Sunday, 22 July 2018

Women Munition Workers

From the Huddersfield Daily Examiner, 19th July 1918.


(By a Correspondent.)

If you passed it on your bicycle you would never imagine it was a fuse factory.  If you guessed you would probably say “Technical School."  Built since the war, in the heart of an agricultural district, it seems far from industry; farther yet from the war.  Stretches of fields, grey, quiet country roads, peaceful farmsteads, the chirrupings of birds, and the indolent sigh of the wind are all about it.  It is a ruddy, glowing picture in the sunlight.  The workshops themselves are the airiest I know.  The women come of farming stock, and have brought their red cheeks and fresh complexions from the farm to the factory.
Very shy were they of the whizzing wheels in the beginning.  There was none of that inherited mechanical skill that the child born of textile workers soon manifests.  The change from cow milking to lathe minding was too great to be easily made.  So they started on hand lathes—just one or two of them—and as they saw their hurts were no more than a bruised finger or so they shifted to the power-driven lathes.  In that way they were won over.  At lunch time you may see them scurrying down the yard to the bicycle shed, and riding off to the farms for dinner.  Not all though; very many use the canteen, and indeed some—who lodge in the neighbourhood—find the food so good and cheap that they have all their meals there.
One was not surprised to find that this factory held a record—out of 20,000 shells only seven were rejected.  At another works there are lathes being used that are over half a century old, and which were recovered from the scrap heap.  The manager said to me, "We have done with lathes what the army has done with men.  These oldsters who thought their part in life was played are doing their most important life's work."
At many of the factories you may find the men smoking, their eyes on their jobs, their pipes gripped hard in their teeth, the smoke spurting from their lips.  "It helps the job on," I was told, and although it is a war innovation it is doubtful whether it will ever stop.
But, of course, the great revolution of the shops has been in their employment of women.  The scoffers of 1915 are the enthusiasts of to-day.  A firm which originally employed only 833 women now finds work for 2,097, at another factory their numbers have grown from 45 to 2,000.  Their employment has been part of the dilution scheme, and the output has, generally, increased as a consequence.
Folk have been saying "The women are splendid" for a year or more.  They cannot say it often enough.  I watched a group of girls painting shells.  "How many to-day, Alice?" asked the manager.  "A hundred an' forty-six" was the smiling reply.  As we walked away he said, "Do you know, three months ago they were doing only eighty an hour, and we thought that was capital.  They get just the same pay now.  They're the most wonderful workers in the world."
I have seen-them, men and women, tens of thousands of them, in various factories toiling with an enduring patience and attention that is past all praise.  They are making, let me say, armour piercing bullets in an automatic lathe.  If you expressed astonishment they would probably say, "It's only like knitting stockings," just as one woman handling heavy shells in Liverpool said in her laconic way when asked if they were not too heavy for her, "No heavier than a babby!"
Next there is the first-aid room.  Most factories have one these days.  No longer is it necessary for men to extract bits of metal from each other's eyes with knife blades—as I have seen them do.  Now, a uniformed nurse, skilled, efficient, re-assuring, does the job.
And finally in many factories there are the practical "schools" on the premises, where the boys between 14 and 16 are taught one day a week something of the theory and more advanced parts of their job.  They get paid for that "schooling."  In one works the twenty best lads are picked out every year to attend at the nearest University.

[The ‘dilution of labour” scheme was proposed at the end of 1915 to employ semi-skilled and unskilled men and women alongside skilled workers.  Initially it was proposed as a way of maximising the output of skilled munitions workers, but it seems to have been overtaken by the demand for men to join the Army, so that women were by this time doing more skilled work than originally expected.]

Friday, 20 July 2018

Hendon National Kitchen

From the Hendon & Finchley Times, 19th July 1918.



(19th July) at

12 noon to 2 p m.
Bring your own utensils.
If you are satisfied TELL YOUR Friends,
if not—But there!  You will be.




To-day (Friday) Hendon's first national kitchen is to be opened at  147, The Broadway, West Hendon.  Meals will be served each day (with the exception of Saturday) from 12 to 2.

At a meeting last night, held in St. John's Hall, complimentary dinner tickets for specimen meals were distributed free.  This meeting, which was presided over by Mr. J. H. Sturgess, J.P., chairman of the District Council, was held for the purpose of inaugurating the kitchen.  There was a fair attendance.

Mr. Spencer Cooper, chairman of the Kitchens Committee, explained that the cost of putting the premises in order and the equipment would be a charge against the kitchen.  The Government would advance the money, which would be spread over a period of ten years.  This would be the only dead weight.  It was the aim of the committee to give a really substantial meal at a small outlay.  They were not anxious to make a profit, and people could get food at cost price after working expenses and the small capital charge had been met.  They had secured the services of a qualified supervisor and cook, and assuming the committee did their work well, West Hendon people were the only folk that could make the kitchen succeed.  It was thought the kitchen would fulfil a want in the district.  They were out to save food stuffs, time, and fuel—to economise in everything that connected itself with a house kitchen.  It would enable a greater variety of food to be obtained than was possible in a small household.

Mrs. Crump and Miss E. C. Growse also spoke.

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

A Soldiers' and Sailors' Comforts Fund

From the Huddersfield Daily Examiner, July 15th 1918. 



A procession and gala, the proceeds of which are to go to the Birchencliffe Soldiers' and Sailors' Comforts Fund, was held at Birchencliffe on Saturday.  Fortunately, the inclement weather which prevailed on Friday cleared altogether away for Saturday, and a large number of people patronised the effort.  Birchencliffe was profusely decorated with flags and bunting.

Marshalled by Councillor Barnes, a procession, in which fancy dress wearers, a waggon decorated as a car on which rode Britannia and her attendants, and the Lindley Jiggerum-Juggerum Band took leading parts, went through the village to a field adjoining Lower Yew Tree Road, lent by Mr. E. Calverley, where the gala was held  Judging by Mr. A. Collins, ventriloquial items by Professor Land, a maypole dance by Birchencliffe children (trained by Miss Jagger), and children's races formed the bulk of the afternoon attractions.  In the evening the Delights Concert Party gave items, and Professor Land's Punch and Judy attracted the usual large audiences.  Selections were played by the Elland Silver Band, and dancing proceeded until dusk.  Games, houpla, etc., were included in the side shows.  A pillow fight proved an exciting spectacle.

Monday, 16 July 2018

A Hot-Weather Parcel For A Soldier

From Woman’s Weekly, July 13th 1918.


WITH the warmer weather the packing of our parcels for our dear ones in different parts of the world becomes a little more difficult.  One longs to send something that will be cool and refreshing, and there are many such articles that will keep in good condition for quite a fortnight, or even more. But everything depends on their condition when bought, and how they are packed.

ALL fruit should be rather under-ripe than over-ripe, and soft fruit should never be attempted.  Thick-skinned apples, known as russets, are always safe to send; and if tomatoes are packed in either bran or sawdust, in small cardboard boxes, they will ripen nicely on the way. 
They may also be packed in cotton-wool, or very soft tissue-paper if more convenient. 
A cucumber, if home-grown or from some source where you can rely on its freshness, may be risked if packed in this way.  Cut it early in the day, and after removing a tiny piece of the skin, place it in water until 'wanted.  It will then be primed with moisture.  Then tie a small piece of wet sponge or a piece of damp cotton-wool round the stem, and wrap it in its own leaves, and pack on the top of everything else. 
Lemons are always acceptable whatever the weather, and they tuck so easily into odd corners.  Lemonade-powder  and sparkling lemonade tablets also take up little room.

YOU may think your boy can always get such things as boracic powder, health saline, citrate of magnesia, etc., from the medical stores; but he may be miles away from such things, and, oh! so grateful for some kind of soothing powder for his poor, tired feet. 
I have given joy to a young sub by sending him out several tins of his special boot-polish.  It was unheard of where he happened to be.

IF you send sweets, let them be acid, lime, or other refreshing fruit tablets. General Joffre is a great believer in placing a sweet of this sort into the mouth when hot and thirsty, instead- of drinking so much water; and no doubt he is quite right.  The more you drink the greater your thirst, especially when marching. 
Can you imagine anything more refreshing than a small bottle of solidified eau-de-Cologne on a very hot day in the trenches?  A little of this rubbed on the forehead, wrists and behind the ears, has a wonderfully cooling effect.  Khaki is always so stuffy in the hot weather.  Anything which helps to keep one cool must be such a boon. 
When he is out of the line nothing is a greater luxury than a refreshing bath.  Pack a towel and a cake of toilet soap in the next parcel you send out. 
I have known a man ask for a few strips of old linen rag to be sent out to him.  A soldier thinks nothing of the small, everyday hurts, but he would appreciate a piece of nice, clean linen rag to bind them up with sometimes. 
One of the chief discomfitures the hot weather brings to our boys in the trenches are the bites from winged insects that abound there as soon as the sun becomes strong.  A little woman, who has herself travelled in hot countries, is sending out to her man in France yards of butter muslin.  Some of this she has cut into yard squares, and run a draw-string in a circle round them.  “He can slip his head into one of these and draw the string round his neck when he gets a chance for a good sleep,” she told me.  “I call them my miniature mosquito nets,” she added: " and I am sprinkling them with oil of lavender to keep these pests away.” 
A piece of rock ammonia to moisten and dab on the bites to allay the irritation is a welcome addition to any parcel for the front. 
If you are lucky enough to be able to secure films for your camera, make a point of taking some special snapshots to send to the front.  A corner of your garden will make a happy background. 
Soldiers in hospital are always glad of a bundle of Japanese serviettes; and do not think a little fan will be despised as unmanly.  Many a poor, pain-racked fellow was only too glad of one in the heat of last summer I noticed. 
A flat little bag filled with lavender or some other sweet-smelling things, such as lemon thyme, rosemary, lad's love, and balm, is always welcome.  Dried rose-leaves, carnation petals, and any other dried flowers that keep their scent may be added.  The writer knows these bags are greatly appreciated, or one man would not say to another:  “Let's have a sniff of your bag when you've done.” This is exactly what she did hear in a certain hospital last summer, when there were not enough of these little bags to go round.

[Some of the medical supplies are a bit baffling, but I surmise that 'Japanese serviettes' are paper ones.

Friday, 13 July 2018

The Life of a Woman Tram Driver

From Woman’s Weekly, July 13th 1918. 


The Adventurous Life of a Girl Driver.

WOMEN tram-drivers are not over plentiful yet, and though I have been at the job for a good many weeks now, folk still come to a sudden stop in the street to look at me, in much the same way that they would look if they found a cassowary bird sitting in the middle of their potato patch. 
And only yesterday two ladies preferred to walk instead of ride—"because one couldn't feel safe with a woman driver, my dear; a mere girl, too!”
That's by the way. Though it is true enough, some of the women drivers in our town top thirty, but the majority are “mere girls” of twenty or thereabouts.  Not inefficient girls, though—if I says it as shouldn't!  There's no escaping results.
At the outset I had no thought of driving a car.  The idea would have made me laugh once.  You see, I went on as a conductress—oh, more than a couple of years ago! —and I stuck it, though tram-conducting is nerve-racking, temper-straining, limb-tiring work for a girl, even if it is healthy from an open-air point of view.  At the beginning of the year, when nearly all our men drivers had to go into the Army or on war work, the Company asked for volunteers from the conductresses to learn driving. I was one of those who volunteered, though if you ask me what made me, I can't tell you.

ANYWAY, my application was accepted, and I went out with one of the men, watching him and learning the how and why of tram-driving, and driving on my own while he stood by to supervise.  Finally, the great day came when I put on a natty blue-and-red uniform, and took a car out entirely on my own—a fully qualified and reliable driver.  Nervous, was I?  Well, some!  Sort of first night stage-fright; but it didn't last once the car was on the road. That was the beginning.  I've gone on ever since, and the more I drive, the more I want to go on.
It isn't easy work or work to be taken up lightly as “interesting war work for women.”  It wants steady nerves and strong physique, good balance and self-control, the power for brain and hand to act in unison—on the spur of the moment when necessary.  Moreover, tram-driving differs from other driving.  We've had one or two expert women motorists on trial who have been absolutely bunkered by the cars.  Women with the worry habit aren't any good either.  If you begin to think too much about being responsible for the safety of a car-load of persons—well, you will soon worry yourself out of driving and into an accident, for sure!

IF you ask me, all the members of the Tramways Committee in our town were rather dubious about girl drivers when we started. 
It was all necessity, and no choice which led to the innovation. But they are not so now—far from it.  At the last meeting there were no end of complimentary things said about the women drivers, and a friendly message was sent to the Tramways Council of another city (which had lately downed the suggestion of having women tram-drivers) to the effect that there was no reason for them to fear to make the innovation if they could get girls like our girls.  “Careful and conscientious; entirely dependable; interested in their work.”  I’m only telling you what they said!

Friday, 6 July 2018

Life for an Office Girl

From Woman's Weekly, July 6th 1918.


A Word to the Girl Who is Discontented and Sighs for Pre-War Gaieties.

“LIFE is not worth living these days” sighed the girl as she pulled the sheet of paper out of her typewriter with an angry flip.  “There is never anything doing.  The same old round, day in day out.  Up at seven, a hurried breakfast, and a scramble for a 'bus, working at the same old typewriter until five o'clock, another scramble for a 'bus home, a war-time meal, a dull evening—nothing to do, then bed, with the same old routine over again to-morrow, just to earn a living.  Is it worth it?”
She glanced angrily round the room at the other girls.  Some of them looked at her sympathetically, and the girl next her joined in.  “It must end some time!  If I thought this state of affairs was to continue I couldn't stand it.  You can't afford to have any enjoyment these days.  It takes all my money to feed myself.  I can't even afford the gallery or a theatre now they charge an entertainment tax!”
At that moment a girl entered the room from the inner office, where she had been taking letters. for the senior partner.  She came in smiling, walked quickly to her machine, and began to rattle off her work.  Her energy irritated the discontented girl, and after a few minutes’ silence she listlessly screwed another sheet of paper into her machine, and the monotonous click-clack was again heard in the room.

A FEW days later the discontented girl and her energetic colleague found themselves at the same table in a small tea-shop during lunch time.  Once more the grievance of the girl who found life dull and uninteresting was poured out, this time into the ear of the other girl.
“Don't you find the same old routine of the office and no fun too awful?” she asked.  “Don't you feel sick of not being able to afford any p1easure, and wonder why—.”
The other girl looked at her curiously.
“Why, no!” she answered.  “I hadn’t thought about it that way.  Of course there are not the same kind of enjoyments to be had as before the war, but we didn't appreciate those times so much when we had them, did we?  I believe in making the most of the present time.  You see, I like office work.  I used to be at home before the war, but I like being out and about much better.  There are so many interesting people to meet, and after hours — there's always that time.”
“But what can you do?”  asked the girl discontentedly.  “What do you do?”

“ONE night a week I help in a YMCA Hut.  I've met a nice lot of people there, and although it's a bit tiring, you do feel you are doing important work.  It's great fun.  Then I like reading—I belong to a free library, and I make my own clothes.  I get a lot of fun looking in the smart shops and copying a little idea at home.  I like looking my best, don't you?”
“What for?” asked the discontented girl.  “Who is there to see you these days?  There's nowhere to go.”
“Oh yes,” answered the girl.  “I go for long walks during the week-end.  Sometimes to a hospital, to take magazines I collect from my friends, and the parks are free.  Then I have two lonely soldiers to write to, and tell them all the happenings of the day.  I make a little diary, and send it once a week.  I work hard, then I play hard.  I don't give myself a chance to think much, and the time just flies.”
The discontented girl wondered if she was missing her share because she wouldn't take what came her way, but just pined for pre-war times.
For that is the secret of making life worth living—enjoy it—enjoy it in places, a bit here, a bit there.

“WHERE are you spending your holidays?” asked the beginning - to - be - interested girl.  “Fares have gone up and rooms outside the air-raid zone are prohibitive in price—but perhaps you have relatives?”
“No,” answered the girl, “I don't believe in spending holidays with relatives —not that I don't love them,” she added; “but you can't do what you want to do.  You feel you ought to study them a bit, and if they arrange a picnic you have to go when perhaps you'd just love a lazy day with a book.  No; I've thought it all out, and I'm not going away.  I am going to have a real holiday at home.  There are dozens of places I've never seen round the neighbourhood—historical places, museums, and picture galleries, and I can reach the country when I want to on the top of a 'bus.  I shall go to one or two matinees and picture shows, and when I feel like it I shall call and see a friend.  I shall get up when I like and go to bed when I like.  I am going to really enjoy myself, so that at the end of my holiday even work will be a change.
“I have one or two commissions for fancy work, which I shall do when I feel like it—embroidered collars and fancy bags, and the money I get for these will pay my 'bus fares and odd expenses, so my holiday will cost me hardly anything.  I get quite a lot of orders.  So you see there is a double reason for making pretty trifles for myself.”
The girl who thinks herself unfortunate because in these days her life seems all work should take notice of this little girl's philosophy.  Take life as it comes and be thankful for its blessings.
For remember it is a psychological fact as well as a Biblical one that to him that hath shall be given.  In other words, the more you make of what you have the more will it increase.

Monday, 2 July 2018

Eating Wild Greens

From the Illustrated London News, 29th June 1918. 


We generally neglect several accessible green foods that are perfectly wholesome, and that are habitually eaten by the poor—and even by the wealthy—in France.  Sorrel, for instance, is abundant in our meadows, and is not used here, but is constantly served on French tables.  It is the characteristc ingredient of the excellent soup that the French call "Bonne Femme."  This begins with one or two fine-cut onions fried (not browned) in butter, to which is added chopped sorrel (as much by measure as the fluid used) and a little finely shredded lettuce and then some stock, boiled till all is done; the soup is then rubbed through a sieve (this need not be done, if preferred), thickened with milk with flour boiled in it, or, if possible, cream or beaten egg-yolks, seasoned with a little sugar and salt and pepper, and poured into a tureen on thin strips of bread dried in the oven, not toasted. Sorrel also makes a good dish as a vegetable at dinner. boiled in water with a little carbonate of soda and salt till soft, drained, and rubbed through a sieve (it ought to be a hair, not a wire, sieve for refined tastes); put back into the saucepan with a little butter or margarine. in which a spoonful or two of flour is mixed, and a spoonful or so of milk, just to be moist, stirred till very hot again, then served with very thin sippets of bread fried in butter to crispness stuck round the sorrel.  The French use this purée of sorrel mostly as a bed for a little veal cutlet, or serve it with stewed veal; but it is very satisfactory (made not too thin by adequate flour) with hard-boiled eggs cut in quarters or with poached eggs—or as a dish to itself. 

Very young dandelion-leaves are a good addition to salad, and many French peasants cultivate it for this purpose, letting it grow full size, but blanching it by tying it up to keep the centre tender; big tough leaves, naturally growing, are unsuitable.  I once heard the Japanese Ambassador say that very young fronds of the common brake-fern, just springing through the earth in their curly way, are eaten as a vegetable in his country; he said they should be boiled with a good deal of carbonate of soda in the water, squeezed dry, chopped, and finished with butter.  Young nettles can also be used as a green vegetable; and. in the present scarcity of anything fizzy to drink, we might look up our great-grandmothers' cookery-books and brew some nettle-beer for the hot days.  A mixture of spinach. sorrel, watercress, and lettuce makes a good purée, which becomes a soup if put in sufficient milk or stock, still keeping it quite thick.