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Gallipoli’s wounded return to Wellington

On 15 July 1915 the transport ship Willochra brought the first group of men wounded in the Gallipoli campaign back to a civic reception in Wellington. Seeing the bandaged and traumatised men paraded in the city’s Town Hall made a big impact on young Max Riske, who was taken to the reception by his mother. Sixty years later, he vividly recalled how the experience changed opinions about the war for him and many other Wellingtonians.

Year:1915 (Recorded 1981)

Location:Wellington, New Zealand

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Gallipoli’s wounded return to Wellington

On 15 July 1915 the transport ship Willochra brought the first group of men wounded in the Gallipoli campaign back to a civic reception in Wellington. Seeing the bandaged and traumatised men paraded in the city’s Town Hall made a big impact on young Max Riske, who was taken to the reception by his mother. Sixty years later, he vividly recalled how the experience changed opinions about the war for him and many other Wellingtonians.


Year: 1915 (Recorded 1981)

Length: 01:38

Source: Radio New Zealand collection, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Catalogue Reference: 24272 Looking back : interview with Marcus Riske.


People: Marcus (Max) Riske

Location: Wellington, New Zealand


Image Title: "Welcome Home", Evening Post, 15 July 1915, p.6

Image Source: Papers Past


Thousands of people gathered at the Wellington wharves to greet the troopship Willochra on July 15 1915. The government had declared a half-day holiday and despite the trauma and injuries the men had suffered at Gallipoli, a triumphant welcome was arranged for them, with a procession through the city’s streets and a reception in the Town Hall.

In a 1981 recording in the radio collection of Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision, educator Jack Shallcrass interviews Max Riske, a fellow Wellington teacher and lecturer, who was taken as a young boy by his mother to see the men at the Town Hall reception.

A special Red Cross Train was organised to return troops who lived beyond Wellington to their hometowns. The train departed in the evening, straight after the reception, for a number of provincial North Island centres. Further crowds lined the Main Trunk railway line and greeted this train at each stop. On 17 July 1915 the Willochra sailed again, this time for Lyttelton to take South Island men to their homes.