“Knitters get busy!” Poem published in an unknown newspaper in 1918. RC07899
It can be difficult to get an idea of what was happening on the home front just by looking at military records. What were the people who weren’t serving doing? How did they feel? What did they do to play their part in Australia’s war effort?
One thing many Australians did during both the First and Second World Wars was knit. Australia-wide, local organisations, schools, church groups, knitting circles, and individuals banded together to undertake the huge task of providing comforts to Australian troops. Comforts included gifts like food, entertainment, recreation facilities, and clothing given to troops to supplement what the military couldprovide.
During the course of the First World War, Australians knitted over 1 million pairs of socks as gifts for the troops. Historican Michael McKernan estimated at 10 hours of work per pair, that would be an extraordinary 10 million hours of work.
In the Second World War, they outdid even that, with over 3 million pairs of socks knitted! Australians also made a variety of other items, like scarves, vests and mittens.