Northam Army Camp served two specific purposes during World War II:
Training camp for the newly formed Second Australian Imperial Force – the 2nd AIF
Camp for intensive short term training of the Citizens Military Forces
(CMF), including the Volunteer Defence Corps and the military cadets.
After the 2nd AIF left in January 1940, reinforcements trained at Northam Army
Camp before being deployed overseas. Some men came from other states to train
The Commonwealth Government introduced conscription in October 1939 to ensure that
the CMF kept up its strength as members left to enlist in the 2nd AIF. All unmarried
men turning 21 had to complete three month’s military training with the CMF.
The training of the conscripts and volunteer forces ensured that the men would be
in a fit condition for deployment in the field or as mobile reserves.
The Volunteer Defence Corps was also considered a great morale boosting exercise,
allowing those that could not enlist for overseas service the opportunity to
contribute to the war effort.
Governor Lord Gowrie watching members of the 2/16th Battalion train at Northam Army Camp, 1940. Courtesy Western Mail, Christmas Edition, 1940.
Training reinforcements for 2nd AIF, c 1942. Courtesy Elsie Solly
Officers, Northam Army Camp, 1942. Courtesy Elsie Solly
Soldiers in full kit, c. 1943. Courtesy Doug Gildersleeve
WX38049 Douglas Gildersleeve at Northam Training Camp, 1943. Courtesy Doug Gildersleeve
2/11th Battalion at Northam Camp, early 1940. Soldiers had to run down rabbits as part of their exercises. Somewhere in this photo is WX1076 Corporal Finlay Campbell, who enlisted from his hometown of Bridgetown on 4 December 1939. Corporal Finlay spent most of the war as a POW in Germany. He was discharged from the AIF on 10 October 1945. Courtesy Dot Campbell