War Memorial 1921

The Great War of 1914 to 1918
Picture Gallery of
Bury St Edmunds and surrounds
Mainly from postcards

 

Picture Page 8 - Keep the home fires burning
and women at work

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As the first Christmas of the war arrived, people on the Home Front were keen to send messages of support to their loved ones overseas. Even the local Council felt it appropriate to express their support for the troops. This letter, dated 19th December 1914, was sent to the 1st Battalion, the Suffolk Regiment from the Mayor, Aldermen and Burgesses of Bury St Edmunds sending them greetings and support. It is clear from the format of the letter that the same sentiments were dispatched to every Suffolk Battalion in the field. (SRO)

Some of the nurses at Ampton Hall hospital. Large numbers of casualties returned from the Front required new hospitals and large numbers of nurses to staff them. The Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) was a voluntary organisation providing field nursing services, mainly in hospitals, in the United Kingdom.
(Gerald Brown collection.)

This postcard shows the nurses at Saxham Hall in their Dining Room. They are clearly wearing different uniforms to the VAD at Ampton Hall. (A previous postcard showed them lined up for their photographs outside under the porticoe.)

This WB Photograph shows a Red Cross Ambulance in front of the temporary hospital hut wards at Ampton Hall Red Cross hospital. The ambulance has a woman driver, but her name is unrecorded. We do know that one of the very few women drivers was Dorothy Goulding, of the 41st Detachment of the Suffolk Red Cross Society, whose day job was delivering groceries around Clare in a Ford Model T van. Up to three times a week she would answer a call for volunteers to drive the wounded from Ingham station to hospital at Ampton Hall. This could be as late as 3am, after which she returned to Clare to attend to her deliveries at 6am. Her detachment was called out for 40 of the 92 convoys. She became Mrs Monty Mills of Wickhambrook Garage in 1922.

The women of the Ingham Post Office. Large amounts of mail would pass through this Post Office to and from the army camp in the village.

Glemsford flax factory producing linen yarn, 1916. Several war service badges and forage caps can also be seen in this picture, indicating that these were Women's Land Army volunteers.

The garage of T H Nice in Abbeygate Street was engaged in war work. Many peacetime businesses, both large and small, were turned over to war production during the Great War. Thomas H. Nice & Co. had premises at 21 Abbeygate Street and as motor engineers and cycle makers on the Angel Hill. Pictured here in 1916 are the staff during the First World War when the Abbeygate Street premises were used as a munitions factory.
(Martyn Taylor Collection)

This is a close up of three of the young women working at T H Nice & Co making shells for the war effort. Women munitions workers were known as "Munitionettes". Many of the women were wearing their triangular 'On War Service' badges as seen here. This gave them a measure of public recognition, and in some cases reduced bus fares.
(Martyn Taylor Collection)

This picture shows the triangular 'On War Service' badge worn by munitionettes. According to the Imperial War Museum this triangular shaped badge was issued in May 1916 by the Ministry of Munitions. It was intended solely for women engaged in urgent war work. A clue to this fact is that the previous versions of the badge intended for men have a button hole fitting on the back. The 1916 triangular badge has a pin like a brooch for women.
(Picture from Wikipedia)

This picture by Walton Burrell shows members of the Women's Land Army working on the Ampton Estate, with a wounded soldier from the Ampton Hall hospital.
(Picture from SRO)

Many individual young women took up skilled jobs left vacant by men in the Services. One such was Sybil Andrews who would become well known as an artist in later life. At the end of the war, Sybil Andrews returned to Bury St Edmunds, having been away on vital war work for the duration. She had been a welder working on aeroplane parts; firstly in Coventry and then in Bristol, where this photograph was taken. In her few spare hours she had started "John Hassall's Correspondence Course" in basic art studies. By late 1918 she was still taking the correspondence course in art, and was determined to pursue this at nights, after teaching during the day. She came to live in Bury with her mother at 117 Northgate Street, and taught at Portland House School to pay her way.

On 26th July 1915 the firm of Robert Boby wrote to the Secretary of The Women's Social and Political Union, asking to be provided with women suitable for working lathes and drills, to be paid at ordinary rates and accommodated and supervised by the Women's Social and Political Union.

This picture shows the men and women who were working on munitions at Robert Boby Engineering during the First World War. It comes from the Bury Free Press of 11th March, 1977, and the picture was supplied by Mr C Hoxley of Thurston.


Following the death of Robert Boby in 1886, other family members had continued to run the business. In the Great War the factory turned to munitions production. Here we see one of Boby's lorries at St Andrews Ironworks together with soldiers thought to be Army Service Corps, 259 Company. If so, this company was raised in February 1915, as part of the 15th Scottish Division.
(Postcard sold on EBay for 62 June, 2014.)

The Cordite Factory at Stowmarket. This postcard was posted in 1915, and shows the long established explosives works at Stowmarket. Explosives had been made in Stowmarket since 1864, and the works had experienced a devastating explosion in 1871. The factory had its own sidings and we see the Gunpowder Van clearly marked for safety, and barrels waiting to be loaded. These were sometimes combined into complete train loads and sent to the Woolwich Arsenal for use in bullets or shells, or other types of ammunition.
(Picture from "Suffolk's Railways" by Dennis Cross, 1993.)

We are used to the idea of food rationing during the Second World War, but its use was begun during the Great War of 1914-1918. This ration card wallet was issued from April 1918 by Barwells the Butcher to help their customers keep ration vouchers safe, but also served as a handy advertisement.
(Martyn Taylor Collection.)

This shows a meat ration card issued to Graham Tidmarsh of Hill Crest, Northgate Avenue, Bury St Edmunds. There were nine people at this address entitled to rations. Tidmarsh was registered to buy his rationed meat only from Barwells.

Meat, bacon and ham went on ration on 7th April, 1918 and everyone had to register with a butcher. Bacon and ham came off ration on 28th July, 1918, raw meat not until 15th December, 1919.
(Martyn Taylor Collection.)


Butter and Margerine were also rationed so another card was issued for those commodities. Here the retailer is the Maypole Dairy on the Cornhill at Bury St Edmunds.

Butter and margerine were rationed on 14th July, 1918, along with lard. Lard came off ration in December, 1918. Margerine was rationed up to 16th February, 1919, and butter until 30th May, 1920.
(Martyn Taylor Collection.)


Sugar was also rationed so another card was issued for this. Sugar was vital because of its preservative qualities for bottling fruit , jam making, etc. This retailer was Whites in St Johns Street.

Sugar was rationed from 31st December, 1917 until 29th November, 1920. Even jam went on ration from 2nd November, 1918 until 15th April, 1919.
(Martyn Taylor Collection.)


This sugar ticket had to be given to the retailer upon the purchase of any controlled sugar.

Tea was not formally rationed as such, but sales were restricted to 2 ounces per head from 14th July 1918 to 2nd December, 1918.
(Martyn Taylor Collection.)


The process of rationing was a huge bureaucratic exercise. It was also a big administrative problem for families as exact vouchers had to be issued and accounted for, resulting in fragments of vouchers needing to be cut up and safely retained.

Nevertheless, rationing succeeded in ensuring that people did not starve. Unrestricted submarine warfare in 1917 had caused food prices to rise and shortages became critical. Despite the efforts of the Womens Land Army to cultivate more farmland, Britain still relied upon its food imports to maintain supplies in the shops.
(Martyn Taylor Collection.)


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