Devoran Village Hall in wartime – Devoran’s aid to Finland 1940

Devoran Village Hall in wartime was an important centre for many of the village’s fundraising and social events throughout World War Two.

From dances and whist drives to the W.I. and National Savings Group (see previous blog posts) or Home Guard activities, the Village Hall (then and now) formed an important focus for community events.

Devoran Aid for Finland

Western Morning News Monday 19 February 1940

In response to the recent appeal made by Lady Vyvyan of Trelowarren for the Finnish Relief Fund, a whist drive for the Carnon Downs, Devoran and Point districts was arranged by Devoran Village Hall Committe and held on Friday. Captain L.E. Letcher was the MC and Mrs E. Gordon presented prizes. As a result £7 10 shillings will be forwarded to the fund.”

The M.C. [Master of Ceremonies] Captain L.E. Letcher had fought in the First World War.

So why was Devoran raising funds for Finland?

At the time in 1940 Finland was on the side of Britain and the Allies fighting Stalin’s Russia. Russia had signed a pact with Hitler’s Germany and invaded Poland and Finland in 1939.

Russia switched sides  to join Britain and the Allies after the invasion of Russia in Summer 1941.

By this time Finland had surrendered, despite a promising ‘winter war’ military campaign against a Russian army weakened by Stalin’s purges of army officers and generals.

The Finnish Relief Fund was a humanitarian aid organization initiated by former United States President Herbert Hoover in December 1939. It was intended to support Finnish civilians during the Winter War. This had happened once before after the First World War and the Russian Revolution, as several countries like Finland fought for their independence after years of Russian rule.

This fund was for civilian relief, rather than military supplies,  which came from countries like Britain in the form of fairly old and obsolete aircraft. America was still officially neutral in the war until Pearl Harbor, December 1941. The following year of 1942 the first US GI troops would arrive in Britain and eventually Devoran’s village hall to spread the jitterbug craze.

By March 1940, Hoover’s fund had raised 2.5 million US dollars from private donors, newspaper ads, industrial companies and trade unions.

According to the article at http://www.cornellcollege.edu/history/courses/stewart/his260-3-2006/01%20one/fin.htm 

In 1939, Finland again found herself in need of aid. The Russians had invaded Finland in order to retake the land they had lost in 1917. As a result of Russian aggression, the Finns again faced famine due to war.

Herbert Hoover was called upon to organize the relief. He in turn called on the American people again to send aid to the ailing country, stating “America has a duty to do its part in the relief of the hideous suffering of the Finnish people.”

The American people responded generously to Hoover’s appeals. Less than one month after he established Finnish Relief Fund, Inc., $400,000 in donations had come in from the American people.

By March 1940, just over four months after the Finnish Relief Fund was founded, more than $2.5 million had been raised to aid Finland. For years, the Finnish used “hoover” to mean “to help” as a result of all that Hoover had done for the Finnish people.

Devoran too sent its contribution of £7 10 shillings  amidst the American millions. Various other groups in Devoran were busy fundraising for different causes..

Christmas Gifts – West Briton, 21 December 1939

“The committee formed in Devoran recently under the presidency of Mrs. E. Powys Rogers for the purpose of sending parcels to the men of Devoran and Point, who are serving with the Forces, have sent 27 parcels during the past week containing woollen articles, soap, chocolate, cigarettes etc as Christmas gifts. It is proposed to send parcels periodically if possible during 1940.”

Hospital Supply – 26 October 1939

“In connection with the hospital supply scheme, a working and sewing party has been formed at Devoran. Meetings are held on Tuesday afternoons at Treviddo,  by permission of Mrs. Tyacke under the supervision of Mesdames W.F. Simmons Hodge and P. Tyacke  …”

Philippa Grylls Tyacke  and her daughter Miss M.P. Tyacke were involved in many village activities including the W.I. and dramatic productions. Mary Philippa Tyacke was born in Perranarworthal in 1891/2, the daughter of locomotive superintendent / later Railway Manager of the Redruth and Chasewater Railway in its later years. Mary is listed as a music student on the 1911 census. She never married and died at Treviddo, 4 Devoran Lane, in 30 December 1962.

Carnon Downs Darts Club – West Briton, 14 December 1939

“A darts tournament in aid of the Carnon Downs and Devoran Knitting funds will be held at the Village Hall Devoran on Monday next December 18th 1939, commencing 7pm …”

“An entertainment was given in Village Hall Devoran on Saturday, when the King Charles Mummers presented the farce “Tons Of Money” in aid of the Red Cross POW Parcels Fund. Miss Tyacke (Commandant of Red Cross Cornwall 94th Detachment) thanked the players. After paying expenses, £19 8 shillings will be forwarded to the fund. Western  Morning News, 29 February 1941.”

The NHS and Beveridge plan were still several years away  when the:

“proceeds of a whist drive in aid of The Royal Cornwall Infirmary Linen League Fund held in the Village Hall Devoran totalled £3 1 shillings 6d (pence)”

More Village Hall wartime news to follow …

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