Tasmanian women held their families together and actively participated in the war effort. They volunteered as nurses’ aides, sold fundraising buttons on street corners, staffed stalls, knitted clothing, made jam and packed parcels to be sent to the front.
A Tasmanian branch of the Australian Red Cross Society was formed in September 1914 after a meeting called by the Lord Mayor of Hobart’s wife, Mrs Meagher. Women joined together packing clothing and food, ‘knitting and stitching, day in and day out’ in more than 100 branches and work circles that were formed around Tasmania. They raised £63,369 (equivalent to about $4,700,000 today) and sent £22,324 ($1,700,000) worth of food, clothing and other goods to serving soldiers. Male volunteers crafted timber goods, including wooden arm and leg splints for returned men in convalescent hospitals.
Fund-raising activities were many and varied. Red Cross members at Woodbridge in the Channel district, asked donors to pay sixpence each to have their signatures embroidered on a table-cloth.
The Red Cross joined the St John’s Ambulance Brigade to oversee women in Voluntary Aid Detachments (VADs). VADs worked in convalescent hospitals and a hostel in Collins Street which was managed by the experienced matron, Margaret Shoobridge.
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