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".]   

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