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David  B

White feather

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David  B

One reads of the awarding of white feathers to males not in uniform during the war, but how prevalent was this custom?

Was it an organized protest by pro war groups or was it done on an individual basis. I could imagine some rather ramifications

of the practice if an angry male took umbrage and give the donor a quick thump - or were people too genteel in those days,

and was the practice of awarding white feathers continued throughout the war or did it cease on conscription?

David

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Ron Clifton

Hello David

White feathers were mainly issued by women so the rwaction of "giving the donor a quick thump" was unlikely. Young women in particular were urged by their mothers, aunts and friends to give their young men a white feather if they failed to enlist. The popularity of the song "We don't want to lose you, but we think you ought to go" suggests that it was a widespread tactic for women to encourage young men to join up, by various means including the white feather.

I believe that the issue of the Silver War Badge for discharged wounded men was introduced partly to protect these men from such unwanted and unwarranted attention.

As you say, the raison d'etre for the practice would have ceased once conscription came in, during 1916.

There is a charming story of a man in civvies being given a feather. He used it to clean his pipe, remarking: "That;s the second decoration I've been given today - this morning the King gave me this" and produced a VC!

Ron

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dfaulder

When did the practice actually die out? I have heard rumour that it also occurred during WW2.

David

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Ron Clifton

David

I believe that it may have been used on conscientious objectors. Otherwise there would seem to be no need for it after conscription was introduced. I doubt that it would have been used on men in reserved occupations, some of whom, like the "Bevin Boys" in the mines, had been conscripted to those jobs.

Ron

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Pighills

As Kevin says, there are plenty of threads on this forum in which the giving of white feathers has been discussed before, he has given links to just two of them, there are plenty more there if you do a search.

With regards to giving white feathers to reserved occupations. I have posted before with regards to my other half's great granddad who was an under manager (meaning he was a manager who went underground with the men) in the mines who was presented with a white feather on a bus whilst going to/from work - it mattered not that it was a reserved occupation and that without the coal there would be no heat or energy for the war effort etc etc etc, some woman thought he should have one, and that was that. He bought himself a bicycle and made his own way to and from work after that. He was to die a couple of years after that whilst rescuing men trapped in an underground accident - this was also part of his 'cushy' job!

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centurion
I believe that the issue of the Silver War Badge for discharged wounded men was introduced partly to protect these men from such unwanted and unwarranted attention.

This was also the reason for various semi official badges issued by some companies indicating that the wearer was on essential war work.

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David  B

Dunno, must have been hitting the wrong buttons but a Beta search didn't turn anything up forum wise, only something from Wiki and I wanted

something better than that.

David

Edit. Sorry I think I used the Google task bar rather than the GWF question box.

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MichaelBully

I have looked at this thread and other threads dealing with this topic, and wonder if anybody has ever written a book on the 'Women with the white feathers' . A lot of information has been seems to be out there from different sources which could be compiled.

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CarylW

That's very sad Kim! Often wondered if either of my grandfathers' were ever issued with a white feather. Both dockers on the Mersey during WW1 & 2 , also important war work

Caryl

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angelab

Were men involved in munitions work in the UK also given badges to show they were doing their bit?

Angela

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centurion

Sometimes - as my earlier post said these were semi official - tolerated rather than approved

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geoff2050

Suppose Railway workers also had wear uniforms to stop them receiving them

too.

Or was this not classed as a reserved occupation

Geoff

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grantowi

The Railway companys issued official badges to those who were in reserved occupations.

Here's the GWR one :

post-28292-1272493195.jpg

The Badge took the form of a button, with a white enamelcentre and blue enamel surround. The crown and lettering being Gold

The swiggle says " It has been agreed by the Railway companies toissue badges to those of the servents to whom it has not been possable to afford permission to enlist on account of the requirements of the railway services.

It has been laid down that the badges are only to be granted in cases where there has been a bona fide intention to enlist on the part of the member of the staff, of military age and in all respects suitable for military services, provided further that he signs a declaration of the intention to enlist should changed circumstances enable permission to be given.

The badge wil bear the name of the railway issuing it with the words "Railway Service" in the centre

Grant

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menright
When did the practice actually die out? I have heard rumour that it also occurred during WW2.

David

The practice - perhaps that should be malpractice - of receiving white feathers was certainly prevalent in one group during World War II. There are several accounts of Australian aircrew in Britain receiving white feathers in the mail - from Australia.

These were invariably sent anonymously although it was relatively easy for the outraged recipient to narrow down the culprit to one of a few, namely those who had access to his service number and country.

The reason for sending them lay with a prevailing view amongst some quarters that Australian servicemen not in the SWPA defending Australia were enjoying escapist comfort in Europe.

There is a book in which some of these incidents are related: "Flyers Far Away: Australian Aircrew in Europe During World War II".

Michael

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healdav

It certainly did happen in WW2. My father was sent one. He worked for the RN and was in a job where he was forbidden to volunteer for service, exempt from call up (he was actually doing a job that in the army would have been an army officer not a civilian). He also had a letter saying that he was forbidden t join the Home Guard as 'in the event of invasion he will be evacuated with the Fleet'.

I think that the giving of these was utterly despicable, especially when the person doing the giving was themselves not in the Forces! Remember that Marks was sent one by a neighbour and he was head of codes in SOE!

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Rusty2727

Ive just been lead to understand my great grandfather was also issued with a white feather, even though he was serving with the Merchant Navy at the time and still making run's through the danger zones, he did however on receiving his feather decided to join up and enlisted in the Kings Liverpool Regt. in 1914.

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MichaelBully

Rusty- That is outrageous- your great-grandfather being given the white feather whilst in the merchant navy. The sacrifices the men of the merchant navy made in the Great War were colossal.

Mark- Thanks for the link to the article,much appreciated. I thought it made some interesting points generally about the women who encouraged the men to volunteer, and showed how the white feather was part of that process.

I was left bit unsure how co-ordinated the writer thought what he called 'the White Feather Campaign' , apart from Admiral Fitzgerald getting thirty women in Folkstone to hand out white feathers to young men they thought should volunteer on 30th August 1914.

Regards

Michael Bully

I came across this article recently

Regards Mark

http://studentpulse.com/articles/151/the-w...ing-world-war-i

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healdav
I came across this article recently

Regards Mark

http://studentpulse.com/articles/151/the-w...ing-world-war-i

"Gender Identity" indeed. All the men knew they were male. It's only today's women who don't know the difference between sex and grammar.

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MichaelBully

Managed to consult a work titled 'The Blood of our Sons- Men Women and the Re-negotiation of British Ctizenship During the Great War' by Nicoletta F. Gullace at the British Library yesterday. Interesting section on the women with the white feathers.

One point the writer makes was that there was a concern that if men were seen to have to be shamed by women into volunteering, then this suggested that there was an overall reluctance to fight. Certainly the antics of the women with the white feather were picked up be foreign newspapers.

In 1964 the BBC producer Gordon Watkins was commissioning a programe to mark the 50th anniversary of the start of the Great War and appealed for first hand accounts of the women with the white feather. People volunteered information but only two were from women who admitted that they had handed out white feathers themselves. Interesting.

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Tom Tulloch-Marshall
Were men involved in munitions work in the UK also given badges to show they were doing their bit?

Angela

Angela - Yes, see >

http://www.btinternet.com/~prosearch/OWS.html

The only official badges were those issued by the Admiralty and the Ministry of Munitions. The unofficial badges were precisely that, - unofficial. They had no meaningful status in any "official" sense but were tolerated by the authorities, especially for people like railway employees.

Some fairly obvious forms of what might be seen as "exempt" employment seem never to have bothered to any great extent with "unofficial" badges; - coalminers, dockers, etc.

Tom

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dfaulder
>><<

Some fairly obvious forms of what might be seen as "exempt" employment seem never to have bothered to any great extent with "unofficial" badges; - coalminers, dockers, etc.

Tom

Possibly these occupations lived very much in their own communities (where people tended to know each other) so would not have come across the sort of "lady" who handed out white feathers. Plus you may think twice before insulting a well built docker or miner!

David

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MichaelBully

From looking at 'The Blood of our Sons- Men Women and the Re-negotiation of British Ctizenship During the Great War' by Nicoletta F. Gullace, there were incidents of men threatening or even hitting the women dishing out the white feathers, so they didn't always get their way.

Particularly when men who had actually been at the 'Front and for some reason were not in uniform received one.

David- I have wondered whether these women operated in certain areas more than others, and were less likely to be active in a place- such as a mining region, where there were a lot of men who were not expected to volunteer due to their occupations.

Possibly these occupations lived very much in their own communities (where people tended to know each other) so would not have come across the sort of "lady" who handed out white feathers. Plus you may think twice before insulting a well built docker or miner!

David

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