Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Comforts for Halifax Lads Abroad.

From the Halifax  Courier, 22nd April 1916.

Our Lads Abroad. 

To-day there are 5,024 on “Courier” Comforts Fund—soldiers at the front, sailors on the sea, prisoners in Germany, and this district's men wounded or invalided.  We refer, of course, apart from the six local regiments (which we deal with in their entirety), to braves whose addresses have been sent us.  There may be some still not receiving, but if we are not informed of them how can we deal with them?

Latterly the classes of comforts asked for have turned in the direction of food or smoking material almost exclusively.  From innumerable officers and men, and letters, we learn that Government now keeps a very sharp eye on every man's outfit, and does him well.  This, for instance, is his kit: — 2 tunics, 2 pairs of trousers, great coat, cap, 2 towels, 3 shirts, 2 pairs of pants, muffler, 2 pairs of boots. 1 pair of shoes, 3 pairs of stockings.  The latter commodity is that which, issues apart, is most in demand, especially in bad weather periods.

The change that has come over the men's needs, therefore, makes our money go further, but we still have not enough of it, or we would send oftener to every man, as well as to every battalion more frequently.  The public should remember that we buy on the most favourable terms, and they can rely upon our judgment, because we know best the needs, through being in constant touch with those at the front.  ....

April 20, 1916. 
To Major A. Ellam,
2nd Duke of Wellington's Regt.
Dear Sir,
In the name of the inhabitants of this neighbourhood, it is a pleasure to advise you of the placing of orders for these goods by the “Halifax Courier” Comforts Fund, in accordance with your letter received on the 18th, in which you asked us to calculate on the basis of 900 men:—
3 cwts, of Fig Roll Biscuits.
2 cwts. of Fruit Biscuits.
3 cwts. of Ginger Snap Biscuits,
1,008 slabs of Chocolate.
900 tablets of Toilet Soap:
864 Shaving Sticks.
936 Writing Pads.
3,000 Cigarettes for the Officers.
33,000 Cigarettes for the Men.
100 lbs. Tobacco for the Men.
240 Pipes for the Men. 
As you were advised, £120 was set apart for this further consignment of comforts for your heroic regiment.  The actual expenditure is £116 11s. 9d., and we have still rail carriage to Southampton to pay.  All the goods have been bought on specially favourable lines.

We are also sending, direct from our office, a collection of socks, shirts, handkerchiefs, mittens, gloves, body belts, —  being the contributions of thoughtful ladies, and one is pleased to note this proof that many loving fingers keep busy upon wearables for the comfort of the braves.  Will you please, as a whole, accept this further contribution in token of this neighbourhood's gratitude to you all, and may God speed you in your undertaking.—Very sincerely yours,

Liberal Club, Greetland, April 19.
Dear Sir, —
We are sending you some cricket tackle for the Lads, and shall be very pleased if it will be of any use to you.  On behalf of the Club, yours, &c.  N. Rayner.

(The gift consists of a bag, 2 bats, ball, wickets and bails, stumping gloves, and a pair of pads.  We heartily thank the givers.)
We have also to thank Mr. Frank Greenwood, Shakespeare hotel, Halifax, for a set of bonzaline billiard balls.  On Tuesday we intimated that a soldier mentioned a table behind the line that could not be used because of want of balls.  Lovers of the game will realise what joy this gift will give.  Our correspondent was Pte. N. Atkin, 1930, Royal Horse Guards, and we shall take steps to secure that the kind donor shall hear direct from those who receive his handsome gift.


['cwt' is the abbreviation for 'hundredweight', 112 pounds or 50.8 kg.  A lot of biscuits.

Sending out the billiard balls, shows how static the Western Front had become.  People at home thought that it was worth sending out the billiard balls to make a billiard table behind the lines usable, because it was expected that there would be British troops based in the area for the foreseeable future.] 

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Women’s Work in War-time

From Halifax Courier, 15th April 1916.



With one exception, every area in the Elland Division was represented at the annual meeting of the Divisional Women's Liberal Association, at Hipperholme Liberal Club, on Saturday, Mrs. D. Stephenson {Stainland), the retiring president, presiding.

Mrs. R. S. Wood, the retiring secretary, presented the annual report, which is the 10th of its character.  The terrible war had proved to the men that the old legend that "men must fight and women must weep"' was passing away.  Women were doing more than weep.  They were taking their fair share of the burden, for Lord Kitchener had said that those who were making munitions of war were doing their duty to the State as well as those who were in the trenches, and Mr. Runciman had re-echoed that statement.  Women were taking the places of men in various trades, and were performing every kind of work of which their strength allowed.  The call for help from the farmers had already met with a hearty response.  Women loved England as the men loved it, she continued, and they were pouring into every trade and profession, and winning esteem for their self-sacrifice and devotion.  The capacity and self- sacrifice had been wonderful.

Take the nursing of the wounded, for instance.  High above them stood the figure of Miss Cavell, whose life for all time would stand as a heroic memory.  All through the profession great demands had been made for nurses, and no one outside the nursing profession would ever realise what were those first terrible weeks of the war.  Many ladies who were living luxurious lives came to help, and they were still working bravely and cheerfully at their tasks.  Many ladies had turned their homes into hospitals, equipping and maintaining them at their  own expense.

Then there was the great industrial world women had entered.  The girls who clipped their railway tickets, who told of train and the number of the platform, the women employed in the G.P.O., the factories and workshops, not only in the making of ammunition, but in many other occupations, were all doing their share in the great struggle.

And what would Lord Kitchener have done but for the socks, mufflers, etc., which the women sent in answer to his appeal?  How their knitting needles glinted in the 'bus, train, tram.  They all knitted for dear life.  The famous men in the papers made jokes about them, and the picture papers caricatured them; but the knitting pins never ceased, and Tommy had all the socks he needed till the hosiery factories were able to supply his needs.  Women had also done their share in providing comforts for the men in the fighting line, or who had been wounded.  As they looked over the past 12 months or so they not only realised how much they had done, but how much they had learnt; how their horizons had widened, and their sympathies deepened. They had enlisted in the service of their country, and had donned the whole armour of the social worker, and for as long as the country had need of them.

The report was unanimously adopted. ….Hearty votes of thanks to the retiring officers were accorded …, while a collection taken for the repatriation fund for Belgians abroad, realised £1 1s.

Later a profitable time was spent, when an address was delivered by Mrs: Stocks (Stainland), on "The child and the State."

[Stirring words, but it seems very unspecific for an annual report of an organisation like the Elland Women's Liberal Association.  I would have expected an account of what the women of the Association had been doing.  I very much doubt that any of them had  been making munitions or clipping tickets.  The paragraph on knitting socks seems much more likely, to me,  to reflect what the members had been doing for the war.]   

'Treating' Wounded Soldiers

From the Brecon & Radnor Express, 13th April 1916.




At Presteign Petty Sessions, on Tuesday in last week, before Mr Whitmore Green-Price (in the chair) and Mr J. H. Wale, the chairman referred to the practice of treating wounded soldiers with drink.  He said there was a voluntary aid hospital at Corton, under the Red Cross Association, and he thought it was generally known that it was an offence, under the Defence of the Realm Acts, to supply intoxicating drink to any soldier who might be there for the time being.  He was sorry to say that the law in this respect had not been kept at Presteign, and there were several cases at the hospital where these soldiers had obtained intoxicating drink and come back to the hospital in a certain state.  He thought it was playing the game very low down for any person to supply this drink.  These poor fellows came back to the hospital, after fighting for their country, and the ladies, who worked day and night and gave up the whole of their time to try and get the men properly cured, while some ill-disposed person, by giving these men drink, undid all the good these ladies did at the hospital.  He felt so strongly on the matter that he should be glad if anyone who saw this practice going on would inform the police, with a view to their being prosecuted.  If any person were brought before them, he should be only too glad to do all he could to make the punishment fit the crime.

Sergt. Higgins said the prohibition of the supplying of drink to these soldiers applied to any person, whether in a private house or a licensed victualler.

The chairman appealed to the public of Presteign to try and assist the police in every possible way in putting a stop to the practice.

['Treating', i.e. buying a drink for another person in a pub, had been outlawed, because of worries over drunkenness reducing productivity.  From this report, it seems that giving alcohol to convalescent soldiers was against the law, wherever it took place.  I imagine that some of the soldiers would have welcomed free drinks, but evidently that was seen by the police and magistrates as a reflection of their weak physical and mental state.]  

Friday, 22 April 2016

American Tea in Huddersfield

From the Huddersfield Daily Examiner, 12th April 1916. 


The American Tea organised by the Huddersfield and District Women's Committee for Soldiers and Sailors, of which the Mayoress (Mrs. Blamires) is the president, held in the Town Hall on Tuesday afternoon, was the largest and most successful of these popular gatherings yet held in the Huddersfield district.  Well over a thousand persons were present and paid for tickets, and in addition donations amounting to about £30 were received.  The balcony and area were quite full.  The proceeds were in aid of the committee’s fund, and it is expected that a good balance will be handed over.  In accordance with the custom at these gatherings each person was requested to bring one article of not less value than 1s., and to buy one article, and brisk business was done at the stalls, at which fruit, flowers, groceries, cakes, and miscellaneous goods were sold.

While the ladies got on with their knitting three hours of good entertainment were enjoyed.  Mrs. Hull's Ladies' Orchestra played an excellent programme of selections.  Private Arthur played two items on the concertina, and had a very enthusiastic reception.  Sergeant Munday and Mr. Ernest Cooper played the accompaniments.  Children's dances were given by Miss Richardson's pupils.  The solo dances were taken by Misses Winnie Sizer, Mollie Richardson, Betty Haigh, and Molly Haigh. An excellent tea was provided.

[I guess that it was an  'American Tea' because of the bring-and-buy element.  The name 'American tea' seems to have disappeared long since, though bring-and-buy sales are still held, and used to be popular fund-raising events, I think - much classier than a jumble sale.] 

Thursday, 21 April 2016

A Missing Soldier

From the Halifax Courier, 8th April 1916.


Mrs. Baines of 23, Leymoor-road, Longwood, has received information that she has been awarded a pension from army funds from April 4 in respect of her husband, L.Cpl. George Baines, aged 29, of the West Yorkshire Regiment.  The notification states: “The change of payment must not be taken as indicating that there is any proof of the death of your husband.”  It was on Sept. 3, 1915, that Mrs. Baines was officially informed that her husband was missing after an engagement, the place and date of which were stated to be unknown.  Since that time she has naturally lived in suspense.  Lance-Corporal Baines enlisted in October, 1914, prior to which he was employed by the Longwood Engineering Co.  He formerly played football with the Parkwood United Methodist Church.  He left England in July last year for the Dardanelles, and his last letter to his wife was dated July 28.  Inquiries made of the American Ambassador brought the reply that the Turkish Foreign Office had no information of L. Cpl. Baines being a prisoner of war in that country.

[I have not written about casualties before, but this account is unusual in focussing on the effect on the family left at home.   

The story does not, of course, have a happy ending. The Commonwealth War Graves website records  Lance Corporal George Baines, aged 29, of the West Yorkshire Regiment, as one of the men killed during the Gallipoli campaign.  His name appears on the Helles Memorial to the nearly 21,000 men of the Commonwealth who died during the campaign and have no known grave.  

I don't know when Mrs Baines was told that he was presumed to be dead. We can only wonder when she stopped hoping to hear that he was still alive.]    

A Y.M.C.A. Hut at the Front

From the Halifax Courier, 8th April 1916.


Dear Sir,—It is not unknown to Halifax friends that my son, Rev. A. C. Lawson; M.A., is in charge of a Y.M.C.A. hut "somewhere in France."  He has the distinction of being located "the nearest to the Germans" of any of the huts along our front.  Through the kindness of a returned fellow-worker, I know he is "in the thick of it."  His hut is as near to our artillery as the Halifax Town Hall is to the Technical School, and as near to the trenches as the Town Hall is to the West End Park.  In consequence, when men are released from their "shifts" they rush to his hut where, with his three orderlies, he supplies their first longings to write home in comfort, or to lean on a counter and demand attention.  You can guess the extent to which they crowd the place (it is a barn) when I mention that he takes on the average 700 francs a day in small sums.  One day, running short of small change, he lit a taper, and under the counter found five francs' worth of small coin, dropped by hands fumbling from cold.  He gets his share of enemy shells, escaping in hotter moments to an underground part.  He is in the midst of Halifax men, and gets their free speech, which he likes, being a Halifax man himself.  If he can't serve a clamatory customer just at the moment, the next demand may reach him thus: "Come on, Halifax."  Some good man of your town, unknown to me, has supplied him with a brazier, which is of great service.

He has written me several times expressing a wish for a gramophone and some mouth organs.  Will your readers reflect what a gramophone and records might mean to their sons and brothers out there?  I have not seen a way to supply him until this morning when, at the end of four refreshing days in Halifax, a good lady of your town urged me to appeal, through you, to your marvellous "Fund for Soldiers' Comforts."  If you could kindly insert this in your Fund column, and let it go forth as an appeal for Halifax lads at the front, with the hope that some reader would communicate with you and say: "Here's the gramophone, and here are the records," and if you would kindly insert their dispatch to him in your excellent operations, he would say again, as of the giver of the brazier:  "There are, I find, plenty of good Halifax people besides those we know."  I must not quote at length, however tempting, his many references to those he meets and serves.  But there is one sentence: "The boys are a treat to work for, and I could not wish to meet better fellows.  The two-and-ninepennies will have to be a good lot to beat them."

My long connection with Ovenden Congregational Church, and my son's close connection with your brave lads, is my ground of appeal to your Fund and the well-proved loyalty of Halifax.—I am, yours sincerely,
Boston Spa. April 6.
[Offers should only be addressed please to the. Fund Manager, Courier Office].

[I have no idea what the "two-and-ninepennies". were.  Any ideas?]  

New Y.M.C.A. Hut at Huddersfield Military Hospital

From the Huddersfield Daily Examiner, 7th April 1916.



Since the Huddersfield Military Hospital was opened six months ago the need has been felt for some place in which the wounded soldiers could entertain or be entertained by their friends, or in which the men could spend a quiet hour in reading or writing.  Up to the present the soldiers' relatives or friends have had to visit the men in the wards, and it is felt that this is inconvenient and undesirable.  In consequence of the efforts of the members of the Y.M.C.A. that practice will henceforth be discontinued.

The surplus funds which remained after the building of the Y.M.C.A. “Huddersfield Hut" at Le Havre (France) have been devoted to the building of a Y.M.C.A. hut in the grounds at Royds Hall.  The hut was opened this afternoon.  It consists of a large refreshment room, and a writing room in which the men can deal with their correspondence.  The borough engineer, Mr. K. F. Campbell, designed the hut, and the contractors were Messrs. H. Hollingworth and Sons.  The cost will be about £500, of which about £400 was the surplus from the funds of the larger undertaking.  The refreshment room is furnished with tables and chairs, but the Y.M.C.A. officials would be glad to receive gifts from friends of couches, sofas, and basket armchairs for the greater comfort of the men. The catering arrangements will be carried out by voluntary helpers under the direction of the Y.M.C.A. Ladies’ Auxiliary.

[Royds Hall, a Victorian mansion,  had been bought by Huddersfield Corporation before the war.  It was operated as a military hospital by the British Red Cross; after the war, it became (and still is) a secondary school.] 

Women Spinners Brought to Huddersfield

From the Huddersfield Daily Examiner, 7th April 1916.




The dearth of labour in the textile trade of the Huddersfield and Colne Valley districts is to be made good by the introduction of a large number of women from East Coast and East Midland towns.  The first batch of these women arrived in the district to-day, and the importation will proceed as rapidly as the new operatives can be absorbed to the industry and lodging or housing accommodation provided for them.

It was high time some action on these lines was taken, for the scarcity of male labour had become intensified, and a large amount of machinery in the trade is idle.  It is estimated that about 8,000 men from the Huddersfield district are now serving with the forces.  Of that number probably about 5,000 were engaged in the woollen and worsted cloth industries.  Until recently, by resorting to various expedients, the depleted ranks were filled up, but the problem has now become acute, and it is no longer possible to carry on the industry with anything like efficiency without making an extensive demand upon female labour.  Important Government contracts for army goods are at present being seriously delayed by the lack of skilled labour.

The revised list of certified occupations has not improved matters; indeed, so many occupations in the textile industry are now unstarred that it is inevitable that in the near future further large numbers of men engaged in the woollen and worsted mills will be called up for military service.  One effect of the changes which have been made is that very shortly 600 men will be taken out of the spinning department, a department which has been more severely hit than any other by the withdrawal of men.  So inadequate is the staffing of spinning machinery at present that there is a great shortage in yarn, a circumstance which is responsible for keeping a large number of looms idle.

It is in the spinning department that the women now being imported are to be engaged.  They will take the places of the 600 men as the latter are called up or transferred to departments in which heavy manual labour is involved and in which the services of women can not very well be utilised.  In the Huddersfield district women have somewhat singularly held aloof from piecing and spinning; way, it is difficult to say, because it is work which they can do, and in other districts mules are run almost entirely by women.  It is obvious that some time must elapse before the re-organisation of the industry can be carried out on the lines indicated, but arrangements have been made with the authorities whereby it is believed that this will be successfully accomplished and without undue interference or hardship.

The employers can count upon the support of the Home Office and the Board of Trade, for only recently Mr. Herbert Samuel (the Home Secretary) and Mr. Walter Runciman (President of the Board of Trade) issued an appeal to employers, in which they stated that there was only one source from which the shortage of Labour could be made good, and that was the great body of women who are at present unoccupied or engaged only in work not of an essential character.

Proper safeguards for the future have been provided, an agreement between employers and workpeople having been entered into.  The agreement provides that substitutions of men by women are temporary, and that those men who have joined the forces shall be entitled to be reinstated in their former employments if and when they return fit for resuming them; men thus reinstated to receive the rates of wages to which they would have been entitled had they remained in continuous employment.  The provisions as to wages are:—That where women are employed to take the place of men the rate of wages for such women shall be (a) If at piece-rates the same as for men, unless women's rates are already established for that class of work, provided no woman shall receive less than the district rate for women. (b) If at time rates for day-time work, and one or more women replace an equal number of men, they shall be paid the same rate of wages now being paid to males for an equivalent quantity of work, and in any case not less than four-fifths of the rate preciously paid to the men they replace. (c) If at time rates for day-time work, and a larger number of women are required to replace a smaller number of men, the aggregate wages paid to the women shall not be less than the aggregate wages paid to the men they replace, and in no case shall the wage paid to an individual woman be less than four-fifths of the wage previously paid to the man replaced.

The women who are coming into the trade are from Harrogate, Scarborough, Bridlington, Goole, Grimsby, Hull, Mansfield, and other towns.  A local Advisory Committee has been set up, but it is likely that considerable difficulty will arise in finding lodgings and housing accommodation for the new arrivals.  On the other hand, few families are now complete, and the room which is available should, wherever possible, be utilised.  Those who can find lodgings for the women now arriving will be performing a national service.

[Conscription, initially only of single men, but soon extended to married men, had been introduced in March 1916.  Some occupations were exempt form conscription, or 'starred', hence the reference to occupations becoming 'unstarred', and the predicted shortage of men in the textile trades. It's interesting that the Examiner says that the shortage of labour in Huddersfield to operate the spinning mules was entirely due to local custom and practice, and in other areas women were already doing that work before the war. ]

Women Customs Watchers

From the Daily Record, 3rd April 1916


The war with the introduction of so much female labour has brought about some surprising changes in the Civil Service, and for the first time in the history of the Customs women are about to wear the Customs uniform.

The authorities, with the sanction of the Treasury, have decided to employ women as temporary Customs watchers, positions hitherto mainly reserved for ex-soldiers and sailors and retired policemen.  The duties of these officials are simple, consisting, as the name indicates, in watching over dutiable articles and locking and unlocking bonded warehouses.

The exact nature of the women’s uniform has not yet been settled, but it will be something resembling that of the Customs officials, with caps and armlets added.

[Sounds like a really cushy job.  And what were the retired soldiers, sailors and policemen going to be doing instead, I wonder?].

A Short Intermission

You may have seen on my other blog, here, that I broke both my wrists, and a kneecap, on 4th April.  So I haven't managed to post anything to this blog since then, although I had some material already prepared.  There will now be a flurry of posts to catch up, and then hopefully I shall be able to keep more or less up to date (100 years ago, of course).

Friday, 1 April 2016

Support for Halifax Men

From the Halifax Courier, 1st April 1916.

A Mighty Task.

5,000 Soldiers to Comfort.

These letters arrived yesterday, and give expression more convincing than any words of ours, both feeling and need of the brave lads for whom we cater:—

"COFFEE FOR BREAKFAST." — Just a few lines to thank you for the parcel I received on the 21st from you.  It was a real treat.  My pals and I had coffee for our breakfast the morning following, something we had never tasted for a good few months.  ....—Driver Gaukroger, 18819, R.F.A.

"THINGS WE NEVER SEE HERE.”—Mar. 26—Just a few lines to thank you for the parcels I have received from your Comfort Fund which I enjoyed very much but I am sorry I have not been able to let you know before now how your kindness has been appreciated.  To get a parcel out here is as good as somebody giving us a few shillings, for there are things in them that we never see here.—Pte. L. BeadsIey, Seaforth Highland Pioneers.

"THE ACCEPTABLE CIG."—Kindly allow me to thank you and all kind friends in and around Halifax on behalf of my platoon and myself, for their kind gift of cigs received to-day.  I believe, according to some notes in the parcels, that some have been on the road a long time, but "better late than never."  As you know, among the boys a cig is at all times acceptable. —Sergt. E. English.

"A BIT OF ALL RIGHT!"—March 26—I write these few lines in acknowledgement of the parcel you kindly sent out to me.  It cheers one up when you get a parcel like that all unexpectedly as we are always on the look out for the mail coming up.  It's a bit of all right when you can make a nice can of warm cocoa on a night as the weather is bitterly cold just now.  I warmly appreciate your thoughtfulness for the Tommies who are doing their bit for dear old Halifax and Sowerby Bridge.—Driver Joseph Greenwood.

"NO PARENTS TO SEND ME ANYTHING."—I received the parcel you sent me, and I wish to thank you.  It was very welcome as I have no parents to send me anything of the sort, and it cheered me up.  It shows that there is somebody at home thinking of the men who are fighting in foreign lands.—Pte.. J W. Hirst, 44123 D. of W. W.R.R. [Duke of Wellington's West Riding Regiment]

From the West Riding Regiment the following batch of acknowledgments has arrived:—
We received the cigarettes Mar 16. The boys were not half round the tent when they got to know there was a fag issue.  We had run out of stock.  Very hot here.—Pte. E. Gaukroger.
Many thanks for parcel of smokes received March 17.  They just came at a right time, as we are in a place where we cannot get them, a lonely spot in Egypt.—Yours a reader of your paper, Pte. Albert Wadsworth, Sowerby Bridge.
N.C.O. and men of No. 3 Platoon, 8th W. Ridings, wish to thank you for smokes. All is well. —L.Cpl. J. McGowan. 
The Fund, which is being continued by official sanction, has over 5,000 of the neighbourhood's men under its wing, and we keep ourselves in touch with the West Riding War Fund, the County Fund, the Prisoners of War Fund, the Halifax Mayoress's Red Cross Committee, and other agencies, with a view of avoiding duplication, while we have definite conditions with all Commanding Officers with regard to our supplies.

The Fund covers:
Entire District's Wounded—at home or abroad.
Officially-supervised list of local Prisoners in Germany.
Every known native Naval Man.
The five Local Regiments.
Two Ambulance Corps.
Over 1,000 Isolated but Local Warriors. 
Those who carefully study the list will see that our men abroad could not possibly be more thoroughly covered, and the general idea, of course, is to persuade this whole neighbourhood (not only Halifax, but every place round) to aid their lads through this approved channel.  Do not cater partially, but for the whole.  It is the best way.  Huddersfield is doing so, Bradford likewise.

[This article is interesting for the list of categories of local men that the Courier Fund was supporting, and the total number.  The 'isolated but local' men are those not in the local regiments.  It seems to me that if every area of the country took the same approach, there  must have been some duplication, because these isolated men might receive comforts from the area whose regiment they were nominally in, and also from their own home area.  I believe that as the war went on, men were increasingly moved around to replace casualties, and so the link between a regiment and a specific part of Britain became looser.

It's also interesting to see  the importance of 'smokes'.

I don't know what 'the boys were not half round the tent ' means - from the context, it should be something like 'they were over-joyed', but I have never heard the expression before.]