World War I in Lawrence: Knitted gift makes an impact

Two Lawrence women received thanks this week from a Navy man who was grateful for having received a “knitted helmet” made by Mrs. Belle Wilmot, with yarn purchased by Mrs. Fred Morris. The item was probably of a type produced by Red Cross knitters across the nation in 1917. Daniel Sherry, chief yeoman on the U. S. S. Des Moines, was especially thankful for the balaclava-like garment, as it was “the only one on his ship among 296 men.” Sherry worked in a compliment to the Kansas work ethic in his letter, reprinted in the Lawrence Journal-World on Nov. 1: “‘I cannot express my appreciation for the knitted set, as it is going to be of great need this coming winter. I have promised those men that stand the same watch I do, when at sea, that they can use the helmet…. I am very sorry that I am unequal to the task of writing a spirited article which would awaken those that should be knitting instead of remaining idle (or doing fancy work), although I do not see how it possibly can occur in Kansas.'”

Women at the University of Kansas were informed this month that they were permitted to substitute Red Cross work for the new compulsory daily exercises. According to the Journal-World, “Much of the work to be done is that of knitting for Red Cross chapters or for the Navy League and yarn is to be furnished by the student council. Women in the faculty and wives of faculty members will be given instruction in knitting.”

Local university women were also busy raising money “to send Thanksgiving boxes filled with all sorts of edibles to the men of Company M, the official K. U. unit.” The infantry company of the First Kansas regiment was still in training camp at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.