Witley, April 26, 1917

Thursday        Splendid day today fine & warm — Pay day . Dismantling & cleaning trunnions – Attended a whist drive at Witley  I made 152 points spent a very pleasant evening

Whist is a forerunner of contract bridge — a game of tricks and trumps played by four individuals playing as partners.

Parish magazine WIT_16_36-May-1916-cover-SGW-194x300.jpg A whist drive brings whist players together to raise funds for a worthy cause. For the price of the ticket of admission, a would-be player finds other willing players, and is provided with cards, tables, pencils and scoring cards. Sometimes elaborate systems of “progressive whist” are used, assigning players to partnerships according to the number of their ticket, always ensuring that a lady and a gentleman are partnered. Winners remain at the table, while losers progress to another table,  and “partners are formed afresh, the gentleman who has just won playing with the lady who has just lost, and vice versa.” (1) Thus acquaintance among the players is improved, and no one is stuck for long with an uncongenial or utterly incompetent partner. Prizes are usually provided for the highest scores — and sometimes the lowest. A whist drive may be combined with a musical programme or even a dance, and “light refreshments at moderate charges”  are made available to cheer the players and increase the profits.(2)

Percy’s whist drive almost certainly was organized by the parish church of Witley. Its parish magazine of February 1918, for example, reports a whist drive in support of the Surrey Prisoners of War Fund. (3)

Trunnions, by the way, are short projections from a gun or its cradle, mentioned in the Handbook of the 18 pounder as follows: “The cradle is of bronze, with steel trunnions to pivot it to the carriage body, the left trunnion being prolonged and threaded for the reception of a stud for supporting the rocking bar sight.” (4) COIK!

(1) “Whist.” Encyclopedia Britannica. 11th ed. 1911. 28: 615.
(2) John A. Taylor’s Newport Pagnell During the First World War contains a surprising number of references to whist drives in support of hospitals and the dances and refreshments associated with them.   It is one of the projects of the Milton Keynes Heritage Association.
(3) Surrey in the Great War: A County Remembers includes a series of annual summaries of the Witley Parish Magazine, from which this information is taken. The image of the cover of the May 1916 edition comes from the same source.
(4) Handbook of the 18-pr QF Gun. Land Service. 1915. 12

Copyright 2017. See “More about this project.”



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