Entertainment troupes proved a Victory for the war effort | Then and Now | The Border Mail

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Large numbers of Albury and district’s young men served in the military during both World Wars, with many killed in action and many more injured. Sometimes Overlooked, however, was the contribution of the women left behind. In September 1917 a company of young amateurs known as The Albury Boomerangs was formed: Misses Thelma Houston, Florrie Wilkinson, Madge Mason, Doreen Allen, Annie Butcher, Josie Carroll, Dolly Arnold, Ethel Harber, Marjorie Seymour, Doris Gale, Jessie Maclure, Gladys Davey and Ida Allen. Their aim was to provide entertainment in aid of patriotic funds. They first appeared at the Albury’s Mechanics’ Theater (known later as the Plaza Theater) on November 15, 1917, in the Aid of the Albury Branch of the Red Cross Society. Over the next 12 months three more Albury performances and a further 24 in district towns raised nearly £ 1,600 (about $ 148,000 in today’s money). Not to be outdone, another company of young ladies was formed during World War II. The Border Morning Mail in November 1939 reported that “A patriotic concert company called the Victory Vanities has been organized.” Their first concert was at the Plaza Theater in Albury on March 12, 1940 “presented by Miss Raie Langley to assist the Albury and the District War and Patriotic Fund. The function under the patronage of the Mayor and Mayoress Alderman and Mrs DG Padman.” Raie Langley was a local business woman with a hairdressing salon in Dean Street. She had experience as an Amateur entertainer during WWI. Table Talk told Readers in May 1918 that “The Merry Eight Musical Comedy Company, under the direction of Miss Raie Langley, gave another of their successful patriotic concerts at the Mechanics’ Institute, Williamstown.” The Victory Vanities became well known in the Albury district, visiting many local towns regularly and performing song and dance at local military camps. After six years, the company’s final concert was in August 1945. The BMM reported that in six years, the ladies had raised “£ 10,000 or more (equivalent to about $ 750,000 in 2022) poured into the children of patriotic organizations.” The BMM journalist asked the question “Who and what were they? Less than two dozen of them, they represented a cross section of the beauty, the Intelligence, the energy, the doggedness, the imaginativeness, the capacity, and the Discipline that one would expect to find in a community of patriotically inspired Australian youth. ” Visit our website at alburyhistory.org.au for more local history articles

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