Mitcham Army Camp

In 1915, 30,000 pairs of feet drilled, marched, paraded and trained in the area now known as Colonel Light Gardens in preparation for overseas service during WW1. 

It was in April 1915 when a model garden suburb in the area was still on the drawing board, that the army established Mitcham Camp on the three hundred acre Grange Farm  owned by the Mortlock family. 

When Australia first entered WW1, a flood of enthusiastic young men enlisted to “do their bit for their country” in a rush of nationalistic fervour. The Mitcham camp was established after the first camp at Morphettville became overcrowded. Troops from the 27th Battalion marched into Mitcham Camp on 1 April 1915 and the area was soon a sea of tents swarming with thousands of  enthusiastic new enlistees. 

The camp accommodated over 4,000 soldiers training for up to 12 weeks. Field patrols, bayonet fighting, bomb throwing and trench digging were all part of routine training at the camp. The Light Horse camped and cared for their horses near what is now the eastern end of Prince George Parade. 

Camp headquarters were initially in the old four roomed Grange farmhouse. By 1916 Mitcham Camp resembled a large mining town with rows of neat galvanised iron huts, a hospital, camp HQ, a large recreation building run by the YMCA, a Post Office, bank agency, barbers, and religious facilities for many denominations. Sealed roads were named after Adelaide’s main city streets. 

Soldiers regularly marched up Wattlebury Road on training. When the troops assembled at Mitcham Station for embarkation from Outer Harbour, the local community gave them a rousing farewell. Some camp activities were not quite so popular with the locals though. On February 14, 1916 The Advertiser reported that residents from surrounding suburbs were startled by loud explosions as soldiers practised live bomb throwing under simulated war conditions. 

Local resident Ron Lugg recalled his excitement at passing the camp regularly as a boy, eagerly awaiting his 18th birthday when he could enlist. Many of the former students from the Brownhill Creek and Mitcham Primary schools who enlisted, trained at Mitcham Camp. By early 1918, training on home grounds ceased with troops despatched for training in Egypt or England as soon as a ship became available. 

The Mitcham Heritage Research Centre has prepared a series of freestanding interpretive banners to commemorate the centenary of Mitcham Camp. Launched at Colonel Light Gardens Primary School on 27 March the banners were displayed at Colonel Light Gardens RSL during April and at the Drill Hall, Torrens Parade Grounds as part of the ‘At Home’ exhibition during the 2015 SA History Festival.

If your community group or school would like to borrow the banners for a display contact the Local History Coordinator at the Mitcham Heritage Research Centre on 8372 8261.

Contact Us

Tel 08 8372 8888

Fax 08 8372 8101

Email Us

Opening Hours

Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm

Locate Us

PO Box 21

Mitcham Shopping Centre

Torrens Park SA 5062

131 Belair Road

Torrens Park SA 5062


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