst World War, 1914-1918 (18 items)

Number Contents

"Overseas soldier's guide to London", 1918. (2 copies)
1916 train timetable for Egypt (in French).
"Map and guide to ... London", Over-seas Club.
"Half Day tours around London for men on leave". (2 copies)
"Welcome to Cape Town", Visiting Troops Entertainment Committee. (3 copies)
"Hospitality in Britain", Empire Societies' War Hospitality Committee.
"A trip to Camp's Bay", Special leaflet to the Australian and NZ troops, Capetown.
"Tours for convalescent Australian Soldiers in England, Scotland and Ireland", Australian Military Office, 1915.
"Paris for Englishmen and for Americans".
"The Soldier's Companion - A Corner of Blighty", Paris, 1918.
"A Very Short Guide to the [Amiens] Cathedral".
Portion of "London Map, with Places of Interest".
"Durban: the Garden by the Sea", 1917.
Admission ticket and information on the Collegiate Church of the Holy Trinity, Stratford -upon- Avon.

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Subseries 2 : Between the wars, 1918 - 1938 (1 item)

Number Contents
4/2/1 "Official programme of entertainment for Officers and Men of the visiting warships", Victoria Centenary, Melbourne, Oct-Nov 1934.

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Subseries 3 : Second World War, Europe and America, 1939-1945 (11 items)

Number Contents
4/3/1 "Going to London?", issued by Air Ministry.
Map of Central London.
"Hostels and clubs in London welcome you", Air Ministry.
"The Servicemens Pocket Recreation Guide", New York, 1943.
Empire Rendevous and Information Bureau, London.
"Florence" (guide), Eighth Army, 1944.
"Map of subway systems and elevated lines of the city of New York."
"Recreation in war time", US Office of Civilian Defense, 1943.
"Rome: Allied soldiers' souvenir guide", prepared by British Army Education.
"A souvenir of you visit to Venice", prepared by Education, Eighth Army, 1945.
"Hostels, Canteen etc for men and women of the services", Glasgow.

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Subseries 4 : Second World War, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and India, 1939-1945 (16 items)

Number Contents
4/4/1 "Guide to Sydney and Suburbs" American Red Cross.
"Welcome to Cape Town: information for visiting troops". (oversize)
"Welcome to Bombay - No. 4", Hospitality Committee.
"Welcome to Sydney", Merchant Navy.
"Official guide to Sydney for men and women of the services", Australian Comforts Fund.
"Guide to the City of Sydney", British Centre.
"The British Services Guide Book", Sydney.
"Welcome to Auckland", Auckland Metropolitan Patriotic Committee.
"Some useful hints for soldiers arriving in India", Wild Woodbine.
"The Bombay Hospitality Committee welcomes you to Bombay".
"Welcome to Durban", Durban Publicity Association.
"The Australian Association of India welcomes Australian Soldiers to Bombay".
"Colombo - Information for Visiting Troops", Troops Entertainment Committee.
"Visitors Map of Durban".
"What to see and how to go while in Brisbane", Shell Company of Australia.
"Souvenir of the land of the Southern Cross from the United States Army Forces in Australia".

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Subseries 5 : Second World War, Egypt and Palestine, 1939-1945 (10 items)

Number Contents
4/5/1 "Services guide to Cairo". (3 copies)
"Services Guide to Alexandria", 2nd Edition.
"Services Guide to Alexandria", 3rd Edition.
"Modern Cairo - a handy Weekly Guide and shopping list", 1942.
"Palestine - where to go, what to see", The Salvation Army.
"How to speak Arabic without a teacher", Cairo, 1940.
"Cairo" (loose page from a booklet or a guide).

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SERIES 5: Commercial advertisements and publications, 1913-1972

Description: Advertisements for accommodation, restaurants, hotels, tourist attractions, tours, shops, products, auctions and services. While these and similar items would have been seen and used by troops, they were not specifically produced for troops, but rather for any prospective customer, though in some instances, establishments do advertise special rates or arrangements for troops.

Subseries 1 : United Kingdom, 1913-1945 (25 items)

Number Contents
5/1/1 "Map of the Electric Railways of London", The Underground. (oversize)
"London Weekly Diary of Social Events Oct 1 - Oct 7", London Dairy Publications, 1945.
"Prospectus of Joy Flights, Aerial Services, etc.", Lepaerial Travel Bureau, London.
Card: "The Old Curiosity Shop", London.
"Happy Days" humorous card, The Fitzroy Tavern, London
"The Historic and Scenic Railway of England - the Shakespeare Line", Great Western Railway, London, 1911. (oversize)
Ticket: "City of Edinburgh - Gentlemens Lavatory - one penny"
"The Trossachs Tour", Trossachs Hotel, Scotland.
"Route Map and Guide", London General Omnibus Co. Ltd., London. (oversize)
"Map of some Motor-bus Extensions of the London Underground Railways", September 1916.
"Souvenir of an Excursion on the River Thames from London to Teddington", Port of London Authority.
"Visit the lovely Killarney Lakeland of Ireland", The Glebe Hotel. (5 copies)
Shamrock-shaped cardboard token numbered "120", Shelbourne Hotel, Dublin.
"The Royal Historic Mile of Edinburgh", Old Edinburgh Arts and Crafts Store.
"Irish Lace", Convent of Mercy, Killarney, Ireland.
Photographic views of Southhampton, [early 20th century].
Card: "Tariff for the Crown Hotel", Southhampton.
"Madame Tussaud's Exhibition Catalogue", London.
Handbill: "The Chelsea Fair and Prize Drawing", Surgical Requisites Association.
"King George & Queen Elizabeth Victoria League Club for service men from overseas", London.
"Map of London, 1913". (oversize)

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Subseries 2 : Egypt, Palestine and Syria, 1914-1945 (34 items)

Number Contents
5/2/1 Map of Cairo showing "out of bounds" areas for troops. (oversize, 2 copies)
"Les Hotels de la George Nungovich", Cairo.
"Wintering in Egypt", Mena House Hotel, Cairo.
"Palestine Guide: Large map of Palestine and 9 smaller sketches", Olympia, Tel Aviv, 1940.
"Mosque of the Omayyades", Administration des Waqoufs a Damas, Damascus.
"Guide Map of Cairo and shopping guide", Groppi.
Picture card: "No. 70 Nazereth - Jacob's Well near Nablus".
Ticket No. 6123, Australian Soldiers Club, Jerusalem, 1940.
Film processing order card, H. Hindi Photo House, Jaffa.
Advertising card: Imperial Services Information Bureau - Home Entertainment Section, Cairo.
Itineraries of guided tours, Anton Nassar, Jerusalem.
"Memento Jerusalem", Typographia pp. Franciscalium.
Lottery ticket printed in Arabic, Palestine.
Business card, Coo-ee Oriental Souvenirs Store, Tel Aviv.
Business card, Victory Gift Shop.
Film processing docket, Pharmacie Josephides, Tripoli, 1942.
1941 calendar, British Studio, Palestine.
Guided tours card, Anthony R. Rahil, Jerusalem.
Advertising card: "Guided Tours - biblical and historical places", N. Kazzaz, Jerusalem.
Advertising card, Kamel and Abdulhamid Mouhaffel, Syria.
Leaflet promoting advertising (in English, French and Arabic), The AIF News, Middle East.
"Holy Land Tour", Nizar Attieh and Faiz Dakkak, Palestine.
Card: "Fac-Simile and Value of the Egyptian Silver Money", Soldiers Favorite Shop, Cairo.
"Canteen Price List of Goods", Dry Canteen Service, Cairo.
Business card, E and R Schindler - Quality Printers, Cairo.
Business card, S.G. Nassan and Co. - Oriental Articles, Damascus.
Price list, Lappas Freres - Army Contractors, Cairo.
Canteen Price List, Alexander Kosseim and Co. - Army Contractors, Cairo.
1941 Calendar, Al-Razon Cafe-Reestaurant-Bar, Tel Aviv.
Winter sale catalogue: "Grande Mise en Vent Annuelle", Cicurel, Cairo, 1915.
Advertising leaflet for off cast troop horses sale, L. Della Torre, Egypt, 1916.
Advertising leaflet, Military Laundry, Cairo.
"The general view of Damascus".

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Subseries 3 : Europe 1914-1945 (22 items)

Number Contents
5/3/1 Advertising booklet: "Grande Panorama de la Victoire", Pantheon de la Guerre, Paris.
Advertising card: "Sur la Route que va", Brussels.
Card: "History of the Fort of Dinaut", Belgium.
Advertising card, Restaurant des Pyramides Brasserie, Paris.
1919 calendar card, Wood-Milne, [France].
Picture card: "Tomb of Saint Erkembode".
Tourist brochure: "Capri".
Advertising handbill, A tout va bien Public House, Tournai, France, [1944].
Advertising handbill, Sarma restaurant, Tournai, France, [1944]
Advertisement, Hotel du Commerce, Amiens.
Advertising card, Martin Piron - guide to the field of Waterloo, France.
Hotels brochure and map of Florence, Italy.
Advertising card, Louis Photographe, Paris. (2 copies)
Advertising card, Photographie Rembrandt, Paris.
Hotel brochure and map of Rome, Hotel d'Angleterre, Rome.
Card: Mr and Mme Marcel Pillon, France.
Advertising card, Grand Hotel Heins, Lourdes.
Advertising card, Jersey Hotel, Paris.
1915/16 Parfum Floramye calendar card, L.T. Piver, Paris.
Advertising card, Maison Deturck, France.
"Notice Historique sur Paris".

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Subseries 4 : Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India, Ceylon, Panama, Canada and America, 1914-1945  (13 items)

Number Contents

"Birds Eye View of the Panama Canal and Map of Panama".
Blotter card, Rothwells Service Tailors and Outfitters, Brisbane.
Advertising card, Bomanji Ruttonji - Money changer and stamp vendor, Bombay.
1911 Divinia Perfume calendar card, Farmer & Co., Sydney.
Advertising card, Morewitz Bros., Virginia.
Label, Eli Phillips Australian Hotel, Melbourne.
Price list, Eastmann Kodak, New York.
Business card, B. Gajanayake - Jeweller, Colombo.
Blotter card, R.S. Brandham - Military Tailor, Toronto.
1901 calendar card, P. Chandiram - Silk Merchant, Colombo.
Advertising card, Seeroomul Topandas - Merchant, Colombo
Price list, Petersham Inn Hotel - Lounge De Luxe, Sydney.
"Information for returned soldiers" with compliments P.D. Prider & Co., Tailors and Mercers, Adelaide.
Kodak negative folder, "They come out best on Kodak film", Lahore, India.
Advertising card, Country Leave Club, South Yarra

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Subseries 5 : British Commonwealth Occupation Force (BCOF), 1946-1951 (11 items)

Number Contents
5/5/1 Advertising handbill, Bar London, Ebisu, Japan.
BCON Christmas and New Year Souvenir (newsletter), Japan, 1946.
Membership card, RAASC Wheelies Club, Japan.
Sketch-Map of the Kyushu Railway District, Japan, 1947.
Advertising card, Hotel Hinago, Beppu, Japan. (2 copies)
19th Inf., blank hotel docket, Beppu, Japan. (2 copies)
8th Army pamphlet, GI Tours and points of interest in Central Tokyo, 1946.
Tourist brochure and map of Beppu hot springs resort, Kyushu. (Japanese language).
Guide booklet, Miyajima rest and convalsecent centre.

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Subseries 6 : Vietnam War, 1962-1973 (4 items)

Number Contents
5/6/1 R & R Guide to Taipei and Taiwan.
Invitation, Lions Club Saigon East, Saigon, 1968.
Advertising card, All Barber Shop 69, Vung-Tau.
Advertising card, Ngoc-Nga (Jade Angel) Hotel-Restaurant-Bar, Vung-Tau.

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SERIES 6: Admission tickets for entertainment, 1914-1945

Description: Tickets to enter tourist attractions, sporting events, concerts, theatres, cinemas, and lotteries. (22 items)

Number Contents

Smoke concert ticket.
Ticket No. 0628, Crac Des Chevaliers, France.
Ticket: one seat to Bethlehem and Mt. of Olives, Hazou and Jallouk. (2 copies)
Ticket: one seat to Jericho, River Jordan and Dead Sea, Hazou and Tallouk.
Ticket to Modern Cinema, Villers-Bretonneux, France.
Ticket to an Entertainment for 3rd Echelon GHQ EEF, Alhumbra Theatre, Alexandria, 1917.
Military Ticket - no. 9738, Exhibition of War Trophies, date stamped November 1918.
Ticket to Tower of London.
Garden chair ticket, London.
RAAF: Ticket for Australian enclosure, Lords Cricket Ground, London, 1945.
Lottery ticket, L'Association Internationale d'Assistance Publique du Caire, Cairo, 1916.
Ticket: Grand Picture Show, Franklin Town Hall.
Admit bearer to State Apartments, Windsor Castle, 10 April 1917.
Admit bearer to State Apartments, Windsor Castle, 17 April 1917.
Admit bearer to State Apartments, Windsor Castle, 9 July 1918.
Admit bearer to State Apartments, Windsor Castle, 6 August 1918.
Admit bearer to State Apartments, Windsor Castle, 7 January 1919.
Admit bearer to State Apartments, Windsor Castle, 28 January 1919.
Admit bearer to State Apartments, Windsor Castle, 18 March 1919.
Palestine Orchestra symphony concert at Julis, 16 October 1941.
Ticket for Cinema Rex, Palestine
Pass out, Criterion Theatre, Durban, South Africa.



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SERIES 7: Entertainment aboard ship, 1939-1945

Description: Souvenirs of entertainment held on ships. Some items include Rolls of Officers and some are autographed. (9 items)

Number Contents
7/1/1 Memento / Roll of Officers, HT Queen Mary, 2 November 1940
Souvenir of a Masonic Gathering, HMT Orion, 4 December 1940.
Souvenir of Christmas Gathering / Roll of Officers, HMT Empress of Canada, 24 December 1940.
Memento of Cocktail Party / Roll of Officers, HT Queen Mary, 10 January 1941.
Memento of Cocktail Party / Roll of Officers, HT Queen Mary, 22 July 1941.
Memento of Cocktail Party / Roll of Officers, HT Queen Mary, 20 September 1941.
Memento of Cocktail Party / Roll of Officers, HT Queen Mary, 21 November 1941. (2 copies)
Informal gathering of Masonic Brethren, HMT Ile de France, 10 February 1943.