• THE ANZAC BUFFET, LONDON, 1915 – 1919

"In one of London’s busiest streets you will always find the Blue Ensign with the Southern Cross floating in the breeze. On the double doors of the building where the flag of Australia flies proudly, you will read these words: “Open. Welcome to the Australian and New Zealand Troops.” It is well-known as the “Anzac Buffet,” or, as one of the boys called it, “The Dinkum Bit of Home, in Blighty.”" [The Anzac Buffet, 94 Victoria-street, 1917] The Anzac Buffet first opened its doors at 70 Victoria Street, Westminster, London on the 13th September 1915. It was then moved from these premises to 130 Horseferry Rd, Westminster, London in November 1915. Closing its doors at Horseferry Rd on the 8th September 1916, it re-opened the same day at its third and final destination, 94 Victoria-street, Westminster, London, and finally closed for good on the 29th November 1919. [Scroll down to the bottom of the page for a list of some of the many women who volunteered at the Anzac Buffet during its operation] The Anzac Buffet – its first incarnation: 70 Victoria Street, Westminster, London – Opened 13th September 1915 – closed November 1915 The Daily Telegraph (Sydney, NSW), Wed 8 Sept 1915 (p.9): ANZAC CLUB IN LONDON LONDON, Tuesday – The Australian Natives’ Association will, on September 13, open the “Anzac” buffet reading and writing rooms, adjoining the Commonwealth Office. The club is for Australian and New Zealand soldiers. The Times, 16/9/1915: THE “ANZAC” BUFFET CLUB FOR AUSTRALIAN AND NEW ZEALAND SOLDIERS The opening of the Anzac Buffet in the basement of No. 70, Victoria-street, by the Australian Natives’ Association, has been hailed with delight by Australian and New Zealand soldiers visiting London after leaving hospital. Although the Union Jack and other soldiers’ clubs were open to them, the men were more or less at a loss as to where they should go, and it was no uncommon sight to see, leaning against walls or sitting on doorsteps, gatherings of Australians and New Zealanders who could find no better place to pass the time. Now they can have a quiet read, chat, and smoke or write letters at the “Anzac,” where from 9 o’clock to 6, sandwiches and tea are served free by Australian ladies, who are devoting their energies to the task. Although the buffet was only opened three days ago, it has already been visited by several hundred men. The club premises are excellently organized, and the only fault that is found by guests is the lack of a piano – a gift which would be a great boon, as many of the men are fond of music and are good musicians. Queensland Figaro (Brisbane), Sat 20 Nov 1915 (p.19): THE ANZAC ROOMS During the few weeks for which they have been established, the Anzac Rooms have proved to be the greatest boon to our troops in England (says the “British Australasian” of September 30) who, wounded or on furlough, were badly in need of some comfortable resting place in London, where they could rest weary limbs, obtain refreshment and meet their friends during the hours which must perforce be spent in waiting for the conclusion of various kinds of business at the military records office. A huge staff there is kept busily at work without rest, but every man’s need or enquiry cannot be attended to at once, and some therefore must remain near the office until their turn comes. At the Anzac Rooms, close by, they find the comfort and the company that mean so much to them. Thousands of soldiers have already taken advantage of the hospitality offered, and have freely and practically expressed their appreciation of it. The only trouble now is that the rooms are too small. Another buffet is not yet perhaps required, but there is urgent need of more room space, and simple furniture to make it habitable. We have no doubt that the funds to supply this want will soon be forthcoming, and as the value of what the A.N.A. is doing through the “Anzac” organization becomes more widely known, there should be little difficulty in obtaining also the Australian hut, which Mrs Cox Roper is anxious to establish on the same lines as the Canadian hut, already in existence. The Mirror of Australia (Sydney, NSW), Sat 4 Dec 1915 (p.4): The Anzac Buffet The Anzac Buffet, which has been established in London for the convenience of Australian wounded, is in charge of Mrs Cox-Roper. The premises have already proved inadequate to accommodate the flow of Australian wounded, and when the last mail left there was talk of extensions. By the way, the number of voluntary lady workers was in excess of requirements. Queensland Figaro Sat 8 Jan 1916 (p.8): THE ANZAC BUFFET May I be permitted to bring under the notice of your readers the good work being carried out by the Australian Natives’ Association for the benefit of the Australian and New Zealand soldiers when in London? writes the President of the A.N.A., Mr A. H. O’Connor, London, in the “British Australasian.” The association recently established the “Anzac” Free Buffet and Clubrooms, at 70, Victoria street, immediately adjoining the Commonwealth offices, which during the first two weeks were taken advantage of by over 1,500 men. The facilities provided are greatly appreciated by the “Anzacs,” many of whom, fresh from hospital, are compelled to wait about the Commonwealth offices for their pay, clothing, furlough passes, etc. In some cases the men have drawn no pay for months, and it is to meet their needs while temporarily ‘out of funds’ that the free buffet has been established. Through the generosity of our members and their friends, a comfortable reading, smoking, and music room has been provided. The value of this will increase as the winter weather comes in. The association feels that it is a privilege to be thus able to entertain the Australians and New Zealanders, and believes that there are many who would desire to associate themselves with the movement by contributing to the Maintenance Fund. We confidently ask for practical support in this excellent work, either by contributions in cash or kind, or by weekly subscriptions to the Shilling Fund, which has now been started. The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW), Wed 17 May 1933 (p.10) ANZAC BUFFET IN LONDON TO THE EDITOR OF THE HERALD. Sir – Might I draw your attention to an inaccurate report from your special correspondent in London in the “Herald” of 1st instant, in which it is stated, inter alia, that a Miss Watson was the only woman among the five founders of the Anzac Buffet in Victoria-street, and that she sent circulars to 3000 Australians in London and received £3000 to start the buffet, etc. The history of the origin of the Anzac Buffet is as follows: – An Australian lady, Mrs Cox-Roper, then resident in London brought under the notice of the High Commissioner, Sir George Reid, the plight of Australian soldiers who had been invalided from Gallipoli, and convalescent in London. Although the High Commissioner had no authority to grant financial assistance, he was instrumental in arranging for premises suitable for Mrs Cox-Roper’s purpose in the vicinity of the Commonwealth Buildings. The preliminary expenses and furniture were contributed by Mrs Cox-Roper and numerous Australian women and men resident in London. The buffet was carried on under the direction of Mrs Cox-Roper for six weeks, during which period some 200 ladies were in voluntary attendance under a roster. Owing to a breakdown in health, Mrs Cox-Roper handed over the control of the buffet to Mrs Ratigan, of Queensland, who got in touch with Miss Ada Reeve, and it was at Miss Reeves instigation that an appeal for funds was made to the Australian public. The liberal response made the continuous functioning of the buffet possible. I am, etc., J.S.Ryan (1st F.C.E.) Strathfield May 4 The Land (Sydney, NSW), Fri 24 Aug 1923 (p.17): …………………………………………………………… The return of Mrs Cox-Roper and her daughter Decima to Australia was effected as quietly and unassumingly as their splendid war service in London, which won for them the love and goodwill of numberless Diggers, and the hearty appreciation of all who knew them. Later she founded the famous Anzac Buffet, and took charge as superintendent. For seven weeks she laboured day and night. Then her health broke down, and she relinquished her position to Mrs Rattigan, of Victoria, contenting herself on her recovery with filling any position required of her. … Second incarnation at new premises: The Anzac Club and Buffet, 130 Horseferry Rd, Westminster, London – opened in November 1915 – closed 8th September 1916 The Herald (Melb, Vic), Wed 8 Dec 1915 (p.1): ANZAC BUFFET WILL MOVE INTO ITS NEW QUARTERS (FROM OUR LONDON OFFICE) 92 Fleet Street, October 28 This week the High Commissioner successfully concluded the negotiations with the various authorities in London whose consent was necessary for securing an addition to the new Commonwealth premises in Horseferry road. These premises, which are behind and adjoining the Australian Military Offices (formerly the Wesleyan Training College) in Westminster, have been occupied by an elementary school under the Wesleyan denomination, but the Wesleyan authorities agreed to the transfer of the building to the High Commissioner, provided they could obtain another building and a playground for the children, and that the educational authorities (which include the London County Council and the Board of Education) would give their consent. A building was secured, ……………………… The Anzac Buffet, which is to have space in the additional premises, will now be transferred immediately from the present cramped quarters in Victoria street to the building adjoining the Australian Military Offices, of which they form a part. The new quarters were inspected this week by Lieutenant-Colonel W.T. Reay and Mr Molden (vice-presidents of the London A.N.A.), and by Mr G.V. Shillinglaw, hon secretary of the Buffet. The Australian soldiers will find in the new quarters accommodation, convenience, and comfort superior to anything which has heretofore been provided for them by this or any other organization in London. In the matter of convenience alone, the Anzac Buffet is easily first. The payments now made at the paying counter in the Military Paymaster’s Branch of the Australian Military Offices amount to an average of £4000 a day, and as these payments are mostly in comparatively small sums, this fact alone will give some idea of the large daily attendance of soldiers. It is calculated that between 400 and 500 soldiers call at the Military Offices daily. ……………………………… Most of these men find their way to the Anzac Buffet, and, now that it has premises large enough to meet the needs of an attendance of 400 or 500 a day, the usefulness of the institution will be shown more than ever. There is one large hall, in which tea, coffee, mineral waters, etc. (the buffet does not cater for those who require square meals), may be supplied to as many as a hundred men at one time. There are other rooms, which may be devoted to music, games, reading and writing. When Sir George Reid visited the buffet this week he left the following note in the visitors’ book. “The Anzac Buffet has a wonderful record of usefulness. Long life to it.” Mudgee Guardian and North-Western Representative (NSW), Thur 30 Dec 1915 (p.12): An Interesting Letter From Private Don Lowe The following letter has been received by us from Private Don Lowe, of Mudgee, from the military pay office, in London, dated 17th November, 1915: – …………………………………. “On arrival in London I met some of my battalion mates, and a host of Australian ladies and gentlemen at the Anzac Club, controlled by members of the Australian Natives’ Association. Our ladies are doing wonders for our soldiers on furlough in England. The Anzac Club is a free house for our men, situated in the heart of the city, where tea, smoke, and reading rooms are provided for Australian soldiers. I was present at the opening of the new club premises adjoining the military buildings. Sir George Reid and Sir Ian Hamilton being present, and giving addresses to the large crowd of Australians who are interested in its welfare. ………………… http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/156942897 The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW), Fri 31 Dec 1915 (p.8): AUSTRALIAN SOLDIERS IN LONDON (BY OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT) THE ANZAC BUFFET, LONDON, Nov 17 At the Anzac Buffet – now grown to the Anzac Club and Buffet – an at home will be held on Saturday next in honour of the Australian V.Cs now in London. Many hundreds of Australians are expected to be present, and the occasion will thus be a notable one. But the Anzac Club and Buffet does not exist merely for this sort of full-dress, ceremonial function. It is at its best, rather, in its everyday aspect of a cheerfully informal rendezvous for the Australian soldier who, coming out of the London streets for a chat with friends and compatriots, will never fail to find them in large numbers within the comfortable rooms of the Anzac Buffet. Begun modestly, as will be remembered, in a basement room near the Commonwealth Office in Victoria-street the Buffet made a success so instantaneous and so quick to develop that the overflowing stream of its patronage made new arrangements immediately necessary. After something of a debate with the Commonwealth Office, these new arrangements resulted in the present Anzac Club and Buffet, a spacious and comfortable set of rooms in the new Commonwealth premises in Horseferry-road. To have established the Anzac Buffet at all is to the lasting credit of the officials of the London branch of the Australian Natives’ Association, whose scheme it was. To have secured these fine rooms is something of a triumph. For by virtue of them the scheme has just the opportunity it needed to meet the demand upon it. Hundreds of our boys come there daily. Their welcome is assured to them. Little tables are all about the main room, and tea and coffee and light refreshments are always ready for the soldier. Not only is it given to him gladly, and free of charge, but the service of it is in the hands of Australian ladies, who by this time are expert and enthusiastic tearoom waitresses. There are now, I understand, some 230 of them. They take their turn in the Buffet in shifts of 16. Once in their hands, as will be quite well understood, the Australian soldier is safe for a pleasant half-hour. And alongside the tea-room is a reading room, where the Australian newspapers are provided, while not far off is a concert room, where on most days of the week music, and sometimes the excellent music of artists, is at disposal of the patron of Anzac. The latest addition to the equipment of the rooms is a billiard table, which is now in active operation, so that by and large the Anzac Club and Buffet is a most desirable refuge for Australian soldiers who are for the time being wanderers in London. In the winter months especially soon to be the strange surrounding of our men, the comfort and cheerfulness of the place will give them effective relief from the London streets. Australians at home will, one thinks, agree that this is a splendid Australian institution. They should know also that it is one more instance of Australia’s enthusiasm for voluntary war-service. Anzac Buffet is entirely due to voluntary effort. It was started voluntarily by the A.N.A. It has been supported – and its financial necessities are by no means light – by voluntary subscriptions. All the other help needed by it is secured to it by voluntary workers. The bearers of the burden of Anzac in London are thus too many in number to be named. But one ought to mention in respect of it at least Mr A.H. O’Connor, and Mr H. Kneebone, who, as president and secretary, respectively, of the London A.N.A., have done much towards the present splendid showing of the scheme; Mr G.V. Shillinglaw, of Melbourne, who gives the whole of his time to personal supervision of the rooms; and Mrs Huck, of Sydney, who is in similar charge of the many feminine activities concerned. The Argus (Melb, Vic), Tue 4 Apr 1916 (p.8): ANZACS IN LONDON THE ANZAC BUFFET The Anzac Buffet at the Australian military headquarters in Horseferry road is the chief meeting-place in London for the men of Anzac. On Saturday there was a special entertainment in honour of Mr and Mrs Fisher and their “quiverful.” A great gathering of Australian soldiers, sailors, and nurses assembled to greet, the new High Commissioner and his wife, and a large party of Australian children also assembled to welcome the little Fishers. Mrs Sinclair Ross was in charge of the musical programme for the “grown-ups,” while Mrs Hardie, Mrs Monte Bayly, and Mrs Rees looked after the jueveniles. ……………………………………………… https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/2098654 Bendigo Advertiser (Vic), Tue 11 Apr 1916 (p.7): THE ANZAC BUFFET In a letter to Mr G. Mackay, Miss Nancy A Byrne, formerly of “Gannawarra,” View Hill, Bendigo, but now of 69 Madeley road, Ealing, London, a granddaughter of the late Mrs Millin, writes as follows: – “In a recent issue of the ‘Bendigonian’ I saw a reference to the reception of Australian V.C.’s held in the small canteen, which entertains 2300 Australian soldiers a day. As I have been working at the Anzac Buffet practically since it was started, I thought it might perhaps interest you to have a few details of the Australian headquarters in London. These are situated in 130 Horseferry road, Westminster. The premises were formerly used as national schools for boys and girls. In addition to the military offices, pay department, post office, medical board, etc., there is the Anzac Buffet, which consists of a large room where refreshments are served gratis to all Australian and New Zealand soldiers. This room has seating accommodation for 200. About 1000 men a day are served with refreshments there between 9.30 a.m. and 8 p.m. The average daily consumption of food is as follows: – 45 to 50 quarten loaves, 40lb butter, 112lb cake, 30lb meat, 10lb tea, 6lb coffee, 80 quarts milk, 30lb sugar. There are also in the same building a music room, reading and writing rooms, and a billiard room, with full-sized table. Entertainments are given nearly every day to the men by parties of both professionals and amateurs. Last Saturday a reception was given in honor of Mr A. Fisher, the new Commonwealth High Commissioner, and we finished up with an impromptu dance. I have met several Bendigo boys, and I am sure when they return they will speak well of their London club. With kind regards, in which my mother and my uncle (Mr C.F. Kennedy) join.” Camberwell and Hawthorn Advertiser (Vic), Sat 15 Apr 1916 (p.4): THE A.N.A. IN LONDON BY A MEMBER https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/153603614 The Mercury (Hobart), Sat 14 Oct 1916: WOMAN’S WORLD By Clio Australians in Exile An Australian soldier, returned for a time to his native land from those fiery lines in France, has been telling with enthusiasm of the work Australian women are doing in England, ………. But London is an immense place, and there are Australians everywhere helping the Australian boys. But I shall tell you of the Anzac Buffet, Horseferry-road, Westminster, the Mecca of Australian soldiers in London. I cannot describe the kind of feeling which takes possession of us, and instinctively makes us set our feet towards the Anzac Buffet, and there sit and be with our own folk again. The buffet is so cheerful and bright, the girls – every one Australian-born – are so jolly and pleased to do anything, that it is one of the greatest pleasures in London for us to get round to the buffet, and be once more in Australia. I could almost imagine being in Sydney again, when going into the buffet, to find Mrs Phipps and her sister, Miss Johnson, there, and Mrs Hughes, Miss Manning, and Mrs Sinclair Ross, Miss Evertt, and Miss Allen, a Queenslander. But there are 300 of them, so it’s impossible to name them all. They all work so hard, and are so cheerful about it, that the boys are always there. There are many English girls, I am told, who would like to help in the buffet, but it is only Australian-born who help the Anzac to his coffee. The Age (Melb, Vic), Mon 21 Aug 1916 (p.7): Removal of Anzac Buffet The Australian Natives’ Association in London sent a deputation to Mr Fisher on Friday, which protested against the military order to remove the Anzac buffet on the ground that the rooms are required for the extension of the military headquarters. It was pointed out that there is considerable feeling among Australians, because they have the impression that the military authorities, regardless of the excellent work done at the buffet, desire to remove competition with the new club. The military had determined that the troops should pay for comforts, and there was some criticism of the action of the Sydney War Chest management in granting £4000 for the club, which was a trading concern. Australians in London understood that subscribers to the war chest intended that the money should be spent in the free distribution of comforts, and considered that the Government ought to finance the club, as now established, seeing that the military institutions were intended to be self-supporting. The Australian Natives are still hopeful of establishing a free hostel. Mr Fisher, with Mr Watkins, M.P., and Senator de Largie, visited the new Australian soldiers’ club on Friday and dined with the soldiers. The three visitors made speeches. Mr Fisher congratulated the soldiers on having a self-supporting club. Referring to the war, he congratulated the soldiers on their arriving at a fortuitous moment, when the dark war clouds had broken and light was shining on the road to unequivocal victory. Third and final incarnation at new premises: The Anzac Club and Buffet, 94 Victoria-street, Westminster, London – opened on the 8th of September 1916 – closed 29th November 1919 The Argus (Melb, Vic), Fri 22 Sept 1916 (p.7): New Anzac Buffet The new Anzac Buffet was opened in London on Wednesday. The Australian High Commissioner (Mr Andrew Fisher), speaking at the ceremony, expressed appreciation of the efforts of the voluntary workers, and promised them every assistance. The Border Morning Mail and Riverina Times (Albury, NSW), Fri 8 Dec 1916 (p.4): CORRESPONDENCE ANZAC BUFFET IN LONDON Sir, – From a letter received from Mrs A.W. Watson, of Gerogery East, who has been in London for some time past, I know she would be pleased to receive some financial assistance from the Albury district towards the Anzac Buffet, London, where she has been one of the energetic honorary workers for many months past. ……………………………………….. http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/109973112 Sunday Times (Sydney, NSW), Sun 3 Dec 1916 (p.26): AUSTRALIANS IN LONDON V.A.D.’s Fine Work Mrs E. Marie Irvine, who returned to Sydney by the Malwa, after a trip to England and America, has many interesting things to tell of women’s war work in London. Mrs Irvine, who is a commandant of the Darlinghurst V.A.D., …………………………………… Mrs Irvine took up work in the Anzac Buffet, as all Australians do. It is the one spot in London where an Australian soldier feels that he is at home. Miss Innes-Noad, a former Sydney girl, is doing good work there with newspapers. The men leave their addresses with her, and the papers are sent to the trenches. Their cry is for the Bulletin and Sunday papers, especially the Sunday Times, which is most popular. The Buffet is typically Australian. The girls add green aprons embroidered with wattle to their costumes. Mimosa adorns the walls, and Australian papers are seen on all sides. Two thousand men are catered for daily. An interesting fact about the Buffet is that the patent sink, which minimizes the work of washing up, was invented by an Australian. ………………………………… The Ballarat Courier (Vic), Thur 8 Feb 1917 (p.4): THE ANZAC BUFFET COMFORTS FOR WOUNDED SOLDIERS Miss Pennefather, who has taken an active part in the Anzac Buffet, England, sends interesting particulars relative to Australian wounded soldiers in hospital in England in the following letter to her sister, Miss A. Pennefather, Launceston: – “My last letter acknowledged the receipt of £37 sent me by Miss Corney, and I have written to each one of the kind subscribers; and last mail brought a very substantial and generous gift for the soldiers from Mr Percy Smith, Launceston, and Mr Marcell Conran, formerly of Geelong, to both of whom I have sent the grateful thanks of the boys. I hardly know what I have told you, as it is three weeks since I wrote, and hope there will not be very much repetition. The dear little buffet and club, which has been the only and nearest approach to home that our soldiers have known in London, now exists no longer in the military headquarters in Horseferry road, for we moved on Friday, 8th September to 94 Victoria street, close to Victoria station, and the boys had their last meal at the old Anzac at 3 o’clock, after which it was closed, and the general upheaval commenced. Our president (Mr O’Connor), secretary (Mr Evans), and our indefatigable superintendent (Mrs Rattigan) spent many hours scouring round Westminster to get suitable premises for the club, and these are the best that could be found at so short a notice. They are much smaller and more limited in every way; but are only about five minutes walk from headquarters, in the vicinity of which it was considered so essential to remain – and, after all, the Anzac still exists! The main facts of the case are these: – When the English Government gave over to the Commonwealth the magnificent premises of the Westminster Wesleyan Training College for their military administration, Sir George Reid set apart for the Anzac buffet (which had started in an unpretentious little basement in Victoria street) for the duration of the war the rooms which it has occupied for these many months; and everything ran smoothly, and each day gave increasing proof of the need it was filling, and the comfort and blessing it was to the Australian soldiers. No charge was made, the A.N.A. wishing to offer as nearly as was possible to the boys the hospitality they would receive in friends’ houses; but I don’t think very many boys went out without dropping a coin into the box for donations. However, the A.N.A. were determined to carry on somewhere and somehow. At 94 Victoria street we are no longer under military regulations, and the boys can come and go as they please. But we are now saddled with rent, in addition to the ordinary expenses of carrying on. All the same, since its inception the Anzac has been run by funds voluntarily subscribed by friends and sympathisers, and I don’t think those givers will fail us now, when the needs of the club are so much greater. “I would like everyone who reads this to remember the blessing that this ‘little bit of heaven’ (as an Australian soldier once said to me) has been, and continues to be, to our boys; and when they want something to give to – and Australians I do think have proved the most generous givers in the world – not to forget the Anzac Buffet.” Miss B. White of Ewins’ book store, has collected £4 from her friends to send to Miss Pennefather to assist the Buffet. Miss White will be pleased to receive further contributions. Donations may also be left at “The Courier” Office. Cairns Post (Qld), Mon 2 Apr 1917 (p.6) AUSTRALIA’S LADS IN LONDON An Appeal for the Anzac Buffet Miss G.B. Lancaster, the well-known authoress, sends the following which it is hoped will induce some Queenslanders of means to send to the Anzac Buffet in London: – Dear Fellow Australians – Because you used to be good to me in the days when I wrote for “The Australasian,” “Bulletin,” and “Lone Hand,” I am now paying my debt by giving you the chance to be good to those who, if I know anything of you, you would sooner help than any other. Perhaps the ugliest and most common battles which our men have to fight over here are those against loneliness and shortage of money, and it was to outwit these two devils especially that the Anzac Club and Buffet was formed when the Australians first came to London. This club will almost certainly have to close down in a month or two, owing to lack of funds, and then you in Australia will say: – “We could easily have kept it going if we had known. Why didn’t someone tell us?” And so I am telling you. I am going to be very explicit, and assure you that our Australian lads need saving from very much more than the German guns, and that the Anzac Buffet – and many other clubs and buffets – are making a gallant struggle to help your brothers and sons and husbands to come back to you unscathed by anything more than powder, shell, and steel. The buffet opens at 7 a.m., and by 9 a.m. a hundred men have often been comforted by hot coffee, cocoa, tea, or milk, sandwiches of all kinds, cakes, and buns. There is a large room in the basement, where, one afternoon at 3 o’clock in last week, I counted 51 men, sleeping in easy chairs, writing letters at the many little tables, playing billiards, singing at the piano – and all in a very home-like atmosphere of smoke and Australian pictures. Just outside is the counter where Miss Innes-Noad distributes and re-addresses the many Australian papers sent her for hospitals. Above is the long canteen, cheerful with spring flowers, and the light green overalls of the helpers, and sown thick from end to end with khaki and the hospital blue. At a little table near the door Mrs Fisher used to present free theatre and concert tickets. Lately a most generous English lady – Mrs Hammersley – asked permission to the buffet to elaborate this scheme, and now entertainment in the form of motor-drives and all kinds of amusements is arranged for between 200 and 300 men a day. If the Anzac Buffet has to be turned into an ordinary self-supporting restaurant those most in need of entertainment will be debarred from getting it. At the buffet lonely men meet their mates and their fellow countrymen, and this is much. But they meet also the ladies of their own land who know by instinct how to talk to Australians, and this, to many of them, means a good deal more. “The ladies seem to know just how you’re feeling,” said one. “If you are lonely they come and talk. If you want to be quiet they let you alone.” “I haven’t enjoyed anything so much since I left home,” said another, who came up for an hour from hospital. “All the ladies talked to me, and they seemed so glad to see me.” “It’s like home,” in the judgment of most, and indubitably there is an air of good-fellowship and ease which is essentially Australian, although – and this is a very illuminating little point – the respect which the men feel is proved by the fact that most of those just out of hospital address their waitresses as ‘sister.’” Plenty of lads there are, who confide their troubles to these green-overalled “Sisters,” and are the better for it; plenty who come again and yet again, looking on it as a ‘bit of home.’ If a man confesses himself Queenslander-born a Queensland helper is called up, when practicable, to talk to him. If a man comes from New Zealand – for the Anzac Buffet, as its name implies, caters for both, although Australians very much predominate – there is someone to speak with him of tussocks and kauri gum – and the other things which hold his heart. Let it be granted that all the clubs and hotels brought into being by the war are doing useful work. Let it be granted that they each represent so many square feet of solid comfort and physical, mental, and moral aid to the soldier. And yet the Anzac Club and buffet has a certain distinction of its own. With the exception of the Victoria League Club – which is practically a restaurant – it was the first club started for Australasian soldiers in England. With the exception of Waterloo station it is possibly the best known place in London to Australians. With the exception of not anywhere at all it is the most fully-staffed with our own country-women. Now, leaving exceptions, we come to the last undeniable fact. The Australian soldier in London needs, and will have, feminine society. If he cannot get from these hard-working and gracious ladies of the Anzac buffet the kindly friendship which they have been dispensing with their cakes for so long, he is going to be the worse man for it when he gets back to Australia. It is for you in Australia to decide about that, only you must be quick. With the great care which is exercised in catering, the voluntary subscriptions, and the staff chits, it is calculated that £3000 a year would keep the buffet going. But I think you will have to get your Mayor to cable some of it home very soon. Words are shadows at best. But if I have driven home to even a handful of you something of the vital need of our men for all the help and sympathy which they can get, I will no longer have to look at those rows of looped hats in the canteen with the heartsick fear that our lads may ask for bread, and we of Australia may give to them a stone. You can wait for the post, and the chance of submarines to thank me for telling you all about this. But I hope that you will communicate by cable with Mrs Rattigan, the Anzac Club and Buffet, 94 Victoria-street, Westminster. You would if you saw what we see daily here. The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW), Wed27 Jun 1917 (p.5): THE ANZAC BUFFET In one of London’s busiest streets you will always find the Blue Ensign with the Southern Cross floating in the breeze. On the double doors of the building where the flag of Australia flies proudly, you will read these words: “Open. Welcome to the Australian and New Zealand Troops.” It is well-known as the “Anzac Buffet,” or, as one of the boys called it, “The Dinkum Bit of Home, in Blighty.” Inside, what is to be seen? – Chairs and tables, and numbers of Anzacs. What are they doing? – Just having tea (or coffee, if they prefer it), and cake and sandwiches, all made by Australian women, who wear a green overall, with wattle sprays. All the work is voluntary, and I may add thoroughly enjoyed. Have you heard of this spot? – No. Well, just ask the next returned soldier you meet and ask if he has, and I’ll guarantee he’ll say, “It’s the best buffet in London.” Some of the many advantages offered for the men are, besides the care of the “inner man,” theatre tickets given freely and graciously by the managers. An invitation bureau, from which are issued invitations from English hosts and hostesses, for teas and dinners, tours, etc. And last, but not least, “The Australian newspaper department.” Now, it is of the last-mentioned item of which I want to speak. I have charge of that department, and for the past 18 months the people at home have been sending me papers for the men. I want all who read this to continue their help. I want illustrated weekly editions of the papers, sporting, and dramatic, and country papers. Everyone who will send to me is asked to make a note of my name and address, and then to pass it on to their neighbor. I send bags to different hospitals, and have my particular hospital visitors, who take bundles of 15 to 20 papers weekly. So you see I want a big supply to keep things going. So keep on posting till “peace” comes, won’t you? Now that question has been asked I want to venture to ask you if you’ll send me donations. Organize bazaars, tea-parties, concerts – anything, as long as you get money, and send it along for the “boys.” The donations and contributions, etc., for the year, March, 1916, to March, 1917, were £5442 4s 6d, and the total expenditure £5389 4s 7d. The number of soldiers served during the last six months was 137,760, and the average cost per man was 3.27 pence, which is really marvelous, considering the daily rising of food prices. Other figures that might be interesting to you are the amounts of food used – Bread, 16,975 loaves; sugar, 5945lb; tea, 1692lb; cake, 37,374; butter, 9670; meat, 10,211; milk, 27,884 quarts. If you could only hear or see the gratitude of the men about our work you would send me every penny you could collect. If it is desired I will see that donations are spent on a wounded man from a particular battalion, or for the wounded from hospitals, who come in in flocks. Please mark your letters “S.M.H. Anzac Buffet Fund,” and address to Miss Innes-Noad, Anzac Buffet, 94 Victoria-street, London, S.W.1, England. MARGERY INNES-NOAD. St Arnaud Mercury (Vic), Sat 16 Mar 1918 (p.4): THE ANZAC BUFFET INTERESTING LETTER FROM MRS PERCY EVANS In a letter to friends in St Arnaud, Mrs Percy Evans (known to local residents as Miss Lizzie Schultze), writing from the Anzac Buffet, 94 Victoria Street, London, under date Dec 9th, says: – Perce is not now secretary of the Buffet as he found it too much to do with his own business. He has an office next door, but still spends a lot of his time amongst the boys; he is still on the committee and keeps in close touch with everything. I go every day but one during the week; some days I am in charge and just love the work of doing what I can for our brave boys from home. No doubt it is a bit of Australia in London, and the boys know it. Thanks to Ada Reeve we have no fear of closing, and are still able to give the boys plenty to eat. In case you have not heard the work we do, I will state a little. It is a free club. The boys can have as much to eat as they like, and at the door there is a voluntary box, but they can please themselves as to putting anything in. No Australian need therefore starve in London. Light refreshments are available all day long, and for two hours during lunch time, meat, salads, and potatoes are served. All the workers are voluntary, and we average 6000 to 7000 men a week. I wish I had kept the names of the boys I have met here the last two years from St Arnaud and district. You would feel proud of our men here. The Australians all look so well and are doing so well wherever they go. It is nearly three years since we left sunny Australia. We both love London and feel it a great privilege to do something for our brave men. Some are so lonely, and if you can only talk to them about the place they came from it does brighten them up. We see many sad sights of legless and armless boys who come from hospital. They are so bright, especially the blind ones. I was talking to a blind boy one day and told him I had been feeding one with both hands off. He replied – “How sad. ………………………………… [the rest of the letter too difficult to read] https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/91351835 The Queenslander, Sat 14 Jun 1919 (p.12): THE ANZAC BUFFET Mrs M.A. Bell [sic, G.A.], of Coochin, writes from Knightsbridge, London, under date April 6: Knowing your willingness to publish anything connected with “our boys” in this far country, and thinking you may not have yet had pictures of the Anzac Buffet, I am tempted to send you a few. I daresay you know what a tremendous boon it has been to the men on leave or waiting in camp for their ships. I am often touched by their openly expressed gratitude to the A.N.W. and all the workers in the buffet; and one realises how short they are of money at the end of their leaves and while they are delayed in being repatriated. From 8 in the morning till 8 or 9 at night the doors are always open, and food and drink ready, and quite free of charge to all comers. The average number of visitors each day has for some time past been 2200, and the record was reached one day lately at 20,800, which you can guess meant some hustle to all the helpers. Formerly we gave a hot meal in the middle of the day, but with the large increase in numbers we were obliged to mince the meat and make it into generous sandwiches, to which is added a currant bun, a scone, or meat pie, with tea or coffee, ad lib. The helpers all wear green overalls and white head squares. Mrs Rattigan has been wonderful in her devotion, and keeps all the tables bright with lovely flowers, freshly arranged every morning by herself. Downstairs is a cosy lounge, with piano, a billiard table, writing tables, and papers. There is a large space shut in by doors, in which on hooks are hung the men’s coats or any articles which they want safely kept; being locked up, they cannot be stolen or lost. Gray, who looks well after the boys, sees that they can have their boots dried, and if necessary goes to Mrs Rattigan for new socks, so to many it must seem almost a home. At the desk or counter they can get any information they need, and often seats for theatres and invitations to parties and trips. A piano affords a good deal of pleasure, as some of the men are professionals, and numbers of the men gather round and join heartily in the choruses. Hoping I have not bored you with too long a letter, and hoping soon to see dear old Brisbane before long, as we expect to leave via Canada next month. (Two of the photographs forwarded by Mr Bell are reproduced in this issue: – Ed. “Q”) The Ballarat Star (Vic), Sat 29 Nov 1919 (p.1): GENERAL CABLES It is announced that the Anzc Buffet will be closed on November 29. It has provided 1,500,000 meals for soldiers since September, 1915, at a cost of £30,000. The Week (Brisbane, Qld), Fri 31 Dec 1920 (p.7): The Social Circle The “British Australasian” of 4th November, reports a reception held by the London branch of the Australian Natives Association, at which were distributed by Colonel Reay, the Commonwealth Government war service badges, chiefly to several workers at the original Anzac Buffet in London, in the earlier years of the war. The recipients included Colonel Reay himself, and Mr and Mrs A.T. Sharp, Mr and Mrs C.C. Cherry, Mrs Walter Rosenhain, Miss Nellie Rees, Mrs Lewis, Miss Josephine Lewis, Mrs Montague Robinson, Miss D. Fulton, and Mr C.H. Chomley. SOME OF THE WOMEN WHO VOLUNTEERED AT THE ANZAC BUFFET *COX-ROPER, Edith Mary (Mrs, nee Tindale) *RATTIGAN, Minnie Augusta (Mrs A.M., nee McFarland) ALLEN (Miss) – a Queenslander ARMYTAGE, Leila Matilda Buckland (Mrs Norman, nee Halloran) BAYLY, Diana Hope (Mrs Monte, nee Bloustein) BELL, Gertrude Augusta (Mrs J.T.M., nee Norton) BLACK, Agnes (Mrs A.J., nee Curdie) BOURKE, Susan Georgina BREBNER, Alice Rose Ewing (Mrs Arthur, nee Steven) – non Australian BYRNE, Nancy Adele *CAMPION, Bessie Maude CHERRY, Henrietta Lucy (Mrs C.C., nee Guest) CROOKS, Kathleen Emily CURD, Mary Fanny (Mrs Brisbane, nee Wells) *CUSACK, Aline Margaret *CUSACK, Edith Eleanora EVANS, Elizabeth Emily (Mrs Percy, nee Lizzie Schultze) EVERETT, (Miss) FISHER, (Mrs) FULTON, D (Miss) *HALL, Helena Margaret *HALL, Mary Elizabeth HARDIE, Mary (Mrs Alfred) HARDIE, Jean – daughter of Alfred and Mary HORDERN, Viola Sydney (Mrs Tony, nee Bingham) HUCK, Beatrice (Mrs J.F.K, nee Thom) HUGHES, (Mrs) INNES-NOAD, Alice Margery IRVINE, Emily Marie (Mrs, aka Bill) IRVINE, Lilian Roma May (aka Roma MAY) JOHNSON (Miss) – sister of Mrs Phipps KELLY, Florence – sister of Mrs Shannon LAHEY (Miss) – a Queenslander LEWIS, Lucie (Mrs J.R.H., nee Theobald) LEWIS, Josephine Lucie – daughter of Lucie MacPHERSON, (Mrs Alan J) MANNING, (Miss) *PENNEFATHER, Carine (Caroline Frances) PHIPPS, Margaret Jane R (Mrs J.H., nee JOHNSON) REES, Nellie ROBINSON, Emilie Hermine (Mrs Montague, nee Groth) ROSENHAIN, Louise (Mrs Walter, nee Monash) SHANNON, Jessie Currie (Mrs, nee Kelly) – sister of Florence Kelly SHARP, Lilian (Mrs A.T., nee Watchow) SIMPSON (2 Misses) SINCLAIR ROSS, Eve (Mrs, nee Buckleton) SMITH, Olivia STOHR, Elsie Maude Stanley (Mrs, nee Hall) *TELFER, Maude WATSON, Grace WATSON, Mary Elizabeth (Mrs A.W., aka Sissie) *WHEELER, Annie Margaret (Mrs H.G.) *WHEELER, Portia *WYATT, Alice Heather 'Frev' Ford
Comments