Black & white copy of an original photograph of a group of RAAF personnel digging trenches while stationed at the Exhibition Building (designated 1 School of Technical Training or 1 STT), Carlton Gardens, at Easter, 1942. (Easter Sunday was 5 April in 1942). It is inscribed 'Clem Gill & Jack Van Emden, standing / Teddy Hammil / Don Barker / Dennis Varigos / & Happy Walton / Exhibition Easter '42 / 22 IM Course.' This refers to the 22 Instrument Makers course, which Jack's service record indicates he completed while based at 1 STT.

Several of the men appear in the related photograph (SH 960567) in which they are depited holding a sign which reads 'R.A.A.F Trench Diggers 1942 Champ Team' with the names of the four servicemen in the corners: Keightley, Hammill, Varigos and Walton. These are probably Graham Douglas Keightley, Ted Hammill, Dennis John Varigos and Alan Laurence Walton.

The formal wartime occupation of the Exhibition Building began in October 1940, when it was requisitioned for the RAAF under the National Security (General) Regulations. Partitioning work began in January 1941, and on 15 March the RAAF No.1 School of Technical Training was moved to the Exhibition Building from West Melbourne Technical School. The School would occupy the Building between 1941-1945, first under the command of Wing Commander R.G. Francis (17 March 1941 - 8 October 1945) and subsequently Flight Lieutenant B.H. Pascoe (13 October - 22 November 1945). The RAAF occupation of the site continued after the war when No.1 Personnel Depot under the command of Wing Comander R.K. Bazley (27 October 1945 - 8 October 1946) was based at the Building.

Description of Content

Six members of No.1 School of Technical Training, RAAF, digging trenches at the Exhibition Buildings. Most are wearing military shorts, but but bare-chested, standing in, or atop, zig-zagging trenches in the area on the northern side of the building.

Physical Description

Black and white gloss photograph of young men, in military shorts, mostly bare-chested, one wearing a shirt, digging a trench in the grounds of the REB. Other men working on trenches in the background. They are surrounded by a high wire fence. In the foreground a corrugated fence. In the far background a row of trees. On reverse, handwritten, the names of some of those in the photograph and the year 1942.


From 1940 to 1946 the Exhibition Building was occupied by the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) as No.1 School of Technical Training, and subsequently as No.1 Personnel Depot. About 500 to 700 lived in for varying periods of time. The site was also used by the WAAAF. This photograph records one of the many ways in which the Royal Exhibition Building has been used since its construction in 1880. The building's size and space proved vital in times of crisis, such as World War II and the 1919 influenza pandemic, times of celebration such as Federation and the great exhibitions of the 1880s and for sport, such as the 1956 Olympics. In this way, the Royal Exhibition Building has played a central role in the social/commercial life of Melbourne.

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