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

 

Epsom Grandstand War Hospital

Research and text by Nigel Fryatt

History of the Grandstand Hospital

At the meeting of the Grand Stand Association in Ely Place in London on 2nd December 1913, the committee passed a motion to accept the tender submitted by Messrs Copley Brothers of Epsom (Gibraltar House, High Street) to undertake the erection of the new Luncheon Annex at the back of Epsom Racecourse Grandstand, for the cost of £13,943. It was the lowest bid that the committee received[1]. The committee was chaired by H. M. Dorling. The contract was signed the following day. The Annex was completed in April 1914, to cater for the spring race meeting and the Derby in the first week of June 1914. On completion of the building, the Times Newspaper reported on 16th April that:

The building is about 180 feet long by 32 deep, and is fireproof throughout, with concrete reinforced floors on the armoured tubular flooring system. Water is obtained from a well below the building 360 feet deep, and there is an underground fire tank holding 36,000 gallons. There is electric lighting and hot-water heating throughout.[2]

The building runs parallel to the back of the Grand Stand and is connected via a bridge. It is designed by Charles Williams in a Renaissance style, in brick and cement. It is a four story construction which included public and private luncheon rooms, along with rooms for stewards, ambulance and doctors.

Appealing to the people of Epsom

As war was declared in August of 1914, the doctors of Epsom and Ewell convened a special meeting at the Public Hall in Epsom on Monday 10th August, to discuss a proposal for a hospital on the Downs for the returning wounded soldiers. There was a huge gathering and the hall was full, with hundreds of people unable to gain admission standing outside the venue. The meeting was chaired by Mr A. W. Aston, J.P[3]. He put the proposal to the meeting that the newly built Grand Stand Luncheon Annex should be converted into a hospital to cater for the returning wounded soldiers. Dr E. C. Daniel explained to the crowd that the idea originated with Dr Thornley, who had attended a meeting in London, which culminated in the formation of the Surrey Emergency Committee. Its purpose was to ensure that the efforts throughout the country did not overlap. Having set this up, the doctors looked around Epsom for a suitable premises to house the hospital. They approached Mr N. M. Dorling, chair of The Grand Stand Association, who readily offered the use of the (Epsom) Grand Stand for six months, which they gratefully accepted.

The problem now was equipping the building, and the purpose of the meeting at the Public Hall in Epsom was to raise funds for this. The Annex already housed 80 beds.  Dr Bailey Peacock had offered to reside there as Medical Officer. They also had an offer of a Matron to attend the hospital, who could possibly have been Miss Blainey, currently residing as Matron of the Epsom Nursing Home. In addition they would require six or seven nurses and several voluntary helpers. Other doctors offered to provide lectures and training. The adoption of the scheme outlined by Dr Daniel was then proposed by the Rev. E.W. Northey and seconded by Mr. E. B. Jay.[4] The motion was carried.

The War Office accepted the proposal that the Grandstand Annex be converted into a temporary military hospital. The patients will be transferred from the battlefield to a London hospital (affiliated to the Royal Herbert Hospital in Woolwich) then to Epsom, stated the Epsom Advertiser on 18th September. It opened as a hospital on 21st September 1914 and received its first patients on 12th October 1914.

The hospital Annex was divided up into wards: Derby on the first floor, Oak and City on second floor, and Metropolitan on the third floor. There was also an Isolation Ward and a Day Room for treatment. The ground floor consisted of kitchens and storerooms. The nursing staff were housed in other racecourse buildings. With 65 beds in total[5], The Grand Stand Hospital had been designated as Class A Hospital, meaning it only accepted bedridden patients.

The Epsom Advertiser stated in its 19th October 1914 edition: Few buildings probably lend themselves better for adaptation as a hospital than the grand stand, and from a medical point of view, the rooms – the wards as they are now described – leave little to be desired. They have been admirably furnished, and everything is clean and tidy[6].

Heroes of Mons

At 4pm on 21st October 1914, five hours after King George V had reviewed the troops on the Downs, a large vehicle bearing a red cross on either side drew up to the Grandstand. It contained 4 patients who were shepherded to the wards by the Volunteer Aid Detachment (VAD). A second ambulance drew up with a further six wounded soldiers. All the troops had leg and thigh injuries. Most of the men had received their wounds fighting at the battle of Mons.

The ten soldiers who first arrived in the ambulances were: Private A. Read, aged 28 of 1st [Battalion] Royal Scots [(The Royal Regiment)}; Driver F Densham, aged 23, Royal Field Artillery; Private R. Richardson, aged 20, 1st [Battalion, the Buffs (Royal East Kent Regiment)]; Corporal H. Brown, aged 30, 1st [Battalion,] Duke of Cornwall Light Infantry; Private G Harris, aged 28, 1st [Battalion, Royal] Lincolnshire [Regiment]; Private E Buckley, aged 36, 1st [Battalion, the] Middlesex [Regiment]; Private F Mulry, aged 19, 1st [Battalion, Royal Hampshire Regiment]; Private G Russell, aged 26, 1st [Battalion, the Buffs (Royal East Kent Regiment)]; ; Private W Simpson, aged 24, 1st [Battalion,] Coldstream Guards; Lance Corporal F Galliford, aged 29, 2nd [Battalion, Leinster Regiment].

It is interesting to note that Private R Richardson and Private G Russell are both credited to the 1st Royal East Kent Regiment in the Patients Admission Register (SCH3434/20/4) but this conflicts with the information published in the Epsom Advertiser of 16th October 1914 which states that these two privates were in 1st Royal West Kent regiment which fought at Mons. Was this a genuine mistake by the newspapers or some deliberate misinformation? The answer may never be known.

The newspaper went on to state that the hospital had been efficiently staffed, and Dr Bailey Peacock, a well-known Epsom resident, had been appointed Resident Medical Officer, and had all the qualifications for this responsible post; while the Matron was Miss Blainey of the Epsom Nursing home. There was also a staff of four fully trained sisters and four male orderlies, a London surgeon (Mr Edward Owen), assistant surgeon (Mr Andrew Macalister), fully qualified chemist (Mr Frost), honorary bacteriologist (Dr B Ridge) and medical visiting staff comprising Doctors Alexander, Braidwood, Coltart, Daniel, Ferguson, Ormerod, Ruyner, Reichardt, Fawnley and Williamson (Medical Officer of Health for Epsom district). The hospital was equipped with an X-Ray apparatus of which Mr J Ede had charge. There were also a number of voluntary nurses ready to give their services if called upon: while Mr A. Vardon was acting secretary to the Resident Medical Officer. The secretaries of the fund connected with the hospital were Mr Collyer Jones and Mr A.E Williams.[7]

The Hospital register though, is a chilling reminder of war. On page one, it recalls the deaths on 16th October 1914 of William Andrewartha, followed by Thomas Simms on 17th October; both men were privates in the Manchester Regiment. On page two it records the death of Edmond Buchanan of North Irish Horse on 23rd October 1914. No further deaths are reported in the register which must be a credit to the hospital staff.

Nursing staff outside Grandstand Hospital. Copyright Bourne Hall.

The Epsom Advertiser reports on 6th November 1914 that good progress was being made by the wounded soldiers and that several of the patients were now convalescent, some being able to walk out onto the Downs. Practically all the men were now out of danger. On the 20th November 1914, the Advertiser, reported that several of the soldiers had now been discharged and that there were currently 55 patients at the hospital, six of which were sent to Mrs Coleman’s Convalescence Home at Burgh Heath. Recitals and shows were arranged at the hospital. In November, Miss Gilander’s Concert Party from Purley performed, and the Tattenham Corner Fusiliers (2nd Battalion of the City of London Royal Fusiliers) visited the Grandstand War Hospital and entertained the wounded soldiers, those contributing to an enjoyable programme arranged by Colour Sergeant Whitehead. Gavin (clarinet solos), Colour Sergeant. Whitehead (comedian), Corporal Besley (songs). Lance-Corporal Tombs (songs), Private Party (mimic), Private Fox (songs), Privates Clapp and Goacher in a turn entitled “The Brothers Nuisance.” The stage manager was Sergeant Rose, and Colour Sergeant Anderson occupied the chair[8]. Mr George Furniss and Miss Vera Stredwick also gave a recital. These entertainments were much enjoyed and greatly appreciated by the soldiers, and were a good morale booster.

In late November, boots – especially size 6, 7 and 8 – were requested from the hospital. Other appeals were made for new-laid eggs. The people of Epsom and surrounding districts had been generous in supplying the boots along with additional clothing for the men. Other less appropriate gifts were received, such as pheasants from the King and game from Lord Rosebery. Queen Mary offered the hospital tobacco and cigarettes for Christmas. As the festivities approached the hospital committee asked for evergreens, flags, and British and Belgian ribbon for the Yule tide decorations.

On Christmas Day 1914, the Belgian soldiers sent a letter to the Matrons, Sisters and Nurses, Gentlemen Directors, Secretary and Doctors of the Epsom and Ewell War Hospital, in which they expressed their gratitude and thanks for their care:

Epsom Downs, December 25, 1914
 
Ladies, Gentlemen,
 
We undersigned Belgian soldiers in treatment at the Epsom & Ewell War Hospital take the respectful liberty to express to you our profound appreciation of the tender and devoted care that you have given us.

While our poor Fatherland is the scene of the most terrible tragedy that the world has ever contemplated and that we have been separated in the most brutal way from all those who are dear to us, we have found a new home where the cordiality that you show us relieves the pain that we feel in thinking about our country, which now suffers in the claws of the invader.
 
We shall as soldiers pay the debt of gratitude to which we have submitted. As soon as we are cured thanks to your care, we shall resume our arms to liberate our country, and assure the safety of the admirable Kingdom which grants us hospitality. The fact that we were fighting side by side with the heroes of the Britannic Empire will increase our strength a hundredfold.
 
We wish you all a Happy Christmas and hope that next year brings the realization of your dearest wishes and nothing less: the victory of the Allies. [9].

By mid-January the flow of wounded soldiers had increased to between 50 and 60 patients. Some of the Belgian soldiers had returned to the front line to fight again. The Downs at this time were covered in a foot of snow. In February the hospital expanded its role and started treating a number of soldiers from the Tattenham Corner Camp in the absence of a medical officer at the camp.

In January 1915 speculation was starting to grow about the longevity of the hospital. The Epsom Advertiser reported on 12th February 1916, that it is now an open secret in the town that there is some doubt as to the continuance of this valuable institution and not unnaturally one is anxious to know what is going to happen, especially those inhabitants who subscribe regularly towards its maintenance[10]. The paper goes on to say: Such being the state of affairs one is forced to inquire what has become of the patriotic spirit which prompted the Grand Stand Association six months ago to make the generous offer of the new building on the Downs for use as a War Hospital so that the scheme of the Epsom & Ewell doctors, who were promptly supported by the local public, could be carried into effect.

Other tensions were bubbling away in the background regarding the availability of the Grandstand during the spring race meeting. The lease for The Grandstand Hospital was due to end on 6th March 1915. In parliament, Mr Davidson Dalziel[11], Member of Parliament for Lambeth Brixton, enquired “whether certain buildings forming part of the outbuildings of the Epsom grand stand, and belonging to the Grand Stand Association, have for some months been used as a hospital for wounded soldiers; whether the officials of the Grand Stand Association have now given notice that, owing to the commencement of the spring racing season, the hospital must be closed and the numerous wounded patients removed elsewhere; and whether, in view of the convenient and healthy situation of this hospital, the Government intend to take any steps to secure a continued tenancy?”

Mr Harold Tennant [12], MP for Berwickshire replied: “The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. The arrangements were made by the Epsom War Hospital Committee, and I understand that the agreement entered into provided that the building should be vacated before the spring meeting. It is the case that the hospital is well situated, and it has done very good work. I am informed that the patients there can now be moved without danger to their health.”

Mr Davidson Dalziel replied: “Is the right honourable Gentleman aware that at the present time there are in that hospital forty-two wounded soldiers, some of them dangerously wounded, and that they would be removed from there to accommodate the spring meeting only with considerable risk?”

Mr Harold Tennant replied: “I am obliged to the honourable Gentleman for the information. I may say at once that it is not in accordance with the information which has reached me, but I will have investigations made.”

A flurry of letters followed to the Editor of the Times on the subject. Lord Portland felt that it should remain a hospital. Captain Greer, Senior Steward of the Jockey Club, writing in the Times on 26th February 1915, commented that: Lord Villiers, therefore, on behalf of the Stewards, interviewed Mr. Dorling (Chairman of The Grandstand Association) on Tuesday last previous to the meeting between the Grand Stand Association and the Hospital Committee and, having reminded him of the above facts, explained that the Stewards were most strongly of the opinion that, in any arrangement that were made at the meeting, the comfort and well-being of the wounded soldiers should be the first and only consideration. He received from Mr Dorling an assurance that he fully shared these views and that it was with the full intention of giving effect to them that he was about to meet the Hospital Committee[13].

H. M. Dorling followed up with a letter to the Editor of the Times, “It had become necessary to have a proper agreement drawn up between the association and the hospital committee, and it was mutually agreed that the committee should on March 25 vacate one floor of the building and another (the basement) on April 10, resuming possession on April 24 of the entire building … Meanwhile I beg to say that if it should be found that any discomfort or inconvenience to wounded soldiers should result from the agreement being carried out we certainly should not allow it to occur[14].” The Jockey Club suspended the Spring Meeting and the Derby.

In parallel with the arguments in the Times, the Grandstand Hospital’s Day Room was converted into a ward allowing up to 88 patients to be treated at one time. Alongside this, a decision was taken in February 1915 that Horton Asylum would become a war hospital, and during March and April of that year over 2,000 patients were transferred to the hospital.

In May 1915 Colonel Simpson, assistant director of the medical supplies for the district, visited the Grandstand Hospital and was very happy with what he saw.  All beds are occupied (88) and it is expected that the hospital will remain full for some time as the War Office regard it as a most healthy spot, reported The Epsom Advertiser.

In July 1915 the hospital was starting to receive patients from the Dardanelles[15] campaign. ANZAC[16] (Mediterranean Forces as the Patients Register states) troops started to arrive. This was increased by a further 15 ANZAC troops in the following month.

The presence of Horton Hospital accommodating over 2,500 patients spelt the end for the Epsom Grandstand Hospital. The Grandstand committee were concerned about funding and staff levels with the opening of the new facilities down the road. Horton continued as a military hospital until October 1919, when it was converted back to an asylum. Between April 1915 and October 1919, over 40,000 troops had passed through the hospital.

The Epsom Advertiser announced on 28th January 1916 that the Grandstand Hospital was to close. It went on to say: “after doing splendid service for the past 15 months, is to be closed at the end of February, owing to the fact that the medical staff are short-handed, two of them on foreign services, and the remainder being employed in other war work”. The Times Newspaper reported on 10th January that a sum of £250 had been voted to the Red Cross Society of the Grandstand hospital. The hospital closed on 29th February 1916; during its time, 672 patients had passed through its doors. Of these 599 were British, 36 were ANZAC, of which 17 were New Zealand troops and 19 Australian soldiers, 30 were Belgians, 6 Canadians, and 1 was French.

Coding for soldiers in the Epsom Grandstand Hospital Admission Book(SHC 6292/22/13)

The building was converted back to a luncheon annex, and was finally demolished in 2007 to make way for the current Duchess of Cornwall Stand.

[1] SHC Document 3434/9/6 Grand Stand Association Minutes Book 1907-1919. pg314
[2] The Times 16th April 1914:p11
[3] Mr A.W. Aston JP. Local dignitary in Epsom, also worked with Horton Hospital & President of Surrey Agricultural Society.
[4] Epsom Advertiser  18th August 1914:p8
[5] Epsom Advertiser 16th October 1914: p8
[6] Epsom Advertiser 19th October 1914:p8
[7] Epsom Advertiser 16th October 1914:pg8
[8] Epsom Advertiser 20th November 1914 pg 8
[9] Translation of document Z/358 SHC
[10] Epsom Advertiser 12th February 1916 p 8
[11] Davidson Alexander Dalziel, 1st Barron Dalzeil of Wooler (1852-1928) was a Conservative MP between 1910 and 1927. He was also a British Newspaper owner. He is buried in Highgate Cemetery.
[12] Harold John Tennant PC (Privy Council) (1865-1935) Scottish Liberal politician.
[13] The Times Fri 26th Feb 1915 pg5 Issue 40788
[14] The Times Fri 5th March 1915 Page 10 Issue 40794
[15] Dardanelles was a disastrous campaign against the Ottoman Empire in the Dardanelles straights
[16] ANZAC –Australia and New Zealand Army Corps

Bletchingley Women’s Institute (WI) in the Great War

Written by Linda Oliver, archivist of the Surrey Federation of WIs, using SHC ref 7610/2/1 (minute book).

Bletchingley WI was formed at a meeting in the village hall on 20 March 1917 and from the beginning, gardening was an important activity. At that first meeting Miss Bosanquet was asked to organise members to assist any Bletchingley women who needed help in the cultivation of their gardens. Over the next year she reported regularly on the work that was being done; sadly the minutes of the branch are very brief and no detail is given. The Annual Report for 1918 records that the WI’s allotment garden had been successful and that Miss Bosanquet and Mrs Ashley had also looked after the garden of Glenfield House.

In April 1917 a small sub-committee was formed to discuss the question of a Welfare Committee for the village, but no further mention of this idea occurs.

At the May meeting, Miss Hilliard gave a talk on War Savings and a Waste Paper collection was inaugurated, with sorting to be done at Church House, with local schoolboys being made responsible for house-to-house collections. The Annual Report for 1917-1918 records that £1-5s-1 ½d was raised by these collections for the District Nurses’ Fund.

In July 1917 Mrs Edwards Webb, a Surrey County Council Lecturer, gave a lecture and demonstration of fruit and vegetable bottling and jam making. She returned in May and July 1918 to give further demonstrations of fruit canning and pulping. The Annual Report for 1918 records the purchase of a fruit canner to assist in the preservation of the gooseberries and currants from the Glenfield House garden, but generally the fruit crop was poor that year and the canner was underused.

At the beginning of 1918 the District Council asked the WI Committee to consider the question of a communal kitchen. Mrs Wood was requested to discover if a suitable place could be found and the Committee was to make further enquiries from established National Kitchens. Subsequently they decided to canvass the village to discover how much support would be given to such a project. The canvassing was to be done by the War-Loan Collectors. Two parish councillors, Mr Tobilt[?] and Mr Ashdown, would attend the meeting to receive the reports and discuss the matter. It was found that public feeling was slightly in favour of the National Kitchen but no suitable place had been found. The Committee decided to write to the Parish Council expressing the willingness of the WI to manage the kitchen if a suitable place was found. Thereafter no mention is made in the minutes, but the minutes for 1919 are missing or may never have been taken as the WI had an uncertain few months.

(Glenfield House is/was at 29 High Street. Map in Bletchingley Village and Parish by Peter Gray (SHC Ref 7185/11/6) shows it between Melrose Cottage and The Cobbles, south side of the High Street facing the Old Market Place: ‘Glenfield House is the most imposing house on the High Street, dates from early 18th C, part of the Clayton estate’.)

The West family – a Cobham dynasty

Cobham Remembers

When studying the life of Cobham at the beginning of the 20th century it is impossible not to encounter the West family. For the first quarter of that century with their businesses and marriages they were part of the fabric of the village.

William Henry West was born in Storrington, West Sussex in 1857, and in 1879 he married Martha Brigden at St Andrew’s Parish Church, Cobham. William’s “rank or profession” entered on the marriage certificate was “Corn & coal merchant”, as was his father, by then deceased.

Martha was a daughter of James Brigden, master grocer of Church Cobham, who was himself born in Storrington in about 1817.

The West family lived in Storrington until some time in the 1890’s when they moved to Cobham and the 1901 census shows them living in Church Cobham, with six of their children, close to the Brigdens, where one of their daughters Mabel was living. William is by then listed as a grocer with three of his sons working in the business. Clearly he was a successful businessman although maybe not so good as a family man as by 1911 he was boarding in a Worthing hotel, listed as a “Gentleman, private means”. (He died in 1922 in slightly mysterious circumstances. His probate record shows that he died in Hove where he was last seen alive on 26 June but his body was only found on 19 July!)

But in 1911 his family were well established in the community.

His wife Martha was proprietor of West’s Stores in the High Street, roughly where Knight Frank now stands. Two of her sisters, Elizabeth and Marianne Brigden had a milliners/drapers in the High Street.

The eldest son, Allen, born 1881, was listed on the census as a Grocer. He was a prominent citizen being the Parish Clerk, Verger & Sacristan at St Andrew’s Church and a member of the Church Council 1913 -19. In January 1919 the Cobham Parish Magazine reported that “Mr Allen West was obliged last October to resign as Verger and Vestry Clerk owing to pressure of other work. The duties have been divided between Mr Evans, Mr Millikin and Mrs Matthews. Mr Millikin is appointed Verger for Sunday duty. The week-day duty and Vestry Clerk’s work is being done by Mr W J Evans, 6 Leigh Villas to whom Notices of Banns of Marriages and Funerals should be sent”. Evidently a hard man to replace. He died in 1940 and is buried in Cobham Cemetery.

Allens wife, Edith, was the sub-post mistress in the grocery store on The Tilt, the building now domestic but can still be recognised by the wall Victorian post box.

Ernest, born 1882 was a Master Grocer. He served in the East Surrey Regiment and played in their band. He lived for a time at 13 Freelands Road, which had been developed by his father in 1907/08. He was one of the millions who died in the influenza epidemic that followed the war and his name is recorded on the Cobham War Memorial and Roll of Honour.

Hugh, born 1885, was a photographer with a house and studio in Anyards Road where Majestic Wines now stands. Hugh was married to Kathleen, daughter of Henry Hale who ran the post office and bakery in Downside (That building also still stands – a private house at the corner of The Island.) Many of his photos of local scenes and Cobham people survive.

Mabel (b. 1886). In 1901 she was living with her two aunts, Marianne and Elizabeth Brigden in Church Street, where she was employed as assistant in a confectionery shop. By 1911 she had moved to Clapham High Street and her employment was recorded as “manageress – pastrycooks”.

Ethel (b. 1887), a shop assistant in the1911 census, in 1919 she married Frederick Cornell, watchmaker and jeweller in Church Street, later in the High Street. Frederick served in the war and was a prominent member of the Downside & Cobham Rifle Club.

Colin (1889) was a boot & shoe dealer. Kelly’s Directory for 1913 lists his shop on River Hill as a partnership, Dear & West, but he disappears from that listing by 1918. He survived the war during which he served in the Army Ordnance Corps and is recorded on the Roll of Honour.

Ada (1890) married in 1916 Alfred Ludlow, an estate agent’s clerk. He was a sergeant in the King’s Royal Rifle Corps during the war.

The Mount family of Hatchford

Cobham Remembers

The first name recorded in the St Andrew’s Church Book of Remembrance is that of “Francis Mount, Captain, Royal Berkshire Regiment. Fell in action at the battle of Hulluch, 13th October 1915”. As with many of the names on our memorial there is a story to be discovered behind this brief entry.

The 1913 Kelly’s Directory entry for Cobham & Hatchford lists Poynters as the residence of Mrs Mount, with Francis Mount esq. recorded as lord of the manor. Originally owned by Thomas Page, a local landowner and partner in the 18th century firm of printers of maps and bibles, Page & Mount, Poynters passed into the Mount Family of Wasing Place, Aldermaston following the marriage in 1781 of Jenny Page, Thomas’ daughter, to William Mount.

Francis born in London in 1872 was the seventh of ten children of William and Marianne Mount and the house was given to him, the second eldest surviving son, following his marriage in 1910 to Gladys Mary Dillwyn-Llewelyn the daughter of Sir John Talbot Dillwyn-Llewelyn of Penllergaer, Swansea, Glamorgan.

Gladys’ father’s London house was in Cornwall Gardens, South Kensington and Francis had a house in Ennismore Gardens, Knightsbridge. He was a Church Warden at St Matthew’s Church, Hatchford and despite his privileged background had worked for years among the lads in the slums of Bethnal Green. Francis and Gladys quickly made their mark on the village with Downside Common being drained “by the generosity of Mr F Mount who married at Eastertide and received over 400 presents” (Cobham Parish Magazine (CPM) May 1910).

Gladys soon became involved in the life of the village as would have been expected of a lady of her class. As reported in the CPM of August 1910 “Mrs Mount invited local members of the Mother’s Union to Poynters to be addressed by the secretary of the London Diocesan branch. After tea the more adventurous ladies went out on a punt on the river. The vicar who got out to pull the craft across the shallows, fell backwards into the water, thus adding considerably to the enjoyment of the ladies”. By 1914 Gladys was President of the Mother’s Union and she hosted many meetings of that group at Poynters throughout the war years..

Their world was soon to change and the Hatchford & Downside Notes in the CPM (December 1914) printed a list of names of “Those who have responded to the call of their King and Country since the beginning of the War” including “F Mount (Lieut)”. He was then aged 42 and had at first been turned down for active service on medical grounds. But he persisted and joined the Royal Berkshire Regiment, and by June 1915 “nearly all our Hatchford and Downside soldiers of the new army, including Captain F Mount have now gone to the front” (CPM).

In October 1915 Francis Mount was reported “missing”. Lieutenant-Colonel F W Foley, Captain Mount’s Commanding Officer, wrote to Mrs Mount “It is with the greatest regret I write to tell you that poor Frank is missing and I fear there is little hope of his being alive …

Major Bayley and your husband led the attack in the most gallant manner. Unfortunately before they reached the trench, the Germans had retaken it and brought a very severe machine gun fire to bear on them.”

Captain Mount’s body was never found and he is commemorated on the Loos Memorial in France as well as the memorial in St Andrew’s Church.

But life had to go on and both Mrs Mount and Elizabeth, Francis’ eldest sister who took up residence at Poynters, played an active role in the village. Mrs Mount’s support was mainly financial, her name appearing in almost all lists of donors to good causes. Elizabeth sat on many committees relating to Downside School, the District Nurse Fund, Hatchford & Downside Bed Fund, Cobham War Relief Fund and the Coal & Clothing Club. As a member of the Soldiers & Sailors Families Association she was supportive of the wives of those serving overseas and a number of her letters to help obtain medals for widows survive in the national archives. She was also active in helping provide parcels for the troops. In the CPM May 1915, Hatchford & Downside notes it was reported that “small acts of sympathy are appreciated while more solid gifts such as water boots and other clothing sent by Miss Mount as her own personal gifts have been acknowledged in letters of most touching gratitude”, and in August 1915 “From the offerings given on Easter Day we have sent out some 35 parcels, most of them costing 2/6d each, from the Church to our soldiers and sailors at the front. Miss Mount selected the gifts and together with Miss Chubb packed and despatched them. The children of the school and our energetic work party under Miss Mount’s supervision have made and despatched about 200 sandbags for which Capt. Mount appealed from the trenches and of which our soldiers are badly in need”.

Elizabeth died in 1953 and was buried at St Matthews Church, Hatchford. Gladys died in Reading in 1968.

Major (Quartermaster)Thomas Elson IVEY OBE(1866-1919) & his niece Ethel Ivey GEORGE (born 1897)

Surrey in the Great War Jenny Mukerji

Major (Quartermaster)Thomas Elson IVEY OBE(1866-1919)

Ethel Ivey GEORGE (born 1897)

Thomas Elson Ivey, an Army Major and Quartermaster buried in Brookwood Military Cemetery whose niece Ethel Ivey George was a VAD in Croydon, Surrey.

The major’s grave is in Brookwood Military Cemetery and has a CWGC memorial with the simple inscription:

Major & Quartermaster

T. IVEY OBE

Oxford & Bucks Light Inf.

23 October 1919.

The grave number is 184010 with the plot reference VI J 3.

Thomas was the eldest of the four children of Samuel IVEY (1838-1892) and his wife Caroline, nee ELSON who were married in Clifton, Bristol on 28 July 1861. Samuel was a grocer and a carpenter and was born in Stoke St Mary, Somerset. He moved to the St Paul’s area of Bristol and this is where his wife and all of his children were born.

Initially Thomas was a carpenter’s apprentice but he had probably enlisted in the Army by the time he married Amelia Louisa CONNELL in England in 1896. His regiment, 43rd Oxford Light Infantry were posted to Kinsale, Dublin and stayed in the Curragh until 1897. Thomas and Amelia’s daughter Muriel Elson IVEY was born in County Kildare in about 1898. The regiment also saw service in the South African (Boer) Wars and by 1902 they were in Chatham before being posted to Bombay, India and then to Poona. By 25 September 1903 Thomas had already been serving in the Oxfordshire Light Infantry as Quartermaster Sergeant and on that date he was gazetted with the honorary rank of Lieutenant. Next came a move to Umballa, India and their daughter Millie Laura was born in Lucknow on 2 March 1905.

In 1908 the regiment became the 43rd Oxford and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry and after a short stay in Burma, moved to Wellington in India where Thomas, Amelia and Millie were listed in the 1911 Census. Their daughter Muriel was at school in Dorchester, Dorset at the time. On 22 September 1913 Thomas was promoted to the honorary rank of Captain in the 43rd Oxford & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry.

His service during the Great War saw him in the Middle East. He was with the British-Indian Army that was besieged at Kut al-Amara. For an account of this siege see:

History of the 43rd and 52nd (Oxford and Buckinghamshire) Light Infantry in the Great War Vol 1, the 43rd Light Infantry in Mesopotamia and North Russia” by J.E.H. Neville, Naval & Military Press Ltd., East Sussex, 2008.

In this book Hon. Captain & Quartermaster T. IVEY is included in a list of men who were brought to notice for gallant and distinguished service in the field from 5 October 1915 to 17 January 1916. He had already carried out a number of heroic deeds rescuing wounded comrades from encounters with the Turks. He was present at the capitulation of Kut al-Amara on 29 April 1916 which saw the surrender of over 13,000 British-Indian soldiers after 147 days, the worst surrender in the history of the British Army to that date. Thomas was one of these prisoners, but being an officer, he was treated with more respect, despite the accommodation being filthy. During the siege the men had to suffer flies, mosquitoes, heat and sickness as well as starvation. This took its toll on Thomas and being sick he was held back in Bagdad and later sent to Kastamuni.

Being nearly 50 years old at the time of the siege, Thomas’s health suffered and it must have remained poor. He died in Queen Alexandra Military Hospital, Millbank, London on 23 October 1919. His home was at Fairacres Road, Oxford.

His widow married Lt Col. (Quartermaster) Joseph FREEL DCM, OBE (c1863-1930) of the Durham Light Infantry at the Friary Church (St Joseph’s) Portishead on 3 June 1920.

Major Thomas Elson IVEY has a record held at the National Archives at Kew; WO339/5992.

Ethel Ivey Hotson GEORGE (born in 1897)

Ethel was the daughter of Arthur Athelton GEORGE (1865-?1947) and his wife Sarah Elson, nee IVEY (1862-1919). Sarah Elson was the sister of Major Thomas Elson IVEY (detailed above) and was born in Bristol. Sarah married Arthur in 1888 and they had four surviving children of which Ethel was the third. For all of the census returns from 1891 until 1911 the family used the surname of HOTSON, which was the surname of Arthur’s step-father.

Born in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, Ethel was engaged by the British Red Cross Society as a nurse in the Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) on 1 June 1918, when aged 21. At first she was at the 5th North General Hospital in Leicester until 31 December 1918. Then came a move to the War Hospital in Croydon, Surrey until 15 February 1919 when she was transferred to the Military Hospital in Sidcup, Kent, she remained there from 2 February 1919 until 9 May. She was then transferred to Paddington on 6 June 1919 where she was still serving on 8 July 1919.

Throughout this period her address was that of her mother: Laburnum House, Leverington, Wisbech, Cambridgeshire. Ethel’s elder brother, Ernest Frederick GEORGE (1889-1915) emigrated to Canada and enlisted in the 8th Battalion Canadian Infantry (Manitoba Regiment) in Quebec on 23 September 1914. He attained the rank of Lance-Corporal but was taken prisoner at the Battle of St Julien (part of the 2nd Battle of Ypres). He died on 26 April 1915 as a prisoner of war and was buried Roeselare Communal Cemetery in Belgium. See https://cgwp.uvic.ca/detail.php?pid=1245071 .

Her brother John Robert Hotson GEORGE (born in 1891) also served in the Great War and survived. Her sister was Florence Mabel Hotson GEORGE who was born in 1894.