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Poem - Gift of Socks, World War I, 1916 Document Reg. No: HT 11778

Alternative Name(s): Soldiers' Comforts

Poem about a pair of socks, hand-written on a piece of paper by Florence Crossley of Victoria, apparently accompanying socks she had made (the source of the identification of Florence is unknown). A heartfelt note in response from the receiving soldier, Lance Corporal A. McDougall of the 8th Australian Field Ambulance, is written on the back of the poem. Both adults and children who made 'comforts' for soldiers sometimes included notes of encouragement and support in their gifts.

Lance Corporal Andrew Thomas McDougall (#6739), son of James Beith McDougall and Sarah Teresa Coughran, enlisted with the 8th Australian Field Ambulance in May 1915 in Liverpool, New South Wales, when he was 25 years old. After marrying Mary Edwards in June 1915, McDougall left Australia for England in November of the same year. According to his war record, McDougall travelled to France where he served briefly with the 7th Australian Field Ambulance in July 1917 before he rejoined the 8th Australian Field Ambulance later that same month. In January 1918 he was transferred to the 5th Divisional Headquarters and appears to have stayed with this unit until the end of the war. It is therefore likely to have been in the latter half of 1917 that McDougall recieved the socks and poem from Florence Crossley.

McDougall returned to Australia in February 1919 where he was reunited with his wife, Mary. The couple settled in North Sydney and had five children, three of whom appear to be still living. According to census records, McDougall found work as a civil servant. Sadly, Mary died in 1940 when she was only 48 years old; McDougall died 22 years later, in 1962.

McDougall was awarded the British War Medal, the Victory Medal and the 1914-1915 Star for his service.

McDougall wrote to Florence on a second occassion (HT 33518) when he wrote a more detailed letter about his experience on the Somme.
Piece of off-white paper, creased and quite fragile. One side features a four line poem handwritten in black ink, with the author's name written underneath. The other side has a note handwritten in pencil, describing the benefits of the shoes mentioned in the poem.
Discipline: Technology
Dimensions: 11.0 cm (Width), 7.9 cm (Length)

More information

Tagged with: wars conflicts, world war i 1914-1918, soldiers, socks, soldiers comforts
Themes this item is part of: Public Life & Institutions Collection
On Display at: Melbourne Museum
Primary Classification: MILITARY HISTORY
Secondary Classification: Civilian Life
Tertiary Classification: comforts
Inscriptions: On one side, hand-written in ink:

'To you dear soldier who will wear / On your feet this very pair / We send you greetings; may you be / Of those who run to victory. / F. Crossley / Newbridge / on Loddon, Victoria'

On the reverse, written in a faint hand:

'Dec. 16 / How welcome were this very pair of sox. / Nothing could have been more appreciated. / The frozen slush has been knee deep for / several days and my feet have been / constantly wet and so falls of snow / yesterday added to this discomfort; / I am now in a fragile dugout which is not / shellproof by any means, and is only a rifle shot / from the German lines on the Somme. / But thanks to you my feet are now warm / which is a great blessing. / Though we endure hardships we can never / fully appreciate the wonderful kindness of the women / folk which has been a little ray of sunshine from our dear Australia. / L/Cpl A. McDougall / 8th Australian / Field Amb'.
Place & Date Made: Australia, 1916
Place & Date Made: Somme, Belgium, Dec 1916
Recipient: Lance Corporal Andrew McDougall, Somme, France, 1916-1919
References: Information on Andrew Thomas McDougall from National Archives and Ancestry.com.

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