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#26 healdav

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Posted 26 May 2010 - 09:22 AM

There was what can be called official discrimination. The Red Cross and NAAFI had tea stalls on stations, but would only serve men in uniform. This meant that, for example, when my father was travelling with RN officers, they could get a cup of tea, but he couldn't! - they would buy one for him, of course. It was even more stupid as if he had been army he would have been in uniform, but with the RN his job was civilian (and still is today).

My grandmother - who was a bit funny - always refused to buy a poppy because of this.

#27 RobL

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Posted 26 May 2010 - 03:58 PM

Of course, there was nothing stopping the women handing out the white feathers to 'do their bit' over on the various fronts either

#28 MichaelBully

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Posted 26 May 2010 - 08:26 PM

This one reason I find the subject fascinating ; there seems so few women who came forward after the Great War to state that they were amongst the women with the white feathers. Perhaps they did all go on to become VAD nurses, munition workers,Land Girls, or take on one of the many jobs considered to be 'male' occupations,or become dedicated fund raisers for refugee welfare charities, whilst the Great War ran its course. Perhaps not.



QUOTE (RobL @ May 26 2010, 04:58 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Of course, there was nothing stopping the women handing out the white feathers to 'do their bit' over on the various fronts either


#29 Michael Johnson

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Posted 26 May 2010 - 09:29 PM

More likely they had second thoughts as the casualty lists grew longer and longer, and they realized that they might have sent a man to his death.

#30 truthergw

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Posted 27 May 2010 - 01:17 PM

Some of the women may well have lost a husband, son, brother or sweetheart. Under the stress of the loss, they may have acted irrationally to seeing someone not obviously doing his bit. That is what my Granny told me, she was a war widow herself and would have been sympathetic to women in that position. She also thought that some did it from purely jingoistic reasons and gave those women short shrift.

#31 David Faulder

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Posted 27 May 2010 - 03:06 PM

Might the whole "white feather" phenomena have been deliberately over-hyped at the time? I would image for someone who had not joined up the fear of being "feathered" might have almost as big an effect as it actually happening.

Therefore for the campaign to work, it (being feathered) only has to happen sufficiently often to make people believe that it might happen to them.

Hence another reason for the low number of people coming forward to say they had been involved?

David

#32 MichaelBully

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Posted 27 May 2010 - 07:07 PM

That's a good point Tom, something I hadn't thought of. A consideration we need to carry with us. Thanks.

David- It is possible that the fear of being 'white feathered' had an impact, along with other pressures to join up. I think that who might give the man concerned a white feather could have significance -would it be a stranger or a woman such as a neighbour or work colleague or a woman the young man might want to impress? Someone they might, or would want to see again?Also the newspapers reporting the phenomenum could well have led to 'copycat' incidents.

Certainly it would be interesting to somehow estimate the number of women who might be handing out the white feathers, was it more likely to be hundreds rather than thousands.

Regards

Michael Bully



QUOTE (truthergw @ May 27 2010, 02:17 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Some of the women may well have lost a husband, son, brother or sweetheart. Under the stress of the loss, they may have acted irrationally to seeing someone not obviously doing his bit. That is what my Granny told me, she was a war widow herself and would have been sympathetic to women in that position. She also thought that some did it from purely jingoistic reasons and gave those women short shrift.


#33 depaor01

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Posted 17 June 2010 - 08:46 AM

QUOTE (David Faulder @ Apr 28 2010, 10:07 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
When did the practice actually die out? I have heard rumour that it also occurred during WW2.

David


Not a rumour - It does indeed seem to have occurred during WW2. Attached is a strongly-worded Daily Mirror editorial of the 30th August 1940.

DailyMirror.jpg

#34 MichaelBully

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Posted 17 June 2010 - 08:45 PM

An interesting poem called 'The Jingo Woman' by Helen Hamilton about the women with the white feather, from 1917.
which appears in the anthology 'Scars upon my Heart -Women's poetry & verse of the First World War'

Jingo-woman
(How I dislike you!)
Dealer in white feathers,
Insulter, self-appointed,
Of all the men you meet,
Not dressed in uniform,
When to your mind,
(A sorry mind),
They should be,
The test?
The judgment of your eye,
That wild, infuriate eye,
Whose glance, so you declare,
Reveals unerringly,
Who’s good for military service,
Oh! Exasperating woman,
I’d like to wring your neck,
I really would!
You make all women seem such duffers!
Besides exemptions,
Enforces and held reluctantly,
- Not that you’ll believe it –
You must know surely
Men there are and young men too,
Physically not fit to serve,
Who look in the civilian garb
Quite stout and hearty.
And most of whom, I’ll wager,
Have been rejected several times.
How keen, though, your delight,
Keen and malignant,
Should one offer you his seat,
In crowded bus or train,
Thus giving you the chance to say,
In cold, incisive tones of scorn:
“No, I much prefer to stand
as you, young man, are not in khaki”!
Heavens! I wonder you’re alive!
Oh, these men,
These twice-insulted men,
What iron self-control they show.
What wonderful forbearance!

But still the day may come
For you to prove yourself
As sacrificial as upbraiding.
So far they are not taking us
But if the war goes on much longer
They might,
Nay more,
They must,
When the last man has gone.
And if and when that dark day dawns,
You’ll join up first, of course,
Without waiting to be fetched.
But in the meantime,
Do hold your tongue!
You shame us women.
Can’t you see it isn’t decent,
To flout and goad men into doing,
What is not asked of you?


http://oldpoetry.com...The-Jingo-Woman

#35 manchester terrier

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Posted 23 July 2010 - 08:56 AM

Came across this in "A People's History of Leicester" by Ned Newitt

Attached Images

  • white feather card resized.jpg


#36 joee86

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Posted 23 July 2010 - 09:06 AM

I heard about the white feather as a child when my grandad said about my great grandfather, I didnt know then it was a wide spread thing and thought it was a one off. My great grandfather was in the army since 1906 and during the war he was injured twice. On one of these occations he was given the white feather and procedeed to kick the woman. Though obviously wrong, I cant imagine how angry a proud soldier of 10 plus years would feel especially as he knew he was going back. Its sad to think it was encouraged. I feel for the men who had every intention to fight but could not for different reasons.

#37 MichaelBully

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Posted 26 July 2010 - 10:37 AM

Manchester Terrier- that's amazing, I have never seen an image of such a card before. Appreciate you scanning this.

Joe, from my reading up earlier this year about the 'women with the white feathers' ,I recall there were accounts of the women concerned getting threatened or even slapped, usually in such cases where they picked on a serving or wounded soldier, who for one reason or another was not in uniform.
Yes, there certainly men who were not able to fight but felt guilty about not going to the 'Front. I have posted in several discussion about Hove office, Victor Richardson M.C., who is portrayed in Vera Brittain autobiographical work. Victor managed to join the army in September 1914, but was struck with meningitis in February 1915 in an army training camp, but did not reach the 'Front until September 1916, simply from being not physically strong enough, even though all the evidence suggests that he was looking forward to going out there.

Regards

Michael Bully




I heard about the white feather as a child when my grandad said about my great grandfather, I didnt know then it was a wide spread thing and thought it was a one off. My great grandfather was in the army since 1906 and during the war he was injured twice. On one of these occations he was given the white feather and procedeed to kick the woman. Though obviously wrong, I cant imagine how angry a proud soldier of 10 plus years would feel especially as he knew he was going back. Its sad to think it was encouraged. I feel for the men who had every intention to fight but could not for different reasons.



#38 Pighills

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Posted 26 July 2010 - 10:13 PM

Harrogate is quite a small town, even today we remain quite small so imagine how small the town would have been nearly 100 years ago when war broke out.

I say this because I have come across two incidents (apart from my other half's great granddad mentioned earlier in this thread) which I think are related. If this could happen in such a small town, imagine what it would be like in a big city!

Incident 1 - posted previously on a different thread

Saturday 14th November 1914

Harrogate and Knaresborough Claro Times

Oatlands Tragedy

Young Man Worries Over White Feather

Landlady's Shocking Discovery, Coroner's Severe Remarks



At the Oatland Mount Wesleyan School room, Harrogate on Monday afternoon, Mr J R Wood, the coroner for the district, held an inquest on the body of Robert Greaves aged 30 years of 45 Hookstone Road. Mr William Fletcher was foreman of the jury, Superintendent Fernside was present. Mrs Mary Wrigglesworth 45 Rudding View Hookstone Road, said the deceased lodged at her house and was a store-keeper with Messrs Mackay, motor engineers of Harrogate. He had lodged with her for over 12 years. He had always been rather delicate, but had worked regularly.

The coroner: had anything been worrying him? Witness: This war business seemed to get on his mind, and he could not eat or sleep properly. She last saw him alive on Friday night, when he came home from a club meeting, and they had supper together. They were talking about the war, and after supper the deceased took a walking stick up and went through the drills. He had joined the Defence League. They chaffed him about not having to go to war. At tea-time he had said there had been a policeman in the shop to get his name to force him into the army. They found out that the constable had gone to get the number of a motor car but the deceased was very sensitive and thought everything referred to the war. He went to bed about 10.30pm, and the witness heard no more until she went to call him in the morning, about 6.15 am. He had not to be at business until about 9. O'clock, but the previous morning he had got up early and told her he had not slept all night. He did not answer to her knock at the door and she went in to shake him. It was dark and she felt he was wet. She called her husband, who brought a light, and they saw that he had cut his throat. The police found the razor (produced). Superintendent Fernside: had he the razor sharpened that day? Witness: I have heard he did, but I don't think so. Charles Wrigglesworth, husband of the last witness, said the deceased had never done or said anything to indicate that he would take his life. ON the previous night he was as usual very excited about the war, and he had talked about little else lately. Witness described finding the deceased in bed with his throat cut. He informed the police and the doctor. Deceased had suffered from sleeplessness and nervousness. PC Chadwick said that he was called by the last witness at 6.20 am on Saturday, and found Greaves lying in bed dead, with his throat cut. The razor (produced) half opened, was lying on top of the bedclothes. There was a large piece broken out of the blade of the razor. He thought the piece had been broken whilst the deceased was cutting his throat. Greaves had apparently been dead several hours. Dr Augustine Houlgrave, Leeds Road, Harrogate, described the wound in the throat. The windpipe was severed and enlarged neck blood vessels cut across. Deceased seemed a frail, nervous subject. A juryman: he always gave the impression of being very sensitive. A juryman mentioned that he had heard a story of a white feather having been pushed through the letter box at the house where the deceased lived. The coroner said we had better find out if this is true, and if not, knock it on the head at once. Mrs Wrigglesworth was re-called, and in answer to the coroner said a white feather was pushed through the letter box about a fortnight ago, and the deceased had taken it to heart. She had no idea who had put the feather in. The coroner said: was that before or after he joined the Defence League? Witness: after. He joined the Defence League at the start. The coroner, summing up, said there was a good deal of evidence to show that the deceased was of a very nervous temperament, and that his mind had become to some extent unhinged. What they had just heard about the white feather being put through the door was a cruel and wicked thing to have done, and would be a matter of life-long regret to the silly, stupid person who did it. It was particularly wrong in this case, where a frail man, obviously unfit for the army, was doing all he could for his country by joining the Defence League. He hoped it was a child who knew no better who had done this, but if it was a man the best reparation he could make would be to join the army himself. A juryman said I Have heard that he had been taunted at work. Another juryman: and at home. The coroner said, as I saw him he certainly did not look like a man fit to join the army, and the doctor tells us he would not have passed. The juryman said he had heart disease. A verdict of suicide whilst in a state of severe mental depression was agreed upon.


Incident 2 - found just today, which I think is related/as a consequence of behaviour similar to the above:

Comments from the Editor:

October 31st 1917

Harrogate Herald

I happen to know that discharged soldiers feel now and then very uncomfortable when they are walking about dressed in their ordinary clothes. People in the street may help that if they abstain from glancing too curiously at them, for our discharged heroes are very sensitive, and apt to imagine that everyone they pass is wondering why they are not in khaki. This is the least we can do for those brave boys who have been broken in the war.

#39 manchester terrier

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Posted 27 July 2010 - 06:16 AM

Manchester Terrier- that's amazing, I have never seen an image of such a card before


Neither had I Michael, which is why I thought it might be of interest. It's credited to "The papers of T. Rowland Hill (Mrs. J Setchfield)"

The post mark isn't very clear but looks to be Leicester, can't make out the date.

The hand written comments around the outside read (clockwise from top):

"ILP Scum"

"When heroes return you will know it. Get a German feeding bottle"

"You dirty cowardly skunk"

"The finger of scorn will be pointed at you coward"

What intersts me about this card is the questions it raises. Accounts of the white feather campaign, as discussed on the GWF, describe random women giving out white feathers in the street, or feathers being posted through letter boxes, presumably in envelopes,sometimes with letters or on their own. The only guiding hand in all of this is Admiral Fitzgerald and his merry band of 30 women.

Then I look at this card.It's a professionally printed item, not done on a "John Bull" printing set. If one exists how many more(or others like it)do or did?

Now, unless you could buy these cards from WH Smiths to send to your neighbourhood "conchie" its' existence suggests to me that the whole white feather campaign was far more orchestrated than we are led to believe. Someone had to have the card designed, printed and distributed to sympathisers. Then there's the question of how the local sympathisers selected their targets. Were they supplied with a centrally compiled list or did they gather names and addresses locally?

The choice of recipient is interesting too. T Rowland Hill was an active trade unionist (Union of Clerks) and ILP member. President of the Leicester Trades Council in 1914, secretary of the ILP in 1917. The ILP opposed the war and conscription. Writing "ILP scum" on the card suggests to me more a hatred of his politics than a questioning of his courage. I don't think this was sent by a "grieving widow".

Maybe I'm just creating a conspiracy theory and someone will have other examples of printed cards and more solid information rather than my vague speculating. I admit I know very little on the subject and would be interested to read others' views/see examples and no doubt be shot down in flames!

cheers

Baz

#40 MichaelBully

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Posted 27 July 2010 - 09:24 PM

Pighills, thank you for posting the information, what a sad story concerning Robert Greaves. As to attempt suicide would have been a criminal offence, perhaps the verdict of 'suicide whilst in a state of mental depression' was trying to find a compassionate ruling. It makes one realise that there were so many different type of casualties of the Great War. It does sound rather like receiving the white feather was the final straw for this chap who was obviously very distressed already.

Baz-thank you for the further information. I was wondering if the former Suffragettes who then supported Britain's entry into the Great War were co-ordinating white feather related activities, perhaps on a more local level rather than organising a formal co-ordinated national campaign? They could be particularly vitriolic against groups such as the ILP. Once again we are stuck in the realm of speculation unless we can find sources where the 'women with the white feathers' themselves wrote about their activities and motivations.

Michael Bully

#41 manchester terrier

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Posted 28 July 2010 - 08:15 AM

Michael, I never thought about the Suffragettes.

A quick google turned up this article
"White Feather" Feminism:The Recalcitrant Progeny of Radical Suffragist and Conservative Pro-War Britain


It also turned up this HERE

After receiving a £2,000 grant from the government, the WSPU organised a demonstration in London. Members carried banners with slogans such as "We Demand the Right to Serve", "For Men Must Fight and Women Must work" and "Let None Be Kaiser's Cat's Paws". At the meeting, attended by 30,000 people, Emmeline Pankhurst called on trade unions to let women work in those industries traditionally dominated by men.


Also this from Here

The Government sponsored the WSPU, having found in their demagogic style of protest a useful ally and so they were active setting up demonstrations and publishing pro-war propaganda in their periodical, also harassing those who were not up to their jingoistic standards.




Someone has also posted "White Feathers and Wounded Men: Female Patriotism and the Memory of the Great War" by Nicoletta F. Gullace, The Journal of British Studies, Volume 36, No.2 of April 1997, pages 178-206 on another WW1 forum. You can read it HERE, but it is cut up into several posts.


cheers

baz

#42 MichaelBully

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Posted 28 July 2010 - 07:40 PM

Hello Baz, yes I recall when looking into this topic a few months ago that the work of Nicoletta F. Gullace was very interesting.

A helpful anthology looking at the whole range of contemporary women's views and experiences of the Great War is 'The Virago Book of Women and the Great War' edited by Joyce Marlow, drawing on newspaper articles, auto-biographical writing, and policital leaflets. Certainly the Suffragettes led by Emmeline Pankhurst were strongly in favour of Britain's entry into the Great War and organised rallies to this end. Mrs. Pankhurst also visited Russia in 1917, to encourage the new government to keep Russia in the war.. (Sylvia Pankhurst and a close band of her supporters in East London were opposed to the War so not all Suffragettes held the same views) .

Though the government wanted the support of the Suffragettes, I am not sure if they were deliberately directing them towards the 'white feather' activity. The 'women with the white feather' could be an embarrasment in the sense that they gave an impression that the young men of Britain needed to be somehow shamed into volunteering by their women, and this was not necessarily the impression that British authorities wanted to convey to the neutral countries or the Central Powers.

I am wondering that perhaps the Suffragettes themselves on a more local level would embark on this activity.

With best wishes

Michael Bully





Michael, I never thought about the Suffragettes.

A quick google turned up this article
"White Feather" Feminism:The Recalcitrant Progeny of Radical Suffragist and Conservative Pro-War Britain


It also turned up this HERE



Also this from Here





Someone has also posted "White Feathers and Wounded Men: Female Patriotism and the Memory of the Great War" by Nicoletta F. Gullace, The Journal of British Studies, Volume 36, No.2 of April 1997, pages 178-206 on another WW1 forum. You can read it HERE, but it is cut up into several posts.


cheers

baz



#43 Magnumbellum

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Posted 18 February 2012 - 03:24 PM

"A word of advice, all you young ladies with white feathers. Because you see a young man in ordinary clothes, do not think he is necessarily a slacker. If you had seen khaki, mud, and khaki for months on end, don't you think you might like to disguise yourself as a gentleman in evening dress if you got the chance.? I mean, of course, if you were a young man and not a young lady."

Excerpt from Trench Yarns for subalterns and others, by "Peter", Cassell & Co, no date, but apparently 1915

#44 truthergw

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Posted 18 February 2012 - 05:04 PM

Before the war, many organisations supported the move towards votes for women. That included some left wing organisations not all of whom approved of calling off action for the duration of the war and some of whom opposed the war itself.

#45 252 gunner

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Posted 05 March 2012 - 07:27 PM

Lots of Irish came to work in the Armaments Industry and I would love to have been a fly on the wall if one of those boys had been given one by an ususpecting 'feather pusher'.

#46 MichaelBully

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Posted 11 August 2012 - 01:46 PM

An interesting blog page about the use of the white feather in fiction before and after the Great War.

http://greatwarficti...-the-great-war/

#47 healdav

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Posted 11 August 2012 - 07:01 PM

There is a story that I have heard or read several times. Although I doubt that it is true in detail, it may well be in principle.

There were two men in civvies during WW2, with their feet up in a pub with a friend (lord of ther manor or some such) having a crate of beer. A "lady" of a certain size and type came in, saw them and went out. A few minutes later she came back in and handed a white feather to the two men.

The Lord of the Manor went ballistic and torn several strips off her.

One man was having a weekend off before going to get the VC and the other was resting after a spot of bomb disposal.

#48 MichaelBully

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Posted 12 August 2012 - 07:45 AM

Yes I have read one or two stories which may be 'true in principle' but perhaps not in details. The usual one is that a young man in civilian clothes is in a restuarant , and a rather pompous older lady comes bustling over and hands him a white feather. He thanks her for it politely and puts in his jacket pocket so it remains visible. Later when gets up to leave, he reaches under the table, comes up with a walking stick and when stands, it is clear that part of his leg his missing.
Such stories being circulated seem to show that there were doubts concerning the antics of the women with the white feathers.
Regards

#49 healdav

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Posted 12 August 2012 - 07:51 AM

QUOTE (David Faulder @ Apr 28 2010, 10:07 AM)
When did the practice actually die out? I have heard rumour that it also occurred during WW2.

David


Not a rumour - It does indeed seem to have occurred during WW2. Attached is a strongly-worded Daily Mirror editorial of the 30th August 1940.

DailyMirror.jpg


It certainly did happen. My father was sent one. I mentioned earlier that although he was in a civilian job he was forbidden to even volunteer for active service (his civilian service was actually more active than that of many sodliers or airmen).

#50 CombatCarer

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Posted 13 August 2012 - 10:07 PM

When did the practice actually die out? I have heard rumour that it also occurred during WW2.

David


I know for a fact that a soldier who resigned from his Territorial Unit just before it deployed was sent a white feather in the post. The person who sent it did not have the courage to hand it to him, and nor did they make themselves known. It was sent from the town where the Unit was located so could have been anyone.

This occurred when the Unit was deploying to Iraq and it was 2003, so it can be argued that it still hasn't died out!



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