The Telegraph Book of Readers' Letters from the Great War (7 page)

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FOREIGN BANDS

SIR – May I, in connection with the campaign which the Board of Trade have organised for assisting British traders to secure trade formerly in the hands of Germany, Austria and Hungary, make an appeal to the loaders of society not to engage German, Austrian or Hungarian bands, as has been the fashion to do for so many years? It is a well-known fact that for the past twenty years organisers of British bands have had an extremely hard time, owing to the vast amount of foreign bands performing in this country. The proprietors
of those bands have amassed large fortunes, probably every penny of which has been invested in their own country. This I feel is largely due to the apathy of the British public and society leaders in engaging these bands for their receptions, balls, &c., believing them to be far superior to our English bands.

I remain, yours sincerely,

Corelli Windeatt

Kingston-on-Thames

MUSICIANS AT THE FRONT

SIR – I am asked to compile a roll of professional musicians, composers, singers and instrumentalists now serving, as either officers or men, in any of the forces of the Crown. The particulars I require are name, rank and regiment. The roll will not contain the names of bandmasters and bandsmen in the British Army. I will acknowledge each communication if a stamped addressed envelope is enclosed.

Yours, &c.,

(Pte.) H.V. Jervis Read

A Company, Empire Battalion, 7th Royal Fusiliers, Whyteleafe, Surrey

SCHOOLBOYS AND THE WAR

SIR – At the present time schoolboys all over the country are asking themselves the question, What can I do to help in the war crisis? Few except the senior boys can hope to do much during the present struggle. I should like briefly to point out to them in what way they can at present best fit themselves to do that service later.

I have taught in English schools for many years. I have also had several years' experience of Continental schools and universities, chiefly in France. My experience has certainly shown me a far greater keenness on the part of French, Swiss and German boys. The average Continental schoolboy regards school work as a business, which has to be done with a certain degree of efficiency; he understands that he is at school to learn, and to train himself for the struggle of life, and he feels that ignorance and laziness are things to be ashamed of. In a word, there is less slackness in French and German schools than in the majority of ours.

Now, I put it as a logical proposition to English schoolboys that it is absurd to give two or three hours of their time each week to military drill and to learning habits of discipline, care and prompt obedience, if during the rest of the week they are slacking, idling and doing careless work in class. I suggest to them that what England wants in its young generations is keen, careful, competent men, capable of contending in all pursuits with the pushing German or the intelligent Frenchman. I tell them that their duty at the present time is
to cast aside all slackness and to make efficiency their watchword.

Would it not be possible to organise an Efficiency League for our secondary and public schools? Accepted members might have the right to wear some distinctive mark, and just as Boy Scouts are pledged to render useful service and to do at least one helpful deed a day, so they might be pledged to do their duty as boys by fitting themselves to be capable men. A moral, manly movement of this kind would be of immense value to the country. Will not the headmasters of our schools help to start it?

Whetstone

7 October 1914

SOLDIERS' WIVES

Appeal for Hospitality

SIR – You kindly published a letter from me at the beginning of the war in which I suggested that people living in the country might be glad of the opportunity of showing sympathy with our soldiers and sailors by taking their wives and newly born babies for a period of convalescence after leaving the hospital.

I had a very gratifying response to my appeal, and numbers of mothers have, after the good rest, returned to their homes
much more fitted to face the trying future. Moreover (and the value of this cannot be over-estimated), many women have for the first time been taught how to look after their infants properly.

These facts, and the many touching letters of gratitude which have reached me, embolden me to ask for more offers of hospitality. Now that the schools have reopened there must be many vacant rooms in country homes. I am in touch with many of the hospitals, and shall be only too pleased to make the preliminary arrangements.

Yours faithfully,

Muriel Foster
18 Hyde Park Terrace, W.

GENTLEMEN PRIVATES

SIR – Could not some relaxation be permitted in garrison towns during the war in respect to certain customs prevailing in normal times? I refer to Oxford and Cambridge men who have enlisted in the ranks under a deep sense of duty, risking practically everything to help their country at this time of need, yet, directly they get into the uniform of a private soldier certain clubs and hotels are closed against them in those towns. Why? Because they are wearing the King's uniform! They may be members of their Varsity and
London clubs, but that does not count where custom prevails! These men do not grumble at their unaccustomed surroundings and associations in which they are placed, but at being practically black-balled because they have responded to their country's call to arms! Is there any sense or justice in this?

Yours faithfully,

B.R.E.

Tunbridge Wells

9 October 1914

OUR SOLDIERS' WIDOWS

Need of Provision

SIR – Now that the Government has increased the separation allowances to such a figure that it will provide reasonable comforts for the wives and children of their breadwinners who have joined the colours, the next most important step should be for the State to make full and adequate provision for the widows and fatherless children of those of our heroes who have sacrificed their lives to protect the hearths and homes of all those who are left behind, and some of the children of whom will, we hope, become our future soldiers and sailors.

At the present moment all that this ‘grateful' nation does is to grant the pittance of 5s per week to the widow and 1s 6d to each of the children. This means poverty.

The death-rolls of our splendid soldiers and sailors are arriving almost daily, and widows, who have lost the separation allowances, will either be compelled to try to drag along as best they can on this so-called ‘pension', or obtain Poor Law relief as a permanency, or the homes must be broken up.

May I implore you to give me space for this letter, so that the great heart of England may be stirred – by a knowledge of the deficiency – to press that the widows and fatherless children of our brave men shall no longer be reliant upon charity, however ample it may be, but that permanent and satisfactory pensions shall be guaranteed to them without further loss of time, for the credit of England?

I am, Sir, yours, &c.,

Fredk. M. Gratton

Aspenden House, near Buntingford, Herts

10 October 1914

BOYCOTT OF GERMAN GOODS

SIR – I cannot help thinking that the suggestion to boycott German goods at the present time, if adopted, would be much more harmful than beneficial.

The stocks of German goods now held in this country by warehousemen and retailers were purchased and paid for long before this deplorable war commenced, or was ever thought of by the English trader. The goods belong now to our own countrymen, who are doing all they possibly can to assist, by subscribing to the various funds, and also helping to support the wives and families of thousands of employees fighting for their country.

Doubtless all of these traders would much rather deal in English-made goods in preference to foreign, and are just as earnest in wishing that this present great trouble may lead to a large increase in our home industries; many, to my knowledge, are also giving practical assistance by placing orders for supplies with English manufacturers for goods hitherto made in Germany. I would also point out that the trader in foreign goods here has hitherto had no option; he has not been able to purchase dolls, mechanical toys, and the hundred and one other articles he is required to supply, except from foreign sources.

There must be at least at the present time a million pounds sterling worth of German fancy goods and toys in the United
Kingdom, bought and paid for prior to the war. To attempt to boycott the sale of these goods would mean a most serious loss to our own countrymen only. No more German goods are likely to be imported for a very long time. Why not let the suggestion to boycott toys and fancy goods remain in abeyance until the termination of the war is in sight? The Germans will then be seeking business; boycott German goods then by all manner of means.

The difficulties of constructing suitable machinery and getting into the correct manufacturing groove will preclude English manufacturers turning out sufficient supplies for some little time to come. The German stocks will then have been got rid of, and the market open to receive home-made productions.

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