Sunday, 29 May 2016

Soap and the War

From the Brecon County Times, 18th May 1916.

Soap and the War.

We were looking at the charming picture reproduced elsewhere in our columns by the makers of Puritan Soap.

“Curious, isn't it,” said my friend, the munitions expert, “how far reaching are the ramifications of this great world-war. Every pound of Puritan Soap sold means that the end of the war is so much nearer.”

“How do you make that to be,” said I, for it seemed a somewhat far-fetched statement.
“It's true enough,” said my scientific friend.  “Every ton of olive oil used for making Puritan Soap gives a couple of cwts. of glycerine, the base of cordite. Cordite, as everybody knows, is the chief propellant explosive used by Army and Navy alike.  A ton of olive oil gives glycerine for a ton of cordite or thereabout.  Practically the whole of the glycerine produced in the manufacture of Puritan Olive Oil Soap is refined and distilled by Christr. Thomas & Bros. Ltd., the makers, and used for explosives manufacture.”

“So that the housewife who buys Puritan Soap is not only getting the best soap that money can buy, but is helping to give the Government more glycerine and to pile up the munitions that are going to give us a glorious victory.”

“Exactly so,” said my friend, the expert.

[cwt. is the abbreviation for hundredweight, or 112 pounds.]

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Soap, Chewing Gum and the War on Dirt

From the Halifax Courier, 6th May 1916.

Pear's Soap
Wrigley's Chewing Gum
'Vim' scouring powder
[Most ads in newspapers made no reference to the war, but manufacturers of any product that could be sent to men at the front were keen to promote that idea in their ads.  And other ads, like the one for Vim,  imaginatively translated the war into a war on dirt. 

The Wrigley company was founded in the U.S. in  1891.  I don't know when Wrigley's chewing gum began to be sold in Britain,]   

Monday, 9 May 2016

Replenishing the Comforts Pool

From the Halifax Courier, 6th May 1916.

“Courier” Comforts Fund

W.R. Territorial Headquarters, York, May 4. 
Dear, Sir,—I am directed by Lord Scarborough to inform you that he has received a letter from the Director General of Voluntary Organisation stating that 1,057 pairs of socks and 114 shirts have been issued from their comforts “pool” in France to the 9th Bat. Duke of Wellington's W.R.R.  As this Committee have an arrangement with the above organisation to replace all articles issued from the “Pool” to West Riding Units, Lord Scarborough would be glad of any assistance your organisation can give towards replenishing the “pool.”—Yours faithfully,
W. MILDREN, Captain, for Chairman
West Riding War Fund Committee. 

This “Courier” Fund received the approval of the Assistant Director-General of Voluntary Organisations because it caters on set lines, so as not to clash with the Mayoresses’ Red Cross Fund in Halifax, or any other of the official organisations.  Those lines do not, as we have often said, include shirts or knitted goods, and we cannot depart from our understanding.  To this effect we have written Lord Scarborough.  Socks, shirts, or other knitted goods sent us are used among the prisoners and isolated soldiers, those who have not funds to fall back upon.  We are at the moment wanting 600 pairs of socks and as many handkerchiefs, and are hoping that lady readers all over the neighbourhood will set to work to supply these.

[This report shows Sir Edward Ward's scheme for a central comforts pool in action, but only partly working, because the West Riding War Fund Committee apparently did not know which local funds they should approach for new supplies of socks and shirts.  Presumably the workings of the scheme became smoother in time.] 

Careers For British Women.

From The Times, May 2nd 1916.


Princess Arthur of Connaught opened the British Women Workers' Exhibition yesterday afternoon at Prince's Skating Rink.  Princess Christian and the Duchess of Albany were among the morning visitors.

The MAYOR of WESTMINSTER.(Sir George Welby) spoke briefly on the new professions-opened to women.
Lady French was busy taking orders at her stall for her fund, which gives work to women unable to work long hours, in making socks and shirts for men at the front.  The Hon. Mrs. Oliphant-Murray, who was making known the Imperial Association for Assisting Naval and Military Officers to settle on the land, a cooperative and not a philanthropic scheme, had gifts for her stall from Princess Victoria and the Princess Royal.

Lady Lloyd-Mostyn was exhibiting for the Ladies’ Westminster Committee for the Relief of Belgians in Belgium; Princess Clementine of Belgium had worked a cushion-cover for the stall.  Queen Alexandra's School of Art Needlework (Sandringham) had a representative exhibit of table linen and lingerie.

The exhibition remains open until May 20.  Women signallers and women police are on duty all day.

[This is a very odd report, which seems to have almost nothing to do with new careers for women (apart from the women police & signallers), but mainly to be about an exhibition of handicrafts by upper class women.  Only Lady French's fund, as far as I can see, had any connection with war-work for women.] 

Lure of the Omnibus

From the Daily Mirror, 28th April 1916.


Women of All Classes Who Have Become Wartime Conductresses.

"Domestic servants to-day are very difficult to find, so many of them are becoming conductresses," was the woeful complaint of a mistress to The Daily Mirror yesterday.  So great is the lure of the omnibus for girl conductors that in one street in the Golders Green district recently seven servants gave their mistresses notice with the object of becoming conductresses.

"It certainly is a fact that of the 500 women conductors on our omnibuses to-day—and their numbers are increasing daily—more were formerly domestic servants and parlourmaids than in any other calling," commented an official of the London Omnibus Company.

"Thirty-eight per cent. of the total number represents their proportion.  Another ten per cent. were just 'at home' before the war.  A large percentage, too, were typists, shop assistants, waitresses and dressmakers, and some were in the postal service.  Then we have the wife of a major on active service among them, wives of schoolmasters are also serving.”

Friday, 6 May 2016

Women on the Land

From the Brecon & Radnor Express, 27th April 1916.

Women on the Land.



Radnorshire Women's Farm Labour Committee met at Llandrindod Wells on the 17th inst., Mrs C. Coltman Rogers presiding. …  Miss Strachan, of the Board of Trade, attended to explain the scheme of the registration of women workers on the land.  Mrs Coltman Rogers referred to the necessity of organising all available labour, to assist in the production of food supplies at this great crisis. 
Miss Strachan dwelt at some length on the subject in its various aspects.  One great difficulty was to convince farmers that women could render valuable services on the land.  She instanced what successful work was being done in other parts of the country, where a certain degree of prejudice existed in the minds of farmers twelve months ago.  The first step was to get the women of the villages and towns that were willing to offer their services as part or whole time workers enrolled, and most likely the demand for their assistance would come later when the scarcity of labour would be felt more acutely.  To do this thoroughly a house to house canvass should be carried out.  

Regarding the matter of wages she said that this would have to be dealt with locally, as conditions varied considerably in different districts.  She thought that 3d. an hour would be a fair average for casual, and from 12/- to 15/- a week for regular workers.  There should be training centres in the county, where those not accustomed to farm work could be trained in certain farming operation.  Possibly, some farmers would be found who would be willing to take a few women in to be trained for a short period, before being placed on farms as wage-earners.  Above all, the whole matter should be looked upon from a patriotic stand-point by both employers and employed.  She urged that all those present would take the work of canvassing their respective districts enthusiastically.  She was confident that the results would be astonishing, and that the difficulties which appeared almost unsurmountable at present would be overcome. 

A very interesting discussion followed, and it was resolved to hold public meetings throughout the county early in May.

[Since the start of 1916, there had been articles in local papers around  the country about the shortage of men to work on farms, because so many agricultural workers had been called up, e.g. here.  There was much discussion of how to get more women working on the land to replace them, but it seems that progress was difficult.  The wages offered may have been a significant problem - 3d an hour is very low.  (In other sectors, 6d an hour was thought of as a low wage.)  In unionised industries, there were agreements about what women replacing men should be paid (e.g. here),  but Miss Strachan seems to be suggesting that women should work for low wages out of patriotism - a difficult argument to make when women could work for higher wages elsewhere and feel themselves to be equally patriotic in doing the work of a man on active service.]

The Cinema And Crime

From the Cambrian Daily Leader, 27th April 1916.



At the annual meeting of the Carmarthenshire County Council at Llandilo on Wednesday…. a letter written by the late Sir Stafford Howard was read with reference to the recent conference at Cardiff with regard to cinema films.  [He was] convinced .. that the censorship in London was worth nothing.  There were complaints in many towns of the increase in juvenile crime, largely attributable to the cinema pictures.  Some of the pictures shown created an admiration for the criminal's skill and daring and a desire to follow his example.  He … suggested that in granting licenses the County Council should impose conditions affecting the subjects of films and rule out any exhibition tending to encourage or make light of immorality or crime.

The Chairman expressed the view that it would be a fitting memorial to the great services rendered by the late Sir Stafford Howard if the Council adopted his suggestion.  This was agreed to, and the matter of censoring films referred to a committee.


Juvenile Criminals Copy the Pictures.
Paris, April 26.-The pernicious influence of a certain class of cinematograph films which weave a halo of romance around the nefarious doings of burglars and thieves is attracting attention in Paris.
Recent captures of the French police reveal a tendency on the part of the young criminal class to dress in the smartest style and in general to copy the manners of the “gentleman” burglar type, so much in evidence nowadays in detective stories and in the picture palaces.

A band of burglars which the Paris police have just rounded up and which had concentrated its activities on the Opera quarter furnishes an example.

The members of this band were always dressed in clothes cut by the best tailors of Paris, with immaculate linen, and they never operated but in white kid gloves.  Their air of “men about town” and haughty demeanour imposed upon the concierges of the houses they “visited,” and allayed all suspicions.

19-year-old Leader.
To the magistrates who interrogated them they boasted of their knowledge of the psychology of their “profession,” which they said they had studied seriously, as they might have studied law or medicine.  The leader of the band is a young man of 19 years who had managed to obtain the complicity of a concierge or house porter.  The latter, after a certain burglarious exploit, cheated the young bandit of a sum of £16.

Disdaining the violent methods of revenge practised by the older “apache” class, this modern Bill Sikes preferred to invent a complicated story leading to the conclusion that the police were on the track of the band, and that the complicity of the concierge had become known.  Then the burglar chief intimated that with a thousand francs (£40) he could get the affair hushed up.  The frightened concierge paid up.  A day or two afterwards he received an elegantly-turned letter from the young man sarcastically explaining bow the £40 settled the little debt of £16.

[It seems incredible now that the silent films of 1916 should have seemed so realistic that they would inspire young people to imitate the crimes they showed, but clearly when films were new, they had a great impact. (And the older generation always thinks that the younger generation is going to the dogs - that was probably a factor, too.)]