This article comes from the British Nursing Journal dated 7th August 1915.
The Central Depot for all surgical supplies for the Queen Mary’s Needlework Guild was at St. Marylebone War Hospital in London. We are given here an interesting insight into the working of the depot by the correspondent.
In 1915 £1 for a Dundee Cake was a very high price. In April 1915 the weekly budget for a middle class family for a weekly supply of cakes, fruit and pickle as 5 shillings. Taking into account that Afternoon tea with a variety of cakes was still the normal practice of most families.
“THE MARYLEBONE WAR SUPPLY DEPOT.
Anyone accepting the invitation of the St. Marylebone War Hospital Supply Depot, 2, Cavendish Square, W., displayed in large letters over its portico, to “Come and See,” will find the beautiful house (generously put at the disposal of the Committee by the Earl of Crawford and Balcarres), a hive of industry; in which, under the direction of the Hon. Organizer, Miss Ethel McCaul; R.R.C., much willing voluntary help is being utilized to do valuable work for the comfort of the sick and wounded, the object of the Depot being to supply at home and abroad surgical dressings, bandages and general hospital requirements, so urgently needed at the present time.
Her Majesty‘ the Queen recently paid it a visit, and was so pleased with what she then saw, that it is now the Central Depot of the Surgical Branch of Queen Mary’s Needlework Guild; and the Depots in the country work from patterns supplied from this centre, so that any demand from France can be quickly met. Miss McCaul and the Heads of Departments are distinguished by close-fitting coats, dove-grey in colour; and her “runners,” known as the “Bluebirds,” wear a broad blue band of ribbon passing over the right shoulder and joined, below the waist, on the opposite side. The overseers in the various rooms wear a scarlet band round the left arm, with a white “0” embroidered upon it. There are also workers told off to show visitors round, who wear a broad scarlet ribbon over the shoulder and meeting under the opposite arm, who are known as “scarlet runners ’’ ; while those connected with the tea-room have a distinctive “T” embroidered on the ribbon.
The running expenses of the Depot are covered by a weekly subscription of one shilling from the voluntary workers, so that the whole of any donation received is solely devoted to the purchase of material required for making the supplies.
When a representative of this Journal recently visited the Depot, the whole of the energies of the staff were bent on fulfilling a request from the War Office for a quarter-of-a-million pockets for respirators. Each man at present carries one round his neck, but the pocket will enable him to keep one in reserve. It is made of khaki waterproof lining; supplied from the War Office Clothing Department at Pimlico. These flat pockets are supplied so that the men can sew them on to their uniforms. At the top are two button-holes; and tacked on at the side are two buttons, to be stitched on to the tunic. Each pocket, including button-holes, takes an average worker fifteen minutes to make, but in one room is a fascinating button-hole machine, which makes twelve buttonholes in five minutes ; this, of course, considerably accelerates matters. In one room, one saw twenty pockets with beautifully worked button holes made by an old lady of eighty-four, anxious to do her bit.
In the bandage room, for the production of all forms of surgical bandages, some very interesting specimens of the Robertson-Lawson many-tail bandages were on view. Mrs. Robertson-Lawson, by whom they were designed, was trained and has recently been working as Sister at St. Thomas’ Hospital. She found that for bad hip cases the application of a spica bandage necessitating unnecessary, and painful movement, was quite unsuitable, and so designed a shaped many-tail bandage, which proved quite a success, the dressing being easily and comfortably changed, and the back being quite accessible for care. Mrs. Robertson-Lawson kindly demonstrated the application of this bandage, as well of a shaped shoulder one. Both are made of white flannelette (non-flam), which is easily washed. Any regular Military Hospital can be supplied with patterns on application.
The Departments include the surgical dressings room, the splint room, the moss and pine dressing room, the needlework room, where dressing gowns, bed jackets, flannel shirts, pajamas, night shirts, and other garments are made, the slipper room, where slippers of all sorts and sizes for invalids are fashioned, the linen room where old linen is sorted, cut out, and re-made to the best advantage. Thus from sheets are made draw sheets, operation table sheets, tray cloths, feeders, towels, handkerchiefs, fomentation wringers, and dressings. From old bath towels, small towels, and washing gloves; from chintz, soldiers’ bags; from blankets, hot water bottle covers, under blankets, and scrubbers, from which it will be seen that little comes amiss.
In the men’s department there is a large covered carpenter’s shop, fitted with benches, where packing cases, splints, and other articles are made. Voluntary men workers are urgently needed to support this department, and are asked to bring their own tools if they have them. All correspondence in connection with the men’s department should be addressed to J. E. Needham Esq.
Cake Day on Wednesday, July 28th, organized by Lady Thynne and Mrs. Burdon Muller was a, huge success. Over 1,000 cakes were received to be sold for the benefit of British prisoners of war, the Army, the Navy, and the funds of the Depot.
The Queen sent twelve fine Dundee cakes, expressing the wish that they should be bought for prisoners of war in Germany, and they were quickly sold early in the afternoon at £1 each.”