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"Thank God for the Salvos" Page 1

This page is NOT an official Salvation Army site, nor is it endorsed by them. It is a personal tribute to their service that stems from a deep and long held respect based on my personal experience and the experience of family members. 
Walter Andrew Alvin, the Red Shield Representative with the 15th Brigade had also served in Salamaua, Lae and Nadzab. Born in 1909, 'Wally' worked as carpet layer and upholsterer in Bairnsdale all of his non-service life. To Les Talbot "he was a giant of a man, all 5ft 1 inch of him, who should have had 3 VCs at least. The only things I had against him were he always got there before us and he served the coffee too hot". Les Talbot quoted from Hold Hard Cobbers, the story of the 57/60 Battalion by Robin Corfield


Commemorating 100 years of Salvation Army service to the Australian Armed Forces

The Salvation Army Museum website  was launched on Remembrance Day, 11 November 2001, in conjunction with a special ceremony at the Inala Senior Citizens Residence to commemorate a century of Salvation Army service to Australian soldiers in the field of battle.

A bronze plaque was placed in the Rose Garden at the Inala Village, 220 Middleborough Road, Blackburn Victoria. 

The plaque was funded by the Department of Veterans Affairs and formed part of the Remembrance Day Service conducted by the Red Shield Sub-branch of the RSL in the Inala Chapel at 2 pm Sunday 11th November 2001.

The Boer War 1899-1902

The Salvation Army has shown an interest in the Armed Forces since its earliest days in England.

There were Salvationists serving in the Royal Navy and British Army and they regularly banded together for meetings and often independently provided physical and spiritual help to their fellow serviceman.

In November 1894, in England, the
"Naval and Military League" was officially established. Its function was to provide worldwide facilities for Salvation Army servicemen where they would find fellowship, home-comforts, and religious meetings.

In October, 1899, Britain and the Boer Republics were at war, and it was immediately apparent that there was a need to provide welfare facilities for all servicemen, not just Salvationists serving in the Armed Forces.

Australia was the first of the Empire's Colonies to respond to the call of  'Mother England' and have troops in South Africa. Contingents from Australia disembarked on 26th November 1899 at Cape Town. 

In England, General William Booth (founder of the Salvation Army) experienced feelings of deep anguish. 

So deeply did he believe in Christian brotherhood and the internationalism of The Salvation Army that he promptly sent a relief party to "minister comfort and practical aid to men of both armies British and Boer alike."

Adjutant Mary Murray was selected and dispatched from International Headquarters in London and arrived at Cape Town on 15th November 1899, and there she headed a team of ten Welfare Officers allocated to the different military Divisions.

The first contact between Australian troops and The Salvation Army's early "War Services" is apparently not recorded in detail, but it is likely that Welfare Officer Lieutenant William Hooper made contact with members of the
Victorian Mounted Rifles Contingent as they advanced with General French' s Column towards Kimberley in January 1900.

Hobart, Tasmania C. 1900. Studio portrait of members of the Salvation Army band, possibly about the time of the departure of a Tasmanian contingent to the Boer war. (Donor M. Ingles) (Restricted - permission of donor required for reproduction)

The provision of physical and spiritual welfare services catering to the Australian Contingents in the 1899-1902 South African War by these English Officers, was continued and taken up in 1914 by the Australian operations of The Salvation Army. This Service came to be known as Red Shield War Services.

Enoggera, Qld, 1915-08. A group of new recruits enjoy a cup of coffee at smoko time at the Salvation Army coffee bar near the parade ground. The figure on the far right in the front row (wearing glasses) is 4366 Stuart Gordon Brown, Company Quartermaster-Sergeant 26th Battalion, AIF. (Donor R. Brown)
  • A close relationship between The Salvation Army and Australian service personnel has lasted from the 

    •  Boer War, through 

    • World War 1

    • World War 2

    • the Korean War,  

    • Malaya /Malaysia

    • Borneo, 

    • Vietnam, 

    • UN service in Somalia

    • Cambodia, and 

    • Operation "Desert Storm"

This WW1 era poster from the USA shows that the work of the Salvation Army has spread around the world. 
1943-06-03. Syria. The Salvation Army, as usual, is doing splendid work in the forward areas during the advance of our troops into Syria. Here, at Saiada the "army" car rests for a while and a crowd of visitors drops in to listen to the latest news from the outside world. This will prove a source of proud satisfaction and inspiration to its officers in the future. (Negative by F. Hurley).
Shaggy Ridge, New Guinea. 1944-01-23. "Jonno's Jungle Joint" The Salvation Army Red Shield Hut on Shaggy Ridge with troops of 2/9th  Infantry Battalion AIF receiving a welcome cup of coffee. Shown is Pte D. Peden 

The central figure (behind the assistant serving the coffee) is  Red Shield Representative (Salvation Army Captain) William Johns.

Balikpapan, Borneo, 1945-09. Soldiers outside the "Cappy's" Salvation Army tent at Green Beach after the Japanese surrender 

(Donor: Museums & Art Galleries of the Northern Territory.)

Binh Ba, Vietnam. 1967-06. Captain Don Matthews of Shepparton, Vic, hands out a kerosene stove and food to a Vietnamese woman and young boy. Captain Matthews was a Salvation Army officer with 7th Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment (7RAR). The stove was given to one of the poorest families in the village.

East Timor 1999-2002

One hundred years, almost to the day, after the commencement of the Anglo-Boer War and the appearance of Salvation Army Welfare -Officers on the field of battle, three Australian Red Shield Welfare Officers were sent to the Australian peace-keeping force in East Timor.

The Salvation Army's ministry to Australian service personnel continues today.

Most text on this page is Copyright (C) The Salvation Army 2001 All rights reserved. All requests for the use of this material in any form or by any means must be directed to The Salvation Army, Australia.

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Digger History:  an unofficial history of the Australian & New Zealand Armed Forces