Jan 092015
 

While Australian women were not permitted to serve in battle on the frontline during World War I, many of them volunteered to serve in the Australian Army as nurses, medical workers and ambulance drivers. Their contribution to the war effort was enormously significant, with their support proving essential to military medical service.

The Australian Army Nursing Service (AANS), formed in 1903, was made up of volunteer nurses who were willing to serve in the event of a national emergency. The AANS sent 2,139 of its members overseas during World War I and a further 423 served in military hospitals at home in Australia.

They endured extremely trying circumstances on hospital ships anchored off Gallipoli or in field hospitals that consisted of tents close to the front line in France. With little sanitation, and a lack of fresh water and medical supplies, nurses also had to contend with the often extreme weather conditions. The tents offered little to no protection from the freezing European winter or the hot, mosquito-infested summer. The medical ships also presented great challenges, as supplies and water were limited, and the motion of the ship made performing even the more simple tasks extremely difficult.

Constantly understaffed and in danger of contracting the illnesses and infections of those they cared for, nurses worked tirelessly around the clock, dedicated to making the lives of their patients as comfortable as possible. Eight Australian nurses received the Military Medal for their bravery.

Clare-Deacon

Group of Tasmanian nurses including Clare Deacon, who enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on 29 November 1914 as a staff nurse. Clare served at Mena throughout the Gallipoli campaign and was promoted to nursing sister in December 1915 when she left for France. On the night of 22 July 1917, she was one of four Australian nurses to rescue patients from burning buildings of the 2nd Australian Casualty Clearing Station near Armentières, which had been bombed. For “coolness and devotion to duty” she and her nursing colleagues were awarded the Military Medal. [Australian War Memorial J00721]

On home soil, Voluntary Aid Detachments (VADs) were formed following an appeal “to the women of Australia” by Lady Helen Munro Ferguson, founder of Red Cross in Australia. Not formally qualified as nurses, these volunteers received instruction in first aid and performed the duties of nursing orderlies and other supports in Australian hospitals, convalescent homes, and on troop trains.

VADs were restricted from traveling overseas by the Australian Defence Council. As a result, many chose to travel on their own initiative and join British detachments, often in Australian hospitals. The policy was changed in 1916 after a request from Great Britain, and the first detachment of 30 official Australian VADs to serve overseas left Australia in September 1916.

VADs

Australian Red Cross Voluntary Aid Detachment members, washing up outdoors after a public function, Sydney, c. 1918. [Australian War Memorial P01102.020]

During the course of the war, campaigns ran throughout Australia encouraging women to join Red Cross or to volunteer their services on the home front. Posters were an integral part of these campaigns, and artists were often commissioned to produce works that would inspire women to support Australian troops through fundraising efforts, quasi-nursing duties, organising comfort packages to send to soldiers, and volunteering to work in Red Cross’s Wounded and Missing Enquiry Bureaux.

One such artist was Scottish-born David Henry Souter, who settled in New South Wales in 1887 where he worked as a journalist and illustrator for books and magazines, including the Bulletin, and was one of the first artists to start designing Australian posters. One of these was the ‘Help’ poster designed by Souter during the First World War to inspire Australian women to support the war effort.

Australian Posters of World War I – Australian Red Cross
2015 1oz Silver Proof Rectangle Coin

The second release from Australian Posters of World War I depicts a superb coloured representation of David Henry Souter’s Australian Red Cross ‘Help’ poster.  It features a nurse in a stylised Red Cross uniform standing with her arms outstretched, as if appealing for help, in front of a red cross. In the background is a ship, an ambulance and a field hospital displaying the Red Cross emblem.

Issued as Australian legal tender, no more that 5,000 of these outstanding 2015 coins will be released.

Help_silver-coin

The coin is housed in a upright display case with a latex centre that displays the coin’s reverse and obverse. It is presented in a illustrated shipper which comes with a numbered Certificate of Authenticity.


AWM_Red-Cross

Produced in association with the Australian War Memorial.

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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Jan 062015
 

Happy New Year to coin collectors everywhere. We hope you’re looking forward to 2015 with as much anticipation as we are! This year’s exciting and extensive program features some fantastic new themes; new editions of our established favourites are back for long-term collectors, and we’ll also bring you some outstanding world releases.

January’s line-up looks amazing. One of our favourites is the simply gorgeous Snugglepot and Cuddlepie silver coin release. If you love cats, then this bulletin is definitely not to be missed! Enjoy these and many more as we start another great year for modern Australian collectables.

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Dec 162014
 

The launch of the Commonwealth’s own silver coins in 1910 and first bronze coins in 1911 were key events in the history of modern Australia.

A few years after their introduction, the young nation faced its biggest challenge to that point – a world war of unimaginable carnage and horror.

Drawing together these important themes, this superb pre-decimal coin pack offers collectors an example of all six Commonwealth coins featuring year-dates between the fateful years of 1914 and 1918.

WWI_Coin-pack
The First World War Australian Coinage Pack 1914-1918 comprises the following coins:

  • Threepence: 92.5% Silver, 7.5% Copper
  • Sixpence: 92.5% Silver, 7.5% Copper
  • Shilling: 92.5% Silver, 7.5% Copper
  • Florin: 92.5% Silver, 7.5% Copper
  • Halfpenny: 97% Copper, 2.5% Zinc, 0.5% Tin
  • Penny: 97% Copper, 2.5% Zinc, 0.5% Tin

The six coins are housed in a detailed A5-sized display folder which provides information, facts and figures about Australia’s involvement in World War I, as well as original wartime imagery.

For further details about this impressive release, please click here.

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Oct 272014
 

In the wake of Britain’s declaration of war on 4 August 1914, the Australian Government promised 20,000 troops to the Empire’s war effort by the end of the year. Infantry and Light Horse units, along with supporting arms, were raised around the country as the young Australian nation rallied to the cause.

Within months, tens of thousands of men were mobilised, most of whom, having sailed from their state capitals, joined a convoy of ships gathering at Albany to take them to the battlefields of the Northern Hemisphere. As the first contingent of the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) gathered in King George Sound, they were joined by the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF) – creating a joint military formation – the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps – which, within a few months, became known by the acronym Anzac.

Albany, the oldest permanently settled town in the West, with its idyllic inner harbour, sheltered on all sides from the Southern Ocean, was large enough to accommodate the biggest convoy to have ever left Australia. For many of the troops, route marches around the town and its environs were the last time they set foot on Australian soil.

Shrouded in secrecy demanded by military censorship, the convoy’s arrival must have perplexed the residents of the normally quiet town. In the course of a few days, they witnessed the arrival of more than 20,000 men, 8,000 horses and tons of materiel – from tents and provisions to the weapons of war.

Convoy-in-King-George-Sound-Albany

The first AIF convoy assembles in King George Sound. (Australian War Memorial PS0078.)

The flotilla of 36 troop transports arrived at the rendezvous between 24 and 28 October. Requisitioned by the Commonwealth, they still bore the insignia of their civilian owners. All that distinguished them from ordinary passenger liners or cargo ships was a large white square near the bow and stern on which the letter ‘A’ and the transport’s number was painted. The New Zealand transports were painted uniform grey, with the letters H.M.N.Z.T. and their number on their sides.

Cruising ceaselessly within and outside the harbour, keeping watch over the crowded vessels was HMAS Melbourne, one of the convoy’s four naval escorts. Nine days after leaving Albany, Melbourne’s sister ship, HMAS Sydney won the Royal Australian Navy’s first victory at sea when she broke away from the fleet and destroyed the hitherto elusive, and very dangerous German raider, SMS Emden.

In the days before departure, amid the feverish preparations, many of the troops went ashore to take part in route marches. The people of Albany thus became the last to see some of the AIF’s original units parade through Australian streets.

Victorian troops passing along the Main Street. (Contact Advertiser Print, Albany to purchase this image.)

The convoy weighed anchor at 5.30am on the fine Spring morning of 1 November. The men were delighted to be on the move again, and over the next three hours the ships moved in single file beyond the sanctuary of the heads. As the ships passed Breaksea Island, the lighthouse keeper’s daughter, Faye Howe, signalled her best wishes to the departing fleet.

The fleet’s flagship and lead transport was HMT Orvieto, carrying 94 officers, 1,345 other ranks and 21 horses. A gap of roughly 800 yards was maintained between each vessel, and the convoy covered an area of ocean some seven and a half miles in length. Their sailing speed was determined by the slowest ship, HMAT Southern, at approximately 10.5 knots.

Two days out of Albany, the ships were joined by the Japanese battlecruiser HIJMS Ibuki and two more transports, HMAT Ascanius, carrying the 11th Infantry Battalion, and HMAT Medic, carrying the 8th Field Artillery Battery, both Western Australian units, and some South Australian troops. They had sailed from Fremantle to meet the convoy at sea.

Life on the troopships consisted of drills, lectures and a degree of boredom. Men on the horse transports spent their days caring for the AIF’s mounts, cleaning out their stalls, and rubbing them down as a substitute for exercise.

Convoy-leaving-Albany-1914

HMAT Southern and HMAT Pera following HMT Orvieto out of King George Sound, 1 November 1914. (Australian War Memorial G01542)

The convoy was originally ordered to sail to England via the Suez Canal, but in late October received instructions to sail by way of the Cape of Good Hope. A Dutch revolt in South Africa threatened that country’s government and the Australasian contingents were the only forces able to provide quick reinforcements. But by October 30 the rebels had been defeated, and on the evening before the convoy was due to sail, the Suez route was reinstated.

This last minute decision to stick to the original route was one in a series of circumstances that determined the AIF’s fate. Had the force sailed around the Cape, and disembarked in England, Australians and New Zealanders may never have taken part in the Dardanelles campaign. They may instead, like the Canadians, have been thrown straight into the Western Front fighting. But after the Ottoman Empire’s entry into the war on the side of Germany in November, the force was disembarked for training in Egypt and were available to take part in the assault on the Gallipoli peninsula in April.

At Gallipoli, the AIF earned a lasting place in Australia’s history. The men who fought there have been credited with helping define elements of the national character, and for their part in that historic campaign were honoured for the rest of their lives.

This coin from The Perth Mint’s The ANZAC Spirit 100TH Anniversary Coin Series commemorates 100 years since the departure of Australia’s first convoy of military ships from Albany, Western Australia. Struck from 1/2oz of 99.9% pure silver in proof quality, the coin is issued as Australian legal tender.

The coin’s reverse portrays two ships in the convoy as they set sail from King George Sound in Albany, and a list of the 39 ships that sailed from Albany’s shores.

First_Convoy_display-case

The Perth Mint will release no more than 1,914 of The ANZAC Spirit 100th Anniversary Coin Series – First Convoy 2014 1/2oz Silver Proof Coin.

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Aug 192014
 

Congratulations to the following people who have won coin prizes in The ANZAC Spirit 100th Anniversary Coin Series competition.

1st prize – The ANZAC Spirit 2014 1/2oz Silver Three-Coin Set and a copy of the Sydney Morning Herald dated the 4 August 1914.

WINNER: Margaret Dachan

2nd prize – The ANZAC Spirit 2014 1oz Silver Proof Coin

WINNERS: Dianne Procopio, James Sharpe, Melicia Mah, Shane Martin

Correct answers to the competition questions were as follows:

  1. Andrew Fisher
  2. German wireless station
  3. Albany

If you are interested in further details about The ANZAC Spirit 100th Anniversary Coin Series, please click here.

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Aug 142014
 

The ANZAC Spirit 100th Anniversary Coin Series launch in Perth was a moving and well-attended event with special guests from the Government, the Australian Defence Force and the Returned and Services League. The unique commemorative coins pay homage to the Australian men and women who served in the First World War, capturing some of the most prominent events in the nation’s history in brilliant 99.99% pure gold and 99.9% pure silver.

Click for details of the 2014 coins.

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