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By JOL Admin | 3 December 2013

“The Brisbane girl of war time should make a splendid woman, for she is spending her youth in a heroic and self-sacrificing age.  The silken tassel of her girlhood has been torn and all the treasure of her youth thrown into the arena of war service.”

One often forgets that war is fought not only by soldiers on the front line, but by those left behind. The book “For the Sake of the Soldier” by Rita Macleod details how Brisbane women supported the Great War through voluntary work.  It conveys how this reaction was founded on feelings of love and gratitude for those men enduring the hardships of the trenches. Written towards the end of the war, detailed written descriptions are reinforced by advertisements and photographs of the time.

This interesting book describes in detail the many Brisbane organisations women established or participated in during the war and the way in which they contributed to the war effort through these organisations. Brisbane contained 34 branches of the Red Cross where women organised packages including food, clothing and medical supplies for the sick and wounded in hospitals both at home and overseas.  Money was raised through Girls’ Clubs located in the CBD, Hamilton, New Farm and Toowong.  “Comfort” packages including clothing, food and cigarettes were prepared for soldiers in the trenches when the Queensland Division of the Australian Soldiers’ Comforts Fund was established in Brisbane in 1915.  Women joined the Brisbane Spinning Guild to spin wool for socks to send to men overseas as spun wool was scarce and expensive.  Women supported the Imperial Service Club which entertained thousands of recruits between 1914 and 1916 and helped look after returned soldiers by supporting the Red Cross Workshop located at Kangaroo Point and the Residential Club located in Brisbane.

In this book Rita Macleod transports the reader back into a time of great self-sacrifice which was not overlooked by the women of Brisbane.

“Into the domestic trend of their lives came the shadows of battle and strife and death, and they waved goodbye to their sons, brothers, and lovers, with a vague feeling that they had gone forth to meet danger, and it was for their country.  Then came battle news and casualty lists, and the doubting fears broke into grief and sorrow and daily anxiety, from which emerged an unfathomable reverence for the man who will die for his country”.

You can view the digitised version of “For the Sake of the Soldier“ via our OneSearch Catalogue”.

Rebecca Kilner – Library Technician, State Library of Queensland.


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