November 21, 1916 – Santa’s little helpers are making life a little better for the men in the trenches

fund

The spark of humanity will be felt on Christmas Day by every single one of the 1,500 officers and men from the Market Harborough district.

It has taken just a few short weeks to raise £500 to buy a gift parcel to send to local serving men in any of the armed forces and in whatever theatre of war according to the November 21, 1916, edition of the Market Harborough Advertiser.

The news about the success of the Market Harborough Territorial Christmas Fund is announced in a huge editorial story on page 2.

Individual donations have topped £340 and there is a ‘handsome addition’ from last week’s ‘World’s Fair’ held at R & W H Symingtons factory, which raised £200.

The fundraising committee’s secretary Mr George Roe says: “We feel justified in placing orders for the necessary goods to the amount of £525, the whole of which will go into the parcels.

“The expenses for despatching and packing will not be light but there is every reason to believe the full amount required will be forthcoming.”

The Advertiser’s coverage of the World Fair is fulsome in its praise of the organisers and the whole town. “When the local history of this war comes to be written the chronicler will be able to hear testimony to the splendid manner in which our townspeople responded to any calls made on their generosity and to the willingness with which one and all co-operated to carry into effect any worthy project – whether local or national. The World’s Fair is a splendid example of this.”

The fundraising is also accompanied by another initiative – to complete a comprehensive list of every man on active service. This is being undertaken by volunteers doing ‘a house-to-house canvass to get the full name, regimental number, rank and regiment of every officer, non-commissioned officer, and man serving in every branch of His Majesty’s Forces in active service from market Harborough, Great and Little Bowden Urban District Area’.

Mr Roe adds: “If the work is carried out thoroughly and conscientiously, as we believe it will be, it will serve the double purpose of being the Town’s accurate ‘Roll of Honour’ as well as enabling the committee to be quite sure there are no omissions form the town’s list of Christmas gifts.”

  • This column is published every Monday by John Dilley on the Newspapers and the Great War website and will continue until the 100th anniversary of the final armistice in November 2018.
  • My fellow researcher and De Montfort University lecturer David Penman is conducting a similar real-time project with the Ashbourne Telegraph. Check out his Great War Reports.
  • Check out this week’s Harborough Mail for current news from the Market Harborough area.
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