2/30 Battalion A.I.F. Comforts Fund
It's origins stemmed from Bathurst Days with an Inaugural Meeting at which Mrs F.G. Galleghan (Vera) was elected as President; Mrs Noel Johnston (Janet) Secretary; Mr Reg Hogan (30 Battalion 1914-18) Treasurer; Lt. Col. H. Sloan (also 30 Bn.1914-18) was requested to accept the position of Patron, which he did.
Subsequent Office Bearers were the addition of Mrs. Reg Ellis (Bessie) as Assistant Secretary and later still another Assist. Secretary, Mrs. Jim Mitchell (Margaret) was appointed.
Janet Johnston remained Secretary from the inception in 1941 until a couple of months before the return of the men of the Battalion in October, 1945, whereupon Bessie Ellis & Margaret Mitchell carried on the Secretarial duties until the Fund was disbanded. Vera Galleghan handed over the Presidency to Mrs. F.W. Allen (Mother-in- law of Vernon Baynes) and she in turn handed over Mrs. Gary Jerkins (Mother of Bern)
Meetings were commenced in Sydney. It is thought that their first venue was at History House, near Circular Quay; at Cricket House, Phoenix House, 67 Pitt Street, Sydney; and subsequently advantage was taken of the offer of a large upstairs room in King Street at Mr. David Stewart Dawson's (Jewellers), and the Comforts Fund letterhead thereafter showed the location as "2nd Floor, Little Strand Arcade, King Street". It might be mentioned here that such stationary and all other printing needs were donated by Mr Charles Clayton (Bill's Father) and Mr Gordon Booth ('Ward' Booth's Father), both of whom had printing works.
Activities for the raising of money were quite varied despite the fact that money was scarce, and because of rationing members had to use their own coupons to obtain their needs, even for the cups of tea in the rooms.
A few sewing machines were loaned or donated. At least two ladies brought in their portable sewing machines on Working Days, which were held at least twice a week in the Rooms. One of these ladies was Mrs Parsons Senior (Johnny's mother) who brought her machine in from Rhodes by public transport. A knitting machine also was donated and Mrs. Turner gave her time to instructing Members in its use. Janet Johnston inserted an S.O.S. paragraph in the S.M.H. for knitters assuring all friends & relatives a warm welcome, if they would come along and lend a hand.
The Sewing Bees made up materials, which were either donated or bought with Member's coupons, in the making of goods for donations in turn, or sale for the War effort. Pyjamas, underpants, aprons & novelties were made for a Trading Table or for Fetes. Mrs M. Walker (Johnny's Mother) was in charge of aprons, and quite an amount was raised from them. One of the Fetes was organised by Mrs F.W. Allen, another was held in Nock & Kirby's old store (Mr H.A. Kirby, had held a Commission in the 30 Bn. NSW Scottish Regt., at one time, as 2i/c C Coy., then Assistant Adjutant)
Jams, pickles, cakes, bunches of parsley & other produce were brought in by Members to add to saleable goods on the Trading Table. Donations of used clothing were sold on a couple of occasions, on a stall arranged by Mrs Allen at the Markets.
Raffles were arranged regularly, mainly making use of gifts from kindly Members. Three notable donors were Mr Charles Clayton, Mr Gordon Booth & Mr Grahame Sands (whose son, Richard, was killed at Gemas).
Mrs. Nossiter, Senior made a large Tea Cloth, which she donated to the Fund. Members & friends visiting the Rooms were invited to submit name's, to be embroidered by her on the cloth. A charge of 1/6 per name was levied, and the names could be those of Members of the Battalion or their relatives in the Forces or of Members' families. The names were written on a piece of paper, from which Mrs Nossiter, transferred them on to the cloth in either purple or gold embroidery cotton. Some 300 names appear on the cloth. Some Member, who was an expert at old style penmanship prepared a card with the following verses:
She's only a Private's Mother,
But she ranks as one of the best,
She's very good at raffling a ham,
But none of us won it........
So.....we all said...........Damn!
Her stitching in colours,
Will please all the Mothers,
Wives, Sweethearts, Brothers,
(we're stuck for the rest )
She's still one of the Best.
Fund raising activities were arranged at some Member's homes: Mrs. Nossiter, Senior held a Housie afternoon at her home at Strathfield and Mrs. Jess Donald (Ross Madden's Aunt ) held a Garden Party at her Neutral Bay home. Card Afternoon's were held at Member's homes, as well as in the Rooms. Mrs. Lamacraft, Senior (Alf's Mother) was one who delighted in organising these at her home.
Mrs. John Parsons organised a Concert of talented performers, including herself as a Soloist.
A Cricket match was arranged by 17Bn. Militia and funds acquired on the day from spectators were donated by that Battalion to the fund.
Nock & Kirby Ltd. also allowed the use of their old store to enable Members to hold a Children's Christmas Party there.
It had been a requirement of the Australian Red Cross that all Unit Comfort Funds had to pay into its POW Fund £3 (three pounds) per week out of what the individual Unit Funds raised but, apart from that, the 2/30 Battalion Comforts Fund raised something over £2000, which was a notable effort - considering, as was stressed earlier, - the scarcity of money and, that everything had to be acquired with coupons, from individual households.
'Black Jack' asked that the Comforts Fund should be disbanded, and in doing so, Members requested that a few £50 donations be given to various War efforts and a sum of £600 was given to the 2/30 Battalion. A.I.F. Association, to help it with its initial expenses in Australia.
Mrs. Gay Jenkins was still President at the time of the disbandment, and in an effort to keep contact with Members she commenced the 'Purple & Gold Club', more on the lines of a social club, with any monies which were obtained by the activities of the Club being donated to charities in Sydney. She diligently carried on the Club, making a special feature of a Christmas Gathering at some City venue - until she was no longer able to carry on, when Mrs. Hendy, Senior took over. Mrs Margaret Mitchell organised the last of these gatherings, for Tuesday, 2nd December, 1975. Her invitation being for the 'Purple & Gold Christmas Afternoon Tea', at the Indian Tea Centre, 176 Pitt Street.
It is appropriate that we quote from the minutes of the Central Executive Meeting of 2/30 Battalion A.I.F. Association held at the Officers' Mess, Changi, on 10th April, 1943:
"In view of the majority of the Battalion going North, it was agreed that copies of the minutes of meetings be left with Sgt. Ellis, also a copy of the constitution.
"It was resolved that Sgt. Ellis and/or the President and Treasurer of the 2/30 Battalion Comforts Fund be empowered to receive & issue interim receipts for monies paid by applicants for admission to membership of the Association. Any monies so received shall be accounted to the Central Executive immediately after its return to Australia.
Moved by Capt. Howells, seconded by Cpl. Evans, "That each member of the Central Executive be given a form of letter addressed to the Secretary of the 2/30 Battalion Comforts Fund, outlining:
a) The formation and objects of this Association
b) A list of names of the Central Executive and containing a request that their Association's Committee act on behalf of the 2/30 Battalion A.I.F. Association in the collection and custody of the monies referred to in the previous resolution, issuing interim receipts therefore pending arrival in Australia., of the Central Executive. - CARRIED.
It was resolved that all members of the Central Executive be empowered to receive & issue interim receipts for monies paid by applicants for admission to membership of the Association prior to the date of the first meeting of the Central Executive in Australia.
It was decided that the following motion be put to the next meeting of the Association in Changi: "That all members of the 2/30 Battalion agree that it is their duty to report themselves on arrival in Sydney at the H.Q. of the 2/30 Battalion Comforts Fund at Phoenix House, 67 Pitt Street, Sydney in order to personally thank the members of that Association for their efforts on our behalf and also to tender any information concerning others in the Battalion who may still be abroad."
Arthur Isaac has commented that during P.O.W. days he was able to fix himself up with a fresh pair of socks, by sewing the ends of the khaki sock coverings, which went down to the ankles, and which had been sent over by the Comforts Fund.
In 1981 the 2/30 Battalion A.I.F. Association Auxiliary was formed, with the object of continuing the close comradeship of all members, their wives, widows & children. It spawned two Sub-Branches, in the Hunter Valley & Far North Coast.
We cannot here let pass the dedication of Bess Ellis & Cecilie Boss who, when Reg Ellis died, carried the weight of Association & Makan matters on their own, until it was taken over by Phil Schofield.
(Source: Makan No. 276, Jan/March, 1985)