December 14th, 2017
By Philip Jeffs, Archivist, Warrington Museum
World War 1 Charities
On Thursday evening December 14th, 2017, members were enthralled by Philip Jeffs, Chair of our Group for this year, on Charities in World War 1. The meeting was shown many slides from posters, handbills (now usually called ‘flyers’), shop and house window display cards, and photographs from the extensive collections in Warrington archives. These archives are available for public viewing and use, by contacting the archives section of the Warrington library.
Over 18,000 charities to help armed forces and civilians were formed during the First World War.
St. Dunstans is now Blind Veterans UK St Dunstans is now "Blind Veterans UK"
The Speaker first outlined the effects of the war in the great increase in women in non-domestic service work; from approximately 23% in 1914 to 50% by 1918. A comment on the statistics of excluding domestic servants means that the ‘in work’ statistics are never a true reflection of the many women in ‘paid work’; but they give comparable ‘working in trade’ statistics’ from year to year. Many factories shifted to war work and increased their female workforce.
Recruitment posters changed from the ‘bold and brave’ type at the start of the war to a more emotional appeal. However government propaganda on posters did nor reflect the actuality of the opinions of the person supposedly giving the ‘word bite’ on the poster. This government ‘propaganda’ modification is still a matter of current government activities in many counties.
Typical recruiting image. IWM
South Lancashire POW Relief Committee.
This charity run by local Warrington woman raised funds, found ‘adopters’ who would sponsor parcels to a named individual Prisoner Of War [POW]. These food parcels were of great importance to the POWs due to very restricted food availability.
This link gives the background and some details about the food parcels. Occasionally the sending organisation got a reply via the reply postcard in each parcel.
Typical reply card - This one is for the Sherwood Foresters Charity
This acknowledgement card arrived back at the "Regimental Care Committee of the Sherwood Foresters Prisoners of War Fund" H.Q., on 26th August.1918
James W. Gerard - chief of the team of neutral camp inspectors - agreed with Pte. Smith and praised Germany for its handling of food parcels and said, "Credit must be given to the German authorities for the fairly prompt and efficient delivery of the packages of food sent from Great Britain, Denmark, and Switzerland to prisoners of war in all camps."
This food parcel acknowledgement card was put into a food parcel which was sent to Germany on 6th June 1918 and received by the recipient on the 20th July. Pte. Smith, stated on the card that he did not receive his bread regularly, but did receive his food parcels on a regular basis and in good condition and complete, which seems to have been the general consensus about food parcels which Britain sent to its prisoners in Germany.
Warrington Museum Search Facility
Warrington Museum has on their website a search facility to trace sponsors or parcels and POWs. The search box is at the foot of the page.
Example: image of search box
Parcels contained fresh vegetables, cigarettes, and by local purchase in neutral countries for delivery to POW camps bread. These parcels to British POWs and the reverse to German POWs in Britain was arranged by the Red Cross of both
counties. The postal system arrangements were a major undertaking.
Eggs for Field Hospitals.
Eggs from people donating eges from their hens were sent by post to a collection centre and sent to field hospitals. The postal service handled many millions of food parcels to the POWs and eggs to the filed hospitals. The postal service was very important to charities and POWs
A poster from [IWM] Imperial War Museum collection.
Warington Museum Archives.
Warrington archives have letters from POWs to home about the parcels, and the ‘organised’ lists for permitted contents.
There were appeal posters to folk to ‘self ration’ to help the food supply indicate an appeal to patriotism, and a card for your house window to state you were self rationing, one way of showing war effort.
Books for Armed Forces.
This was a charity to get books, magazines and reading material to the soldiers at the front.
The great problem for all armies is the ‘boredom’ of waiting between war events and the recreation in the very limited facilities at the front.
The respite ‘Huts’ and ‘Tents’.
A number of charities such as the “Church Army” and “Salvation Army” and others provided recreation places in the form of huts or tents back from the active front line where soldiers could when on short leave periods socialise and importantly write home. They also had mobile tea ‘vans’. The huts were often named after the place providing and supporting them. There was a “Walton Hut” provided by the folk of Walton and Lady Daresbury. These huts were put to other uss after the war and many were re-erected in the UK.
Images: Image: © Churcharmy.org
link: Church army image link
image: © Salvation Army.
Many places were converted to hospitals to care for the war wounded and injured. These were often renamed. Our local mental hospital Winwick Asylum was renamed “The Lord Derby Military Hospital” and many private houses became small out-station or auxiliary hospitals. The local workhouse became the Whitecross Institute and was run by the first Warrington’s female doctor Dr. Mary Nobel. Raddon Court run by the four Miss Broadbents was another local auxiliary hospital. Image IWM. Lord Derby hospital
Image. Warrington Guardian (c) Image.
Image. © Red Cross. An auxiliary Red Cross Hospital.
Link: British Red Cross
Link: German Red Cross: German and interntional Red Cross
The Home of The Misses Broadbent became a small hospital (WM photo)
The misses Broadbent of Eadley Courts (WM Photo)
Field Hospitals in the war area offered both immediate medical treatment most importantly read and wrote letters for the injured who could not read or write.
Image. © Red Cross. Letters home dictated by patient.
It was observed that the information sent from field hospitals and the 'Recreation Huts' run by charities were more accurate and informative to relatives than the brief official communications of the authorities.
Link to page:
The St. Dunstan’s Home for Blinded Servicemen raised money with a pamphlet distributed in Warrington illustrating the case of a Harold Thompson (aged 21) formerly of Crossfields soap works.
With no national health service the physically and mentally wounded, as well as normal people, were then totally dependent on charities for hospital care.
A picture of 'Blinded For You' from the painting by Richard Caton Woodville. This image was one of six used in a set of postcards in aid of Blinded Soldiers and Sailors. The postcards were commissioned after St Dunstan's was flooded with casualties in 1916, and urgently needed to raise funds to accommodate the new patients. Image IWM ©.
St Dunstans charity ha schanged its name to Blinded Verterans UK
Link: Blinded Veterans UK
Refugees from Belgium were helped by charities in UK and in neutral Netherlands. The refugee numbers were very great and some were helped at a camp at Penketh.
Image: IWM. Girl Guides teach refugees English around a garden table in the United Kingdom during the First World War.
Lancashire Women Poster IWM poster collection. From early in 1914-18 war before compulsory service by conscription.
The ordinary non-war effort charities that provided for the medical and poverty relief of the normal civilian population still had to function and raise funds and give care when the general population's ability to give was most stretched.
Barbed wire being made in Warrington.
Collecting books, newspapers, magazines for the servicefolk at the front, using war wounded personnel to collect. (WM photo)
Few jobs for war injured, and disabled men effectively 'outcast' from society. (WM photo)
The Star Kinema of Leigh played a part as they had staff as POWs. (WM photo)
Women at "war work" changed the nature of women in society during and after the war
Photo from Warrington Museum archives (WM photo)
Please visit the archives in Warrington Museum.
You wil receive helpful advice and learn of the major effort made by Warrington folk to help others..
Closing Christmas Tea.
The meeting closed by members and visitors enjoying the cakes, pastries, cakes and trifle provided by members.
Our members and visitors would wish to thank Philip Jeffs for his most enlightening and well researched talk.