Voluntary Entertainment Service Badge

This badge belonged to my mother Freda Thornton. During World War II she was one of a troupe of entertainers who went around the local military sites entertaining those troops serving on the Home Front. She recalled the troupe visiting Kiaora, Wynyard, and various ack-ack batteries. The members of this and similar troupes were presented with these badges. The Voluntary Entertainment Service was a branch of the more widely known E.N.S.A. This badge was given in the North of England as it was issued by the “Northern Command”.
It measures 25 mm in diameter, and is made of white enamel on chromium plating.

Photograph and details courtesy of Cliff Thornton.

2 thoughts on “Voluntary Entertainment Service Badge

  1. Kiora became a German p.o.w. camp. I can remember going up there on my bike with my cousin Sgt. Tom Grainger in 1945. He was on leave from Berlin and had seen a tremendous amount of action with the 8th.Army.(R.E. att,d to the Tank Corps.). We went up to the wire and by then was fairly fluent in German. He was quizzed by the prisoners as to where he had been in Germany and what he had seen until too many approached the wire. It was “suggested” by the guards that he move on. It was a friendly conversation as I recall between between former combatants.


  2. These local groups sprang up all over the country some of those formed in the Sheffield area were still performing into the 2000’s as they went on to form local theatre groups. The were unpaid and lucky to get even the bus fare as they had to be no more than a bus ride from home. Most groups would rely on donations and often put money in themselves, Volunteers in the true sense of the word. They may well have been loosely tied to ENSA who were mainly Music hall artistes who travelled to some of the overseas military zones and got paid, although I doubt they got much from that enterprise.
    Most large Camps had a Garrison theatre still there in my time and still having those volunteer groups coming in to entertain the troops, always packed out as they usually had some Girl Dancers with them. We also had Unit entertainment put on by our own men and at that time there were some versatile artists among the National Service men.
    Some of the Volunteers put on shows in the works canteens of the local factories, that break was usually an hour long, they were well received anything to take the mind off the war. People were not shy and we had lots of local entertainment from school shows Scout and Cadet shows plus of course the local dance troupes who often also did their stuff on Pantomime or local Town Shows.
    They all helped boost moral in what were dire times, I take my hat off to them.


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