First World War YMCA huts magic lantern slides

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Euston Hut, London

I recently came across a group of 50 magic lantern slides (in my own collection!) relating to YMCA wartime ‘huts’. This meant nothing to me but the photos were very interesting and, with a little bit of research on the internet, I discovered that during the First World War, the YMCA (Young Men’s Christian Association) opened hundreds of recreation huts, here and abroad, that were a home-from-home for British and Allied, off-duty soldiers and sailors. They could relax, eat, play games and some huts provided medical care and put on concerts. Many were close to the front line, so the volunteers who manned them knowingly put themselves in danger. This may have been a Christian missionary activity for the YMCA but for the young men who used them, the huts were probably oases of normality in the horrific world they found themselves in. 

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Message from King George V
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‘Ceylon Hut’, Paddington, London

It’s an interesting example of how images on magic lantern slides can shine a light on a previously unknown (to me) part of our history.

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