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Thread: YMCA at RAF Stations?

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    Default YMCA at RAF Stations?

    Hi all,

    I have doubts about some diary entries where stated that an airman was spending his free time in YMCA during the trainingt while he was not allowed to leave the camp or he took part in the party organized by the WAAF members in the YMCA.

    I suppose YMCA was a civil organization and was not operating clubs or bars at RAF station as it was done by the NAAFI.
    Am I correct or there is any possibility that YMCA was at the RAF station? I am talking about the early WWII years, 1940-1941.

    TIA

    Pavel
    Czechoslovak Airmen in the RAF 1940-1945
    http://cz-raf.webnode.cz

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    The YMCA had a tradition of helping the troops and during the second world war played a very big part in keeping the airbases topped up with tea. From the IWM photograph collection, Catalogue number FRE 8013:

    "A B-24 Liberator nicknamed "YMCA Flying Service" of the 392nd Bomb Group. Passed for publication 20 Nov 1944. Printed caption on reverse: 'Their Way Of Saying Thank You:- For twelve months, through snow and slush, in wet and fine weather, American airmen at a bleak aerodrome in East Anglia have been cheered by regular visits of a YMCA tea car. The airmen wanted to show their thanks, so they named a Liberator bomber "YMCA Flying Service", decorating the fusillage with a large red triangle. There was a christening ceremony - a 17-year old Maureen Mayne, of Norwich, a YMCA tea car worker, broke a cup of tea over the front turrett[sic] of the bomber. O.P.S. The bomber on the airfield after the christening ceremony. (8).' Censor no: 372926. On reverse: Central Affairs Ltd. and SHAEF Field Press Censor"

    http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205368052

    I believe, but cannot be sure, that they were especially active at USAAF bases in the UK. I know they had tea-cars at many RAF bases but do not know how the division of labour between YMCA and NAAFI was worked out.

    HTH,
    Bruce

    EDIT; see also HU 104642,HU91252, CH 4110 plus others if you search the IWM collections
    Last edited by bruce dennis; 27th December 2016 at 21:43.
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    Pavel/Bruce,
    The Lampson Clubs did the same sort of thing in the Middle East in WW2.
    HTH
    Peter Davies
    Meteorology is a science; good meteorology is an art!
    We might not know - but we might know who does!

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    Thank you a lot chaps for your posts, I will be careful with my 'denial' of YMCA presence at RAF Stations.

    Pavel
    Czechoslovak Airmen in the RAF 1940-1945
    http://cz-raf.webnode.cz

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    The Church Army (a religion) also had a presence at many RAF airfields in the UK in WW2 to supply tea and "sticky buns", etc. Perhaps these religions and charities had to compete to get the contract to supply these services at particular stations or other units, or did all apply and just one get the nod, with no money changing hands?
    David D

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    The Young Men's Christian Association, or YMCA, is an international association founded in London by George Williams during 1844. I won't attempt to describe its aims, these can be found on many websites, for example http://special.lib.umn.edu/findaid/h...009x2x58.phtml. During WW2 the British YMCA developed the concept of a mobile canteen, painted green, serving tea, sandwiches, cigarettes, chocolate, cake etc to troops; these were also present in cities providing support for those dealing with he aftermath of bombing raids. It also developed eating places in towns (http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ww2peop...a8952924.shtml), so I see no reason why similar meeting places should not be found on camps in tandem with the NAAFI.

    Brian

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    Hello Brian,
    As far as the Tea Wgon was concerned, it seems the YMCA in particular had a head start: they did the same thing in WW1. I don't recall seeing references to a Tea Wagon at RFC bases but it was possible (IWM collections again?) as they had a large presence in many military and naval establishments.
    It might make interesting reading to find how they were allocated space/facilities and whether there were VIP patrons behind the scenes.

    Bruce
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    The YMCA tea wagon was a WW2 concept according to my first reference in #6, concept being the crucial word: this from the same reference:

    During World War II, the concept of the “tea car” or mobile canteen, a second-hand van fitted with a small kitchen and painted camouflage green, was introduced by the British YMCA.

    Its support of troops in WW1 was the YMCA hut; this from the same reference:

    When war broke out in 1914 the British YMCA immediately put out an appeal to fund emergency war work. The main focus of the British YMCA’s work during the first World War was the YMCA hut, which offered a retreat for soldiers along front lines of French battlefields. These huts supplied food, a place to rest and stationery for letters home. .

    Edit
    See also http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/38812
    http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/se...page=10&page=4
    http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205361134
    Edit 2 and belay the 'WW2 concept'. See the WW1 image at http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/38831

    Brian
    Last edited by Lyffe; 31st December 2016 at 11:54.

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    Hi Brian, thank you very much for your post.
    I have searched the IWM photo collection online but now I can see that not fully.

    The link
    http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205361134
    has changed my opinion so I will stick with the original reminiscence.

    Pavel
    Czechoslovak Airmen in the RAF 1940-1945
    http://cz-raf.webnode.cz

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    I've only just noticed the wall-poster commendably advertising (healthy) green vegetables and salads - but the consequences of smoking appears overlooked (written with tongue in cheek).

    Brian
    Last edited by Lyffe; 1st January 2017 at 11:02.

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