Friday, 29 January 2016

Tea for Soldiers’ Dependants at Sowerby Bridge

From The Halifax Courier, 29th January 1916.



The thoughtfulness of the people of Sowerby Bridge and of the members of the local Soldiers and Sailors' Families' Association in particular, in looking after the comfort and pleasure of the dependants of the brave fellows who have gone forth in defence of liberty and Empire, was again demonstrated on Saturday, in the Wesleyan Sunday School at Bolton Brow.  A fortnight ago about 500 wives and children of soldiers and sailors from Sowerby Bridge were entertained, while on Saturday another 400 were treated in the same sumptuous manner.  This second party was for those “dependants” who don't come under the head of “wives and children,” comprising chiefly the mothers and sisters, or the nearest home relatives, of the men who are “on duty.”  Altogether 380 invitations were sent out, but rather more than this number sat down to tea, the benevolent spirit of the organisers prompting them to turn no one away who had a reasonable claim to partake of the good fare provided.  It was a happy idea to bring together in this way the local folks who have made great sacrifices for the benefit of the country, and in a very real manner the party served to create friendships and cement the feeling of those who have dear ones away on active service.

A substantial tea was served, and in the evening a splendid concert helped to while away a few pleasant hours.  It is scarcely necessary to add that the guests thoroughly enjoyed themselves.  The room was decorated in a neat and effective manner by Mr Walter Lumb.  The platform front was covered by small Union Jacks, the flags of the Allies were placed round the room. and streamers radiated from the centre in all directions.  On all the tea tables there were beautiful floral decorations.  The tea was what is known locally as a “knife and fork” one, and of appetising food there was enough and to spare.

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Fund-raising Bazaar at Cupar

From the Dundee Evening Telegraph, 28th January 1916.


A two-days’ bazaar and carnival under the auspices of the Cupar and District Voluntary Workers’ Association was opened at the Castlehill School, Cupar, to-day by Mrs Anstruther Gray of Kilmany.

Mrs Lumsden, Tarvit, the convener of the Executive Committee, is a thoroughly up-to-date, go-ahead organiser, and it is in large measure due to her untiring energy that so much interest has been aroused in the event. The appeal for funds and gifts has been phenomenal, and visitors to the fair found a huge array of all sorts of articles, including a dark oak corner cupboard that once reposed in the house of the famous Rev. Dr Chalmers at Anstruther; a “Treacle” Bible of the year 1527; “Maunday money,” coins, &c. The stalls, arranged in the various school-rooms number eight, and there are many side shows.

The opening ceremony took place from an especially prepared platform in the centre of the school playground.  Unfortunately rain fell during the proceedings. ....

The Purpose of the Scheme.
Mrs Anstruther Gray...was very glad to have an opportunity of saying a word or two about the Voluntary Workers’ Association.  That scheme, which was organised by Sir Edward Ward, was to prevent overlapping of voluntary work.  The idea was to divide the country into county districts, each district having its centre of supply to the different districts round about for material and the regulation patterns for making comforts that were required.  These articles were then collected and sent into the central districts, where they were sorted and classified, and sent either to headquarters or to regiments which most needed them.  That, however, did not interfere with any organisation which already existed for supplying units from sending in any surplus articles that they might have to the central organisation.

Perhaps one of the things that the war had taught all of them was to look upon the British Empire as a whole and as their ain country, and to realise that they must work for the whole of it and not for one part.  Sir Edward Ward's scheme was on the same principle.  There were twenty-seven parishes in the Cupar district being supplied with materials and work, and there were 1500 or 1600 voluntary workers already.  They had already sent a great many things to the front.  There were always plenty of willing hands, but money must be made to get the material that was required.  She understood £600 had already been spent, two-thirds of that locally.  All of that money had not yet been found.  The subscriptions up to the present time amounted to about £400, and it was hoped by that two days' bazaar and the free gift sale to-morrow they would make at least one or two thousand pounds.  They owed a deep debt of gratitude to Provost Stark and Mrs Lumsden, Tarvit, and the committee for their splendid organising of the sale, and she trusted their labours would be crowned with success. (Applause.)

Sunday, 24 January 2016

St John Ambulance Brigade Hospital in France

From The Halifax Courier, 22nd January 1916.



Sir,—Will you kindly permit the enclosed letters from the Lady Superintendent-in-Chief of Nursing Divisions and Corps (Lady Perrott) and the Chief Commissioner (Col. Sir James Clark, Bt.) to appear in your columns as an acknowledgment of the subscriptions collected by ambulance workers in Halifax on behalf of the St. John Ambulance Brigade Hospital in France.

The bed to which Sir James Clark alludes in his letter will be named “The Halifax Auctioneers’ Bed,” in recognition of the handsome donation given by them to the hospital.  ...our subscription list at the West Yorkshire Bank will be kept open for the maintenance of the hospital, and it is further intended to hold, if possible, our second public collection for the same object ..., relying on the help of those who recognise the value of ambulance work to enable us to again send a substantial sum for the Brigade Hospital, which we should like our subscribers to know is pronounced by experts to be one of the best equipped and best organised base hospitals at the Front, and to which we are pleased to think that one of our Halifax St. John Nursing Division has been lately appointed as one of the 20 V.A.D. nurses in services at the hospital.  Thanking you in anticipation, yours faithfully,
M. L. W. WARNEFORD (for Halifax S.J.A.B.N.D.).

From Lady Perrott:—“I do not know how to thank you enough on behalf of the St. John Ambulance Brigade Hospital for the perfectly magnificent contribution sent in from the Halifax Division.  That Halifax should have endowed 6 beds shows the enormous amount of work and trouble and organisation and generosity on the part of all concerned, and one feels that such a gift entails a great deal of self denial.”

Also from Lady Perrott:— “Will you thank the children of Halifax very much for their splendid contribution to the St. John Ambulance Brigade Hospital.  That they have subscribed enough to endow a bed is really wonderful.  I wish they could see the hospital, and realise what their money is doing.  I am sure they would like to see their bed, and the comfort and relief of some poor soldier from the front when he finds himself there.”

From Col. Sir James Clark, Bart.:  “Lady Perrott informs me that you have just paid in the last instalment of £600 subscribed from your nursing division in Halifax for the maintenance of the sick and wounded in this hospital.....

Not the least noticeable feature with regard to the funds you have collected is the raising of sufficient money, £100, by the children of Halifax to found a bed, and one of the beds which your subscription entitles you to name is called “The Halifax Children’s Bed,” and a notice of how it has been founded is attached to it.

You are now entitled to name one other bed, the beds at present subscribed for you being:  “The Walter Wright Bed,” “Halifax Children's Bed,” “In Memory of Reginald Warneford, V.C., from Halifax,” “Halifax Division, St. J.A.B.,” and “The Halifax Bed.”  I need not tell you how very grateful we all are for your most generous support.”

[The Red Cross and St John Ambulance Brigade were both charities; they did a huge amount of work during the war in looking after the sick and wounded, which all had to be supported by donations and voluntary activity.   In particular, I found the following account of the St John Ambulance Hospital at √Čtaples here:
The St John Ambulance Brigade Hospital in √Čtaples was arguably the most significant initiative of the British Order of St John during the 20th century. Over the course of the conflict, the Hospital received 35,000 patients. It was staffed and maintained principally at the Order’s expense, a unique and unprecedented achievement by a voluntary organisation.   ]

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Military Hospital Requirements

From the Dorking and Leatherhead Advertiser, 22nd January 1916.


The Mayoress of Reigate (Mrs. G. A. R. Ince) has been able to send the number of woollies required to France, viz., 100 mufflers and 100 pairs mittens.  She has now got a further requisition for the 31st to be sent to a military hospital, and the letter states that the things are very urgently needed. The requisition is:-20 dressing gowns, 25 helpless bed jackets, 25 nightingales, 25 pairs slippers, 12 pairs operation stockings.

Grey flannel and red flannel are preferred for the bed jackets, striped flannel for the nightingales, and the Mayoress appeals for materials to make the things, or the money to buy the material with.  A meeting of the ladies of the Clothing Committee was held yesterday (Thursday) afternoon to consider the desirability of starting a war workroom at the Buildings.  There is so much to be done that it is necessary to get people to come in and work. The requisitions will be continuous from now until the end of the war.

[The 100 mufflers and 100 pairs of mittens would have been a requisition from Sir Edward Ward, under the new scheme for collecting comforts for the troops.  For instance, here is a report in December 1915 of a requisition for mittens from the voluntary groups in Radnorshire.  I believe that military hospitals (as opposed to say Red Cross hospitals) were under the direct control of the War Office;  it seems from this report that the provision by volunteers of  'comforts' for the patients in military hospitals also came under Sir Edward Ward's direction.  Although as usual, some of the comforts seem necessities rather than luxuries.]      

Friday, 22 January 2016

Sleeveless Sweaters

From The Times, 22nd January, 1916.


Sir,-- Some time before Christmas you let me offer your readers through your columns what I dared to call the perfect sweater pattern for their kind knitting for the men.  A result really wonderful has reached, and left, me.  Will many more ladies please write for the pattern?

“But why has your sweater pattern no sleeves?” Do let me answer this daily breakfast conundrum here.  Last year, in the great rush to the colours, our old friend of the river and playing fields was, I learned, about the most useful garment to send to the Army in the making (officers still speak of the sweaters sent out by your readers in the pneumonia time of 1914).  To-day, under other conditions, a garment light to carry, offering small surface for wear and tear, and making a good extra or change is, I am told, more useful still.  There is a limit to the number of sleeves even the coldest or wettest soldier can wear, whereas a sleeveless sweater goes on comfortably at any stage of his toilette.  You, Sir, like a change when you come back from the links, and you, Madam, will wear an extra when you potter round your garden to see the bulbs put in, and our good brothers who fight for us are more like you and me than not.  Now listen to the men – from Alexandra Park to Alexandria – and anywhere in between.  “Thank you very, very much for my section.  The men can’t show their appreciation to the senders, but they do to those who give the sweaters out.  You can’t possibly send me too many of this type of sweater.  I have looked out for this type of sweater a long time.  They are so very good, and ought to last well.”

The above are only quoted to reassure the many kind knitters of pattern A, the sleeveless sweater.  Pattern B has a short and melancholy history of its own.  It was my first and last aberration from my ladies’ control, and produced some very salutary letters and a small crop of kimonos.  I think I confused stitches and inches, or purling and ply wheeling.  The incident is now closed.  Pattern C is at the service of any skilled knitter, and no one else, who wants to make a first–class sleeved sweater.  Glad occupants for these can of course be found; in some respects they are better for men training in England.

Now will many more ladies please ask me for pattern A?

Yours faithfully,
8, King’s Bench Walk, Inner Temple, E.C., Jan. 21.

[The previous letter from John Penoyre offering a knitting pattern appeared here.  I wonder if the usefulness of sleeveless sweaters for soldiers at the Front was the origin of their post-war popularity?]  

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Uniforms for Women

From the Derbyshire Courier, 18th January 1916.

Uniforms for Women.

For many of the occupations in which women are taking the place of men, a uniform is necessary, and thus a new problem confronts railway, tramway, and other companies.  In every instance first attempts at designing a uniform that would stand hard wear, rough weather, and not to be too masculine, were a failure, and it was not until the help of a firm of well-known ladies' tailors was sought, that the trimmest, neatest, and yet most becoming of suits and overcoats were evolved.  Braid is, of course, much in evidence on the greater number of the uniforms, not only in black, but in gold and silver.  The caps and hats that accompany the suits have received the attention due to their importance, but the former are gradually disappearing, a neat felt with a round crown, and a narrow brim, taking their place.  In no single instance have objections been raised to the donning of these practical, smart and serviceable clothes.  The effect promises to be far-reaching, for it may lead to the adoption by women generally of a working dress, suited to the occupation of each class of workers.

[I wonder which 'firm of tailors' it was?  Perhaps Burberry, whose smart, well-tailored, clothes for women as well as men were advertised at the time in magazines such as  the Illustrated London News.] 

Sunday, 17 January 2016

1,600 Pairs of Socks Wanted

From the Halifax Courier, 15th January 1916.

1,600 Pairs of Socks Wanted.

The Necessity for District Co-ordination.

The 8th Duke of Wellington's Regiment, in which are some 800 local men, is receiving the anxious consideration of the "Courier" Comforts Fund.  As soon as we can muster enough things for them, a consignment will be dispatched.  And how, if rumour be true, they must need all the aid we can render them.  They have been so isolated, said one Halifax mother’s son yesterday, that they could get little to eat, and many of them have gone pitifully thin.  Owing to their remote location. and the difficulty of reaching them with certainty, we were officially advised not to send them Xmas goods.  And, instead of £100, we have come to feel that £150 would be little enough to spend on them, and as we understand the Regiment has not been supplied from any source outside Government, we respectfully intimate a wish to send out to them, besides some other comforts to the value stated, 2 pairs of socks for each man, and as many shirts as can be got together in the next few days.  Ladies and sympathisers are invited to act quickly please: we can, of course, give them a few days in which to bring in their contributions.

This is the list, and the order of other regiments to be supplied with comforts from the Fund (our phases of comforts only):—
5th Battery, 2nd West Riding Brigade.
2nd W.R.R., Duke of Wellington's.
1/4th   ,,   ,,   ,,   ,,   ,,   ,,   ,,
10th   ,,   ,,   ,,   ,,   ,,   ,,   ,,
9th   ,,   ,,   ,,   ,,   ,,   ,,   ,,
8th and 9th Cavalry Field Ambulance. 
Every week as the state of the Fund will allow:—
Over 1,000 isolated sailors and soldiers.
180 of the neighbourhood's prisoners. 
These latter rely solely upon this Fund so that we do not draw any line as to the nature of the comforts we send them.

We have only one further word to offer—will all Red Cross and similar societies, as well as working parties, assist in making the various consignments fully representative of the neighbourhood, seeing the Fund is catering for each unit completely, and not to individuals.  We are officially advised that this is the best way, and have been asked to induce local societies to send goods only through the two local channels —the Mayoress’s Committee Wards End, or the “Courier” Fund.

[The 8th Battalion of the West Riding Regiment (aka the Duke of Wellington's Regiment) had been raised in Halifax as part of Kitchener's New Army, back in 1914.  They had been in Gallipoli from August 1915, until they were withdrawn in December, (see here for the WW1 record of the regiment).  At this point in 1916, the same site says that they were at Imbros, which seems to have been the base for the Expeditionary Force to the eastern Mediterranean, and so they would have been able to write home and supplies of comforts could reach them.  'If rumour be true' presumably refers to the fact that the Gallipoli campaign was pretty much a disaster for the Allies.

I don't know what 'Wards End' means, in connection with the Mayoress's Committee.]     

Friday, 15 January 2016

Blackout in Halifax

From The Halifax Courier, 15th January 1916.




Monday night was not, naturally, an evening of inky blackness.  Under the stringent new lighting regulations, however, Halifax presented a dismal spectacle, and considerable caution had to be exercised by pedestrians in traversing the streets.  The conditions encountered when the blackness of nature combines with the restricted artificial illumination can only be conjectured.  Generally speaking, the new regulations, whatever views may be held as to their necessity, were loyally observed.  Dealers in green blinds must within the past few days have done a roaring trade, for in every direction in the town, both at shops and at private houses, they were found installed very largely, though not universally.  It was noticed that householders in a number of instances, whilst thus re-arranging their windows, made no effort to darken the fanlights.  This, we understand, is a precaution that is required.  Some shopkeepers, instead of adopting blinds for their windows, took the step of having only the back lights illuminated, and thus prevented any reflation on the pavement in that way.  There were some few who, taking no precautions at all, had their windows ablaze as usual, and of these the policemen took due note, with a view to prosecutions, should the defiance be persisted in.  The general blackness was, in this or that direction, relieved by the flares from foundry furnaces.  Under the Order, however, some elasticity is allowed as to these, where Government work is in the course of execution.  Factories observed the relaxations conceded to them on closing somewhat earlier.  Tram cars that it had been found impossible to equip with green curtains had the front, rear and side windows darkened by green or blue paper adhesions, pending the introduction of curtained screening.  The outside reflector lamps, too, were subdued.

What with the darkened houses and shops, the dimmed tram cars, and the street lights reduced to a minimum, the town presented indeed a strange spectacle.  In the central streets, like Commercial-street, it was more impressive than in the suburbs, as the latter, being more in the open, had the advantage of the natural light, whilst the coloured globular electric lights in the main thoroughfares, as compared with the shaded gas lamps in the outskirts, emphasised the sombreness.  It is "an ill wind that brings nobody good,” and the new regulation has brought grist to the mill, not only of the green blind vendors, but of dealers in flashlights.  Thousands of these, we are told, have been sold to townspeople during the past few days, and large numbers of pedestrians were this week noticed to be making use of them to assist them in crossing streets and in locating their whereabouts in especially dark corners.

The Order affecting the lighting of vehicles also came in on Monday.  The regulations are of a most stringent character, and those who can avoid using the roads at night will, for their own safety and that of the public, unhesitatingly do so.  It is a peculiar sight to observe a little handcart gravely showing its light as the lad trundles it along.  It is such little humours as this that help us to be philosophical about some of the official regulations,

[In World War 2, this would be called 'the blackout'.  In 1916, it was presumably a defence against Zeppelin raids - hundreds of civilians were killed in Britain in air-raids during the war.  Interesting that the blinds are specifically green, and not black. My Dad used to call an electric torch a 'flashlight' - evidently the original term in the U.K., and still used in the U.S., apparently.]

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Send More Soap

From the Halifax Courier, 8th January 1916.

From the Halifax Courier, 15th January 1916.

[Steel helmets were not issued to the British Army until later in 1916, so the scene of the soldier in a trench using his cap as a writing desk is not entirely fanciful.]  

Monday, 11 January 2016

Women's Roles in 1915

From The Wells Journal, 7th January, 1916. 


The year that has just closed has been full of significance for women, though it has perhaps seen them but a little way—and that on industrial lines—towards the feminist idea of the open door to all kinds of work.  ... It has proved, however, in a great degree a measure only of the sacrifices women were prepared to make, and not of the rewards they were prepared to ask for in the year that has passed.
 It may be that the coming year may see them called to replace men in the higher branches of the Civil Service and in administrative posts for which their education and training fits them.  But whatever the New Year holds in the way of prizes, it is safe to say that the ideal of useful service will be foremost in the minds of the majority of women.

To summarise the year's changes in women's work is difficult.  Though not in itself the first actual call, the appeal to women to volunteer for war service, issued by the Board of Trade on March 17th, was a great incentive to women to offer themselves for paid work formerly done by men.  The Government employed women largely.  They were drafted into the Censor's Department and into the Census of Production.  In the War Office, besides clerical work of every kind, they did certain remount work and the buying of hay, etc., and lately women have taken the place of men as camp cooks in camps and military convalescent hospitals.  During the past week, Scotland Yard has engaged a large number as substitutes for men from the Civil Service staff who have enlisted.  In the London post-offices women sorters and temporary postmen were a feature of the Christmas season.
In many cases the country has set the example to London.  Women tramway and omnibus conductors were tried in Glasgow and other places before London considered them.  Women have been cleaning railway carriages, acting as booking clerks and porters, working in the signal boxes, and learning the language of rolling stock in secretarial posts throughout the kingdom.  They have been cleaning ships in dock, working lifts in business houses and on the Tube railways.  To hear in a woman's voice the warning to "Stand clear of the gates" has almost lost its novelty, but the sight of a woman in uniform with a broom on the Underground has a sense of fitness that makes one wonder it was not thought of before.  The great banks have largely availed themselves of women's services, from the Bank of England to Cox's.

In agricultural work, says the Times, the substitution has gone on more slowly.  Everywhere women gardeners, women farm bailiffs, and women to milk cows and do dairy work have been asked for, and many schemes for supplying these needs have been put on foot.  But the great number of women of all classes who chose munition work, some from patriotic motives and others because it was well paid, lessened the number available for more prosaic work.  The success of the women who undertook the comparatively new trade of welding for aeroplane work deserves a word to itself, but in all the processes of aeroplane work, from the difficult mathematical problems arising out of specifications to the proofing and stitching of the sails, women have been efficient.  Mr. Lloyd George stated on December 20th that the number of munition workers was not yet large enough, and that 80,000 skilled and 300,000 unskilled would yet be needed; in the coming year it is very probable that the bulk of these will be women.  The promise that a woman assessor would be appointed to every Munitions Court at which women or girls would be heard was one of the most notable happenings of the year and was due to the exertions of Miss Mary Macarthur.

The war has led to a very large increase in the number of women medical and dental students.  But one side of the scientific work of women that has passed almost unnoticed has been the enormous amount of work done under Government direction by women in laboratories in the making of synthetic drugs and anti-toxins.  The invitation given to Dr. Garrett Anderson and to Dr. Flora Murray to take charge of a military hospital by Sir Alfred Keogh was also one of the events of the year.

There has been a small replacement of men in bakeries, women dealing with the baking of small bread.  It is, however, prophesied as not unlikely that much of the confectionery bread trade will pass into the hands of women in the coming year.  Women, too, have taken up herb-growing on a business basis to supply druggists who formerly had such things from enemy gardens.  The voluntary work done by women in every part of the country has been beyond praise.  For Queen Mary's Needlework Guild, for the British Red Cross Society and the Order of St. John, for the surgical supply depots, and the other great organizations work parties were busy all the year.

Of the nurses themselves it is almost as difficult to speak as of the Army and Navy.

[This article is evidently based on one that appeared The Times.

Dr. Louisa Garret Anderson and Dr Flora Murray had set up the Women's Hospital Corps in 1914 and founded military hospitals in France (for the French Army).  Initially the War Office wanted nothing to do with them, but had a change of heart in 1915, and offered them premises in London for a military hospital, which was staffed entirely by women.

Mary MacArthur was the founder of the National Federation of Women Workers.  Earlier in the war, she had persuaded Queen Mary that voluntary work by her Needlework Guild risked taking work from unemployed women, which led to the setting up of the Work for Women Fund.

I take it that the last sentence, about nurses, means that they have been doing such essential work, like the men of the Army and Navy, that it seems impossible to comment on it.]


Thursday, 7 January 2016

Bolton War Supply Depot

From The Manchester Guardian, 6th January 1916.




During the past three months very valuable work for military hospitals has been done at the Bolton War Supply Depot.  The undertaking is still in process of development, and as the call for surgical dressings, hospital clothing, and other articles is likely to increase in the near future there is much scope for additional personal service, funds for the purchase of raw material, and gifts of material.
The depot was opened by Mrs. E. Walker, who spent two weeks as the central depot in Kensington in order to learn what things were needed and the best methods of producing them.  The Tramways Committee placed at the disposal of her Committee, without charge, several rooms in the tramways office building and the recreation-rooms near, and over a hundred women have enrolled in the organisation.

Those who do not much care for sewing wind bandages or make up cotton wool and gauge swabs, which are used in enormous quantities in the hospitals for operations.  This work has to be done with scrupulous care and cleanliness, and it can only be directed satisfactorily in workrooms organised for the purpose.  Other helpers are engaged in making soft slippers, pneumonia jackets, dressings, and various garments required by soldiers in hospital.  Comforts for the troops are also made, and a great deal of knitting is done by helpers away from the workrooms.

Officially Recognised.
The workers pay an entrance fee of a shilling, and they also contribute to the funds for the purchase of material.  The Mayor and Mayoress, the Chief Constable, and Colonel Winder have shown a keen interest in the work.  Nearly £170 has been contributed in support of it, and many gifts of material, sewing machines, and other articles have been received.  The depot is linked up with the Lancashire and Cheshire County Comforts Association, and it is officially recognised by the War Office.  Packages of goods are sent to Lemnos, Gallipoli, the Scottish Women’s Hospital (Serbian Relief Fund), the Anglo-French Depot, the Ladies’ Emergency Committee of the Navy league, and to local battalions, as well as to home hospitals.

A central institution of this kind, which is in constant touch with the County Committee and the War Office, has many advantages over scattered and isolated sewing parties.  The officials are kept informed of the particular needs of the moment, and the activities of the workers can be directed at once to the supply of those needs.  The Bolton depot, writes a representative of the “Manchester Guardian” who visited it yesterday, is a model of good organisation, and all the women who were at work in the various rooms were obviously devoting themselves seriously to their task.  The hon. treasurer, Miss Hall, of 103, Tudor Avenue, Bolton, and the hon. secretary, Mrs. P. Musgrave, of Brookland, Bolton, are in attendance at the depot on the working days – Monday, Wednesday, and Friday – and they will gladly receive contributions, gifts, and offers of personal service.