By 1916 three hundred men from Concord had enlisted, eleven had died, twenty-one wounded and five invalided home. They went to Gallipoli, France, the deserts of Egypt and North Africa.
The Council supported the national war effort to the full. Those left at home devised all kinds of community functions to raise money to provide the government with additional funds for the war effort and send extra rations and goods to the fighting men abroad.
Concord Golf Club donated entrance fees for competitions to the “patriotic causes” and donated funds to buy instruments for the 7th Light Horse band. The Central Concord branch of the Red Cross was formed in 1914 to raise funds for the war effort. In 1916 Concord residents contributed £1,299 for the Australia day Fund, £399 to the Belgium Relief fund , £688 to the Soldiers Air Fund and £200 to the Lord Mayor’s Patriotic Fund.
As well as the Red Cross, the municipality supported a branch of the Win the War League, a War Service Committee and a Soldiers’ Aid Association. This organisation supervised the construction of several cottages which, after the war, were handed over to returned servicemen from the district.
In 1917 Dame Eadith Walker opened the grounds of Yaralla as a camp for soldiers suffering from tuberculosis.
In 1918 the New Railway Station Committee of North Strathfield held a bazaar on the day of the station’s official opening. The £300 raised on the occasion was added to the Soldiers’ Aid Association funds.
Charles Savage was the Mayor and Thomas Correy his deputy during the war years. In 1916 there were 1,400 houses and a population of 7,000. Concord Road was widened and Dame Eadith Walker contributed £1,150 towards the cost and Council £6,700. North Strathfield Station was finally opened in 1918.
During the war Sir Thomas Henley, who was Mayor of the Drummoyne Municipality, was Commissioned, with the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel of the Australian Comforts Funds in Egypt, France and England from 1915-19. He pioneered the distribution of comforts to Australians serving in the Libyan desert, along the Nile and the Suez Canal. When Gallipoli was evacuated and the AIF sent to France he transferred to Marseille until the main depot went to Le Havre. Later he established headquarters of the fund in London. He was made a Companion of the British Empire and was Knighted in 1921.
The Armistice of 11th November 1918 was celebrated with citizens forming tin-can bands and taking to the streets. Within 12 hours of the news of peace the Western Suburbs Master Carriers Association had organised a large procession from Concord Road through Homebush, Strathfield and Burwood ending in St Luke’s Park.
Apart from the personal heartbreak and family distress caused by the community’s loss of life during WWI, the war years affected Concord in two ways. First they delayed the district’s development for several years and second they caused several streets in Concord to be named or renamed in honour of prominent wartime figures or locations as an expression of the municipality’s patriotism and support for the cause of the British Empire.
There had been several land sales in the pre-war years and during the war but little was done to develop the newly subdivided blocks. After the war there was to be a considerable increase in the industrial potential of the municipality.
An exception to this was Arnott’s biscuit factory at Homebush, which expanded production during the war to make “hard tack” or army biscuits for forces stationed overseas. (Roz Miller)
To learn more about Canada Bay’s war efforts join us at the Museum on Saturday, 6th May at 2:00 pm to hear David Sansome, our Local Studies Librarian, tell us about “World War II – the Canada Bay Connection”. (See “Upcoming Events”.)