Saturday, 31 January 2015

The Six Allies

From the Illustrated London News, 30th January 1915.

[The allies at this stage of the war were Russia, Belgium, Britain, France and Japan.]

Friday, 30 January 2015

Parcels for British Prisoners of War

From the Aberdeen Evening Express, 30th January 1915.


Comforts from Home.

When well nigh every conceivable outlet for patriotic generosity had been exhausted, and the city’s centre bustled with relief societies and help associations of half-a-hundred different forms to aid our gallant soldiers and their dependants, it fell to the quiet of the Chanonry to discover not the least important of them.  The interned British prisoners had been overlooked, and, but for a happy thought, might have been overlooked still.  Mrs Niven, 6 Chanonry, was in Germany when war broke out, and has the most pleasant recollections of the courtesy with which her departure for Scotland was facilitated; but her intimate knowledge of German red-tape left her with a shrewd idea that what befel her might not be the experience of everyone, and that British prisoners of war, above all, would be in need of all comfort that could be given them, and be thankful for it So was started the scheme for providing comforts for prisoners of war in Germany.

Pathetic letters from men in Doeberitz and Senelager had been received stating that they were without clothes, tobacco, and even food enough, and the wives who had sent parcels out had found they were never delivered.  It wanted some practical organised effort to see this straight, and Mrs Niven undertook the organisation.  To-day she has every reason to be proud of her efforts.  They started with a tentative feeler in the matter of a. parcel sent to Doeberitz, and it reached its destination safely.  Since then they have increased, until to-day Mrs Niven has no time at all of her own, and needs most of the time of her two daughters and the only capable assistants—Mrs Henry Hutcheon and Mrs Fyvie— who have so far come forward to aid in a patriotic cause.

More Help Needed.
Some have said that if a little assistance for a few hours would .help, it would be given, but that is far from enough.  What is wanted is the whole-hearted co-operation of several ladies who have the wish to help to make internment as free from discomfort as possible for the thousands of British soldiers who have had the misfortune to be captured.

Mrs Niven found, when first she took over the work, that insufficient addressing of parcels was the reason for much of the non-delivery, so to-day that mistake is avoided.  She started with the idea that she would receive parcels from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., but that had to be amplified by the addition of 3.30 p.m. till 8.30 p.m., and improved upon by an earlier morning reception commencing at 9.30.  Mrs Niven has the satisfaction of knowing that every parcel sent is acknowledged by the party to whom it is addressed.  This has never yet failed.  Thirty parcels were sent off on Wednesday; thirty postcards will be received within six weeks acknowledging their receipt.

The parcels are very carefully dispatched, and the scene in the dining-room at 6 Chanonry is a busy one.  As the goods have to be examined twice, first, at London, and, secondly, in Germany, the greatest care in wrapping is exercised.  First the parcels of warm underclothing, body-belts, socks, etc., are tucked into a cotton cover, to which is attached a list of the contents and the address in German and English, and this again is wrapped in an outer covering of stout brown paper, and the list and addresses duplicated.  The time occupied in this is considerable, but it is the only way to ensure safe delivery.

Men frequently write asking for money, but this is never sent.  It is questionable whether it would ever reach the intended recipients.  As it is, the suspicion seems to be entertained that duty of some sort may possibly be levied on the actual comforts, but, of course, that is not known.  The average parcel contains a shirt, a body-belt, socks, a tin of syrup, a stick of black sugar, soap, and tobacco.
Mrs Niven yesterday emphasised the necessity for assistance in a work that daily is getting beyond her reach.  Young ladies with a knowledge of German could aid immensely in the work.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

A Variation on "Sister Susie"

From the Llanelly Star, 30th January 1915.

Nellies knitting knick knacks for the soldiers,
Her knotty knack of knitting nets their neckties by the score;
But Tommy, likewise, Jacky, would prefer some fags and baccy
To the knotty knitted neckties Nelly knits for necks galore.
[There were several attempts to rewrite the song Sister Susie's Sewing Shirts for Soldiers  (words given here). The spelling and punctuation in this one is as it appeared in the newspaper - no author or source is credited, so it was probably a local effort.

Jacky, i.e. Jack Tar, is the generic Royal Navy sailor, just as Tommy is the generic soldier.] 

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Comforts for Welsh Troops

From the Amman Valley Chronicle, 28th January, 1915. 


Another Appeal by Mrs. Lloyd George.

To the Editor of the “Amman Valley Chronicle.”
Sir,—The appeal which the committee of the National Fund for Welsh troops made through your columns a few weeks ago met with a very generous response, and we have been able to supply comforts to many Welsh regiments, both at home and abroad, but the demands on us increase daily.  I therefore venture to make a further appeal.

We particularly require a further supply of additional comforts, such as shirts, socks, mittens, cardigan jackets, sweaters, belts, mufflers, underwear, and Balaclava caps, also pipes, tobacco, and cigarettes.

Many ladies have started working parties on behalf of the fund.  I shall be glad to hear from other ladies willing to undertake similar work.

All contributions in money and kind will be gratefully received by me at 11, Downing-street, S.W.—I am, &c.,
Chairman of Committee.

[This is a follow-up to an earlier appeal by Margaret Lloyd George that had appeared in newspapers throughout Wales.  It still seems baffling that necessities such as shirts and underwear were being asked for as 'additional comforts'.]  

Monday, 26 January 2015

The Supply of Mouth Organs

From the Liverpool Daily Post, 27th January 1915.


New York, January 15.—The demand for music on the part of Tommy Atkins and his brothers in the trenches has resulted in the development of a new industry in this country - that of manufacturing harmonicas or mouth organs.  Until war was declared the manufacture of these articles was almost exclusively a German industry.  The German product being boycotted, and the supply in England and France soon exhausted, the Allies naturally turned to the United States for their mouth instruments.  Thousands of gross of harmonicas have been shipped abroad since the start of the war, and the few musical houses which are equipped to manufacture them are hopelessly behind in their orders.

[One of many appeals for mouth organs to send to the men at the Front is here.]  

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Knitted Scarf and Cap

From The Lady's World Fancy Work Book, January 1915.

A Knitted Scarf and Cap for Soldier or Sailor

So many comforts have been knitted for soldiers, but we fear comforts for sailors are being overlooked, and we would remind the home worker of the need of scarves, sweaters, stockings, mittens, etc., that is experienced by the men in the North Sea at this time of the year.  If we would just let our imagination run to the sea coast on a cool summer day even, how gladly we would turn to the warm woolley jackets and scarves, which have been stuffed in to the holiday box for occasions of emergency, and think how much worse it must be out at sea on a cold bleak wintry day, and with feelings of sympathy occupy our spare time in giving a little of it and our work to the comfort of the brave sailors who are guarding our shores.  With this need in view we are publishing a few articles which will give real warmth and comfort to the man at the helm or the nimble sailor at the mast-head.
At the present moment we are working a scarf with the very nicest and softest wool which can be obtained, as we do not consider that comforts for either soldiers or sailors should be knitted with anything but the best wool.  This particular scarf is knitted with Faudel’s A.A. Peacock Quality Fleecy Navy Blue Wool and a pair of No. 2 wooden knitting pins.

When the work is grasped in the hand it feels like a ball of fluff, and the working of it is so easy that even the little school girl cannot fail to make a nice job of it. When the scarf is finished it is one long tube of knitting two yards in length.  The casting off end is gathered up and a large button sewn on.  The casting on end may also be gathered up and a loop put there. Now this scarf may be worn twisted round the neck several times, of course, or the tube may be utilised by folding part of it under and popped on the sailor's head, the button part at the top. The long end which is hanging down, is wound round the neck as often as it will go, and the end with the loop, fastened to the button at the top of the head.  Imagine to yourselves anything more cosy than this, it answers the purpose of a helmet coming well down over the ears, and will keep every breath of air away from the chest where comfort is needed.  Now for the working of this wonderful scarf.

The length of a strand of wool allowed for this purpose depends, of course, on the number of stitches required, but even though more than one attempt has to be made at the beginning, little or no damage is done to ordinary wool.
Take the wool in both hands, with the length allowed for casting on hanging on the left.  Hold it firmly between the finger and thumb of the right hand, grasp it within the clenched fingers of the left hand and slip the left thumb under the wool.  Twist the left thumb under the wool a second time while holding the wool taut on the right, and it will be found to be crossed on the top.  Next, take one knitting needle, insert it under the loop on the outside of the thumb, and after passing the wool held by the right hand round the point of the needle, bring the needle forward through the loop, slip it off the thumb, and draw the stitch up tightly. Repeat, taking care to have the stitches close together.

Cast on 56 stitches loosely, turn, put up the wool as if you were going to purl and insert the needle in the first stitch, slip it off, don't knit, and put the wool back. Knit next stitch, wool forward, again insert needle as if for purling, slip off next stitch, wool back, knit next stitch, wool forward, again slip the stitch off, wool back, knit, continue until the end of the 56 stitches.

Next row: Wool forward, slip off one stitch, wool back, knit one, wool forward, slip one, wool back, knit one and so on to the end of the row. Continue doing this until your scarf is two yards long; and in the fleecy wool which I have mentioned, you will require 9 ozs. In Faudel's Double Knitting Wool, which is not quite so fleecy, but is a very nice wool, 8 ozs. will be required.

[The Lady's World Fancy Work Book was a quarterly publication, that mainly dealt in crochet fancy work, but in January 1915 had several patterns as well for soldiers' and sailors' comforts.  The only illustration to the instructions for the cap-scarf combination shows a rectangular piece of knitting still on the knitting needle, so is not very illuminating.  The instructions for casting on appear to be describing what we now call long-tail cast-on - not a well-known method at the time, I suppose. The rest of the instructions describe knitting a tube using the double-knitting technique.  You end up with a double thickness flat scarf, with the two layers joined together at each end by the casting on and casting off.    Except that you then gather up the cast-off edge and sew a button to it, and optionally  gather up the cast-on edge and sew a loop to it.  When it comes to wearing the result, wrapped round the neck and also worn as a cap, imagination fails me. 

More information on the other contents of the magazine can be found here. ]

Saturday, 24 January 2015

The Florence Nightingale Motor Ambulance

From The Lichfield Mercury, 22nd January 1915.

Knitting parties are giving up some of their popularity in London just now in favour of a new and fascinating game which may be called the Christian Name Hunt.  It was started by Mrs. Conybeare, who conceived the idea of inviting all women with Florence for a name to subscribe for a motor ambulance in memory of the life and work of Florence Nightingale.

But it did not stop there.  Someone also thought, “Why not get all the women bearing my Christian name to subscribe too?”  And so the thing has spread till there is a kind of friendly rivalry among some of those concerned as to who can produce the greatest number of charitable people bearing a certain name.  The idea is likely to have a considerable effect on the charity of the future, for it will not be allowed to expire with the war, and in future every woman wanting to beat up recruits for her pet charity will have recourse to it.  Among those who aspire to a link with the great it will be most successful.  “I am going to tea with the dear Duchess of X. tomorrow” will be a great gambit in suburban drawing rooms.  “We are working for such and such a cause together.  We have the same name you know.  Such a bond, isn't it?”

[The original idea has some merit - at that time, any girl named Florence is likely to have been named for Florence Nightingale.  She was named Florence because she was born there, but otherwise it was rarely used as a girl's name until she became famous.  And providing a motor ambulance is an appropriate purpose to associate with Florence Nightingale. But in general, expecting people to support your favourite charity just because they have the same first name as you seems a bit daft.] 

Friday, 23 January 2015

Celebrity Fund Raising

[In January 1915, a charity matinee was put on at a London theatre to raise money for the Gloves and Mittens Fund started by the Grand Duke Michael.  The following pieces are a letter announcing the event, and a report afterwards.]  

From the Dundee Courier, 11th January 1915.

The Countesses Zia and Nada Torby daughters of the Grand Duke Michael of Russia, Miss Violet M. de Trafford, and Miss Bridget Barclay write:—
On Friday next at the Alhambra Theatre a matinee will be given in aid of the Grand Duke Michael’s Gloves and Mittens Fund which is in need of additional support.  Since we started in October over 280,000 pairs of gloves and mittens have been sent to the front for the men in the trenches, and we have received very appreciative letters from the officers and men of the various regiments who have had them.  The King in subscribing £25 has been graciously pleased to express his satisfaction at the fund's good work, and the Queen has repeatedly shown her sympathy by numerous valuable gifts.  General Sir John Cowans, in communicating the thanks of Earl Kitchener and the Army Council, adds that “the army greatly appreciates the great trouble taken by all in collecting the gloves and mittens.”
What we have been able to do has been gladly done to help the brave troops who have done such magnificent work in Belgium and whose comfort and welfare ought to be our first care.  But we want to do more.  The original intention was to send out 500,000 pairs (250,000 of each), but as the Expeditionary Force has been so much strengthened that number will probably have to be increased.  The latest news from the War Office is— “Send all you can, and keep on sending.”
Those who cannot attend the matinee on Friday can help by subscribing towards the £25,000, of which £11,900 has been subscribed.  We ask for at least £500 a day, so that we may keep on sending until every man of our splendid army is provided.  £10 will equip 80 men.

From The Lichfield Mercury, 22nd January 1915.


The chief feature of the matinee at the Alhambra Theatre in aid of the Grand Duke Michael’s Glove and Mitten Fund, which was attended by Queen Alexandra, was the dazzling array of programme sellers.  In this case they were not actresses but girls and young women of very high degree.  Each wore a number on the left arm, and the programmes furnished a key.  So no mistake could possibly be made, and when you saw “No. 3” you consulted the guide book as it were, and found that it was the Duchess of Sutherland.  Besides her grace, Lady Drogheda, the Countess Zia and Nada Torby, Lady Rosemary Leveson-Gower, Lady Chichester, Lady Lisburne, and Miss de Trafford, to mention only a few, were present, as well as Lady Victoria Stanley, who, however, was not numbered on the card.
This catalogue method savoured somewhat of a race meeting, but it saved a lot of discussion among humble folk, and gave them plenty of value for their money apart from the actual entertainment.  But they got no change out of a sovereign [£1] for their programmes.  With the exception of a short play in which Miss Laurette Taylor, of “Peg o’ My Heart” fame appeared, the show consisted mainly of “turns” from the larger variety theatres.  The combined attractions resulted in a sum exceeding one thousand pounds, which will materially assist one among many worthy causes.

[This idea of putting on a display of programme sellers 'of very high degree' and effectively charging the 'humble folk' for the privilege of seeing them at close quarters seems exploitative to me, to both sides. Even the reporter seems a bit shocked at the £1 charged for a programme.]  

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Mittens for Lochiel’s Camerons

From the Glasgow Herald, January 21, 1915.


Lochiel’s Camerons. — We have received the following appeal on behalf of Lochiel’s Camerons:—Will you kindly allow me to appeal in your paper for money to provide 1200 pairs of mittens for the 5th Battalion Cameron Highlanders, of which my son, Lochiel, is Colonel.  Should any of your readers care to supply me with the mittens direct I should be very glad to receive them.  The need is urgent as they are badly required before the battalion goes to the front.—Margaret Cameron of Lochiel, 51 Montagu Square, London, W.

[Cameron of Lochiel is the hereditary chief of Clan Cameron. Douglas Walter Cameron of Lochiel, who was Chief in 1914, was a professional soldier who had fought in the South African War, though had retired from the army by 1914.  In August 1914, he was asked to form a new battalion of the Cameron Highlanders, as part of Kitchener's New Army.  In his letter to the Glasgow Herald asking for recruits, he said that he wanted to raise a thousand Highlanders for his battalion, but that as Highlanders were by then scattered all over the face of the earth, recruitment was open to "any young man of Highland birth or parentage, of good physique and having good teeth, between the ages of 19 and 30."  The battalion had been training in the U.K. so far, but went to France in 1915.]

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Hose-Tops for Highland Regiments.

From the Glasgow Herald, 21st January, 1915.

Hose-Tops for Highland Regiments. – Lady Tullibardine would be much obliged if ladies knitting hose-tops for the various Highland regiments would not send them to her, but to the other ladies who are now collecting them, as she is leaving Boughton House, Kettering, shortly, and is closing her collection prior to departure.

As already stated, she has been able to provide for all the Highland regiments serving with the Expeditionary Force, and surplus hose-tops, in authorised shades, are being divided among Special Reserve battalions, battalions of the new Army, and the Canadian Highlanders.  Large quantities of hose-tops, in unauthorised shades, have been despatched to Indian regiments through the Indian Soldiers’ Fund, and to men serving in mine-sweeping trawlers or patrol boats of the Royal Navy, to whom they are very acceptable.

[This is the follow-up to Lady Tullibardine's original appeal for 15,000 hose-tops in October 1914.   I don't know what the Indian regiments were using the hose-tops in unauthorised colours for, but I suspect that the men on mine-sweepers and Navy patrol boats were wearing them over their arms and wrists.]

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Request for Razors

From the Glasgow Herald, January 21, 1915.

A War Office Request.—In response to a request from the War Office the Cutlers’ Company, Cutlers’ Hall, Sheffield, has undertaken the collection of any spare razors there may be available in the country for the use of our troops.  Very large orders have been placed for new razors with the manufacturers, but the demand is such that the number forthcoming from the manufacturers is not sufficient to meet the present demands.  It is felt that there is a large number of spare razors in the hands of persons not using them, who will only be too pleased to assist in the lessening of the discomforts of our troops by devoting them to this purpose. Mr W. H. Ellis, Master Cutler, therefore makes the request that any spare razors (in their cases) may be sent forward addressed to him at the Cutlers’ Hall, Sheffield.  He is making the necessary arrangements for the razors as received to be examined and put in order if necessary before being sent to the War Office.  He is hopeful of being able to obtain upwards of 100,000 razors.

[As a Sheffield native, I find it very pleasing to see the city involved in the war effort in this way.  The Master Cutler is a big cheese in Sheffield.]

Sunday, 18 January 2015

A Plain Knit Shetland Scarf

From the Woman's Own Knitting Supplement, 16th January 1915.

To Make a Shetland Scarf Quickly

These are the Lightest and Warmest Scarves to Make

A warm scarf that can easily be folded to put in the pocket is an ideal gift for a soldier, and such useful gifts are now being made in the Shetland Isles of the natural wool, which costs fourpence per cut.
To make one 2 yards long and 20 inches wide, cast on 75 stitches on to No. 12 vulcanite needles.
Knit one row plain.
2nd row : K. off 2 stitches, put up thread, k. 2 together, * k. 5 plain, put up thread, k. 2 together ; repeat from * to end of row.
Next rows to be knitted plain until the length required is worked.  Then work the 2nd row over again to make the holes in the end of scarf, then one row plain, and cast off.

To MAKE THE FRINGE.—Have a piece of wood 7 inches broad, and wind round this the wool that is left over.  Cut at one end, and count 5 threads for each hole ; double the threads when separated, and put the centre through hole; slip the ends through the loop, and pull tightly—in the usual way of attaching fringe.  Repeat until all the holes are threaded; then divide each "tassel," and knot half of one with half of another.  Other methods of finishing the ends will suggest themselves to ingenious or artistic workers. Many men, of course, prefer the ends left plain.

There are 100 threads in each cut, and from 2½ to 3 cuts of the Shetland wool are required.

[The fringe sounds a daft idea if the scarf was intended for a soldier - I should think that indeed "many men prefer the ends left plain."]

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Knitting Pattern for Steering Gloves

From the Woman's Own Knitting Supplement, 16th January 1915.

Warm Comforts for which Our Soldiers and Sailors will Thank You

The Steering Gloves

 The bitter cold experienced by men on the trawlers may be more easily imagined than described. These gloves are of great protection to the hands on a bleak winter night.

Materials required: White heather wheeling, khaki colour; two knitting needles, No. 10. 
Cast on 52 st. 
1st row : * K. 2, p. 2; repeat from * to end of row.
2nd row : * K. 2, p. 2: repeat from * to end. 
Repeat the 2nd row 34 times more, 34 rows of ribbing.
37th row : K. plain; repeat this row 15 times.
53rd row : K. 20, p. 1, increase 1 in the next st. (by k. 1 in the front and back), k. 2, increase 1 in the next st. as before, p. 1, k. to end.
54th row : K. all stitches.
55th row : K. 20, p. 1, k. 6, p. 1, k. to end.
56th row : K. 27, increase 1 as before, k. till 22 st. remain, increase 1 in next st., k. to end.
57th row : K. 20, p. 1, k. till 27 remain, p. 1, k. 26.
58th row : K. all stitches.
59th row : K. 20, p. 1, increase 1 in next st,, k. till 28 st. are left on needle, increase 1 in next st., p. 1, k. 26.
60th row : K. all stitches.
61st row : K. 20, p. 1, k. till 27 remain, p. 1, k. 26.
Repeat from and including the 56th row until there are 18 st. between the 2 purled sts. in a repetition of the 59th row, after which repeat the 60th and 61st rows.
In the next row k. 27, put the 18 sts. on to a thread and leave them to be finished to form the thumb later on.  Cast on 4 sts. after having k. the 27th st. at the commencement of this round; follow on and knit to end of row.
K. 35 more rows in plain knitting.
K. another row, and decrease 4 sts. in this row.
K. every 7th and 8th st. together in the next row.
K. 6 rows without decreasing.
In the next row k. together every 6th and 7th st.
K. 5 rows plain.
In the next row k. together every 5th and 6th st. 
K. 4 rows plain.
K. each 2 sts. together in the next row. 
K. 1 row plain.
Run a thread all the remaining sts. on the needle and finish off very securely.
Take up the 18 sts. left on a thread and proceed to finish forming the thumb, by dividing the 18 sts. on to 2 needles ; with a 3rd needle k. up 6 sts. along the space between the two needles.
K. 23 rounds, 1 plain round, and 1 p. round, k. each 2 sts. together in the next round.
K. 3 rounds plain. Finish off the same as at top of glove.  Sew up the two sides securely.

[At the start of the war, many trawlers with their crews had been  mobilised for mine-sweeping duties, as part of the Royal Naval Reserve, so as far as knitters were concerned, trawlermen were as deserving of comforts as regular Royal Navy sailors.] 

Friday, 16 January 2015

Sending Soap to Tommy

From Woman’s Weekly, 16th January 1915

Tommy’s Parcel

“What shall I send him?” everyone inquires, anxious to do up a small parcel for some brave man in khaki.  And the usual thing they decide on is tobacco or chocolate.

But there’s one thing more that Tommy would be very grateful for, and that is a clean face-towel.  Probably he lost his only one weeks ago, and when a rare occasion enables him to revel in a wash, he’d find it a far more luxurious affair if he had a nice clean towel to dry on.

Remember this when you are doing up a parcel for “the Front”.  It’s a good idea, too, to tuck a cake of nice scented soap into some corner.

You have to be without soap and water for a time to realise what a treat it is to be clean once more – and Tommy is a cleanly person!

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Salford Pals Battalions

From the Manchester Courier, 16th January 1915.




Salford has done well for the Army, mindful of the prestige of the 20th Foot!  The record is interesting.  The 1st Salford Battalion (15th Service Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers) has now proceeded to camp at Conway, and the 2nd Battalion (16th Service Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers) will join the 1st there almost at once.  This, therefore, appears a convenient opportunity for a report on the work of the Battalions’ Committee.  Early in September a magnificent recruiting meeting was held in the Salford Hippodrome ...…Numerous appeals were made to Mr. Montague Barlow. M.P (who had been responsible for organising the meeting, acting under instructions from the War Office), by recruits after the meeting, that there should be a Salford “Pals” Battalion, which they could all join.

Mr. Barlow, after consultation with the Mayor, wired to Lord Kitchener for leave for a Salford Battalion, and, after some negotiations with the War Office as to questions of housing, pay, etc., for recruits, Mr. Barlow eventually, in the middle of September, undertook to make all arrangements “to raise, clothe, house, and feed” a battalion of 1,100 men, the War Office being responsible for eventual payments, and recruiting commenced at once. ...
The 1st Battalion was recruited steadily....   The arrangement with the War Office was that till a camp could be built and uniforms procured, recruits should be allowed to live at home, pay being 1s. a day, with 2s. a day allowance instead of rations, or 21s. in all a week.  This was eventually increased in the case of married men to 27s. 6d.  By the middle of November the 1st Battalion was up to full strength of 1,100, and it was decided to go on with a second Battalion, and leave was given accordingly to Mr. Barlow on the same terms as for the 1st Battalion.  The 2nd the complement of 1,100 rapidly by about the middle of December.  Since then the War Office have required two additional companies of 250 men to be raised, one for each battalion, and these are now completed.....
Though the War Office undertook the payment of necessary expenses for uniforms, equipment, etc., it was felt that many expenses would be likely to arise for which the War Office might make no adequate provision, such as for bands, medical appliances, dental outfits, etc., and it was decided to raise a guarantee fund.  The treasurer, Mr. Alderman Frankenburg, has worked most successfully and secured gifts or guarantees of over £1,100….

....The fitting out of the men has proceeded as rapidly as circumstances will allow.  The First Battalion have a complete set of blue uniform and also blue overcoats.  The cloth for their second uniform, which will be khaki, is now being delivered; and the overcoats and uniforms for the Second Battalion are now coming in rapidly.  At the present crisis delay is inevitable, as there is great pressure for Army clothing of all kinds, and the cloth and even the dyes are difficult to procure......  The contracts for the men's kit, including shirts, drawers, cardigan jackets, etc., have worked out very satisfactorily.  Owing to the enormous quantities of boots required at this time for the great forces of the new army, and also owing to the difficulty of obtaining seasoned leather, the deliveries of good boots have not been so rapid or complete as the committee could have desired.  Mr. Barlow has travelled to London and payed several personal visits to the boot authorities of the Army Clothing Department at Pimlico, and arrangements have now been made in co-operation with that department for a speedy delivery of the best boots procurable.

The Government authorised the construction of a camp of wooden huts at Conway for the two battalions, and the sub-committee arranged the huts should be covered with felt to secure warmth.  Conway is a well-known camping ground for troops, probably one of the finest in the North of England, with a railway siding at the camp, water laid on, a fine dry manoeuvring ground, spreading over hundreds of acres, and a range of twenty-two targets sighted up to 1,000 yards.

[I have included this one because it shows some of the difficulties involved in increasing the size of the Army so rapidly in late 1914.   There were severe bottlenecks in providing essential equipment for the new recruits, while at the same time keeping the Expeditionary Force supplied, and training the Territorials and Reserves to go out to the Front.  It is no wonder that new recruits like the Salford Pals still did not have khaki uniforms after several months, and not enough boots.

It also shows how the Pals battalions were raised.  The point was not just that men who knew each other could join up and stay together, but that they were initially organised and equipped locally, and not directly by the War Office.]    

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Our Soldiers Want More Zam-Buk

From the Brecon & Radnor Express, 14th January 1915.

Our Soldiers Want More Zam-Buk

Letters received almost daily from the firing line in France and Belgium prove how indispensable Zam-Buk is to our gallant soldiers, not only for mending the cuts and bruises incidental to the hard life in the trenches, but also for healing their sore feet after long marches, and preventing frost-bite and rheumatism.

Lance-Corporal J. P. Delaney, a Distinguished Conduct Medallist, of the 2nd Royal Irish Regt., in a letter dated November 24th, says :—“A box of Zam-Buk out here is like a loaf of bread to a starving man.  On the retreat from Mons we had a forced march of 37 miles, and not a man who used Zam-Buk on his feet fell out.  I can safety recommend Zam-Buk to everyone as being the best healer on the market.”

Private E. Westfield, No. 9896. "C" Company, 3rd Worcesters, which regiment Sir John French singled out for special praise, writes from the trenches on Dec. 7 :—“I wish we had more Zam-Buk sent out from home—it would be much better if more Zam-Buk was sent instead of so much tobacco.  We find Zam-Buk the best remedy for sore hands after trench-digging, and for frost-bite, cracks, and cold sores.”

Another Distinguished Conduct Medallist, Private A. Mutlow, 2nd South Staffs., writing from “Somewhere in France.” on Dec. 5th, says :— “In my opinion every soldier should have a box of Zam-Buk in his kit when ‘treking,’ as Zam-Buk is the most valuable addition to his marching powers.  I am a constant user of Zam-Buk for chafed legs, from which I suffer on long marches.  I brought a supply out here from Aldershot, and it is in great demand amongst my comrades.  Zam-Buk is also very effective for galled feet and blistered heels.”

Sergeant A. J. Earl, D.C.M., "C" Squadron, 15th (King's) Hussars, writing on Nov. 11th, says :—“Zam-Buk is so compact and keeps so well under the trying conditions of warfare that it is undoubtedly the best 'first-aid' a soldier can carry with him.  I brought four boxes of Zam-Buk with me when I left England, and they were soon used up by myself and comrades, together with more boxes which they brought with them.”

The above letters, which have all come through and been passed by the Censor, clearly show that our Soldiers urgently want more Zam-Buk.  Everyone of our readers, therefore, cannot do their soldier and sailor friends a better service than by sending them gifts of one, two, or even three one and three-halfpenny boxes of Zam-Buk at once!

[Zam-Buk was - and still is - a herbal antiseptic ointment.]

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Mouth Organs and Cap Covers

From the Glasgow Herald, 12th January 1915.

Foes to Depression—Captain Vaughan, of the 2nd Battalion Warwickshire Regiment, Expeditionary Forces, in a letter to Birmingham appeals for what he describes as one or two little luxuries.  He says that life in the trenches is not the height of luxury, but the men don't mind that and never grumble. “As I go down the trenches,” he writes, “I frequently get asked the time, or again hear the remark. ‘Wish we had a few mouth organs.’'  To be able to know the time and to be able to have impromptu sing-songs are very great foes to depression and boredom.  Will some one send us some mouth organs (of the Vampire variety) and a few cheap watches?  We shall be more than grateful.”

71st Heavy Battery.—Mrs Malcolm of Poltalloch, Kilmartin, Argyll, has issued an appeal for waterproof cap covers for the men of the 71st Heavy Battery, now under orders for the front, commanded by her son-in-law, Major Barne, R.A.  These covers are the greatest comfort to men campaigning in bad weather, as they protect the back of the neck from rain, etc.  There are 220 men in the Battery, and the cost of supplying each man with a cap cover would amount to the sum of £20.  Mrs Malcolm will be glad to receive donations.

 [There were a number of appeals for mouth organs for soldiers at the front.  Mrs. Malcolm's appeal for cap-covers is one of those slightly baffling bits of private enterprise, where you wonder why the men weren't being sent out better prepared for bad weather.]

Monday, 12 January 2015

Special Keen Prices for Mufflers

From the Glasgow Herald, 11th January 1915.






KHAKI OR NAVY KNITTED WOOL MUFFLERS, suitable for Soldiers or Sailors. Special keen prices, 1s 11½d each,  33s per Dozen.
THE FAVOURITE MUFFLER AND CAP COMBINED, in Khaki or Navy Blue. Special keen prices, 1s 9½d each, 21s per dozen.
WARM CARDIGAN JACKETS.  Special keen prices, 6s 11d, 9s 11d, 10s 6d, 12s 6d, and 15s 6d.
ARMY BODY BELTS.  Special keen prices, 1s 9½d and 2s each, 21s and 23s per dozen.
KHAKI OR ARMY GREY SHIRTS, regulation makes. Special keen prices, 2s 11½d, 3s 6d, 4s 6d, 5s 6d, and 6s 6d each.
KHAKI OR NAVY MITTS. Special keen prices, 1s and 1s 6d per pair.
WARM FLEECY SEMMITS AND PANTS. Special keen prices, 2s 6d and 2s 11½d each.
SPECIAL VALUES IN ARMY SOCKS  at 1s, 1s 3½d, 1s 6½d per Pair; 11s 6d, 14s 6d, 17s 6d per Dozen.

[I don't know whether any of the items listed were hand-knitted, but I think the ad would have said so if they were.   Hand-knitted garments  would be sold at a premium price - hand-knitted socks in particular were often claimed to be better than the machine knitted variety.    

For clarification of the cryptic figures like 1s 11½d, see my earlier note on prices.]  

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Drinking by Soldiers’ Wives

From the Glasgow Herald, 11th January 1915.


The War Office is now in possession – at its own request – of the reports made by the inspectors of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children on the alleged increase of drinking among women, more particularly soldiers’ wives who are in receipt of the separation allowance.  The result of the inquires made all over the kingdom by the society’s inspectors have resulted in the vindication of the characters of soldiers’ wives, who, in the opinion of the society, have suffered as a class for the wrong-doing of the few.  In the case of 122 branches the inspectors reported that there was in many cases actually less drinking than before the war, and no increase in any of them; in 26 there was an increase, but in 12, where there had been an increase shortly after the war broke out, the conditions had now improved.  In practically every branch the inspectors had been able to exert a beneficial influence over numbers of women ordinarily given to drink, and, as a result of the sobering influence of the times, they had, when persuaded to buy new clothes for their children, to pay off back rent and old debts, and even to open accounts in the Post Office Savings Bank.  Where women had wasted their allowance in drink and neglected their children it had been found on investigation that the drinking habit was of long standing.  In fact the society characterise the charges made against soldiers’ wives as a great slander.  

[There were many allegations that some soldiers' wives receiving the separation allowance had more cash than they had ever had before, and no husband to keep them in check, and that they were spending the extra cash on drink.  This was felt in some quarters to be immoral and a waste of public money, whether or not there were children involved. It was also thought by many people that the separation allowance was a charitable gift, not a right, and that anyone whose behaviour showed that they didn't deserve it - e.g, by drinking - should have it withdrawn.   This article does not combat that view, of course - it just says that most soldiers' wives were of good character, and so did deserve the allowance.]   

Friday, 9 January 2015

Making a Chest Protector and Colic Belt

From the Brecon County Times, 7th January 1915.



[The second part of yesterday's post.]

More Masculine Comforts.

The two comforts sketched..., consisting of a chest protector and colic belt, will be much appreciated by motorists and cyclists, whether despatch-riding at the front, or on duty at home.  The former is a design which I have adapted from one I saw abroad —in Belgium to be precise—which, I think, is explained clearly in the sketch.  I have shown it with one side opened out in order that you may have an idea of the shape, as both sides are alike, whilst the other is folded over in the manner in which it fastens on the shoulder. When on, the opened-out side would cross over the other, and be buttoned on the other shoulder.

This protector should, of course, be made of flannel, well lined or quilted all over except at the ends, where it is fastened over, as this comes at the shoulder, and should not be clumsy here.

If possible, the outer portion should be of leather, and if lined with good thick homespun or woollen material it will make a splendid chest protector for a motor-cyclist or motorist.  I may perhaps be allowed to add just here that from information I have received a leather chest protector is preferred to any other, as things do not cling to it, as in the case of material of a furry or hairy kind.  The shape sketched is excellent for the purpose, and will appeal to those who are not expert knitters, or who, so to speak, want to get over the ground a little more quickly than is possible with the pins.

The Belt 
can probably be obtained from the pieces remaining after cutting out the protector if flannel be used, whether for the entire wrap or only for the lining.

It is seamed at the sides, or may have more seams than these, as, being intended for a male wearer, it should be narrower at the upper than the lower portion, owing to the absence of the curve of the hips.  This, like the protector, should be of double flannel, and preferably quilted across, not very closely.  The seams of the two portions should be opened out flat and placed to face each other inside, so that there should be no ridges to make the belt uncomfortable in wear.

It is bound all round with silk binding or fine soft tape, and is tied in front by three or four sets of tapes—the number depending on the width of the belt—9 to 12 inches being that usually considered necessary.

["Colic belt" is another name for a cholera belt or body belt.  The Queen's appeal for 300,000 body belts, in September 1914, had specified either knitted or woven belts, but most of the publicity about making them relates to the knitted variety.

As with the nightingale, readers could send off for a pattern for these comforts.] 

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Pattern for a Nightingale

From the Brecon County Times, 7th January 1915.

A Nightingale or Bed Jacket.

Now that so many of our brave fellows are unfortunately in hospital, wounded more or less seriously, the demand for articles for their use when under treatment is very great.  As some of the cases are serious, and the men are unable to wear ordinary garments, owing to wounds, which make it difficult or, perhaps, impossible to move the arm, the garment which is always associated with its inventor, the woman to whom our splendid nursing system is due, Florence Nightingale, is the one generally favoured. 

The wrap, known as a "Nightingale," is one of the simplest possible to make up, but one of the most suitable and comfortable possible for the purpose for which it is designed.  It is sketched in No. 1,847, with the addition of a pocket, which will add to its utility where a masculine wearer is intended, though the wrap can be worn by invalids of the other sex, and I know one now—a Belgian refugee— who is experiencing the comfort of such a gift, and was loud in praise of the comfort and practicality of a garment she had never seen before.

To Make Up.

Simplicity of the most extreme kind characterises the making-up of the wrap, which consists of one long strip, pleated in a box-pleat midway of its length, which comes to the centre of the back. The corners of the length are secured together for a few inches to form cuffs, the point of the corner being turned up to give a smartening touch to the wrap, which is merely hemmed all round and ornamented with feather-stitching, or binding if preferred. 

The collar is an addition which gives a more finished effect, and possibly a more masculine touch to the wrap, and this must be put on afterwards.  In the original design, however, this detail is usually omitted.  As to materials, flannel and flannelette are those selected either in red, khaki colour, or grey, and homespun in the latter shade makes a very useful wrap for hospital purposes.  The making, as I have said, is of the simplest, and about 2¾ yards of material will be needed for a full-sized wrap. 

[There are frequent mentions of nightingales in lists of garments made by volunteer groups for hospital, and in Red Cross appeals, but this is the only description I have seen of the garment. It is, as Sylvia says, extremely simple to make.  There was a pattern that readers could send off for, but a pattern hardly seems necessary.] 

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Hospital Clothing Wanted

From the Brecon County Times, 7th January 1915

War Clothing Depot.
Miss deWinton has received a letter of most grateful thanks from the Colonel commanding 7th Battalion S. W.B. [South Wales Borderers] at St. Leonard's for the gift of 250 pairs of socks sent him.  Hospital garments for the wounded are now much needed.  Miss deWinton wants made 100 flannelette nightshirts, also flannel nightshirts and bedjackets, and has materials in stock for making them.  Slippers also are much wanted, as many men are suffering from frost-bite.  Socks are still much needed.  She hopes all requests for materials may be sent to her by Monday, the 10th, as she may be away for a fortnight after that.  She finds the helmets asked for will not be needed until January 29th, when she hopes all possible will be sent to the Depot.

[We have heard from Miss deWinton before - for instance here.  She doesn't waste words in issuing instructions, but to be fair she had issued an earlier warning on 31st December that she would be  asking for hospital garments: “Miss de Winton is now sending garments to Talgarth Asylum for wounded. She may ask working parties to make some hospital garments at short notice.”

 She does seem to be away from Brecon a lot - inconvenient for her volunteers as no-one else is allowed to issue materials for making garments.]

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Appeal for Sweaters and Golf Coats

From The Times, 6th January, 1915. 


Sir, -- Will you let me say, in answer to many kind inquiries, that I am still busy collecting, dyeing, and transmitting sweaters and golf coats to troops abroad.

It so happens that when you are kind enough to let me ask for sweaters there is generally some one section of the public whose goodness is much in my mind.  This week my obsession is the country parson.  I have long lost count of the number of sweaters sent me from this kindly source, treasured relics of rowing feats of long ago, disinterred from their lavendered graves, and dispatched with more or less appropriate tags from the Odes or Aeneid affixed.  Nor does the good vicar’s charity stop at home.  Squire and neighbours apparently welcome this kindly raider, with the result that a splendid parcel, carefully packed, comes in the nick of time for some very cold lorrymen, or very wet mine-sweepers.

For the moment the things are going in about equal quantities to the brave men abroad and at home.  I continue to slide about in wet camps and promise dazed adjutants legendary numbers of mythical sweaters; but these, through the kindness of your readers, always materialise the day after to-morrow, and all goes well.  But is it not paradoxical that these sloughs of good temper should be grateful to you and me – who still have morning tea, and The Times, warmed, at breakfast?

I decline to number the sweaters accurately, for fear of biblical consequences, but your readers will like to know that the 10,000 on which I had set my heart is very nearly reached.  Further, owing to the munificent sending of articles other than sweaters, I can still keep my rash promises of “a small weekly supplement” made when saying good-bye.  There are some other unexpected receipts; five poems (most gratifying, but my publishers and my modesty combine to keep them in MS.); one rabbit (tinned and sent to the front – the rest of him is now super-mitts); one offer of marriage (Madam – Reply censored).

Well, may I have many more sweaters and golf coats before, my occupation gone, I join the United Grandfathers?

Yours faithfully,
8, King’s Bench-walk, Inner Temple, E.C., Jan. 5.

[This is the latest in John Penoyre's campaign of entertaining appeals for old sweaters to be dyed khaki.   An earlier appeal is here

I always though the the idea of a manservant ironing the newspaper before breakfast was a Jeeves-and-Wooster fantasy, but maybe not.]

Monday, 5 January 2015

Fearnought Gloves for the Fleet

From the Glasgow Herald, 4th January 1915


“Fearnought” gloves for destroyers’ crews—These are very essential in cold weather.  Particulars, with measurements, may be obtained at 79 St George’s Road, Glasgow, where the gloves are made by women thrown out of work on account of the war.  Miss M’Callum, Glasgow Academy, has undertaken to receive subscriptions and to see that the scheme is properly carried out.

[I didn't know what Fearnought gloves were, but with a bit of search I found a couple of earlier appeals that explained it:]  

From the Manchester Evening News, October 24th 1914.

A naval officer writes:-- I have a scheme which really must be done, i.e., start a glove fund for the destroyers’ crews.  When the weather gets so cold that a glove sticks to metal they are absolutely necessary.  The men have to be always handling great lumps of metal (projectiles, wheels for working the guns and sights, &c.), and if they do not have gloves all feeling in the hand and arm is lost in a few minutes.  Shoddy gloves and fingerless mittens are absolutely useless.  The best things are gloves with all fingers in one, and long gauntlets and thick double palms.  I think 'Fearnought' gloves would be best and cheapest; hand sewn with twine or thick thread beeswaxed.  The gloves are chiefly needed for running flotillas and 2,400 pairs are required, 30 pairs for each destroyer; 800 pairs for the second flotilla alone.  I assure you the number of hits would be increased vastly.  They are needed quickly as it is getting very cold, also a few really good ones would be better than a lot of rubbishy ones.  Don’t be afraid of the clumsiness; that does not matter.  I assure you nothing would be appreciated more."

 [The material] can be obtained from Messrs. James Clay and Sons, Hollings Mills, Sowerby Bridge.

From the Dundee Courier, 7th November 1914. 

The gloves are made of "fearnought"—a specially tough flannel material much used in the navy—which is unfortunately rather expensive, and each pair roughly costs about 2s. 4d.  No other material is suitable, as nothing else has the same wear and cold resisting properties.

[The letter from the naval officer sounds very convincing, and as often with these appeals, I wonder why the Navy was not providing suitable gloves already.]   

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Soldiers' Comforts from Halifax

Halifax Courier, 2 Jan 1915

From the Halifax Courier, 2nd January 1915


Out of our Soldiers' Comforts Fund, Christmas parcels were sent for 16 wounded and staff, in the military hospital at the Barracks. The consignment comprised pipes, tobacco, cigarettes, chocolates, and fruit.

We have aid from more children; many thousands of tiny fingers have been busy upon work for the brave men. These letters came with goods to-day:-

Council School, Copley, Wednesday.
Dear Sir,—Enclosed are four body belts, which have been made by the school children at Copley. Will you kindly pack them in the parcel for the Front, with very best wishes to our brave soldiers there.—-Yours faithfully, Olive N. Jackson.

Clay Pit Lane, Sowood, Stainland.
Dear Soldiers,—We are sending you these few cigarettes to comfort you, instead of spending our money on Christmas cards: Wishing you the compliments of the season, and that the War will soon be over, so that you can come home and have more comforts.
—From Florrie Gledhill. 
Alma Gledhill.
Nellie Clegg.

The Oaks, St. Alban's-road, Halifax;—Wishing one of our brave soldiers every happiness and Godspeed in the New Year.— Dorothy Moore, age 12.
This little lady sent a muffler and cigarettes.

A tram conductor sends us the following, illustrating the zealous ingenuity of a passenger on the car under his charge:-
“Dear Sir. – Enclosed you will find 2s. 7d. for the Soldiers’ Cigarette Fund subscribed by passengers on a Queensbury car on Christmas Eve.  The idea came from a passenger, who said that if the rest of the passengers inside the car would give one penny each towards the Cigarette Fund for the soldiers in the trenches, he himself would give one shilling.  They gave me the money, trusting to my honesty to forward the same. – Yours truly, Conductor S. Sutcliffe (No.74)."

To the Kind-hearted.—Shirts, pants, vests, sweaters, cardigans, socks, gloves, and mittens are always welcome gifts, and in this treacherous damp and cold how much they must be appreciated by our brave fellows at the front and in the camps.  We shall publish lists of their further needs as we receive them.

Friday, 2 January 2015

Wedding of Belgian Refugees

From the Halifax Courier, 2nd January 1915.


A couple of Belgian refugees who, with others, have been resident at a house in Elizabeth-street, Elland, for some time, were married at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, West Vale, on Wednesday, by Father Kealy.  In order not to attract a great deal of local attention, the event was kept as quiet as possible, but this did not prevent people assembling both in the vicinity of the house and at the church.

The names of the contracting parties are Mr. Walter Rene Albert Bogaert, a native of Dudzeele, a small town which stood between Bruges and Zeebrugge, and Miss Elodia Valeria Josephine Deconinck, a native of Antwerp.  The bride was given away by her father.  Prior to the outbreak of the war the bridegroom followed the calling of a sculptor.  Motor-cars were placed at the disposal of the wedding party by Ccr. J. S. Smithies and Mr. James Garnett.  …
It had been the intention of the young couple to be married in Antwerp last September, but the invasion by the Germans upset all their arrangements, and, instead of a marriage feast, they were glad to escape to England.  So hurried was their flight that many, in fact most, valuable articles were left behind.  Miss Deconinck’s wedding dress was one of the articles which had to remain in the town while they fled to a point of safety.

At the church were assembled a sprinkling of the fair sex, many of whom were ladies who had made the journey from Elland.  The service was conducted in English, and was very well responded to by the couple standing at the altar.  In addition to the bride and bridegroom, there were present Mr. and Mrs. Deconinck, and the bride’s elder sister, together with Ccr. Lumb and Mr. Whitwam [who acted as witnesses].

The bride was smartly attired in a blue dress, with a large fur over her shoulder.  .. There was no elaborate ceremony.  As the bridal party left the church to rejoin the motor-cars showers of confetti were strewn over them, and later they received the compliments of local friends.  Arriving at Elland on their return journey, the newly married couple were photographed, and after a repast they were conveyed by motor-car to Leeds, and presented to Mr. Balfour, the Belgian Consul in that city.  For some time at least they are to reside at Elland.  Local friends have forwarded a number of useful and handsome presents.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

More Mufflers Wanted

From the Manchester Courier, 1st January 1915.


Lady French writes:  “Will you permit me through the medium of your columns to make another appeal on behalf of our troops at the front.  Mufflers are still urgently needed, and I have been asked by the authorities at the War Office to collect another 50,000 to send out in the shortest possible time.

“The response to my former appeals has been most generous, and I desire to take this opportunity of publicly thanking the many kind donors.  May I once more ask for gifts of mufflers or money to purchase them with to be sent to me at 39, Berkeley Square, W., which house has been kindly lent for the purpose by Mr. and Mrs. Almeric Paget.”

[Lady French, the wife of Sir John French, commander of the British Expeditionary Force in France, had made an earlier appeal for mufflers in October 1914.

Almeric Paget had a colourful career, according to Wikipedia, including setting up the Almeric Paget (Military) Massage Corps at the start of the war. His wife was Pauline Payne Whitney, an American heiress.]