MAINTAINING CANTEEN SERVICE.
It was no easy task, with the many food restrictions imposed upon the community, to set up an organisation for provisioning canteens and providing a programme of social, educational and religious activities. Looked at in one way, the YMCA had become the largest multiple stores
organisation in Wales.
A central buying policy was adopted from the beginning
. Stores were opened
at Cardiff, Carmarthen and Rhyl, for South, West and North Wales respectively. Supplies to all the YMCA centres were delivered each week; the only buying by local leaders was in respect of cakes, pastries and perishable commodities. Each centre was given a reserve in case of emergency, but throughout the whole of the war period, the service never broke down.
The maintenance of transport was not without its difficulties. On one occasion at Ty Croes A.A. Practice Camp, on the West Coast of Anglesey, snow had so blocked the roads that they were impassable for motor traffic. The enterprising leader called for a band of volunteers from the Forces, sleighs were improvised and goods were drawn in this way over three miles of snow for a period of five days!
A well-planned stores was erected at Ely, Cardiff, and in the early part of 1946, it was possible to close the stores in Carmarthen and North Wales and the whole of Wales was served from Cardiff.
In 1940, it was rea visit the YMCA huts units, were frequen end.
lised that whilst men in large centres were able to , small anti-aircraft groups and others in isolated tly without contact with the outer world for days on
It was the YMCA tha service was later e by many other organ
t conceived the idea of the mobile canteen. This form of xtended for many other purposes both inside the YMCA and isations.
The first mobile ca of Captain and Mrs. Cardiff district. I
nteen came to Wales in February, 1940, and was the gift J. Elliot Seager of Ty Gwyn Court. It worked in the t did not require many months before thirty-seven mobile
canteen groups had been established in coastal region of the Welsh counties;
Wales, covering the whole of the from Newport to Milford Haven
estuary, all along the west coast and around the rugged shores of Anglesey, as well as into the mountains of mid and North Wales, the YMCA mobile canteens operated until the end of the war. Every mobile canteen used was a personal gift from some person or organisation, and magnificent service was rendered by voluntary workers, who took hot tea and cakes to men and women on isolated sites.
That service, however, was not the least which was rendered. Personal sundries required by men and women were part of the stock. Frequently, many
hours or canteens
part of each
were spent by drivers and helpers of the mobile
Many a birthday card assistance which was
or gift reached homes often given in making
in this country, but the kindly such purchases possible was not