Fundraising had been an integral part of district life before the war, with locals pitching in for everything from new buildings to school supplies to helping out neighbours in a crisis. So faced with the momentous spectacle of war and the impact it would have on their lives, the area’s clubs, associations, and groups jumped into wartime fundraising with gusto.
Early fundraising attempts
The first two years of war saw many haphazard fundraising efforts without much overarching planning. Districts looked out for their own, and efforts were focused on raising money to send comforts to their local men who were already serving overseas, or to provide those not yet shipped out with some extra luxuries to take with them and reminders of their home.
In 1940 the Bibra Lake District Citizens Association raised £10 for the Free War Loans; the RSL Women’s Auxiliaries held their annual exhibition at the showgrounds, and where other branches exhibited doilies, preserves, and pantry staples, the Spearwood-Hamilton Hill branch’s stall was a display of local produce, with all proceeds going to the local soldiers’ comfort funds; the same women’s auxiliary branch later held a Digger’s Queen competition at the Hamilton Hill Memorial Hall, with winner Ivy Blackwood celebrating £382 to send parcels to soldiers from the district.
In 1941 the Spearwood-Hamilton Hill RSL sub-branch donated £5 to the Western Australian Spitfire Fund (the only spitfire fund in Australia), and the Spearwood Fruitgrowers and Market Gardeners Association donated to the Soldiers’ Dependents’ Fund.
The Camp Comforts Fund, a nationwide enterprise caring for prisoners of war, had an Old Metals branch, which engaged volunteers to collect and donate scrap metals for war use. In April 1941, they arranged for a working bee to gather at the site of the old Fremantle Smelters, which had been defunct for decades, to collect what metals they could. A local company oxy-cut the large pieces for free, and heavy trucks were donated to transport the metals to the Fremantle branch headquarters.
As the war progressed and fundraising schemes grew more organised and ambitious, these groups were instrumental in rallying their members and wider communities to purchase government war bonds, loans, and certificates.
Yugoslav fundraising efforts
The Yugoslav community was one of the biggest drivers of fundraising and aid during the war years, with Croatian gardeners meeting regularly and giving generously. Nicholas Marich, a highly successful Spearwood vigneron and market gardener, gave donations of £20 at a time, and in 1943 a meeting of the Spearwood branch of the All Slav section of the Sheepskins for Russia Fund raised £415/11/7 in just minutes, after their president Mr M. Zuvela began the flood with his donation of £100.
Yugoslav gardeners organised dances and social events where they gave political speeches in support of their countrymen who were living under Nazi occupation, and regularly sent vegetables grown on their gardens to groups doing charitable works for refugees and returned soldiers.