The WVS in 1939

A colour photograph of Lady Reading sitting at her desk in WVS Headquarters, London

Lady Reading, who founded the WVS, later called the WRVS

‘On September 3rd war was declared. The W.V.S., formed by Lady Reading and launched in June 1938, at this point had a membership of 165,000, all volunteers willing, if not absolutely ready, to undertake ‘those duties in regard to Civil Defence Services with which they have been entrusted…..together with such duties of a similar character that may arise.’ By the end of the year membership had reached 300,000 and W.V.S. had amongst other things assisted with the reception arrangements for one and a half million evacuees, had staffed hostels, clubs, sick bays and communal feeding centres, opened nurseries for children under five, provided transport for hospital patients and undertaken welfare work for the troops.’

Zenno, Pauline ed. 1972. It’s the Job that Counts: 19391953 A Selection from the Speeches and Writings of the Dowager Marchioness of Reading. Private publication, p 2.

The WVS in 1939: questions

It’s the Job That Counts – extract