Login Register

Dedicated teenage 'egg lady' became wounded WW1 soldiers' sweetheart

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: August 12, 2014

the 'Chideock Egg Lady' Chrissie Squire.

Comments (0)

A dedicated teenager became a favourite among wounded First World War soldiers after she sent much-needed fresh eggs to military hospitals - each with a tiny hand-painted design.

Chrissie Squire was one of hundreds of thousands of people who joined the National Egg Collection - a drive to send sustenance from home to military hospitals.

The movement saw 20 million eggs sent overseas - a staggering 64,000 alone from the depot which young Chrissie supplied with hundreds of eggs in Bridport, Dorset.

But she stood out from the rest because she spent hours painstakingly painting each shell with a pretty design - including flags, animals and poems.

Chrissie also painted her name and address in tiny letters on the shell and received dozens of touching letters back from wounded soldiers thanking her for her artwork eggs.

The letters to the “Chideock Egg Lady” - some asking for her "acquaintance" after the war ended - are now part of an exhibition commemorating 100 years since the start of the war.

Author Frances Colville, who put the exhibition together, said: "Chrissie was the youngest child and three of her brothers were sent to France - and further afield to Iran and Iraq - to fight in the war, and one of them was killed.

"Her part in the war was to be involved in this scheme. I think that she was a bit of an artist, and she was also a bit of a poet.

"I think she saw using both those skills as a way of adding a little bit extra to her eggs and making them a bit more personal.

"One or two of the letters say shells were preserved by, I think, putting a hole in each end and blowing out the egg and then filling it with sawdust.

"Sadly we don't know if any of them survived. It would be wonderful to find out."

The National Egg Collection started under the patronage of Queen Alexandra, with a collection point in every parish, gathering eggs which were taken to a depot in London.

Chrissie, who was 19 when the war started, was the youngest of six siblings, and dedicated hours and hours to personalising eggs with pictures and poems.

Letters she kept from the grateful recipients detail pictures of flags, flowers and cats, and tell how some of the recovering soldiers even kept the shells by blowing out the contents.

The handwritten exchanges - which reveal the horrors of war and the loneliness of foreign soldiers - were passed on to her niece Joan.

Some of the soliders, including Private G Freeman wrote back with a poem for Chrissie.

In a letter from the Fifth General Hospital dated April 22, 1917, he wrote: "I was the lucky one to receive it and I am now ready for the firing line again.

"So I send a verse, for you.

"When I was about to have my tea, your welcome egg it came to me.

“And on its shell your verse I saw, had come from Blighty to be sure.

“But the time is coming when all of we, shall be in Blighty having eggs for tea.

"Many thanks to you and sorry not to have wrote before, but better late than never. I remain yours faithfully, Private G Freeman."

Private David Davis, 22, writing from a hospital in Boulogne, wanted to meet the egg painter.

He wrote: "I was the lucky person to receive your quaint souvenir.

"I do not know you but I should very much like to make your acquaintance when I get back to England.

"I should very much like to receive a photo of you.

"I should like you to write me how things are going on in England, and I will write to you in return.

"I am a Londoner by birth, and I live in London, but I should certainly come to see you when I get back if you don't mind.

"I haven't a young lady yet, but I should certainly like one.

"I am a rather nice looking young fellow of 22, which reminds me I should like to know your age when you write next."

Another from Private A G Borrington, written from the 26 General Hospital on November 1915, said: "I must say that it makes every brave Tommy proud of himself when even the young ladies at home are sending their names and addresses on eggs to them.

"Well I think that I must ask you to excuse me for starting this letter as I have in fact I must say that I think that this is the best plan of writing to lady friends where they are so good enough as to send these."

Chrissie, who never married or had children, passed away in 1976.

The letters are on display at the Bridport Museum in Dorset.

Read more from Western Morning News

Do you have something to say? Leave your comment here...

max 4000 characters