Wednesday July 17, 2013

Mosman Drill Hall

Mosman Drill Hall has been extensively refurbished to become Mosman’s new recreation and community venue, part of a spectacular site that is home to the Marie Bashir Sports Centre, all-weather netball courts and new walking and bike paths in Rawson Park.

The drill hall wasn’t always a place for recreation and recently Local Studies staff were contacted by John Marshall, a retired officer in the Royal Australian Army Corp of Signals (A Res) who shed some light on its history having spent a number of years posted to the Mosman Drill Hall in Cross Street.

Marshall sent some photos he had taken in April 1979 of the Army Drill Hall and buildings on the Cross Street site and also a 1968 photo of signal vehicles being prepared for an exercise ‘Operation Breakaway’ (see below).

Mosman Drill Hall on flickr (High resolution)

The Mosman Drill Hall precinct was dedicated for defence purposes as part of the larger Middle Head and Georges Heights defence site, strategically placed to defend the approaches to Sydney Harbour.

The drill hall was erected in 1913, one of the earliest erected in NSW by the Commonwealth government to enable the military training of the Citizens Forces. Home to a number of army units until post WW2 the Army training depot then became a Signals unit providing communication between the Army and the Air force. The regular army occupied the drill hall on a day to day basis and on weekends the army was supplemented by the Citizens Military Forces.

A more detailed history, courtesy of the Royal Australian Corps of Signals Association, can be found in Mosman Library’s Local Studies vertical file on the Mosman Drill Hall Precinct and thanks to John Marshall whose historic photographs can now be found in Trace our recently launched Local Studies Digital Archive

The early military presence in Mosman managed to preserve the bushland along Mosman’s foreshores which might have otherwise been developed. Today the military buildings are being restored and retained for the community.

It is donations like these photographs that add substance and a story to Mosman’s rich military history and provide a record that is preserved in Mosman Library’s Local Studies collection.

— Posted by Mary Lou Byrne in  |  Permalink

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