From the very beginning of the conflict, initiatives were set up across the country to help the war effort. Residents in Richmond quickly formed themselves into a range of organisations dedicated to supporting the army, wounded soldiers, and Belgian refugees.
The Egg Collection scheme began in 1914, with a call in the magazine Poultry World for eggs to be collected and donated to wounded servicemen to provide them with the extra nutrition and sustenance required. Their call was met with incredible enthusiasm and great success. By August 1915, Queen Alexandra became a patron of the National Egg Collection. Special boxes and labels were provided, and transportation of the donated eggs was provided free of charge. It was estimated that an egg could be placed in front of a wounded soldier within three days of being laid. Senders wrote messages of encouragement or well wishes on their egg, with recipients often returning a message.
© IWM (Art.IWM PST 10825)
In January 1916, local children from Hampton Grammar School and St James’ Church Lads’ Brigade collected 4,974 eggs and £26 to help the war effort. This initiative was organised by Isabel Anthony, Sussex Lodge, Hampton Hill. In 1917, she wrote to the Surrey Comet:
“If a few words of encouragement and cheer were sent on the eggs, written in pencil, it would encourage our men and those who were down hearted would get a new interest in their lives on finding that there are people who think and care for them”.
Between March 1915 and June 1917 more than 10,000 eggs were collected in the district. At a time of increasing food prices and shortages, the local community showed great willingness to give up their own food resources to support the recovery of the wounded. By 1918, more than 25 million eggs had been sent abroad. The scheme finally wound down in March 1919.
Featured Image: © IWM (Art.IWM PST 10836)