Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Seventh War Loan Tank Tour

In 1918,  the Commonwealth Government sought to raise 40 million pounds through the  Seventh War Loan. Each state was allocated an amount they needed to raise - Victoria's share was  £13,500,000 - and each Victorian Municipality was given a quota to raise money, based on valuations and population etc. The Shire of Berwick's quota was £40,000 and the Shire of Cranbourne was £28,000.

Seventh War Loan - Victorian Area Quotas
Public Records Office of Victoria - Shire of Alberton, General Correspondence Files
VPRS 17453/ P1  unit 16,  item 377-383 (1); 384-386

One of the ideas to encourage members of the public to subscribe to the War Loan was to have a Tank tour the countryside where at each stop people would hopefully be inspired to subscribe. The Tank Tour idea may have come from England via the United States.  The Argus of January 30, 1918 had reported on this idea  It was, surely, an American expert in advertising who suggested the use of a real British tank to assist in selling war bonds to the people of New York. The novelty of such a venture fairly "fetched" the Americans. The British tank was the most popular medium for advertisement that the cutest American had ever seen. A month or so ago. the National War Savings Committee decided to imitate the example of New York, and commence a tank collection in Trafalgar Square. Never has there been such a success. An imitation tank as a fundraiser had also been used a bit closer to home, in Frankston. It was one of the attractions in the Pageant of Loyalty held on September 1 in 1917. You can read about this Pageant, here.

In April, a tank was going to tour Melbourne and then was going to tour the North Eastern railway line town,  and the [City of Melbourne] Alderman Sir Henry Weedon will accompany the Tank, and will meet Alderman Joynton Smith, the Lord Mayor of Sydney who is accompanying the Sydney Tank, at Albury Bridge on Monday [April 22] (The Herald, April 15, 1918) 

The tanks were not completely authentic - The Argus on April 17, 1918 had this description of the tanks - At a garage in the city the body of the tank has been dismantled as the light car on which it was mounted was not considered sufficiently strong to stand the strain of the trip. The parts will be reassembled on a motor lorry, which will give it a more imposing appearance, and provide greater accommodation for the party which is to travel with it.

The Tanks outside the Melbourne Town Hall, after their return from the their tour of the countryside. The amount raised by each tank is written on the banners (more on this below) 
Image (which has been slightly cropped) is from The Australasian October 26, 1918

On September 16 1918,  three tanks were scheduled to leave Melbourne - the tour that covered this  area (the old Shire of Cranbourne and Shire of Berwick) was Tour three.  You can see the full proposed itinerary here, in The Argus of September 13, 1918 - Tour 1 went to the west of the State, Tour 2 went to the north and Tour 3  to Gippsland. The Gippsland tour was accompanied by Lieutenant Pickett, who made appeals at each stop.

The War Tank tour to Gippsland.
The Argus  September 13, 1918

The itinerary was also published in a promotional brochure, below, which includes another week of  locations in South Gippsland and the Cranbourne Shire. 

Seventh War Loan Tank Tour
Public Records Office of Victoria - Shire of Alberton, General Correspondence Files
VPRS 17453/ P1  unit 16,  item 377-383 (1); 384-386

Seventh War Loan Tank Tour
Public Records Office of Victoria - Shire of Alberton, General Correspondence Files
VPRS 17453/ P1  unit 16,  item 377-383 (1); 384-386

This Itinerary was later amended and locations were added in South Gippsland and the Cranbourne Shire - Lang Lang was  on October 5; Caldermeade, Monomeith and Koo Wee Rup on October 7 and Tooradin, Sherwood, Clyde and Cranbourne on October 9. 

Seventh War Loan Tank Tour - Special Itinerary
Public Records Office of Victoria - Shire of Alberton, General Correspondence Files
VPRS 17453/ P1  unit 16,  item 377-383 (1); 384-386

What was the local reaction to the Tank Tour?  This report comes from the Pakenham Gazette of September 20, 1918. Read the full report, here.
The Tuesday night was spent at Pakenham, when a meeting was held in front of the Mechanics' Hall. The speeches were delivered from the top of the Tank. Cr Cunningham, shire president, occupied the chair, and introduced the speakers. He said it was the duty of all to assist in the war, and those who could not send their sons to fight could help financially by subscribing to the War Loan.

Cr Frank Groves, M.L.A., then made an urgent appeal for money for the War Loan. He said the money was needed to carry on the war, and of the forty million pounds required, the Berwick shire was asked to contribute £40,000. The amount was comparatively small when they considered the wealth of the shire, and when they recognised that the money was to help the brave lads fighting at the front who had crowned the name of Australia with honor, he was sure that the shire's quota would be more than raised. The troops had to be paid, fed and equipped, and for this the people were asked to find the money. They were not asked to give it, but to lend it to the Government for five years. The security offered was the finest in the world, and at the end of the five years they would receive the sum lent by them together with 5 per cent. interest.

 Lieutenant Pickett then made an appeal for funds, pointing out that subscribing to the War Loan was not only a patriotic thing to do, but made sense financially - He said the people of Australia were asked to provide funds to help the men at the front, and they were worthy of all the assistance that could be given them. He pointed out that it was the people's Loan, arranged by the Government to keep the interest in Australia. The amount required, or even forty times as much, could be borrowed outside of Australia, but then the interest would have been lost to our people. The security offered was Australia itself the the world. Forty million pounds were asked for, but this was a mere flea-bite when the wealth of the country both above and below ground was considered. ........After referring to the war bonds, and their value, he asked for subscribers, and the first £10 bond was quickly disposed of. At £100 there was a slackness in business. Lieut. Pickett continued his appeal and when £250 had been reached a buyer for 3 bonds of £100 was found, bringing the total to £550. The speaker then went on to describe the Honor Flag, which is to be presented to each municipality securing its quota. A final appeal brought the total up to £910. The proceedings throughout were interesting, and the result satisfactory seeing that the attendance was only moderate......The tank continued its tour on Wednesday morning, when Narnargoon, Garfield and Bunyip were visited. At Bunyip, where Cr C. Pearson occupied the chair, bonds to the value of £1,500 were sold.

The Pakenham Gazette had a separate report on the visit of the War Tank to Nar Nar Goon - 
The War Loan Tank arrived at the School on Wednesday morning at 11 o'clock. The children were assembled, and after saluting the flag sang the National Anthem. The Tank was escorted into Nar Nar Goon by the children with their flag. A large crowd was in waiting, and the Tank halted at the post office. Cr Cunningham opened the meeting and introduced the speakers, Mr F. Groves and Lieut. Pickett. After a very short appeal by Lieut. Pickett the gratifying sum of £770 was obtained. (Pakenham Gazette, September 20, 1918)

The Bunyip and Garfield Express of September 20, 1918 reported on the tour in Garfield and Bunyip - On arrival of the tank at Garfield Cr Dowd, headed the leading residents of the town and district, in welcoming it. He introduced the object of the visitation, after which Mr Groves and Lieut. Picket made an appeal for subscriptions, which were quickly forthcoming. The tank then proceeded to Bunyip where it was met by the School children with flags, under Mr Daniel, Cr C. Pearson, made an introductory speech, and appealed to the people to invest in bonds. Mr Groves also spoke on behalf of the cause. The main appeal was made by Lieut. Pickett who proved to be a talented speaker, and when he concluded something like £1,500 worth of bonds had been sold. Among the subscribers were: Capt. a’Beckett £150; T. Strafford £130 ; T. Stacey £110 ; W. Temby £100. The following L50 each – Messrs C. Pearson, H. Miles; Mesdames Wilkington and Pearson; H. Rodger, L30. The following L20 – Messrs H. Wilson, H. Harcourt, R.I Flett. The following L10 – Arthur Pearson, A. Rodger, Mrs Miles jun, Mrs Jenkens, Miss Bell, Mr Ball, N. Hocking, Mrs Forsyth, Mrs Holgate, Miss Flett, Miss A. Botterill, Miss L. Botterill, S. Cock, R, Carter. 

Shire of Cranbourne Tank Tour advertisement
Koo Wee Rup Sun  October 2, 1918.

The Koo Wee Rup Sun  of  September 25, 1918 reported mainly on the tour in the Cranbourne Shire but started off with some figures from neighbouring areas -  Berwick Shire's quota is £40,000, and the various towns have contributed as follow : — Dandenong, £8000; Berwick and Pakenham, £1200 each; Narnargoon, £800, Tynong, £500; Bunyip, £1500; Longwarry, £700. The paper also had a stern warning to those members of the community who were hesitant in participating - Those who cannot fight must put their money in the loan. The percentage is good, and the security first class. Cranbourne Shire must come forward and help the loan all it can. The first thing the Germans would do if they came here would be to take the lot, without interest, and no return of the principal.

The Koo Wee Rup Sun reported on the tour again  in their October 9 issue -   No. 3 war tank, with Lieut. Pickett in charge, visited Wonthaggi on Friday and Saturday, the result being about £5000. The tank came on to Lang Lang on Saturday evening, when there was a large, attendance of the public, and addresses were delivered from the tank. The aims and objects of the loan were fully and clearly explained.

Cr. W.H. Greaves, in introducing the tank, and those in charge, mentioned that Lang Lang was honoured by being the first town in the shire to be visited by the tank, and he trusted they would respond in a way that would maintain the high prestige that surrounded Lang Lang for the part she was taking in this great war, and also in a way that would be acceptable to the promoters of the tank campaign. He then introduced Lieut. Pickett who in a versatile manner put before those present the reason why Australians should subscribe to the war loan, and not go outside their country to borrow money, the capital and interest of which when repaid went, right out of their land.

In response a sum of £3310 was subscribed, the chief contributors being : — Mrs A. M'Millan, £500; Mr A. M'Millan.£500; D.M'Millan, £500; H.Lawrence, £300; Mrs A. Baker £300; W.C. Greaves £200 A. Glasscock £250; F. Cougle, T. M'Aleese, W. Cole. Mrs Alloway, W. Greaves, jun. £100 each. Mrs Prowd £50; Miss Sylvia Alloway, £50; Miss Lucy Greaves, £50, R. Grant £50 E. N. Wiseman. £.20; Mrs Duff, Mrs Bruce, H. Dainty, and S. Baptise £10 each.

In the evening Kooweerup was visited, and there was a small attendance at the local hall, where Lieut. Pickett delivered an address. Business started off with a sum of £100 by an unknown applicant, and the total amount offered during the evening came to £630, including four amounts of £100, one of £50, £30, and the balance being principally in £10 bonds. It was hardly a representative meeting of Kooweerup, and we understand that more is being applied for. On Monday afternoon the tank went on to Cranbourne, where £3800 was secured.

The Koo Wee Rup Sun, had this summary of  the Tank Tour in their November 6, 1918 edition and clearly felt the organisation of the tour could have been better - 
Cranbourne Shire's Quota  - Seventh War Loan (£27,000) has not been reached, and it is difficult or impossible to find out how much the shire has contributed. The tour of the tank through this territorywas not distinguished by any remarkable organising, as most of the district was left untouched. Only three centres were visited, Lang Lang, Kooweerup and Cranbourne. At the former place the sum of £3310 was reached; at Kooweerup, £630, and Cranbourne, £3800. The London Bank at Kooweerup has received applications for £3660, which, added to the £630, is £4290. This makes a total of £12,030, but it is quite safe to say that a good deal more has been subscribed. Many people in Cranbourne Shire have applied for bonds in Melbourne, which, of course, are not credited to this shire.

The last sentence of this article sums up for us the success of the War Loan appeal and the role the Tank Tour played in raising the money - The splendid result of the war loan, which is indeed a real Victory loan, over £44,000,000 having been reached, has done away with any idea of compulsion.

I have created  a list of newspaper articles on the War Loan Tank Tour on Trove. You can access it here. All the articles referred to in this post are listed. 

Postscript - We were at the Public Records Office of Victoria researching another topic and had ordered the Shire of Alberton Correspondence files for that and so it was only by chance that we came across the references to the Seventh War Loan Tank Tour, it was a very serendipitous find. Thank you to Isaac Hermann for digital images of the War Loan material.

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