The ANZAC Club and Buffet in London

On this day in 1916 the ANZAC Club and Buffet was re-opened at new premises in London by Andrew Fisher, Australia’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, and a former Australian Prime Minister.

The ANZAC Club and Buffet had been established in 1915 to provide refreshments for the numerous AIF members who passed through London during the First World War. It had originally been located in Horseferry Road, where the AIF Administrative Headquarters was located.

At the ANZAC Club in London with Pte Jackson VC

The re-opening was also attended by Private Martin O’Meara (if the 16th Battalion) and Private Bill Jackson (of the 17th Battalion), recent Australian Victoria Cross recipients. The Australasian newspaper later reported that ‘There was a large attendance, including two V.C.’s – Private Jackson and Private O’Meara – who had a rapturous reception.’

Martin O’Meara and Bill Jackson were photographed together being served refreshments at the re-opening.

Bill Jackson had lost his right arm as a result of a wound received earlier in 1916, and the photograph seems staged to hide his right side and the absence of his arm.

Further information on the ANZAC Club and Buffet is available here and further information on Martin O’Meara VC, who is the subject of a biography that I recently published, is available here.

100 Years since Martin O’Meara’s VC is Announced

Today marks 100 years since Martin O’Meara’s Victoria Cross was announced.

On 8 September 1916, whilst he was recovering from wounds at the 3rd London General Hospital at Wandsworth in London, the announcement was made that Private Martin O’Meara had been awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions at Pozières and Mouquet Farm the previous month. The announcement was made in the official London Gazette:

HIS MAJESTY THE King has been graciously pleased to award the Victoria Cross to the undermentioned soldier:-

No. 3970 Private MARTIN O’MEARA

For most conspicuous bravery. During four days of very heavy fighting he repeatedly went out and brought in wounded officers and men from “No Man’s Land” under intense artillery and machine gun fire. He also volunteered and carried up ammunition and bombs through a heavy barrage to a portion of the trenches, which was being shelled at this time. He showed throughout an utter contempt of danger, and undoubtedly saved many lives.

Martin O'Meara at Wandsworth Hospital September 1916 (AWM)
Martin O’Meara at Wandsworth Hospital in September 1916 (AWM)

Shortly after the Victoria Cross was announced, O’Meara was photographed at Wandsworth by the press.

One particular photograph, obviously staged for the camera, shows O’Meara being congratulated by other patients.

Four other Australian Victoria Crosses were announced at the same time: to Lieutenant Arthur Blackburn (of the 10th Battalion for action at Pozières), Private Bill Jackson (of the 17th Battalion for action near Armentières), Private John Leak (of the 9th Battalion for action at Pozières), and Private Thomas Cooke (of the 8th Battalion, posthumously, for action at Pozières). My new biography of Martin O’Meara tells the story of his life from growing up in County Tipperary, Ireland, through to his death at 50 years of age in Perth, Western Australia.