WVS Overseas

The news for the past few weeks has been mostly dominated by horrendous events happening all over the world.  While today the Royal Voluntary Service’s purpose is to help older people, in Great Britain (as anyone who has been reading this blog will realise) this wasn’t always the case. 

WVS had a presence or connections, especially during and after the second world war in both the Middle East and West Africa, doing all manner of works as these extracts from the WVS Bulletin for May 1946 show.

“In Iran and Iraq there was naturally a great deal of Services welfare for WVS to do, and canteens, clubs, hospitality, knitting and mending for the Forces formed the chief part of their work.

In Abadan (Iran) the WVS consisted almost entirely of the wives of the officials of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, who knitted and mended for the troops, did canteen work, raised money for war charities, made clothes for Polish refugees and organised parties for Servicemen.

Iraq also had working parties in Bagdad, and produced hospital supplies for the Middle East, clothes for Greece and for the bombed-out people at home, as well as parcels for prisoners of war. They ran hospital libraries, visited men in hospital and arranged private hospitality for the troops.

In Sierra Leone Services welfare was the main activity of WVS, who ran clubs and canteens for the Allied Forces in Freetown. It also had an information bureaux and organised drives for the raising of money and the collection of rubber.

Nigeria, for instance, felt that some good use should be made of the large quantities of goat and sheep skins which were available in the country, so—over a dinner table at an evening party in 1940—it was decided by a small group of friends to try to raise a little money to produce leather jackets to send to England as comforts for the Fighting Services and Civil Defence. The Fund flourished and the work grew: it christened itself the Windcheater Leather Jacket Fund and it eventually produced an average of 1100 jackets per month, which were sent to England and distributed”


Posted by Matthew McMurray at 09:00 Monday, 08 September 2014.

Labels: Iraq, Iran, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Services Welfare, Goat Skin, canteen, Knitting, mending, Anglo-Iranian Oil company, freetown

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