Soon after the start of the Great War, Raunds' senior medical practitioner, Dr Mackenzie, began organising collections of cigarettes, tobacco, books etc to be sent out to the men at the front.
The good doctor chose the 1st Battalion, Northamptonshire Regiment, and the 6th Battalion, Gordon Highlanders, as the beneficiaries, the two units obviously being close to his heart for differing reasons.
Several letters of acknowledgement from the boys on the front line were published in the local press, here we bring some of them to you:
* Northamptonshire Evening Telegraph, 23 April 1915
Thanks from the Trenches to Raunds Helpers
Dr Mackenzie, of Raunds, has received further letters of thanks for books, papers, and other gifts to the troops forwarded as the outcome of collections in Raunds. One, dated April 14th is from Colonel Dobbin, who says: “I am writing on behalf of all ranks of the 1st Battalion, Northants Regiment, to thank you for your very great kindness in sending out the books and papers just received. They have been a very real boon and blessing to us here, and have been greatly appraised by all.” Another is from Private Morris, of the “D” Company, who says: “The other day we had some cigarettes come, and they said, ‘Who comes from round Raunds way?’ I said, ‘I come from Tichmarsh,’ and they gave me your card, and asked me to write and thank you very much for your gift. I used to be boots at the Swan Hotel, Thrapston, before I enlisted over two years ago. We have a lot of Raunds fellows in our regiment, so I will let them know that you are sending things to us.”
Master Stanley Archer, house-boy to the doctor, also collected money for cigarettes, and has received acknowledgements. One is from Private W Winton, of the 6th Gordons, who says: “On behalf of myself and my comrades I wish to thank you heartily for your smokes. It was so good for a lad of 12 to collect 30 shillings, and I can assure you that it is the likes of you who provide us with our smokes that give us the strength to thrash the Germans.” Speaking of Neuve Chapelle, he says: “We (the 6th Gordons) lost half our men and nearly all our officers. But what does that matter? We gave the Germans a good thrashing. And do you think we would have been able to do that had we not known that there were brave little chaps at home doing all they could for us?” Another is from Private H Hill, “C” Company, 1st Northants, giving hearty thanks for cigarettes.