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France’s South Pacific Soldiers in Sydney

The First World War was truly a global war. What brought this home to Australians was seeing troops from other countries, including France’s Pacific colonies, passing through their country on their way to the Front.

Year:1916

Location:The Domain, Sydney

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France’s South Pacific Soldiers in Sydney

The First World War was truly a global war. What brought this home to Australians was seeing troops from other countries, including France’s Pacific colonies, passing through their country on their way to the Front.


Year: 1916

Length: 0:37

Production Company: Australasian Gazette

Source: National Film and Sound Archive of Australia

Catalogue Reference: NFSA title: 120303


Location: The Domain, Sydney

Tags: French colonial troops, Noumea (New Caledonia), Tahiti and the Loyalty Islands, recruitment

Subject: French colonial troops, Noumea (New Caledonia), Tahiti and the Loyalty Islands


The First World was a global war. While the sight of Australian troops travelling to and from other countries was commonplace, foreign troops also passed through Australia on their way to and from the battlefront, helping to raise awareness of the international nature of the conflict. This footage from Sydney’s Domain shows French and Pacific colonial troops (possibly on 15 June 1916) waiting to be inspected by NSW State Governor Sir Gerald Strickland and State Commandant Brigadier-General Ramaciotti. Someone inspecting the troops can be seen toward the end of the clip but it is not possible to identify them.

The first line-up of soldiers are dressed in European-style uniforms. The next group are dressed in light, loose-fitting uniforms designed for the tropics. They appear to be indigenous people from France’s Pacific colonies of Noumea (New Caledonia), Tahiti and the Loyalty Islands.

Although the Pacific Ocean seemed away from the Western Front, a number of naval conflicts took place where France had colonies and resources in the Pacific. On 22 September 1914 the port of Papeete, Tahiti was attacked. The German armoured cruisers SMS Scharnhorst and Gneisenau entered the port and sank the French gunboat Zélée and freighter Walkure before bombarding the town's fortifications.

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France’s South Pacific Soldiers in Sydney

  • Domain, Sydney

  • 0:00

    Intertitle: TO ASSIST IN THE GREAT WAR. French Reserves, from Noumea, Loyalty Islands & Tahiti, line up for inspection in the Domain

  • 0:05

    Troops lined up