The Headmistress Miss A.B. Anderton was very keen that the pupils should participate wherever they could in the effort on the Home front. The following are examples of the type of activity they undertook.
In November 1917, Sir Arthur Yapp, the Director of Food, announced the formation of the League of National Safety which involved people signed an undertaking to reduce food waste. The RCS pupils were keen to play their part.
“A great many of us have joined the League of National Safety, and wear the pretty little anchor which shows we are as careful as we can be to guard against waste in any form.” School Magazine 1918
Rationing was introduced in February 1918 as a result of the U-Boat Campaign. Sugar was first to be rationed, and then in April, meat, butter, cheese and margarine were added to the list. There is mention of a “ration tea” at the school picnic in 1917. Similarly, from the 1918 Magazine, “We had no Camp for present girls last year, because of the difficulties of rationing”.
The school’s Guide Company raised funds for St. Dunstan’s, which had recently been established to assist servicemen who had been blinded.
Pupils collected waste paper in the Borough, which was sent off to the Prince of Wales Fund, reporting in 1917 that
“Papering” in aid of the Prince of Wales’ Relief Fund has gone on as usual, and despite the growing shortage of paper, we have been fairly successful in our collections. The waste paper is sent direct to the Surrey Mirror offices. An interesting visit to the Printing Works did much to stimulate the “papering zeal” of the Guides”.
A SPECIAL GUIDES’ BADGE
Miss Anderton reported in 1917, the Guides “had been busy regularly at the V.A.D., and Elle Taylor had won the War Badge”.
The War Service Badge could be earned by 21 days of recognised voluntary service, or 100 hours of agricultural work, or making 15 specific garments including a pair of pajamas, 4 pairs of socks or 2 shirts. Separate dated badges were issued each year , coloured crimson with gold lettering.
Image from Leslie’s Guiding website
Miss Aitken (later Head Mistress) was an assistant mistress at the school during the war period. In her history of the school’s first 50 years, she wrote that the girls took up their spare time knitting for the force, “even during lectures, the clicking of knitting needles could be heard.” No prizes were awarded on Speech days for needlework during the war years as all the work had been done for purposes connected with the war.
THE WHITE RIBBONERS
The school’s group of White Ribboners knitted a quilt, which was then sent to Russia, “something towards helping the poor Russians, who would be so cold in the winter months” (1918 Magazine).
(Note: – The World Women’s Christian Temperance Union was founded in the U.S.A. by Frances Willard in 1874. They were known as the White Ribboners because of the coloured ribbon they wore. The British Woman’s Temperance Union was associated with it. The President of the B.W.T.A. was Lady Somers, who lived at Reigate Priory. Girls over 14 could join, and girls from the school attended meetings of the Union’s Somerset branch in Redhill, as well as having their own group. The Union’s motto was “Strength and Honour”, and the Promise ,“I promise, by the help of God, to do all that is in my power to uphold the honour of our nation and its defenders in this time of war by prayer, purity and temperance.” The Union still exists today.)
The school played an enthusiastic part in the Borough’s effort for War Saving. In the Special Week of War Bonds in 1917, they contributed £545-18s-6d., thanks to parents and Old Girls investing through them. Many pupils paid in week by week as well. The Old Girls Scholarship fund invested in them, in 1918 reporting that they now possessed War Savings Certificates representing the sum of £17-1s-10d.
PRISONERS OF WAR
Another fundraising enterprise was for the Prisoners of War Fund, sending monthly contributions via St. Paul’s Church Branch. The school magazine of 1918 reported that they had raised £30 in a year. In 1917, the Fifth Form gave a concert which raised £2-10s for the fund.
Various Flags Days were held in the Borough to raise money for causes. “Hospital Saturday” (or Alexandra Rose Day) had been instigated in 1912 by Queen Alexandra to raise funds for hospitals, but it took on an extra significance during the war. In May 1917, the Reigate Poor Law Infirmary on Earlswood Common was requisitioned by the Army to become a War Hospital. It opened in June with 80 beds, and was run by the Surrey/108 Voluntary Aid detachment, remaining open until 1918. One way the Borough raised funds for it was on “Hospital Saturday”.
. In 1916, they raised £5-6-4 for the hospital, and £9-4-2 for the Flag Day for Seamen, both times collecting in Redhill.
Geraldine Foy – from “RCS and the First World War”