not possible to receive newspapers from Britain. On Christmas Island it usually consists of four duplicated sides of foolscap, and contains one or two pages of world news, a page of sports news and a page of island news, or sometimes articles on various topics of interest. Thanks to the
B.B.C. it is possible to produce news as up to date as that in British
newspapers in fact, the Saturday football results are received at nine o'clock Saturday morning, local time (nine hours behind the clocks in England). Circulation is now just over 500, and is increasing as the service population rises;
this enables everybody to have a copy in his tent when he finishes work in the evening. The paper is widely read, and much interest is shown in events in the outside world, despite the fact that,
at times, they seem so remote as to be incapable of affecting a small coral island in the middle of the Pacific. Finally the spiritual welfare of the Force has been well looked after. Protestant
members are administered to by the Regimental Chaplain of the Field Engineer Regiment and a church has been built in the main camp. A Roman Catholic church has also been constructed, the chaplain belonging to the Royal Air Force Chaplains Branch.
Towards the end of 1956 the various welfare committees in the Operational Area put forward a scheme whereby, at Christmas-time, the men on the island should each give a small Christmas present to a child back home in Great Britain, between the ages of 3 and 8, who was either sick or in some way needy.
At the "Grapple" Headquarters in London arrangements were made for a large toy firm to supply the toys. Special "Christmas" labels were then sent out to the area, and the soldiers, sailors and airmen wrote out their own individual label. The toys were sent to the various hospitals and the labels attached. Altogether 1,967 gifts were distributed.
Newsreel shots of the toys being distributed at St. Mary's Hospital for Women and Children, Plaistow, London, were shown in cinemas throughout the country and photographs were included in the Daily
Telegraph, Daily Mirror and Daily Sketch. Further, on Christmas Day,
B.B.C. sound and B.B.C. television visited St. Stephen's Hospital in Fulham Road and items appeared on "Television News" and on sound "Radio Newsreel" on that day.
The many letters of thanks received from the hospitals and homes testified to the great success of the scheme and the pleasure given to the children.
The hospitals were selected with the idea of spreading the gifts as much as possible over the United Kingdom, and also of choosing organizations which were not too well known.
20426. Wt. 68581. 749. 5,000. 4/57. S.P. & S. G.9-8-8.