As Australians prepare to commemorate the landing of the first ANZAC troops in Gallipoli 100 years ago, Australian Red Cross pays tribute to the countless Red Cross members and volunteers who worked so tirelessly during World War One to provide vital humanitarian relief to sick and wounded soldiers and prisoners of war.
“Our proud and enduring legacy of providing humanitarian relief wherever it is needed has shaped Australian Red Cross since the outbreak of WWI, and continues to define our work today”, said Australian Red Cross CEO Robert Tickner.
“By the time Australian troops landed in Gallipoli a century ago, Red Cross was shipping a steady stream of packaged clothing, comforts and goods of all kinds, lovingly produced by volunteers, to hospitals in England and Egypt where wounded Australian soldiers were being cared for.
“Red Cross volunteers raised millions of pounds for patriotic causes, and provided millions of pounds worth of in-kind support through volunteer labour and goods.
“Women rallied in cities and country towns to produce an astonishing volume of knitted, sewn and baked goods, and then shipped them overseas to bring comfort to Australian servicemen and prisoners of war.
“From the outbreak of WWI Red Cross also helped Australian families in their desperate searches for news of the fate of loved ones, forming a Wounded and Missing Persons Information Bureau in each state.
“The NSW Bureau was formed in July 1915 and within four months over 500 cables had been requested on behalf of relatives of Gallipoli casualties. By 1919 Red Cross was handling 36,000 cases discovering the fate of the missing and wounded. Those Red Cross letters can be read on the Australian War Memorial website.
“My own family received a Red Cross letter in 1916 which relayed the sad news that my Great Uncle Private W.R.C. Beasley was killed 100 years ago on the first day of the Gallipoli campaign. I still have that letter, which serves as a poignant reminder of Red Cross’ legacy.
“After more than 100 years Red Cross continues to respond to critical community needs as they emerge, relying on our strong national network of members and volunteers who assist the most vulnerable people in need, during times of disaster and personal crisis such as hardship, homelessness and social isolation.
“Red Cross people will mark this one hundredth ANZAC Day in cities and towns across Australia, honouring the legacy of both fallen soldiers and our Red Cross forebears,” said Robert Tickner.