DBE in Missouri


 

DBE IN MISSOURI

The DBE was established in Missouri in 1946 when its first Chapter, St. Jarvis Bay, was formed. That Chapter later dissolved. Sadly two chapters have recently dissolved due to illness and old age.  They are Mayflower Chapter, formed in 1946, and the Duke of Edinburgh Chapter, formed in 1947.

The earlier Chapter meetings were rather formal and quite a strict dress code was endorsed. Most of the business was centered on fund-raising in support of our District Home, the British Home in Illinois. A popular fund raiser was the Silver Tea, where tea was served from a silver tea service, and donations were in silver. At these events members were reminded to “always wear your hat!” At the earlier Founder’s Day luncheons, a well known community personality would be the guest speaker. The British Consul was the guest of honour. Again, the dress code was formal and the women were expected to wear hats - white gloves, high heels, and lipstick was a must!

Some of the women who were instrumental in forming the earlier Chapters were WWII war brides, several of them serving in various interesting capacities, including the Women’s Land Army, the WAAF, a dancer with the Ralph Reader Show entertaining troops in France, a private secretary to the Assistant Chief of Staff of Intelligence at the U.S. Army Headquarters in London and Paris, and a secretary at the Admiralty. Six of these women were featured in the 2007 Ken Bums 14-hour TV documentary “The War”. The documentary told the story of WWII through the experiences of people who had lived through it. In November 2008, there was an article in a St. Louis newspaper featuring one of our members who had recently received recognition for her service as a British Land Army Girl during the war. The women had received no official recognition until 2008 when the British Government awarded the Land Army Girls certificates of recognition and medals for their service.

Over the years we have strived to bring recognition to the DBE in Missouri by hosting and participating in many high profile events, including hosting tea parties at a local department store when the Fourth Lord Wedgwood was in St. Louis promoting Wedgwood china, and when Master Potters of the Wedgwood Company were demonstrating their craftsmanship; attending the Churchill Memorial at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri – the site of Sir Winston Churchill’s famous “Iron Curtain” Speech; providing and decorating a DBE Christmas tree under the Gateway Arch in St. Louis; co-hosting an English garden party at Laumeier Park honouring the works of an English sculptor, the event being carried live on local TV and the DBE being mentioned throughout the broadcast; and renting a booth for many years at the Scottish Games, where we sold British goods. The booth was highly visible and was decorated with the DBE emblem and many Union Jacks and attracted prospective new members. This popular event attracted thousands of visitors each year.

In 1977 a member of the newly-formed Lord Mountbatten Chapter attended a reception at the Old Courthouse in St. Louis for H.R.H. Prince Charles, who, on recognizing the DBE badge she was wearing, made a point of stopping to talk to her and shaking her hand.

A bench was donated to the English Woodland Garden at the Botanical Gardens in St. Louis, with a plaque displaying the name of the Daughters of the British Empire. A contribution was made to the International Institute in St. Louis, and a brick is displayed in front of the building, bearing the name of the DBE.

In New York in the Garden of Remembrance, Missouri women are proud of a DBE Bollard which they worked hard to help pay for in memory of the 66 British and approximately 97 Commonwealth people who were killed there.  Something worth checking out next time you go to New York!

 

The DBE in Missouri continues to be an extremely hard-working core of women dedicated to furthering the objective of support of the Midwestern District Home in Brookfield, Illinois. We are proud of the fact that Missouri has had a representative on the Brookfield Home Board for the past 30 years. We constantly strive to find creative ideas for fundraisers, and to attract new DBE members, remembering our motto: “Not Ourselves but the Cause”.

 

Joni Meriwether

Lord Mountbatten Chapter