Page 203 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-II

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THE COMMEMORATION OF THE FALLEN
197
by a small committee, of which Colonel Wike was chairman, Mrs. W.
Bowes (wife of Major W. Bowes, afterwards Lieutenant-Colonel W.
Bowes, D.S.O. , quartermaster of the 2nd Battalion) honorary secre–
tary and Major B. Smyth honorary treasurer. In the early days of this
system, the food was sent in parcels under contract with a Liverpool
firm; but this method did not prove satisfactory and was supple–
mented by the efforts of Mrs. J. A. Davenport (wife of Captain ] . A.
Davenport, who was wounded and taken prisoner at Haucourt on
26th August, 1914) and her helpers, by then IIO
in
number, who
during 1915 sent 945 additional parcels of food and clothing, each of
the latter including a great coat, a pair of boots, a suit and a set of
underclothing. Somewhat later, despatch was arranged through a
central depot in London under Government supervision. Colonel
Wike's committee made no public appeal for funds , but received in
all £1,067 from private individuals connected with, or interested in ,
the Regiment.
As the number of prisoners increased, it became necessary to
establish a more public organization embracing the whole regimental
area. The new body, whose first meeting was held on 18th December,
1916, consisted of the mayors of the boroughs and the chairmen of the
urban district councils of the area, with the Mayor of Bury (Alder–
man James Hacking) in the chair. An executive committee of ladies
was appointed, with Colonel Wike as chairman and Mrs. Bowes and
Major Smyth in their original offices. There were local sub-com–
mittees, notably in Bury, Rochdale and Salford. The number of
prisoners of the Regiment at this date was 305, of whom 157 were
at that time provided for by various societies, leaving 148 to be
looked after by the new committee, known as the Regimental Care
Committee. The latter's first act was to set about raising £4,500 for
the support in 1917 of its charges, whose number increased to 721 in
Germany, 17
in
Turkey and 2 in Bulgaria. For these the committee
eventually became entirely responsible as the societies just mentioned
ceased to act during the year. The boroughs and district councils
were asked to make their own arrangements for raising the share of
this sum which had been agreed with them. A house-to-house
collection in Bury on Christmas Day, 1916, produced £361 19s. 4d.
The 1st, 2nd, 4th, 6th and IIth Battalions also made generous
contributions.
Though the number of prisoners continued to grow, the new
system worked well as the cards of appreciation from them indicated.
The German offensive of March, 1918, again seriously increased the
ntimbers of prisoners and more funds were needed. At Colonel
Wike's suggestion, a sale, on the lines of those arranged in London
by the British Red Cross Society, whereby furniture, glass, china,
pictures and indeed anything of value were given free and auctioned,
was held in July, 1918, and the sum of £12,000 realized. Nor was the
sa1e premature . For the number of prisoners
in
Germany had risen
[tom 1,182 at the end of April, 1918, to 3,103 at the end of August .
Fortunately, anxiety was relieved by the Armistice of November,
1918.