THE PROVISION OF CLOTHING
The provision of clothing was a secondary but essential operation throughout the history of the C.R.B. Because this aspect of our work cut across all three areas under our supervision--Occupied Belgium, the Belgian Etapes, and Northern France--I present here a comprehensive account of it covering all these areas over our entire four and a half years.
There was little production of textiles by the invaded people during the war. There were mills, but, except for a minor amount of native wool and some minor stocks of cotton on hand, there were no raw materials available during this whole war. Four and a half years is a long time to keep going with repairs and patches.
Since the Allied Governments were adamant against our importing textile raw materials (and indeed they needed them for their own military and civilian populations), we turned to imports of secondhand clothing, and later we added large amounts of manufactured materials. That we measured clothing in tons (24,384 tons or about five shiploads) is in itself evidence of a considerable operation. The number of items we imported probably exceeded 200,000,000, but even this was no extravagance for 10,000,000 people during a period of more than four years.
To manage the clothing problem, we set up a division of the Relief organization with its own Director and with his offices in New York, London, Brussels, and Lille.
The Belgian and French women created great workshops in the