927 bears sponsored to 614 primary schools by 516 sponsors... Thank You Military Shop For Donating John Murray - Wounded Bear to Canberra Grammar School - RED HILL Seymour Toyota - Our most recent donor - Thank you Thank You The Fred Black Family For Donating Bernadette O'Meara - Nurse Bear to Bowen State School - BOWEN Thank You Darryl Deller, teacher at Epping Primary School. For Donating Armistice Centenary Bear to Epping Primary School - EPPING Thank You Staff at Coomera State School. For Donating Ernest Harvey - Gallipoli Bear to Coomera State School - COOMERA Thank You Sunnyside Soul Pattinson Chemists For Donating Albert Murray - Western Front Bear to Tyalgum Public School - TYALGUM Thank You Donated in memory of Daniel Down. For Donating Albert Murray - Western Front Bear to Wesley College - ELSTERNWICK Thank You Humanities department Redlands College For Donating Bernadette O'Meara - Nurse Bear to Redlands College - WELLINGTON POINT Thank You Grand Parent For Donating Earnest Harvey - Gallipoli Bear to Colonel Light Gardens Primary School - COLONEL LIGHT GARDENS Thank You Three Springs - Arrino sub branch of RSLWA For Donating Andy Miller - Navy Bear to 6515 Thank You Jeff Wright - Invictus Team Member 2018 For Donating David Cohen - Lone Pine Bear to St Joseph's School, The Strand - NORTH WARD

Sergeant Wilson

Greatcoat Bear

Listen to Sergeant Wilson’s Story

If I had to pick a bit of kit that any digger really valued more than any other it would probably be our heavy woollen Greatcoats. Not only is it a good coat, it comes in handy as an extra blanket or even a shelter. But most of all it’s good protection from the cold, and even the officers wear them.

I’ve been lugging my old Greatcoat about since I left Australia in 1915. It came in handy when I got to Gallipoli because in November we had a rotten snow storm and everything froze. I’d never seen snow before that.

But sometimes it gets so cold over here on the Western Front that even these coats make no difference and these Brodie helmets are no use at all against cold. Winter here happens when it’s summer at home and in late 1916 and early 1917 we had the bitterest winter anyone could remember. It was so cold that some diggers got frostbite and had to have fingers and toes cut off. Struth! The trenches don’t provide much shelter or warmth either, especially at night. When everything gets drenched by rain even our clothes and blankets freeze solid and the muddy walls turn to slimy stone. The water in our trenches and out in No Man’s Land – that’s the open ground between the German trenches and ours – turns to ice as well and it makes moving about really hard. Probably the only good thing about winter here is that it’s just as bad for the Germans, and when it gets that cold and wet we’re all kept busy trying to get warm and dry so we don’t do much fighting.

Blokes who wear the same black and blue colour patch as me are in the 25th Battalion and we reckon we feel the cold more than most – we’re mainly Queenslanders and don’t see much snow up there.

Even though it’s bitterly cold in the trenches I’m not looking forward to spring. We all know that as soon as the weather fines up the war will be back on in full swing.

In early March 1918 Germany launched a massive attack on the Allied lines. We call it the Spring Offensive and it was one of the biggest in the war. German Stormtroopers recaptured ground lost to the Allies so quickly in the opening days that the Kaiser declared a national holiday in Germany and many thought the war was won. Australia’s diggers played a big role in stopping the German advance.