Monday, 11 May 2015

Food Parcels for Prisoners of War

British Red Cross Parcel, World War II [Wikimedia]

Tuesday 11th May 1915: The Prisoners’ of War Help Committee has sent out an appeal for help to meet the needs of British soldiers now in German prison camps. A local Committtee has been set up which now has a list of the names of all Bedfordshire men known to be prisoners of war. The Committee has asked for helpers to send food and clothing weekly or fortnightly. An incentive for donors is that no charge is made for delivery of these parcels, regardless of weight. Any packages weighing less than eleven pounds will be sent through the General Post Office, with heavier parcels being carried by the American Express Company. It is understood that when sent through the correct channels nearly 99 out of every 100 parcels sent are received by the addressees. It has also been suggested that food depots should be set up throughout the county to which gifts could be taken. Volunteer ladies would then package the goods ready for delivery, and where money was given rather than items they would use this purchase whatever was required.

There is no doubt that food parcels are very much appreciated by their recipients. Private William Housden from Biggleswade, who was taken prisoner while serving with the Suffolk Regiment, has written a letter of thanks for one sent to him by Messrs. Chew and Son of Biggleswade. He says that he is being well treated, but as the letter was subjected to heavy censorship it would have been difficult to say otherwise:

“I received your parcel quite safely, and I thank you very much indeed, as parcels are very acceptable. We are quite all right here, as we are treated very well. I am sure it is very kind of you to send such a nice parcel, and I feel very much indebted to you for your great kindness towards me. I hope you are having nice weather at Biggleswade, and wish I was there to help you enjoy it. … I am feeling a little lonely here, as I am the only one in this camp who comes from the dear old town of Biggleswade. The parcel was quite intact, with the exception of the sugar. The bag had burst, and the sugar, I was sorry to find, had disappeared through a little hole in the corner of the parcel, but I soon got some from the camp canteen, so all is well --- [CENSORED] --- I am writing by return of post, as all letters and postcards get a severe censorship before leaving here.”

Source: Bedfordshire Standard 14th May 1915 and 21st May 1915

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