Wednesday 23 December 2015

Christmas Comforts

Norman Gamble was born into a household where tales of duty and Empire were common. His father, Tom Gamble, the mayor of Campbelltown for two years in the l890’s, had arranged recruitment rallies for the Boer War and gave rousing patriotic speeches. Thus it came as no surprise that with the outbreak of World War I, Tom’s sons would enlist. Roy was rejected on medical grounds, but his brothers Norman and Leo enlisted in 1915 and 1916 respectively.
Norman served in Gallipoli and France. At Christmas time, any reminder of home would have been a comfort to the soldiers. Helping to send Christmas cheer was the Campbelltown Comforts Fund Committee, part of the Australian Comforts Fund.  Mainly run by women, they provided and distributed free comforts to the Australian fighting men in all the battle zones. Norman wrote in a letter to his mother “I received a beautiful parcel from the Campbelltown Christmas Gift Committee, which contained everything a soldier could wish for.”
Among the items were tobacco, soap, plum pudding, sardines, camp pie, pencils, cocoa and socks. 

Campbelltown Comforts Fund Committee on the side verandah of Campbelltown's first post office packing parcels for Australian troops overseas during World War I (Reproduction rights W.Wilkinson)

Written by Claire Lynch
National Archives of Australia website
NSW Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages
First Citizen by Jeff McGill

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