The German Spring Offensive, which had been so successful early in April 1918, had been countered by the Allies, retaking Amiens on Anzac Day, 1918.
News of that victory filtered down to Australia in early May. The Tamworth Daily Observer of May 3, 1918 exulted that the: “Allies Hold Strengthened … Greatest Rush in History Stopped” and Field Marshall Haig was hailed as correct to “counter-attack whatever was lost”; while, meanwhile in Germany, General Ludendorff went back to the drawing board to modify his plans for retaking significant swathes of France, a plan that came startlingly close to succeeding in June.
Back in north-west NSW, war news was also looking up. The local Win-the-War League, having taken a punch with bad publicity, was back after a successful venture handing out medals of appreciation to returned servicemen.
An inspiring communication was received from the Gunnedah Win-the-War League. As the result of a special appeal, eleven policies for the duration of the war are guaranteed from the district...The Sydney Morning Herald, 1918
On the back of this, Anzac Day 1918 was a recruitment dream. The Tamworth Daily Observer then reported on May 4 that since: “the Anzac Day celebrations and the accompanying addresses … twenty men offered their services, a very noticeable revival of enthusiasm”.
Such enthusiasm was also brought about by a new clever national approach to recruiting which possible defeat the result of citizens declining to do their bit. People in the street were encouraged by advertising to ask their butcher mate (for example): “Hey Joe did you know that because you haven’t enlisted we could lose the war”. It was a stunningly simple piece of spin. And it worked.
What also helped Gunnedah’s Win-the-War League win recruits was its determination to support war widows and their children via insurance policies handed out to their recruited husbands. The idea was that that if Joe, now patriotically in khaki, died in service on the Western Front, his children would be taken care of.
The Sydney Morning Herald of May 4, 1918 was impressed with Gunnedah’s contribution. It noted: “An inspiring communication was received from the Gunnedah Win-the-War League. As the result of a special appeal, eleven policies for the duration of the war are guaranteed from the district” with the paper going on to list the community members who had provided the money. It added that: “It is of course intended that these amounts will be applied to local recruits as far as possible, as we have a number of recently enlisted”.
So, in May 1918, with “Joe Smith” and “Jim Jones” enlisting, and their respective children covered in case of their death, Gunnedah could not blamed for any future Allied defeats.