1945 - THE YALLOURN WOMEN’S NATIONAL EMERGENCY FUND
The following article was published in a column entitled ‘Between Ourselves’ in the ‘Weekly Times’ in 1945. Someone simply known as ‘Margaret’ edited that particular page; and it seemed to be a potpourri of observations about celebrities and other snippets of news from ‘around the traps.’
Although the article is brief, it is an important item in the history of Yallourn as it highlights the work undertaken by the Yallourn Women’s National Emergency Fund during World War: II.
Little is known or has been written about the YWNEF and the footnotes, which accompany this story, attempt to explain the work of the organization in that period.
Note: In Queensland, the group was known as the Women’s National Emergency Legion.
SEPTEMBER 12TH 1945 ‘THE WEEKLY TIMES’ PAGE : 20
The Yallourn Women’s National Emergency Fund has reason to be proud of its efforts for patriotic funds during the past six years. It held its first meeting on September 11, 1939 and recently disbanded, after raising £8260 for patriotic organisations.
As well as this excellent total, a large number of knitted goods have been distributed. One of the chief activities was the opportunity shop held each Friday in Yallourn, which raised £1765 in the two years. Sales during the past year amounted to £961. Since early in 1942, the fund has supported the Australian Comforts Fund to the extent of nearly £1000, and at its final meeting, the bank balance of £40 was donated to the A.C.F. Christmas Hamper Appeal.
During the fund's existence, Mrs R. A. Hunt was president and Mrs Drummond was secretary. Now that they have disbanded, the emergency fund members are planning to form a Red Cross branch, as they consider the work of Red Cross will continue for some years although the war emergency is past.
1. The Yallourn Women’s National Emergency Fund was most innovative in raising funds to assist troops. The YWNEF secured money via: (i) waste product collection, (ii) weekly contributions of residents, (iii) special events and (iv) street stalls.
2. It is recorded that the YWNEC distributed more than 3000 parcels to those serving in the armed forces and other worthy causes.
3. The total amount of money raised by the YWNEF was extraordinary (see the press cutting posted with this article). £8260 (pounds), as mentioned in the ‘Weekly Times’, is equivalent to $584,000 in today’s currency. It is a staggering amount for a country town to raise in six years.
4. In Prue McGoldrick’s book ‘Yallourn Was’ it is written that the final (ie at the end of the war) figure given for the amount of money raised by the YWNEF was £8795 (pounds) which equates to almost $622,000 in 2019.
5. According to the ‘The Argus’ (September 16th 1939; page: 7) the
Officers of the Yallourn Women's National Emergency Service in 1939 were:
• President: Mrs. R. A. Hunt.
• Vice-Presidents: Mesdames P. J. Armstrong, E. Dann and L. Oakley.
• Secretary: Mrs. B. T. Drummond.
• Treasurer: Mrs. T. E. McGowan.
6. In 1939, the Melbourne ‘Herald’ carried a headline: ‘3000 HAMPERS FOR MEN ON SERVICE FIRST BATCH ALREADY’ and listed among the donors was the Yallourn Branch of the Women’s National Emergency Service. On that occasion, the YWNEF forwarded £3.0.0 (pounds) to the Australian Comforts Fund.
7. On 19th December 1939, a recital was given by the pupils of Miss Irene Fregon in the Presbyterian Hall, Yallourn and all the funds, raised during the night, were in support of the Yallourn Women's National Emergency Fund.
Note: It appears that Miss Fregon was a member of the Music Teachers’ Association and was qualified to teach Pianoforte, Harmony, Musical Perception and Percussion. At that time, Miss Fregon’s business address was listed as 30 Hillside Yallourn.
8. In August 1940, the YWMEF contributed £25.0.0 to the Red Cross Drive. It is also known that the YWNEF forwarded donations to the Lord Mayor’s campaign during those years.
9. On the 8th May 1941, The Yallourn Orchestral and Choral Societies presented a Musical Comedy entitled ‘The O’Brien Girl’ at the Yallourn Theatre. Admission was 2/- (shillings) per ticket and the proceeds were to aid the Yallourn Women’s National Emergency Fund.
10. Another musical comedy to assist the War Effort was ‘The Dumb Waiter’ in 1942…
“…Yallourn Orchestral Society has great pleasure in announcing that the net proceeds of the performance of ‘A Dumb Waiter" recently staged at Yallourn was £101/5/7. This wonderful sum has been distributed equally with the Australian Defence League, the Yallourn sub-branch of the Returned Soldiers' League and Yallourn Women's National Emergency Fund…” Source: ‘Morwell Advertiser’ July 16th 1942. Page: 5
11. It is recorded that the Yallourn Band assisted in fund raising activities with the YWNEF.
12. During the disastrous bushfires of February 1944, the YWNEF received great praise for the support it gave to victims of the inferno. The fires that had swept across Gippsland and the Western District, caused a dreadful loss of life and property (with 32 people being killed and 700 homes razed to the ground)
13. Stories about the impact of the firestorm at Yallourn, Hernes Oak and Morwell Bridge were major news articles in all newspapers that month…
“RELIEF EFFORT AT YALLOURN Food, Clothing Distributed: YALLOURN, Friday— Bush fire local relief is well under way. The Yallourn women’s national emergency fund has readily responded to the urgent call by police and doctors to assist at the local hospital to cope with the emergency and are still functioning. They are also assisting by sending women to assist in periods of 8-hour shifts. Mobile canteens are operating at Morwell River and the open cut. They have also established a receiving centre at the R.S.S.A. I.L.A. hall for clothes for the fire refugees at Morwell Bridge and Hernes Oak.” Source: “’ The Age’ February 19th 1944; page 3
14. Mrs Hunt was the wife of the General Superintendent of the SECV at Yallourn, Mr Ralph Hunt. (He was later to be appointed to the position of Chairman of the SECV from 1949-1956). Mrs Hunt was a most active resident in the affairs and organizations of the township.
15. A story about the Drummond family, written by Mrs Ashmead, can be found on this website; and several photographs of the Dann family can also be seen on this website.
16. Mrs Jan Armstrong was a dynamic person in the history of Yallourn; and was renowned for her enduring work with the Yallourn Branch of the Royal Victorian Institute for the Blind for some forty years.
17. Mrs Armstrong was the Honorary Secretary of the Yallourn Branch of the RVIB for two decades. She appears to have been an indefatigable worker for many causes; and was the President of the Food for Britain Ladies’ Committee, which operated during the war years. Mrs Armstrong was also a devoted member of the Yallourn Methodist Church.
18. The caption under the photo (above) reads:
‘Committee of Yallourn Women's National Emergency Fund, which has sent 1380 parcels to local servicemen and women, and 2600 knitted garments for the Red Cross and A.C.F. : Mesdames B.T. Drummond (sec.), W.G. Monteith, R.A. Hunt (President), H.W. Lynch, R. McGowan (Treasurer), C. Tinker, C.M. Smith, C.T. Habich, E. Madden, W. Kerr, C.F. Jolliffe, L. Dann.”
Some of the names listed below the photograph were difficult to decipher and apologies for any errors made in transcription of family names. (Roger).
Source: ‘The Weekly Times’ August 11th 1943. Page: 11
The research and footnotes for this story were completed by Roger Spaull and presented-posted by Julie George for the Virtual Yallourn website in May 2019.
The above article from the ‘Morwell Advertiser’ has been faithfully reproduced. The only amendments to the original copy are the font style, font size and spacing, to enhance the article for purposes of posting on the Virtual Yallourn website.