CHAPTER 12 MOBILE CANTEENS

One of the most popular of the C.D. Services with the public, (and the personnel of the other Services), was the Mobile Canteen Service. We had at Headquarters four Mobile Canteens (including one from the Lord Mayors Fund and one Trailer Canteen supplied by W.V.S.) and, in addition, were able to call on the services of the local Salvation Army and, when Mutual Assistance was required, on London Region or neighbouring Local Authorities. The service was manned by part-time volunteers from the very beginning and they worked hard in difficult circumstances and, in many cases, circumstances of considerable danger.

The personnel for the Canteens were largely members of the W.V.S. but, in addition, women members of the Borough Council and others volunteered including members of the Friends Hall, Greenleaf Road. In the early days the Canteens normally visited an Incident once or twice but, after the Fly Bomb blitz began, it was found necessary for them to visit the Incident frequently while the Rescue work was in operation and for two or three days thereafter in order to provide refreshment both for the public (whose household services might not be operating) and persons working on the site removing debris. The Mobile Canteens also assisted at many of the raids in inner London during 1940 to 1944 in addition to helping at Incidents at Barking, Chingford, East Ham, Word and West Harp.

Refreshments were provided at Group 7 Convoy Exercise and at Home Guard Exercises, and during the Military convoy movements prior to D Day our Canteens stood by to assist if required. The Mobile Canteens regarded themselves as specially favoured when they were asked to serve teas to wounded soldiers being unloaded from train to ambulances at Enfield where some of our Light Rescue personnel were also employed.

It is not possible to give complete and comprehensive figures as to the number of refreshments served by the Canteens, but it may suffice as an indication of the work performed to mention that between 350 and 400 " sorties " took place and that an average of 250 teas or soups would normally be served per sortie with, in addition, another 150 teas with cake or biscuits.

The washing-up for 160,000 cups of tea is an awe-some thought!

Part I - General

Part IIa - The Services

Part IIb - The Services

Part III - The Story of the Raids

Part IV - Flying Bombs & Rockets

Part V - To the Unknown Citizen