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.)]  

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Comforts for Halifax Lads Abroad.

From the Halifax  Courier, 22nd April 1916.

Our Lads Abroad. 

To-day there are 5,024 on “Courier” Comforts Fund—soldiers at the front, sailors on the sea, prisoners in Germany, and this district's men wounded or invalided.  We refer, of course, apart from the six local regiments (which we deal with in their entirety), to braves whose addresses have been sent us.  There may be some still not receiving, but if we are not informed of them how can we deal with them?

Latterly the classes of comforts asked for have turned in the direction of food or smoking material almost exclusively.  From innumerable officers and men, and letters, we learn that Government now keeps a very sharp eye on every man's outfit, and does him well.  This, for instance, is his kit: — 2 tunics, 2 pairs of trousers, great coat, cap, 2 towels, 3 shirts, 2 pairs of pants, muffler, 2 pairs of boots. 1 pair of shoes, 3 pairs of stockings.  The latter commodity is that which, issues apart, is most in demand, especially in bad weather periods.

The change that has come over the men's needs, therefore, makes our money go further, but we still have not enough of it, or we would send oftener to every man, as well as to every battalion more frequently.  The public should remember that we buy on the most favourable terms, and they can rely upon our judgment, because we know best the needs, through being in constant touch with those at the front.  ....

April 20, 1916. 
To Major A. Ellam,
2nd Duke of Wellington's Regt.
Dear Sir,
In the name of the inhabitants of this neighbourhood, it is a pleasure to advise you of the placing of orders for these goods by the “Halifax Courier” Comforts Fund, in accordance with your letter received on the 18th, in which you asked us to calculate on the basis of 900 men:—
3 cwts, of Fig Roll Biscuits.
2 cwts. of Fruit Biscuits.
3 cwts. of Ginger Snap Biscuits,
1,008 slabs of Chocolate.
900 tablets of Toilet Soap:
864 Shaving Sticks.
936 Writing Pads.
3,000 Cigarettes for the Officers.
33,000 Cigarettes for the Men.
100 lbs. Tobacco for the Men.
240 Pipes for the Men. 
As you were advised, £120 was set apart for this further consignment of comforts for your heroic regiment.  The actual expenditure is £116 11s. 9d., and we have still rail carriage to Southampton to pay.  All the goods have been bought on specially favourable lines.

We are also sending, direct from our office, a collection of socks, shirts, handkerchiefs, mittens, gloves, body belts, —  being the contributions of thoughtful ladies, and one is pleased to note this proof that many loving fingers keep busy upon wearables for the comfort of the braves.  Will you please, as a whole, accept this further contribution in token of this neighbourhood's gratitude to you all, and may God speed you in your undertaking.—Very sincerely yours,

Liberal Club, Greetland, April 19.
Dear Sir, —
We are sending you some cricket tackle for the Lads, and shall be very pleased if it will be of any use to you.  On behalf of the Club, yours, &c.  N. Rayner.

(The gift consists of a bag, 2 bats, ball, wickets and bails, stumping gloves, and a pair of pads.  We heartily thank the givers.)
We have also to thank Mr. Frank Greenwood, Shakespeare hotel, Halifax, for a set of bonzaline billiard balls.  On Tuesday we intimated that a soldier mentioned a table behind the line that could not be used because of want of balls.  Lovers of the game will realise what joy this gift will give.  Our correspondent was Pte. N. Atkin, 1930, Royal Horse Guards, and we shall take steps to secure that the kind donor shall hear direct from those who receive his handsome gift.


['cwt' is the abbreviation for 'hundredweight', 112 pounds or 50.8 kg.  A lot of biscuits.

Sending out the billiard balls, shows how static the Western Front had become.  People at home thought that it was worth sending out the billiard balls to make a billiard table behind the lines usable, because it was expected that there would be British troops based in the area for the foreseeable future.] 

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.]   

'Treating' Wounded Soldiers

From the Brecon & Radnor Express, 13th April 1916.




At Presteign Petty Sessions, on Tuesday in last week, before Mr Whitmore Green-Price (in the chair) and Mr J. H. Wale, the chairman referred to the practice of treating wounded soldiers with drink.  He said there was a voluntary aid hospital at Corton, under the Red Cross Association, and he thought it was generally known that it was an offence, under the Defence of the Realm Acts, to supply intoxicating drink to any soldier who might be there for the time being.  He was sorry to say that the law in this respect had not been kept at Presteign, and there were several cases at the hospital where these soldiers had obtained intoxicating drink and come back to the hospital in a certain state.  He thought it was playing the game very low down for any person to supply this drink.  These poor fellows came back to the hospital, after fighting for their country, and the ladies, who worked day and night and gave up the whole of their time to try and get the men properly cured, while some ill-disposed person, by giving these men drink, undid all the good these ladies did at the hospital.  He felt so strongly on the matter that he should be glad if anyone who saw this practice going on would inform the police, with a view to their being prosecuted.  If any person were brought before them, he should be only too glad to do all he could to make the punishment fit the crime.

Sergt. Higgins said the prohibition of the supplying of drink to these soldiers applied to any person, whether in a private house or a licensed victualler.

The chairman appealed to the public of Presteign to try and assist the police in every possible way in putting a stop to the practice.

['Treating', i.e. buying a drink for another person in a pub, had been outlawed, because of worries over drunkenness reducing productivity.  From this report, it seems that giving alcohol to convalescent soldiers was against the law, wherever it took place.  I imagine that some of the soldiers would have welcomed free drinks, but evidently that was seen by the police and magistrates as a reflection of their weak physical and mental state.]  

Friday, 22 April 2016

American Tea in Huddersfield

From the Huddersfield Daily Examiner, 12th April 1916. 


The American Tea organised by the Huddersfield and District Women's Committee for Soldiers and Sailors, of which the Mayoress (Mrs. Blamires) is the president, held in the Town Hall on Tuesday afternoon, was the largest and most successful of these popular gatherings yet held in the Huddersfield district.  Well over a thousand persons were present and paid for tickets, and in addition donations amounting to about £30 were received.  The balcony and area were quite full.  The proceeds were in aid of the committee’s fund, and it is expected that a good balance will be handed over.  In accordance with the custom at these gatherings each person was requested to bring one article of not less value than 1s., and to buy one article, and brisk business was done at the stalls, at which fruit, flowers, groceries, cakes, and miscellaneous goods were sold.

While the ladies got on with their knitting three hours of good entertainment were enjoyed.  Mrs. Hull's Ladies' Orchestra played an excellent programme of selections.  Private Arthur played two items on the concertina, and had a very enthusiastic reception.  Sergeant Munday and Mr. Ernest Cooper played the accompaniments.  Children's dances were given by Miss Richardson's pupils.  The solo dances were taken by Misses Winnie Sizer, Mollie Richardson, Betty Haigh, and Molly Haigh. An excellent tea was provided.

[I guess that it was an  'American Tea' because of the bring-and-buy element.  The name 'American tea' seems to have disappeared long since, though bring-and-buy sales are still held, and used to be popular fund-raising events, I think - much classier than a jumble sale.] 

Thursday, 21 April 2016

A Missing Soldier

From the Halifax Courier, 8th April 1916.


Mrs. Baines of 23, Leymoor-road, Longwood, has received information that she has been awarded a pension from army funds from April 4 in respect of her husband, L.Cpl. George Baines, aged 29, of the West Yorkshire Regiment.  The notification states: “The change of payment must not be taken as indicating that there is any proof of the death of your husband.”  It was on Sept. 3, 1915, that Mrs. Baines was officially informed that her husband was missing after an engagement, the place and date of which were stated to be unknown.  Since that time she has naturally lived in suspense.  Lance-Corporal Baines enlisted in October, 1914, prior to which he was employed by the Longwood Engineering Co.  He formerly played football with the Parkwood United Methodist Church.  He left England in July last year for the Dardanelles, and his last letter to his wife was dated July 28.  Inquiries made of the American Ambassador brought the reply that the Turkish Foreign Office had no information of L. Cpl. Baines being a prisoner of war in that country.

[I have not written about casualties before, but this account is unusual in focussing on the effect on the family left at home.   

The story does not, of course, have a happy ending. The Commonwealth War Graves website records  Lance Corporal George Baines, aged 29, of the West Yorkshire Regiment, as one of the men killed during the Gallipoli campaign.  His name appears on the Helles Memorial to the nearly 21,000 men of the Commonwealth who died during the campaign and have no known grave.  

I don't know when Mrs Baines was told that he was presumed to be dead. We can only wonder when she stopped hoping to hear that he was still alive.]    

A Y.M.C.A. Hut at the Front

From the Halifax Courier, 8th April 1916.


Dear Sir,—It is not unknown to Halifax friends that my son, Rev. A. C. Lawson; M.A., is in charge of a Y.M.C.A. hut "somewhere in France."  He has the distinction of being located "the nearest to the Germans" of any of the huts along our front.  Through the kindness of a returned fellow-worker, I know he is "in the thick of it."  His hut is as near to our artillery as the Halifax Town Hall is to the Technical School, and as near to the trenches as the Town Hall is to the West End Park.  In consequence, when men are released from their "shifts" they rush to his hut where, with his three orderlies, he supplies their first longings to write home in comfort, or to lean on a counter and demand attention.  You can guess the extent to which they crowd the place (it is a barn) when I mention that he takes on the average 700 francs a day in small sums.  One day, running short of small change, he lit a taper, and under the counter found five francs' worth of small coin, dropped by hands fumbling from cold.  He gets his share of enemy shells, escaping in hotter moments to an underground part.  He is in the midst of Halifax men, and gets their free speech, which he likes, being a Halifax man himself.  If he can't serve a clamatory customer just at the moment, the next demand may reach him thus: "Come on, Halifax."  Some good man of your town, unknown to me, has supplied him with a brazier, which is of great service.

He has written me several times expressing a wish for a gramophone and some mouth organs.  Will your readers reflect what a gramophone and records might mean to their sons and brothers out there?  I have not seen a way to supply him until this morning when, at the end of four refreshing days in Halifax, a good lady of your town urged me to appeal, through you, to your marvellous "Fund for Soldiers' Comforts."  If you could kindly insert this in your Fund column, and let it go forth as an appeal for Halifax lads at the front, with the hope that some reader would communicate with you and say: "Here's the gramophone, and here are the records," and if you would kindly insert their dispatch to him in your excellent operations, he would say again, as of the giver of the brazier:  "There are, I find, plenty of good Halifax people besides those we know."  I must not quote at length, however tempting, his many references to those he meets and serves.  But there is one sentence: "The boys are a treat to work for, and I could not wish to meet better fellows.  The two-and-ninepennies will have to be a good lot to beat them."

My long connection with Ovenden Congregational Church, and my son's close connection with your brave lads, is my ground of appeal to your Fund and the well-proved loyalty of Halifax.—I am, yours sincerely,
Boston Spa. April 6.
[Offers should only be addressed please to the. Fund Manager, Courier Office].

[I have no idea what the "two-and-ninepennies". were.  Any ideas?]  

New Y.M.C.A. Hut at Huddersfield Military Hospital

From the Huddersfield Daily Examiner, 7th April 1916.



Since the Huddersfield Military Hospital was opened six months ago the need has been felt for some place in which the wounded soldiers could entertain or be entertained by their friends, or in which the men could spend a quiet hour in reading or writing.  Up to the present the soldiers' relatives or friends have had to visit the men in the wards, and it is felt that this is inconvenient and undesirable.  In consequence of the efforts of the members of the Y.M.C.A. that practice will henceforth be discontinued.

The surplus funds which remained after the building of the Y.M.C.A. “Huddersfield Hut" at Le Havre (France) have been devoted to the building of a Y.M.C.A. hut in the grounds at Royds Hall.  The hut was opened this afternoon.  It consists of a large refreshment room, and a writing room in which the men can deal with their correspondence.  The borough engineer, Mr. K. F. Campbell, designed the hut, and the contractors were Messrs. H. Hollingworth and Sons.  The cost will be about £500, of which about £400 was the surplus from the funds of the larger undertaking.  The refreshment room is furnished with tables and chairs, but the Y.M.C.A. officials would be glad to receive gifts from friends of couches, sofas, and basket armchairs for the greater comfort of the men. The catering arrangements will be carried out by voluntary helpers under the direction of the Y.M.C.A. Ladies’ Auxiliary.

[Royds Hall, a Victorian mansion,  had been bought by Huddersfield Corporation before the war.  It was operated as a military hospital by the British Red Cross; after the war, it became (and still is) a secondary school.] 

Women Spinners Brought to Huddersfield

From the Huddersfield Daily Examiner, 7th April 1916.




The dearth of labour in the textile trade of the Huddersfield and Colne Valley districts is to be made good by the introduction of a large number of women from East Coast and East Midland towns.  The first batch of these women arrived in the district to-day, and the importation will proceed as rapidly as the new operatives can be absorbed to the industry and lodging or housing accommodation provided for them.

It was high time some action on these lines was taken, for the scarcity of male labour had become intensified, and a large amount of machinery in the trade is idle.  It is estimated that about 8,000 men from the Huddersfield district are now serving with the forces.  Of that number probably about 5,000 were engaged in the woollen and worsted cloth industries.  Until recently, by resorting to various expedients, the depleted ranks were filled up, but the problem has now become acute, and it is no longer possible to carry on the industry with anything like efficiency without making an extensive demand upon female labour.  Important Government contracts for army goods are at present being seriously delayed by the lack of skilled labour.

The revised list of certified occupations has not improved matters; indeed, so many occupations in the textile industry are now unstarred that it is inevitable that in the near future further large numbers of men engaged in the woollen and worsted mills will be called up for military service.  One effect of the changes which have been made is that very shortly 600 men will be taken out of the spinning department, a department which has been more severely hit than any other by the withdrawal of men.  So inadequate is the staffing of spinning machinery at present that there is a great shortage in yarn, a circumstance which is responsible for keeping a large number of looms idle.

It is in the spinning department that the women now being imported are to be engaged.  They will take the places of the 600 men as the latter are called up or transferred to departments in which heavy manual labour is involved and in which the services of women can not very well be utilised.  In the Huddersfield district women have somewhat singularly held aloof from piecing and spinning; way, it is difficult to say, because it is work which they can do, and in other districts mules are run almost entirely by women.  It is obvious that some time must elapse before the re-organisation of the industry can be carried out on the lines indicated, but arrangements have been made with the authorities whereby it is believed that this will be successfully accomplished and without undue interference or hardship.

The employers can count upon the support of the Home Office and the Board of Trade, for only recently Mr. Herbert Samuel (the Home Secretary) and Mr. Walter Runciman (President of the Board of Trade) issued an appeal to employers, in which they stated that there was only one source from which the shortage of Labour could be made good, and that was the great body of women who are at present unoccupied or engaged only in work not of an essential character.

Proper safeguards for the future have been provided, an agreement between employers and workpeople having been entered into.  The agreement provides that substitutions of men by women are temporary, and that those men who have joined the forces shall be entitled to be reinstated in their former employments if and when they return fit for resuming them; men thus reinstated to receive the rates of wages to which they would have been entitled had they remained in continuous employment.  The provisions as to wages are:—That where women are employed to take the place of men the rate of wages for such women shall be (a) If at piece-rates the same as for men, unless women's rates are already established for that class of work, provided no woman shall receive less than the district rate for women. (b) If at time rates for day-time work, and one or more women replace an equal number of men, they shall be paid the same rate of wages now being paid to males for an equivalent quantity of work, and in any case not less than four-fifths of the rate preciously paid to the men they replace. (c) If at time rates for day-time work, and a larger number of women are required to replace a smaller number of men, the aggregate wages paid to the women shall not be less than the aggregate wages paid to the men they replace, and in no case shall the wage paid to an individual woman be less than four-fifths of the wage previously paid to the man replaced.

The women who are coming into the trade are from Harrogate, Scarborough, Bridlington, Goole, Grimsby, Hull, Mansfield, and other towns.  A local Advisory Committee has been set up, but it is likely that considerable difficulty will arise in finding lodgings and housing accommodation for the new arrivals.  On the other hand, few families are now complete, and the room which is available should, wherever possible, be utilised.  Those who can find lodgings for the women now arriving will be performing a national service.

[Conscription, initially only of single men, but soon extended to married men, had been introduced in March 1916.  Some occupations were exempt form conscription, or 'starred', hence the reference to occupations becoming 'unstarred', and the predicted shortage of men in the textile trades. It's interesting that the Examiner says that the shortage of labour in Huddersfield to operate the spinning mules was entirely due to local custom and practice, and in other areas women were already doing that work before the war. ]

Women Customs Watchers

From the Daily Record, 3rd April 1916


The war with the introduction of so much female labour has brought about some surprising changes in the Civil Service, and for the first time in the history of the Customs women are about to wear the Customs uniform.

The authorities, with the sanction of the Treasury, have decided to employ women as temporary Customs watchers, positions hitherto mainly reserved for ex-soldiers and sailors and retired policemen.  The duties of these officials are simple, consisting, as the name indicates, in watching over dutiable articles and locking and unlocking bonded warehouses.

The exact nature of the women’s uniform has not yet been settled, but it will be something resembling that of the Customs officials, with caps and armlets added.

[Sounds like a really cushy job.  And what were the retired soldiers, sailors and policemen going to be doing instead, I wonder?].

A Short Intermission

You may have seen on my other blog, here, that I broke both my wrists, and a kneecap, on 4th April.  So I haven't managed to post anything to this blog since then, although I had some material already prepared.  There will now be a flurry of posts to catch up, and then hopefully I shall be able to keep more or less up to date (100 years ago, of course).

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.]

Wednesday, 30 March 2016


From The Times, 29th March 1916.


Sir,-I began this letter to beg space to say that now the warm weather is upon us the season for sweaters had better come to an end--but was obliged to stop to clear my chimney of snow.  Still, these returns to winter cannot be more than transient, and so far (and so far only) as this small venture is concerned, kind knitters will be well advised to store their comforts till the autumn.  I ventured on this date last year to suggest that the knitting habit should not allowed to lie down.  I can foretell nor war nor weather, but again make the easy prophecy that anyone with a good store of sweaters in the autumn of this year will find a use for them.  It may be said that the trifling 18,000 your readers have sent me (17,787 - 13,191 other comforts, to be precise) won't go far in an Army counted by millions in three continents and a Navy omnipresent as the sea itself.  But they have, I am told, stopped a few gaps, through which the wind has whistled shrilly, in equipment probably without parallel.  Financially, the undertaking, owing to the kind help given; has been no burden whatever.

 A little venture of this sort is never long without its humours.  May I protest, with all the emphasis I can, that it is the field-glasses which go back to Lady Roberts at the end of the war and not the sweaters to me?  Also, will the lady in the train who charged me, not without asperity, "to send those things (the sweaters I was carrying home) to Mr. Pergamoid who writes for them to the papers" believe that they did get to the right place?  Sic exeunt iterum sweaters.   I carry off, for my guerdon the pleasantest recollection of the gibes, criticism, and kindness of countless unknown civilian friends, and, yet more highly prized, a bale of annotated receipts from all ranks of the Army.

Yours faithfully,
8, Kings Bench-walk, Inner Temple, E.C., Mar. 28.

[The latest appeal from John Penoyre for sweaters.  The previous one appeared in January.   He was also involved in an appeal for field-glasses, headed by Lady Roberts.  Field glasses (i.e. binoculars) for officers were in short supply, and officers had to provided their own.  The appeal asked the families of killed or wounded officers to lend their relative's field-glasses to the appeal for the duration of the war. 

As usual with John Penoyre's letters, some of the language is  obscure.  Google Translate turns the Latin into "So the sweaters go". "Guerdon" means "reward".]

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Parcels to the Front and Prisoners of War

From the Falkirk Herald, 25th March 1916.


It is gratifying to know that the scheme for the dispatch of parcels to our soldiers, under the supervision of the Falkirk and District Choral Union, has been largely taken advantage of this week.  The number of parcels handled was 166 (double the number of last week), and the combined weight was over half a ton.  These were despatched in 48 sacks to the various units.  The saving in postages to the senders amounts to £8 10s, and this alone ought to encourage those sending to their friends to take full advantage of the scheme.  Work parties are specially invited to send their parcels.


The committee of the East Stirlingshire Prisoners of War Fund are in the habit of sending supplies of socks to the prisoners of war in Germany belonging to East Stirlingshire.  Many people have given their services voluntarily in knitting these socks with supplies of wool furnished by the committee, and as a further quantity of socks will be required immediately, the hon. secretary, Mr Wm. J. Gibson, 96 West Bridge Street, Falkirk, will be glad to have the names and addresses of those who will be willing to help in this way. 

[Two examples of the activities going on around the country to support their local men.  I like all the statistics in the first one - they did like to quote precise figures for everything.  Many of the parcels would have been sent by friends and family to individual men, but the encouragement for work parties to send out their parcels by the same route suggests that Sir Edward Ward was not making much headway in Falkirk.  His plan was that comforts should be sent to a central depot and then distributed as needed, so that sending out parcels directly to units at the Front should not have been necessary.]    

Monday, 28 March 2016

A Work Party for Hospital Dressings

From the Aberdeen Express, 24th March 1916.



Towards the end of last year Miss Nicol, Roscobie, resolved to start a work party for making hospital dressings in affiliation with the Aberdeen depot for such work.  The idea was taken up with enthusiasm by a number of ladies and the money to provide the materials came in freely.

This work party has received a certificate of recognition, granted by the War Office, as from the 23rd February.  The workers have met twice a week at Roscobie, and the result up to the beginning of March is that 6690 articles, including splints, bandages, swabs, pneumonia jackets, and pillows have been sent to the Aberdeen depot.  Special consignments were sent to Dr Eden Brand, Banchory, who is with the 1st Highland Field Ambulance in France.

[I think that the 'certificate of recognition' from the War Office is part of Sir Edward Ward's scheme to co-ordinate the efforts of work parties.  There is no mention of the Red Cross, so presumably the 'Aberdeen depot' was supplying military hospitals and medical units run by the War Office.] 

Sunday, 27 March 2016

The Need for Socks

From the Chelmsford Chronicle, 24th March 1916.


The Hon. Mrs. Alwyne Greville, writing from the Essex County Red Cross and Essex Regt. Comfort Fund Depôt, 84 High Street, Chelmsford, says that last month over 1,300 pairs of socks were sent out to the Front, and now she is requiring urgently 2,000 pairs for the 10th Batt., the 1/5th Essex, and the Divisional Ammunition Column.  Any socks sent to the above address will be most gratefully accepted.

From the Burnley News, 25th March 1916.


Several letters from members of the Accrington and Burnley Howitzer Brigade have been received this week, stating that as they wrote one of their batteries was going into action.  One of the writers states that the "Howitzer" men are badly in need of socks, and that there is scarcely a good pair of socks left in the whole brigade.  It is surely only necessary to mention this need, to secure that they receive all they want.  It is one of the glories of the war that our women folk of all ages have never wearied in making comforts for the boys fighting our battles.  

[These appeals for socks - and an earlier appeal published a few days previously in the Western Times - suggest that the need for socks was genuine, and not being catered for by the War Office.  Sir Edward Ward, who had been in charge of co-ordinating the supply of 'comforts' since October, doesn't seem to have caught up yet with it.]  

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Make work on the Land Fashionable

From the Brecon & Radnor Express, 23rd March 1916.


We notice that the War Agricultural Committees of Breconshire and Radnorshire have had under consideration the question of meeting the shortage of labour on the farms.  Particularly has the question of the employment of women claimed attention, and a scheme, mentioned in our columns some weeks ago, has been adopted.  We hope the movement will be thoroughly encouraged and whole-heartedly supported, for, this and co-operation, appears to us to be the most practicable means so far devised of meeting what is, undoubtedly, a very serious difficulty.

We note in the minds of some members of the committees a dubiety as to the success of the scheme.  This is only to be expected since the conditions of farming in Wales are very different to England.  Labour-saving machinery cannot be used to anything like the extent it is on the lighter soils of the wider plains across the border, whilst the size of the farm staffs—which in Wales are comparatively small—affords greater scope for the employment of women.  As we have previously said, the ordinary Welsh farmer in normal times engages only a small staff—in many cases a man or two, who in almost every instance will be found “skilled” men, and without which no farm of any pretension can very well be carried on.  The call of the Army is hitting farmers generally pretty hard, so far as labour goes, and they would do well to give every support to the scheme now adopted.

This is to enlist as many women as possible to help with farm work.  A Women's Committee, co-operating with the War Agricultural Committee, is appointed, and a canvass will be made in all the villages.  Meetings, to explain the scheme, will be held and addressed by women organisers who are specially versed in farm work.  Whatever prejudices farmers may, or may not have had against women labour must go by the board.  That the farms should be maintained and produce increased is the nation's interest and this after all, let it be remembered, is the first and last consideration at the present time.  Furthermore, a fair wage must be paid, for perhaps it was a shortcoming in this respect that helped to “send out the fashion.”

Farmers move slowly.  Lord Selborne told a deputation last week that they were warned last August that this “pinch” was coming, but they did absolutely nothing to meet it.  They made no efforts, he said, to train women.  They sat still.  According to Mr Bache they are evidently moving in Cardiganshire, for he tells us that he saw scores of women doing the work usually done by men on the farms in that county.  We have no doubt a lot of such work is now being done by farmers' wives and daughters in Breconshire and Radnorshire, but we agree with Mr W. S. Miller that more might be done by women.  Mr Miller thinks that it is largely a matter of “a false sentiment having got into people's heads that there is something degrading in field work.”  Mr Miller is not usually given to unconsidered views, and we may be sure that he has good ground for making the statement.  To what is the “false sentiment” due?  Here is a new subject for controversy in our correspondence column.  This is not the time nor the hour for false sentiment.  We feel sure it is only necessary to remind our women that their help on the land is needed to carry us through to victory to find a response equal to that already found in other branches of our country's business in which women are doing useful and efficient service.  Let work on the land be made the fashion by all means.

[This was a commentary article in the paper.  The overall tone seems to suggest that the problem is that women don't want to work on the land, so it needs to be made 'fashionable'.  The article also mentions some other relevant factors — that women land-workers were not paid a fair wage, that farmers were prejudiced against women workers, that the farmers had done nothing to train women — but the only action proposed is aimed at the women, and not the farmers.]     

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Women And House-Planning

From the Brecon & Radnor Express, 23rd March 1916.


Sir,—The South Wales Garden Cities and Town-Planning Association is conducting an inquiry into the planning and internal arrangement of dwellings from the women's point of view.  It is proposed, by personal inquiry amongst women all over the South Wales coalfield, to ascertain what are regarded by women as the principal faults of house-planning, and, also, to receive suggestions as to constructional materials and arrangements, the use of which would tend to reduce household labour.  In addition, various subjects relating to the improvement of home-life will be investigated—for example, co-operative house-keeping, hostels for single men, etc.  The results of the inquiry will be embodied in a report and published.

An Advisory Committee of women is being formed to assist in the inquiry, and a meeting of this committee will be held at the City Hall, Cardiff, on Saturday, April 1st.  I shall be glad to receive the names and addresses of women's organisations, or of individual women who will co-operate with the association in this inquiry, and to send them invitations to attend the meeting.

Yours, etc., EDGAR L. CHAPPELL
(Secretary, South Wales Garden Cities and Town-Planning Association).
18, Queen Street. Cardiff.
March 10th, 1916.

[It seems very enlightened for the time to think of asking women what they needed in the design of houses. Edgar Chappell was evidently a significant figure in South Wales - see here for an outline of his career.]

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Socks needed

From the Western Times, 18th March 1916.


More Supplies Wanted for the Devon Battalions


Will working parties and private helpers kindly note that the supply of socks at the Mayoress of Exeter's Depot has entirely run out?  Many bales of socks have lately been sent to the fighting fronts for Devonians, especially to the Devon Regiment Battalions, and letters of thanks from officers, which from time to time have been quoted in these columns have shown how much these woollens have been appreciated.  Socks, in fact, are welcomed at the Front more than all other articles of clothing.  Any man back from the trenches will tell one that.  It is essential therefore that the Depot's stock should replenished as soon as possible.

Here is a letter received yesterday from the respected and popular Exonian, Capt. G. D. Roberts, of the 8th Devons:
On our return from the trenches on --, I received your parcel containing the boxing gloves, four footballs and slippers.  They will all be most acceptable.  The boxing gloves have already been used, and I hope the footballs will be soon, when we get a little further back; at present we are too close to the guns to be able to indulge in such luxuries as a game of football.  I am putting the slippers on one side, and will issue them as required to men with sore or frost-bitten feet, to whom they will prove a God-send.  Thank you again very much indeed.  All the men of "D" Company join me in this expression of thanks.
[A surprising mixture of comforts.  I imagine that Captain Roberts had asked for the boxing gloves, footballs and slippers - it would have been very odd to send such a collection of things unsolicited.] 

Sunday, 20 March 2016

The War Economy: One Meat Meal a Day

From the Surrey Mirror, 17th March 1916.



Many housewives in their patriotic efforts to put into practice the recommendation of the War Savings Committee and indulge in only one meat meal per day, are finding themselves confronted by a serious difficulty.  It appears that the average servant cannot, or will not, make vegetable dishes interesting and palatable, either because she does not consider them a "really respectable meal," and has a personal liking for meat two or even three times a day, or because the "plain cook" likes plain dishes, which, as she understands them, mean dishes that require practically no trouble and little skill in the preparation, for example, a chop or a steak, but not a vegetarian entree or stew.  Breadcrumbs, once a year, at Christmas, she will make if the whole house stands still for the exciting adventure; but economical dishes requiring the daily making of breadcrumbs are anathema.  The plain joint and the plain boiled potato generally meet all her ideas and ideals, so far, at least, as the main course goes.

It will not do, however.  British prejudice in the matter of food is bound to be broken on the wheel of circumstance; there must come a radical change in our national diet, and in the transition stage the willing co-operation of our servants is essential.  Otherwise the home where the food revolution is likely to be effected with least trouble will be the maidless one.  The cook who is worth her salt, however, will soon discover that, although meatless dishes certainly require long and careful cooking, and with an old-fashioned and unreliable coal range are troublesome to prepare, with a dependable, easily-regulated, dirt and labour-saving gas cooker, especially if this invaluable kitchen adjunct be supplemented by a "hay-box," which economises in trouble and fuel, such difficulties quite disappear.

All sorts of pleasing meatless dishes can be prepared at very little cost by the enterprising cook.  Let me give a few examples here:—

Maccaroni and Apples.—Boil 4 ozs. thin maccaroni in boiling milk with 2 ozs. sugar, the grated rind of a lemon and a teaspoonful of powdered cinnamon.  Drain and put round a dish.  Have ready six stewed apples, cut into halves and quarters, heap in centre of dish and pour custard over.  
A nourishing soup, made from bones and scraps and eaten with plenty of "whole-meal" bread, combines with this dish to make a very good "meatless meal," as distinct from a strictly vegetarian diet.  Be it always remembered that the Government is preaching not vegetarianism, but economy in the use of meat, a fundamental fact housewives seem not yet fully to appreciate. Maccaroni, which forms the basis of a number of savoury dishes, to be a success must be thrown into boiling water, and directly it comes to the boil again moved on to the simmering burner, where it will take 25-35 minutes to cook.  If it is hot, but "off the boil," it will not spoil if left in the hay-box for an hour or more.

Colcannon is a useful dish for "using-up" purposes.  Take equal quantities of cold boiled potatoes and cold boiled cabbage.  Mash the potatoes, chop the cabbage, and mix both together; then place them in a frying-pan with some dripping.  Season and stir over the gas until the vegetables are hot and slightly browned.  Put the mixture into a greased pie-dish and bake for about half-an-hour.  Bits of bacon finely chopped or any other left-over meat add flavour to the dish.

Leftover potatoes are an ingredient of another useful dish, Lentil Sausages.  Boil 1lb. Egyptian lentils for about half-an-hour just covered with water, mash them when soft, add the mashed potatoes, and some chopped fried onions, and mix well.  Form into sausages, dip into white of egg or milk and fry.

Slices of stale bread and butter can be used to make the following Bread and Cheese Savoury.  Lay slices of buttered bread in a pie-dish with grated or sliced cheese (about 6ozs.) in between.  Beat up an egg in half-a-pint of milk, pour over the bread, and bake about an hour in a gas oven.

Sameness in a meatless diet must be avoided or disaster will follow; but it is wonderful what changes can be rung by flavouring vegetable food with any remains of meat, fish, or gravy that happens to be handy.  John Bull cannot be expected to become a pure vegetarian, nor is it desirable that he should.

The need for keeping bones and scraps for making stock is a truism among housewives; but it must be pointed out that soup is no longer to be looked upon as a kind of appetiser, but rather as an important item in the dietary.  It becomes a really nourishing food by the addition of thickenings, such as flour, oatmeal, rice, barley, potatoes, and bread, to meat and vegetable boilings from beans and peas, etc.  Forced meat balls or grated cheese enhance the flavour of soup; while where there are hungry children “baby dumplings" are a satisfying adjunct.  Soup of this nourishing nature is very useful, as we have seen, for the meat-less meal.

When this meatless meal should be taken is still a matter of debate.  A light lunch is perhaps the ideal; but for children the principal meal must be the mid-day one, and so to avoid two sets of heavy cooking the evening meal should be light.  Dishes of the kind suggested can be prepared when the bulk of the cooking is being done and re-heated later; while the hay-box comes in very well here.  If, then, the rule is that the meatless meal comes at night for the children's sake, the man of the family may have to go to a restaurant for a substantial mid-day dinner; but this will be cheaper than cooking two big meals at home--cheaper in fuel, food materials, time and energy.

[It surprised me to realise that for middle-class households, war-time economy in food at this point just meant having one meal a day without meat.  Breakfast was presumably the 'full English' breakfast, with bacon, egg, sausages, and so on (which now hardly exists outside hotels, restaurants and similar businesses).  And many people apparently had meat at two further meals in the day as well. 
The first paragraph shows that "servant problems" evidently cropped up in all sorts of ways - here, the cook not seeing eye-to-eye with her employer over reducing the consumption of meat.   Perhaps having servants to do all the hard work in a house wasn't as easy as it sounds.]

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Gifts to the Penoyre Red Cross Hospital

From the Brecon & Radnor Express, 23rd March 1916.


Sir,—We wish to thank very gratefully the following kind friends for gifts sent to the Hospital:-- Sheets, pillows and bolster cases, and towels, from Cefn Ladies' Working Party, sent by Miss Violet Jones, Cilsanws; scarves sent by the Misses Jones; eggs and apples from Mrs Jones, Tyfry, Llanfrynach; eggs from Mrs Cole-Hamilton, Llangattock Rectory; vegetables, Mrs Garnons Williams; eggs and vegetables, Cantref Parish, Mrs Saunders Jones; eggs, Mrs D. Williams; eggs, Mrs Davies, Groes; bread, eggs, jam, books, Miss Vaughan; potatoes, Mr D. Phillips; chicken, Mrs Vaughan; two chickens, Mrs T. Jones, Llwyncelyn; eggs and jam, Mrs Price Jones; milk and apples, Miss Griffith, Battle End; milk and eggs, Miss Morgan, Ynismoch; eggs, Miss Davies, Cwmwysg, collected in Sennybridge and Aberyskir district; eggs, Corporal Evanson; apples, 1½ lbs. butter, eggs, collected in the market by Miss Best.

Chickens are the greatest help for the sick and we are extra grateful to our friends who send them.

Mrs Graham Clarke very kindly came up and sang for us on Friday, and the patients and staff think it was very kind of her and Lady Pelly to come up on such an arctic day.

Yours, &c.,
March 13th.

[I partly included this letter because I had wondered what had happened to Miss deWinton, last heard of in February 1915, asking for socks to be knitted for the Brecon War Clothing Depot.  Being in charge of a hospital looks like a step up.  It seems that the hospital was having  to rely on charity to supply all the food for the patients, as well as medical supplies, perhaps, although it was presumably treating sick or wounded soldiers, and so I would have expected that it would get support from the War Office.] 

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Don't Forget Pears' Soap

From the Halifax Courier, 11th March 1916.

Text: Tommy's Postscript

The Censor always allows the postscript which so many letters from the Front now contain:--

 P.S. Don't forget more Pears' Soap in your next parcel.

Pears' Soap thoroughly cleanses and refreshes the skin and gives a feeling of exhilaration.

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Extravagance in Dress

From the Halifax Courier, 11th March 1916.



The National Organising Committee for War Savings has already drawn attention to the use of motor cars for pleasure and to wasteful domestic establishments.  It now wishes to appeal against extravagance in women's dress.  Many women have already recognised that elaboration and variety in dress is bad form in the present crisis, but there is still a large section of the community, both amongst the rich and amongst the less well-to-do, who appear to make little or no difference in their habits.  New clothes should only be bought when absolutely necessary, and these should be durable and suitable for all occasions.  Luxurious forms of, for example, hats, boots, shoes, stockings, gloves, and veils should be avoided.  It is essential not only that money should be saved, but that labour employed in the clothing trades should be set free.  Moreover, expenditure on dress deferred till peace has been secured will serve a useful purpose during the time of trade dislocation which must follow.

[I don't know how successful these exhortations to avoid spending were.  In the Second World War, clothes were rationed, and styles were controlled to avoid waste of fabric - that suggests that just relying on patriotic feeling to avoid extravagance hadn't been entirely successful.]    

Friday, 11 March 2016

Women Working in Machine Shops

From the Halifax Courier, 11th March 1916.

Women in Machine Shops.

In a large number of factories, all the operations in the manufacture of the 18-pounder high explosive shell are being performed by women, each lathe controlled by one woman is so provided with stops and automatic cut-offs for diameter and length that the operation becomes almost automatic and one almost impossible to go wrong.  Hundreds (says Cassier's Magazine) are working in general engineering shops where centre-lathes are employed, with very little repetition, and, in addition, women are being employed on planing, shaping, grinding, milling, drilling, keyway cutting and on capstan lathes and a host of other machine operations.  In aircraft construction women are brazing and welding and covering aircraft wings, etc.

[I don't know whether the Halifax Courier in 1916 expected its readers to be familiar with engineering terms (a lot more familiar than I am - I had never met the word 'keyway' before).  Halifax was manufacturing town, but I think it was mainly such things as carpets and toffee rather than heavy engineering.  Or perhaps this was just intended to convey an impression of women doing complicated stuff.] 

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Women’s War Work in Huddersfield

From the Huddersfield Daily Examiner, 10th March 1916.



We are requested by the Mayoress of Huddersfield to give publicity to the details of the work done by the Ladies’ Committee for Soldiers and Sailors.  In the first monthly report since the reconstruction of the work the committee express indebtedness to the Mayor and Corporation for so kindly placing the furnished premises, 23, Ramsden Street, at their disposal.  With the exception of such minor expenses as stationery, postage, cleaning, and carriage on goods all the money subscribed goes directly to providing “necessary comforts” for soldiers and sailors.  During the past eighteen months 145,297 articles have been sent away in 626 consignments and 248 parcels to individuals.  It was a gratifying fact that only two consignments had been lost--one through theft and another through the carelessness of depot authorities in France.  Through the generosity of manufacturers in gifts of cloth they had been able to make 1,564 dressing gowns and 3,614 blankets, worth altogether £3,371.  Dressing gowns were now a special feature of the work, and none of the other goods sent out had brought forth quite so much unqualified praise as these had done.  Living amidst the cloth mills they looked upon this branch of the work as their special mission, and they would welcome any further gifts of cloth.  During the three months they had been affiliated with the Central Organisation in London 7,732 articles had been requisitioned from the Huddersfield depot.  Speaking of the difficulty experienced in delivering parcels, the committee cannot sufficiently thank Miss Sykes for having done this work.  As Miss Sykes could not continue it the Boy Scouts had willingly come to their assistance.  A recent emergency call from Clipstone Camp for “bomb bags” was answered by the despatch of 3,378 bags within five days.


In conclusion the Mayoress, in a communication to the people of Huddersfield, says: — “I feel it is only due to you who give so freely and work so hard for our fund that you should be informed from time to time of the progress of our work, and I cannot do better than quote extracts from the hon. secretary's last report given at the meeting in the Mayor's Reception Room on March 2nd.  (Then are given the details summarised above.)  These details will suffice to show you that after eighteen months our work still goes on with unabated enthusiasm, and I once more make an urgent appeal, not only for funds to carry out the work, but for personal service.  In conclusion may I emphasise the great demand for socks.  The need is now.  Every woman in our midst can knit, and we cannot in justice to ourselves and to the men at the front, whether they are our men or those of our brave Allies, turn a deaf ear or even a dilatory ear to their appeals.”

["Necessary comforts" is an odd phrase, though I have often thought that the things provided to men at the front as comforts sound more like necessities, and perhaps the Mayoress thought that too. 
People giving this kind of report on work done during the war did love to give precise counts of everything. 145,297 articles is an impressive total, though I doubt if that figure is accurate to the last bandage.  
I have no idea what bomb bags were - Clipstone Camp was a very large Army training camp near Mansfield.
A lot of similar reports and appeals from 'comforts' groups about this time were stressing the need for socks - although as far as I know, Sir Edward Ward was not asking for them officially.]   

Sunday, 28 February 2016

War Names for Babies

From the Halifax Courier, 26th February 1916. 

War Names for Babies. 

The war name fever shows no signs of abatement.  At Liverpool three infant girls were christened "Dardanella" on the same day; in the Potteries an unhappy baby was burdened with the name of "Suvla Gallipoli," and a Glasgow boy will go through life as "Charleroi McVittie."

[I met someone recently who told me of a baby born during the war (I think it was his father or his uncle) who had been named John Ypres.  When the mother wrote to her husband in France to tell him of the birth, he wrote back saying "Call him John. Ypres."   She was supposed to notice the full stop and realise that he was trying to tell her where he was, and get the information past the censor, but she misunderstood.  So he went through life saddled with a name that many British people can't pronounce - during the war, the British soldiers called the town "Wipers".]      

Saturday, 27 February 2016

Useful Work By Halifax Automobile Club

From the Halifax Courier, 26th February 1916.



The annual meeting was held at the White Swan Hotel.  Commenting upon the balance sheet, the President remarked they would notice that the balance in hand was £16 less than last year.  This, however, was accounted for by the fact that about £60 had been paid out for the equipment of the motor ambulances.  Besides this, the generosity of members had provided medical outfits for the 10 cars which formed our section of the voluntary aid transport scheme, which was provided to assist the army in the event of any North Sea battle, or raid upon the East Coast.  The motor ambulances which had been presented to the town, they would be pleased to know, had done very good work, and was one of the best efforts the club had done for the town.

Attention was drawn to the good work done by Mr: F. Bentley in meeting, every Sunday morning, the night trains from London arriving in Bradford, and conveying the soldiers travelling by them, to their homes in Halifax, thus obviating a five hours' wait in Bradford before the Sunday morning trains commenced running.

Acknowledgment was made of the grand help rendered by the Huddersfield Club, and the private motor ambulance from Todmorden, in coming to our aid when trains of wounded soldiers had arrived in the town.  Arrangements had been made for Huddersfield to help Halifax, and vice versa.  Fears had been expressed, however, that should wounded arrive at both towns simultaneously, much delay might occur.  To obviate this the club had induced Messrs. Mackintosh and Co, Ltd., the Economic Stores, Ltd., and Mr. Wainwright, confectioner, to have their vans fitted up as ambulances.  These will provide 10 stretchers extra, thus making, apart from any horse ambulances, 14 stretchers with which it is felt, they would be able to cope with any trains that might arrive in the town.

.... Dr. Hughes, Danecourt, who is abroad with the Army, the esteemed treasurer of the club, and other members who are with the Army, remain honorary members during the continuance of the war.  Much satisfaction was expressed that so many officers and members of the club were holding responsible positions in the Army.

[Nothing to do with what women were doing (or at least women are not mentioned) but I have included this because it illustrates the range of voluntary work that was going on all over the country. 

Mackintosh's made toffee in Halifax.  The company merged with Rowntree's, to form Rowntree-Mackintosh in 1969, and were eventually taken over by Nestlé.]   

Friday, 26 February 2016

Protests at Low Wages for Making Uniforms

From the Huddersfield Examiner, 24th February, 1916.



The terms upon which the Government have let the new khaki contracts were the subject of protest at a meeting of Leeds Trades Council last night.

Miss Quinn, on behalf of the Shop Stewards, said that during the boom last year the Government offered all contracts on a flat rate, and it was said at the time that that arrangement paid the Government thousands of pounds.  The recent contracts, however, had been let by tender.  The result was that women workers were being sweated.  Wages had dropped by one-half.  A tunic for which 1s. 6d. was paid a year ago was now down at 1s., and in some cases 10d.  Regulation trousers had changed from 7s. to 4s. 6d.  It was nothing short of a public scandal.  The contracts were certainly covered by a fair wages clause, but the only clause existing was a minimum of 3½d. per hour, which no one could say was a fair wage to-day.

Miss Holmes quoted a case where the wages had dropped 75 per cent., but here the women refused to continue work, and they got all the rates advanced to the old prices in one section.  She did not blame the Government altogether.  There was a basis below which the Government would not go, and the contracts were not so low as such manufacturers would have the workers believe.  The Trade Board rate of 3½d. was not a living wage, and some employers were paying even less than that.

A resolution of protest was carried unanimously.

[Again, this shows that women workers did not always earn higher wages during the war that they had done previously - an earlier post said that some women munitions workers were also badly paid.]   

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Organising Comforts in Denbighshire

From the Denbighshire Free Press, 19th February 1916.


This Association has now work parties under official War Office recognition working in every district of Denbighshire.  Several War Office requisitions have lately been received and executed.  Since the beginning of the year alone over 2300 mufflers and 1100 pairs of mittens have been made and sent out to the troops in France.  They reach the troops promptly, and every consignment has been safely received and acknowledged.  Letters have been received from some of the men who received them expressing their warm gratitude.  It must be remembered that these comforts all go to the men who really need them - men who either because they are separated from their units by the exigencies of duty or because they have no special friend to send them things are without the comforts that some regiments have a superfluity of.  Depots for the sale of wool at wholesale prices and for the collection of comforts have been established at Ruthin, Wrexham, Denbigh, and Colwyn Bay.  The Denbigh depot is open at the Drill Hall, Denbigh, every Saturday, from 2 to 4 p.m.

Work parties who join this association are able to continue working for any local unit of the troops or for local men, but are also encouraged to work for the army as a whole by a grant from the association for all comforts sent to the association depots.  Particulars as to this may be obtained from the Hon Secretary, The Cloisters, Ruthin.

At present the association is occupied on an urgent requisition for hospital supplies, and the War Office has intimated that during the spring and summer such supplies will be asked for in large quantities.  Articles especially needed at the present time are (for the fighting forces), mufflers, mittens and headgear; military hospitals, bed jackets, bed socks, dressing gowns, helpless case bed jackets, hospital bags, pyjamas, pneumonia jackets, nightingales, carpet slippers, and, most perhaps of all, operation stockings.  Many tailed bandages and swabs would be also acceptable.

Articles will also be accepted for the Allies, and these will be sent out at Government expense.  Almost any articles will be accepted for this purpose.

All the above will be gladly accepted at any of the depots above named.

[The County Association was evidently working as Sir Edward Ward intended, making comforts for the central pool, as requisitioned by the War Office.  It's interesting that work parties were still allowed to continue to make items for any unit of individuals that they had a particular interest in, but the inducement to work for the County Association and hence the central pool was that they would then receive a grant from the association - whether in money or materials,  is not clear.]