APPEAL FOR SHEEPSKINS - 20 November 1914 Raymond Terrace Examiner
TANNED SHEEPSKIN CLOTHING COMMITTEE - 20 November 1914 Raymond Terrace Examiner
A circular from the Commercial Banking Company of Sydney explained that a committee was buying skins from Sydney wholesale butchers, getting them tanned and made into vests.
The committee was seeking donations of money to be used pending donations of skins from the country. A donation of 6s would provide comparative comfort for a soldier at the front and would be instrumental in saving his life.
By 1916, there were 75,510 waist coats and 61,193 insoles were sent to soldiers at the front.
At the time it was said, "Australia rode on the sheep’s back". However, wool and sheepskins were being exported to overseas mills for processing. Governor Sir Gerald Strickland said “the movement behind the ingenuity and design of the waistcoat had taken a typically Australian product direct from the producer to the consumer. I hope that when the war is over this movement will be the means of establishing a new permanent industry in Australia.’
The ‘Diggers Vest’ was a practical gift of caring and community support that saved many lives of the soldiers at the Front. Significantly, the vests also gave birth to a new Australian Sheepskin Industry which would in time serve Australian servicemen during World War I, World War II and benefit all Australians. The following letters illustrate these points.
“My Dear Miss Bishop, We appreciate your thoughtfulness. Every article is useful, and the Germans will be a busy crowd trying to knock us out of our sheepskin coats.”
Trooper Martin Hussey 1st Light Horse Regiment,
19th March 1915, Raymond Terrace Examiner
Nurse Stobo 3rd Australian Auxiliary Hospital, Dartford Kent,
17th February 1917, Maitland Mercury