Friday, 12 February 2016

A Scheme for Pooling Comforts

From The Times, 11th February 1916.



A new scheme for collecting and distributing comforts for the armies in the field has been drawn up by Sir E. Ward, Director-General of Voluntary Organizations, approved by the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, and sanctioned by the War Office.

The office of the Director-General of Voluntary Organizations, it may be recalled, was created with the object of co-ordinating and directing all voluntary effort throughout the United Kingdom in connexion with the supply of mufflers, mittens, and other articles of clothing and comfort the troops, whether at the front or in the military hospitals.  In order to secure cooperation and prevent overlapping and waste county and borough associations were formed to link up the various societies, guilds, groups of workers, and individuals engaged in making such articles. Standard patterns were supplied, finished articles were inspected by experts, material for certain articles were supplied free of charge, and free transport was provided for articles requisitioned by the Director-General.  Special arrangements were made in the case of Queen Mary's Needlework Guild, the Red Cross Society, and Order of St. John, war hospital supply depots unattached to any central organization, and regimental associations.

It has been found, after careful inquiries, made by a representative of the department in France, that the rapid movement of troops from place to place and sometimes from one theatre of war to another has made increasingly difficult the problem of securing prompt delivery of consignments earmarked for particular units.  To meet this difficulty, it is proposed under the new scheme that all gifts forwarded through the department shall be consigned "for the benefit of the troops generally," and shall be sent to Military Forwarding Offices Overseas for dispatch to the distributing points. Commanding officers in the field will make known the needs of their units to Assistant Military Forwarding Officers at these points, and the gifts will then be sent to the soldiers' billets for distribution among the men.  The Assistant Military Forwarding Officers will keep the Director-General fully informed of the quantities each unit receives, and will requisition articles for which there may be a big demand.  The Director-General will thus be in a position to advise the local or regimental associations of the number and nature of articles issued to each unit, and to requisition articles in their place.

In short, while a regimental or county association will have no guarantee that the actual comforts which it supplies will go to the regiment or other unit in which it is particularly interested, it will have an assurance that similar articles are supplied from the general "pool" to that unit more promptly than under the old system and that the actual articles which it is providing will replenish the store thus depleted.

[This is the next stage in Sir Edward Ward's attempts to control the provision of comforts by voluntary groups.  It seems as though he is trying to organise the supply of comforts is a similar way to the supply of uniforms and other necessities by the War Office.  But it's evident that many voluntary groups round the country still wanted to supply their own men rather than having their output simply disappear into a general pool - see tomorrow's post, for instance.]    

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