by Miles Franklin
This tribute to the women ‘back home’, was written while Franklin was serving with the Scottish Women’s Hospitals, attached to the Serbian Army at Ostrovo, Macedonia. It appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald of 24 April 1918.

On Active Service Somewhere in the Balkans.
Oct. 31, 1917
From shop to shop we chase for wool
To make your knitted hose,
Then choose one colour for the leg,
Another for the toes;
But whether black or grey or red,
Whate’er the colour be,
The love we put into our work
Is boundless as the sea.
We chase the wool, you chase the Turks,
And each of us gets there,
Australian grit and knitted socks
Will stand the hardest wear.
When Mary Mission of Lang Lang, Vic., slipped a sheet of paper with these lines on them into the toe of a pair of socks, on August 8, 1916, she little dreamt that I should be wearing them in a tent in Macedonia during October, 1917. Neither did I. Mais, c’est la guerre! C’est la guerre!
Also, c’est l’automne, and old Kajmackalan, a Kosciusko of these regions, which a year ago felt in one of the fiercest battles of the war, already has a crown of snow, some weeks old. He is a kingly sight tipped with the rising, or clear against the sinking sun, with veils of the mist about his base and flanked on every side by far lines of peaks, which,after prairie flatness refresh the soul, and whose blueness intensifies a nostalgia for the Bogongs and Tidbinbillies, which is ten years old.
The winds rushing down the valleys between the ancient, denuded hills, carrying heavy
rains, which make camp existence a soggy thing and cold, are presaging the full brusquerie of a Balkan winter, and announce the time of burrowings In the “dump” for warm clothing for the patients. In this cheerful adventure it has been my privilege to act Man Friday to Sister Saunders, a distinguished veteran of this front or fronts, who had undergone internment in Austria, and In company with Dr. Agnes Bennett (of Sydney) and other members of her unit, has recently been decorated by the Serbian Government.
In addition to the splendid pair of socks I was fortunate in annexing while awaiting my
kit, which on the way out took a nine weeks’ detour by way of Switzerland, are piles more
from Australia, which have reached this destination through various war work channels.
Of such fine pattern and firm shape that I had to be assured by a Scottish expert in
knitting that they were hand, and not machine made, they promise comfort to many a brave
and deserving pair of feet. Not a few contain friendly verses of good wishes. Lottie Williams, of Brighton Bench, Melbourne; Maggie Davis, of Victoria-street, W. Melbourne; Dorothy St. John, of Mason Street, S. Yarra; Annie Clinton, Corowa, N.S.W.; and Mrs. R. Marshall, of Mt. Pleasant, Ballarat E., were some of the skilled knitters.
Mrs. Prato, of Barclay Street, Ballarat, sent many a pair, and Miss M. Furlong, of Melrose Street, N.Melbourne, and Ruby Butler, of Rockwood, Vic, both knitted theirs, “Where the wattle grows,” for an Anzac hero, “Just to warm his toes.”
From the New South Wales division of the Red Cross has come a bale of strong flannelette pyjamas, and the women of Wanganui, Dannevirke, Onakea, and Aotea, N.Z., have contributed well-sewn pillow cases and bed jackets of encouraging amplitude and warmest New Zealand flannel.
I have previously written from London of the satisfactory shape and quality of the thousands of little garments sent by the Babies’ Kit societies, and at the risk of being over-vainglorious regarding things Australasian, repeat my pleasure in these full-sized clothes. I am sure of sympathy from those who have had to fit out stalwart soldiers in socks, hand-made of primest wool, entirely wasted, because designed apparently for unusual forms of life, while the pyjama cutters, with commendable stratagem, seek to disguise from the enemy whether the soldiers are advancing or withdrawing.
The greetings indicate that many of the articles were intended for the men who went to Gallipoli, and, failing that, I am convinced there are no contestants in the universal delirium whom the senders would sooner benefit than these uncomplaining heroes. There could be no wearers more deserving both from the point of worthiness or of need.
If the senders could be where I am for a week, they would be eager to spare from that dear country which Is still our own, and rich, a further share of their loving gifts for those whose country is shut from them by the Krupp infernal machines, and who for two and three years have heard no word but ghastly disquieting rumours of the fate of mothers, wives, sisters, sweethearts, and homes.
It is a coincidence that these garments should have come to quite an Australasian company, with the vacancy recently left by one Australian C.O. filled by another from Victoria, with Sister A. D. Kerr, of the N.E.Volunteer Sisters, who left for work early in the war, and an Australian scribe to pass the word along.
Notes: I found this story at from a reference in Jill Roe’s Stella Miles Franklin, p.213
Franklin served in Macedonia for six months, from July 1917.
The mountain which overshadowed the hospital at Ostrovo is Mount Kajmakčalan, so Miles’ spelling was close! Though I’m puzzled as to when she ever saw the Bogongs (in north eastern Victoria).