Throughout the 20th century’s two world conflicts, YMCA was a significant presence, both on the frontline and at home, offering material, educational and pastoral support. Scores of courageous YMCA volunteers eased the misery and suffering of soldiers with places offering food, drink and a place to rest. Take a look at the resources below to find out more.

“YMCA was one of the largest providers of civilian support to soldiers, munitions workers and families during the First World War.

An unbelievable £158 million was spent on cups of tea and other refreshments, £55 million on relief stations at home and in France, £7 million on notepaper for over 200 million letters home, £1m on sports, concerts, etc and £850k on putting up families of terminally ill soldiers who would otherwise not get a chance to say goodbye.

Over 40,000 volunteers gave their time and left their homes and families to follow the troops and go wherever they were needed, and many lost their own lives in the process, either from injury or illness. The graves of these YMCA workers were granted official recognition by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and many received military and civilian honours.

Few organisations have done so much in caring for the comfort and well-being of our soldiers as your Associations.

They have given invaluable help to the Army, and have immeasurably lightened the hardships which have to be endured by our troops. In recognising the excellent work that has already been done, I should like to wish you success in that which you still propose to undertake. I consider that your plans for after the war are not the least important of your activities.”

The Right Hon. David Lloyd George, M.P. (In office 10 April 1890 – 13 February 1945)

YMCA War graves

Civilians who died while volunteering with YMCA during WWI and WWII