A Popular History of The Great War/Volume 1/Page 97


GIFTS FROM AUSTRALIA


minister he acted on the declaration. Senator Pearce was made Minister of Defence, and showed himself the right man for the place.

There was absolutely no division of opinion in the country. Even the descendants of German settlers met to declare their unswerving loyalty and affection to the king and their determination to sacrifice, if necessary, their property and lives for the welfare of the British empire. Philanthropy, private and public, was active. Hundreds of thousands of pounds were raised for war funds, and enormous sums were given for medical and charitable purposes. Thus the Commonwealth government gave £100,000 to the Belgian Relief Fund, and various state governments contributed. Gifts of food were sent to England, scores of thousands of carcases of mutton, quantities of wine, butter, bacon, cheese, condensed milk, and the like. One newspaper sent three shiploads of foodstuffs. Sydney raised £20,000 for the Belgian Relief Fund; £50,000 was raised in a comparatively short time for the British Red Cross.

The first Australian contingent consisted of 20,338 men, drawn in equal proportions according to population, from the different states of the Commonwealth. Arrangements were made to send regular monthly reinforcements of between 2,000 and 3,000 each to make up for casualties and wastage, and no sooner was the first contingent ready than a second contingent of over 10,000 was prepared. Then in October the Commonwealth government offered another brigade of light horse with brigade train and field ambulance, and the offer was gratefully accepted.

The work of preparing the first contingent proceeded automatically. Every man was a volunteer, for soldiers of the citizens' army were not liable to serve outside the Commonwealth unless they wished. The soldiers were paid what seemed to the British Tommy a princely sum, starting with 6s. a day and 1s. allowance. General W. Birdwood, who had served with Kitchener in India, was given charge of the contingent. The first force, when it left Australia, was made up as follows: There was a light horse brigade, consisting of three regiments of cavalry, a field artillery battery, and an ammunition column, signal troop, and train and field ambulance; a division composed of three infantry brigades, two light horse squadrons, headquarters divisional artillery, three field artillery brigades, engineers and the accompanying train of ammunition column, signal company,

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