Friday, 6 February 2015

Comforts for Employees in the Army

From the Evening Despatch (Birmingham), 6th February 1915.


The Army Fund opened at the works of Messrs. Chamberlain and Hookham, New Bartholomew-street, Birmingham, has been a great success.

Presiding at a meeting of employees to receive the report for the first quarter, Mr. Craythorn said the scheme “had united us as we have never been united before.”  The sum of £34 16s. 10d. collected during the quarter was devoted to the purchase of 18,000 cigarettes, 10lb. of tobacco, 40lb. of chocolate, 62lb. of wool, a mouth organ, 24 cigarette lighters, two electric torches, one set of boxing gloves, and 1lb. of candles, all for the use and benefit of employees serving at the front or preparing to go to the war.  The wool was made up into 240 articles, including Balaclava caps, mittens, socks, scarves, and body belts, all knitted by the girls employed by the firm.  All the parcels sent to the front were delivered safely and in good condition.

[In many companies there may have been schemes like this one, to provide comforts for men who were still considered to be employees, even though they were serving in the Army.  The comforts sent out were probably much like those sent by families to husbands and sons, though on a larger scale, and I imagine that many of the items had been asked for specifically.  (You would hardly buy and send a pair of boxing gloves just in case someone wanted them, surely?)     

Chamberlain & Hookham were a firm of electrical engineers and meter makers.  For instance, in 1908, the company had won the contract to supply Dundee Town Council with electricity meters.  They advertised in September 1915 for a glassblower “used to chemical apparatus and sealing in electrodes.”

The Chamberlain in the company name was Arthur Chamberlain, who had died in 1913.  He was the brother of Joseph Chamberlain, the Birmingham industrialist and politician, and so the uncle of Neville Chamberlain.]

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