2014 Australian Comforts Fund 20 Cent Australia Remembers Series

February 25, 2014

Australian Comforts Fund 20 cent

On the 25th April each year Australia celebrates ANZAC Day. Initially created to remember the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps soldiers who died at Gallipoli in 1915 now also remembers those who, in times of war throughout Australian history, have died whilst fighting for their country. There's so many stories that unfold around ANZAC time - some incredibly sad, some incredibly courageous, some incredibly heroic. But what about those stories that are just plain uplifting?

Have you heard about the Australian Comforts Fund?

In 1914, at the start of World War I, Australian men volunteered in their droves to defend the "mother country". Conscription at that time was denied to Australian women - however, they could either become involved in the nursing services or remain at home to tend to the children and manage family responsibilities - literally sitting it out! It's really only in modern times that women have been able to play a part in the armed forces. In fact, the involvement of women as part of the ANZAC movement wasn't really acknowledged until the 1970's.

Being frustrated and feeling "left out" lead Australian women to join forces and create the Australian Comforts Fund - a place where women could finally feel that they were, at least in some small way, contributing to the war effort.

The main aim was to provide and distribute "free of charge" home comforts and small luxuries to Australian men fighting overseas - items such as underwear; cigarettes and tobacco; shaving and personal hygiene equipment such as razor blades, toothbrushes and toothpaste; reading and writing implements such as pencils, paper and postcards; recreational items such as sporting equipment, gramophones and records; and even Christmas Hampers filled with plum puddings, small tins of fruit and cream. When the organization closed on 27th June 1946, more than 1.5 million Christmas Hampers had been delivered.

Socks in particular, were always in high demand and treasured as soldiers stationed in the muddy, damp and cold conditions of the trenches didn't have the luxury of washing or drying their socks. During the winter of 1916, 80 thousand pairs of hand knitted socks had been sent to the trenches and records show that more than 12 million mugs of coffee and tea had been served to the troops.

A range of lapel badges were developed which were sold via fetes, street corner collections and door knocks to raise funds. These lapel badges are now collectors items. And so successful was the Australian Comforts Fund that through it's fundraising, collecting, sorting and distribution efforts it soon overtook the work being done by the Red Cross - yet I bet you've probably never heard of the Australian Comforts Fund till now.

To commemorate the exemplary work and good deeds of the Australian Comfort Fund, the Royal Australian Mint has released a 20c coin presented in a special issue card portraying the photograph taken on Boxing Day 1940 by James Francis (Frank) Hurley, showing Driver Butcher and fellow trenchmen enjoying their Australian Comfort Fund's Christmas Hampers (image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial).

The 20 cents reverse design depicts the "life cycle" of items sent to the front - from goods being made, through to the badges sold for fund raising, through to packages ready for delivery, to items being received by the troops. The obverse depicts the portrait of Queen Elizabeth II designed by Ian Rank-Broadley. This copper-nickel uncirculated 20c is issued at $9.00 with a capped mintage of 30,000 coins being minted. It is a coin not intended for circulation but bears the same specifications of a circulating twenty cent coin at 28.52 millimetres diameter and weighing 11.3 grams with edge milling.

NCLT Collector 20c Australian Comforts Fund in the Australia Remembers Series (image courtesy www.ramint.gov.au)

Posted by harrisk at February 25, 2014 12:12 PM
Subscribe to our Newsletter

Bookmark and Share