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Isolation Camp, Ascot Vale

Page history last edited by Lenore Frost 2 years, 5 months ago

The Empire Called and I Answered - the Volunteers of Essendon and Flemington



Guard, Isolation Camp, Ascot Vale, 29 September 1916.  Quite prepared to shoot any measles outbreak.  Courtesy of drakegoodman on Flickr.


The Isolation Camp was established on the Ascot Racecourse, first discussed in August 1915 in this newspaper account:


CAMP ON ASCOT RACECOURSE. (1915, August 3). The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 - 1954), p. 9. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article155002075


This co-incided with an outbreak of cerebro-spinal meningitis in the training camps, and accordingly quickly implemented.   Local residents were unhappy with the thought of the serious and potentially deadly disease right on their doorstep, and complained about it immediately, forcing the local council to become involved.  The military it seems were not best-pleased by having the council health officer demanding entry for inspection, but in the end they possibly realised that it was important to keep the public on their side, and permitted Dr Flanigan from Essendon Council to inspect both the Isolation Camp and the training camp at the Showgrounds. 




Cr. Kinnear in the chair.

The Show Grounds Camp.

The town clerk said that, in accordance with instructions, Dr. P. J. Flanigan, health officer, had reported in connection with the sanitary conditions of the camp at the Show Grounds, a matter which had been temporarily delayed by the opposition of military to civilian inspection. The military officers explained, with regard to the alleged pollution of paddocks to the vicinity of the camp, that ample accommodation was available at the Show Grounds, and that breaches of the regulations by soldiers would be punished. Drains in the vicinity had been cleansed and disinfected. A further inspection of the isolation camp at Ascot Racecourse, where "contacts" were detained temporarily, showed that sanitary arrangements were satisfactory. The tents were well ventilated and the grounds in a cleanly condition. Refuse was destroyed by incineration, and food wastage was removed on a satisfactory plan. Everything in connection with the isolation camp was on complete sanitary lines and no danger to public health was apparent.---The report was regarded as satisfactory and received.


ESSENDON CITY COUNCIL (1915, August 26). The Essendon Gazette and Keilor, Bulla and Broadmeadows Reporter (Moonee Ponds, Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 6 (Morning.). http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article74589861


If a man was found to be ill, his "contacts" in the camp (tent mates particularly) were sent off to an isolation camp for three weeks and checked daily for developing symptoms.  A Cheer-Up Brigade was especially formed to provide comforts for these men kept in isolation.



Portrait of officers and staff, Army Medical Corps, Isolation Camp, Ascot Vale, circa

21 November 1916.    Note the presence of a cheeky cockatoo in this and the next two photos.



Portrait of Army Medical Corps group, Isolation Camp, Ascot Vale, circa 21 November 1916. 



Portrait of Headquarters Staff, Army Medical Corps, Isolation Camp, Ascot Vale, circa 21 November 1916. 

AWM DAX1507.


Isolation Camp, rear of Army Medical Corps Base, circa 1916. AWM DAX1070.  Not clear that this was at

Ascot Vale, but the conditions would have been similar.


A young soldier from Ballarat, Hugh Ramsay Veitch, was sent to the Isolation Camp in 1917 when one of the men in his tent caught the mumps.  He wrote to his sister Tottie inviting her to come to the camp and talk to him over the barbed wire entanglements.  And bring some tomato sauce.


Lieutenant Leslie William Mitchell served as adjutant at this camp from 31 July to 2 November in 1916 before embarking for overseas service. 


Staff Sergeant Adrian Charles Turner served in the Orderly Room at the Isolation Camp from 10 April 1916 to 27 August 1918, before enlisting in the AN&MF and embarking for Rabaul.


XMAS AT THE ISOLATION CAMP. (1918, January 10). Punch (Melbourne, Vic. : 1900 - 1918; 1925), p. 30. Retrieved June 9, 2019, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article130032639

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