Support from home

National Egg Collection

Smoking Fund

Prince of Wales Relief Fund

Prisoner of War Fund

War Service for Women


National Egg Collection

The National Egg Collection for the Wounded was started August 1915. It was estimated that 200,000 eggs per week were needed nationally for the wounded soldiers and sailors. The local organiser was Miss Olive Marden-Smedley of Lea Green. Sub-depots were set up in all the parishes to aid their collection.with the intention of collecting a million eggs a month for the wounded.

egg collection poster

egg collection poster

egg collection poster

Derby Daily Telegraph
Friday, 30 April 1915
The National Egg Collection for Wounded Soldiers and Sailors is developing on a scale which the promoters can scarcely have anticipated. Something like 200,000 new-laid eggs are being contributed every week by well-disposed people at home, and distributed among wounded and invalid soldiers. About ten thousand per day are being shipped to the base hospitals in France, and the War Office, needless to say, have expressed their full approval and warm appreciation of what is being done.

Derby Daily Telegraph
Thursday, 6 May 1915
The work of the Infirmary was constantly growing. This year they had received nearly 400 wounded soldiers, and if there was one single object which demanded our charity at the present time it was the care of the wounded soldiers.
The Mayor, in thanking the ladies, said they were pleased to do what they called for the infirmary. The Mayoress and himself were determined that it should be a record year. He hoped the ladies would secure even the smallest donation, and instance the value of little things, the success of the egg collection, whereby 2168 had been obtained on three Fridays for the Infirmary and other institutions.

During February 1917 there was a special ‘Children’s Week’ when 300,000 eggs were collected. This was at a time when the weather was very bad and eggs were scarce.

Derby Daily Telegraph
Thursday, 7 June 1917
The National Egg Collection for the Wounded have received from Captain Charles Bathurst, M.P., of the Ministry of Food, the following statement: –
There is no sufficient justification for the wholesale slaughtering of laying hens, although no doubt there is room for a large reduction in the head of male stock. A certain amount of cereal food of an inferior kind and quality ought still to be available for laying hens, as well as a large amount of garden and other refuse which is now wasted.

By January 1918 the scheme had sent over seven million eggs to UK hospitals and over twenty-five million to hospitals abroad. There was a national egg shortage which had become serious. People had become panicked by orders coming from the Food Controller and the Board of Agriculture, and had disposed of their chickens – thinking they would be able to get food for them.

The War Office asked for a further quarter of a million eggs per month over and above the existing supplies. An appeal was launched to reach a target of forty million eggs. People were asked to sacrifice their own eggs for the wounded soldiers and sailors. Poultry farmers could despatch the eggs for free to the Central London Depot, or to one of the local depots across the UK. People who had their own chickens were asked to give a tithe of their eggs each week and those without chickens were encouraged to give money so that eggs could be brought.

Derby Daily Telegraph
Thursday, 26 September 1918
Forty million new laid eggs for the wounded have been collected in Great Britain and Ireland by the National Egg Collection through its various depots now numbering 2,100.

Smoking Fund

Charles Beresford in his wonderfully researched book “The Bath At War: A Derbyshire Community and the Great War” writes about the parcels sent to Derbyshire men who were serving in the Army and Navy.

“The Bath At War A Derbyshire Community and the Great War” by Charles Beresford COUNTRY BOOKS/ASHRIDGE PRESS 2007 ISBN 978 1 901214 91 8

Pages 162-164
The Duke of Devonshire, in his capacity as Lord Lieutenant of the County, together with the mayors of Derby, Chesterfield and Ilkeston set up a fund to send a mixed Christmas parcel containing food, candles, boracic ointment, vaseline, dubbin, shaving soap and other items to each Derbyshire man serving in the Royal Navy or regiments at the Front. Cooperation was agreed with a similar fund in Nottinghamshire and before the end of November despatches of the parcels, each worth 5s. 6d., had been made to the men serving in theDardanelles and in the eastern theatre of the War. Separate funds were organised by local communities to send Christmas boxes to their own fighting men.

Each box going abroad was valued at four shillings and contained a pork pie, cake, a pocket stove, a tin of cafe au lait, Oxo and chocolates as well as tobacco and cigarettes. Those serving at home were to receive a smaller parcel worth three shillings.

The Derbyshire Times was quick to point out that the Derbyshire Christmas boxes did not contain any tobacco and urged its readers not to forget its Tobacco Fund. The cost of each personal parcel, now sent by the speedier letter post, had risen to 1s. and the reader could select the content, from 70 Woodbines, 50 Arf-a-Mo, 40 Gold Flake, 30 Glory Boys, 25 cigarettes in a side pocket case, 6 short cigars or 4 ounces of tobacco.

The newspapers regularly carried letters from local soldiers at the front requesting not only cigarettes but also mouth organs, footballs, playing cards, batteries for electric pocket lamps and even some one to send them letters. Many of the appeals cited boredom when out of the front line as the reason. Letters were also published from sincerely grateful soldiers when their appeals were met. The receipt of local newspapers from home was always very welcome and The High Peak News assisted this by printing in the masthead of the front page the words "A Piece of String and a Stamp will carry this to a Friend in the Trenches''. There were printed dotted lines for the sender to fill in the name of the serviceman, his Company, Regiment and whether he was a member of the British or Mediterranean Expeditionary Forces.

There were many ways in which the people at home could contribute to war-related charities. The British Red Cross and the Order of St. John designated Saturday 23rd October as "Our Day" and their Flag Day was tackled with enthusiasm across Derbyshire.

smoking fund

Derbyshire Times
6 February 1915

smoking fund

Prince of Wales Relief Fund 1914

In August 1914 Fritchley Friends gathered together in the Meeting House to consider how far they could assist in relief work in connection with the "Prince of Wales Fund" . They wrote the following letter –

Fritchley, 10th of eighth month, 1914

The following Friends give in their names to assist in the relief work about to be undertaken in connection with the “Prince of Wales National Relief Fund" provided that the organization having control of the same is not under military direction and that our doing so is not to be understood as being in any way a substitute for military service or as an 'alternative service', an expression in the circular asking us to undertake such work, we regret Our services are tendered simply with the desire to meet an unusual degree of distress regardless of its cause.
One or two of our members have had to bear a little hard judgement from some of our neighbours because of being obliged to refuse to take part in the 'Red Cross' work. We feel that the Red Cross Society working under military direction is a direct help to military operations. We desire earnestly to do all we can to relieve suffering wherever it is, but feel restrained from in any way acting in conjunction with the military authorities.'

It was at this time, a number of young men from Crich, who opposed the attitude of local Quakers, damaged the shop of Thomas Davidson, a minister of Fritchley Quakers and they verbally abused several members of the Meeting. On the whole, the position of Friends regarding war, was not understood by the villagers but was accepted as yet another part of the make-up of this respected but uniquely religious body who were prepared to carry their beliefs into their daily life and to take the consequences.

Ref: “The Quakers of Fritchley” by Walter Lowndes 1986 (ISBN 0-9511295-0-3)

The following is the text of a letter addressed to the Press on September 12th, 1914, by the Right Hon. A. J. Balfour, M. P., explaining the aims and objects of the National Relief Fund : —

The administration of the Prince of Wales's fund has been the object of a certain criticism in the public Press, and I have reason to believe that this gives expression to a real feeling of doubt and dissatisfaction prevailing both among some of those who have contributed to the fund and among some of those who are, unhappily, suffering from the distress which the fund was designed to alleviate.

It is because this dissatisfaction is, I think, largely due to a misconception as to what the fund has done, is doing, and can do, that I venture to ask you to give publicity to this communication.

Let me begin by contradicting two errors which seem to have obtained a wide currency. The first error is that no part of the fund is to be used to relieve civil as distinguished from military distress – it being wrongly supposed that the whole sum subscribed is destined for the wives and families of soldiers and sailors.

The second error, equally baseless and even more absurd, is that among the civil population eligible for assistance women are not to be included. For my own part, it is the women thrown out of employment by the war who seem to have the strongest claims upon our sympathy and aid; and so, I believe, think my colleagues on the Executive Committee.

These errors of fact which an inquiry at the office of the Executive Committee would at once have corrected. But there are criticisms of a different kind which require more consideration. It is alleged that in the use of the fund there has been avoidable delays, as well as some mal-administration. I would ask those who wish to form a judgement on these points to consider the conditions under which alone any central fund for general purposes can give satisfactory results.

The advantages of a central fund are great. It makes possible a fairer distribution of our charitable resources between areas which are rich and areas which are poor, between areas which have suffered much from the ware and area which have suffered little or not at all. It also does something to diminish the evils of overlapping. But evidently it cannot be administered from the central office directly to individual sufferers. It must work through organisations which either already exist or which it brings into being. Now the creation of a new organisation, covering (as it must) the whole country, would not only be a work of extreme difficulty, but it would take much time.

The Executive Committee of the fund have been charge with dilatoriness. What would have been said of them if they had waited to employ their money till they had devised a new machinery for its distribution? Evidently existing organisations had to be used; and the only question was which organisation.

So far as (what may be called) the military side of our work, there could be no doubt. The Royal Patriotic Fund is a statutory body which deals with the dependents of soldiers and sailors who die in the war; the Soldiers' and Sailors' Families Association, or where it has for local reasons become inefficient, the Local Committee take up the work, and they also have been provided with the necessary resources.

I observe that cases of mal-administration on the part of the Soldiers' and Sailors' Families Association have been referred to in the Press. I hope its critics will remember the conditions under which it works. It is carried on wholly by voluntary effort; in some parts of the country it has lost, during a period of peace, much of its efficiency; it has thrown upon it without warning a strain greater than it has ever had to bear; its work involves following up, often harder great difficulties the feelings of soldiers and sailors suddenly summoned to the colours.

It has in the last month, in addition to is old work, bee called on to deal with the Territorials and with the New Army. Now wonder that even the un-grudging labours of those who have devoted themselves to the work of the society have not suffered wholly to avoid errors both of omission and commission.

If now we turn from the military to the civil side of the fund's work, what organisation is available corresponding to those I have mention on the military side?

It must be observed that a central fund requires a central organisation in addition to local organisations (such as the Mayors Committee) which administer assistance in particular areas. Without some means of examining not merely the intrinsic merits of this or that scheme, and the reality of distress in this or that district, but also the comparative needs of different parts of the country so reasonable distribution would be possible. Where is this central organisation to be found?

There is but one, namely the Government Committee for the Prevention and Relief of Distress.

This has behind it, in addition to great primary resources, and official staff acquainted with the whole of England. The Local Government Board and the Board of Trade have unique means of informing the Government Committee about the needs of every area and the merits of every scheme; while the Government Committee possess unique advantages in dealing with the very difficult problems which the relief of industrial distress must always present.

The Executive Committee of the Prince of Wale's Fund have therefore requested the Central Committee to lay before them any schemes which they think the Prince of Wale's Fund should assist; and every suggestion made by the Central Committee for the mitigation of civil distress has been immediately followed.

The Executive Committee have been charged with “bottling” their money. They have done nothing of the kind. Already they have paid out more than £350,000 sterling which has been already distributed or is now in course of distribution.

As the schemes of the Central Committee for dealing with industrial distress matures; as the number of soldiers' dependants grows with the growth of our Army; as husbands and fathers die in their country's cause, so will the demands on the fund increase. None can guess how long the war will last. As I write the course seems favourable. But he must be sanguine indeed who thinks the contribution already received, magnificent as has been the response to the Prince of Wale's appeal, are in excess of the necessities of the situation.

Belper News
25 January 1915

In company with the employees of most industries in the country when war broke out, the employees of the Ambergate Wire Works agreed to the deduction of a weekly contribution from their wages on behalf of the Prince of Wales' National Relief Fund, and up to the end of last year the sum of £60 had been contributed.

Prisoner of War Fund

Derby Daily Telegraph
8th July 1915

Under the auspices of the Derby and Derbyshire Prisoners of War Help Committee, a meeting of collectors of insurance societies in Derby and District was held at the Guild Hall, Derby this (Thursday) afternoon, for the purpose of hearing the steps taken by the committee to send parcels of food and clothing to prisoners of war in Germany, and an listing the cooperation of the collectors in raising funds for such a worthy object. His Worship the Mayor (Cllr J. Hill) presided, and amongst those present were the Mayoress Lady Ann, Mrs Herbert Strutt, Mrs Marsden Smedley (Lea Green), Mrs Walter Salmond, Mrs Charrington, and Mrs J.C.Barnes (members of the Mayoress's committee). Mrs Bourne Wheeler (the other member) was unable to be present. There was a large and representative attendance, and the proceedings were rendered additionally interesting by the presence of two Derby men who have been prisoners of war in Germany for some months.

The Mayor in opening the proceedings, said he was grateful to see those present for turning up in such large numbers, because it showed that their interest in the cause they had at heart was great, namely, that of rendering assistance to prisoners of war in Germany. Their idea was to send food and clothing to them if they had any reasonable certainty that it would reach its destination, and that conference had been called to see what could be done. They had with them the ladies of the borough and the immediate neighbourhood, who had pledged themselves to do their level best to do what was possible to alleviate the sufferings of their soldiers who were prisoners of war in Germany, and they also had with them two men who had been prisoners in Germany for nearly ten months. They were glad to see them – (applause) – and they would no doubt be interested to hear their experiences. They had already been very successful in procuring and sending out vegetables for men in the Navy from funds which had been collected by some of those present by means of their penny collecting books, and the total send out consisted of 173 cases, boxes, or bags of vegetables and fruit. What they had done in the past they could do in the future; the cause was a good one, and they could not do too much to alleviate the sufferings of their gallant soldiers who were in such dire distress in Germany.

The Mayoress said she was pleased to say that her ladies committee had been working for some weeks with the object of sending food to the men who were prisoners of war, and they had met with considerable success. She mentioned that Mrs Charrington was the lady who first approached her on the matter, and they had not been idle. She wrote to Mr J.H.Thomas, M.P., to enquire whether articles sent out would reach their destination, and he went to the following office and made enquiries, and had written to her (the Mayoress) to say that "If the official regulations were adhered to there would be no difficulty." She went on to say that the committee had experienced considerable difficulty in finding out the exact whereabouts of the prisoners of war in whom they were particularly interested, because the German authorities had been playing a game of twilight with the prisoners and moving them about to various places, thus rendering it difficult to trace them. Providing food for the prisoners was a grave problem, and it had been a source of sorrow to them that parcels had not reached the men to whom they were sent. Steps were being taken to ensure the safe delivery of parcels, and if the Germans used the food sent out on an account would be taken and they would be called upon to pay after the war. There was a Prisoner of War Help Committee in London, and they were keeping in touch with that committee to enable them to trace prisoners of war from Derby and Derbyshire, and thus prevent overlapping. They were not only interested in the Sherwood Foresters who were prisoners of war, but also Derby men who belong to other regiments. She had received many letters from friends of prisoners of war who were denying themselves and impoverishing themselves to send things to their dear ones, and who were deserving of assistance in what they were doing, and she had also had letters from prisoners of war in Germany begging for food. She was glad to say that large quantities had been sent by people with a great heart but little skill in packing, and the result was that much of the food had been spoilt. Profiting by that experience, the committee were taking the necessary precautions to send food properly packed and to ensure it being delivered. The committee did not desire to prevent anyone sending parcels, and would gladly give them any advice as to the best way of sending them, whilst if there were parcels for any particular prisoner steps would be taken to see if they had the same. They had many appeals for food and clothing, but all the letters showed it was food the men wanted most, and she appealed to the people of Derby to help in the good cause. (Applause.)

Private Lewis, of the R.A.M.C., who had just returned from Germany, thanks to the exchange of non-combatant prisoners, and some of whose experiences were related in these columns on Tuesday, then gave a long account of the privations and hardships he had undergone in common with so many of his comrades, and the exceedingly short rations they had to put up with. The black bread, he said, they could not to break with a hammer, and he should think they had had it in stock since the war of 1870 – (laughter) – whilst what they called coffee was awful stuff. He also told those present how the prisoners were "fed" on a few spuds and swedes, and added: "it was only the parcels of food my wife sent me that kept me alive. But for them I think I should have committed suicide." Sometimes when the bread came from England it was a bit mouldy, but they washed it and with the aid of a little sugar made a plum pudding of it. (Laughter.) He pleaded with those present to help in sending out food assuring them that those he had left behind could do with anything in the way of eatables, and the plainer the food that was sent out the better, as fruit and other things only perished, and spoilt the other contents of the parcel.

Private Piper, of the R.A.M.C., who returned from Germany at the same time, corroborated Lewis's story, and, needless to say, the two of them had a most enthusiastic reception.

The Mayoress explained that the committee had had special boxes made for conveying food and experiments were being made to bake bread which would keep six weeks. The committee had also had tickets of various values printed, to be sold so as to raise funds where with to purchase food, and these ranged in prices from 1d upwards. They read: "Mayoress of Derby's fund for Derbyshire prisoners of war interned in Germany, whose appeal is "send us food." Contribution for one loaf 4d." She hoped the collectors would do their best to sell these, and that the people of Derby would do all they could to help.

Mrs Charrington in a few feeling sentences, endorsed the appeal of the Mayoress, and said the poor fellows in Germany wanted all the help they could give them. It was only their soldiers who was standing between them and destruction, and the least they could do was to send them the food they so badly needed. They had made the people of this country sure of their dinners, kept their children safe and a roof over their heads. Surely then they could all help to send them food. (Applause.)

Mr E.H.Panter said the presence of the two returned prisoners would encourage the insurance collectors to do all they could to help, especially after hearing of their terrible privations from their own lips, and realising that it was their own flesh and blood who were calling out for food. He moved that the meeting of insurance workers, having heard what was being done by the committee and of the sufferings of the prisoners of war from the lips of private Lewis, pledge themselves to do their utmost to assist the fund by selling the tickets so that food could be sent. It was a shame, he added, that they had to send food to them considering how well the Germans were treated in this country, but unfortunately it had to be done.

Mr Worthy seconded, and said he hoped they would at least double their previous effort. He also stated he knew of one woman in Derby who was sending out parcels that cost her 3s a week, and she only had a guinea coming in, and if one could do that many others ought to help.

The motion was carried unanimously, and in reply to a question the Mayoress said there intention was to help Derby men, whatever regiment they were in, and she would be pleased to receive the names of any who were prisoners of war.

Mrs Marsden Smedley proposed a vote of thanks to the collectors who had come forward to assist the fund, and assured them that the committee was very grateful to them.

This was seconded by Mrs Barnes and carried and Mr White, who acted as secretary in connection with the vegetable fund, kindly consented to act in a similar capacity in the present effort.

(With thanks to Heather Eaton for transcription assistance.)

War Service for Women

Derbyshire Times
27 March 1915
In order to meet both the present and the future needs of national industry during the war, the Government wish to obtain particulars of the women available, with or without previous training, for paid employment. Accordingly, they invite all women who are prepared if needed to take paid employment of any kind, – industrial, agricultural, clerical, etc. – To enter themselves upon the Register of Women for War Service, which is being prepared by the Board of Trade Labour Exchanges.
Any woman living in a town where there is a Labour Exchange can register by going there in person. If she is not near a Labour Exchange she can get a form of registration from the Local Agency of the Unemployment Fund.
The object of registration is to find out what reserve force of women's labour, trained or untrained, can be available if required.
Any woman who by working helps to release a man or to equip a man for fighting does national war service.