Families Of Veterans Guild

War Widows Day

Defence and Veteran families are part of the fabric of Australia – making valuable contributions to our community and advancing social justice issues for over 100 years.

Standing behind and beside our nation’s veterans throughout their service and beyond, war widows and veteran families provide the unwavering support during the ups and downs of military life. Sometimes defence service takes a toll on their loved one’s health – and our war widows are there to carry that burden on behalf of a grateful nation. War widows sacrifice their freedoms to enable their loved one’s service.

Sybil Dale was living in Canberra and just 18 years old when her husband was killed at Gallipoli in August 1915. The couple had a daughter, Valda, who was only four months old, born mere days before her father set sail for war.

When Jessie Reid’s husband was killed on the Western Front in June 1917, she was also left a war widow and single mother to three young children, all aged under four. She dedicated the next 20 years of her life to raising her children on her own, while living in Victoria.

Glenda Love was another woman whose husband, Alfred, died during the First World War. Their daughter, Esther, was eight years old at the time. Alfred wrote in the back of his war diary, ‘In the event of my death I wish this book to be sent to my Dear Wife to let her know that my last thoughts were of her and of Essie my darling daughter.’

These are the stories of some of Australia’s first war widows. While the exact number of Australian war widows over the past 100-plus years has never been tallied, a good estimate would be in the hundreds of thousands.

Yet despite this significant number, little is known about you, Australia’s war widows. There have been few books written about you, there have been no documentaries or television series created to tell your stories, and only a handful of monuments have been erected to honour your support, grief and sacrifice.

For more than 100 years, your stories have remained largely unseen and untold, and your sacrifice has stayed unrecognised. Until now.

In 2022, War Widows Day – 19 October – was declared an observed day in NSW and QLD, followed shortly by declaration in the ACT, SA and WA.

The purpose of War Widows Day is to recognise war widows and widowers in our communities, honouring your contributions and sacrifices in defence of Australia. War Widows Day is the only day on some state commemorative calendars that specifically recognises the role of veterans’ families in your lifelong service and commitment to your loved ones and our nation. This makes it unique and significant.

The feedback we hear from members is that War Widows Day is incredibly special to them. AWWNSW members Di Vogt and Fran Brock recently spoke about last year’s War Widows Day. Di described the service at the cenotaph at Martin Place as “beautiful and emotional” while Fran Brock said, “It was a very touching and moving day.”

Community events

With more than 50% of war widows on our register living regionally, we know how important it is to ensure the day is marked in local communities. We invite every Families of Veterans Guild member, as well as Legacy and RSL clubs and branches across the state, to gather on this day and hold a morning tea.
Hosting an event in your community is a wonderful way to honour our war widows and widowers on the day – showing our support and appreciation for their tireless work.
If you’re organising an event in your local community, we’d love to hear what you are planning. We’re also very happy to share images and communication material to help you promote your activity.
Buy a widow a coffee

Show your support

Stand with our war widows and widowers and show your support through purchasing a limited release lapel pin or support our ‘Buy a Widow a Coffee’ campaign. Both initiatives will raise much-needed funds to help Families of Veterans Guild continue delivering and supporting our social connections program.
Our social connections program funds gatherings and outings for war widows’ social groups (Guild and Social Clubs). All donations made through the ‘Buy a Widow a Coffee’ campaign will go towards buying coffee, tea, lunch and morning tea for war widows in these social groups.

Official 2023 War Widows Day Gallery

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