Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Christmas Comforts from Halifax

From the Halifax Courier, 13th November 1915.

What About Their Christmas?

Can We Enjoy Ours If We Forget Them?

Our appeal for Tommy and Jack's Christmas Comforts cannot be kept open a moment beyond the 22nd, whether £1,000 has been raised or no.  If we fall short —well, the parcels will contain fewer things.  We cannot understand why the scheme has not bounded along: perhaps, it may yet.  It is seven weeks to Christmas Day, and on that day it is hoped to land a 5s. parcel in the hands of every loca1 soldier abroad.  Think of it please, a 5s. parcel after 7 weeks have elapsed.  Not 2d. a day to enhearten his trench life.  £1,000 is still our cry, and we should be ashamed if we have to do with less.  There are 4,000 soldiers to participate in this.  And there are not less than 250,000 to provide £1,000....

My Kind Friends, —I am still receiving the parcels, which are so nice: I cannot thank you enough.  No doubt it is the finest fund for the lads fighting hard for king and country.  You ought to see my chums’ eager eyes when I am opening your parcel, which contains such luxuries.  We are still rolling around the cold briny, patiently watching and waiting to have a pop at them.  My love and good wishes to all.— F. W., North Sea.

Nov. 5: Out of the trenches. —Thank you very much for the comforts issued to-day.  I am sure we all realise the hard work you have been put to to try and suit every one of us.  We are all very grateful to you.  We have plenty of hard tasks to perform, and your interest in our welfare gives us new heart.  I only wish every paper in the country thought so much of their lads, but there are others to thank as well, the ladies and gentlemen who have given much valuable time to further your efforts.  We have been here two days, after a most strenuous time in the trenches.  When we were in the trenches we were in some places up to the waist in water.  I don’t know how we managed to get relieved, but it was managed.  This was the first time that we have had the use of motor buses to bring us out of the trenches.  I don’t know how long we are stopping here, but of course it will take some time to re-equip us, because most of our belongings were either lost or damaged by water so as to be of no use.  We are just having an impromptu concert, and your records are giving us a right proper laugh.  I am glad to say everybody seems to be enjoying themselves.  You would not think that we came in here two nights since more dead than alive.  Again thanking you and hoping that your further efforts will meet with success. —Sergt. C. Naylor, C Co.
‘Tis impossible to convey, to any who have not seen, the immense need of protection against the mud and rain.  Every man who is out here needs what I’ve received. [Perhaps this is a reference to waterproofs sent by the 'Courier Fund'.]    The Government are gradually supplying, but the weather is here, and all men need really now.  A few skin coats have been issued this week, and the men look very queer in them.  The Battalion is out for a rest, and well they need it after this 4 days’ swim in the trenches.  The rest has, of course, revived many men and, except for serious cases which have been drafted to hospital, the Battalion is itself again; good spirits prevail, and song and jest are more prominent. —Fred Smith.

I received the parcel from the Comforts Fund and thank you for it very much.  We have had rather a rough time the past few days. Soon after arriving in the trenches it started to rain and didn’t cease all the time we remained in.  It wasn't long before the water reached over the knees, and in places one went up to the waist.  Trenches were falling in as fast as we could repair them.  Some chaps got no sleep all the 4 days.  We were all thankful when the time came to be relieved.  Then came the struggle down the long communication trench.  Stoppages were frequent in order to extricate some unfortunate who had stuck in the mud.  It was without doubt the worst night we have had.  At last we reached the place where motor lorries were waiting to convey us behind.  Even then our troubles were not over, for our driver contrived to land us in ditches.  However nobody was hurt.  We arrived at our billet in a very muddy and exhausted condition indeed.  Hot rum and tea were waiting for us, and we received every attention possible.  We are in a barn at present.  To-day we have had fur coats and leather gloves issued; also a generous supply of soap, cocoa, etc., from the “Courier Fund.”  We are all thankful to you for the efforts you have made on our behalf.  Perhaps nothing sent out here caused more enjoyment than the gramaphones.  They are played night and day. —Herbert B. Gledhill.

Lower Hough House, Stump Cross, Halifax.
Dear Sir, —We have the pleasure of sending you four scarves for our brave soldiers.  We earned the money for the wool by selling small fancy goods.  We also enclose 5s. for the Christmas gift fund, and sincerely hope that you will receive all the money needed for it. —Yours truly, Edna and Bertha Cattell; and Nancy Bolton.

This letter has come from the Girls’ Department,  Tuel-lane School:—Dear Sir, We have collected over 600 candles for the local soldiers this week.  The candles have been made into bundles of three and fours.  We have had many dear delightful letters acknowledging the parkin and toffee which, thanks to your kindness, the soldiers received on Nov. 5.  [Parkin and bonfire toffee are traditional on November 5th, Bonfire Night.] We shall be very glad if you will undertake to send off our candles to the Front along with your other parcels.  Thanking you for your very kindly interest in us. Yours sincerely, Amelia Jones.

[The Courier's Comforts Fund aimed to provide for all the Halifax men in the armed forces.  At this time, many of them were serving together in the local Territorial Battalion and hence reported similar experiences in the trenches. It's noticeable that no casualties, or even fighting, are mentioned in the accounts of their 4 days at the front.]

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