Our caravan safari was planned to include a visit to the National Army War Museum in Waiouru. I’m always on the lookout for interesting “women’s” type exhibitions to report on and came across these two which were quite new to me.
“The Queen’s Scarf” on display was one of eight woollen scarves personally hand knitted by Queen Victoria. Four went to Imperial troops, and four to Colonial, one each going to soldiers from South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, and Canada. These were awarded for an act of bravery during the Anglo-Boer War, and came with a gold star and clasp, ordered by King Edward 7th. Trooper Henry Coutts of the 1st New Zealand Contingent was one of the lucky eight soldiers chosen. He presented his scarf to the New Zealand Government in 1913, and it was displayed in the General Assembly Library before being presented to the Army Museum.
During WW1 women joined both the Khaki Girls Brigade and the Women’s Volunteer Corps and both groups were known colloquially as Amazons, dressing in full military uniforms. They were fully behind the war effort and demanded donations in the streets, often stopping cyclists and horse traffic to get money. They also sought donations of horses, saddles and bridles and knitted items to send overseas to the troops. The Amazons organised patriotic processions and meetings with bands playing. Halls were embellished with flags, banners and bunting, and donors were given token patriotic ribbons and medalettes. This fund raising work proved popular with women as it provided an opportunity to get involved with the war effort and was a release from tedious social etiquette of the time. I must admit I had never heard of this energetic group of women and was very interested to read of their endeavours.