WA Girl Guides in WWI Effort (1914-18)

We’ve mentioned before that there were a number of ways Girl Guides in WA helped in both World Wars. We will cover WWII in a later blogpost, but during WWI Girl Guides found creative ways to contribute to our soldiers’ welfare.

World War 1 commenced on August 4, 1914. Of course, Girl Guides didn’t start in WA until June 28, 1915, but when it did start up, the women and girls immediately got busy on war service projects.

Fly Veils

Flies were a serious problem both in the eyes and the ears of horses; flies in the ears would distress an animal to the point of ignoring discipline and bolting.

Reading of the Army horses tormented by the flies in Egypt, (Guide) Captain Groom conceived the idea of making fly veils for them from the used binder twine cut from the sheaves when the farm horses were fed.

Wagin Girl Guides made veils and through the S.P.C.A. samples were sent to the Army. These proved so satisfactory that a letter was received from Military Headquarters expressing deep appreciation and hinting that they would be glad to receive 50,000 as soon as possible. Farmers willingly responded with twine and girls all over the State became enthusiastic. Wagin made 150 veils in one month and in 1917, 30,000 veils had been sent to the Western Front.

Here’s a story that went into the Sunday Times on May 19, 1918, about this service, with the transcript below.

Sunday Times, May 19, 1918

Sunday Times, May 19, 1918

Writes a correspondent:—”The Girl  Guides, who have done fine work for the emergencies of war, are now awaiting a supply of used binder twine for the purpose of fulfilling the requirements of the military in regard to fly veils for horses. No fewer than 50,000 are required as quickly as  possible. This is a big contract, but the guides will do their best. They offer to teach any girls outside the movement bow to make the veils. The country companies will be on soon to meet their city sister guides, and vice versa. Farmers are requested to collect all the used pieces of binder twine for this purpose. 

Other War Work

Other jobs were spinning wool from the sheep’s back, knitting, holding concerts, stalls and displays to raise funds for the war effort. Jarrahdale Guides knitted 50 pairs of socks from wool they had spun themselves.

Stay tuned for more historical snippets about Girl Guides WA.

References: the information on WA Girl Guides’ 1st World War efforts in this article comes from Wilson, Win. (Comp.) Guiding in W.A. Perth, n.d.

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4 Responses to WA Girl Guides in WWI Effort (1914-18)

  1. Pingback: A snippet from our past (1915-1919) | 100 Years of Girl Guides in WA

  2. Hannah says:

    A little story I came across in a teaching resource…

    An Australian solder, Albert Facey, recalled ‘A few days after the armistice [of May 1915], we received several parcels from home…I got a pair of socks in my parcel…I found a note rolled up in my socks and it read: “We wish the soldier that gets this parcel the nest of luck and healing and a safe return home to his loved ones when the war is over” It was signed Evelyn Gibson, Hon. Secretary, Girl Guides, Bunbury WA.’

    Early in 1916, Albert, who had received the socks from the Girl Guides, had returned home. He was walking down the street with his mates when they ‘saw two girls coming towards us. We were in uniform … to our surprise the girls stopped us … they asked if we were returned from the 11th battalion … I asked the girl who had spoken to me her name. Now what a shock I got. She said, ‘My name is Evelyn Gibson’. Straight away my mind went back to Gallipoli, and the pair of socks I had received … Later in 1916 Albrert and Evelyn were married.’
    (National Archives of Australia, 2009, Shell Shocked: Australia after Armistice Education Kit, p. 18-19)

  3. Pingback: Girl Guides in Wartime | 100 Years of Girl Guides in WA

  4. Margaret Luckett says:

    It’s good to see these facts are being substantiated, the details being added have been hidden for a long time. The story underlines the enormity of what these girls undertook and the desperate need for the veils for the horses in Egypt.

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