From Bank to Battlefield
The 275 members of the Commonwealth Bank's Patriotic Club produced an array of gifts and trinkets to lift the spirits of soldiers heading to war as well as those returning. These included a boomerang-shaped card with the message ‘Godspeed and a Safe Return’ for those who were leaving. A greeting card, shaped like the map of Australia with the message ‘Welcome to your Homeland’, was handed to those coming back. The Club also despatched Christmas parcels to every member of staff on active service. These were gratefully received, as this message from Private GC Canon to the staff magazine, Bank Notes, reveals: ‘… I had just returned… to England after twelve months' navvying and fighting, and I can assure you it was a treat to eat some biscuits that had sugar in them.’
Transcript from Bank Notes Magazine, February 1919, Page 6.
Private R. D. Goard (France) acknowledges receipt of his parcel from Head office Patriotic Club, which came as a complete surprise.
Continuing, he says: “I was fortunate to be in gay Paree on armistice day on ten days’ leave, and the people there nearly went mad with joy. I guess the folk at home were glad, too. We are not far off the Belgian border here, in a town recently evacuated by Fritz, and the inhabitants are very happy after saluting the Hun officers for four years.”
Sergeant H. P. Jones (Magdalene College, Oxford): “It is with great pleasure I send this note conveying my best thanks to you all for good wishes and parcel.”
“Although not actually in the field when the parcel reached me, nevertheless I very much appreciated the thoughts that prompted its being sent.”
Sapper W. H. Wilson, writing from Port Said, amongst other things, says: “I left my unit, the Imperial Cavalry, near Aleppo, and they carried on to the coast to garrison for winter. Had a very interesting trip across the Lebanon Mountains – winter had just commenced here – to Beyrout (a town equal to Brisbane in size), where I took ship to Alexandria, thence to here by train. Expect to move on to Details Camp at Moascar this week. Meanwhile I asked to be allowed to proceed to England or Australia for the purpose of rendering some assistance to the good work carried on by the Commonwealth Bank for the troops. Have been advised in reply that it will be necessary to await de-mobilisation. The details of the scheme for our return are not definitely known here, but you doubtless will be apprised of them in advance.”
Private G. C. Cannon writes: “Just a few lines to thank you for the parcel. I had just returned from leave to England after twelve months’ navvying and fighting, and I can assure you it was a treat to eat some biscuits that had sugar in them. I was in London on armistice day, and believe me it was some sight. I think it will be somewhere about twelve months before I see Australia again, and it is possible that London Office will have something to say about our return, many of the B and C Class men being employed there now. I have been lucky in escaping wounds and sickness. At present we are about to start on a 160 mile route march to somewhere in Germany, and I expect we will be doing guard and garrison work there for three to six months”
Sergeant S. M. Ryan of Sydney Office, writes from Cairo: “The climate here now is nearly ideal, and it is no wonder that heaps of people come to Egypt for the winter. Have been in Cairo for nearly four months now, being marked T.B. for six months, but won’t be sorry when the time's up to get back with the boys again, as I rather like the novelty of the rough life and the horses.”
Captain L. H. Morris, writing from our Weymouth Branch: “Parcel arrived at a particularly happy time, and it is good to know that comforts will not be very much longer necessary for our men in the field. Most of them have had enough of it.”
Corporal L. C. Clinch, of Head Office, writes a graceful acknowledgment of his parcel.