Writing to the Premier about the War
From the very beginning, the ‘War’ file reveals support for efforts by the WA authorities to galvanise the community for the war effort. There are also expressions of concern from the public about some problems the war may bring to WA.
Price rises were certainly a worry for many, but the file also reveals other concerns. For example, on 6 August the Premier received a letter from Gertude Mead of the Committee of the King Edward Memorial Hospital for Women stating that, even in the crisis created by the declaration of war, an adequate training school for midwives “must not be lost sight of”. On the same day the Goldfields Motor Club Cyclists offered their services to the Commonwealth, and Mr Coppin from the Auditor-General's Office wrote to the Premier with suggestions “to release legal tender during potential time of financial stringency”. On 9 August Messrs J. Bordas & Co of the Savoy Café in Perth offered their premises to the Premier to provide relief “by way of soup kitchen”, if necessary.
On 10 August Mr Lefroy on 10 August 1914, strongly recommended that “in view of the present War Crisis” the construction and completion of the Trans Australian Railway should be expedited. On 12 August the Western Australian Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals forwarded a copy of a statement titled ‘Animals in War’ adding that throughout the world, various societies with similar intent to their own, had “long been desirous of obtaining a an extension of the Geneva Convention so as to include assistance to wounded animals in time of War”. It stated that this same statement had been delivered to Sir Edward Grey, the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in London.
On 21 August Mr W.R. Burton of Maritana Street in Kalgoorlie, wrote to the Premier advising him that “there is being built (by a small Company formed for the purpose) an Aerplane [sic]. The machine is partly erected and when the balance of material arrives from London the Aeroplane should be completed in a few weeks”. Mr Burton supplied this information to the Premier in case he might be interested and “disposed to take the Machine over if it proves a success”.
Western Australians were very quick to enlist in the military and those that did in the first days of the war were quickly encamped at Bellevue. On 23 August Mr J.G. Hay, the Honorary Secretary of the Charity League of Western Australia, sent a letter to the Premier to offer an “Entertainment” to the 1700 troops stationed there. “All my people, singers, instrumentalists, reciters, and conjurers, give gratuitously their services”, wrote Mr Hay.
After initial excitement created by the declaration of war, generating many letters from the public giving advice and offers of support, there is a decrease in their number as the war takes full shape. By October the file comprises an increasing number of administrative communications, including interactions with the the local military command. The war was becoming routine.