On August 30, 1914, Admiral Charles Penrose Fitzgerald, an inveterate conscriptionist and disciple of Lord Roberts, deputized thirty women in Folkstone to hand out white feathers to men not in uniform. The purpose of this gesture was to shame “every young ‘slacker’ found loafing about the Leas” and to remind those “deaf or indifferent to their country's need” that “British soldiers are fighting and dying across the channel.” Fitzgerald's estimation of the power of these women was enormous. He warned the men of Folkstone that “there is a danger awaiting them far more terrible than anything they can meet in battle,” for if they were found “idling and loafing to-morrow” they would be publicly humiliated by a lady with a white feather.
The idea of a paramilitary band of women known as “The Order of the White Feather” or “The White Feather Brigade” captured the imagination of numerous observers and even enjoyed a moment of semiofficial sanction at the beginning of the war. According to the