Martin O’Meara VC arrives back in Australia on this day in 1918

Martin O’Meara arrived at Fremantle on the transport ship Arawa on the morning of 6 November 1918, but the possibility of influenza infection amongst the passengers resulted in Western Australia-bound passengers being transferred by boat on 7 November 1918 to the Woodman’s Point Quarantine Station, 9km south of Perth, for a seven-day quarantine period.

The Arawa pictured at Melbourne in late 1918.

Martin O’Meara was returning to Australia at the request of the Government to assist with recruiting efforts. He hadn’t wanted to return, but seemed to have done so out of a sense of duty and obedience.

The admission registers for the quarantine station record that eight officers and 117 soldiers were admitted for ‘suspected influenza.’There had been an outbreak of influenza on board the Arawa during the voyage: ‘An epidemic of influenza broke out amongst the crew immediately after leaving England. Precautions were taken to prevent spread of disease, and although influenza broke out amongst the troops, it was quickly stamped out.’

The men were quarantined despite the AIF Medical Officers on board the Arawa advising that there were no longer any cases of influenza aboard.392 A contemporary newspaper report noted that five of the men were admitted to the quarantine station’s hospital, one with a suspected case of influenza and four with ‘other complaints’ on 7 November 1918, but that some of the men had already been discharged by 9 November 1919.

Martin O’Meara remained at Woodman Point until 13 November 1918. More information about what actually happened to Martin O’Meara during and after his time at Woodman Point is available in my biography of him.