Miss Mary Huffam
During WWII Mary Huffam was in charge of the mobile canteens in the Hull & East Yorkshire area. In the year ended 30 June 1942 in this area the mobile canteens visited 12,000 sites, serving 386,000 serving men and women.
Mary was described as having a quiet efficiency and a real understanding of what serving men and women wanted. She had a keenness and a real organisational ability and built up a band of voluntary workers who were all equally enthusiastic and personally devoted.
Mary and her team became friends to many, and would be consulted on anything from a cut finger to finding a room for a visiting wife. For many these canteens were the only bit of civilisation they saw. Mary became known as a fairy godmother and people would often come to her for help and advice.
Mary’s canteens would visit searchlight posts and units in the middle of nowhere, often isolated, many of which were on the coast, when in winter the weather would be bitter. They would always receive a rapturous greeting. They went out in good or bad weather, on poor roads and worse tracks, in the daylight and in the darkness.
On their "resting" days Mary and her team would often go shopping for the special items those visiting the canteens had requested, for example, perfume for a wife or a toy for their child.
These canteens were an integral part of these men and women’s lives.