Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Making Soldiers' Comforts

From the Brecon and Radnor Express, 4th November 1915.

Soldiers' Comforts.


Sir.—May I be allowed through your columns to make known the official scheme for organising and stimulating the making of comforts for our soldiers which I have been asked by the Lord Lieutenant to undertake for the county of Radnor.

Your readers will probably have seen that Col. Sir Edward Ward, Bart., K.C.B., K.C.V.O., has been appointed “Director General of Voluntary Organisations,” with an office and central depot in London.  From thence it is proposed to spread a net-work of associated workers all over the kingdom by means of County and Borough Depots to feed the Central Organisation.  The War Office recognises with gratitude and appreciation this immense amount of useful work which is being done and has already been accomplished.  The objects of this present scheme are to avoid overlapping, and to encourage and stimulate this work by giving it official recognition and directing it into the most useful and needful channels.  We shall be told from time to time what things are most needed, and a list of articles that can be made, in great variety, is already provided.

The hon. secretaries of the various depots are asked for fortnightly or monthly returns of the work they have in hand, to be forwarded to Headquarters when required.  It has been decided to establish a Radnorshire Depot at the County Buildings, Llandrindod Wells....

Associations of workers, however few in number, who undertake to work regularly, may apply to be officially “recognised by the War Office,” and, further, individual workers, who continue their efforts for three months, will be entitled to badges as war workers.  This will, it is hoped, not only encourage many ladies and young girls to enrol themselves, but will also help us all to realise that this systematic making of socks, shirts, comforters, bandages, etc., is to be looked upon as a serious duty to be undertaken for our country.

It is fully recognised that most localities have their own men for whom they must first provide, or special regiments and ships in which they are personally interested, and it is very far from our wish to discourage any efforts in these directions.  But it is also felt that if the ladies of Radnorshire, in the various localities, will all forthwith start work parties and organise local associations, there will still be a great stream of useful comforts to flow to the County Depot in Llandrindod; and thence through headquarters to those battalions and hospitals at the front which are most in need of them.

Sir Edward Ward has given notice that he is quite unable to meet the numerous requisitions which have already reached him.  Mufflers and mittens are most needed at present.  Any further information will be most gladly given either by Mrs Moseley or myself, and we shall be only pleased to hear of any districts or associations in the county which will support the movement.  It is proposed to invite representatives of the above to form a county committee.

I am, sir, yours, &c.,
Llysdinam, Nov. 1st, 1915.

[You could get a badge for knitting!  That seems excellent psychology, showing appreciation for the efforts of the knitters - surprisingly perceptive of the War Office.      

This letter seems to be slightly in conflict with the aims of the War Office in appointing Sir Edward Ward.  I think that the idea was that all 'comforts' (except of course for those made for individual men by family and friends) should be under the central control of Sir Edward, to avoid groups making things that were already supplied by the War Office, and to make distribution to the front fairer and more efficient.  But if the groups could simply say "we are providing for our own men" and carry on as before, that wasn't going to work.  I think in the end it did work, and there was a strong central distribution of 'comforts', but perhaps there was opposition at the beginning, hidden by the polite language in the papers.]      

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