THE DUG-OUT
ALLIED SERVICES CLUB, CAPITOL HOUSE,
SWANSTON STREET, MELBOURNE
DURING WWII

 

The "Dug-Out" was the Allied Services Club that was operated by the Myer Department Store in the Capitol Building in Swanston Street, Melbourne, Victoria during WWII. It was renowned for holding the best dances and concerts in Melbourne and troops used to meet there as a matter of routine.

 


Scan of Postcard via Mick Cassidy

Postcard - The DUG-OUT"
(Click on photo to enlarge)

 

It closed its doors on 21 December 1945 after providing for more than 5 million Australian and Allied servicemen since its inception. The Duke of Gloucester inspected the "Dug-Out" on 10 December 1945 accompanied by Councillor Connelly, the Lord Mayor of Melbourne prior to its closure.

The "Dug-Out" was a gift from Mr Norman Myer, the Managing Director of the Myer Emporium. In 1942 Norman Myer bought the Ambassador Cafe and the Cozens Cafe under the Capitol Theatre and spent 10,000 Pounds to covert them into a modern Servicemen's Club. Employees of Myers worked there on a voluntary basis day and night during slack periods and in their own time. All the profits from the "Dug-out" went to the Australian Comforts Fund (ACF).

A committee of five overlooked the running of the "Dug-Out":-

Mr Norman Myer
Sir Frank Beaurepaire
Mr. A.H. Tolley
Mr. H.H. Krohn
Mr. H.S. Sloman


AWM Photo ID 136341A

Allied Servicemen using the free telephone service
at the Dug-Out" club in Melbourne on 5 June 1942

 

Laurie Crouch of 30 Squadron RAAF mentioned the "Dug-out" in this diary entry of his:-

29 May 42

A light breakfast at Albury then off to Melbourne on the train that left before the Spirit of Progress. Arrived Melbourne about 1115. Saw Mr Pope and Bruce before lunch. Put  call in for home but unable to get through. Dinner at the Dugout a great place. A spot of shopping then met Bruce at 1630 just after finishing my call home. Tea at Spencer St station and after a bit of wrangling got on the First Division. Lost my fountain pen somewhere.

 


AWM Photo ID 136342

US Servicemen enjoying a sundae at the
milk bar in the "Dug-Out" Club in Melbourne

 

Russ ( Buck) Rogers a former flight Sgt (Ball Turret) air crew with 23 Squadron RAAF flying Liberators in the Southwest Pacific Area. His unit worked with the 380th Bomb Group , 5th AF, USAAC. In a manuscript on his time during WWII he refers to attending the "Dug-Out", a servicemen's club in Melbourne where military personnel could grab a drink, shoe shine, meal and a dance.

 


Photo:- Peter Dunn - 16 October 2009

Bruce Buchan

 

Bruce Buchan told me that he visited the Melbourne Museum many years ago and saw that the visitor's book for the "Dug-Out" was on display. Bruce took down a few names and focused on trying to track down one of the US veterans to tell him about his name being recorded and displayed in the museum. That person was Arnie Anderson, from Des Moines Iowa, who was with the 13th Bomb Squadron, 3rd Bomb Group. Although Arnie died about a month after Bruce started to research him, it did lead Bruce to develop a keen interest in the 3rd Bomb Group. He has attended two 3rd Bomb Group Reunions in the USA in 2008 and 2009.

One specific date that Russ Rogers visited the "Dug-Out" was the day he met his wife who was in the WAAAF. It was love at first sight. Russ cannot remember signing the visitors book but Bruce Buchan will try and find his name and comments.

 


Photo:- Colin Rowley

Colin Rowley sent me this photo of a Myer Dugout Apron that he found in his mother's possession.

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank Colin Rowley, Bruce Buchan, Mick Cassidy and Judy Brown for their assistance with this web page.

 

Can anyone help me with more information?

 

I need your help

Copyright

 Peter Dunn 2015

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This page first produced 13 March 2010

This page last updated 10 August 2015