Anzac Day is not just about the men who fought for our country, but also the women who did their bit during World War I.
I write this article in response to a rant written for The Stately Harold by 20-year-old feminist Cassidy Boon who claims Anzac Day is “sexist” and there is “no mention of Australian women”. She wants Anzac Day to be banned and even started a hashtag.
Boon, according to The Stately Harald, claims Anzac Day is “worshipping men – sexist, violent men who went to a stupid war and died”.
According to the article, “The ANZACS’ women suffered the most by far, they felt alone, discarded and had no way to get ahead in life once their husbands died. And now, 100 years later on some stupid anniversary’ there’s no mention at all of these brave, strong women who fought the odds just to survive.”
She fails to understand the Anzac Spirit which represents sacrifice and courage, which was based on Judeo-Christian values, and our diggers who fought for the freedom for Boon to write such rubbish.
Australian Red Cross
Boon does not acknowledge the hundreds of thousands of women who signed up to the Australian Red Cross, which began as the Australian Branch of the British Red Cross Society, on 13 August 1914, in response to the war.
Many of these women travelled overseas to war-torn countries. They braved terrible conditions to tend to soldiers on battlefields including the Western Front in France.
Those who remained at home didn’t “do nothing” but they responded with various “comfits” including knitted socks and scarves, and Christmas packages to soldiers fighting overseas.
These women, usually the wives, girlfriends and mothers, were also involved in the Country Women’s Association (CWA), various church groups and other women’s organisations who sent Anzac Biscuits to our soldiers.
These comfort packages also contained tinned food, biscuits, sugar, tea, soap and chocolate.
One woman, Alice Mitchell, sewed a flannel singlet, a shirt and a pair of pyjamas for every week of the war, despite losing her fiancé at Gallipoli and two brothers in France during 1916.
The Australian Red Cross also helped wounded soldiers and their dependents, as welfare was not available at the time.
Queen Mother’s War Efforts
On the other side of the world, many British aristocrats turned their stately homes into hospitals or convalescent home to tend to the sick and wounded soldiers, including Lord and Lady Strathmore (the Queen Mother’s parents) at Glamis Castle in Scotland.
Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, aged 14, was too young to become a nurse, but she helped the war effort by making soldiers, including some of our Diggers, feel at home, talked to the soldiers, writing letters, running errands to the local shops including buying tobacco, and playing card games. Four of Lady Elizabeth’s brothers fought in World War I, and the eldest, Fergus, was killed in action during the Battle of Loos in 1915.
The Princess Royal, Princess Mary, who later became Lady Elizabeth’s sister-in-law, became involved the war effort by raising funds for the Princess Mary Appeal.
This gift, inside an embossed brass tin, was sent to British and Commonwealth and Empire soldiers and sailors who were serving on Christmas Day in 1914. These tins were filled with various items including tobacco, confectionery, spices, pencils, a Christmas card and a picture of Princess Mary.
The Princess Royal also joined the British Red Cross and became a nurse during World War I. She also supported Land Girls and the Girl Guide movement.
Anzac Day is not just about commemorating our men who fought for our freedom but also to remember the remarkable women who also contributed to the war effort at home and overseas.