Violetta Thurston

Born 1879 in Hastings, Sussex, Violetta was the daughter of Dr. Edward Paget Thurstan.  Details of her early life are unclear, although reliable records show that she was at boarding school at Paignton in Devon (1891 census) and that she was later registered as a pupil at the Ladies College in Guernsey.  However, it seems she also went to school in Germany. At different times, she used either Thurstan or Thurston as her surname.  She was also referred to at different times as Anne, Anna, Violet or Violetta.

In 1898 at the age of 19 she began what was to become a long and varied career in nursing at a range of different establishments.  Having started work at a Home for the Incurables in London she moved to the East London Hospital for Children, Shadwell. In 1900 she is recorded as a nurse at the Fever Hospital in Guernsey before applying to train as a nurse at the London Hospital in Whitechapel.  She was for some time Secretary of the National Union of Trained Nurses and wrote in The British Journal of Nursing.

The cosmopolitan nature of her education and pre-war career makes her life stand out from the ordinary.  Violetta was  clearly a dedicated nurse.   At the outbreak of war she traveled to Belgium to assist with the care of wounded, and was in Brussels when the city came under German occupation.  Later, she traveled to assist the Russian Red Cross.  Wounded in 1915, she became the first nurse to receive the Russian medal, the Royal Cross of St George and from the Tsar of Russia.  Whilst recovering  from her shrapnel wound, she wrote of her observations of wartime refugees The People Who Run. Briefly, she returned to England where she was officially employed under the Derby scheme to encourage men of military age to volunteer for military service.  Her later war service included postings at the front in Belgium where she received  the ‘Order of la Reine Elisabeth’, Scotland and finally she was in Macedonia when the war ended.  Later, in her mid to late 50s, Violetta saw service as a nurse during the Spanish Civil War 1936-9.

References

Great War Forum

The Channel Islands and the Great War

The Derby Scheme

Surrey Advertiser, 9th October 1916   ‘Nursing Russian Wounded’

Photograph of Violetta Thurston  Imperial War Museum collection

Elsie, Baroness De T’Serclaes, Madonna of Pervyse

Written by Richard Hughes

For nearly half a century, between 1930 and 1978, there lived in Ashtead, Surrey Elsie Shapter, Baroness de T’Serclaes, whose heroics on the Western Front during the First World War made her at the time a near-legendary figure. With her colleague, Mairi Chisolm, she ran her own first aid post from the village of Pervyse, near Ypres, for much of the war. She also made frequent visits back to Britain to attend patriotic rallies and raise funds for the war effort. So admired were the two nurses that they were termed the ‘Madonnas of Pervyse’. Some years after the war friends of Elsie, somewhat concerned about her unsettled status at the time, secured for her a Haig home in Ashtead – these were properties made available for veterans of the war – and there she lived happily for the rest of her long life; she died at the age of 94 in 1978. During the war she met and married an aristocratic Belgian airman, the Baron Harold de T’Serclaes and hence she became the Baroness de T’Serclaes. The marriage was short-lived but there was no divorce so Elsie carried her title with pride for the rest of her life.

The Baroness was born into a middle-class family in 1884 but when still a very young child she was orphaned and then adopted by the Upcott family from Marlborough, Wiltshire; her adoptive father, Lewis, was a schoolmaster at Marlborough College. Her adoptive parents were loving and Elsie grew up in an affectionate home. But unlike her parents she was no academic and later pursued a career in midwifery and nursing; she also became one of the first female pioneers of motor-cycling. In 1906 she married Leslie Knocker and a year later gave birth to a son, Kenneth. The marriage was not a success and there was a divorce; so Elsie became a single mother.

Elsie volunteered for nursing duties when war broke out in August 1914. But she did not follow a traditional route. She joined a small, rather eccentric group termed the Flying Ambulance Corps which had been established by a London doctor and social activist, Dr. Hector Munro. The doctor was a pacifist but nevertheless anxious to assist in the war effort in a non-combatant way. He saw the need for a small specialist group who could swiftly move about the battlefield dealing with medical emergencies. There would be ambulances – but also motor-cycles, a particular attraction to Elsie. The unit was based at Ostend and so Elsie moved there in the early stages of the conflict. She soon met Mairi Chisolm, ten years younger than her, and they became close colleagues. Elsie soon became frustrated with the Flying Ambulance Corps for it seemed poorly administered and was lacking funds and equipment. It was, though, getting plenty of attention. The war correspondent, Philip Gibbs [who was knighted after the war and settled in Dorking] wrote: ‘They did not seem to me at first the type of women to be useful on the battlefield. I expected them to faint at the sight of blood and swoon at the bursting of a shell. Some of them were too pretty to play about on the field of war.’ This rather patronising view was soon shown to be inaccurate. But both Elsie and Mairi became frustrated. When a local doctor, Dr. van der Ghist, suggested that they might prefer to establish their own independent unit they jumped at the chance. So in October 1914 in a cellar in a modest property on the edge of the small village of Pervyse near Ypres the two nurses, with the help of the doctor, established their own medical centre; they soon became legends.

By the time Elsie and Mairi moved to Pervyse there had been considerable developments in the course of the war in Belgium. Germany had invaded Belgium as part of its Schlieffen Plan to remove France swiftly from the war so that forces could concentrate on the threat of Russia. Under the leadership of King Albert the Belgians had offered tougher resistance than expected, and the British had arrived to support them in their struggle. In due course the number and strength of the German invaders meant the Belgians had been forced back to the coast and the significant city of Ypres, briefly captured by the Germans but soon retaken, was an isolated British-controlled centre with Germans occupying large stretches of the surrounding terrain. Pervyse, close to Ypres and on the road to the crucial coast, found itself at the centre of military activity. In November 1914 King Albert made the decision to open the sluice gates of the Yser canal at Nieuwpoort and so flood much of the terrain between the town of Dikksemuide and the coast. This halted the German advance but it did mean that the warring factions were locked into a smaller terrain and much activity became based on the need to take control of the Belgian coast.

Each day from the base in Pervyse Elsie and Mairi went out onto the battlefield to deal with the injured. If possible these would be brought back to Pervyse for treatment; if injuries were serious the casualties would be transported back to the coast and where necessary returned to Britain. Sometimes the ‘Madonnas of Pervyse’ would take care of Germans found on the field of battle and serve them hot drinks. Elsie mentioned in her memoirs that from time to time there was an extraordinary camaraderie on the battlefield. “At all big holiday times like Christmas and Easter,” she wrote, “we would shout across greetings; friendly, facetious insults to the Germans, and they would reply in kind. To add to the fun the Germans would sometimes hoist placards on long poles with such phrases as ‘The British are bloody fools’. These would be riddled with bullets. Next might appear ‘the Germans are idiots’ and, of course, this sentiment would be heartily applauded and then would appear ‘Let’s all go home’ and there would of course be great applause and laughter and a general feeling of mateyness.” But these incidents did not hide the fact that Pervyse was a living hell on earth. Sometimes the village was evacuated and reluctantly Elsie and Mairi would retreat to the relative security of the coast. These occasions increased when the Germans introduced gas warfare into the conflict.

Elsie would regularly return to England to tell the story of her life at Pervyse or address large rallies to encourage support for the war effort. She sometimes took with her battlefield debris which would be sold to raise funds. Elsie rather relished these opportunities to appear in public – Mairi did not; because of this Elsie became a much more recognisable ‘Madonna of Pervyse’ than her more reclusive partner. It has to be said that Elsie did have a tendency to play down the importance of Mairi and it is noticeable how few references there are to her partner in her autobiography ‘Flanders and Other Fields’ published in 1964.

In November 1914 Elsie met the Baron Harold de T’Serclaes. He was an airman with the Belgian Aviation Unit who flew missions over the battlefield to obtain photographic evidence of German troop movements. He was a member of one of the most senior aristocratic families in Belgium. There was an immediate mutual attraction between he and Elsie and the courtship was swift. They married in January 1915. Elsie was 30 years of age and the Baron was 26. The significance of the Baron and the fame of Elsie is indicated by the fact that the King and Queen of the Belgians attended the wedding ceremony at La Panne, as did the commanding officer of the Belgian army, General Jacques. Clouds, though, were on the horizon; while the royal family might have attended the wedding the immediate family of the Baron did not; in addition, Elsie stated on the marriage certificate that she was a widow; she was not – she was a divorcee. The de T’Serclaes was a strictly Roman Catholic family; there was an immediate problem with the marriage.

As time went by the reputation of the medical unit at Pervyse grew and famous visitors were attracted to the village. The King and Queen of the Belgians were visitors; so too was Marie Curie; and the British Leader of the Opposition, Ramsay Macdonald, called in. In 1916 was published a book by Geraldine Mitton entitled ‘The Cellar House of Pervyse’ which sold in large numbers. Elsie was delighted with this positive publicity. She was less pleased with ‘Young Hilda At the War’ by Arthur Gleason. He was an American journalist who spent some time at Pervyse where his wife helped with chores around the medical unit. In his book he managed to place his wife at the centre of affairs and Elsie and Mairi were little more than secondary characters. Elsie’s view of this book can be imagined.

In 1917 there were huge developments in the war around Ypres. Field Marshal Douglas Haig proposed a new offensive to break the German line. The focus of this offensive would be a village close to Pervyse, Passchendaele. Elsie and Mairi were informed by the infantry commander, Sir Henry Rawlinson, they would need to leave Pervyse while preparations for the advance took place. Elsie strongly objected, making the obvious point that in a new offensive the services of the unit would be more needed than ever. Rawlinson then agreed that the withdrawal would be temporary and that once the offensive was underway the nurses could return to Pervyse.

Passchendaele, of course, became another military disaster and it was eventually impossible to maintain the unit at Pervyse. In March 1918 Elsie was seriously injured in a gas attack; she was sent at first to Boulogne and then back home to England. Her war was over. Mairi continued for a little longer but the unit was closed down in April 1918 and she too returned to England. There was a particularly poignant fatality as a consequence of Passchendaele. Elsie had a pet Airedale terrier called Shot who had remained close to her throughout the time at Pervyse. Shot too was gassed by the Germans. She wrote: ‘My little dog Shot who has been with us for three years came up and looked at me with wandering eyes. He licked my hand and then died. I don’t think I have ever felt I hated the enemy but ever since my dog was gassed I’ve wanted to, I’ve longed to, kill a German.’ [There are memorial statues of Elsie and Mairi together with Shot in the garden of the Ariane hotel in Ypres].

At the time of the Armistice in November 1918 Elsie, by now fully recovered, was keen to remain involved in matters connected with the military; Mairi was not so inclined and returned to Scotland where she led a quiet life until her death in 1981 at the age of 85. Elsie joined the new Women’s Royal Air Force and became an officer. She tired of this and made an imaginative and brave career change. She set up a company, the British Warriors Film Company, whose purpose was to make films about the war which would feature veterans of the conflict. The idea was to both keep in peoples’ memory the sacrifice made by so many and also, more practically, provide employment for discharged veterans. Despite the honourable intentions the idea met with firm opposition particularly from the influential Horatio Bottomley, politician and owner of the John Bull magazine. For no clear reason Bottomley took against Elsie and her project. He claimed she had no business experience and there was every likelihood investors would lose their money. It is true that a number of initiatives were established after the war to help war veterans re-establish themselves and many were ill thought-out and poorly managed. But Bottomley was hardly the man to take action here. It soon transpired that he had funded a lavish lifestyle through fraud, mainly the mis-use of funds raised through the War Bonds he had promoted during the war; he was jailed and spent his final years in penury and disgrace.

Elsie pursued a number of less than satisfactory projects after the failure of the film project; she was a commercial traveller, a hotel manager, a housekeeper for a wealthy businessman; in 1926 there was a brief return to the limelight when she opened a medical unit in Poplar during the General Strike. In 1930 a group of her friends, somewhat concerned by the restless nature of her life, lobbied for her to be provided with a Haig home; these were properties funded in memory of Earl Haig which were made available to veterans of the war. Elsie was thus provided with a cottage in Park Road, Ashtead, just off the High Street, which she named ‘Pervyse Cottage’. She lived there happily for the rest of her long life, dying in 1978 at the age of 94. She became fully involved in the community of Ashtead. During the Second World War she trained female ambulance drivers and joined the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force.

Elsie knew that in her busy life she had not paid enough attention to her son, Kenneth, who had been brought up by his adoptive grandparents while Elsie had been in Belgium. But Kenneth grew into a young man she could be proud of; he pursued a career in the RAF and at the outbreak of the Second World War was a Wing Commander. Sadly he was killed in 1941 when he was shot down over France while returning from a bombing mission. Elsie’s wartime marriage to the Baron de T’Serclaes was short-lived. After a brief period together in London they went their separate ways but there was no divorce. As a prominent Roman Catholic the Baron did not contemplate this. So Elsie proudly carried her title with her throughout her life. The politics of Baron de T’Serclaes took an ominous turn. He had a number of business interests in Germany which led him into supporting Belgian-German co-operation. When hostility between the two countries broke out again in the late 1930s the Baron became involved in collaboration activities against Belgian resistance. Indeed he performed services for the Gestapo. After the war he was sentenced to death for treason but the sentence was reduced to twenty years imprisonment. He never served the sentence for he escaped to Italy where he lived in secrecy for the rest of his life, dying sometime in the middle of the 1950s. Elsie rarely mentioned him and when asked would say he had died during the First World War. Elsie’s autobiography, ‘Flanders And Other Fields’ was published in 1964. At the end of her long life she admitted ‘Only in time of war have I found any real sense of purpose and happiness.’

Other reading:
Flanders and Other Fields, The Baroness de T’Serclaes, Harrap 1964
Elsie and Marie Go To War, Diane Atkinson, Random House 2000

Arthur (1869-1918) and Iona Davey (1870-1945), Liberals and Women’s Suffrage Supporters

I noticed during my research at Surrey History Centre that Hon. Mr Arthur Jex Davey and his wife were cropping up in newspaper reports of the meetings of the Godalming Women’s Suffrage Society and felt that this interesting political couple needed investigation.

Arthur Jex Davey was born in Kensington in 1869, the son of Sir Horace Davey and Louisa Hawes Davey (née Donkin). He was Chairman of the Weaving Company and set up the Mills Equipment Company of which he was a director in 1906. This company made the webbing belts, straps and haversacks which became standard in the British Army from 1908. He was a member of the Clothworkers Company. He took on many public roles such as the governorship of the Central Foundation Schools in London and the chairmanship of the Gordon Hospital, Bridge Road, Vauxhall. His father Sir Horace was a Liberal and was one of the hundred people present at the opening of Wonersh Village Liberal Club in 1887. He had been brought up in a family which held liberal political views and it is not a surprise that Arthur Jex Davey became active in local Liberal politics.

Arthur Jex Davey married Mary Iona Fothergill Robinson (known as Iona) at Christ Church, Lancaster Gate, London, in June 1894. Iona was the daughter of the Vice Chancellor of Lancashire, William Fothergill Robinson.

The couple moved to ‘Ockford House’, Milford, in 1907 with their two young daughters Iona Hildegarde and Julia Christobel.

Arthur had political ambition and was adopted as Liberal Candidate in the Guildford Division in 1910. However, he was defeated by the Unionist candidate William Edgar Horne in December 1910. Following this he turned his attention to municipal affairs, in 1912 he was voted on to the Godalming Town Council and served as Mayor of Godalming 1915-1916. He continued to stand as Liberal Candidate but resigned from his candidacy at the outbreak of war in 1914. He was also president of the Godalming and District Liberal Association.

Iona also took an active part in local and national politics; she was president of the Women’s Liberal Association and secretary of the Women’s Local Government Society, as well as campaigning for women’s suffrage. During the First World War, as the mayor’s wife, she raised funds for both the Red Cross and the St John’s Ambulance, she was also a committee member of the Godalming Division of the Soldiers and Sailors Families Association (Lady Jekyll [Agnes] and Alison Ogilvy were also committee members).

Both Arthur and Iona were active branch members and supporters of the Godalming Women’s Suffrage Society, promoting the cause in meetings of both the Liberal Party and the local suffrage societies.

A column in the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS) newspaper Common Cause that listed forthcoming meetings noted that on the afternoon of 19 October 1911 Lord Lytton would speak on suffrage at Watts Picture Gallery, Compton, near Guildford, at the invitation of Mrs G F Watts, President of the Godalming Branch. Lady Midleton would be in the chair. Lord Lytton would also speak the same evening at meeting chaired by Miss D [Dorothy] Hunter and Mr A [Arthur Jex] Davey, to be held at Godalming Borough Hall. The meeting at Compton was a success, attended by 200 people including some “Antis”, and 11 new members were recruited (Common Cause, 9 November 1911).

On 23 March 1913 Common Cause gave advance notice of a meeting on women’s suffrage to be held in the Borough Hall, Godalming, at which the speakers were Hon. Arthur Davey, Rev. A H Fletcher, A R Heath, Sir William Chance, Lady Betty Balfour, Alison Ogilvie, T C [Ogilvy], Miss Aston, Miss D Hunter and Miss Hay Cooper.

The Godalming Women’s Liberal Association held a meeting at the Liberal Club on “Liberalism and Anti-suffrage Candidates” (Surrey Advertiser 31/3/1913) where Iona Davey was one of the speakers, she pointed out in her address that women in the party should not support Anti-suffrage Liberal candidates in the forthcoming election. A motion in favour of this view was passed.

The Surrey Advertiser 21 July 1913 reported on a Liberal Party meeting in Guildford at which Arthur Davey answered questions on the “Cat and Mouse” Act. He commented that it was a “disagreeable remedy” for a problem which some people would prefer be solved by suffragettes being allowed to starve and die in prison. He believed that the women should not be allowed to die because that was wrong and that the government had little choice. He said that he supported the aim of the suffrage campaigners but not the methods of the suffragettes.

The Mayor of Godalming, Alderman E Bridger, was in the chair for a debate held at Borough Hall, Godalming on the subject of “Why Godalming Women want the vote”. The debate was organised by Godalming Branch NUWSS and speakers from the local Anti-suffragists were invited. However, Lady Midleton, Miss Aston and Mr A R Heath sent letters of apology (Miss Aston and Mr Heath were invited to the meeting to represent the case for the anti-suffragists). The Godalming Branch NUWSS decided to continue with the debate and set out to make the case for women’s suffrage by answering the arguments and assertions made by anti-suffragists. Arthur Jex Davey was among the speakers, challenging the argument that women were unsuited for politics, saying that in his experience of politics there was nothing that a woman could not do. He said that women were complimentary to men and asserted that both men and women did their best work when working together (Surrey Advertiser, 7 April 1913).

One of the NUWSS’s most spectacular mobilisation of support for their cause known as The Great Pilgrimage passed through Godalming and was reported by Surrey Advertiser on 21 and 23 July 1913 The 150 pilgrims who had already walked from Portsmouth left Haslemere on 21 July and arrived in Witley in time for lunch at ‘Great Roke’. They then continued to Milford, where they had tea at ‘Ockford House’ at the invitation of Hon Mrs A Davey [Iona Davey]. The report lists some of the names of the local suffrage supporters who met the marchers. These names include Lady Chance, Lady Scott Moncrief, Miss Scott Moncrief, Hon Mrs Arthur Davey, Mrs G F Watts, Mrs Dixon, Mrs Osgood, Miss Meugens, Mrs Redhead, Miss Ogilvy, Mrs [Miss T] W Powell, Miss Burnett, Mrs Overton, Miss Mellersh, Misses Beddington, Mrs Pollock, Mrs G T Pilcher and others. The local overnight hosts were Lady Chance, Hon Mrs A Davey, Miss Franklin, Mrs Overton, Miss Powell, Mrs Dixon and Mrs G T Pilcher. Iona Davey was one of the pro-suffrage speakers at an open-air meeting in Godalming later in the evening of 21 July 1913.

A meeting of the Home Counties Union of the Women’s Liberal Association was held in Guildford (reported in the Surrey Advertiser 19 November 1913) chaired by Iona Davey with support from Lady Jardine and Alison Ogilvy on the subject of women’s role and position in the Liberal Party. A speech from F D Acland MP said that women’s suffrage was not achievable in the current parliament. In an address from Eva MacLaren the women were urged to support the adoption of pro-suffrage candidates as women in the party would not support anti-suffrage candidates in the Liberal party and would rather see Tories elected. Arthur Davey also addressed the meeting.

Iona addressed the first meeting of the Wonersh and Bramley Women’s Liberal Association at the end of November (Surrey Advertiser 1 December 1913).

In 1916 the Davey’s moved from Godalming to Abbots Wood in Guildford and Arthur stood down as Mayor and from his seat on Godalming Town Council. In 1917 Arthur retired from his company and became Deputy Director of Army Contracts. Sadly, a year later whilst returning to England on the mailboat RSM Leinster, following an official visit to Ireland in the capacity of his work at the War Office, the vessel was hit by a torpedo and sunk by a German submarine UB-123 on 10 October 1918. Arthur was one of the 501 out of 650 people on board who lost their lives. There is a memorial to him next to his parent’s grave in the churchyard of Holy Trinity Church, Forest Row, and he is also remembered on a plaque to commemorate the war dead members of the Wonersh Liberal Club. The Surrey Advertiser published an obituary on 12 October 1918 and the Times 22 October 1918.

Contributed by Miriam Farr.

Sources

Surrey Advertiser, Times and Common Cause newspapers, accessed via British Newspaper Archive online, via Surrey Libraries Online Reference shelf available at Surrey History Centre

See a photograph of the Wonersh Village Club Memorial Plaque for members of the Wonersh & Bramley Liberal Club, including Arthur Jex Davey, on the Surrey in the Great War project website https://www.surreyinthegreatwar.org.uk/collections/getrecord/SHMEM_W_M_3042

See Godalming Museum’s information page on Arthur Jex Davey at http://www.godalmingmuseum.org.uk/index.php?page=arthur-jex-davey

The Royal Mail Archive’s story of RMS Leinster can be seen online at https://www.postalmuseum.org/blog/the-centenary-of-the-sinking-of-rms-leinster/

The Impact of WW1 on the Lingfield and Dormansland Area in 1914

Research and text contributed by the RH7 History Group

During the period of WW1 radio was in its infancy and newspapers were one of the main means of reporting news and also communicating official information and instructions.  Both the Surrey Mirror and The East Grinstead Observer continued to be published weekly during the war.  The main theatres of the war and national events were covered but from the point view of the impact of the war on the local area the two publications are a rich source of information.  Reports of events in the RH7 area are usually brief, however the ‘snippets’ which were found give an insight into the life ‘on the home front’.


Preparations for War
In the months before August no mention of war was found in the local papers, although contingencies were quietly being put in place.  On 25 July The East Grinstead Observer reported on a Red Cross Field Day held at Imberhorne Farm.  A rest station was prepared ‘near an imaginary battle’ and Territorials in battle kit acted as ‘eounded’, while stretcher bearers administered first-aid and dressed wounds.

The declaration of war on 4 August 1914 initially did not have a great impact on daily life.  The Surrey Mirror edition on the same day carried a cautious report on Britain’s involvement in war.  By the 11 August edition on the same day reported that all doubts were now removed and ‘we know that practically the whole of Europe is in the grip of war…the Fleet is ready and the army mobilising.’

Once war was declared, however, it did not take long for things to step up a gear and for the public to get behind the war effort.  Territorials guarded lines of communication.  Important sections of practically every railway line in the country were guarded, especially lines between Southampton, Aldershot, Chatham and London over which troops might have to be conveyed.

Locally Boy Scouts were posted to guard the viaduct bridge over Cooks Pond, Dormans Park.

Advertisements appeared in the papers for Army pensioners to act as Recruiters and by September the British Red Cross was asking for bandages, instructing people to boil the calico before tearing, leaving no selvedges; the length and width were to be marked with ink and fastened with safety pins.

The Lingfield Emergency Committee was formed.  ‘All the chief residents, farmers, tradesmen and many members of the working class were invited to serve’.  The committee would deal with recruiting, relief, food supply and other urgent matters.  There were appeals for aid for wives and families of soldiers and it was recorded that Lingfield Church gave £25 to the Prince of Wales Fund.  On 25 November the Dormansland school log reported that the children would give an entertainment in aid of the National Relief Fund; this took place in December and raised £13 2s. 11.5d.

Spy Mania
In October 1914, the Surrey Mirror reported that ‘a suspicious foreigner’ was found wandering in a field at Lingfield.  Karl Horvath, aged 18, was unable to give a good account of himself and was remanded; there was no report of what happened to him subsequently.

Alarming stories began to circulate in the local papers.  The Surrey Mirror reported that on Sunday 9 August a troop train near South Godstone was fired at and several windows smashed, although no-one was injured.  From the train four men were seen in a field on the east side of the line.  Three shots were fired at which the men then jumped into a motor car and drove away.  The train was pulled up and Territorials stationed at Redhill, together with police and motor scouts scoured the surrounding country.  ‘Residents in the neighbourhood joined warmly in the chase, one gentleman lending powerful motor car and also guns for six men to go with it.  But it was all in vain and those who man the attack got clean away.’  The next day an attempt was made to fire at Territorials on guard at the L.B. & S.C. Railway loop line at Holmthorpe just outside Redhill .  Sentries fired a round or two and called out the guard.  Two men were seen running away from the embarkment and a search was made but no-one was found.

At about the same time come reports of a troop train being fired upon at Edenbridge.  A rifle bullet was found in the woodwork of a carriage.  The police description of the suspect was circulated as someone ‘tall and dark with a sallow complexion and dark moustache’.  It is not clear what these reports meant but there has been some suggestion that these stories were a deliberate invention with the intention of keeping troops and Territorials on their toes.

Enlisting
Long lists of men who had enlisted were printed.  On 5 September 1914 the East Grinstead Observer reported an appeal from the vicar of East Grinstead for men to join up.  He expressed his hope that the rugby club would join up and cancel games as ‘this was no time for young able-bodied men to be playing or watching games’.  The scoutmaster for the 1st Lingfield and Dormansland troop. Captain Henry Lloyd Martin enlisted; he was later to be killed at the Battle of the Somme.  The scouts from Lingfield and Dormansland competed against the Oxted and Limpsfield scouts in a shooting match.  Several of the scouts taking part went on to enlist: assistant scountmaster Henry Cox became a gunner in the Royal Artillery; Arthur Potter and Albert Friend joined the Royal West Kent Regiment and George Skinner joined the Queen’s (Royal West Surrey) Regiment.

Patriotism
Patriotic verses written by readers were published each week in the Surrey Mirror; these started off by being very jingoistic:
Still shall she rule the waves
Crushing usurping power…
but within weeks become much more sombre:
O God of our fathers hear our prayer
In this dark hour of strife…

National Loans meetings were held in Lingfield and Blindley Heath.  In Lingfield the meeting was chaired by Mr Gow of Batnor Hall; the Lingfield Band played patriotic airs and three cheers were given for ‘our soldiers in the trenches’.  At the Blindley Heath meeting the cry was ‘every man of military age and medically fit who has not joined the Colours must ask himself the question – why do I not enlist?’

Life goes on as Usual
On Saturday 1 August the annual church parade at Lingfield took place.  Taking part were the Fire Brigade, Friendly Societies with banners and sashes; the Lingfield and Dormansland Boy Scouts; the Copthorne Prize Band, the Dormansland Institute Band and Lingfield Band.  In September the Lingfield Harvest Festival went ahead as usual.  At Christmas Aladdin was playing at the Croydon Hippodrome.  Aladdin, played by Miss Lillie Lassae, encouraged the audience to help her with “Sister Susie’s Sewing Shirts for Soldiers” and “It’s a Long Way to Tipperary”.

In October, Lingfield Park Racecourse announced that the first autumn meeting would be held as usual.  It was felt that if it was stopped it would mean hardship for those employed.  Also if ‘the interest of owners is allowed to wane there would be serious blow to horse-breeding and the supply of animals to the army would be severely affected.  There should be no false sentiment about the propriety of holding the races’.  It was announced that all serving officers of army and navy were welcome to the course and enclosure free of charge.  Wives and daughters of members away serving in the forces would be allowed to use the member’s badge.

Food
There were official warnings against the hoarding of food but it seems that these appeals were generally ignored by the general public.  At the outbreak of war panic buying broke out and shops such as Sainsbury’s issued notices to the effect that its regular customers would be kept supplied.  The requisitioning of delivery horses by the army also affected distribution to Sainsbury’s branches and customers were asked to carry smaller parcels home themselves.

Demon Drink
By September it was recommended that due to the large numbers of troops billeted in East Grinstead the sale of intoxicating liquor was to be restricted.  The sale of alcohol was therefore suspended between 9pm and 9am.  The Government had grave concerns about the amount the public were drinking and was especially worried about the amount of beer munitions workers were drinking.  There followed new national regulations allowing the watering of beer.  This becomes known as ‘Government Ale’.  A line from a popular music hall song of the time went:
…But the worst thing that ever happened in this war
Is Lloyd George’s Beer.

The British Red Cross issued a warning to chauffeurs in charge of convalescent soldiers out for an airing in private motors who had been seen stopping off at public houses and treating the men to a drink.  It was requested that anyone seeing cases of this kind should report it to any Red Cross Convalescent Home in the neighbourhood.

Fuel
During the autumn and winter of 1914 supplies of fuel and light were curtailed, street lamps dimmed and no lines of light were permitted.

Events in Belgium
After the German invasion of Belgium many of the population were displaced.  By December the Surrey Mirror had started a weekly column in French for the benefit of the local influx of Belgian refugees.  Accommodation was offered in many places; locally The Colony (now Young Epilepsy) in St Piers Lane offered places for 36 refugees.

 

For information on the Lingfield and Dormansland covering the rest of the war years click the following links:

1915

1916

1917

1918

 

The Impact of WW1 on the Lingfield and Dormansland Area in 1917

Research and text contributed by the RH7 History Group

During the period of WW1 radio was in its infancy and newspapers were one of the main means of reporting news and also communicating official information and instructions.  Both the Surrey Mirror and The East Grinstead Observer continued to be published weekly during the war.  The main theatres of the war and national events were covered but from the point view of the impact of the war on the local area the two publications are a rich source of information.  Reports of events in the RH7 area are usually brief, however the ‘snippets’ which were found give an insight into the life ‘on the home front’.

 

Food
Food problems were now serious.  The Surrey War Agricultural Committee was set up in January 1917.  Examples of many of the proposals put forward by the committee being put into action were found in the local press.  People were urged not to panic and to cultivate vacant land.

Ploughing up pasture to grow potatoes and wheat meant less pasture for cattle (milk and meat).  ‘We must not deny our children milk’.  It was reported that ‘unless the price of feeding stuffs can be brought down it will be necessary to contemplate a large reduction in the live-stock of the county.  Home-produced fertilizer was produced – sulphate of ammonia mixed with basic slag.  There is a record in the Colony archives of this being ordered from Stanford’s in Lingfield.

Help was given in the purchase of seed potatoes.  In March, Crowhurst Parish Council reported that they had received a letter from the County Agricultural Committee asking what quantity of seed potatoes would be required by parishioners.  A guaranteed price for wheat was introduced.  The County War Agricultural Committee reported that to maintain food supplies more tractors must be used.  However farmers were very conservative and sceptical.  Demonstrators were arranged to show how much quicker ploughing would be if tractors were used and training was provided.  Local farmer Mr Young stated that he heard that ladies could drive tractors.  By March, 16hp Mogul tractors were being important from the USA but the purchase of new or second-hand tractors from this country was advocated to reduce the need for important machines.  However, the Chairman of the Agriculture Committee commented: ‘I understand that the Ford works in USA will be able to turn out tractors at £50…this will revolutionise agriculture…it will knock the English workers off their trade.’

With so many men away, many women started o work on the land.  A separate Women’s War Agriculture Committee was established to ‘get down to each parish’ to organise work for women.  It was decided that the best system was for women working on the land to work in gangs.  There should be a gang leader who would assemble the team and keep the time sheets.  The Home Defence Army was to help during the spring sowing season, also German prisoners, Interned Aliens and Conscientious Objectors.  To add to the difficulties there were reports of swine fever at Newchapel and potato disease at Baldwins Hill ‘which has wrought much havoc’.

Because of the sugar shortage those able to grow their own fruit were allowed sugar in order to preserve their crop.  The local papers printed weekly Hints for Allotment Holders to encourage people to grow their own fruit and vegetables.  Lingfield Drainage Committee received a request from Mr W. Watts to rent a piece of land at the sewage works.  This was agreed at a rent 10/- (50p).  The land had to be used for food production and subletting was not allowed.

The shooting season for pheasants was extended to 1 March.  Rabbits were to be ‘dealt with’ in February, March and April.  Appeals were made to local hunts to keep the numbers of foxes as low as possible.

In response to the massive amount of shipping lost to German U-Boats the Government authorised the organisation of a National Kitchen, where healthy and nourishing food was cooked and served to the masses now that most men had been called up to the Front and women had taken their places in the workforce.  Food shortages became a serious problem and initially food prices were fixed, eg the price of a quarter loaf was fixed at 9d; butchers were limited to 2 1/2d profit per pound.  Finally, the Government introduced food rationing, starting with sugar.  This was in place by the end of November.  The situation was not helped by adverse weather conditions – an abnormal, long and snow-bound winter; a belated and hurried ploughing season followed by a drought in May and then a wet and stormy August.

Patriotism
There were several War Aims Meetings in Surrey villages.  Their purpose was to explain the government war aims.  The Lingfield meeting was held on 26 November in the Victoria Institute.  An example of a resolution passed at these meetings: ‘This meeting heartily approves of the nation’s inflexible determination to continue the struggle until the evil forced which originated the conflict are destroyed and to maintain the ideals of liberty and justice which are the common and sacred cause of the allies.’

Troops
Throughout the year news of many deaths and injuries continue to be reported in the papers – too many to be listed here.  Apart from the dreaded bad news families must have been eager for any information.  The troops were restricted in what they could say and the other censor was very rigorous.  A set of postcards sent home by Stanley Jenner to his mother, and passed down to his daughter, are a good example of such correspondence.  Although there was no real news the letters must have been a comfort that as long as the cards kept coming, families knew that their loved one was still alive.

On 3 March the local paper reported on a military round up at the Racecourse: ‘On Saturday last the Military made a raid on the Lingfield racecourse at the conclusion of the day’s racing.’  Likely looking men were held up and requested to produce papers proving their exemption from military service.  A cinematograph operator who attempted to get a picture of the event had to be protected by the police and narrowly escaped a rough handling by some members of the crowd.  Five men were eventually taken.

Labour Shortage
A letter to the Surrey Mirror asking ‘what about the children of women who work?  Will the older children miss school to look after their younger brothers and sisters?  I call upon all women up to 60 for this work of national importance,  It is time to consider the citizens of the future.’

There were many reports of women taking over their husband’s work.  For example, in July the licence of the Royal Oak, Dormansland, was transferred from Albert Leigh (who was serving with the Colours) to his wife, Beatrice Annie Leigh.

Daily Life
In the midst of so much bad news the Observer reported on two weddings which took place in Ligfield church, on 27 October.  Frances Nita Fuller married Ernest William Frost.  He was a Canadian soldier and was on leave.  Nora Sybil Wallers married Percy William White, ‘one of our brave fellows who was wounded at Gallipoli and has now been discharged.’

Miss Norah Burton, chauffeur of Red Cottage, Station Road, Dormansland, was summoned for not drawing her bedroom blinds at night.  She wrote that she got into bed, leaving a candle burning by her bedside.  She was fined £1.

A Drama in Dormansland
‘On August Bank Holiday, Mr Winston Churchill, Minister of Munitions, and his wife left their residence, Lullenden, in their motor, proceeding to London.  On reaching The Crossway, the residence of Mr Davey Walker, another motorist approached from the blind turning and struck Mr Churchill’s car full broadside with such violent force that the vehicle was thrown on its side.  Mr and Mrs Churchill were badly shaken but as soon as they could obtain another car they resumed their journey.

For information on the Lingfield and Dormansland covering the rest of the war years click the following links:

1914

1915

1916

1918

Dorothy Oakley

Research and text contributed by the RH7 History Group

Dorothy Oakley is the only woman [so far] found in [the RH7] villages who [is known] to have done war work, in her case, nursing. There are possibly others but unfortunately women’s records in many cases were not kept or were later subjected to a ‘sweeping clear out’ such as that in the 1930s.

She was born in Kensington in 1871. Her father was a Land Agent. In 1911 she was living by ‘private means’ in Glebe Cottage, Vicarage Road, Lingfield. She was unmarried.

In 1914 she became a member of the Lingfield Emergency Committee and the Chairman of the Hospital and Convalescence Sub-Committee. In January 1915 she announced her resignation as she was about to leave to nurse in Serbia as a VAD. When the Emergency Committee was wound down in 1919 there was acknowledgement of Dorothy’s war service in the Balkans.

In 1958 she lived at The Laurels, Dormansland, and died in The Larches Nursing Home, East Grinstead. She is buried in the Lower Churchyard of the parish church of St Peter and St Paul.

 

Conscription and Exemption in Lingfield and Dormansland

Research and text courtesy of the RH7 History Group

With the continuing, and rising, demand for men to join the Army, conscription was introduced in 1916, initially for single men and later for married men. Men who were due to be called up for military service were able to appeal against their conscription: they or their employers could appeal to a local Military Service tribunal in their town or district. These appeals could be made on the grounds of work of national importance, business or domestic hardship, medical unfitness or conscientious objection. A very large number of men appealed: by the end of June 1916, 748,587 men had appealed to tribunals.

A socialist Conscientious Objector: an early Lingfield case was reported on 20 May 1916 under this heading.
” An application was made by Lionel Bertram Temple (26), an insurance agent who lives in Old Town Lingfield. He based his objection on religious and moral grounds, and also stated he suffered in health.”

Replying to questions he said he cold not assist in either combatant or non-combatant services. He belonged to the World Order of Socialists. He took the pledge of the “World Fraternity” when he joined three years ago. A member of the Tribunal: “The German Socialists don’t adhere to the pledge”. The Tribunal refused exemption, ordering the applicant for non-combatant service.

An interesting case, to modern eyes, was reported on 18 November. Mr W.A. Fisher, the postmaster, appealed for his clerk, A.J. terry. The local Tribunal asked whether a woman could take on the work. The postmaster said that Christmas time being near the pressures of work made it essential he should have a trained man. The exemption was granted until 31 December. We do not know whether the key word was ‘trained’ or ‘man’ – anyway the Tribunal accepted the case.

The impact of the loss of men of working age began to be reflected in the nature of the applications made to Tribunal:
William Miram, butcher, High Street, Lingfield, applied for Albert Boorer (37) slaughterman. He stated there was no other slaughterman in the neighbourhood. Exemption was granted until 11 August. In many cases the Tribunal simply put off the date at which the individual would have to join the forces. Albert Boorer eventually joined the Queen’s (Royal West Surrey) Regiment and went to France in 1917. Albert returned to Lingfield after the war and managed his own butcher’s shop in the High Street.

Another Boorer, William Edward (aged 32) applied in May 1916 for exemption on the grounds he was the only one who could look after his business. He was granted exemption until the end of June but eventually joined the Royal Flying Corps. The business evidently survived as after the war William and his brother Fred were partners in an ironmongers business on the site of the present Lingfield Garage.

Albert Stanford, building contractor, applied as he had two contracts to finish. His son aged 18 had join the Forces. He usually employed 15, 16 or 20 men but now had only six.

On 20 May 1916 there was a report of an application for exemption from Mrs Avice Skinner, High Street, Dormansland on behalf of Frank Skinner (37) and Gordon Mayo (30) shoeing and general smiths. It was stated that they were now turning out 100 [horse]shoes a week under an Army contract as well as doing repair work for farmers. They had four men but now only one other besides Mayo and Skinner. Exemption was granted.

Against this background of mass conscription and exemptions, there was public concern about those who, rightly or wrongly, were perceived as evading war service. The following report of a military round up at the Racecourse on 3 March 1917 reflects this.

‘On Saturday last the military made a raid on the Lingfield racecourse at the conclusion of the day’s racing. Likely looking men were held up and requested to produce papers proving their exemption from military service. A cinematograph operator who attempted to get a picture of the event had to be protected by the police and narrowly escaped a rough handling by some members of the crowd. Five men were eventually taken to Oxted police station.’

 

Sources:

East Grinstead Observer archives

Belgian Refugees in the Lingfield Area

Research and text courtesy of the RH7 History Group

[It was Germany’s invasion of neutral Belgium that brought Britain into the war on 4 August 1914.] Germany had made a colossal mistake – and they knew it.  There had been last minute attempts to stop the invasion but it was all too late and from then on she was branded as the guilty and brutal Hun.

About 1.5 million Belgian fled, mostly to Britain, France, Holland, Switzerland, Spain and some to the United States. Folkestone was the first town in Britain to be affected with the arrival of 11,000 Belgians.  They were sent on to London where accommodation could be arranged at Alexandra Palace, Earl’s Court and White City.  It must have been difficult for the refugees – safe but confused and exhausted. Language was a problem not only with the English but between themselves, with Walloons mixed with the Flemish. The London Centres were well organised with food and medical supplies and eventually the Belgians were dispensed around the country. It is estimated that a quarter of a million refugees arrived and stayed in Britain.

The towns and villages had different ways of absorbing them. A very small village like West Peckham, for example, adopted one family with local people donating what they could afford to support them. [In the Lingfield and Dormansland area], with its collection of villages, [there was] a very different system. Organisation and management was given to the Emergence Committee.

Miss Nevill; Captain Spender Clay MP; Mr de Clermont (no initial); Mr Gow and Mr Stanger provided houses rent free.

Four teams were formed, each one to be responsible for one house and its occupants as follows:-
Fair Oaks, Town Hill, Lingfield (now the dentist)
Mrs Ballantine, Mrs Fowler, Mrs Gow, Lady Forte.

8 Stanhope Cottages, Lingfield (on the right, just under the railway bridge by the racecourse)
Mrs Hicks, Mrs T.K. Morris, Mrs Turton

Old Post Office, Dormansland
Mrs Forte, Mrs Morshead, Miss Pelham, Miss St Clair, Mrs Gerald Walker

San Bento, Dormans Park (this has disappeared, either renamed or demolished)
Mrs Dunkin, Mrs St Clair, Mrs Stangerm Mrs Starr-Jones

They had arranged for the houses to be rate-free and wrote to the East Surrey Water Company asking them to remit the water rate.

Care was funded by donations and subscriptions. 12 refugees were being supported but when the villages were asked to take 14 more (the total rose to 36) the Committee wrote to the Belgian Relief Fund at the Belgian Legation to ask if they could help to some degree.

 

Finances from October 1914 – 30 June 1915
Donations and subscriptions came to £378 7s. 9d.

After expenses had been deducted (made up of household expenses, coal, clothing, furnishings, education travelling, insurance and sundries) there was a balance in the bank of £71 19s. 10d. for emergencies.

The Committee discussed how much a refugee needed to earn to become independent. A Mr Essers felt he would need to earn £1 10s. a week. The Committee made it a rule that any money should be banked at the General Post Office Bank, one half of savings being in the name of the man, one quarter in that of his wife and the man being allowed to keep the other quarter as pocket money; but, in the event of a refugee obtaining a permanent place he would cease receiving funds from the Committee.

Relationship seem to have been good in [the Lingfield and Dormansland] area. Here is an article which appeared in the Surrey Mirror, 8 January 1915:

THANKS TO THE ENGLISH

Mr Neefs, President of the Belgian Committee, also sends a Report of the Christmas gathering at the Public Hall and in it thus thanks the English:

“In the name of all compatriots I have the honour to express to you our feelings of deep gratitude for your kindness and your generosity towards the Belgian refugees living in Reigate, Redhill and the neighbourhood and, today especially, for their children.

In a few words but with a good heart we thank you for it. We shall still remember when we are back in Belgium the magnanimity of the English nation towards the Belgians. I want especially to express a word of thanks to the Mayor of Reigate who has never neglected any occasion to be agreeable and serviceable to the Belgians.

Hip, Hip Hurray for England.”

 

Here is another article from the Surrey Mirror:

ENTERTAINMENT AT GODSTONE

“The Belgian refugees at The Grange, South Godstone, spent a happy, merry time under the care of Mr & Mrs Shepheard. For several days beforehand the refugees were working to decorate the big room with flowers, flags and ornamental shields and as a result it was very pretty. On Christmas morning, thanks to the kindness of Mr Deeds in providing a brake, 14 attended Divine Service at East Grinstead church. Special prayers were offered for the Belgians, for the success of the armies of the Allies and that peace may soon be restored.

When the party arrived home they found an excellent dinner in readiness for them by kindly friends in the neighbourhood having provided turkeys, geese and Christmas puddings.

In the evening the whole party indulged in English games and everyone spent thoroughly enjoyable. The evening concluded with dancing, the music being provided by Mr Engelen, on the mandolin and selections were given on gramophone.

All guests were loud in their praise of Mr Shepheard for the trouble he took in seeing that they spent a thoroughly enjoyable time and one which they will remember in the brighter years to come.”

However, there were problems. The Chief Constable published a warning that both hosts and refugees were either forgetting or ignoring the rules which applied when they first arrived in a county or changed their address. They had to register and had to have a police permit to stay in a prohibited area. There was a fine of £100 or 6 months imprisonment for neglecting such rules.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds was anxious that the Belgians understood our different laws regarding ensuring small birds for the pot. The main serious worry, though, was the fact that Belgian men were ask not to enlist and British women started to protest. As a result the Government organised work in munitions factories and the Belgian workforce contributed considerably to the war work. Apart from working in British factories they also set up their own.

In some areas there were signs of intolerance as time went on but in the main long standing friendships were established.

 

Sources:

The Imperial War Museum
Surrey History Centre
Lingfield Library
British Newspaper Archive
Cabinet Papers
Hansard

 

Brothers in Arms

Courtesy of the RH7 History Group, as part of their First World War exhibitions from 2014-2018

Written by Janet Bateson and Sue Quelch

Men who worked together frequently enlisted together in Kitchen’s Army.  Brothers and cousins, old school friends, and neighbours in the same high street found the journey to the recruiting centre was exciting when they had their Pals without them.  There are several examples in the Lingfield area.  A sad fact of war is that some families lost their entire male household, many lost their main breadwinner.

Seven young men from Dormansland set off in the early morning of 10 November 1914 to take a train from South Godstone to Guildford to enlist in the Queen’s (Royal West Surrey) Regiment {QRWS) for the duration of the war.  They must have stood in line in a queue as their service numbers are consecutive:

No. 3490 Raymond Everest, age 19 years 5 months
3491 Frederick Henry Allen, age 19 years 6 months
3492 Edwin John Simmons, age 19 years 8 months
3493 Rochford James Whitehurst, age 19 years  9 months
3494 Walter Diplock, age 19 years 6 months
3495 Ernest Edward Caush gave his age as 20 to help his brother’s enlistment, actual age 19 years 6 months
3496 John Alfred Caush (Jack), brother of Ernest, gave his age as 19 years 6 months – actual age 17 years 5 months

They were close friends from school days.  They possibly worked on the Ford Manor estate, all were gardeners or farm labourers.  Frederick Allen and the Caush brothers were Boy Scouts.  Four of the friends were killed, two on the same day.  Of the three who survived one received a gunshot wound to the chest.

Raymond Everest was killed on 25 September 1915, the first day of the Battle of Loos.
Frederick Allen served in France, was transferred from [QRWS] to the 29th [Battalion], Middlesex Regiment, [and transferred[ again to the Labour Corps after his recovery from a gunshot wound to his chest.  In 1919 he received a pension for 20% disablement, 5/6d. per week, conditional to be reviewed in 39 weeks.
Edwin Simmons was killed on 21 August 1916 in the Battle of the Somme.
Rochford Whitehurst served in France, was promoted to Lance Corporal and transferred to the Gloucestershire Regiment.  He survived the war.
Walter Diplock served in France, was transferred to the Labour Corps.  He survived the war.
Ernest Caush was killed on 13 August 1916 in the Battle of the Somme.
John (Jack) Caush was killed on 25 September 1915, the first day of the Battle of Loos (the same day as his friend Raymond Everest).  He has no known grave; his name is inscribed on the Loos Memorial.

Memorial to Guildford’s 9th Congregational Scout Troop.

The 9th Guildford Congregational Scout Troop was formed in 1909 and met in the Centenary Hall in Chapel Street (what was more recently the Loch Fyne Restaurant).  The troop was linked with the Congregational Church which was sited on the corner of North Street and Leapale Road, Guildford.

During the war, along with other troops in the area, members of the 9th Congregational Troop were active in the community. For example, the Surrey Times and County Express reported on 18th September 1915 on a memorial service for three soldiers  which was attended by scouts including those from the 9th Congregational Troop. They state that ‘boy scouts, by reason of the excellence of their training, have proved their worth in the Great War’.

On 25th November 1916, the paper reported on a church parade of 9th Congregational Scouts held just before their scoutmaster left to take up work with the Red Cross in France. ‘Mr H V Jeffery….. was presented with a silver wristwatch on behalf of the scouts’. Harold Vivian Jeffery’s VAD card shows that he lived in 137 High Street, Guildford and  was 33 when he was engaged by the Red Cross as an ambulance driver at Boulogne. He earned 35 shillings at that time but, by the time his service ended in January 1919, his pay had risen to 41 shillings.

Another article on 25th November 1916 reported that 6000 troops were expected to be billeted in Guildford. This caused much excitement in the town because lighting restrictions, in place because of the fear of zeppelin attacks, were to be lifted. The paper tells of an advance party of 600 troops being served refreshments at Guildford station then ’marched to North Street where they were escorted to their billets by boys of 1st and 9th Scouts.’

It is thought that 83 former members of the troop together with 9 officers and scout leaders served in the forces. Of these, 11 were to die during the conflict. They were all between the ages of 18 and 22.

Clayton, W.V.

9th Congregational Scout Memorial, Guildford - 'Be prepared'

Title: 9th Congregational Scout Memorial, Guildford - 'Be prepared'
Description: Shows part of the memorial only - with scout motto. Photo taken by Moira Nairn by-nc

Facer, W.G.

Fisher, R

Greenway, A.J

Greenway, A.N.*

Jewesbury,M

Manning, R.C.

Prevett, G

Prior, W.E.

Richards, T

More information on each individual is recorded elsewhere on the site. They are listed on a memorial, now located in Holy Trinity Church Guildford.

The original memorial was dedicated in October  1919 by General Ellis and was sited in Centenary Hall.  The grey alabaster shield has, at the top, the Scout Fleur de Lis and the motto ‘BE PREPARED’.   Poignantly, at the bottom, is the scout trail sign for ‘Gone Home’.

9th Congregational Scout Memorial, Guildford - 'Gone Home'

Title: 9th Congregational Scout Memorial, Guildford - 'Gone Home'
Description: Shows part of the memorial sited now in Holy Trinity Church Guildford. Photo: Moira Nairn by-nc

Now badly pitted but with the names still legible, the memorial was re-dedicated on October 12 1991 after Alderman Bernard Parke  had found the memorial stored and campaigned for its preservation.  Dr Kenneth Stevenson agreed that it be placed in its present position in Holy Trinity Church. The dedication service was attended by several former scouts.

* Although shown on the memorial as ‘A.N.’, it should read ‘A.H’. The Greenaways both named were brothers.

My thanks to Bernard Parke for bringing the story of the scouts and their memorial to our attention and to Sarah Best for carrying out the biographical research.

Bibliography

Surrey Times and County Express, 3rd Edition, 18th September 1918, P6, Col C.

Surrey Times and County Express, 3rd Edition, 18th November 1916, P5, Col D.

Surrey Times and County Express, 25th November 1916, P5, Col B.

David Rose, The Guildford Dragon, 27th November 2011

David Rose and Bernard Parke, Guildford Remember When, Breedon Books 2007.

British Red Cross, First World War Volunteers https://vad.redcross.org.uk/

Images

Imperial War Museum War Memorials Register  – https://www.iwm.org.uk/memorials/item/memorial/23305   (Copyright Mike Dawson (WMR-23305))

Other images: Moira Nairn