Meetings 1915

The Women’s Peace Army was envisaged as a non-party, non-political movement. It aimed to work for the ‘great cause of humanity’ and the ‘true meaning’ of ‘patriotism’: by preparing the way for future peace, by stimulating constructive peace proposals and working against the spirit of militarism in all its forms.[1]

29 November 1915

Mabel Lane chaired the very first meeting of the Women’s Peace Army. No president was elected. Margaret Thorp became the secretary and treasurer. Mabel Lane took on the work as assistant secretary. Vice-presidents were Emma Miller, Mabel Lane, and Mrs Birbank. A committee was appointed including Mesdames Speering, Watson, McCarthy, de Guerin, Summers, Hewett, Baird, Humner, Briggs. Who else attended?

Discussion touched on strong concerns about children and jingoism and the need for a deputation to the Minister for Education, their opposition to children selling tickets, and compulsory military training for boys.

6 December 1915

Decisions about the shape and function of the organisation was made: voluntary subscription (of 6d a week) meant no woman would be prevented from joining (on the basis of economies); a circular letter was to be sent out to various ‘districts’ soliciting memberships and the possibility of forming branches; holding of monster meetings were envisaged as too lecture tours. The meeting listened to a deputation from the Anti-Conscription League; in turn Mabel Lane, Emma Miller and Margaret Thorp were elected to undertake a deputation to the Industrial Council about anti-conscription strategies. [2]

Mrs Birkbank spoke briefly about the ‘awfulness’ of war, and about compulsory conscription: ‘one volunteer was worth ten pressed men’. Margaret Thorp read her paper on ‘Women and War’. Mrs J Collings spoke from the floor; she and Emma Miller thought Margaret Thorp’s paper should be published, and it was.

Margaret Thorp ‘Women and War’

This was the last meeting for the year.

[1] National Library of Australia, Daily Standard, Saturday 11 December 1915, p. 7.

[2] ‘Women’s Peace Army’, Worker, 9 December 1915, p. 15.


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