World War II: Private American Efforts to Assist Britain--Bundles for Britain (1940-45)

Figure 1.--Here students at DuPont High School in Wilmington, Deleware are collectind ught by the other students to make up Bundles for Britain. The photogrph was taken in fall 1941, just before Pearl Harbor brought America into the War.

One of the most important private effiorts to aid Britain was Bundles for Britain. Mrs. Walls Latham was a New York Society matron. She began on a very small scale. She got a few friends together to knit garments for British sailors operating in the North Sea. Mrs. Winston Churchill had asked British women to knit items. (At the on set of the War, her husband had been appointed First Lord of the Admiralty.) Mrs. Latham decided to pitch in on this side of the Atlantic (December 1939). Her knitting circle proved so sucessful was such a success, Mrs. Latham decided to expand her effort. She formally founded Bundles for Britain (January 1940). The goal was to collect and ship non-milutary aid to the British people affected by the War. The effort was begun before the fall of France and the beginning of the Blitz, but the need became even more obvious once the Luftwaffe launched the Blitz. The bundles included medicine, clothiong, and blankets. A magazine article described the effort, Mrs. Latham 'got a license from the State Department, wheedled an empty store rent-free from a Park Avenue landlord, [and] persuaded Mrs. Winston Churchill to become a sponsor." [Look, December 1940.] The effort provided an opportunity for anyone to participate at any level. People could donate monet or their time. The effiort focused on collected supplies, including serviceable used clothing more than collecting money, although money was needed to buy meduecine. A sewing room was set up in Middletown, New York to do operations like converting a worn old blanket into small baby blankets. The collections were coordinated through schools, churches and other organizations. Monetary donations ranged from nine pennies sent by a share croper. Two sisters sent along the $1.15 they raised at their Kool Aid stand. Movie stars like Charles Boyer and Ronald Coleman hosted a radio effort thst brought in $30,000 for medicine and medical supplies. The Isolationists countetred with counter advertising--Bundles FROM Britain showing rows of flag drapped caskets. The complete caption was, 'Will one of the Bundles FROM Britain be your son? The flyer we note was placed by the Crusading Mothers of Pennsylvania, President Mrs. Catgherine Brown. The flyer we see also called for the impeachment of President Roosevelt.


Look (December 1940).


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Created: 7:19 AM 5/10/2011
Last updated: 7:19 AM 5/10/2011