Stoke D’Abernon Red Cross Work Party

BRC-logo

Title: BRC-logo
Description: by-nc

Throughout the war, the St Mary’s, Stoke D’Abernon, Red Cross Work Party reported its contributions to the war effort in the parish magazine. Initially, they were not inconsiderable.

In December 1914 it was recorded that they had despatched 21 shirts, six pairs of socks and one waistcoat to the Royal Sussex Regiment, 48 petticoats to the ‘very destitute poor women at St Marks’ Parish, Portsea’, and two shirts, two pairs of socks, and one belt to Madame Sneyer’s son, ‘who is a Belgian soldier, and much in need of warm clothing’. It was also noted that about £6 per month was needed from the Lord-Lieutenant’s Fund for the County of Surrey, for the purchase of materials for the working party.

February 1915 saw the news that, since their last account in December, they had despatched: ‘15 belts, two pairs socks to the Surrey Regiment; 17 shirts to the Red House Hospital at Leatherhead; 6 shirts to a Belgian Refugee Hostel at Clapham, one parcel to Belgian Refugees in London; 11 pairs mittens to the front through Mrs Mercer; 4 shirts, 1 pyjamas, 13 belts, 16 pairs of mittens, and 1 scarf to the Queen Victoria Rifles (Mr Noel Phillips’ Regiment); 28 pneumonia jackets, 5 hot water bottle bags, 6 pairs mittens, and 1 pair sleeping socks to Mrs Hulbert for the Sailors’ Home at Shotley’. In addition, it was reported, the Matron of the War Refugee Camp at Earl’s Court had sent grateful thanks to Mrs Bowen-Buscarlet for sending linen for the use of the Belgian Refugees.

In March 1915, a number of parcels were despatched: ’13 hot-water bottle bags to the Schiff Home; 4 shirts and linen to the Belgium Refugees at Earl’s Court; 24 shirts to the Royal West Surrey Regiment at the Front; 2 shirts, 3 belts, 1 pair of socks, to interned prisoners in Germany; 1 pneumonia jacket and 15 pairs mittens to Shotley and to a Destroyer in the North Sea’.

In April 1915 they forwarded: 15 shirts, 9 scarves, 7 pairs socks, 2 pairs hose tops to the “London Scottish” (Major Gore’s Regiment). The Colonel’s wife wrote in acknowledgement:- “Please accept my very warmest thanks for the two generous parcels of comforts. Will you express my sincerest thanks to all those who have so kindly knitted and sewed, for the “London Scottish”, and tell them that each man who is lucky enough to receive one of the cosy garments made by them, will think gratefully of the workers for him”. Thirteen pairs of mittens and one belt were also sent to Mrs Hulbert for sailors in the North Sea, and some more hot water bottle bags to the Schiff Home.

The finished work in May 1915 was: 11 shirts, 5 comforters, 4 pairs socks, 1 bottle bag, 4 pairs hose tops, for distribution amongst the London Scottish and Irish Guards.

June 1915 brought the last meeting, for the present, which was to be held at 3pm in the Parish Room on Friday, 4 June. They had spent £46 10s. 61/2d. on materials during the winter, overdrawing some £2, which Mrs Bowen-Buscarlet had ‘kindly made good’. They hoped to send out fresh appeals for funds in the autumn and to start the monthly meetings again when sufficient money had been collected. Their latest contributions were: 8 scarves; 6 pairs mittens for the mine sweepers; 9 shirts and 2 pairs socks for the “Surreys” and 4 sand-bags.

In October 1915 it was reported that Mrs Guise had undertaken to organise the Red Cross work for the autumn and winter, but only £8 had been received for the purpose. It was not planned that the meetings would start until November, but during the last year they had expended around £6 a month and without further monies it would be impossible to purchase the materials needed.

As the year drew to a close, December 1915 saw a report that materials for Red Cross work were to be given out in the Village Room at 2.15pm on the second Friday of every month, whilst on the remaining Fridays a lady would be present to help anybody in difficulty or to give out any extra materials that were required for finishing off.

In January 1916, the magazine published the receipts and expenditures on the fund ‘for providing hospital comforts for the troops by the home work in the parish’. They were:

Subscriptions

£

s.

d.

Mrs Bowen Buscarlet

5

0

0

Mrs Mason

5

0

0

Mrs Bellamy

2

0

0

Mrs Hansard

2

0

0

J J Morrish, Esq.

2

0

0

Mrs Dunning

1

1

0

Mrs Williams

1

1

0

Mrs Bristowe

1

0

0

Mrs Collinson

1

0

0

Mrs Guise

1

0

0

Mrs Hervey

1

0

0

Mrs Robinson

1

0

0

Mrs Wigram

1

0

0

Mrs Bishop

0

10

0

Mrs Blackburne

0

10

0

Mrs Bovill-Smith

0

10

0

Mrs Walter Heath

0

10

0

Miss Tyers

0

10

0

Mrs Courtenay

0

2

6

Mrs Gunnell

0

2

6

Mrs Ionides

0

2

6

Miss Lunt

0

2

6

Men’s Club Whist Drive

4

16

0

Weekly Penny Subscriptions from Workers – One month

1

5

6

Total Subscriptions

£33

8s.

6d.

Expenditure

 

 

 

Materials for November

6

4

Printing

0

2

6

Materials for December

5

4

Total Expenditure

£11

11s.

7d.

It was estimated that the balance of £21 6s. 11d. would carry on the work for another three months or so, and further subscriptions to allow its further continuation were solicited.

It was also noted that, instead of the usual second Friday of the month, the monthly meeting would be held at 2.15pm on Friday, 7 January instead, and mention was made of the energetic work of their ‘indefatigable secretary’, Mrs Dunning.

In February 1916 it was advised that materials were to be given out at 2.15pm on the first Friday of each month, not the second Friday as previously announced.  An account was provided of the Children’s Entertainment for Red Cross Work that had taken place on January 14 and 15, arranged by Mrs Dunning. The event was deemed a great success and, with the reserved seats being taken in advance, a second day had to be found for the overflow of people who wished to attend. The children, it was reported, ‘whether it were dancing or reciting, duologue or tableaux, all took their parts well as if to the manor born’. The tableaux included nursery rhymes and scenes from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, concluding with Rule Britannia, and, after all expenses, a total of £12 13s. 6d.was raised for local Red Cross Work.

This month, for the first time, disappointment at the amount of work that was being done was expressed:

So many things are wanted, as the war, alas! is still so prolonged. Mrs Dunning has raised so much money for materials by subscriptions and by the Tableaux she organised so successfully, so we are sorry to find such a small attendance at the monthly Red Cross meeting. The quality of the work is excellent, but the quantity leaves much to be desired. Would it not be possible for every cottager to make one or two garments each month for our noble sailors and soldiers? Surely, with a little self-sacrifice, this could be accomplished. Mothers! here is your opportunity!

In April it was recorded that a consignment of 112 garments had been sent to Alexandria in February and, the following month, 90 garments were sent to the French Wounded Emergency Fund, 9 garments to the Mine Sweepers’ Fund, 7 pairs of socks to the 9th Battalion Rifle Brigade, and 1 muffler and a pair of mittens to a solider from the parish. Letters of thanks had been received from Princess Louis of Battenberg, on behalf of the Mine Sweepers Fund, and E. Wyld, on behalf of the French wounded. On June 21 1916, E. Wyld wrote again to thank the village workers ‘for the most useful parcel of hospital supplies’ which they had sent, and which were to be dispatched to ‘one of the poorest hospitals in France’.

July 7 1916, saw the last meeting in Stoke D’Abernon for Red Cross Work, but hope was expressed that work would begin again during the autumn.

In December 1916 it was announced that the materials for the Red Cross work would be ‘given out at 2.15pm on the First Friday of each month, commencing on December 1st, at the Village Room’. Mrs Bristowe and Mrs Goodbody were to undertake ordering of materials and cutting out of the garments, and Mrs Dunning was to do the secretarial and financial work. An appeal was made for ‘all our cottage people’ to make a great effort to do what they could, on the basis that ‘this is one little bit that we women can do in this terrible war’.

In March 1917 it was recorded that, in January, 18 pairs of socks had been forwarded for the 7th Battalion ‘Queens’ (Royal West Surrey) Regiment, which were acknowledged with grateful thanks by Mrs Roland Hebeler. The following month, a parcel containing 1 dozen flannel underjackets, 1 scarf, 1 pair of sleeping socks, and 1 dozen and 9 pairs of socks was sent for the East Surrey Regiment, and had been acknowledged, with thanks, by Colonel Treeby.

However, despite the fact that there were plenty of materials, there was still a lack of willing workers, and a further appeal was made for women to ‘make time to provide these comforts for our brave men at the Front’.

Although fundraising for the Surrey Red Cross continued in the parish throughout the period after March 1917, there are no further detailed accounts of the activities of the Work Party.

In October 1917, it was announced that they were to commence giving out materials and wool, once again, at 2.30pm on the 1st Friday in each month, commencing 2 November. Red Cross Work continued to be listed on the 1st Friday of the month until April 1918, although no detail was provided. Then, in November 1918, it was announced that Mrs Guise planned to recommence meetings ‘at the Village Room, on Friday, November 1st, at 2.30.’

As the war proceeded, increased costs and a focus on providing an account of the location and condition of the local men engaged in active service meant that the style and content of the parish magazines did change, to some degree. However, taking into account the later pleas for workers, it seems likely that, in Stoke D’Abernon at least, after an initially promising start, enthusiasm waned for undertaking the type of voluntary employment that the Red Cross Work Party offered.

Sources:

St Mary’s, Stoke D’Abernon, Parish Magazines, December 1914 to December 1918, SHC Ref. 8909/8/1/4.

Share This:

Leave a Comment