Sunday, 22 March 2015

Women's war work in the Coburg area

I have already written about the patriotic work of groups such as the Coburg Branch of Red Cross who worked hard to support the Glenroy Military Hospital (a Red Cross Hospital). 

Glenroy Military Hospital with Red Cross at front. 
Image courtesy Broadmeadows Historical Society.

I've written, too, about the individual efforts of women such as Linda Davis, crowned Queen of Soldiers for her fund-raising efforts.

Table Talk, 2 August 1917, p.18.

Just recently, I have begun looking more closely at the work of the Coburg Branch of the Red Cross, which was established in 1915 and was presided over by Mrs Marie Davis, wife of the then Mayor (and mother of Linda, mentioned above). She was succeeded by the next Lady Mayoress, Mrs Hackett, from October 1915 to August 1916. 

Mrs Lillie Richards, the next Mayor’s wife, then took over, but the Coburg Branch was then informed that they had to form an elected executive and the Presidency moved to Mrs Alice Wood, who won the election. 

Alice Wood remained in the position until at least the end of the war, and possibly later still. Alice Wood, widow of a former Sale Prison Governor and mother of nine, owned a Sydney Road draper’s and milliner’s business, had four sons at the war and five daughters at home.

Alice Wood of Sydney Road, Coburg and her four soldier sons. Back row left to right: Charl and Stan. Front row left to right: Carl, Alice and Edwin.
Image courtesy Ian Wood

Just the other day, Lenore Frost of the Empire Called and I Answered Blog alerted me to another wonderful resource: The Voluntary War Workers' Record, published by the Australian Comforts Fund in Melbourne in 1918. 

You can read it online here.

There are three Coburg related entries:

Coburg Branch of the Lady Mayoress's Patriotic League

Pascoe Vale Branch of the Lady Mayoress's Patriotic League

League of Soldiers' Friends (organised by the Melbourne Diocese of the Church of England)


  1. What a fantastic resource The Voluntary War Workers' Record is Cheryl. Thanks for alerting me to it. It fills to a small extent the gap in women's history during the war. What a shame not all the organisations got their information in and missed the opportunity to record their valuable contributions.

  2. I agree, Jenny. It is amazing how many different groups were hard at work supporting the war effort. I've just discovered that the Coburg Branch of the Red Cross had a men's section, which surprised me, because I'd always thought that Branch was made up exclusively of women. There's another research project that deserves attention!