Gone, but hopefully not forgotten, Southampton’s Dynamo Club has held a poignant final meeting that coincided with its centenary.
During WW I a group of ladies started knitting items for the soldiers they met in a cafe in Southampton. At the end of the war they felt that they would miss the friendships they had built up so, in March 1920, they started a club for professional ladies. They called it the Dynamo Club which name they felt symbolised power and energy.
Dynamo was still going in WW II, and in 1942 the ladies adopted a tank called “Southampton” which saw plenty of front-line action culminating, after D-Day, in fighting its way from Normandy to the Rhine. The Dynamo Club crest was on it right up until it and its crew were demobilised after the war. Its pennant was presented to the club in 1946 by a Captain Johnston, with thanks for all the food, clothes and magazines the ladies had sent out for a period of four years. Captain Johnston had been diligent in sending thank-you notes for all that time, and he makes many references to the Dynamo Club in his post-war book Memoirs of a Tank Troop Leader.
After the war, the club wrote to Sir Winston Churchill who acknowledged their war efforts in a hand-written letter that is still kept with the pennant. The pennant, letter and other memorabilia will now find their way to the Guards Museum in London’s Birdcage Walk.
Many members of the Dynamo Club were from Chilworth, and its monthly meetings have been held at Chilworth Hall for the half-century since it was built. As a final vote of thanks for the venue they have so long enjoyed, the ladies voted a generous donation to the Hall from the club’s closing accounts. The Hall’s committee is considering what to buy with this donation, for they wish it to be a fitting memento of an important part of Southampton’s and Chilworth’s social fabric.