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"The Effect of a Cup of Tea is magical"

This week we bring you another Heritage Bulletin Vlog, the script can be seen below.

Hello and welcome back to another Heritage Bulletin Vlog  we’ve been very busy over the last few months with lots of exciting projects like the launch of our Narrative reports on our online archive.

In 1950 a report called WVS Work in Hospitals, said that “the effect of a cup of tea is magical” and looking at the many objects which represent tea and its importance to the organisation is like looking down a rabbit hole, you never know what you might find. Here in front of me are just a couple of examples of the mugs and tea pots we have produced over the years.

Providing tea and food during World War II was a main feature of WVS work so I thought I’d share a tea related story with you this week called Caravan Canteen.

“A hospital train pulled into the siding. Stretcher-bearers clambered out. They set their stretchers down and the casualties came to life and converged upon us. We were surrounded. “Coffee? Tea? Soup?”

The soup came out of the tap in a reddish gush into the white mug. An aged man conspicuously labelled fractured femur sniffed at it with the sagacity of an ancient foxhound. “Tomato soup”, I improvised. “Or would you rather have tea?” fractured Femur nodded. I drew off a mugful from the other urn. It swirled into the mug with a deep and greenish look, as if from the dark backward and abysm of time.

“WVS colours, huh?” said a voice in the crowd”. But they drank up, and after the first urn was emptied the tea came out a better colour."

That’s all we have time for but you can read the full story by clicking on the link below.

WVS Bulletin March 1940 page 7

Posted by Jennifer Hunt, Deputy Archivist at 09:00 Monday, 21 August 2017.

Labels: WVS, WRVS, Royal Voluntary Service, Tea, Canteen, World War II

The Army Hitler forgot

Our Narrative Reports and correspondence files are strewn with the whimsy of some of the more creative of the WVS centre organisers over the years. And one of their favourite past times was including with their letters or little poems. These ranged in skill from the sublime to the downright awful, but below, for your delight is one of the most charming we have come across.

WVS – The Army Hitler Forgot

Has the question ever been put to you
Can you tell me what the WVS do?
Oh yes! Of course, they drive a car
Serve cups of tea from a canteen Bar
With such duties light, in a gentle way
They easily pass the livelong day.
No, no! They are wrong, and must be told
Of the different story we now unfold.

We Camouflage, “Make do and Mend”
Knit, Sew and Wedding Dresses lend
Rest Centres, Information and CAB
Red Cross messages, Salvage and VCP
Overseas Gifts for those “Bombed Out”
A boon to our country without a doubt
Meals for the Land Army, and Home Guard as well
National Savings the Exchequer to swell
Billeting, Hospitality, the Child’s Clothing Exchange
Are some of the activities within our range.

Take out school meals, rose hips collect
Try hard to fill in “Returns” correct.
Reports, Statistics, Forms One, Two and Three
Besides the Canteens and Cups of Tea.
Welfare for the forces is in daily request
Furnishing, Libraries, Mending socks and vests.
Whatever they ask we try to provide
To perform a “Miracle” is the WVS pride.

The housewives section do jobs without end
In lulls and Emergencies are the Warden’s Friend
With Demonstrations, Meetings and Exercises too
They are known to all by the cards “Red” and “Blue”.
In all Emergencies the WVS are there
Looking after the Homeless with Tender care.
We feed, we clothe and the Frightened Soothe
And being “Basically Trained” can trouble remove.

Our days are full with routine work
And the dullest job we never shirk
Yes, with willing hearts in the Isle of Wight
We “Stankonovite” from morn till night
And if our efforts can shorten the war
By just one day, well that’s worth working for
And if we are tired and weary, we don’t care a jot
For we are part of the “Army that Hitler Forgot”.

By Mrs S C Needham, county organiser for the Isle of Wight, October 1943

Posted by Matthew McMurray, Royal Voluntary Service Archivist at 09:00 Tuesday, 26 May 2015.

Labels: Hitler, WVS, Canteens, Land Army , Home guard, National Savings, Tea , VCP, Make do and mend, Camouflage, Red cross, Gifts