A tent that was used by Major Alexander Broun in the West Indies during the closing years of the nineteenth century is now in the collection of the Devonport RSL Club Museum. These conical tents were used extensively by British regiments both at home and abroad for decades. Made of heavy cotton canvas, supported by a central pole and secured by ropes and pegs, the tents were easily erected. The steeply sloping roof was an advantage in winter, with rain and snow less inclined to accumulate, and in fine weather the sides could be rolled up to allow air to circulate freely.
The AIF used bell tents to accommodate troops in training camps in Australia and on active service at Gallipoli, in Egypt and on the Western Front. Tents were practical in terms of providing short-term shelter, as they could be quickly raised and taken down, then folded down to relatively small portable bundles. Larger versions were used as mess tents, hospital wards and accommodation for nursing and medical staff.
Scottish born Major Alexander Aitken Johnstone Broun was a professional soldier who served in the West India Regiment in the Caribbean and with the Middlesex Regiment, before retiring with the rank of Captain and settling at Spreyton in Tasmania in 1912.
He enlisted in the Australian Flying Corps (AFC) with the rank of Major on 10 Jan 1916. The unit sailed for Egypt on the transport Orsova, arriving on 13 April 1916, and he was given command of No. 1 Squadron until 1 June 1916. In England he commanded the newly formed No. 6 Training Squadron, Australian Flying Corps, at Parkhouse between 15 June 1917 and 1 March 1918. The squadron moved several times to Shawbury, Tern Hill and Minchinhampton. His final command was Halefield Training Camp.
In August 1918 Major Broun was brought to the notice of the Secretary of State for War for ‘valuable service rendered’ in connection with the war. He returned on the Kashmir in March 1919.
Devonport RSL Club
Phone: (03) 6424 8170