Sunday, 18 February 2018

Statistics on Women Workers

From the Huddersfield Daily Examiner, 18th February 1918. 


The official “Labour Gazette” states that it is calculated that 700,000 women are now employed on munitions work and 650,000 on other industrial Government work.  There are now 40,000 engaged on work for the Government in commercial occupations and transport.  Over 1,413,000 men have been directly replaced by women.

Saturday, 17 February 2018

“Wireless” Work for Girls

From Woman’s Weekly, February 16th 1918.



I HAVE learnt quite a new "war-work," something girls have never done before.  My friends, when they hear I am doing "wireless" work, of course, all think I am an operator, and spend my time sending and receiving important messages, state secrets, and all kinds of exciting things.  Well, they are all wrong.  I am not an operator.
But if it were not for me and my fellow workers there would not be any messages sent, so you see how important my work is.  My job is to keep in order and repair and clean the apparatus.
As you may suppose, the apparatus is of very delicate make, and has to be always in perfect working order.  Everything has to be always ready for the operator, and now that we have such a number of wireless going, it means keeping a big staff of workers looking after them, and, of course, in these days we women do the job.  It is very interesting, and it is quite light work.  Some girls cannot stand for such long hours others do, so it is just the right kind for them, for you sit while-you are at work — so different to standing at a machine all day.

IT takes about six weeks to learn your job, and while you are being taught you receive 25s. a week maintenance allowance.  During this time you learn absolutely everything that is necessary for you to know, and then you are sent off to a post just wherever you are most wanted.
The "powers that be" are very well satisfied with the women already engaged on the work; they consider it is essentially woman's work; they think our "little" hands are suitable.  So that is satisfactory, at least that they think we all have small hands!

THE girls who get on best are those with useful hands —those who know how to use their hands, and it wants brains, too.
If a girl is lucky enough to have learnt anything of physics at school, there are a few plums to be gathered.  Also if a girl can draw, so that she can make copies of the machines; but the ordinary worker will get not less than 30s., 32s., and perhaps more.
In this, as in many other branches of work, the girl who works well, and is worth it, will get the best pay.  The hours are about the ordinary war-hours—eleven to twelve hours; but do not forget you will sit, not stand.

THERE is no special uniform worn, but it is usual to wear an overall or a long coat.  You can choose your own colour.  Butcher blue always looks smart, and is quite the engineering shade of peace time; but whatever shade you select, avoid too light a one, and be very careful, for work of this kind, that the sleeves are short. It is best to have them tight-fitting, and to button, so that your blouse sleeve is kept up too.  For delicate work it is fatal if sleeves get in the way.

"WHEN the war is over, what is to be-come of us and our work?"  That is what you want to know, I am sure.  Well, we have learnt, and are engaged on the job as "war-work;'' all the same, it may continue for a limited number of us when peace comes.
Everyone expects we are to be quite a flying nation, and that aeroplanes will play a large part in the daily life of the nation, for carrying mails and so forth.  Well, the aeroplanes carry wireless apparatus, and this apparatus must be attended to then as well as now; although, of course, the number of women workers will be small, still it will employ a certain number of us.
We work now in various different parts, both in London and elsewhere.  The Air Service use us to a large extent, and where there is wireless our services are wanted.  There are certain centres—or shall I call them bases—where the sick wireless apparatus are attended to.  In fact, we are a kind of Red Cross V.A.D. detachment for apparatus, and it is, I find, a very interesting form of sick nursing—quite one of the best kinds of war-work — useful, interesting work; quite good pay and just ordinary hours.  What more can any girl want in war time?  So come along, and join up— any woman medically fit, between the ages of 18 and 40.  You can get all particulars at the nearest labour bureau, and then you can start training at once and in six weeks you will be doing your bit, like all your girl friends.
And, besides helping to win the war, you can think that maybe hundreds of lives are being saved by your doing this work.  Think of the boats that have been mined, and of the thousands who would have perished had the wonderful wireless installation been out of order.

[This is another article in the series on new jobs for young women which Woman's Weekly was running. This one is particularly interesting for the discussion of whether the jobs would still be available to women after the end of the war.]

Monday, 12 February 2018

Etiquette For The Subaltern’s Wife

From Woman’s Weekly, February 9th 1918.


Some Useful Hints for the Girl who Marries a Junior Officer.

WHEN Jack and I became engaged nobody was dreaming about war, and yet it was only six weeks before war broke out.  Jack gave up his job at once and joined the Army, and, of course, I was awfully proud of him.  But I was intensely unhappy when his regiment was ordered to France just a very short time after.  He was in France for fifteen months, when he got a commission and leave.  He was now a subaltern, and the next event was that he was wounded and sent home.  When he left the hospital he was sent to another battalion of his regiment, which was stationed at a big naval and military town in England, because the doctors said he would never be fit for active service again.  On his first leave from there we were married.
Because, like everything else in war-time, our movements were so uncertain, we took a furnished house.
I was very nervous, thinking of the new people I should have to make friends among, especially as I had never known anything of military life, and I had often heard that there are little points of etiquette quite peculiar to Service people.
Jack was not of very much help to me, for whenever I asked him to give me some idea of things he would say:
“Don't you worry, you’ll soon slip into it all!”

A FEW days after we arrived I had my first caller.  She was a doctor's wife, and had lived in the place for a good many years, and told me quite a lot of things about life in a garrison town.  One was that I, being a bride, would not pay a call on the wife of the captain-superintendent of the dockyard (she is the most important lady, because the Navy is the senior service, and always takes precedence of the Army) and the colonel’s wife until they had called on me.  Had I not been a bride I should have had to call on both of them very soon after we arrived.
Every call has to be returned within a week or ten days.  Another thing that has to be remembered is that the colonel's wife is treated with just as much respect by the junior officer's wife as the colonel is treated by the junior officers.  A sure way for a junior to become unpopular is for him to attempt to take an important part in the regimental social affairs.  And any young officer's wife who talks of her husband’s regiment as "our regiment" is very much disliked.
Sometimes the ladies of the regiment are invited to dine at the officers' mess on what are known as ladies' nights.  Then the colonel's wife, or, if she is not there, or if the colonel doesn't happen to be married, the wife of the next most senior officer is the first to rise from the table after dinner.

WE had such a nice chaplain in the regiment.  I wanted to ask him to dinner one night, but I was so puzzled as to how to address him.  Jack helped me out of this difficulty, though.  The correct way to address the "padre" as everybody calls him, is to put his rank first and then "The Revd."; in our case it was Captain, The Revd. R. W. Bruce.  It's so hard to know all these things if you've never known anything of the Army customs.
In peace time it was the custom, when writing to an officer who was below the rank of captain, to address him as esquire, instead of second-lieutenant or lieutenant, as we do now.
When introducing a second-lieutenant or lieutenant to your friends, you always call him "Mr."  But if the man you are introducing is a captain or major, you use this title.
I nearly committed an unpardonable offence not very long after I arrived.  My brother Bob, who had joined as a Tommy, wrote to tell me he was being transferred to Jack's battalion, and in my supreme ignorance, thought it would be so nice for him to meet the colonel at our house.  Bob explained the situation to me very quickly, and I learnt that such a thing is not done.  When entertaining Bob I did not invite any of his officers, because in the Army the rule is for officers and men to keep quite apart socially.
Whenever an invitation is received, whether it's private or regimental—for instance, the regimental sports and things like that—it must be answered at the very earliest moment.  The regimental invitations are always formal, and so, of course, are answered in the third person.  But if the colonel's wife writes a friendly note asking you to dinner, you, of course, answer in the same way.
IF you are out walking with your husband, and he is in uniform, never take his arm.
WHEN you have been shopping and have collected parcels, do not expect a soldier to carry them for you.
DON'T let a soldier hold your umbrella over you if you are out in the rain.
[The tremendous number of casualties amongst junior officers meant that many new officers were not from the traditional 'officer class'.  Hence, many women must have found themselves officers' wives without any background to teach them the arcane rules of behaviour.  But the situation described here, where an officer from a  non-traditional background was posted to a garrison town in Britain, and so was accompanied by his wife, must have been relatively unusual.]        

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Learn to Drive a Motor Tractor.

From Woman’s Weekly, February 9th 1918.

Learn to Drive a Motor Tractor.

War-Work for Girls which Comes Next in Importance to Fighting.

“SPEED the plough!”  But how different the war-time plough from what will soon be looked upon as the pre-historic horse-plough!  How nice it is to think that with all the new, up-to-date methods of work, girls are asked to come forward and help in the very first place.
The new motor tractors for ploughing are a great success; so are the girl drivers, too!  They look so smart in land uniform, sitting on their seat on the tractor.  The girls were asked to come forward for the work so that the plough-men could fight the foes in foreign lands while the girls were preparing the ground for the harvest, and thus helping to fill the storehouses of England with food.
Their work is next in importance to actual fighting.

THE land girl has to work in winter as well as in summer.  She must be prepared to stand heat and cold, rain or sunshine, for Mother Earth must be attended to if the crops are to grow, no matter what the weather is.  But the land girl never complains; no matter what mood the clerk of the weather may be in, she goes on driving her motor tractor undisturbed by anything.

OF course, sometimes our girl drivers may be called upon to help with other land work, if for the moment she is not wanted for ploughing.
In these short, dark days, an hour or so may be spent in the farmyard when it is too late for the open.  There is always plenty of work for a willing pair of hands to turn to.

TO drive a tractor is quite easy—when you know how; but, like most things worth knowing, it has to be learnt.  There are no fees to learn, and the course only lasts from four to six weeks.  At the end of that time a pupil will be an expert driver, and will know all about motor tractors that is worth knowing.
There is a special training school, hidden away "somewhere in England," where free board and training are given.  After the first four weeks, the pupil will receive 4s. a week for the fifth and sixth weeks.  Then she will be a fully trained motor tractor driver, able to take an appointment.  She will get 25s. a week at first, afterwards she may expect 30s. a week, if she is "all right."

THE ploughing world is very up-to-date, and after a month a bonus is given of 1s. for every acre ploughed, so that it is something to look forward to, if the work ever lacks in excitement!  There is no need to say how healthy the life is, for we all know there is nothing like an open-air life for making healthy men and women.  This branch of land work is not at all heavy either.
A nice, suitable outfit is provided free.  Breeches, two overalls, leggings, hats, and clogs are supplied twice a year.  A mackintosh is provided as well, but that is expected to last; so we see the driver has only to keep herself.
At present, board and lodging can be obtained in country places for 15s. a week.  Although some things are as expensive as in towns, home-grown produce is, of course, cheap.
The idea many people have that land workers are not required in the winter is quite a mistake.  So let the girl who wants to "speed the plough" inquire at the Food Productive Department, Board of Agriculture Office, in Victoria Street, London, and she will be able to gain any special particulars.

ANY girl taking up the work must be willing to go to any part of the country; indeed, this is almost always the case with war-work.  The girl worker must not expect to pick and choose any more than the fighting man can. She will be sure to find a nice set of girls among the other land workers she is thrown in with, for only girls with grit in them turn to the land—the others are always on the look out for soft jobs.  Moreover, the authorities will only tale on a nice-class girl.  She must, of course, give satisfactory references as to character and so forth.  Town or country girls are taken on, provided they are suitable.  They must be strong, and willing to serve for twelve months.  The training is very interesting as during the four to six weeks' course they learn how to do all the necessary repairs to their tractor, as well as drive it.
There is no difficulty in obtaining accommodation in the villages as there is a system by means of which girls are suited.  There is a Registrar who can tell them where to go.

[I like the reassurance that only 'nice-class girls' would be allowed to drive tractors.   The 'class' of the girls seems completely irrelevant - even if the male tractor drivers they were replacing might have had more mechanical aptitude than most other farm labourers, they were still working class.]

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Infant Welfare Centres

From the Illustrated London News, 9th February 1918. 


A great response is being made to the Duchess of Marlborough's appeal for jewels for a Fund to maintain Infant Welfare Centres.  Large numbers of ladies are sparing some of their ornaments to be sold to help the babies of poor mothers to live.  One of the most tragic features of our ordinary social life is the large infant mortality.  It has been quite the custom to ascribe all these deaths to "the ignorance and incapacity of the mothers," but this is most unjust.  Children born with tainted constitutions cannot live, and infantile diseases, such as measles and whooping-cough, which find their way to the most sheltered and tenderly cared-for infants, cause a considerable part of the deaths.  Above all causes, however, is sheer poverty; lack of wholesome surroundings, and of the food, always rather costly, that is alone suitable for young children.

Ignorance, in truth, exists amongst mothers, but if the Infant Life Centres did no more than try to instruct the poorest mothers about what they ought to do, the results would probably not be great.  But the Duchess of Marlborough and her coadjutors do more than talk.  They actually provide the milk (mostly now in a dried form) that the babies need, and also other kinds of helping food-stuffs, either free of charge or much under shop prices.  They maintain crèches, and have free and sympathetic periodical inspections of babies, with skilled advice and any necessary material help ready for them directly they are found to be at all unwell.  In short, the Centres are doing most valuable work, and any ladies who can spare a piece or two of jewellery cannot do better than donate it for this most womanly purpose.  The Duchess has arranged for a show of the jewels already given at Selfridge's during the week beginning Feb. 16, when her Grace, with Lady Henry, the Hon. Sec., and other members of the Committee, will be in attendance to receive personally further gifts of jewels or money.

Friday, 9 February 2018

A London Air Raid

From the Illustrated London News, 9th February 1918.


Here is a quotation from a private letter, written with no thought of publication, and therefore giving a faithful, unvarnished picture of London during an air-raid.  The writer is Miss Irene Miller, known both as a novelist and journalist.  She says:—

"I couldn't send you a card last night to say we were all right, for long before the 'All Clear' signal was given we were all in bed and sound asleep.  The 'All Clear' bugles just aroused me slightly, but only for half-a-second.  I was dining at the Club when it commenced.  The guns sounded very close, but nobody took any notice—nobody does now!  The diners went on dining, the waitresses went on waiting, and when it came to the speechifying, the speakers went on speaking—though I do think it must have been a bit of an ordeal to make a speech with that hubbub outside. 

"It was a very nice little meal.  First soup, and then an entrée,  something 'à la belle Otero,' which was baked potato with the top cut off, the contents mashed and mixed with cut-up oysters, and put back again and re-baked for a few minutes.  Then turkey—plenty of it, with potatoes and sprouts; then what they called Italian pudding, made of a thin sort of macaroni with preserved cherries, very nice; and dessert.  On the back of the toast-list was reproduced the cartoon from this week's Punch (Jan. 23)—one of Bernard Partridge's beautiful figures, attired as a knight-ess, on the top of a height, holding a banner marked 'Woman's Franchise,' and entitled, 'At last!’  It was said he was there: but I didn't see him.

"It was a bit of a job to get home afterwards, for the raid was not officially over, though we had heard nothing of it for about an hour (it was twenty to twelve now).  So I went in the Tube.  There were a lot of people taking shelter there, sitting about on the steps and platforms, but hundreds more were just going home in the ordinary way.  The trains came along packed full, and they seemed running quite frequently.  Lots of those taking shelter weren't really terrified.  I know, for they were loving couples, making it a sort of Hampstead Heath on Bank Holiday.  Each soldier and his girl spread a newspaper on the platform, sat down, and leant against the wall, with their arms around each other's necks and their heads on each other's shoulders (so to speak).  There were little groups of such, on the giggle, and enjoying themselves immensely; and, of course, Mother couldn't scold if one stayed out with one's best boy, and explained that it was all the Air-Raid, could she?  The firing recommenced very noisily after a while; and there were quite a lot of people out, but nobody took any notice, and when I got home the family were all comfortably in bed."

[An opening paragraph has been omitted, saying that although the 'hideous Germans' thought that Londoners were being cowed and terrified by the air-raids, it wasn't true.

La Belle Otero was a famous Spanish actress, dancer and courtesan.  She was in her 40s at this time, and lived to be 96.  According to Wikipedia, she had many aristocratic and royal lovers, including both the Kaiser and Edward VII.  It doesn't say whether she was particularly find of potatoes and oysters.

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Bogus “Food Controllers”

From the Huddersfield Daily Examiner, 7th February 1918.



Householders should be on their guard against bogus searchers for household food.  Two men yesterday went to the house of Mr. R. Hollington, Downs Park Road, Clapton, and boldly asserted that they were "food controllers,'' and were empowered to search the house for sugar.  The men were admitted, and they made an exhaustive search.  When they had gone Mr. Hollington found that his bedroom had been ransacked, and jewellery, including gold rings and a diamond and pearl necklace, stolen.  The police are now searching for the ''food controllers."  It was stated at the Ministry of Food yesterday that inspectors sent to examine premises all carry a search warrant in due form.