Summary

World War I-era game board titled 'With the Diggers'. It is a 'race to the finish' style of game, where players likely roll a die (or similar) and move a token a number spaces on the board. A player can land on a blank space, or the space may contain an instruction that either impedes or aids the player's progress around the board. The game concludes with the player returning to Australia on leave - indicating that it was made during war-time.

The battles named on the game board are listed in roughly chronological order, beginning with Gallipoli in April 1915 and ending with the capture of the Hindenburg Line in October 1918, all significant engagements for the Australian Forces. The battles are interspersed with typical milestones of a soldier’s experience including enlistment, embarkation, promotions, being invalided to England, withdrawing for rest and returning home. Some of the drawings are based on photographs, including the drawing titled ‘Emden on the Shore - Keeling Island -‘ (see photograph of Emden wreck - AWM H18852) and drawing titled ‘Entry of the Australians into Bapaume’ (see photograph of The Band of the 5th Australian Infantry Brigade passing through Bapaume on 19 March 1917 [AWM E00426], a photograph that received wide publicity at the time).

The manufacturer and date of manufacture of this board game is unknown, although the content strongly suggests 1918. No maker’s name or patent number appears on the board. Similar games were being produced by the National Game Company, based in Melbourne, including the World War I-themed ‘Commonwealth Navy’ and ‘Dug Outs and Trenches’ games. However, most National Game Company products carried a company logo in the shape of a shield. The National Game Company was said to have been the first large-scale manufacturer of locally-designed board games in Australia.

Physical Description

A square game board made of thick card, with a fold line in the centre. The rear side of board is covered in a royal blue semi-gloss finish, which becomes the outer cover when folded. The fold is covered with red paper tape. On the right-hand half of the outer cover is a rectangular sticker featuring the game title written in black text. The sticker also features a silhouetted scene of soldiers with field artillery shaded by the canopy of a large tree, against a yellow, sunny background. On the flip side of the board is the game surface, bordered in royal blue. The game features a yellow path divided into 67 spaces, numbered sequentially beginning in the bottom-right hand corner of the board and spiralling once around the board towards the centre. The path includes blank spaces to land on, and spaces that contain a short description of a wartime event with instructions that either impede or aid the player’s progress. In each corner, and in the centre of the board are colour drawings of scenes of camps and sea, air or land battles. Its tokens or pieces are missing.

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