THE WORK OF THE WHITE RIBBON ASSOCIATION DURING WORLD WAR I and II
During both World Wars, our Organisation concentrated its efforts in supporting soldiers and sailors, and their families, throughout the country, whilst still promoting the temperance message.
Recreation and refreshment rooms for military personnel was a key activity undertaken by all Branches throughout the war. The rooms, set up in town centres, provided warm surroundings, books, newspapers and refreshments at reasonable prices.
Refreshment Rooms were often set up in train stations throughout the country to serve soldiers and sailors who were passing through. A canteen set up at York train station had to be moved into an old third class train carriage because demand was so great; between November 1915 and August 1916 they served over 400,000 men.
Appeals were often made for clothing donations for the troops. Mittens, mufflers, shirts, socks and gloves, as well as any ‘home comforts’, were regularly requested for the men in the field. In 1915, a plea was sent to Headquarters for donations towards a motor kitchen which could be sent to France. Originally, they required £450 but a total of £1,400 was raised. This enabled them to provide two kitchens for the Rest Camps in Calais and Boulogne.
REFRESHMENT TENT AT BARRACKS IN CARDIFF
MOTOR KITCHEN 1915
Just as they had done in World War I, the ladies of the National British Women’s Temperance Association (N.B.W.T.A – previously known as the B.W.T.A) set up Refreshment and Recreation Rooms for soldiers and sailors around the country. They sold newspapers, writing materials, boot laces, soap and cigarettes, they undertook the washing and mending of clothes, and arranged for the men to have hot baths.
Mobile Canteens were a common feature during World War II, with many Branches fundraising to supply them. In total, eleven Canteens were gifted to the Y.M.C.A and another two to the Salvation Army. The Canteens cost approximately £250 each (nearly £10,000 in today’s money), and were used throughout the country as well as some being sent over to France.
Mobile Canteens were also used within air raid shelters to prevent people drinking alcohol. They were well equipped to offer tea and coffee, as well as hot food. Manchester and Salford were the first areas to provide the informally named ‘Water Wagons’, which toured shelters (whether there was an air raid or not) between 20:30 and 02:00.