First World War: Work with refugees in Folkestone

At the 1915 Old Scholars’ Association AGM Ivy Weston gave an account of her work amongst refugees arriving at Folkestone, which was reproduced in Bootham magazine, December 1915. Whitsuntide, the Old Scholars’ Reunion, was a joint event between Bootham and The Mount (the Quaker girls’ school in York). Below is a summary of Ivy’s account.

She mentioned that Folkestone was the main port of arrival soon after the outbreak of war. A War Refugee Committee was set up, and arrangements were made to meet all the boats, which were coming from Ostend, Calais, Boulogne, Flushing and Dieppe. Due to the numbers of refugees arriving the committee asked the Government to send some help. The Government paid for food and train tickets to London or any central depot, and the Corporation lent them a large building that had been a grammar school. People from across the country sent gifts to supplement the necessities that were being provided. The committee started providing food (coffee, sandwiches, biscuits, milk and apples) at the harbour, as people were so hungry when they arrived. They fed as many as five or six thousand people per day at the busiest times. Ivy mentioned the team of eight or ten volunteer sandwich cutters, who “reached such a stage of perfection that they could turn out a thousand sandwiches in an hour”. She talked about how “when the boat was in the people seemed to sweep over you like a rough sea; panic-stricken people who came straight from Ostend, straight from the horrors, and not only hungry people but starving; in many cases some of them had walked through Belgium to Ostend, many carrying babies.”


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