These troops were the advance party of the Australian 6th Division - 47 officers and 58 other ranks, along with a party of New Zealand forces -25 officers and 88 other ranks. The latter had boarded in Sydney.
Leading the Australian contingent was Colonel George Vasey, later promoted Major General, and General Blamey. Both Blamey and Vasey would serve in the Greek campaign with the rest of the 6th Division, Vasey leading the Allied forces against the invading Germans at the Battle of Vevi in Greece in 1941. Vevi would be the first encounter between Australian and German troops since 1918.
As these first Australian troops departed from Port Melbourne they would be walking in the footsteps of their forebears, the diggers who left Port Melbourne for Lemnos and Gallipoli, for Egypt and Western France.
These troops would be the first of the over 993,000 Australians who served in the armed forces during the war. Some 27,073 would be killed in action or died on active service, 23,477 wounded and 30,560 taken prisoner, with 8,296 dying in captivity.
Lest we forget.
Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee
Below are some images from the Australian troops departure in 1939 - leaving their camp at the Melbourne Showgrounds to Port Melbourne (reproduced courtesy of the Australian War Memorial).
Today's Media Release from Australian Veterans Affairs Minister: