“Charity begins at home – but it should not end there”
Leamington Spa Courier, Friday 16 December 1921
in an article announcing the adoption by the town of Biaches, a Somme village in France
British League of Help for the Devastated Areas of France
This organisation was founded at a meeting at the Mansion House in London on 30 June 1920, largely due to the efforts of Lady Bathurst. It agreed an intention not to rebuild the devastated areas, for funds for that were to come from the French Government and reparations paid by Germany, but to provide practical help. Invitations for participation were sent to the councils of the major towns in England, Scotland and Wales (I have been unable to confirm whether this was also extended to Ireland, although I found one reference to Belfast having a relationship with Fayet near St. Quentin).
The adopted towns and villages
By 30 June 1920 the League was able to report that 27 French towns and villages were now adopted by home locations, and by the first Annual General Meeting in 1921 the total had risen to 59. By December 1922 it was reported that 97 French locations had been adopted.
The table below is accurate (mainly drawn from many newspaper reports) but may not be complete.
|Canterbury||Lesboeufs and Morval|
|Eton (Windsor)||Eton (Spincourt)|
|Huddersfield||Havrincourt, Hermies, Metz-en-Couture and Ruyaulcourt|
|Ipswich||Fricourt, Bazentin-le-Grand and Bazentin-le-Petit|
|Isle of Wight||Monchy-le-Preux|
|Jersey (Channel Islands)||Soyécourt|
|Keighley||Poix du Nord|
|Portsmouth||Combles and Flers|
|Sheffield||Bapaume, Serre and Puisieux|
|Southampton||Gueudecourt and Martinpuich|
|Winchester||Auchonvillers, Beaumont-Hamel, Engelbelmer and Mailly-Maillet|
|Wolverhampton||Gommecourt and Berles-au-Bois|
It was reported that Macclesfield Town Council rejected the proposal to support the British League of Help, citing that it could not afford to do so.
Nature of support
Newspapers report donations of money, gifts, implements, tools and supplies. There were, over the next few years, school trips to see the devastated area and exchange visits of British and French schoolchildren.
Reconstruction in France (downloadable book)