Ancestry UK

The Waifs and Strays Story

The First World War

The First World War had relatively little effect on the Society's operation. Emigration was suspended and the Receiving Home at Niagara-on-the-Lake was by the Canadian military authorities. The requisitionedGibbs Home remained open and provided hostel accommodation for Old Boys, many of whom joined the Canadian forces. The Frome Home was taken over for a period for use as a military hospital and the children transferred to other homes. A few homes in coastal locations were such as Scarborough/ and Broadstairs were evacuated for the duration. No new buildings were started although those already under construction, such as Hull were allowed to be completed.

At the end of the war it was recorded that 1,270 former Society children had served in the armed forces, of whom 102 had been killed. Three had been awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal and seven the Military Medal.

At the start of the war, Rudolf had launched a special fund-raising operation in anticipation of a tide of children being left orphaned by the conflict. As it turned out, despite the traumatic losses suffered by many thousands of families, there was no dramatic surge in the number of children received by the Society.