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The Kia ora coo-ee : the magazine for the ANZACS in the Middle East, 1918

Work of the Australian Red Cross

page 3

Work of the Australian Red Cross.

The people at home are constantly trying to show their sympathy, and assist Australians on service overseas, and when a soldier is sick or wounded, it is the Red Cross which in some small way takes the place of his own kinsfolk and supplies some of his needs.

The army feeds, clothes and nurses its patients, and the Red Cross supplements the provision made by the medical branch of the army, so that Red Cross activities vary according to the medical equipment of the army with which it is working. For instance, in Serbia in 1914, Red Cross energies were all absorbed in providing personal service, medical supplies and hospital equipment, while amongst Australian troops to-day everything which is regarded as essential is provided by the Army, Red Cross supplies being more purely luxuries, such as tinned fruit, extra medical foods, extra pyjamas, underclothing, or such service as wounded and missing enquiry work.

A marked exception to these comforts are the parcels supplied to Australian prisoners of war, which must be regarded as necessities. During the month of December, 17,294 parcels of food, and 1399 parcels of clothing were despatched from Australian Red Cross Bonded Stores in London to Australian captives in Germany and Turkey, and in addition to this £600 in cash was also sent to the same source. We have received the interesting news that two Australians who have been in Turkish hands since the Gallipoli Campaign, to wit, Messrs Davern and O'Connor, were officially reported to be on their way to Switzerland, and arrangements have been concluded whereby a good many Australian prisoners in Turkey will be repatriated.

During the desert campaign in the past two years in Sinai, rations, water and essentials have claimed all available transport during periods of activity, and comforts could only be delivered amongst the Field Ambulances when the camps were stationary. Now that the country occupied is practical for motors, more can be done for men passing through Receiving Stations.

The general rise in the price of food-stuffs has made itself felt in Egypt, as is shown by the fact that the Society has had to pay a little more for meat and teas supplied to the men.

The closing of the Marakeb Rest Camp, Palestine, is announced. Over 4,000 men passed through the camp since its inception last June. While it is always nice to hear appreciative things from O.C's and members of the Staff, it is if anything more gratifying to have tributes from patients, and such remarks as, "This is the nearest approach to home that I have experienced since I left two years ago," or "Everything possible seems to be done for the comfort and welfare of the men here, " are received with much pleasure.

The desire for home news is always insatiable with the Australian far from his native country, and the 4,000 odd Australian papers that were distributed in Egypt have contributed largely to the men's wishes, while in addition to this numbers of English papers were also issued.

The activities of the above Society are carried on by a number of Australian men and women who came to Egypt for that purpose, and they are assisted by a staff of "B" Class men of the A.I.F., and native labour. It is the policy of the Society not to sell any of its goods, nor to charge for any of its services. The prolongation of the war is throwing a heavy weight on its finances, the cost of caring for our prisoners of war alone during 1918 being estimated at £200.000