British teams arrive for the 1938 Empire Games

Image: England team parading through Sydney after arriving by ship for the 1938 Empire Games.


After a 40-day journey by ship on the R.M.S. Ormonde, on January 13, 1938, the teams from England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland arrived in Sydney for the third Empire Games.


By David Tarbotton

The teams, second to arrive behind South Africa and Rhodesia, were very early for the Games which opened on February 5, but they were restricted by their arrival date due to the shipping schedule. All teams, which arrived by ship, were welcomed to Sydney with a parade through the city to their accommodation. The men were housed at the Sydney’s Royal Agricultural Showground, while the women were in two hotels in Kings Cross.

Two days before the Ormonde docked in Sydney Harbour, they visited Melbourne where the team trained briefly at West Park. Five members of the team did not board the ship to travel to Sydney, with three cyclists riding overland to Sydney and another two team members missing the ship’s departure by 10 minutes.

The journey had commenced on 4 December 1937, when the ship departed Tilbury Docks near London and the teams would not arrived home until late March, a four-month trip. The teams trained on deck on the occasions they arrived at ports. Christmas was spent in Colombo and the journey across the Indian Ocean took nearly five days.

Eighty years late this journey by plane takes less than 25 hours.




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