While enduring the horrors of shells, bullets, and gas during World War I, letters from home provided troops with moments of joyful respite. For Australian troops fighting on the other side of the world, letters accompanied by photographs of wives, children, sweethearts and parents brought even greater delight.
To this end, the Snapshots from Home League of Australia was established in early 1916 by Archibald Pursell, a director of the YMCA (Sydney), who had been inspired by the work of the League’s founding branch in London the previous year.
To meet the objectives of Snapshots, the YMCA distributed application forms to the men at the front, recruited photographers across Australia to donate their time and skills, and coordinated sittings for relatives wishing to send photos to their loved ones serving overseas.
In this way, around 150,000 intimate portraits were able to be sent to active and injured Australian soldiers in Europe and the Middle East during the remaining years of the War.
The YMCA dedicated much energy to making the scheme a success, advertising it in newspapers, magazines, shops, and at its own collection depots. Additionally, it adopted British promotional posters for use in Australia, including this memorable example which is portrayed on the latest addition to our Australian Posters of World War I Coin Series.
Designed by artist Fred Pegram, it captures the poignant moment when an off-duty soldier in battle-scarred France becomes the first in his group to celebrate the arrival of pictures from home. Including the League’s promise “YMCA will supply free of cost”, posters like this one helped make Snapshots one of the most effective First World War campaigns in Australia.
Australian Posters of World War I Coin Series
Issued annually between 2014 and 2018, Australian Posters of World War I reflects the large number of posters that were produced during the War to satisfy a wide variety of advertising and communication needs. With the addition of the 2017 Home Front coin, four out of five of these stunning releases are now available:
Produced by The Perth Mint in association with the Australian War Memorial, each coin in this outstanding and original series is struck from 1oz of 99.9% pure silver. Issued as Australian legal tender, each encapsulated coin is housed in a latex case which allows the design on both sides to be displayed.
No more than 5,000 of each coin in the series will be released worldwide.
The Australian War Memorial logo is a registered trade mark of the Australian War Memorial TM © 2017.
YMCA logo courtesy of YMCA Australia.
The red cross emblem is an internationally recognised symbol used to identify those providing impartial humanitarian assistance and protect them from harm in times of armed conflict. The use of the emblem is restricted under both international and Australian law in order to ensure that this meaning continues to be understood. In Australia, the use of the emblem without the authorisation of the Minister of Defence is a criminal offence.
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