Historical information

The International Committee of the Red Cross was formed in 1862. Initially its purpose was to try and find ways of overcoming the inadequacy of army medical services so as to alleviate the suffering of those wounded in armed conflict. Over time it has extended its work to include many forms of humanitarian aid in times of peace and war. The Australian Red Cross Society (ARCS) was formed just after the outbreak of the First World War in August 1914, originally as a branch of the British Red Cross. It is especially remembered in the provision of “comforts” for soldiers overseas. Enormous sums of money were raised, and thousands of women volunteers contributed their time by making vast quantities of clothing: socks, vests, mittens, mufflers, pyjamas and a variety of linen. Items were sent to headquarters located in the state capitals, often using government houses as depots, where, after being sorted and packed by yet more volunteers, they were sent to Britain or the front. The effect of this work for the recipients was to bring comfort in its truest sense, for a seemingly trivial gift of a bar of chocolate of a pair of dry socks could bring the most profound relief for a soldier on the Western Front. From the date of its inception until the armistice the ARCS dispatched 395,695 food parcels and 36,339 clothing parcels Between 1914 and 1918 more than £3,500,00 was collected and spent on Red Cross services to the Australian Forces and Empire Forces. During WW1 and WW2 Red Cross raised funds selling buttons.

Physical description

Metal buttons with printing on them

Inscriptions & markings

Red Cross