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I "GIRL liE LEFT BEHIND 1  MM." ■ THE WORK SHE DOES. VIVID STORY OF WAR TIME. The Task of the Y.W.C.A. The Minister of Munittonp. 1)r, Add-on. M.P., speaking at the Mansion House this week on the employment cf women and the improvement of their conditions, asked for full support for the Y.W.C.A., to whom the Government had appealed and allotted the task of providing recreation, etc., which the Government were unable to do. The Lord Mayor mentioned that the Y. W.C.A. was maintaining huts, e tc., for women war workers in 130 centres. 1* dealt with 1,000 members, and 6,000 workers in clubs, hostels, and canteens- It provided 3,000 meals weekly in canteens and hostels. The Government 'could only do ?' much, and this does not include, any recreation, for the solving of this and mr.ry problems. Much has been done, but much remains un- done. It us new a national thing. Hugh Martin, writing some time ago, vividly portrays the claims of the worker, viz. This is very "largely the story of The Girl I He Left Behind Him, It is not so easy to tell, perhaps, as <he story of The- Man Be- hind the GUll, nr even of The Man ..lm Stayed at Home. because the facts ire,iiot, so generally known, or at any rate so gene- rally imagined. But that dc-es not mean that it is a story not worth telling, or th?t if it were rightlv told it would not prove as arresting as either of the other two. The Girl He Left Behind Him is an army, and if the army has no banners, so that very few people realise its splendour, or even that it is there at all. that is rather it-s misfor- tune than its fault..The fighting armies of the world are getting1 an unparalleled amount cf advertisement nowadays, but the army of the women, that has been left be- hind to help carry on the,world s work and to keep the fighting armies in the field, is very little heard of. It is apt to be re- garded, poigisibly, as something necessary but unromantie. That is a mistake. In all this great world Romance of the battle be- tween two ideals, with its passages of the sublime and its episodes of the unspeak- able, there is no chapter which is at bottom more, wonderful than that which deals with the Coming of the Women. They have come, in the first place, in their hundreds of thousands to make the arm, the ammunition, the clothes and the equipment of the men at the front. I spent a day in a great Midland munition factory recently, inquiring into all those complicated processes that go to the making of shells ancf guns. The place was full of marvel. It is a fascinating experience to b" present at the birth of a giant howitzer -a bigger gun than we ever thought it pos- sible to take jut., the field less than two yeArS ago—and to follow its development and education through all the agonising stages of youth and immaturity up to the goal of an almost unbelievable perfection and pftkicncy, AJJ this was unforgetabJe, But the best of the day's experience was in a long low building where hundreds of curiously formed machines were ranged ill I a quadruple row. At the control levers of ) every machine stood A girl. She was work- ing swiftly and eagerly, never stopping for «. ntom«nt>- to look <st "I it Athe I ? days one \twuId have «aid that '? was wcrkin.c as .though 3-.er life dp??pdpd nn it, Nb??QMO kn?w.t.ha.tri'h? life ?as ?othcTown but somebody else's—somebody who sleeps under thenpe11 sky hundreds of miles away. "Amazing" Outputs. The machines were of the type known as semi-automatic, which means that their out- put is dependent as much on the skill and energy of the human controlling agent as oil tho perfect working of the steel parts. The foreman told me that the output of the machines under the control of these girls had been "quite mazing." They had proved the iiiacllliiet, to be capable of per- torming tasks never before thought possible. And the girls "stuck it" for eleven hours a day. lie said, with a certain tone of respect in h is voice that one is not accus- tomed to hear in the voice of a foreman when he is talking about his" hands." The place was clean and well ventilated, but the noise was exceedingly trying, and most of the labour had to be done standing. As I glanced up and down the lines at the earnest young faces, with the roses in only ten many ca-ses already beginning to Í1hd'3 under the long-drawn-out and iiii- natural strain, I felt that there was some driving power here beyond the ordinary causes that operate in industrial life. I had itfn h eard it said that they were earning good money" this had been strangely exaggerated ot the vast majority it was certainly not true It Was no thought of m .nev that constrained them! through long and weary hours day after day to stick to their new and heavy task. No; these girls were using their deft fingers to turn our shrapnel fuses at a pace never before known in the industry, because they believed (though they m.ght not have been able to put it into words) that each fuse, if well and truly made. might save an English life, perhaps even the life of some specially dear one. One of th,) most won- derfnt things in the world had happened Love had got into the factory and was di-iv-, i;,g the machines. And every o,e of these girls wants a little help, a little love, in return. Pale, But Cheery. Again, the other night I was standing j when the clock struck eleven at. the gates of what is probably the largest »mun.tion works in the South of England. The night was as black as pitch, and the mud rather blacker. Through the night and the mud came The Girl He Left Behind Him. She was multitudinous i,,q ever; and, as ever, laughing, pale, gay and not a little weary. Her face (uot so unlike the good-humoured fa.ce of her brother, Thomas Atkins) gleamed white, in the light of the gate-lamp as she passed. In the background some- thing rose dim and huge, like the cliffs of an iron-bound coast, lit here and there with the glow of molten metal as though some race of giant blacksmiths was at work in its caves. The air was a.a full of sounds from axdistance as the sky ablive was full of the light of the stars. Toil never ceases in this vast smithy. All day and all night men and women labour at the means of destruction as they have freely laboured in the world's history at auy other task. It was hajf-pa^t one in the! morning when I met the girls again. They came pouring like a river in spate into the big "hut" which is being run by the Y. W.C.A. as a canteen. There were eleven of us to get them fed in half an hour with a hot supper (if supper is the right name for a haH-past-one-in-the-morning meal), and as there were nearly. three hundred of them it meant brisk work while the rush lasted. In the intervals of selling oranges and serviug out sausage-and-mashed, I took the opportunity of chatting with some of the workers. Do you manage to sleep well when you're on the night shift?" I asked one particu- larly weary-eyed girl. "How can yiju," she replied, "when there's such a noise in the house, and the wagons go bumping past all day? I take a bit of a lie down, and then I go to the pictures, and then I take another bit of a lie down. It ain't good for one, but I suppose it all helps to beat them Germans." At half-past four crmie the second inva- Irion of the night. It lasted for just twelve minutes, and even thus it was five minutes longer than the time officially allowed by th- l works management. The three hundred giris came in this time with such a rush that f ltad to bolt for the trenches behind the para- pet of cukes, meat pies and tea urns. Th attacking party poured in a hot fire of copr per:" and wífhía three minutes had rcti,ef to the tables with all the spoils of war. it was a short and sharp engagement in which both sides acquitted themselves honourably. For ten minutes the hut hummed with teni- ininc chatter and the tumultuous sounds of hasty feeding. Then it emptied itself al/nost as quickly as it had filled. There are seventeen Y. W.C.A. volunteers actually living inside the works to carry on this particular canteen. They pass what might almost be described as a cloistered existence between the bungalow, where eccli has a tinv cubicle hot unlike a ship's cabin, and the "hut," where they do twelve-hour shifts of duty. It is a hard life, without much chance of honour and glory. As one of them remarked, You fpel rather like a squirrel in a cage, always going round and ) round and never getting anv further." I 2,000 Meals in 24 Hours. I Three long meals of half an hour each, and tnree "short" meals of (officially) seven minutes each, have to be supplied everv twenty-four hours, besides a certain number of meals for workers just going on duty. Al- together the number of meals served in a day and a night cannot fall far short of two thousand. And then there is the washing up-enough of it to appal nil but the stoutest hearts--and the swabbing of the tables and sweeping of the floor after each invasion. All this six times a day! And vet I think it would be hard to find a more cheerful set of women thin these Y. W.C.A. volunteers. Here again that wonderful thing has hap- pened which I noticed in the Midland work- shop Lo\'c has come in and taken charge. I have tried to paint two pictures one of the way in which the girls are working for tiie nation, the other or the way in which the Association is working for thJ gids, But it would need a Royal Aciideniy-ful of pictures to give an adequate idea of the nroblems pre- sented by "The Cirl He Left Behind H)m." and the way in which they are being met. All one can really hope to do is to convince people that theroi is a problem. We have heard .a, great deal lately about) the lonely soldier, but at any rate the lonelv soldier will find his soldiers' dub or his "hut" at almost any busy point to which he may drift. It may be a poor substitute for I home, but it will be warm and companion- able, and, when it comes to the matter of food, economical as well. The Rest Rooms aim, as I understand it. at providing much the saine sort of comfort for young women, although it is odvious that as women are not yet included in the Services different regula- tions have to be enforced. The idea is to provide a social centre with a wholesome at- mosphere, and it is wide enough to admit among the people whom a girl may meet there the young man whose companv she would otherwise have to enjoy, on even a wet night, during a. dreary promenade up and down some public thoroughfare Old Landmarks Being Wiped Out. But don t let it be supposed for a moment that the new problems with which we are girl munition worker. omsn are stream- ing into every sphere of national endeavour. They at-o wiping out the old landmarks. 1 J'hpy are creatingJn every direction demand* -H that, if not ind^d novel m character, are almost overwhelming in extent. The SOCIa.! organism adapts itself but slowly to the floods that are consequent upon great earth, quakes such as the world war. it tries des- » peratciy to hold on to the old methods and pjt up with the old conveniences, hoping that things will finally settle down again into the old rut. So weee women in manv quar. ters trying to make shift with the social machinery of :sti- era'that is passing aw;iv 1 with rath-r lamentable results-to themselves and civilisation. For example, the old question of suitably living and sleeping accommodation for giii city workers is cropping up jn a highh gran- litjs-, is* not only *so in munition areas.. increasingly difficult in atl onr I.irg^'citie^ for girls to tnic rOu ni,s where they c^u liy^decently and 115 4 reasonable comfort. So {he Y. W.C.A. 7 is making a great effort to increase the number of its hosteW, where girl workers can live together iu bright surround* ings at a small cost. Its headquarters are 2b, George-street, Hanover-square, W. r Lord Sydenham at that address is treasurer. Ii We pour out work and morey like watef to supply our army in the-field* with eveiy thing that it mav need. Its health is tiU first consideration ot a host of doctors. Its clothing must I)o (;f the best. It, iiiist armed to the teojh. Its chaplains must) provide it with the best of food for the I soul, and its commissariat department, with I the best of food for the body. Everythiug I that can be dOl." for providing comfort and amusement at the front we demand shad be done. And all this is quite right. Tommy is worthV of it, every bit. But behind the line of battle there is ) this other army—an army <;f women. We have only just begun to think about it, in j th-3 sense of it being an army that needs j looking after. Yet it is a hard, cold fapfc i that without the work of the women wp f could not hope to xvitt tl-,e First, let me repeat, there are the women who are engaged in the direct manufacture of munitions of war and these no doubt we freely recognise in our thoughtful moments as part of the fighting force of the nation, though we are apt to feel that thty are on quite a different level from the forces that are in immediate contact with ■ the enemy. This munition army must be cared for if it is to continue its vitally iin- I portant work with unabated zeal and effi- ciency. It canXjio more be left to look after f itself tb,-t!i can the army at the front. There are forces continually at work to l harm and lii.ider it--the force of inertia and carelessness in factory management and the social forces that prey upon it out- side the factory. To leave it to itself is to leave it only too often to the dfvil. And there is ;>lso that other army of j women which is doing the ordinary, dud, iil-paid work of the world while the men are away fighting. It is a very leal, though a very modest, part of the great main army of victory. We know that every woman who is doing a man's job has released a man j for the front. We know it, hut do we realise the responsibility that the know- ledge carries with it? 1't menus that the nation has a duty to those who are tilling up the gaps no less tlvlH to those who have gone cut to fight its battles. ,It means that here, too. to let things alone is to let tliirgs go wrong. It means that if we do not find a way of adapting the machinery of social effort to meet these new conditions, society will revenge itself upon us iiy a slower I healing of its wounds when the war i ended. We shall he depreciating the national stock. We shall be refusing to give a fair chance to the mothers of Eng- land that is to hp, We shall he iding ia this battle with the wrong army. Finally, there is our duty to the MatJ Behind the Gun. It is of little use giving him so much if we give Her nothing. Hd would not wish it. When he thinks of England he thinks of the women of Erg- land-of the Girl He Left Behind liini. What we de for her we are doing in equal measure for him. We are helping England still more a land worth dying for to-day and living for to-monow. £ 700 will provide a rest room and can- teen ?20 wiH prodde i fnrni&hcd cnbic!e; L5 W il furnish a cubicie £ 1 w-UI provid a bed. Will yon pivc one of these. and sond ?;j, ,Iieqtie to Illis Picton-T:rhernll, Ewenn? Priory. Obnmrganshire?

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