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.]   

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