Monday, 29 September 2014

Update on the Queen's Appeal

From The Times, Tuesday September 29, 1914. 



To have seen our troops in France, to have experienced personally some of the conditions in which they are carrying on this tremendous struggle -- the long, chill nights, the bitter rain-storms, the weary marches over rough country— is to have realized the supreme importance of warm and comfortable clothing.  Well clad in this war is forearmed in the truest sense.

The gift of socks and belts to the troops at the front from the Queen and the women of the Empire which is now being organized is therefore a very important factor in the general scheme of efficiency.  Than warm woollen socks and a well-knitted belt it is impossible to imagine greater aids to a soldier's personal comfort and sense of well-being.  For it is notorious that the saving of “footwear” effected by means of the former ensures a real increase of fighting and marching value, while the protection from chills conferred by the latter may well be the means of saving valuable lives.

....From all quarters gifts in kind and in money have poured in to Devonshire House, and the fund stood yesterday at £14,000....  Of this sum a considerable part has been allocated to Ireland to provide employment in that country, and sums have likewise been allocated to Scotland and Wales.  Thus, not only are our soldiers being helped, but work is being given to those who may have lost their means of livelihood on account of the war.  A number of Scottish fisher girls, for example, have been employed and a large order has been placed with the Work for Women's Society.

[I would think that not getting shot at or shelled would be a greater aid to "a soldier's personal comfort and sense of well-being", but perhaps I'm just being picky.

This was written only a week after the appeal was launched, so the progress is impressive.  Scottish fisher girls whose normal employment has been lost due to the war have been mentioned in an earlier post here.] 

Friday, 26 September 2014

Advice to Girls

Advice to girls about to marry - get used to eating your breakfast thus.
This card was postmarked 26th September 1914, from Abertillery.   I assume that this design was introduced after the start of the war, because of all the wives and fiancees that were left at home when their men went off to war.  So the message had become appropriate, i.e. that if you're about to marry, you will have to get used to having breakfast on your own.

The message on the back reads: " My Dearest Little Girl, I Received your Loving Letter all safe, & It has set my mind at ease, Pet, because  I was very uneasy. I am sorry you have been bad [i.e. ill], Love.  Will write all news Later.  So Au Revoir from Your Loving Boy, Rol XXX"  

It is addressed to a Miss E. Terry or Leroy (the name is hard to read), at Littlecot, Strensall, York.  I can't find an E. Terry or Leroy at Strensall in 1911, or an address Littlecot, so I don't know anything about her, or about "Rol".

I imagine that Rol and his girl were engaged (from the subject of the postcard).  You can't help wondering what happened to them - did they get married?  Did he survive?  And I have no idea.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Thanks for the Tobacco

From The Halifax Courier, 26 September 1914.

[The Halifax Courier had set up a fund to provide comforts for local men in the services. This letter seems to be from recent volunteers, rather than the Territorials  - possibly an artillery unit.]  


Here are a few lines of grateful acknowledgment, and yet while being racy they somehow fill up the throat:-

Dear Mr. Editor,
We, the Halifax recruits at Newcastle received your parcel of cigarettes and tobacco this dinner-time.  We were all delighted, because money has been very scarce.  It was with the greatest pleasure we realised that the townspeople of our beloved Halifax had not forgotten us.  We had a good deal of sport during the process of distribution, the pipe smokers getting the loose tobacco and the other chaps having the full benefit of the Gold Flakes.  During the afternoon, whilst out on the Town Moor for drill, we had the full enjoyment of the weeds (this, of course, during the interval given for resting).  Allow me, on behalf of the "chums," to thank you most heartily, and also the readers who have come forward so readily to help.

Perhaps, your readers would like to know how things are going with us.  Well, to begin with, we all found it very rough, our first meal being a thick chunk of white bread, with a cup of tea (minus sugar and milk) to push it down with.  Now this has been remedied, and we are having tip-top food.

The sleeping was a big change, too, because we were all used to good, warm, and cosy beds.  Whilst here we had one army blanket each for covering, and the floor of a Council School as a bed; but we are in the best of spirits, with a united desire in our breasts to serve our country, in all and every peril.

After another week's drill we are expecting being despatched to either Ipswich or Aldershot, for gunnery practice.  Our fellows all seem to miss their nightly "Courier," and many's the time one or other of us has been on the point of addressing a newsboy -- "Have yer t’ ‘Courier’?" only to remember sharply that we are far away. -- Thanking you again, on behalf of the Halifax chaps here,

I remain, yours sincerely,
Y.M.C.A., Newcastle-on-Tyne, Sept. 24.

[The rest of the piece is about the Courier Fund and how it is being spent.] 

Next Parcel -- For the Territorials at Riby.

There are over 1,200 in this camp, so to go anything like round a very big parcel will be necessary.  The first parcel could only reach about 300 men.  We hope the Fund will enable us to despatch a more generous parcel this time.  Most of the soldiers at Riby (one of their number informs us) have nothing to smoke, and they "do so" want some.

Hotels, clubs, tobacconists, &c., are invited to assist this cause by collecting cigarettes or cigars for our soldiers.  Thousands upon thousands of boxes are filled in London daily by customers being asked to “Spare a smoke, please, for Tommy.”

Every District round Halifax should rally to the support of this Fund, because the gifts go to their Lads, as well as ours.

Address help please, whether in goods or money; to "Tobacco, Courier, Halifax,"

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

The Queen’s Appeal for Socks and Belts

From the Cambrian Daily Leader, 24th September 1914.



In view of the special winter requirements, and to supplement the provision made by the War Office, Lord Kitchener has asked the Queen to supply 300,000 belts, knitted or woven, and 300,000 pairs of socks, to be ready, if possible, early in November.  Lord Kitchener has kindly promised that these articles shall be immediately distributed at the front.  The Queen has willingly acceded to the request and asks the women of the Empire assist her.

In making this offering to the troops, her Majesty is anxious to place as much work as possible through the Central Committee for Women's Employment.  It is suggested that in addition to gifts of the above-named articles, orders may be forwarded stating the number of belts and socks which it is desired to contribute.  All such orders and all cheques, as well as contributions of belts or socks, should be sent to the Lady-in-Waiting to her Majesty, addressed to Devonshire House, London... Anyone willing to send these articles is invited to apply to the Lady-in-Waiting ... for written instructions.

[This appeal, based on an official press release, was published in newspapers throughout the country (and presumably throughout the Empire). It was one of the first national appeals for clothing to be made for the troops, and I think the largest.  

I have chosen this version of the appeal, because most other newspapers omitted the reference to employing women - the Central Committee for Women's Employment was spending the money raised by the Queen's "Work for Women" Fund

The 'belts' asked for are body belts, also called cholera belts, or sometimes colic belts.  A body belt was a deep band of wool worn around the abdomen (sometimes fastened with tapes or buttons, but usually the knitted ones were knitted in the round and pulled on).  Although medical opinion no longer thought that a body belt would protect against cholera, there was a widespread feeling that it was essential to keep the abdomen protected from chills.  Body belts were not part of the official issue to soldiers, but perhaps Kitchener thought that they should be.]

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Instra Hand Warmers

A previous post had a cryptic sentence: "Comforts and necessaries are requested for the Indian troops.  Cigarettes, sweaters, socks, instras (for those on outpost duty), ..."  and I commented that I didn't know what an instra was.  I thought it might be an Indian word for some form of warm clothing, but I have since found out  that it was actually a gadget for keeping your hands warm - a kind of stove to keep in your pocket.   

Here's an illustration from an article about instras by The Quack Doctor:

The Instra was patented in 1896, and I found a couple of newspaper ads for them from 1897.   The first appeared in February 1897: 


(Patented throughout the world.) 
The POCKET INSTRA is imperceptible in a pocket, ornamental, and by the special patent in its construction, ABSOLUTELY SAFE and CLEANLY. The Instra prevents chills, is invaluable to delicate persons, who by its use can resist cold, changes of temperature, or draughts.  Useful when driving, shooting, bicycling, travelling, or at theatres, public meetings, churches.  PERSONS USING THE INSTRA CAN SIT IN A COLD ROOM IN COMFORT WITHOUT A FIRE. 
D. BLAIR & CO.. 47. Cannon-street, London. E.C.

And in September 1897, when the Klondike Gold Rush was at its height, the Instra was advertised as the ideal equipment to take to cope with the cold of Alaska - most of the prospectors had to carry their own equipment, so the weight of an Instra was essential information:   
KLONDIKE GOLDFIELDS.—Those intending to go out are recommended to take a POCKET INSTRA WARMER, which weighs only 3½ ounces.  With this in their pocket they can defy the cold.  Innumerable testimonials from all parts of the world.  
The "Colonist," August, 1897, says:—"An Instra and refills for 12 hours' warmth weighs only four ounces; 100 refills, producing about 300 or 400 hours warmth, weigh only about three-quarters of a pound.  While everybody is desirous of finding gold in the Klondike Goldfields, all the world seems to be afraid of the cold.  The Instra would seem to be the solution of the terrible climatic Klondike problem." 

They must have become popular in some quarters, so that in 1914, they could be referred to without the capital i, expecting that readers would know what they were. It could have been a huge marketing opportunity for the company, but evidently most soldiers on the Western Front made do with mittens - it was only Indian troops (so from a much  warmer climate) on outpost duty (so especially exposed to the cold) who merited instras.   

Sunday, 21 September 2014

A Water Fete at Hipperholme

From The Halifax Courier, 26 September 1914


At Sunny Vale, Hipperholme, on Saturday [19th September], in conjunction with the Hipperholme Relief Fund Committee, a water fete and other special attractions were held.  A troupe of lady swimmers, styling themselves ‘The Water Nymphs,’ gave exhibitions of graceful, scientific and ornamental swimming, including single and double somersaults, wheels, life-saving, and floating.  In the evening this troupe took part in aquatic novelty sports, tub racing, water Derby, &c.  Their evolutions were productive of much humour.

Wyke Glee Union gave a very enjoyable programme of patriotic and other partsongs.  At dusk the grounds were illuminated by myriads of fairy lamps, as were also lake craft.  There was also a magnificent display of fireworks, concluding with the sinking of the “Mainz.”  Mirfield Military Band, specially engaged, played a well-selected programme, including the Belgian, French, Russian, and English national anthems.  Halifax Victoria Band played for dancing.

...For an open-air carnival the weather was bad.  The actual attendance was 2,225, compared with over 5,000 last year.  The receipts were - Gate, £26 13s. 9d.; tickets sold, £13 6s. 8d.; [etc.]

Expenses paid, the balance, £16, is divided thus – Hipperholme Distress Committee, £8; Brighouse, £4; Southowram, £2; "Halifax Courier" Fund, £2.  It should be noted that employment was found, as far as possible, for deserving cases, over £23 being paid out in wages in connection with the fete.

[Sunny Vale Pleasure Gardens were a commercial enterprise, opened in 1883.  You can see a clip of local people enjoying a day out there in 1901 on the British Film Institute's website.  The gardens had two boating lakes, where presumably the water fete was held. The Water Nymphs sound like a synchronised swimming team, and a bit daring for 1914.   

Still from the BFI's 1901 film of Sunny Vale. 

The Mainz was a cruiser in the German Navy and had been sunk by ships of the British Navy on 28th August.]

Friday, 19 September 2014

New Boots for the Territorials

From the Colne Valley Guardian, September 18th 1914.




Sir,—I fear that some misunderstanding has arisen in respect to the requirements of the Battalion. These have developed with the progress of time and have been met more or less satisfactorily, but we are in need of boots.

The recent dry weather has damaged the men's boots to an extent far in excess of ordinary wear and tear.  The men will be required to pay for any fresh boots that are issued to them, as they have already had all that they are entitled to.  It is almost impossible to obtain boots through the ordinary channels of supply owing to the large number of recruits being enlisted throughout the country.

A firm of bootmakers have undertaken to supply the Battalion completely by the end of this week, and I propose to issue the boots to the men at half-price, but in order that this may be done some funds must be available.  Some subscriptions have already been promised and I would ask other friends of the Battalion kindly to send their contributions to Mr. Robert Ramsden, Edgerton Bank, Huddersfield; to Mr. Harold Tanner, Dobcross, Oldham; or to

Your faithful servant,
G. W. TREBLE, Colonel,
Commanding 7th (Colne Valley ) Batt.
West Riding Regiment.
Immingham Docks, Grimsby,
Sept. 14th, 1914.

[It seems outrageous that soldiers who had worn out their boots in training, while under orders, and so through no fault of their own, should be required to pay for replacements - especially since privates were only paid a shilling a day.]  

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Blankets for the New Armies

From the Colne Valley Guardian, September 18th 1914


The Press Bureau states that an immense supply of blankets is immediately required for the use of Lord Kitchener's new armies.  The War Office has acquired all supplies which, so far as it is aware, are available from the large dealers.  It is prepared to purchase in any quantities the stocks of suitable blankets from smaller firms and retail shops which have them to dispose of.  Sellers should immediately communicate with the nearest Army Ordnance Office.  In the meantime, all private individuals who have a surplus stock of blankets, and who are willing to contribute to the comfort of the new armies which are being formed, would render a great public service by making donations of blankets for the purpose indicated.

In order that collection and distribution of such gifts may be carried out without confusion or delay, the Lord Mayors and Mayors of every city and borough in the United Kingdom are invited to receive parcels of blankets offered in response to this notice, and to despatch them to the nearest ordnance officer.  All charges for the carriage of parcels of blankets will be defrayed by the ordnance officers.

[Another indication that the War Office was having immense difficulties in clothing, feeding and housing the huge numbers of men who had volunteered since the start of the war.]  

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Gifts for Our Soldiers and Sailors

From The Times, September 17, 1914.

[In August, The Times had started a regular column 'How to be useful in war-time'.  It often included suggestions from readers (sensible or otherwise), as well as details of various appeals.  By this point in September, there were often long lists of appeals for various units of the armed forces - I think for the men already on active service, with the Army or Navy.]




We publish to-day a selection from the many appeals that continue to reach us. The great principal funds, it must not be forgotten, are still in need of all the support that rich and poor in their varying degrees can give, but those who have already written their handsome cheques for The Times appeal for the British Red Cross Society, or made their donations to the National Relief Fund, may still find the means and the inclination to send some little gift in kind, or a small sum, towards the purchase of "comforts" which will produce the pleasant feeling that the donor has made a personal present to some brave fellow at the front.  And it is chiefly such appeals as these that we lay before our readers to-day.


[The following is a selection from a longer list of appeals.]

The Ladies’ Emergency Committee of the Navy League earnestly asks for 5,000 woollen Helmets and 5,000 woollen mufflers for our sailors now in the North Sea.  Parcels to the Navy League Depot, Langham Hotel, Portland-place, W.

Mrs. Jackson, Elmwood, Petersfield, Hants, is collecting warm garments for the men serving on board H.M.S  Thunderer.  Gifts of socks and stockings helmets, comforters, mittens, sweaters, and cardigans in dark blue wool; and cholera belts in natural wool, will be most acceptable.

Mrs. J. E. Capper, Commandant's House. Brompton Barracks. Chatham, asks on behalf of the men of the Royal Engineers for gifts in money or clothing, such as Army flannel shirts (collar bands not less than 16in.), socks with heels, mufflers, large mittens, cardigan waistcoats, and Balaclava helmets, all of dark colours, or for materials for any of these articles.  Also small luxuries to include pipes, tobacco, chocolate, vaseline, and playing cards.

Lady Constance Pasley and Miss Allfrey are collecting comforts for the Royal Berkshire Regiment.  Gifts of money or goods [addresses given]. The following may be sent:—Toothbrushes, tobacco, pipes, handkerchiefs, cigarettes, cigarette papers, vaseline, carbolic tooth powder, boracic powder, chocolates, meat lozenges, socks, post-cards, pencils, lint, electric torches, hide bootlaces, and acid drops.

Mrs. Morris Richardson, Hurley House, Marlow, appeals for comforts for the 20th Hussars or money, flannel shirts (not less than 16 collar), socks, scarves, coloured handkerchiefs, woollen pants, leather boot laces, unsweetened chocolate, pipes, vaseline, and boracic ointment. All socks and shirts should be washed.

For the King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment khaki-coloured comforters, sleeping caps, knitted spencers, mittens with half-fingers, cholera belts, handkerchiefs, stout leather bootlaces, wooden pipes, soap, flat penny tins of vaseline, and good chocolate should be sent to Mrs. Alfred Dykes, 26, Palace Court, London, W.

Comforts and necessaries are requested for the Indian troops.  Cigarettes, sweaters, socks, instras (for those on outpost duty), dubbin, tinned milk, subscriptions in money or kind should be sent to Mrs. Barry Hartwell, Liscarraig, Greystones, Co. Wicklow, for the Gurkhas; and to Miss Alice Bernard, The Palace, Kilkenny, for the Sikhs. [Don't know what 'instras' are.]

Mrs. Bernard Grissell, wife of Captain Grissell (Norfolk Regiment), The Grange, Thorpe-road, Norwich, asks on behalf of the Norfolk Regiment for handkerchiefs, bootlaces, illustrated papers and magazines, chocolate, peppermint, acid tablets and drops, lime juice jujubes, cigarettes, tobacco, pouches, new briar pipes, tubes of vaseline, boracic ointment and boracic powder, indelible pencils, playing cards, dominoes, pocket knives, fancy soap.  Shirts should be made of dark grey or khaki flannel, tin buttons very firmly sewn on, collar bands cotton, 15½in. or 16in.  The feet of socks should be 10½in. long. Handkerchiefs of inconspicuous colouring.

[I like the preamble, in which The Times first instructs readers to send money to the main national funds before responding to these specific appeals, and then hints that their main effect might be to make donors feel good.  

The lists of articles wanted are amazingly specific, and sometimes baffling. "Lime juice jujubes" I think means jelly sweets and perhaps the lime juice would prevent scurvy (though scurvy was not, I shoudl have thought, the most significant problem for the B.E.F. in France). Why 'fancy soap' for the Norfolk Regiment, and not plain ordinary soap?  Why did the 20th Hussars want unsweetened chocolate, rather than regular chocolate?  And whereas the 20th Hussars want coloured handkerchiefs, the Norfolk Regiment want them to be of "inconspicuous colouring". Do they simply mean that they don't want white ones?]   

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

The League of Those Determined to Help

From the Daily Mirror, 16th September, 1914

Those Sub-Committees

A CERTAIN substantial suburb which, before the war, was mainly given up to golf and flirtation, is now (we found on visiting it last week-end) entirely composed of persons determined to help, at any cost to their neighbours and themselves, especially their neighbours.

The League of Those Determined to Help was not immediately formed at the outbreak of hostilities.  It was, indeed, for the purpose of forming such a league, and so of putting an end to the hostilities that had already outbroken in the suburb, that a meeting was called, last Sunday.  This meeting was to gather in the large drawing-room of the chief resident of the suburb; and, after a deadly but decisive contest as to who the chief resident was, it met at Mrs. X.’s, the other claimants for chief-residency being conspicuously out of action.  Thus an opportunity was provided for uniting all the spontaneous Determination of the neighbourhood into one fixed effort to Help.

For, until then, we must confess that there had been nothing but an anarchy of Committees and Sub-committees in the suburb.  Each person present, on that Sunday afternoon, seemed to be President of a Committee, or Vice-President of a Sub-committee.  We ventured to ask those near us what they were doing to help.

The first lady said: “Oh, you must help us.  We have a League for the Orphans of Soldiers who Died before the War.”

The second said: “Ours is the best-and most practical work.  We are sending tea-leaves to the Fleet.”

A younger woman remarked: “We are helping the jilted fiancees of men at the front.”

A lady knitting hard by the window added: “Surely the main thing is to help the men first. Their relatives can wait.  We are supplying eight dozen pair of night socks a day for the front.”

“For the front, for the front, for the front”— the words formed a sort of refrain.  But now the chief resident was beginning her Determined Speech.

The gist of her speech was that all the Committees and Subcommittees should be amalgamated into a Determined League, and that then the League should offer its services to the War Office, in all or any of the capacities for which its Committees and Sub-committees had been formed.  The answer was hourly expected, but meanwhile the Determined Helpers were not to cease committing and sub-committing.  They were to go on with the tea-leaves and night socks and the rest, until it was known what was wanted.  They were to take all the money they could get.  .  .  .  “Anybody who did not help at a time like this  .  .  .  Coward  .  .  .  Skulker  .  .  .  Let no women, however foreign, speak to any Englishman who didn't help.  .  .”  And so it went on.  We began to feel shy.  “What are you doing?” said someone, savagely.  We feebly replied: “Listening.”  There was a tremor of scorn.

But yesterday in remorse we offered some money to the Determined Ones.

A telephone message came in reply:  “Thanks so much, but we're disbanded.”

“Disbanded?  What do you mean?”

“Well, the War Office message came to-day.  It ran: ‘Please don't Help.  Enlist.  Or else send money to the Prince of Wales’s fund.’”

Poor, poor Sub-committees!    W. M.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Flannel v. Flannelette

From the Glasgow Herald, 14th September 1914.

Copy of a letter appearing in the “Eastern Daily Press,” Norwich, of August 20th, 1914. 

Ladies are being advised by various authorities that Shirts and other garments for our soldiers should be made of Flannel only, and that no Flannelette should be used.  This advice appears to me open to question, for the following reasons: First, the expense.  The Flannel generally used costs, I believe, from 1/- to 1/6 a yard.  3½ to 4 yards are required for a Shirt and 6 yards for Pyjamas; each garment, therefore, costing for material alone from 4/- to 8/-.  Next, the difficulty in washing.  Fine, good Flannel, in the hands of an experienced laundress may be kept soft and porous for some time, and need not shrink to any great extent; but thick Flannel, badly washed, not only shrinks enormously, but becomes hard and felt-like in texture, impervious to perspiration, and thoroughly unhygienic.

“I suggest the use of HORROCKSES’ FLANNELETTE at 6¾d. to 8¾d. a yard as being better for the purpose, as well as cheaper.  It wears splendidly, is improved by washing, shrinks far less than Flannel, and is more comfortable to wear.

It also cuts to greater advantage, being 36 inches in width.
Yours faithfully,

10 Albert Square
Gt. Yarmouth.

[Flannel was a wool fabric, whereas Flannelette was a brushed cotton to imitate Flannel.  (Now, the term flannel seems to be often used for a cotton fabric.)  Horrockses was a cotton manufacturing company, which later (in the 1950s) became well-known for stylish ready-made dresses in printed cotton.    

If the letter is genuine, it was a gift to Horrockses.  But the points made seem valid - washing a pure wool fabric and keeping it in good condition must have been difficult in the days before wool could be treated to be machine washable, and before modern soaps and detergents.  I don't know how uniforms were washed in the field - not by 'experienced laundresses', I imagine. 

See my earlier Note on Prices for clarification of 1/6, etc. 

The Red Cross Society, St John's Ambulance and others did accept garments made of Flannelette, but preferred Flannel - see for instance this post.]     

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Guide to Needleworkers

From The Times, 12th September 1914. 


The official weekly list of requirements issued by Queen Mary's Needlework Guild, the St. John Ambulance Association, and the British Red Cross Society states that no more nightingales or helmets are required.  The following articles are needed by the societies named:—

QUEEN MARY'S NEEDLEWORK GUILD.—Dressing gowns, babies' clothing, pyjamas, towels, vests, and pants.

ST. JOHN AMBULANCE ASSOCIATION.—Cholera belts, dressing gowns, nightshirts (ordinary), slippers, and socks.

BRITISH RED CROSS SOCIETY.—Dressing gowns, pyjamas (flannel if possible), slippers, towels (face), vests, and pants.

N.B.—(a)—A sock with 11 in. foot is the size most required, but a smaller number of 10½ in. foot and 11½ in. foot are also needed.
(b)—The public are earnestly requested to adhere to standard patterns for hospital garments, as unauthorized and fancy shapes are unpractical, and lead to waste of time and material.
(c)—The public are also warned against the very dangerous practice of inserting matches in clothing of any kind.
(d)—No perishable goods of any description, such as game, fruit, &c., should be sent to 83, Pall-mall.  Any persons wishing to present such gifts should apply to the Stores Department, and a list of hospitals containing sick and wounded soldiers and sailors will be immediately forwarded.

[This was one of the weekly statements promised at the end of August (here), to co-ordinate the efforts of volunteers.  It seems to be asking a lot of the local groups - they were expected to switch their efforts instantly to match a list like this and to provide the things asked for this week.    

"No more nightingales or helmets are required".  Volunteers evidently liked making (Balaclava) helmets - the statement of weekly requirements on 31st August also said "No helmets are required at present".   Perhaps the local groups were not as compliant as they might have been. 

A nightingale was a sort of bed-jacket (invented by Florence Nightingale, allegedly).

I wonder why people had been sending matches in parcels of clothes?]   

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Jaeger is British

From the Glasgow Herald, 11th September, 1914.

Text: The Jaeger Co.'s Notice to the Public.
To dispel all doubts which may have arisen in consequence of the name of a German scientist forming part of the title of the Company, we points out the following facts:-
The Jaeger Co. was founded here with British capital in 1883 to acquire sole rights throughout the British Empire in connection with the System of Pure Wool Clothing originated by Dr. Jaeger.
The Company has always been British, entirely under British control, and the greater part of the Company's goods is made in the United Kingdom.  We have also availed ourselves of the special skill and taste applied in various Continental countries to the production of certain articles;  but every effort is being made to produce in this country, and we shall be able to continue the supply of Jaeger Specialties in all departments.

LEWIS R. S. TOMALIN, Chairman.
Head Office:  95 Milton Street, London, E.C.
Branches in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
Agencies in all important towns.

[Like J. Lyons & Co., the Jaeger Co. felt that it was essential to dispel any idea that the company was in any way linked to Germany.] 

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

On Sending Socks

From The Times, 10th September, 1914.


E. C., 3, Palace-green, W., -writes:—Hundreds of socks for the soldiers are passing through my hands, and may I ask all those who are so generous in these gifts if they would kindly sew each pair of socks together at the foot and at the top of the leg and not pin them together with pins, safety pins, wire, darning needles stuck through cards with the remainder of wool for darning the socks?  Hands and arms of receivers are covered with scratches in taking out all these pins.  Many of the socks are not fastened together in any way, and it is impossible to prevent some of them from being separated and lost.  All this unnecessary work is a great delay in getting the goods off to the front.

[Hah! I thought as much. See my earlier comment here on sending a darning needle and some wool with every pair of socks.] 

Workrooms for Unemployed Women

From The Times, 10th September 1914.




[The article begins by reporting that the Queen's 'Work for Women' Fund has already reached over £33,000 (in only a week).]

In London the Central Committee on Women's Employment for England and Wales will work in two directions:— Numerous occupiers of factories and workshops whose business is at a standstill have offered the free use of their premises and plant if employment can be found for their workers.  The Central Committee propose to take over a number of workrooms, paying, in special cases, a small amount to the proprietor for supervision, and to employ the workers in making garments to be distributed ... in cases of distress among our own people, and also among the refugees who are flocking to the country.

This policy... will not, however, meet the problem of the 45,000 women and girls already unemployed in London, and it is proposed that workrooms should be opened in different districts in London.... , to include training and instruction in certain skilled trades to semi-skilled or unskilled women.

The first articles to be produced under those schemes should, it is considered, be for the use of expectant mothers, a great number of whom are at present in the direst distress.  The Matron of the East London Lying-in Home states that 500 maternity outfits could be allocated in Stepney alone between now and Christmas, and she is prepared to guarantee that in every such case the child would otherwise be actually without sufficient covering to maintain it in a healthy condition.

[It is worth remembering that in at a time when there was no State support for the unemployed, and many of the poor did not earn enough at the best of times to have any savings, a month with no work would have left many families in a desperate plight.]

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Action for Libel

From the Glasgow Herald, 9th September, 1914; Colne Valley Guardian, 18th September, 1914;  Huddersfield Examiner, 14th September, 1914; and probably many other newspapers across the country.  

J. LYONS & CO.  Limited (Plaintiffs) v. LIPTON, Limited (Defendants).

In the High Court of Justice Mr. Justice Sankey, on September 8th, 1914, granted an Interim Injunction restraining Lipton Limited, their Agents and Servants, from speaking or publishing or writing and publishing any words to the effect or of the substance that J. Lyons & Co., Limited, or the Directorate thereof, is composed of Germans, and that by purchasing their commodities the public is assisting the enemies of Great Britain.

J. Lyons & Co., Ltd. (By Appointment to His Majesty the King), is an all-British company with all-British directors, has 14,000 all-British shareholders, and 160,000 all-British shopkeepers selling Lyon's Tea.
Cadby Hall, Kensington, London, W.

[The allegation that J. Lyons & Co. was partly a German company was obviously felt to be extremely damaging.  There was a great antipathy during the war to anyone who was thought, or imagined, to have links with Germany or her allies.  Kate Adie, in her book Fighting on the Home Front, describes how her grandmother, Ethel Maud Hedinburgh, had a difficult time during the war, including being questioned by the police, because her father was originally Austrian, even though he had lived in England for decades, and she was married to a British citizen and had two small (British) children.]        

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Effects of the War on Employment

From the Glasgow Herald, 7 September 1914.

[Extracts from a much longer article on the effects on different sectors of industry in Glasgow.]





The tailoring trade has suffered to some extent, but the amount of unemployment among the operatives has not been so great as in some other industries.  In tailoring there are a number of firms who provide by Government contract clothing for the Army and Nary. As the supplies required by these Services this year are much larger than those of ordinary times, a good many firms who are not regularly on the Army and Navy lists have been given contracts.  This distribution of the work available has helped to minimise unemployment.  A good many substantial orders were cancelled on the outbreak of hostilities, but trade has improved within the past week or two, and orders are beginning to come to hand more freely.  ...

Large numbers of women workers are being thrown out of employment in the Glasgow shirt-making industry, and the majority of the factories are already on short time.  Several firms who have secured Government contracts will be able to keep their workers for some time, but otherwise the outlook is rather gloomy.  Some attention has been directed to the appeals which have been made to home work-parties for the provision of articles of clothing for soldiers at the front, and it has been pointed out to the organisations concerned that the making of these articles by voluntary workers may result in the taking of employment from women engaged in the factories, thus increasing unemployment.  The authorities concerned appreciate the danger of causing distress in this manner, but they are hopeful that it may be avoided.

...So far as can be ascertained the actual numbers thrown out of employment are not yet very large.  A considerable proportion of male clerks are members of the Territorial Force, and these of course were called up at the outbreak of hostilities.  The vacancies thus caused were open to other clerks whose employment was immediately affected by the war situation, but this self-readjustment has been by no means complete. With the view of pressing home some such general arrangement on public bodies the Glasgow and District Council of the National Union of Clerks, whose local membership numbers about 3000, have addressed a communication to the Corporation of Glasgow urging that they should fill temporarily all places rendered vacant by men called up for service rather than inaugurate a system of overtime by other members of their staffs.  Representations on similar lines have been made to the Corporations of Clydebank, Coatbridge, and Stirling.

[The article backs up the letters previously published in the Glasgow Herald (here and here) about unemployment among women shirt-makers, and mentions that voluntary work-parties making shirts for the army may be making the situation worse.  The reported response by 'the authorities' (who?) seems distinctly feeble - they appreciate the danger but hope it won't happen, without apparently doing anything about it.

The two sectors here show the contrast between a largely female workforce in garment making, and a largely male workforce (at that time) of clerks and typists. The large numbers of men being called up or volunteering created vacancies that could be filled by men who had lost their jobs.  Ultimately, the shortage of male labour led to new opportunities for women, but at this stage of the war, most employers were not yet ready to employ women in jobs which had traditionally been seen as male.]  


Saturday, 6 September 2014

Comforts for War Horses

From The Observer, 6th September, 1914.

(A Society for the Encouragement of Kindness to Animals).
Where's glossy Bess, the carmen's mare?
Where's gentle Prince, the children's friend?
Where's Starlight, fast beyond compare?
And Tiny Tim of fiery blend?
Gone to fight their country's battles,
Gone to face the shot and shell,
Days of toil and nights of hunger,
Can we help, who loved them well?
Where’s soft-nosed Jessie, sugar lover?
Where's handsome Bobs, my lady's hack?
Where's Punch, the Squire rides to cover?
And Misses Trapper’s lively Jack?
Gone to fight their country's battles,
Gone to face the shot and shell
Weary waiting, hours of torture.
Can we help who love them well?
Where’s sturdy Joe, who hauls the coal?
Where’s ginger Nell, who brings the bread?
Where’s Tommy, petted from a foal?
And Norma of the fitful head?
Gone, all gone on Active Service,
Faithful Servants, friends of man.
We in sheltered homes of England,
Let us send the help we can.

Wither pads.       Brushing Boots.
Bandages.           Numnahs.
Embrocations.      Medicines.
Surgical sponges.

Or Money to purchase same.
Depot for receiving Comforts for Horses,
O.D.F.L. Offices, 58, Victoria-street, London, S.W.
ARTHUR J. COKE. Secretary.

[There was evidently concern at the time for the welfare of the horses requisitioned for the Army - it did not begin with Michael Morpurgo's 'War Horse'.

Patterns for wither pads occasionally appeared in needlecraft magazines during the war, perhaps in response to this or similar appeals.  

Weldon's Practical Needlework no. 348, published later in 1914, gives a pattern for a crocheted wither pad: "These pads are used under the saddle to protect the sensitive skin of the horse, and in war time, when all the saddles cannot be guaranteed to perfectly fit the horse, these pads become an absolute necessity to prevent suffering."   The pad is made of four ovals crocheted in wool: "Two pieces are worked separately for the outside cover, and two smaller pieces to place inside for centre lining or padding, as this article must be soft yet thick."   Finally, "At one end of pad, a piece of wool is crocheted to make a tie by which to attach the pad to the saddle, so that in case of a hasty call it will be handy."  A numnah is also a saddle pad.  It seems to be more saddle shaped, and often made of sheepskin.]    

Friday, 5 September 2014

Socks for The Territorials

From the Denbighshire Free Press, 5th September 1914.


To the Editor of the FREE PRESS:
Sir.-As a past officer of the 4th Vol. Batt. Royal Welsh Fusiliers, I felt I should like to do something for the men to whom we gave an enthusiastic send off from the Central Station a week ago, and also that there would be many who would feel as I do.  I therefore wrote to Col. France-Hayhurst offering to get for the Battalion a thousand pairs of woollen socks.  In reply I have received a most grateful letter, in which he says he cannot think of any more useful present.  He writes: "Socks will wear out pretty quick, as we shall be doing a lot of marching from now onwards, and in a fortnight or so will be of the greatest possible use."

I know there are many -- men who can buy and ladies who can knit -- who are only too anxious to do something for our local battalion if a really useful outlet for their kind wishes could be shown them.  A thousand socks is equal to one pair per man.  Socks may be forwarded to Mrs L. Hugh-Jones at the address below, who will receive and acknowledge them, and forward the thousand when complete to Col. France-Hayhurst with a full list of the donors.

Mrs Hugh-Jones makes the following suggestions:-

1.—That the socks should be forwarded to her in parcels of 10. Single pairs will, however, be very welcome and gratefully acknowledged.
2.—Plain knitted socks with ribbed tops 3 inches deep, properly turned heels and feet not less than 11 inches are the most suitable.
3.—To those who will knit socks, it may be useful to mention that needles size 14 or 15 with 84 stitches (or more if the wool is fine) make a useful size.

—Yours truly, LL. HUGH JONES, Chevet Hey, Wrexham.
September 3rd, 1914.

[Lady French had already appealed for socks for the British Expeditionary Force in France (here), but the Territorial Battalions were still training in this country. The Territorials tended to have closer links with their locality than the regular army - they had been living at home only a few weeks before - and so it was natural for the people in the area to support their own Territorials.  

Mrs. Hugh-Jones sounds like a competent woman, and evidently an experienced sock knitter.  I hope Mr. Hugh-Jones had discussed his idea with her before making the offer, since it doesn't appear to have involved any work on his part, other than writing the letter.]   

With the Halifax Territorials

From The Halifax Courier, September 5th, 1914  


Our correspondent with the local Territorials writes:- On Wednesday, the Y.M.C.A. erected one of their tents here, much to the delight of the Territorials, who are quick to realise the value of a place where they can write a letter in comfort and spend a pleasant evening, singing songs or reading magazines, etc.  It might be mentioned here that those who wish to help the Territorials can do so by helping the Y.M.C.A.  We are still training strenuously, and many men are suffering with their feet.  Friday is a red-letter day here, being pay day, but this time the usual charm was taken away as most of the men had the larger portion of their money to return for various things received in the way of small kit, such as shirts, towels, socks, razors, etc., the razors bringing forth many skittish remarks.  Although grumbling is indulged in by some, to hear the men singing in their various billets at nights gives away the true state of their mind—it goes to show that whatever they are put to, they can knock a bit of happiness out of it, like a true Britisher.  The war news is followed with the very greatest of interest here and whenever a big victory, occurs for the Allies the strains of “Rule, Britannia” are sure to find their way from the lungs of the men.  All we are waiting for now is the time to move.  If it so happens that we should get to the front we can then show that the men of Halifax and district are ever ready to do their duty.

[I included this piece because of the account of the men having much of their week's money withheld to pay for kit.  They were only paid 1 shilling per day anyway, so if  'the larger portion' was stopped, they would have very little left to spend (for instance on tobacco). The items listed sound like essential kit - I don't know why they weren't provided by the War Office.  Possibly these stoppages were one reason why the provision of 'comforts' was so important.]  

Thursday, 4 September 2014

The ‘Work for Women’ Fund

From The Times, 4th September 1914.


Her Majesty the Queen has suggested and authorized the formation, and has graciously consented to become the president, of a committee for raising funds to find employment for women thrown out of work by the war.

In the following letter her Majesty explains her intentions in the matter:—
In the firm belief that prevention of distress is better than its relief, and that employment is better than charity, I have inaugurated “The Queen’s 'Work for Women' Fund.”  Its object is to provide employment for as many as possible of the women of this country who have been thrown out of work by the war.
I appeal to the -women of Great Britain to help their less fortunate sisters through this fund.
...The committee is a collecting and not an administrative body; and the large funds it may confidently count upon raising will be spent solely on schemes devised by the Central Committee on Women's Employment.  The Central Committee... is a strong and businesslike body, well supported by expert boards of commercial and official advisers.  Its hon. Secretary is Miss Mary R. Macarthur... Its treasurer is Mrs. H. J. Tennant.  The officials include Miss Anderson (H.M. Principal Lady Inspector of Factories), Miss Clapham (head, Women's Department Labour Exchanges), Miss Durham (L.C.C. Technical Training Organiser), Miss Mona Wilson (H.M. Insurance Commission)....

The primary function of the Central Committee is to think out and to put into operation schemes that, while avoiding any interference with ordinary trade, will provide work for women and girls whom the war has thrown out of employment....

There can be no more important work than this.  The sufferings of war fall harder on women than on men, but hardest of all on the women who are deprived of their means of livelihood.  They are as a rule but poorly organized, or not organized at all, their resources are of the slenderest, and they have next to nothing to fall back upon.  Moreover, in a great many cases they are compelled to suffer not only in their own persons, but, far more poignantly, in the persons of their children and the care of the home.  Every one of us must have come across pitiable instances of this kind during the past few weeks in his or her own experience—instances of women despairingly seeking the work that would just enable them to struggle along; and every one of us must have wished that some efficient and workable machinery existed to save them from the abyss of destitution.

The machinery does exist, and it is for the public to see that it is not thrown out of gear by lack of funds.  The Central Committee on Women's Employment is performing the most useful service that could possibly be rendered at such a time as this.  It aims not at the relief of distress, but at its prevention.  It offers not charity, but work.  The women who are out of employment do not want and do not ask for doles.  They do want, and they do ask for, work.  They want to keep going as self-supporting units in the industrial army, and not to become a burden on the community.  They want to be preserved from lapsing into the state where unearned financial relief becomes necessary to hold body and soul together.  It is obvious, moreover, that in so preserving them, and in securing employment for many thousands of workless women, the Central Committee on Women's Employment will accumulate a number of articles and garments that may fitly be given away to those who need but are unable to pay for them.  This, of course, would be done in cooperation with the existing local machinery for the relief of distress.

The purpose of “The Queen's 'Work for Women’ Fund” is to raise funds that this admirable work may greatly extend its beneficent scope; and the purpose of this appeal is to urge upon every one the supreme and urgent need of supporting it.

[I like the idea of Queen Mary saying "Why don't we have a committee! Let's do it!  I'll be President."    (That's the 'suggesting/ authorizing/ graciously consenting' bit.)

 It seems odd from our point of view to say "The sufferings of war fall harder on women than on men" about the First World War, when we know how long it went on for, how many men eventually were sucked into the army, and how many of them were killed or wounded on the Western Front and elsewhere, but in 1914, that was all in the future.  At this point, the majority of men were not much affected, and it was not expected that it would go on for such a long time. ]  

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Prevention of Unemployment

Letter to the editor in the Glasgow Herald, 3 September 1914. 

172 Buchanan Street. Glasgow,
September 1. 
Sir,—As a women's trade union, we heartily agree with the letter from Mrs Billington-Greig on "Prevention of Unemployment" in to-day’s "Herald."  We are already feeling the burden of unemployment and short time among our members, who comprise shirtmakers, hosiery workers, blousemakers, confectionery workers, etc.  We feel that voluntary workers in their patriotic enthusiasm and desire to help are in danger of missing the real idea of relief in this crisis—to prevent rather than to remedy distress.

With Mrs Billington-Greig, we do not condemn voluntary garment-making; but we must protest against this network of sewing parties which is being so rapidly spread over the country.  Our objection to these is not entirely from the point of view of their competition with paid labour; we do not think that many voluntary workers will keep up to the standard of producing one dozen well-fitting shirts in one day—the output of a good shirt-maker.  We urge rather that for the amount of money contributed for materials, etc., better supply of garments for our soldiers could be obtained; these, being made by skilled workers, would reach a higher standard of perfection, and a number of women now partially or wholly unemployed might be kept on in their paid jobs.  We must repeat that we have all sympathy with the enthusiasm and good-will of the voluntary workers, but surely the money given is not being spent in the way most profitable to the nation as a whole.  We must not augment the ranks of the unemployed by women for whose work there could be a demand were the funds necessarily involved in these voluntary schemes organised.  To prevent distress by keeping up the volume of employment is as much the purpose of the national scheme in this crisis as the relief of distress.
The formation of a committee on the lines proposed by Mrs Billington-Greig would have our hearty support and co-operation.—I am,
LOIS C. P. YOUNG. Scottish Secretary,
National Federation of Women Workers.

[This letter was in response to Teresa Billington-Greig's letter in yesterday's post. Again, it makes a very good case.  Presumably most of the volunteer needleworkers had no experience of making man's shirts - possibly little experience of making garments at all.  I used to make a lot of my own clothes, including shirts, but I would have found it hard work to finish a shirt in a day - a dozen would be out of the question.  You might reach that speed if you made shirts all day and every day, but the volunteer ladies were never going to do that. ]  

Monday, 1 September 2014

The Dangers of Voluntary Garment-Making

Letter to the editor, in the Glasgow Herald, 1 September 1914. 


The Myth, High Possill, 
Glasgow, August 31.

Sir, -- There must be many men and women who feel that with the best intentions a great number of voluntary workers at this crisis are following a course which will create and increase unemployment.  The wholesale making of garments for the troops is a special case in point.

Letters have already appeared in the press emphasising this danger, and some correspondents have indicated that they were determined to purchase the garments or comforts they could afford to send to the troops and to the Red Cross agencies through the ordinary channels of trade.

I suggest that this course is one to be immediately adopted on a large scale and in an organised manner.  It is in the better interests of the country as a whole, and of the working women in particular, that machinists, seamstresses, and hosiery workers should be kept in employment rather than that they should be a burden upon distress relieving agencies.

The hand labour of amateur workers has a very low market value, calculated by a Yorkshire manufacturer at 1d per hour, while proficient machinists earn from 12s to £1 per week, and in many cases the garments produced are superior in shape and finish.

I do not desire to be understood as advocating a complete cessation of voluntary garment-making.  Many home-women are only able to give their own time to good causes, and for them few other opportunities offer.  But I do suggest that a very large body of women having money as well as leisure could better assist their country at this juncture by contributing the money they would otherwise expend on wool and materials to a general fund for the purchase of goods from the manufacturers.  In all probability dozens of these employers will come forward in Scotland, as they have already done in Yorkshire, offering to provide the goods required at a merely nominal profit or at cost price.

There are surely enough of us sharing these views to form in Glasgow, without delay, a committee having for its object the prevention of evil results from our own war gifts to the nation.  Funds could be collected and disbursed on the lines suggested and the work of the committee could be extended into other obvious channels if a sufficient response were forthcoming.  I am prepared to give my services to such a body if it can be formed.—I am. etc.,


[This struck me as a very well-argued case for employing skilled workers to make shirts and other garments for the Army, rather than voluntary workers attempting to do it themselves.  Then I did a web search for the name Teresa Billington-Greig and found lots of information about her - see for instance her Wikipedia entry.  She was a well-known socialist, suffragette and feminist.   She was born Teresa Billington and married Frederick Greig in 1907, when they both adopted the name Billington-Greig.

The British Red Cross were already encouraging people giving garments for the sick and wounded to pay "women who would otherwise be unemployed" to make them (e.g. here), but Red Cross working parties across the country continued, ignoring this advice.]