The WI in WW2 – taken from WI minutes and the parish magazine
Up to September 1939, the minutes of the committee meetings and monthly meetings of the Women’s Institute suggest that the ladies of Moore and Daresbury were content to spend their free time on lantern shows, demonstrations such as how to use a sewing machine, games and competitions such as jam making. There was an annual trip by coach, the one in June 1939 was to Wedgwood’s Pottery and Trentham Gardens. Monthly meetings were held at the Milner Institute on the 4th Thursday of the month at 7p.m. ‘Jerusalem’ was sung at the start of each meeting and the National Anthem at the close.
War is Declared
Minutes show a dramatic change once war is declared; all County events were cancelled, as were many of the monthly lectures and demonstrations, due to petrol rationing and there being other things to be done. Instead, members were asked to work on comforts and hospital necessities for the Forces. Cheshire Federation asked for meetings to be made especially cheerful and practical, and the meeting time was moved to 2.30pm because of the blackout enforcement. Working parties were to be formed to make comforts and other necessities for the forces.
During the summer of 1939, members made 2311 pots of jam, 340 pots of jelly, 420 jars of bottled fruit and 112lbs of bottled vegetables. Surplus garden produce was sold at meetings. In one month, January 1940, 54 knitted articles were made and distributed to the Forces. Many letters of appreciation were received throughout the war for these comforts.
Parish Magazine – November 1939: The Moore and Daresbury Women’s Institute.
The next meeting will be held on 23rd November at 2.30 pm. (4th Thursday)
As most members know that owing to restrictions the Women’s Institute activities in the county have been cancelled. We are asked to continue the monthly meetings as we have formed a Working Party, and the members will work for comforts for the Forces and hospital necessities. All members and friends are invited to attend the meetings.
Parish Magazine – December 1939: The Moore and Daresbury Women’s Institute.
This month’s meeting will be held on the 14th December (2nd Thursday) at 2.30 pm., and will take the form of a combined Annual Meeting and Working Party, when next year’s activities will be discussed. On behalf of the Women’s Institute, Mrs Frodsham would like to thank very warmly all those who gave such wonderful help in goods, money or time to the Rummage Sale, which broke all records with the takings of £28/14s/6d. Everybody is now knitting away merrily and already a great quantity of woollies has been dispatched, some to individuals, and some to various headquarters. We are very grateful
Knitting and Sewing
A large quantity of wool and knitting patterns were obtained and distributed, ‘Everyone being very anxious to do their bit’.
Amongst the knitted items were sea-boot stockings for British and Allied Forces, and vests for children in occupied countries. A far cry from competitions such as ‘My prettiest plate’, which continued to be held at monthly meetings too.
During 1940, the WI ladies knitted 400 garments for the Forces. In 1941, 301 woollen garments were made. A request was received from the Country Comforts store for volunteers to make bed jackets for use in ATS sick bays.
At the end of 1941 a special appeal by Mrs Churchill called for woollen comforts for the Russians. The NFWI arranged a school for the making up of fur after curing. In the Summer of 1942, Cheshire Federation sent out an appeal for rabbit skins, to be dried and sent to Head Office, ultimately to be used to line Russian helmets. By November, 93 skins had been dried and despatched from Moore and Daresbury.
Parish Magazine – July 1941: Fruit Preservation Centre
The local Centre for the jamming of fruit in this area is the Milner Institute, Moore, which has been fully equipped for the purpose, and helpers are now ready to comply with the Government request to make as much jam as possible for the use if the general public. If a good supply of fruit is forthcoming, it may be possible later in the year to increase the jam ration for everybody.
Market prices will be paid for all fruit, and this should be sent to Mrs Carmichael, Ivy Bank, Moore. Telephone, 237. ‘Phone, when possible, to give notice of arrival of fruit.
Bulk sugar was obtained by Headquarters for use by members for preserving fruit. Moore and Daresbury’s share was 3cwt.
In 1940 169 lbs of jam had been made under the Fruit Preservation Scheme. In 1941 they made 273lbs of jam.
In 1941, cans were ordered for fruit canning using the WI’s canning machine. ‘Several members had Spring cleaned the kitchen ready for this great work of national importance’.
Eeking out the Rations
Towards the end of 1939 a canteen was opened in the village by WI members and other villagers, for troops serving in the district.
In 1944, the WI introduced a scheme to provide meat pies in rural areas. This was adopted by Moore and Daresbury WI. It was reported that 11,000 meat pies were made – how incredible! Can it be true?
In December 1945 it was proposed to give a gratuity of 10s to the girl who delivered the pies.
Rummage sales were held, the proceeds used to buy more wool for the W.I. Working Party.
Funds were invested in War Savings Certificates – £9 recorded in April 1940
The ladies organised paper and card collections, Rummage Sales and Beetle Drives to provide funds for more wool. Refreshments were charged at 3d instead of 2d, the difference being allocated to the wool fund. Daresbury Church Choir donated £5 to the wool fund.
In September 1942, proceeds from paper salvage, £4 4s 0d sent to Mrs Churchill’s Russian Red Cross Fund
Members collected 17s/6d for an appeal to supply harmonicas to the troops. Aluminium was also collected. A scheme called Cheshire Aircraft Victory Fund was started, the aim was to provide a Spitfire plane for the defence of the Country.
In October 1944, £3 was sent from Moore and Daresbury W.I.’s funds to an appeal, the Royal Air Force Cigarette Fund.
The End of the War
At the end of the war, things very gradually stabilised, though things were still very difficult.
The preservation centre was finally closed in November 1945 and the equipment disposed of. The following May, the office of food leader was abandoned ‘unless a crisis arose.’
In November 1946, there was an appeal for toys for Polish children. In November 1947, the National Federation of Women’s Institutes started an initiative entitled ‘Operation Produce’, but the committee at Moore and Daresbury felt they could not do more to encourage members to grow more food.
A Dixie canning machine was ordered at the start of 1948 and in October it was still in full use at the Institute, members being charged 1/- for its use, plus 6d per can.
Rationing was still causing difficulties in 1949, when it was recorded that a food permit had been applies for so that the WI could obtain tea, sugar and milk.
Snippets from the Minutes
In March 1940 a talk was given ‘How to make the most of your rations’. A lb of sugar was a well-received competition prize.
WI trip planned for July 1940, ‘providing nothing unforeseen happens’ – the trip was cancelled.
Beetle Drive held during the social half hour – prize – a 1lb bag of sugar
Eggs from the egg collection distributed to Dutton Institution and Dutton Hospital
County Council classes in dressmaking and renovations – especially useful during wartime
‘Wartime Thrift’ talk given by Miss Caine of Bowden
Garden meeting held at The Beeches including a bring and buy stall, mystery flower competition, treasure hunt and team game. An invitation was extended to all WAAF’s serving in the district.
All this was happening despite the sad loss of some of the ladies’ family members. The president, Mrs Hilda Frodsham, lost her son, Neville, when HMS Hood was attacked and sunk on 24 May 1941.