Saturday, 26 September 2015

A New Woolholder

From the Derbyshire Courier, 25th September, 1915.


We all know the discomfort of continually dropping a ball of wool while knitting or crocheting, with the consequent entanglements of the wool, and many devices have been invented to prevent this.  Work-bags with a hole through which the wool is drawn, and metal bracelets from which the wool is suspended, are among these.  These metal bracelets are used by many workers; but there are others, like myself, who would find a ball of wool dangling from their arm an intolerable nuisance.  A homely device, and one that was quite successful, was shown me the other day.  The worker had placed a 3lb. jam-jar on the floor beside her chair, put the wool in, and knitted in peace.  When the knitting was finished with for the time, the whole thing, needles and all, was dropped into the jar.  Of course, this “home-made work-bag” would be rather heavy to carry about, and was not very elegant; but the shape and size seemed right, and anyone who wished anything more beautiful could easily decorate the outside, and something lighter could be made by using a cardboard cylinder instead of the jar.

Friday, 25 September 2015

Soldier’s Comforts

From The People’s Journal (Dundee, Perth, Forfar and Fife), 25th September 1915.


Prepare Now for the Winter Campaign.


Now it the time to begin preparing for the supply of winter comforts for our soldiers in the trenches in France, Flanders, and Gallipoli, and the splendid efforts of our home workers last year will have to go on with redoubled enthusiasm and vigour.

The call for "woollies" was answered in no uncertain way, and the “People's Journal,” which appealed for socks, comforters, mittens, and other such goods, found that the generosity of its readers provided for it a task which, however congenial, was yet a formidable undertaking, requiring all the careful organisation at its command.

This year the number of soldiers under arms has enormously increased, and, to meet the demand for warm clothing, every woman and girl in the kingdom who can spare the time must devote their attention to the making of knitted garments.  Soldiers' families, and many who have no relatives at the front, have contributed in the past, but it must be realised that these heroes are fighting the battles of the whole country, and that there is no home in Britain but owes its safety and preservation to them. Surely it is a small return to spend an hour or so with the knitting needles.

What to Knit.
The articles which will be in the greatest demand are mufflers, mittens, and socks.  The weary ordeal in the trenches, sometimes standing in ice-cold water for hours on end, is the severest of trials on our soldiers' strength and they must be fortified against wind and weather if they are to give the best of the fighting qualities.

The mufflers and mittens must be of drab shades.  The neck wraps should be nearly five feet long, long enough to give a turn round the head to protect the ears from the bite of the frost and allow the ends to come round the chest.  They should be 10 inches wide, and made of fleeced wool, which keeps out rain and snow much better than the plain variety.

This request for fleeced wool is made by the Press Bureau, and will present some difficulty to our readers.  In the process of machine knitting a scarf is first knitted plain, and the fleecy surface is put on by a machine especially made for the purpose.  A curry-comb is the nearest approach to this machine which the ingenuity of the home worker will suggest, as its short teeth will lift the surface into a pile without damaging the strands.

Mittens should be of drab shades also, with short thumbs and no fingers.  Socks should be of 4-ply or 5-ply wool, with plenty of length in the leg.

Tobacco Wanted.
Tobacco is the great solace of the soldiers' life at the front, and the "Journal" scheme for sending "smokes" to the front has been running for nearly a year with great success.  The announcement which appears on another page shows how cheaply our troops can be supplied with tobacco and cigarettes, and the need for it is as great as ever.  Some men like "bogie roll" or thick black; others pin their faith to lighter mixtures.  There are frequent calls from the trenches for black tobacco, and it appears that some non-smokers and those of the gentler sex imagine that, by giving an increased price for tobacco, they are giving the soldiers a better treat.  This is not necessarily so, and, in sending to a regiment, where the tastes of the recipients are unknown, a judicious combination of light and heavy "smokes" should be made.

By our schemes tobacco may be sent to an individual if it is a certain weight, or for distribution in a regiment.  We organise a supply by subscriptions sent in, and those who have no particular friend or regiment would do well to send in their contribution with the simple direction that it is meant for "tobacco for the soldiers."

[This is based on the same press notice as for instance the article in the Western Daily Press, here.   But the People's Journal reporter has adapted it, adding socks to the list of requirements.  Sir Edward Ward had said that only mufflers and mittens were needed, and indeed The Times said here that millions too many socks had been made.  But I suspect that the People's Journal was correct, and that more socks were need - soldiers got through socks very quickly, and a change of socks in the trenches would help in keeping feet dry.   It's notable too that this is the only newspaper I have seen that actually explains what 'fleeced wool' meant, and how to achieve it.] 

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Winter Comforts For The Troops

From The Times, 22nd September 1915.



The new War Office scheme for the formation of a central organization, under the direction of Colonel Sir Edward Ward, to coordinate the work of the various committees and individuals now engaged in supplying comforts and luxuries for the troops, while it has come as a surprise to many people, has been welcomed in those quarters which have suffered most from the willing but inefficient amateur.

Pending the formation of this central organisation, it is suggested that workers should concentrate their efforts on mufflers and mittens.  At the Army Clothing Factory the Chief Ordnance Officer stated that these items had been specially chosen because ladies, anxious to do something useful, had in the past devoted all their attention to socks and shirts, which were a Government issue, with the result that there were millions too many.  The Government did not propose to issue mufflers and mittens, but to leave these to the many women who were so willing to make things for the troops. The specifications given should be attended to; the helmet muffler, which is very cumbersome, is not needed, as the men are supplied with winter caps.  About a million and a half, in round numbers, will be needed, but no figures can be definitely stated until the winter disposition of the troops is known.  The troops in certain parts of the Dardanelles and in Serbia may need them also.

The aim of the present project is to counteract the making by small private groups of people of articles which are Government issues.  The constant appearance of appeals from ladies asking for money for comforts for special units will no longer be necessary, and waste of materials as well as of labour will be prevented.  The centres for collecting and packing will save time and labour at the Army Clothing Depots, where the arrival of small consignments which have to be repacked is not appreciated.

There is probably no intention to interfere with any existing organization, like Queen Mary's Needlework Guild, which has reduced waste to a minimum, and which publishes weekly the articles to be made, according to the requisitions that come in from different commanding officers.
The comfort and clothing of the troops are being well looked after at headquarters.  This winter every soldier will have a Siberian goat skin or sheep-skin coat.  These coats are supposed to be worn under their other coats, but the men are so delighted with them that they wear them on the outside all through the muggy weather, when they must be very uncomfortable wear.

The new respirator, which is being issued at the rate of 60,000 a day, covers the head like a visor, and is made of two thicknesses of grey flannelette, fitted with eye pieces and a mouth piece with tubing.

[This seems a surprisingly frank criticism of the efforts of the "willing but inefficient amateur".   It's also interesting that mufflers and (fingerless) mittens, which you might think were essential for the troops at the front during the winter, are to be left to the knitters at home - that seems to be going well beyond the provision of "comforts and luxuries".]   

Monday, 21 September 2015

Mufflers And Mittens For The Troops

From the Western Daily Press, 21st September 1915.



LONDON, Monday.

Many societies and individuals have written to the War Office to ask for suggestions as to what articles of clothing will be most acceptable for the use of troops at the front during the winter.  The Army Council hope shortly to announce the formation of a central organisation under the direction of Col. Sir Edward Ward. Bart., K.C.B., K.C.V.O., for the purpose of co-ordinating the work of the various committees and individuals now engaged in supplying comforts and luxuries for the troops, and of directing into the most useful channels their kindly energies.

Pending the formation of this organisation, all who are kind enough to do so should concentrate their efforts on mufflers and mittens, which should be made to the following specifications: Mufflers of fleeced wool, drab shades, 58 inches long, 10 inches wide.  Mittens of knitted wool, drab shades, with short thumbs and no fingers, eight inches long from wrist to knuckle.  Supplies of these articles should be sent, for the present, addressed, carriage paid, to the Chief Ordnance Officer, Army Clothing Depot, at any of the following places: Stirling, York, Chester, Weedon, Southampton, Dublin, and Grosvenor Road, London.

[This was the beginning of efforts to organise voluntary knitting efforts, that had evidently been a bit chaotic since the beginning of the war.   Similar articles, giving the same specifications for the mufflers and mittens, appeared in many newspapers around the country at the end of September.] 

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Soap in the Soldier's Home

From the Brecon & Radnor Express, 16th September 1915.

Text: In the Soldier's Home kept spick and span for the day when "he" returns triumphant, Puritan Soap is an ever-welcome guest.
Alike here and in thousands of other happy homes Puritan Soap is welcomed and loved because it is so gentle in use —so tender to the clothes, so pleasant to the hands that use it.
Puritan Soap is gentle because it contains olive oil — sweet olive oil of nature's own giving.
It is the olive oil in Puritan Soap which saves the clothes from wash-day wear and tear, and makes them, like itself, sweet, pure and fragrant.
That is why so many housewives say quite truly that Puritan Soap saves its cost every week in the clothes it saves.
Will you order Puritan Soap from your grocer, oilman or stores? It is sold in several sizes: a size for every need.
PURITAN SOAP is used in Britain's happiest homes
Made by Christr. Thomas & Bros., Ltd., Bristol, Soapmakers since 1745.

Saturday, 12 September 2015

The Servant Question

From the Derbyshire Courier,  11th September 1915.

We are being told that drapers' shops all over London and in some of the larger provincial towns are closing because of the slump in trade.  These trades have had some very fat years behind them, and their trouble is after all only a pecuniary one.  The throb of pity for assistants thus thrown out of work has less behind it than would appear.  For never for many years has there been such a glut of employment, both in the skilled and unskilled markets.  There is only one branch of employment where the demand is far in advance of the supply, and that is domestic service.  It seems as if one great effect of the Education Act has been to implant a distaste for service in the minds of pupils. They regard it as beneath them, they look upon the uniform of cap and apron as a badge of slavery, and above all they want "freedom" in the evenings.

Now let us make a comparison in the relative conditions of those ante-war callings for girls and those of domestic service.  A capable servant can and does command any wage from £20 to £26, or even £30 per annum.  Whereas one time £14 to £16 a year was considered fair wages for a "general" servant, and from £20 to £22 for a house or parlourmaid, now the least capable general is asking over £20.  In addition she is lodged, boarded, and washed for, she has no travelling expenses, and at least one afternoon a week, every other Sunday from after an early dinner—it used to be after tea the evenings commenced, but now evenings is a courtesy expression only.  She has a whole day a month off, and a fortnight's holiday in the summer. This means in reality a month's holiday in the year.  Now take a girl in, say, a tea shop.  There are her fares to and fro her place of employment, her board for Sundays, and lodgings for the week, her washing bill, her uniform to provide, and she is on her feet from morning till night.  I often wonder what use an evening is that commences after eight for a girl who has been on the go the whole day long.  All I should imagine she can do is to throw herself on her bed to rest.  Then the wages do not compare favourably, even without all the little etceteras she is bound to provide out of it.  Yet strange to say, girls prefer this latter life.  Of course, I must admit that there is a good deal of blame to be laid at some mistresses’ doors.  But there are a great number of good mistresses who find it impossible to get really capable good maids.

[I think that young women were perfectly capable of comparing life as a shop assistant with life as a domestic servant, and deciding that they preferred the former.   The conditions of work described in the tea shop are clearly very hard, but even so they sound preferable to domestic service.]    

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Canteens for Women Munitions Workers

From the Huddersfield Daily Examiner, 9th September 1915.

Sir,—A representative committee has been formed by the Young Men's Christian Association to provide canteens for munition workers. ....  it is felt that a special appeal might very properly be made to the women of Great Britain for the same object by the Young Women's Christian Association.

Throughout the length and breadth of the land munition works are springing up—in many cases almost the entire labour is found by women—and the necessity for proper canteens, conducted on the well-known lines of the Young Women's Christian Association, is quite as great as is the necessity for similar canteens for men.  Rest and recreation rooms attached to the canteen, where a trained social worker is always in charge, are greatly appreciated by the girls.

With confidence, therefore, we appeal for funds to women to help their sisters who are so patriotically responding to their country's call.  This is a supreme opportunity for women to help not only in this gigantic struggle against tyranny and oppression, but also in the cause of the industrial woman of this country.  She is taking the great chance that has now come to her, and she looks to us to help her to be both physically and morally fit for the new enterprises at which she is trying her hand.  Such huts as are provided by the Y.W.C.A. vary in price from £300 to £700.

All donations, however small, should be sent to the Secretary, Munition Workers' Welfare Department, 23, Bruton Street, W.  .....

(Signed)  VICTORIA, Princess of Schleswig Holstein,
              President of the Y.M.C.A. Munition Workers' Committee.

Saturday, 5 September 2015

Eating Pumpkins

From the Ladies' Page, The Illustrated London News, 4th September 1915. 

As we are looking in every direction for food economies, we may utilise pumpkins, which are just now abundant, and often allowed to go to waste.  American pumpkin pie consists of two thin layers of pastry with the stewed gourd, mashed, sweetened and flavoured with cinnamon or ground mixed spice, as a central layer.  More acceptable to many will be pumpkin soup (potage de potiron).  The French flavour this soup either with salt and a touch of cayenne pepper, or with sugar, according to the taste of the diner, just as they do melon eaten raw at the beginning of dinner.  The followers of the sugar idea declare that pumpkin soup is infinitely better lightly sweetened than salted; but both ways should be sampled.  The potage is simply made.  A slice of ripe, juicy pumpkin, weighing about a pound when cut off the rind, is simmered till soft in a little water very slightly salted; it needs but ten minutes or so, stirring frequently.  It is then strained from any superfluous water and mashed, either through a colander or a wire sieve, and returned to the pan with two ounces of butter, which is to be stirred well up; pour in and mix, stirring all the time, a pint of boiling milk; then pour immediately into the tureen, in which is sliced up half a French roll; or, if that is not available, have some dice of bread fried crisp in butter or dripping to hand with the soup.  A little sugar or a little salt is added in the soup-plate at the diner's option, but it should be very little of either, or the delicate flavour is lost.  Vegetable marrow soup can be made in the same way.  Onion, celery seed, or parsley and sweet herbs can be added at different times to make variety.  Pumpkins are also most accommodating in taking the flavour of anything cooked with them, and so can be mixed with plums or apples in an ordinary English fruit tart or pudding when the fruit is scarce; or boiled in the ordinary way with fruit for jam will produce good results.

[Food economy was becoming an urgent concern - and food shortages would become much more serious before the war was over.    I don't think that eating pumpkin is the answer to food shortages - there are very few calories in it.  But for people who still felt that dinner should have multiple courses, and didn't need the calories, pumpkin soup might be a good economy.]  

Friday, 4 September 2015

Should Women Urge Men to Enlist?

From the Ladies' Page, The Illustrated London News, 4th September 1915. 

There is evidently some confusion of thought about the duty of women in regard to urging men to go out to help in the war.  Broadly speaking, one finds that men who are already "doing their bit  " in the field are anxious that women should exercise all the pressure at their command on the men who are stopping at home; while the men who are staying at home are, for their part, even ferocious in their denunciations of women who express an unfavourable view on the subject.  It is a puzzle for us to decide what we ought to do!  Thus, Major-General Sir Francis Lloyd, commanding the London District, says to us: "I charge you women of England to see that we fail not.  On you depends the issue!  You are doing magnificent things, but you can do more; that is, make every man in whom you have an interest come forward."  But on that very same day, a certain Deputy-Coroner in London, investigating the death of a man who was said to have gone out of his mind because women worried him for not going to the war, declared that "the conduct of such women was abominable"; those who try to induce men to enlist he declared to be "a pack of silly women," and "he hoped something would soon be done to put an end to such conduct."  The Deputy-Chairman of the London Sessions, again, dealing with a man who had knocked a woman down and broken her arm because she called him a coward, merely bound the prisoner over, on the ground that "the woman had failed to do a most excellent thing, namely, to mind her own business," and "no doubt the prisoner was annoyed by the women's provoking tongues."  On the other hand, the promoters of the movement to obtain immediate conscription consider it so much a part of women's business that they began their campaign by a meeting of women only at Queen's Hall, London.

National Service, such as France, Germany, and most European countries have installed, at least has this advantage, that it leaves no room for these painful alternate appeals to and abusive tirades about women's action in relation to the war service of men.  It is monstrously cruel to expect individual women to urge the enlistment of the men who belong to them: their very own sons, husbands, or sweethearts.  On the other hand, it is absurdly false to say that it is no business of ours whether an adequate number of men are nobly willing to volunteer to give their strength and risk their lives to defend our country and our homes, and to secure our personal safety from outrage, and our children from injury and death.....