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Since 1899 right through to East Timor, and wherever our troops are today, Salvation Army Officers go to war with Australian troops.

A hundred years of cuppas

On Remembrance Day, 11 November 2001, a special ceremony was held to commemorate “100 years of cuppas” – a century of Salvation Army service to Australian soldiers in the field of battle.

The Australian armed services first came into contact with The Salvation Army during the Anglo-Boer War at the turn of the 20th Century. It was immediately apparent that there was a need to provide welfare facilities for servicemen, so Salvation Army founder General William Booth sent a relief party to “minister comfort and practical aid to men of both armies – British and Boer alike.”

Red Shield War Services

Australian Salvation Army Welfare Officers first served our armed forces under the banner of “Red Shield War Services” in 1914. This service has now endured conflicts including two World Wars, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, U.N. service in Somalia and Cambodia, and operations in the Middle East.

One hundred years – almost to the day – after the commencement of the Anglo-Boer War and the appearance of our Welfare Officers on the field of battle, three Australian Red Shield Welfare Officers were sent to join the Australian peacekeeping force in East Timor. It’s a continuation of an incredibly important tradition and support service, and our ministry to Australian military personnel continues today.

The man the ANZACs revered

Chaplain-Major William McKenzie was the only Salvation Army chaplain to serve on Gallipoli. His dedication to the spiritual and temporal well-being of the men of the 4th Battalion, and indeed the men of the whole 1st Australian Division, is the stuff of legends. In the midst of unimaginable death, he offered spiritual guidance, provided small comforts and words of encouragement; and also followed the troops into combat, carried the wounded to safety and buried the dead.

For his continued bravery under fire he was awarded the Order of the British Empire, and he became the first Australian recipient of The Salvation Army’s highest honour, the Order of the Founder. His life has now been honoured in a biography by historian Daniel Reynaud, The Man the ANZACs Revered.