Friday, 8 May 2015

Halifax Comforts Appeal

From the Halifax Courier, 8th May 2015.



Every household Halifax through, every home between Brighouse and Hebden Bridge, and between Stainland and Queensbury, should contain hearts tingling with affection for its own soldiers.  In this war, for our very existence, if we do not look after our own, who will?  We ought to see to it that they want for nothing.  If we neglect them, and make them lose heart, whatever is going to happen?
Our own, the distressed at home, and the willing ones in the firing-line, should surely have our first thought, our greatest sacrifice.

Writing us from the Front on May 2, Lt.-Col. Atkinson said: ---
I received your welcome letter of the 28th inst., yesterday, and hasten to reply to it, and I hope you will convey to all your subscribers the very best thanks of all officers, N.C.Os., and men of the First 4th West Riding Regiment for their kindness in subscribing towards the comforts of the men.  Below I give you a few articles which would be much appreciated, but it is difficult to say what quantity is really required for 990 men: —
 Socks are always a good commodity; braces, a few for replacement; razors, a few for replacement; biscuits (small), 1,000 packets, made up in a larger tin, would be easy to distribute; tobacco, 1,000 packets; cigarettes. 5,000 packets; pipes, 500; handkerchiefs, 2,000; small tinned things; nuts, dates, sweets, are all acceptable; soap, carbolic, 2,000; matches, 5,000; pencils, 5,000; foreign note paper and envelopes; Keating’s powder.
 In addition to the above I make the following suggestions:—
Each Company might have a small box of medicine tabloids.  Burroughs and Welcome supply various sizes from 10s. upwards.  I suggest two 10s sizes, and four larger sizes.  We also require a dozen electric torches for the sentries at night.  These should be good ones, so as to last, but not too large.
As regards officers’ requirements, there are 80 of us, and we should appreciate things we cannot get very readily out here.  I am afraid you will have a lot of work in getting all these things together, but no doubt our appreciation will repay you.

[Lieut.-Col. Atkinson was with the First 4th West Riding Regiment, a Territorial battalion that had been in training since the beginning of the war, but had arrived in France in the middle of April. This was the first time that large numbers of Halifax men had been in France, and explains the urgency of the appeal.  The battalion had just been in action for the first time, and this issue of the Courier was full of letters from local men in the battalion describing their experiences under fire. By the following week, several were reported killed, and there were other casualties. 

Keating's Powder  was an insecticide - presumably needed in the trenches against lice.  Some of the other things on  Lieut.-Col. Atkinson's list hardly seem to count as 'comforts'  - why was he asking the Courier for torches for sentries, rather than getting them as official supplies?]

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