Wednesday, 31 December 2014

New Year's Eve - one hundred years ago

New Year 1915, Cairo...

How did the Australian troops celebrate New Year's Eve in Egypt in 1914?  According to Bert Smythe, camped at Mena near Cairo, "seeing the New Year in was rather tame. Lights were not allowed in the tents. The [army] bands turned out & played various Australian airs."

What did everyone want?   
Just victory, as this enlistment poster showed?
I'm sure they wanted much more - most likely, time with their families and sweethearts. Later in the war, when Australian soldiers were serving in France, they sent silk embroidered postcards, like the ones here, to their loved ones.

source: Sydney War Memorial

New Year is the chance to start afresh.
For me, it's the beginning of a few weeks' holiday, which in recent years I've spent writing fiction, while also spending time with my teenagers. Isn't it wonderful how they sleep all morning, freeing one to write while ideas are fresh and energy is high? By the time they're up and doing, I'm well on my way to completion of the day's writing goal. ;)

If you're spending time with family, or working on writing projects like me, I hope you enjoy the time you have. Whatever you're planning, may this new year bring you happiness, health and prosperity.
Happy New Year!

'Letters from Bert, 1 Jan 1915', <>, accessed 29 November 14.
Enlistment Poster - eBay - for sale 30 December 2014.
Australian War Memorial, <>, accessed 30 December 2014.
World War I Silk Embroidered Postcards, <>, accessed 30 December 2014.
Sydney War Memorial. March 2014.

Monday, 22 December 2014

Christmas 1914 for Australian troops

They thought they would be home for Christmas...

For most of Australia's troops, Christmas 1914 was spent in Egypt, New Guinea or in training camps in Australia. The first AIF arrived in Egypt in November 1914 and were camped near Cairo. Others were in German New Guinea, which had been captured in September.

Source: Australian War Memorial, Image PS0677
At home, concerned ladies put together "comfort packages" for troops in New Guinea. One soldier encamped at Fort Lytton near Brisbane requested that the ladies also send these care packages to the troops at that camp.
Overseas, Princess Mary, daughter of King George V and Queen Mary, organised a Christmas gift for all members of the British, colonial and Indian Armed Forces for Christmas 1914. This initiative had strong financial support from the public and more than 2,620,000 were distributed.
The gift was a rectangular brass tin with a decorated hinged lid. It contained tobacco, lollies, spices, pencils, a Christmas card and a picture of the Princess. Once the goods were consumed, the troops used the tins for storing other items. Today, they are collectors items.
What would you have sent in a comfort package to the armed forces in World War I?

Source: Australian War Memorial

'First World War', Australian War Memorial, <>, accessed 29 Nov 2014.
 'Princess Mary's Gift', Nundah & Districts Historical Society Inc Bulletin, Dec 2014, p. 4
'Christmas Cheer for the Troops' The Brisbane Courier, 1 Dec 1914, p. 6.
'Princess Mary of England', The Queenslander, 19 Dec 1914, p. 21.
'Australian occupation of German New Guinea', <>, accessed 29 Nov 14.
'Letters from Bert, 27 Dec 1914', Australian War Memorial, <>, accessed 29 Nov 2014.