Friday, 27 September 2013

The papers are full of war news

Coburg Historical Society member, Lois Williams writes, “My grandparents (from Brunswick) posted these two postcards over to their cousin in England who was in the army there. They seem to have come back to Australia with a lot of other documents when an uncle went over in about 1930.’  

Images courtesy, Lois Williams of Pascoe Vale.

Postcard 1 – “Dear cousin – Our daily papers are full of the war news. They are guarding some of the important places here. When I was in the City on Sunday, I saw four men walking up and down in front of the wireless office, two at the front and two at the side. But the drought here threatens to be worse than the effects of the war, the farmers are all wanting the rain or else their crops will be in a bad way.”

Postcard 2 – “2/11/14.  Dear cousin – Wishing you a Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year.  Our troops are stationed about 3 miles from here at a place called Broadmeadows.  They are in training there. The first lot have gone, we don’t know where to or how many.  Now there is another lot taken their place, not only from Victoria but also from N.S.W. and Q’land.

These are very early postcards, written in the first few months of the war. The first reminds us that domestic concerns were still foremost in many peoples’ minds  (‘the drought here threatens to be worse than the effects of the war’) but by the following April and the Gallipoli landing, no one could deny that the ‘effects of the war’ were to be very bad indeed. 

The Brunswick and Coburg Star, 11 September 1914 records the atmosphere:
‘There is a certain undercurrent of excitement in the city every since the war broke out, and there is always a knot of people in front of the newspaper offices and some extra police on duty in their vicinity, even in day-time, but in the suburbs, save for the flags and other patriotic emblems in some of the shop windows, things are going on just as usual. Now and then you hear one housewife say to another, when they meet on their shopping expedition, “Isn’t this war terrible?”,  but the business people and tradesmen go about their avocations very much the same. Last Sunday afternoon was characterised by beautiful weather, and as one looked at the happy, well-dressed, well-nourished crowds of young and old going to Broadmeadows Camp, in the various reserves and public gardens, it was difficult to imagine they were subjects of and Empire grappling with a foe that had been seeking trouble for years past.’


  1. They are interesting postcards, particularly the messages on the back. It is interesting to speculate what the people and the tradesmen ought to have been doing besides going about their business. People had to eat.

  2. Yes. It's a reminder that food, goods and clothing now had to be provided for the men overseas as well as those at home. And that many of the men who left had been working the land, so I imagine those too young and older men (and women) would have had to pick up the slack. It must also have been tempting for shopkeepers to put up their prices. I'm sure it happened!