Guardian angels the red cross on the wartime home front



Publication Details

Willis, I. (2016). Guardian angels the red cross on the wartime home front. Celebrating Independent Thought ISAA Twenty Years On, 2015 Conference Proceedings (pp. 77-86). Canberra: Independent Scholars Association of Australia Inc.


The outbreak of the First World War in 1914 saw thousands of women across Australia join newly established Red Cross branches. These conservative women sewed, knitted and cooked for God, King and Country, and were encouraged to see themselves as 'guardian angels' serving 'their boys' and the imperial cause. Local branches harnessed and thrived using parochialism and localism for national patriotic purposes, and received considerable community support. The broader Red Cross organisation supported an iconography of motherhood which gave Red Cross volunteers considerable kudos and agency, and by the end of the war they effectively owned the homefront war effort.

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