Ramsgate’s Girl Guides in WW1

The Girl Guides movement was founded in 1910, so was still a relatively young organisation in 1914, with around 300,000 members registered when war broke out. Nevertheless, the Guides achieved a lot and earned new respect for girls and what they were capable of, and the calm and competent attitude with which they worked. Their practical training in first aid, life-saving, rescue work, crisis management and practical home nursing enabled them to cope smartly and efficiently in dealing with difficult situations.
War work done by Guides included helping as telegram messengers, making dressings for hospitals and the Red Cross, cleaning and running rest centres, working at nurseries, teaching in infant schools, training people in stretcher work, working as hospital cooks, equipping field hospitals, running laundries, and knitting and sewing socks and scarves for the Red Cross to send the the men in the trenches. They also distributed leaflets and collected waste paper, jam jars, bones and clothes for recycling. Older Guides volunteered for war service in the Women’s Land Army or in clothing or munitions factories.
Guides also worked hard helping with the harvest and running allotments and smallholdings to produce food, in some areas collecting sphagnum moss for absorbent wound dressings and herbs for medicinal use, and also collecting hedgerow fruits and fresh eggs for soldiers.
A War Service badge was created, which could be earned by 21 days of recognised voluntary war service, or 100 hours of recognised agricultural work, or the making of 15 specified garments including a pair of pyjamas, 4 pairs of socks and 2 shirts. Separate dated badges were issued for each year of service.
In June 1919 the Thanet Advertiser reported that the 2nd (Ramsgate) Company of Girl Guides held a ceremony at the Christ Church Parish Hall presided over by Councillor Mrs Dunn. The girls were praised for their hard work supporting the war effort. Before the badges were presented the girls gave excellent displays of ambulance work and signalling. The Brownies gave a charming display of flag drill. 9 Guides were awarded badges for War Service in 1918.

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