On 13 August 1914, soon after the official beginning of the First World War when Britain declared war on Germany, the Australian branch of the British Red Cross Society was formed. Melbourne’s Government House became the headquarters of the society led by the Governor-General’s wife, Lady Helen Munro Ferguson. Lady Ferguson enlisted the help of Australian state Governors’ wives to establish local branches of the society.
The wife of Queensland’s lieutenant-governor, Lady Morgan, was involved in this process and the Brisbane Courier records the first meeting of the Queensland Branch of the Australian Red Cross Society was held on 14 August 1914 in the Brisbane Town Hall.
One of the major roles of the Society was fundraising, and it appears that the Australian branches, of mainly female members, were working hard to disseminate funds to selected recipients. As can be seen by correspondence contained in a Chief Secretary’s Office file, by October 1914 substantial donations from the Queensland Branch of the Australian Red Cross were directed to the Australian Voluntary Hospital (also know as Lady Dudley’s Field Hospital) and Belgian hospitals.
Listen to Senior Reference Archivist Jane Wassell talk about the ‘Correspondence regarding donations made by the Red Cross Society of Queensland to Lady Dudley’s Field Hospital and Belgian Hospitals, October – December 1914’ in this YouTube video.
Australian Red Cross centenary information can be found on their website: http://centenary.redcross.org.au/