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© Clan Munro (Association) Australia v27082022kjb


Her husband, Ronald Munro Ferguson, became Governor General of the Commonwealth of Australia in 1914, a post he held until 1920. Lady Helen's contribution to Australia's war effort was immense. In August 1914, Lady Helen Munro-Ferguson founded the Australian Red Cross, an organisation which during the war organised thousands of mainly women volunteers dedicated to providing comforts for the AIF overseas and for helping their families find out more about what happened to men reported missing through the Australian Red Cross Wounded and Missing Enquiry Bureau. Lady Helen was no mere figurehead or patron. She created the organisation throughout the country and turned Government House, Melbourne, into a major Red Cross depot.


When she returned from Europe in 1920 Lady Helen kept up her association with Australia by representing the Australian Red Cross for many years at the Red Cross headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.


Lady Helen believed that Red Cross work was primarily the domain of women. She saw it as a woman's way of contributing to the war effort, and did not want men to take it over at any level. Under Lady Helen's leadership, therefore, Red Cross in Australia was pitched to women and, where possible, organised and run by women. Australian women responded by flocking to the organisation with its extensive web of branch networks, all focusing on the war effort and improvement of the suffering of soldiers and non-combatants affected by the war. Many times it was suggested that the Red Cross should be run by a man but Lady helen resisted that pressure and kept control of the organisation she had founded.


Lady Helen liked the Australian women and they liked her. At one of the many farewell functions, Mary Hughes, wife of the prime minister, referred to the 'warm feeling of affection and esteem in which her Excellency was held by the women of Australia', especially 'through the interest which she had taken in their social well being' and in causes such as infant welfare, kindergartens and bush nursing.


Lady Helen died in 1941.

Ancestor Lady Helen Munro Ferguson

Lady Helen Munro-Ferguson, wife of the Governor General of Australia presenting regimental colours to the 5th Australian Light Horse Regiment.