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Fruit, meat, wool and horses for Allied troops

By JOL Admin | 16 March 2015

Loading wool bales on Isis Downs Station, 1915

Loading wool bales on Isis Downs Station, 1915

In mid-March 1915, a number of articles in Queensland's newspapers provided a clear picture of how the local economy was being impacted by the demands of war. Primary industries across Australia were providing much needed supplies for the Allied forces in Europe, and the newspapers reported particular demand for fruit, meat, wool and horses.

On the 10th March, the Queensland Times reported that the Defence Department intended to commandeer the entire output of various woollen mills throughout the Commonwealth for an indefinite period. Mill owners and managers were willingly undertaking to do all in their power to fulfil the Defence Department requirements, despite the strain that would be felt in order to meet the needs of the military authorities. The article emphasised that the requirements of the Defence Department for each soldier going on active service did not cease with that soldier's departure. Every three months at the front the soldier was to be supplied with a full new uniform, which meant many thousands of reserve uniforms. New contingents also needed uniforms.

The Defence Department required as soon as possible 1,112,000 yards of flannel, 200,000 woollen singlets, and 220,400 woollen drawers. The outputs of New South Wales, Queensland and Tasmanian woollen mills were already entirely requisitioned, with South Australian mills to follow. The Queensland Times confirmed that all the woollen manufacturing agencies in Ipswich were in full operation. The Queensland Woollen Manufacturing Company's factory at North Ipswich employed about 130 hands; Messrs. Bishop and Woodward in East Street employed about 180 hands; and Mr. Morris's mill at Tivoli Hill, with around 25 employees, was turning out about 3000 yards of flannel a week. Most of the work involved fulfilling of orders for military requirements.

On the 13th March, The Queenslander reported that the fruit growers of Tasmania were contributing cases of fruit for the troops in France and Belgium, and that at least 10,000 cases would be sent. Consignments were to be sent with every fruit steamer, and the shipping companies were carrying the fruit free of charge.

Unloading meat from the hold of the ship, South Brisbane, Queensland, ca. 1915

Unloading meat from the hold of the ship, South Brisbane, Queensland, ca. 1915

On the 13th March The Queenslander also reported that meat would now be sold to the Imperial Government and exported for the use of British forces. In New South Wales, the State Government took possession of 43,000 carcases of frozen mutton on behalf of the Imperial authorities, under the Meat for the Imperial Army Uses Act. 300,000 carcases stored in freezing chambers in Sydney were also awaiting ships to transport them to Europe.

In Victoria, a cable message had been received from the Imperial Government, accepting the terms for the sale of meat offered by meat exporters through the Department of Agriculture, and henceforth all meat would be consigned to the Imperial Government.

Lastly, on 12th March, The Northern Miner (Charters Towers) reported that a Captain Hankey, of the English Remount Commission, and appointed to buy horses in Australia, had arrived in Rockhampton. On Tuesday 9th March he had inspected 100 horses belonging to Mr. F. Beasley, at Messrs Denham Bros.' sale yards, and purchased all but three of them. He then proceeded to the Rockhampton Agricultural Society's Show Grounds for a private inspection arranged by Messrs R. F. Duncan and Co. Of the 30 to 35 horses he saw there, he purchased 20. Those present commented that the Captain was a good judge of horse, paid a fair price, and seemed pleased with the war-seasoned type of horse in the district - five to twelve years old, broken into work, and 15 to 16 hands high. Captain Hankey then proceeded to Gladstone, then Toowoomba to inspect more horses before returning to Rockhampton.

Soldiers and horses at Frasers Paddock in the Enoggera Camp prior to embarkation, Queensland, 1915

Soldiers and horses at Frasers Paddock in the Enoggera Camp prior to embarkation, Queensland, 1915

Robyn Hamilton - QANZAC100 Content Curator, State Library of Queensland


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