Thursday, 30 April 2015

Hudson's Soap

From the Cleckheaton Advertiser and Spen Valley Times, 29th April 1915.

Text: Billeted with HUDSON'S

TOMMY is the first to appreciate a clean Billet, and the first to lend a hand to keep the Billet clean.  He is, you may be sure, QUITE AT HOME with Hudson's Soap.  The good old soap is always of Uniform quality, so Tommy is perfectly equipped with it.

A clean sweet-smelling wholesome soap. Hudson's ensures cleanliness with typical British Thoroughness.  Tommy and Hudson's will be busy this spring.



[I don't know whether Hudson's soap was specifically for washing up, or whether it was also intended for washing people (a 'toilet' soap).  Hudson's also made Rinso for washing clothes (see below), so presumably the soap advertised here was not intended for clothes washing - but the range of specialised cleaning products that we have now did not exist in 1915.] 

From the Halifax Courier, 13th March 1915. 

Text: Every housewife should seriously consider the saving in coal effected by the use of RINSO.

RINSO washes in cold water equally as well as less scientific preparations do in hot.   Thus the cost of maintaining the copper fire is avoided -- an overheated and unwholesome atmosphere is dispensed with.  Labour is saved, too, because you soak the clothes in RINSO and cold water overnight -- leave them soaking all the night -- Rinse and hang to dry in the morning.

 RINSO is the easy washer -- easy for the housewife -- easy for the wash.

[The copper fire was the fire under the copper, the tub for washing clothes.  Many households would only have one stove, for cooking, and the water for washing clothes would be heated there in pans, and transferred to the washing tub, but larger houses might have a separate laundry room. Our house, for instance, (built about 1906) had a built-in copper in the basement, with its own chimney.]  

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

National Egg Collection

From the Cleckheaton Advertiser and Spen Valley Times, April 29th 1915. 


To the Editor.
Sir, -- Will you kindly allow me a small space in your valuable paper to call the attention of the inhabitants of Heckmondwike and district to the above noble object, and to inform them that at the invitation of the originator I have decided to do all I can to assist in the collection of new laid eggs for the brave fellows who may have the misfortune to get wounded whilst serving their country.
Therefore I appeal to all who can to help in the grand cause and if they will forward eggs to me (no matter how small the number) I will undertake to find boxes, pack them, and transmit them free of charge, or if anyone prefer I can supply them with printed label so that they can transmit their own gifts.  May I take this opportunity of thanking all who have kindly contributed up to date, which enabled me to despatch 1200 on Tuesday last and another 100 on Wednesday.  I intend to despatch 100 at a time as they come to hand.  The total number of eggs received up to April 17th at the Central Depot was upwards of 1,500,000, which have been distributed to the various hospitals.  Eggs can also be left at Mr. H. Preston’s, newsagent, Market Place, where I shall call and receive them.  Thanking you in anticipation, yours truly.

10, Kilpin Hill.
April 27th, 1915.

Images of paper flag badges in support of the National Egg Collection (Imperial War Museum)  

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Women’s Work on the Railways

From the Manchester Evening News, 23rd April 1915.


Widening Sphere of Women's Work.

What the Railway Companies are Doing.

The day of women porters and women booking clerks at the railway stations in the Manchester district is not far distant.

This, at least, is the opinion of one railway official to whom an "Evening News" representative spoke on the question of the part women are playing in the all-important work of filling the gaps caused by the departure of so many men from the city.  All the railway companies, he said, were finding it difficult, even now, when trips and excursion traffic were entirely suspended, to get sufficient labour.  Indeed there was a distinct shortage in practically every branch of the railway service, and that being so it did not require a great stretch of the imagination to realise that things would be in a rather chaotic state when people did begin their summer holidays.

Naturally there would not be the great rush from the city as in normal times, but he thought people would get away if they were only given the chance.  One had but to remember the surprisingly large amount of passenger traffic at Easter for proof of that assertion.
In these circumstances there were bound to be confusion and delay at the railway stations unless steps were taken to increase staffs which had been so badly depleted.  It was useless asking for male labour.  "I am to-day," he said, "twenty men and five boys short."  Women labour, therefore, was bound to come.  And why not?  For some kinds of railway work women were perhaps more suitable than men.  Take carriage cleaning for instance.  That was eminently women's work.  "My experience in this direction is that a man may be quicker, but a woman is more thorough.  We should have had women carriage cleaners at our Manchester station long ago, but it is not always convenient to begin a new system.  Our carriage cleaning shed is some distance from the station, and to reach it the men have to cross a number of lines.  You could not ask a woman to do that every day."

Inquiries in other quarters show that, owing to the war, the tendency is more and more to make use of women labour in the railway service.  At one station where most of the typing was formerly done by men, women are now employed in the work; at another, women are being trained for the important work of issuing tickets, and at several stations newsgirls have made their appearance.  Apparently there is no shortage of female workers.
At one of the stations where women carriage cleaners have been introduced the officials have been "snowed under" by applications for the work.  So far about a dozen have been employed, but as many as sixty women are on the books waiting the opportunity to do this class of work—a significant commentary, in itself, upon the state of the labour market where women are concerned.

Passengers at Victoria Station will by this time have become tolerably used to the blue uniformed women carriage cleaners there.  The work is perhaps not as straightforward as ordinary office or house cleaning, but the women have adapted themselves so well to the new conditions that the officials are highly satisfied with the innovation.
Naturally the question of women's pay for men’s work is arousing some attention, and the Manchester branch of the Women's Freedom League have adopted a resolution urging every woman resolutely to refuse to undertake any branch of work except for equal wages with men.  The resolution demands: (1) That no trained woman employed in men's work be given less pay than that given to men; (2) that some consideration be given when the war is over to the women who during the war have carried on this necessary work; and (3) that, in else of training being required, proper maintenance be given to the woman or girl while that training is going on.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

The New Fashions

From Mother and Home magazine, April 3rd 1915.


These Designs Show You Some of the Prettiest Points in Spring- Fashions. The Raglan Sleeve is Very Popular for the Plain Coat and Skirt, while for a Dainty Spring Frock there is Nothing Nicer than the New Hip-Yoke.


The war has brought about a great change in fashions.  All the styles are so much simpler than they used to be, and, personally, I think this is a change very much for the better.  The new wide skirt has become enormously popular, and with very good reason too, since it is womanly, modest, and, above all, extremely practical.

I would like to talk to you about the wide skirt, because, although it is so attractive, you need to know just how to put it on and how it should hang.  At present the most popular shape is the full circular skirt which is usually cut with a seam down the centre back.  With this type of skirt you have to be particularly careful that it does not dip on the hips, or at the back.
Other full skirts are arranged with much fulness at the waist.  This does not suit every figure, so that there is a very welcome alternative in the full skirt which is fitted to a hip-yoke.  The design for a frock on this page will show you just what I mean.
When you put on the new full skirt you should pull it well down in front, as nothing can look uglier than a skirt which runs up in front.
The new full skirts are made at various widths at the hem.  Just now the most popular width is about 2¾ yards [about 2.5 m.] round the bottom, though some are wider, others narrower, than this width.

The popularity of the full skirt has meant that the costume coats have become much shorter than those which we were wearing in the autumn.  Many of the new coats are cut with quite short basques finished with a neat belt at the waist.  Some of the more advanced designs are arranged as very short sacque shapes, almost like the old-fashioned bolero.

It is only to be expected that military fashions will be very popular this spring.  Many of the new coats and skirts are braided, and some are seen fitted with large pockets similar to those on the familiar khaki tunic.  High military collars are very popular, and many of the coats are arranged with tab fastenings, which are particularly attractive and smart.  Some of the new blouses and dresses are finished with sailor collars—so that the Navy is not forgotten!

Small hats continue to be very popular this spring.  The small sailor shapes are particularly suited to the new styles.  There is very little trimming employed, but flowers arranged in tiny wreaths, or sometimes as a mount, are popular.  Some hats are shown with quaint old-fashioned posies of tiny flowers fixed in the centre front.
One of the most practical designs in the new hats is the plain shape with fairly narrow brim, made of taffetas, and generally quite simply trimmed with ribbon and small sprays of flowers.  I am sure you will find this type of hat useful, as it does not get out of shape and will stand quite hard wear.
The new straws with a very bright shiny surface are very pretty, and they are wonderfully light too.
Some of the newest models are made of a combination of straw and silk, which is both smart and novel.

Sailor collar

"Just the plain, sailor collar such as sailors wear is very popular at present. It is often made of silk or satin, finished with gold or silver braidings."

[Mother and Home was a weekly magazine, costing 1d.  (a penny).  Readers could buy the patterns for the 'costume' (coat and skirt) and the dress. 

The full skirt was a radical change from the previous fashion for very narrow (and longer) skirts.  There were comments in the press about the extravagant use of fabric in war-time, but they seem to have had no effect on the fashion industry.   

I like the idea that a collar  "of silk or satin, finished with gold or silver braidings" was anything like the plain collar worn by sailors. ]

Thursday, 16 April 2015

A Women’s Labour Exchange

From The Times, 15th April, 1915.



The most interesting of the women's Labour Exchanges is that at Great Marlborough-street, where women and “juveniles” only are registered, and the daily visitors include almost every type of woman, from the chattering char-lady to the B.Sc. looking for a school post.

This Labour Exchange is above all things, the great clearing-house for women's employment in the West-end, and the labour of various grades is sorted out with infinite tact, so that it shall not meet on the stairs or wait in the same waiting-room.

On the ground-floor at the Great Marlborough-street Exchange, where the chop assistants, clerks, dressmakers, milliners, teachers, social workers, and "superior" workers register, the steady flow of women begins at 9 o'clock in the morning, and continues until about 11; after that a desultory trickle comes in and out.  Dressmakers and milliners' assistants were the first comers yesterday morning.  There was a tremendous demand for both, and the assistants, taking each girl in turn, inquired where she had registered (all the Exchanges are in constant communication notifying each other of vacancies the moment they occur), what she had done before, her wages, and what she desired.  The rapidity with which the worker's capabilities are summed up and she is put in touch with a suitable employer is a continual marvel to the unsophisticated listener.  The result is seen when the shower of green introduction cards, without which a worker is not seen by the employer, begins to pour back with the note that the vacancy has been filled.  All the time the telephone keeps going asking for workers to be sent immediately or complimenting the Exchange on the workers sent.

The bell rings.  “Can you send us 25 motor-drivers and women porters to replace men going to the front?  Driving light vans and delivering parcels.” The call is from a big West-end firm.  The card-index is looked up.  This is something for the war-service women.  There is a lady chauffeur in a "private" job who is willing to give it up to take a man's place and who can do running repairs.  She is the first chosen; there are many society women willing to drive vans, but the "industrial” women who have been working come first.  Another ring-— "Wanted a woman to drive a pair of horses and wear livery, to replace coachman going to the front. Groom kept."  The subscriber holds on; the register is looked up; a woman used to horses who has never done paid work before but will "do anything" is found.

The girls come and go; things grow quiet.  The clerk has been waiting for the telephone to be free.  She rings a Mayfair number. "Hear you wanted two lift-men and couldn't get them.  Will you take two lift-women instead?  You will?  What?  Same as you have been giving the men?  Good.  Will send you two along presently.  Good appearance; suitable for uniform. Thank you."  The clerk is glowing with pride; the women are her protégées.  She is delighted when they get good jobs and new jobs.  She cannot insist on the wages being good, but sometimes her voice of pained surprise on the telephone when some small sum is suggested has the effect of moral suasion.

On the first floor arc the coat hands and machinists.  They are in great request; the tailoresses and their heads have been a little turned over all the money they can make on khaki.  An upholsteress comes in: clean, neat, capable, with considerable experience and used to a power machine for making embroidery.  The index is turned up; she gets a green card and goes off.  A girl wants a job as sweet-dipper, another as chocolate packer; quickly their wants are seen to.

The next floor has a character all its own.  You would think there was a mothers’ meeting going on, but the group of highly respectable ladies taking part in it are charwomen and daily workers whom the kindly clerk has invited to remain in case of something turning up later, as they have not been suited early in the day.  They all know each other, and their stream of family news sometimes calls for suppression.  On the other side of the “counter” are the waitresses &c. and attendants for tea-shops.

On the next floor the indoor servants, staff maids, corridor maids, housemaids, and linen maids apply for work.  On the fourth floor is the most interesting exchange of all.  Here the "juveniles" under 17 are seen.  But the small boy is a rare visitor nowadays.  Yesterday a tall, shy lad was an early comer.  He only wanted a job for a month until his next birthday, when he would be taken in the Navy, and he went away with a choice of work in a warehouse as a boy porter to ride a parcels tricycle or as a lift-boy.  A mother brought in her little girl, a pretty, shy child.  She had gone to a place the day before and found she would have to go out for the dinner hour.  “Her father doesn't like her walking about,” the mother explained, and a place was found in the index that seemed like Pandora's box, where she could "hot up" food she brought from home and have the use of a staff room in the dinner hour.  A tall girl was sent to a firm that wanted a girl in livery to open the door for customers to replace a boy who had enlisted, at the same wages.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Bags For Casualties' Belongings

From The Times, 15th April 1915.



Sir,—I should feel very grateful if you could find space in your columns to insert the following appeal.  A suggestion was made to me recently by a matron in charge of one of the casualty clearing stations at the front.  This suggestion I immediately forwarded to my husband, General Sir Horace Smith-Dorrien, commanding the Second Army Expeditionary Force.  The following extract from a letter is his reply;—
“The suggestion that a supply of small bags of stout material, such as brown holland or canvas, would be useful in hospitals and casualty clearing stations with the Army in the field is an excellent one.  I am sure if yon could get a large number made and sent to the Director of Medical Services, Second Army, we should be most grateful.  On being taken to hospital, men's pockets are emptied of their personal belongings, letters, pay-book, &c. with the result that sometimes articles are lost.  These bags you speak of would enable all such articles to be kept together.”
May I ask those who have the soldiers’ comfort at heart to assist by sending me to 21, Eaton-terrace, S.W., a small number of these bags, made of really stout material, measuring 10½in. deep by 9in. wide when finished, with a strong white linen label stitched firmly on one side for patient's name and corps, and with a tape running string at the top.  I hope the first consignment of 15,000 will leave very shortly, and should be glad if ladies when sending would state if they would be willing to send larger numbers later.  The first 15,000 is in the nature of an experiment.

Yours faithfully,
21, Eaton-terrace. S.W., April 12.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Quaker Oats

From the Cambrian Daily Leader, 14th April 1915.

Text: Instead of a pound of bacon or 1/6 worth of eggs buy a packet of Quaker Oats.  You will save about 1/- and give your family much more nourishing meals.

[I suppose the idea was to make porridge for breakfast instead of cooking bacon and/or eggs, though the Cambrian Daily Leader was a Welsh newspaper, and I didn't think that anything resembling porridge was a Welsh traditional dish.  But evidently Quaker Oats was already a national brand in 1915.]

Monday, 13 April 2015

Lady Ticket Collectors in Birmingham

From the Birmingham Daily Mail, 13th April 1915.

The two lady ticket collectors who commenced their duties at Moor Street Station yesterday, the Great Western Railway having decided to follow the example of the Great Central Railway and try the experiment of introducing female collectors in order to release more men for war duty, were agreeably surprised at the result of their first day's experience.  One of the ladies had had previous experience in the employ of the company, but in quite a different department; the other had come from a quiet home life, so that the duties were entirely new to them, and they naturally entered upon their task with a certain amount of misgiving, but the courteous treatment accorded them by the travelling public quickly allayed all their fears in this direction.  The one who commenced punching tickets under the firm conviction that she would not remain a ticket collector for longer than a week, quite altered her opinion before the day was out.

"Everyone treated us splendidly," she explained; "there was not a sneer or an insult all day." They had to see all tickets, including season tickets but passengers were most obliging.  There was, of course, a little surprise on the part of some of them, end occasionally a little mirth, but generally speaking the public realised and appreciated the seriousness of affairs which had brought about the innovation, and judging by the result of the first day's working, it is evident that the public will quickly become used to the new order of things, and that the appearance of the lady collectors will attract little attention.  The new collectors were told that they were engaged for the duration of the war.  At present they are wearing ordinary costumes, with a white band on the arm inscribed “G.W.R. Ticket Collector”: but later they are to have uniforms.  They agreed that so far they had found the work very pleasant, and that it would be even easier when they had had a little more experience and got to know the regular passengers by sight.


The fact that the female railway ticket collector has made her appearance in Birmingham adds interest to the speculation when, if ever, there will be conductresses on the Birmingham tramcars.  On this point Mr. Harrison Barrow, the chairman of the committee, had something interesting to say on the subject.  So far, he said, the question of employing women as conductors on the city cars had not been seriously considered, for there were many objections to women doing such work in Birmingham.  Not only was there no accommodation for female employees at the various tram depots, but the early and late hours the cars run would not be suitable to female labour on them.  He (Mr. Barrow) had just come back from Paris, and what he had there seen of female tram conductors did not induce him to look favourably upon the idea. The further reduction of the tramway staff would inevitably bring about some modification of the present services.  With a scarcity of cleaners the public must not expect the trams to be turned out in the morning immaculately cleaned, and no doubt with a reduction in the number of cars in service there might be some crowding.  It had not yet been decided what restriction of the services would be necessary, but the public could rest assured that they would be incommoded as little as was possible.

[I expect that Mr Barrow changed his mind about employing women on the Birmingham trams before long. There must have been women working night shifts in Birmingham factories before the war so the early and late hours argument doesn't seem a compelling one.  And it seems not to have occurred to him at all that women would be perfectly capable of cleaning trams.]    

Friday, 10 April 2015

V.C. Hero Recommends Zam-Buk

From the Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette, 10th April 1915. 


Says You Cannot put too much Faith in Zam-Buk.

Having just won the V.C. for conspicuous bravery at Rouges Bancs, France, Pte. 10684, Abraham Acton, of "B" Company. 2nd Border Regt., tells of the share the well-known Zam-Buk had in achieving his proud honour.

Twice, undaunted by the enemy's heavy fire, did Acton leave our trenches to fetch in wounded comrades, one of whom had been lying in agony some 75 weary hours.  Acton knew that there is no useful bravery without physical fitness: and it is because Zam-Buk has so often contributed to the physical well-being of himself and of his comrades, that he has written a letter of gratitude to the proprietors of the celebrated "first-aid."

"You can't place too much faith in Zam-Buk, says Pte. Acton.  "It has been very useful to me on many occasions.  I have used Zam-Buk for my feet especially to keep frost-bite out, and to cure sprains: also for cleanly and quickly healing cuts from barbed wire and other things.  Zam-Buk is indeed a grand thing for every soldier on active service to carry in his haversack."

N.B.—If you have a relative or friend at the front, take it upon yourself to see that he is at once provided with one, two or three 1/1½ boxes of Zam-Buk.  They will prove invaluable in a thousand emergencies just as Zam-Buk always does in the home.

[Zam-Buk, a herbal ointment, was widely advertised, and during the war often based its ads on the usefulness of Zam-Buk to the troops at the front. An earlier post in the same vein is here.] 

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

War Office Supplies of Clothing

From The North Devon Journal, 8th April 1915.



The Secretary of the War-office announces that there is now such a large stock of clothing, under-clothing, mufflers, &c., both overseas and at home, that no further supplies of warm clothing need be sent to the troops.  Arrangements are, however, being made to store the surplus stock of these articles, and any gifts from private sources of articles not included in the list of those officially supplied will, if sent to the Chief Ordnance Officer, Royal Army Clothing Department. Grosvenor-road, Pimlico, London, be stored in the same way.  For the guidance of the public a list is attached showing the articles of clothing which have been officially supplied to the soldier during the past winter.  In making this announcement, the Secretary of the War-office desires to express the thanks of Lord Kitchener and the Army Council to all those who individually and collectively have so generously supplemented the official issues, and thereby so greatly mitigated the inevitable hardships of the winter.

The list of clothing officially supplied to the soldier during the past winter is as follows:—
Cardigans, cap comforters, woollen drawers, cotton drawers, gum boots, gloves (woollen and fur-lined), hosetops, mackintosh caps, flannel shirts, sweaters, socks, towels, woollen vests, waders of many descriptions, hospital clothing of all descriptions, fur-lined coats, fur waistcoats.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Too Many Comforts?

From the Aberdeen Journal, 6th April 1915. 


A writer in a military journal warns men who are returning from France on leave to refrain from telling philanthropic ladies that the troops are using their knitted comforts to clean rifles with, etc., etc.  It has already done a great deal of damage.  Here is a case in point. A sergeant-major returning to this native village sent a message to a wealthy lady whose charity is well known to say "not to send any more body belts, as the soldiers are throwing them away."  Now, there were eight women knitting in that house for the past month for the troops.  Immediately on receiving this message all belts were stopped.  In consequence it is becoming harder every month to keep our regiments supplied with comforts.

[I have seen several reports that some of the comforts sent to the Front were not needed and so used for other purposes (or thrown away).  It's not clear from this report whether soldiers on leave shouldn't say that comforts weren't needed because it wasn't true at all, or because it was true in some cases, but not always.  It certainly seems to have been true that the distribution of comforts was uneven.  Some units who had a well-organised group of supporters at home might have been over-supplied, while others got nothing.   The provision of comforts would be brought under tighter control later in 1915.

'Sister Susie' had become a shorthand way of referring to providers of comforts.]  

Monday, 6 April 2015

Employment of Aberdeen Women

From the Aberdeen Journal, 6th April 1915.



Over 200 applications have been received at the Aberdeen Labour Exchange from women who are willing to relieve men of military age from their everyday occupation during the war so that the men may join the forces of the King.  It would appear, therefore, that the women of Aberdeen and the surrounding district are realising the importance of offering to do the work so that the men may be released to safeguard the Empire, and in reality to protect the homes of the country.  Women who are willing to help in this great task of endeavouring to augment our military forces to the utmost extent, with as little interference as possible with the ordinary affairs of the nation, are offering themselves both from the east end and the west end.

A number of women of independent means are included among the applicants, and it is quite evident that the burden is not going to be put on the working class alone.  A proportion of the applicants, of course, are from working women who are meantime out of employment and would be glad to obtain a situation.  Women, however, who have never found it necessary to work for a living have sent in their names as willing to undertake, for instance, such work as light machining in engineering or armament factories.  A number of married women who were formerly in employment have offered to return to their previous occupations so that more men might go to the assistance of their husbands who are meantime in the trenches.

A glance over the cards of applications shows the variety of occupations in which the woman are willing to help.  A number are anxious to be trained to take the places of postmen, and others would relieve commercial travellers or salesmen.  One or two women who have motor cars of their own would be willing to act as drivers of motor cars.  One lady, who is meantime home on holiday from India, is included among those willing to serve in this capacity.  Others are ready to do field and outdoor work on the farms so that the crops may be secured, and many have declared themselves willing to be trained for anything that may be required.  Almost in every case they have stated that they will be ready to give up the work immediately the war is over, so that those whose legitimate occupations they have been temporarily following may be reinstated.

Although the number on the register has been thus rapidly increasing, there seems still to be a feeling of doubt as to who should register.  It should be clearly understood that every woman who can help, no matter how well-off she may be, or how few may be the hours that she will be able to work, is desired to register her name as willing to assist in the great crisis of the nation. ...

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Sunlight Soap

From the Cleckheaton Advertiser, 2nd April 1915.

In France you called this "Savon," Tommy dear!
And the meaning of the word is very clear.
What saved the shirt you have on?
Why, good old Sunlight Savon.
It's the SAVON that you SAVE ON - Tommy, dear!


Friday, 3 April 2015

Helmet and Shawl in Shetland Wool

From Woman's Own, 3rd April 1915.

Helmet and Shawl in Shetland Wool

Shetland Helmet
Cast on 70 st. on No. 13 steel needles, knit ribbed 2 plain and 2 purl for 6 in., then cast off 20 st. at one side, then knit 12 in. more, still continuing ribbed with the 50 st. left.  Now knit off 30 st., knit 2 together.  Turn, and knit off 10, always keeping the ribs going on, knit 2 together again.  Turn, and knit back the 10 sts. again, knit 2 together, keep on doing same, always turning, knitting 10 st., and then knitting 2 together till there are only 12 st, left on the needle.  Then take the piece which was cast off at bottom round to the other side, and sew up to form the neck of the helmet. Now take 4 needles and pick up st. round the face, then set rib again, knitting 2 together every 3rd st. to make the face a proper size in the 1st row only. Now knit 3 inches more, and then cast off. This helmet can be knitted out of 1 cut of Shetland wool, cost 4d.

How to Make the Shawl
Shawls that will give warmth without being heavy are what everyone desires, and for this purpose there is nothing better than the real Shetland wool, which costs only a few pence per cut.  Because of their fineness few workers have attempted to make them outside the inhabitants of the isles, but the design shown here is very simple and quickly worked.

Only a small piece is worked of the centre pattern with the border completed, to show the effect of the design when the actual shawl is finished, which should measure 1 yard square.

For the Border.—Cast on 9 stitches on No. 14 needles.
1st row: Slip 1, knit 2, put up thread, knit 2 together, put up thread, knit 2 together again, put up thread, knit remaining 3.
2nd row: Plain.
3rd row: The same as the  1st, only knit off 3 before putting up thread.
4th row: Plain .
5th row : Same as 3rd, knitting each alternate row plain, always adding 1 stitch on the 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th, 11th, and 13th rows till the number of 16 has been reached; cast off all the stitches except 9 (beginning at the side where the 3 stitches are), then start again, doing the same as has just been described.

Knit on till the border is long enough to count 160 stitches along plain side; then keeping the stitches on wire, pick up all the stitches along same side, including other end. Keep border same as at bottom, going up along both sides, and knit three rows plain along centre.

Next, when border has been knitted, do 2 more stitches, then put up thread, knit 3 together, put up thread, knit 1, and continue doing the same till end of row, putting up thread and knitting 3 and 1 alternately.

Next row plain.

3rd row: Same as 1st, only taking care always to put up thread and knit the 1 plain that was the centre of the three in the 1st row.

Go on knitting the same way with every alternate row plain till the centre is the length required. Then do a piece of border same length as at bottom, pick up stitches at side the same as when starting centre. Now take as much thread as can reach across shawl and put in a darning needle, keeping thread fast to border, then take the centre and border, and lay the knitting needles together; with darning needle pick first one stitch off centre and then off border, one of centre, and one of border, and so on till the whole have been picked off. The border and centre will then be joined together and the shawl complete.

NOTE.—When knitting border care should be taken always to slip tho first stitch on plain side, in that way making it more easy to pick up.

This design will take about 8 cuts of wool, costing 3d. or 4d. a cut.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Firing Line Experiences

From the North Wales Chronicle, 1st April 1915.


March 21st, 1915.

The following are extracts from a letter written by an officer to his parents at Bangor describing his first experience in the trenches:—

About 4 o'clock on the afternoon, of the 8th, I was just sitting down in my little hut at --- to make a cup of tea on my Primus stove, when I was handed an order to be on parade with 25 men for the front at 4.20.  Picture to yourself the chaos which reigned for that 20 minutes when I was getting everything ready at such short notice!  However, in company with many others, we eventually pushed off, marched about five miles, and entrained at ---- at 7 o'clock.  We travelled all that night and the next day, and about 5 o'clock on the 9th we arrived at M---.  Here we had a meal at the station, and marched away about 6.30, a dull wet night.  We did about six miles and arrived at our destination, and into the first billets we could find, as we were all dead tired.  We were away again early next morning (the 10th), and up into the firing line that evening.

Before daybreak we moved out of the village, and silently got to the trenches, which the rest of the battalion had dug during the night, waiting for dawn and ready to attack.  The dawn, however, showed us a counter-attack by the Germans, so we were otherwise employed for a bit.  They were eventually beaten off, and we got behind what trench we had to rest and await orders.  They came at last, and we were told we were to attack at 8.30.  I can’t describe to you what one’s feelings are while you are waiting go attack; they are not up to much anyhow.  Before 8.30 our orders had been altered, and we were not to attack till 10.30, so more waiting.  This attack we began, but it was sheer suicide to push it, and we were told again to wait till 4.30 that evening; here again we were almost wiped out, and went back to our trenches, where we dug and delved all night to make as good a job of them as possible, and the next morning saw us with a fairly decent parapet, but only about a foot of protection from the back.  At 7.30 they started to shell us again, and continued to do so for eight hours on end without a single breather; the less said about it the better, for one simply can’t put it on paper.

Night brought a certain amount of peace and more digging, and a little reflection as to why all these terrible things must be.  That was March 12th, a day I shall never forget,  Since then we have snatched a little sleep during the day when they were shelling us, and have dug all night, never knowing until to-day what it was to have a couple of hours’ rest at a time.  We started on the 10th with nothing but our greatcoats and arms.  They even took our packs away from us on the morning of the 10th, so that we should travel as light as possible.  Bitterly cold at night in the trenches, with sleet and snow, followed by frost and a biting East wind, and we had not even a waterproof or a blanket, how thankful I was for my two woolley helmets, my long scarf, and my Burberry, all of which I had stuck to.

Now, I’ll try to give you a few impressions of one suddenly plunged from peace into chaos.  You read in the newspapers that out here the Jack Johnsons, etc., are laughed at, but don’t you believe it, perhaps it might have been the case during the last few winter months, when one hardly ever saw more than two or three shells in a day, and some days none, but if anything like these last few days, No.  The small field gun generally chooses a moment when a certain number of men are a little in the open; there is a bark, a fizz and a bang, followed by a whizz of the shrapnel as it burst a few feet above; all over in a second, and no time to think.  Then, there is the heavy shell, which burst where it lands.  First you hear something buzzing like a bee; you get up as close to the parapet of your trench as possible, the buzzing gets louder and ends in a shriek.  It lands at a safe distance, you take a deep breath and wait, listening for the next; if it lands near you, you feel yourself all over, clear the fumes of the shell out of your mouth, eyes and ears, bury your head below the parapet, and again wait for the next one.  Another shell contains shrapnel which partly burst in the air, and the remainder of the shell carries on and bursts on landing.  Then above you comes the whirr of an aeroplane, you know quite well what he is there for, and you can imagine him saying, “There are some of these fellows down there, I’ll just go back and tell my people!”  In the meantime we fire hard at them, but most shots go wide; miles away to the right or left you see little white puffs, and long afterwards you hear the burst of the little shrapnel shell, with which they are shooting at them.  I have seen each side firing pretty hard at each other’s machines the last two days, but I can’t say I have ever seen a shot go very near.

My impression of war, in general, I cannot find fitting language to describe in.  Many thanks for all your letters and parcels, which have arrived here and there at odd times.  It’s wonderful how they have brought them up at all.  The following is a list of things that are really necessary, and you need hardly vary the list each week.  Send by parcel post and put on the label, the date they are sent off on.  No newspapers required :—1 tin condensed milk, 1 tin butter, tabloid tea (China), cigarettes, matches, 1 tin Bourneville Cocoa, 1 tin spiritine, Lemco or Oxo Tabloids, chocolate, cake, indelible pencil, carriage candles.  No potted meat, etc., and no tobacco required.

We have just heard the news that we are not going to have our much needed rest, after all, which is very sad, but it can't be helped.  Anyhow, we shall have one night in billets when we can get a change and our kit, and have one whole night’s rest.  I wish some great move could be made which would shift these Germans right back.

Am finishing this in billets, and we move on to-morrow.  Have no idea where to, but letters will reach the same.  All is peaceful to-day, and I am going into — to try and get a bath.  It's over a fortnight since I have been able to have my boots off.

March 26th.
Only just a line this time. We have been on trek, ever since I last wrote, to another part of the line, where I believe we are to be given another shot at breaking through, having worked the other show rather well.  We go into billets to-morrow for a day or two's rest, I believe.  I am keeping pretty fit except for a touch of flue which I hope to get rid of soon.

[I don't usually include anything about the front line - this blog is about how the war affected people at home. But I've put this in because it appeared in a newspaper, and so it shows what the people at home were being told about what it was like to be in the trenches under fire.  It describes a terrifying experience - but of course there must be a lot left out.  There is no mention of any casualties, although there must have been some.

I don't know what spiritine was - some sort of fuel for a primus stove?]