18 November 2022

Riverina Rewind: Tanks for your service

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People and tank

Mayor Edward Easter Collins stands atop the war loan tank that visited Wagga in late 1918. Photo: Museum of the Riverina, Bain collection.

In the wake of Remembrance Day, the team at the Museum of the Riverina takes us back to the home front in Wagga during World War I.

The Commonwealth Government of Australia launched seven war loans during the Great War.

These loans encouraged the population to purchase government war bonds, to be repaid with interest, and so to assist the war effort.

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The seventh war loan opened on 1 August, 1918, and launched in Wagga on 17 September, receiving its official start from the Wagga Court House.

Two war loan tanks toured as part of this fundraising enterprise: a northern and a western tank.

The tours of the tanks (as they were known) were remarkably successful in raising funds.

Cities and towns across Australia were allotted a quota that they agreed to fundraise. Wagga – at that time being the Mitchell and Kyeamba Shires – committed to raising £40,000.

On 11 September, at a Town Hall meeting convened by Mayor Edward Easter Collins, it was agreed upon that a “systematised campaign should result in the town once again vindicating its claim to be considered to be one of the most prosperous, provident and patriotic in the State”. (DA, 11 September, 1918)

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On 5 October, 1918, the Border Morning Mail and Riverina Times, an Albury publication, stated that: “Active steps will be commenced on Monday in Albury to secure investments in the Seventh War Loan. A competition has been arranged with Wagga and a ‘barometer’ to show the totals invested in the two towns … has been placed at the Commercial Bank corner …”

By 16 October, 1918, with Wagga having had its tank visit, it was reported by the Sydney Sun that Wagga was one of a large number of towns and cities that had secured more than their quota, having raised £65,000.

Photo and information supplied by Michelle Maddison, curator at the Museum of the Riverina.

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