|Madge Titheradge |
Famous Actress 1887 -1961
“Tank Banks” – World War 1 Fund Raising
Tanks were a new invention that first appeared in World War 1 in the Battle of the Somme. In November 1917 the Tank Corps achieved its first success at Cambrai, France. The news of this success meant the public wanted to see this new war machine, thereby creating a fundraising opportunity for the British Government. A committee initiated a very successful ‘Tank Bank’ campaign. Six Mark IV tanks toured the towns and cities of England to promote the sale of government war bonds and war savings certificates. The touring tanks would arrive in cities with great fanfare and speeches. They would spend a week in a town and young ladies would sell war bonds from a table inside the tank. It became a competition, enhanced by the newpaper's reporting, with the town or city that invested the most money per capita winning a tank. West Hartlepool won the tank raising over £31 per capita and in total over two million pounds were invested in tank banks.
The fund raising began in London reported in The Times on 24th November
“The establishment to of a tank bank in Trafalgar Square on Monday should do a great deal to stimulate public interest in the sale of the bonds. The tank will be the central feature of a novel war exhibition. Intending purchasers of bonds will be able to go inside the tank to buy them”
On 26 November 1917 a battle scarred tank, brought over from France, was displayed in Trafalgar Square. It was an immediate success.
On 27 November The Times reported
“Tank Bank Opened - Brisk Day in Trafalgar Square
The Tank War Saving Bank in Trafalgar Square is an assured success. From the hour of opening ceremony yesterday morning until the light failed in the afternoon there was a continuous procession of people eager to buy the bonds or certificated handed out from the interior of the monster.”
The Papers continued to report on the success and reported on the involvement of the stars of the theatre.
“The fifth day of the campaign was the best day yet with over £156,000 subscribed by people from all walks of life. A woman tendered a cheque for £7,000 worth of bonds, a man bought four separate £1,000 bonds and four Irish men each paid £100. The subscriptions continued and hearty cheers were raised when an American sailor invested £25, an old man walked up to the window and asked for certificates to the value of £100."This is all I can do to help", he said, "but I do it willingly in memory of four boys of mine who have given all they could their lives".
At noon, George Robey brought a large party of theatrical performers into the square who all bought bonds at the tank, while Miss Madge Titheradge recited 'The Song of England' from the top of it. By the end of the day £156,560 had been taken. It had been an excellent day”
The Film of Madge Titheradge Selling War Bonds
To see the film of Madge selling War Bonds click the link below to the Imperial War Museum Site. If you don’t want to watch all of the film Madge appears 3.10 minutes into the film for about 45 second
The 5 minute film was made on 5 December 1917 and has 5 sections covering recent events. The narrative on the Imperial War Museum website describes the relevant bit of the film thus
“Miss Madge Titheradge recites "The Song of England" a poem by Alfred Noyes. George Robey sells £4,000 worth of War Bonds. Mr Robey, 'The Prime Minister of Mirth', addresses the crowd from the top of the tank, presumably introducing Miss Titheradge, who recites the poem with appropriate gestures. In the background the National Gallery is decorated with a huge bill-board recording the sales of War Bonds in 'Provincial England'. George Robey buys some bonds from Miss Titheradge, now sitting at a table alongside the tank - she laughs gaily, watched by a numerous crowd of admirers”
Hope you enjoy and find this piece of history interesting.