The Kia ora coo-ee : the magazine for the ANZACS in the Middle East, 1918
The Australian Comforts Fund
Where the Egyptian Expeditionary Force leads, the Australian Comforts Fund, with obstinate tenacity follows. Of course it is as natural as day following night that comforts should follow hardships and tribulation, for there never is any tension in the plan of the universe that does not break into relief sometime. Yet as in Nature, so it is in this case. There are often very great difficulties to be overcome before the satisfaction can relieve the need. And the manner in which the A.C.F. handles its difficulties, such as congested lines, short-age of trucks, impossible roads, no means of transport from railheads, and stern relentless R.T.O's with their terribly plausible list of insurmountable obstacles, is truly more than marvellous.
Now in order to surmount obstacles in Nature, there must be a proportionate propelling power. The greater the opposing factors, the stronger the propelling force required. Thus it is that the A.C.F. has been able to overcome almost anything so far, because its driving power is too great to be confined. For it emanates from the very heart of thousands of mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters and lifelong friends all over Australia. It concentrates itself in the A.C.F. stores and offices here in Egypt, and just drives comforts out to the boys wherever they are. It is a sublime thought to grasp that every gift in the A.C.F. Stores must represent a loving thought, for some man away from home.
One of the grave difficulties that the A.C.F. in its headlong dash after the E.E.F. has to overcome is the shortage of shipping accomodation from Australia. At Christmas time this became very serious, and presented a knotty problem for the A.C.F. to solve. There were by no means enough truly Australian gifts for all the men, and of course the "boys at the front" had first right to these precious things from home. But then there were big training camps on the banks of the Canal, and how to cope with these the A.C.F. (for a time only) knew not. But that powerful motive force—that invisible "Power"—coming from all over Australia, prompted a solution. It had to have its way to express itself to the objects of its deep interest in some manner so as it could not send gifts it sent money. About 1.700 dressed turkeys, also dates and cakes travel-led to the training centres on the Canal.
It would be a most complicated, though interesting task to give a detailed description of the troubles and triumphs that lay in the thorny path of the A.C.F. not only at Christmas time, but always. The rain and mud alone in Palestine, aside from the exceedingly rapid advance of the troops, have been enough to quench any enthusiasm, but that of the Comforts Fund, for its great impelling power is "We are always ready to help in any enterprise, the object of which is to make life easier for the men, and to assist them in keeping in good health." Nothing matters except making life easier for the men, in that concern, and during January 723 cases were distributed to various Australian units, besides 77 footballs, eight gramophones and records and cricketing material. Had the A.C.F. not been out of gramophones there would have been more home music heard in the desert and in the Holy Land.