|The Rushden Echo and Argus, 23rd October, 1942, transcribed by Gill Hollis
Fifty Girls in Uniform - Rushden G.T.C. Commended by Lady Wake
Lady Wake, of Courteenhall, visited Rushden on Monday evening for the enrolment ceremony of the Girls’ Training Corps Company.
Meeting more than fifty bright-looking girls, in smart blue-and-white uniforms, she expressed an appreciation which was shared by her husband, Brigadier-General Sir Hereward Wake.
The cadets, who have been grouped into three sections, occupied the central seats at the Queen-street Schools. Their mothers and friends looked on with proud interest as they rose for the entrance of Lady Wake, who, in uniform as a Commandant, was accompanied by Mrs. J. H. Carratt, the Company Commandant. Before speeches were begun, everybody joined in the singing of “Jerusalem.”
Coun. W. E. Capon, who is chairman of the Company’s administration committee, welcomed Sir Hereward and Lady Wake and declared the ceremony to be the climax of Rushden’s “youth endeavours.” For 12 or 18 months, he said, the town’s Youth Committee had been trying to interest the young people in various activities. There had been no difficulty in getting a very representative committee together, and all the members had done their part.
Sir Hereward Wake said he supposed that besides learning to dress and drill smartly the girls were learning all sorts of jobs that would be useful to them afterwards when they were called upon to join one of the Services. Rushden was to be congratulated on the way it had started the movement and on the progress already made.
“I was surprised to see you in your uniforms, looking so smart,” said Sir Hereward, who went on to explain why the Army set so much store on drill and smartness on parade. Unless they were drilled, he said, it was impossible to move large numbers of troops about without confusion. On parade they learned the habit of discipline. This had been described to him as the habit of instinctive unquestioning obedience, but it was much more than that. Good discipline produced the best possible relations between officers and men; it gave troops the capacity for enduring fatigue, want of sleep and hunger, and to face wounds and death cheerfully for the sake of their unit without thinking of themselves.
Of course, drill could be overdone, and it used to be overdone when he joined the Army, but if they learned to move and do everything they had to do on parade with the least possible noise in the quickest possible way, then they were good at drill, and it was ten to one that their discipline was good too. He had never seen a slovenly unit that was good at anything else.
“Envied by All”
“In these times,” added Sir Hereward, “we have none of us to think of ourselves, and I am sure you girls are the envy of all the others in Rushden. I am sure you will hold up the honour of the flag.”
In an able speech Mrs. Carratt, praised the rapid progress of the G.T.C. since the movement was formed last January. The first Company was formed in March, and the Rushden Company number was 698. The latest figures gave the national membership as 120,000, and still they kept going up.
The movement was formed on as wide a basis as possible so as to cover the needs of both wartime and peace. It would help to bridge the gap between civilian and Service life in the case of girls who joined up, and would cater for spiritual, mental and physical interests of the growing girl. It also offered scope for those who showed aptitude for leadership.
Rushden was a very go-ahead place and always ready to go into new paths, and the formation of the Company was a concrete proof of that spirit. The lack of headquarters was the Company’s one trouble, and they were looking forward to the time when the Intermediate Schools would be ready for them.
A Smart Lot
They were already working on quad drill, and C.S.M. Lawrence, of the A.T.S., told them that they were a very smart lot. They had started first-aid, which they regarded as a vital subject, but what all the girls were waiting for most keenly was the keep-fit class. They hoped also to do dispatch carrying and in all subjects a number of interesting personalities who were specialists had promised to help them.
Mrs. Carratt urged the town to make full use of the cadets when they were trained. The girls, she said, had made sacrifices to get their uniforms; unlike the Army Cadet Force, and A.T.C., they had to provide their own and find the coupons for them. It was hoped, however, to start a fund which would help them buy their winter coats. The officers were most enthusiastic and helpful and were attending courses so that they could be at the top of their job. The cadets were splendid.
In the ceremony of enrolment the girls made united responses to the questions put by the Commandant. “Land of Hope and Glory” was sung, first by the cadets and then by the entire audience. Lady Wake then presented enrolment certificates (in lieu of badges which have not yet arrived) to the cadets individually, and took a salute from each girl.
“This is my first visit to Rushden,” said Lady Wake, “but I have heard a good deal about it, and I am not at all surprised to see you looking so smart, because I have always understood that Rushden does things particularly well and is not content with half measures. I know you are all as proud to be members of the G.T.C. as I am to be your Area Commandant, and that is saying a great deal.
“You must have simply longed to take your part in serving your country, especially when you saw all those boys serving in uniform, and now you have your chance. You can tell your boyfriends and your brothers that you have caught them up. Your work is very important and your promise to serve God and your country means a great deal.
“What you are doing now is going to be very useful to you, not only during the war but after it, right through your lives. It is rather a wonderful thing to know that you are going to make history; it is an exciting thought, and I know I can count on you to carry out your promise in the very best way you can.”
Proposing thanks to Lady Wake, the chairman, and the Y.M.C.A. (for the use of the room), Mrs. F. J. Sharwood, a member of the G.T.C. Committee, declared “What Rushden would do without Mr. Capon doesn’t bear thinking about.”
Coun. W. J. Sawford, J.P. chairman of the Rushden U.D.C., seconded. Congratulating the Company on its “splendid” progress, he told the girls: “When I was young we never had the opportunity that our young people have to-day.”
In replying to the vote Lady Wake complimented the cadets on their singing.
Among others present were Miss W. M. Clipson, Mrs. B. W. Paine, Mrs. Faulkner, Mrs. Don Bugby, Mr. R. T. Saint (members of the G.T.C. Committee), Mr. R. R. Lawrence (secretary), Coun. T. W. Cox, Coun. Mrs. O. A. H. Muxlow, Mrs. R. T. Saint, Miss W. Abrams (first-aid instructress) and Mr. Don Bugby. Mr. Lawrence was the pianist.