Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Haverfordwest Foot-Sling Depot

From The Haverfordwest and Milford Haven Telegraph, 21st March 1917

Haverfordwest Foot-Sling Depot.

A branch depot of the Surgical Requisites Association, itself a branch of Queen Mary's Needlework Guild, has lately been started in Haverfordwest.  A small local Committee having been formed, it was decided, in accordance with the express wish of the Association that the depot instead of making, as is usual, such articles as swabs, dressings, pads, bandages, etc., should specialise in one urgently needed Hospital requisite, viz., foot-slings.

Each Foot-Sling, which needs very exact and careful making, consists of a hammock-like foot-piece suspended by long straps from the shoulders.

The Slings are cut out at the depot (17 Market Street), and then distributed to members who do the necessary machine work in their own homes, returning the Slings for “finishing” to the depot.  Each Sling costs in material about 2s 6d, and as the Committee hope to send up at least 100 a month, the estimated monthly expenditure is £l2 10s 0d.  The appeal for funds has been most generously responded to and much sympathy has been expressed with the work.  £95 has already been contributed, and it is hoped that a sufficient sum may be collected to enable the work to be carried on until such time as the necessity of providing foot-slings for our wounded ceases to be.  Every penny contributed goes directly towards buying materials, as there are no running expenses connected with the depot.

Thursday, 2 March 2017

A "Comforts" Film


From The Manchester Guardian; March 2nd, 1917

At the Deansgate Picture House yesterday morning a private view, held under the auspices of the Lancashire County War Comforts Association, was given of a new film illustrative of the work connected with the provision of comforts for men at the front. The film opens with scenes in the offices of Sir Edward Ward, where requests for immense quantities of goods are daily received from every part of the world in which British soldiers or sailors are fighting.  For the supplying of these articles Sir Edward Ward depends on the goodwill of all sorts and conditions of people.  First we are shown a class of little schoolgirls knitting mufflers and socks with an industry that seems quite undisturbed by the presence of the camera man.  West End shop assistants—rather more self-conscious, perhaps, but equally industrious—make and roll bandages in a London war hospital supply workroom, while women munition workers spend their leisure time in knitting.  These comforts, together with the books and papers that we saw being handed in over post office counters, are then packed and shipped to their destinations.  Those in which the film interests itself go to France, and we watch them being carried up to the British lines in big motor-vans and then distributed among the men.  The joy with which they are received is very evident and pictures of scenes at a casualty station and in a base hospital show how sadly necessary are the labours of the shop-girls.

It would be hard to find a more interesting subject for a film, or one with a wider appeal. Everyone who has contributed in some way to the bodily comfort of our troops will welcome an opportunity to see for himself how his and similar offerings reach the recipients, and for this the kinematograph is the only medium. The only fault to be found with the film shown yesterday is that it is too short and gives too bare an outline of the good work that is being done.  It might well be expanded to twice its present length without any risk of the interest flagging.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Appeal for 500 Small Knitted Caps

From the Brecon County Times, 1st February 1917.


Miss deWinton thinks the workers for the Depot will be glad to know that about 1,200 articles—shirts, socks, comforters, &c.—have been sent in the last two months to the 1st, 2nd, and 5th Battalions S.W.B. [South Wales Borderers], and have been very much appreciated.
She now wants 500 small caps knitted in as short a time as possible.  They don't take long to do!  The wool is at the Depot, 89, The Watton, Brecon; the pattern is as follows :—

Two needles, 7 or 8.
Cast on 44 stitches.
Knit 15 rows, 2 plain, 2 purl,
Knit 30 double rows plain
Knit 15 rows, 2 plain, 2 purl.
Cast off loosely; fold in half; sew up the sides, and fasten the top corners down to the top of the ribbing.

Miss deWinton is sure her Breconshire helpers will work hard again.  Caps are winter wear, wanted at once, please.

[At the start of the war, Miss de Winton appeared frequently in the Brecon newspapers, asking for various items to be knitted.  But before this appeal for caps, I had not found any communication from her since this one in February 1915.  It's good to see that she was still busy, and publishing extremely terse knitting patterns.]     

Friday, 20 January 2017

The Price of Food

From The Halifax Courier, 20th January 1917.


Four suggestions have been sent out by the National Service Department with a view to obtaining the criticisms of retail traders, and, judging by the local feelings we have heard expressed, the criticisms will not be lacking. Conditions of trading in the provinces are much different to those prevailing in London, and for this reason two of the proposals would — in Halifax and a great many other places — have little application.  One suggestion is that window dressing should be partly or wholly discontinued.  In the principal London shops window dressing takes place daily, and much labour is involved, but in most Provincial towns the windows are changed only once or twice per week.  To prohibit window dressing altogether apparently means the abolition of window displays, which is regarded by many as a ridiculous idea, inasmuch as little or no national gain would result thereby, for windows can usually be set out in quiet hours by the serving staffs of the shops.  The second proposal is that no retail tradesman must directly or indirectly call or send to any place of residence to solicit orders for any article of food.  This hits chiefly at grocers, butchers, greengrocers, and the like, and it is regarded as unfair that they should be prohibited from this practice whilst drapers and other non-food providers are not debarred.  Since the war, the practice of soliciting orders in Halifax has considerably declined, the canvassers being required for more important inside work.  Thus the introduction of that idea would be no great hardship, though it is not clear why the restriction should apply to food only.  Food is a necessity, and whether an errand boy be sent in the early morning to take the order, or whether the customer be compelled to personally go to the shop, it will have to be purchased.

Then there is the remarkable suggestion that it be compulsory on every retail purchaser of foodstuffs to take away at the time of purchase all articles less than 14lbs. in weight!  What a prospect for house-wives buying in!  A few groceries, a lump of beef, goods from the drapers, and a few sundries all to carry home.  There now many complaints that the tempers of tram conductors and conductresses are sorely tried, but what a prospect for Saturday shoppers returning home by car, should such a suggestion be adopted!  The final proposal is that credit accounts as between the retail trader and the public should be temporarily discontinued.  Whilst traders generally would be glad if all accounts could be settled on a cash basis, such an ideal does not seem practicable.  By such a stringent rule many hard cases would ensue, and no trader objects to short credit where he knows the money is safe.  To carry out the proposal in its entirety would produce startling results – in many cases for example, funeral arrangements could not be made until insurance money had been received


The above suggestions will fortify the growing belief that some of the powers that be are wasting much effort on poor causes.  Practical schemes will have practical responses, but the commonsense individual is merely irritated by some of the war-time legislation, and the continual chopping and changing associated with it.  The 50 per cent railway fare advances are not yet changed (they will be), but the failure of the limited meals in public eating places is admitted.  We have always argued that the two-course and the three-course device might save labour in hotels and restaurants, but that it would mean a greater consumption of the essential foods.  It was merely silly to rank a sardine as a course, and a plate of beef with accessories as another.  People have chosen the substantial foods and made their meal from courses of that character.  Moreover, as most hotels (through force of habit maybe) do not give very hearty servings, the second helping has grown in favour.  The individual has profited by satisfying his appetite on fewer but nourishing foods; the country has lost what it strove to save.  A solution would seem to be to adopt the a la carte system, each plate of food being charged at a fair figure.  But this, of course, would not touch the domestic table.  There, for the present, the patriotic appeal stands alone—that care should be taken in the choice of foods and that the consumption should be cut down to reasonable proportions. Lord Devonport is understood to be preparing schemes to control in every direction the use and distribution of the staple foods.  In the meanwhile, we are given a few economy hints—to eat green vegetables when in season, to be sparing with potatoes, to learn the value of haricot beans, dried peas and cheese as substitutes for meat, and to cultivate broad beans and peas in the spring.

How important it is to study the dietary in every home is shown by the announcement that the average increase of food prices on Jan. 1 over those of July, 1914, is 87 per cent.; a year ago the increase was only 45 per cent.  It means that £1 17s. 5d. will now go as far as £1 in pre-war days.  The principal advances have been in butchers' meat, bacon, fish, bread, butter, potatoes, cheese, and eggs.  But few families are actually paying the additional 87 per cent. in their food accounts.  They have remodelled their purchases, and this is a point to watch constantly.  Thus, if eggs be eliminated, margarine substituted for butter, and sugar and fish reduced by one-half on the pre-war consumption, the increased cost would be only 45 per cent.

The enemy's burden is very much greater than ours.  It is difficult to arrive at a sure basis of averages, for they have artificially fixed maximum prices for some foods, others are adulterated and "substituted" almost beyond recognition, and for others there are practically no prices, the foods, being almost non-existent.  But the average increase, in November, in Berlin, was 111 per cent., a sovereign being thus worth £2 2s. 2½d.  Rice had increased in price by 420 per cent.; eggs by 357 per cent.; lard by 315 per cent.; and bacon by 249 per cent.  November prices in Vienna were approximately 177 per cent. above those of July, 1914—so that it cost £2 15s. 5d. to buy what was in peace time a sovereign's worth of food.  In Norway the average rise in prices since the beginning of the war has been rather over four-fifths.  In the United States there has been an advance of 18 per cent.— less than one-fifth.

Thursday, 29 December 2016

Abergavenny Tobacco Fund

From the Abergavenny Chronicle, 29th December 1916.


(The district branch of the Newspapers Patriotic Tobacco Fund).


How our Tobacco Fund is Cheering the Men.

Not a single man in our local regiments or battalions need be without the comfort of a cigarette or a pipe of tobacco, if only our readers will continue their support of our Tobacco Fund and explain to their friends the advantages and privileges we have obtained for their convenience.

Not only continued support is wanted, if we are to accomplish our object, but increased support also.  We want more of our readers to take advantage of the arrangements we have made, which enables them to send a small supply of cigarettes or tobacco at regular intervals, duty free and post paid, to their own friends and relatives at the front.

These fine fellows want a smoke every hour of every day.  They don't want a lot of cigarettes or tobacco sent to-day and then to wait for weeks before the next parcel arrives.  They can't carry a lot around with them—their kit is cumbersome enough already—but they want a small supply regularly and often.  This is just what you can arrange through our Tobacco Fund.

Moreover, we want our readers to remember—when arranging to send parcels of smokes through our Tobacco Fund to their friends—that there are many friendless soldiers in our local regiments, and battalions, friendless in the sense that, unlike other fellows, they have no one at home able to send them regularly the smokes for which they are constantly clamouring.

And so, when you send your remittance with instructions for parcels for your own friends, please include as large a donation as you can for sending 1/- parcels containing 50 good cigarettes and a packet of splendid smoking tobacco to such friendless soldiers.

By reason of our association with the Newspapers Patriotic Tobacco Fund, of which our fund is the branch looking after the fighting-men for our own district, the distribution of our General Fund parcels is made through Sir Edward Ward, the Director-General of Voluntary Organisations.  This ensures our Tobacco Fund parcels going just to the local men who are most in need of them.
Sir Edward Ward is the supreme head of a special department appointed by the Government to control all patriotic funds, and is doing all he can to see that the distribution of comforts from home is fairly and equally made between all the fighting men on Active Service.  Our men must be as well looked after as those from other districts.

And so it is we appeal to our readers for renewed help.  With the increased number of our local men at the front, the demand for cigarettes and tobacco is increasing and particularly insistent.  We know we shall not call in vain upon the generosity of our readers.

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Exhibition of Hospital Supplies

From the North Wales Chronicle, 22nd December 1916. 



On Wednesday there was a particularly interesting exhibition of work at the R.W. Hospital Supply Depot, which has the distinction of being the first of its kind opened in the county.  It is affiliated under the scheme of the Director General of Voluntary Organisations, is recognised by the War Office and is duly registered under the War Charity Act of 1916.  Although it was only in October last that the organisation took its present form, the enthusiastic members, numbering forty-one, had, on Monday, no fewer than one thousand two hundred and eighty-five articles ready for dispatch, exclusive of some thousands of swabs.  The exhibits included all kinds of woollen comforts and hospital dressings, besides many of the pretty cretonne “treasure-bags” so much appreciated by the wounded.  Many of the members devote several hours daily to this good work.  The president (Mrs. Johnson, Windigate) and her allies (Mrs Barff, hon. Secretary, and Mrs Slack, hon. treasurer) are much to be congratulated on the all-round success of Rhosneigr’s excellent lead in this urgently needed work.

Monday, 28 November 2016

War Meals

From The Cambria Daily Leader, 28th November 1916.


A Middle-class Servant Problem and War Economy.

THERE must be a very large a number of housewives who, in their patriotic efforts to practice what the War Savings Committee are continually preaching, the "one meat meal per day" regimen, find themselves “up against” a very serious servant problem.  It appears that the average servant cannot or will not make vegetable dishes interesting and palatable, either because conservative ideas about what is really a respectable meal and a personal liking for meat two or even three times a day hold her in thrall, or owing to the fact that vegetarian and non-meat dishes need more careful preparation and cooking.  It is an undeniable fact that the “plain cook” likes plain dishes, which in plain language as she understands it mean dishes that require practically no trouble and little skill in the preparation.  The plain joint and the plain boiled potato generally meet all her ideas and ideals so far at least as the main course goes.

It is a real difficulty.  British prejudice in the matter of food is well known, but it is essential as matters stand to- day that there should be a radical change in diet; and in the transition stage mistresses are bound to suffer from the vagaries of their maids.  In fact, the home where the food revolution is affected with least trouble is likely to be the maidless one, where the mother is her own cook, or the “one maid house,” where the one maid is the housemaid in the widest sense of the word, and the housemistress her own “kitchen-maid.” Meatless dishes certainly require long and careful cooking, but though with an old-fashioned unreliable coal range they are troublesome to prepare, with a gas cooker, the heat of which can be so regulated that a stew over the simmering burner can be left to cook itself for hours, especially if this invaluable kitchen adjunct be supplemented by a labour and gas-saving “hay-box,” such difficulties quickly disappear.


There are all sorts of pleasing meatless dishes which can be prepared at very little cost by anyone who is willing to take enough trouble to make them a success.  Let me give a few examples:—
Maccaroni and Apples.-Boil 4 ozs. thin maccaroni in boiling milk with 2 ozs. sugar, the grated rind of a lemon, and a teaspoonful of powdered cinnamon.  Drain and put round a dish.  Have ready six stewed apples, cut into halves and quarters, heap in centre of dish and pour custard over.
A nourishing soup and bread followed by this dish would make a very good “meatless meal,” that is, a “jointless meal,” as distinct from a strictly vegetarian diet, for it is not vegetarianism that the Government has been preaching, but economy in the use of meat, a fundamental fact housewives seem not yet to fully appreciate.  It is a question of spreading your “butter” — or in this case, your flesh meat — a little thinner than in the past days of plenty.

Maccaroni, of course, can be used to form the basis of a number of savoury dishes; the great thing to remember is that it must be thrown into boiling water, and that directly it comes to the boil again it must be moved on to the simmering burner, where it will take 25-35 minutes to cook.  If it is hot, but “off the boil,” it will not spoil if left in the haybox for an hour or more.

Cheese and Nut Savoury is another economical and palatable dish. One breakfast cup of grated cheese is mixed with the same amount of grated walnuts and grated breadcrumbs and a little chopped parsley, moistened with a little water and lemon juice, spread in a low dish and baked lightly.  This is a good way of using up stale bread and stale cheese.  (The walnuts can be bought at some shops ready prepared.)

Potatoes left over from the meat meal are an ingredient of another useful dish, Lentil Sausage.  Boil ½lb. Egyptian lentils for about half-an-hour just covered with water; when soft mash them, add the mashed potatoes and some chopped fried onions, and mix well. Form into sausages, dip into white of egg or milk, and fry.


Such dishes could be almost infinitely multiplied, and the experienced housewife will herself discover variants of the more familiar ones. For sameness in a vegetarian diet must be avoided; and since economy is the motive and not dislike of animal food, it is, of course, quite permissible to flavour the dishes with any meat or gravy that happens to be handy. The national taste cannot be altogether neglected.  Bits of bacon and scraps of ham, for instance, make a pleasing addition to vegetables.


It is hardly necessary to remark on the need for keeping bones and scraps for making stock; but it must be pointed out that soup should not be served in spoonfuls as a kind of appetiser, but should be an important item in the dietary.  It can be made a very nourishing food by the addition of various thickenings to meat and vegetable boilings from beans and peas, etc.  Flour, oatmeal, rice, barley, potatoes, bread, and so on, are all useful thickenings.  Forced meat balls dropped in soup add flavour, as does grated cheese, while where there are hungry children "baby dumplings" may be added.  Soup of this nourishing nature is very useful, as we have seen, for the meatless meal.


It is rather a vexed question as to when this meatless meal should be taken. A light lunch is perhaps the ideal, but where there are children the principal meal has to come in the middle of the day, and so to avoid to sets of heavy cooking the evening meal should be a light one.  It is easy to make the dishes suggested when the bulk of the cooking is being done, and then re-heat them when needed; or the hay-box is very valuable for the long, slow cooking required, as also for father's meat dish if he is not home at mid-day.  If, then, the rule is that the meatless meal comes at night for the children's sake, the man of the family may have to go to » restaurant for a substantial mid-day dinner; but this will be cheaper than cooking two big meals at home—cheaper in fuel, food materials, time and energy.


A word about breakfast.  The Continental habit is repugnant to the average English mind, but it is really unnecessary extravagance if there is to be a substantial mid-day meal to indulge in the heavy meat breakfast that used to be so prevalent.  Oatmeal porridge, with crisp toast to induce proper mastication and teethwork, together with brown bread, margarine, and jam or marmalade provides a satisfying and nourishing meal for children and adults alike.  Porridge is not difficult to prepare; in a double saucepan it can be left to cook over the gas without any fear of burning, or it can be boiled for a few minutes overnight and then put into the haybox to cook all night, and only needs a few minutes' re-heating in the morning.