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.]

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