First World War. 04. Everyday Life in Witham

Witham in the First World War.
Everyday Life
For a list of other chapters about WW1, many of which also refer to everyday life, click here.

For relevant interviews with Witham people, see the category ‘Interviews’ and search for War.

Most of what is written below is in the form of summary notes. Phrases etc that are exact quotations, are enclosed by quotation marks ‘  ’.  Phrases that have been added by me for the purpose of explanation, are enclosed in square brackets.

The UDC was the Witham Urban District Council. If not from a newspaper, the Urban District Council items are from the Council or Committee minutes in ERO D/UWi/1 and 2.


Notes on soldiers, including those at home
From talks by Ian Hook to BVAS in March 2000 and to Witham History Group in April 2001, and emails from him January 2004. Many thanks to him for his help and expertise, and to the Chelmsford Museum for allowing me to include the information.
(1) Essex Regiment is Infantry Regiment. Includes the Regiment and the Territorials.
(2) Essex Yeomanry, peace-time part-time, originally in Napoleonic Wars, farmers on horses, used as police 19th cent in other parts of country. After Boer War, new yeomanry regiments, i.e. Essex Yeomanry Regiment, the four 4 hunts, basis for 4 squadrons.
(3) National Reserve “The Reserve” consisted of ex-Regular soldiers who had completed their full-time service but had legal liability to return to the colours in the event of National Emergency. Normally this was to make the balance of their service up to 12 years (ie if you had served 7 years you did 5 on Reserve) After the 12 year point you could opt to take on extra reserve liabilities for which a retainer was paid. The National Reservists seem to have disappeared, soon after the outbreak of war. Presumably those who were of age and fit were absorbed into the normal recruiting system (although I have a part-tested theory as to how) and the others’ services dispensed with.
(4) The Volunteers were a form of Home Guard, parading locally for, generally, local defence jobs, e.g. trench digging and road block manning. They grew out of the enthusiasm of citizens, particularly in football and athletic clubs, to play their part in the war at home.
From an ad hoc basis they were brought under Government control as “Volunteer Training Corps” or VTC’s, later as Volunteer Regiments (eg 2nd Essex Volunteer Regiment) and later still as Volunteer Battalions of County Regiments (eg 2nd Volunteer Battalion Essex Regiment) which are not to be confused with the 1881-1908 Volunteer Battalions.
Membership of the VTCs/VRs/VBs was voluntary except after the introduction of conscription, men who had been examined and accepted were supposed to parade with the Volunteers to learn some military arts e.g. drill and weapon training, prior to being called up for full time service.
For Essex volunteers there was much work to do on the trench lines across Essex and around London and, later, some Corps were mobilised for duty on the East Coast after success of the German offensive in March 1918 (and its successors) brought about Haig’s “Backs to the wall” message. This relieved troops to go to France and was combined with the lowering of the age limit for overseas service to 18½.
Typically, the Government blew hot and cold about the cost and political implications of having armed and organised civilians in the UK (particularly in the wake of the Russian Revolution) and support was threatened at different times, even during the period of part mobilisation in 1918!.
August 1914  Yeomanry, and Territorials (weekenders) made full-time. Horses surveyed and in due course requisitioned.
Essex Yeomanry and other Yeomanries to coast of UK on mobilisation.
Trenches dug across Essex. Thames, Chelmsford, North Weald, for defence. Volunteer Training Corps dug them. Old and young, like Home Guard.. Wiring. At Rivenhall et al also.
Field training. Eight Battalions of volunteers at home – old, young, unfit or reserved.
Zeppelin raids, eg Chelmsford and Braintree, not much damage but scary.
Invasion, expectation of. Local authorities set up emergency committees. Consulted Napoleonic papers 1803 from Lord Lieutenancy. Committees in parishes and hundreds. Government instructions. Routes for evacuation. Surveys of households and transport and livestock and tools etc. Civilians to use minor roads so army could use main ones. Guides locally to round them up… Routes into Herts. Accommodation in workhouses.
About a million troops kept in UK in case of invasion.
9,000 Essex Regiment men died.

Chronological notes by JG

4th August, 1914.
German troops enter Belgium. Great Britain declares war on Germany.

7th August 1914 (from schoolnet web site)
On the outbreak of war in August 1914, Britain had 247,432 regular troops. About 120,000 of these were in the British Expeditionary Army and the rest were stationed abroad. It was clear that more soldiers would be needed to defeat the German Army. On 7th August, 1914, Lord Kitchener, the war minister, immediately began a recruiting campaign by calling for men aged between 19 and 30 to join the British Army. At first this was very successful with an average of 33,000 men joining every day. Three weeks later Kitchener raised the recruiting age to 35 and by the middle of September over 500,000 men had volunteered their services.
(1 million by xmas)
Essex Regiment recruits to Warley barracks, badly prepared, not enough room. Blue uniform first before khaki. 31 Battalions in Essex Regiment, not all abroad. Five to Gallipoli, then to Egypt. Most to Western Front.
8th August 1914 (from schoolnet web site)
The House of Commons passed the Defence of the Realm Act (DORA) without debate. The legislation gave the government executive powers to suppress published criticism, imprison without trial and to commandeer economic resources for the war effort.  During the war publishing information that was calculated to be indirectly or directly of use to the enemy became an offence and accordingly punishable in a court of law. This included any description of war and any news that was likely to cause any conflict between the public and military authorities.

UDC 19 August 1914, extraordinary meeting
Letter from County Surveyor for ‘schemes for useful road widenings that could be carried out by unskilled labour in view of the possible distress that may be caused during the War’. Surveyor to prepare scheme.

21 August 1914. Log book of Boys National School (ERO E/ML 73/2)
War Map purchased and positions marked with red and black sealing wax.

22nd August, 1914
British Expeditionary Force arrives in France (including 2nd Battalion Essex Regiment who stayed over a year). Lieut Auriol Round of Witham and a third of the Essex Regiment Officers died.

UDC 31 August 1914
page 207. Supplying company can’t sign contract for basalt because of war. Refer to another meeting.
page 208. Postpone census taking on the roads because of the present position.
Letter from County Council, please constitute District Committee to assist the Special Committee appointed for County ‘to assist them in dealing with distress caused by the War, and where necessary in distributing relief, and also in collection of subscriptions to the National Relief Fund’. Form Committee, of Council representative Q D Greatrex, Board of Guardians representatives Capt S Abrey and Mr W Pinkham, one representative of railway Trade union to be appointed by selves. Mr M Hanson Pullen. The Misses Gimson, Howard-Vyses, and Pattisson as representatives of the Soldiers and Sailors Families Association.
‘Issue public notice of resolution forwarded by Home Office, which was unanimously adopted at conference all the leading London retail traders: That it is neither desirable nor necessary in existing circumstances to dismiss any assistants, but that if economies in the carrying on of business are necessary they should be met by other means’.
Memo from Local Government Board re Local Authorities giving leave of absence to employees ‘called out for active service’ and making payments. Surveyor reported that N Barber joined 2nd Essex Regiment. Resolved to pay his wife 8s. a week and not to fill his place permanently.
Letter from Witham Co-op applying for representation on Committee of Prince of Wales National relief Fund. Give to the Committee.

31 August 1914
ERO C/MSj 4/2. Minutes of Sub-Committee of Standing Joint Committee, re the Administration of the Police. Transcript of minutes of meeting about Special Constables.

31 August 1914
‘Special Constables.
The Committee consider the reference from the Committee to the Sub-Committee to organise the Volunteer Police Force.
READ. Report of the Chief Constable as follows :
I have the honour to report that, with the approval of the Standing Joint Committee, it is my intention to appoint Captain Matthew Ffinch, late South Staffordshire Regiment, of Hoe Mill, near Maldon, a Special Constable, and my Chief Staff Officer, to assist me with the organisation, enrolment and drilling of Special Constables throughout the County. I have known Captain Ffinch many years, who is a Justice of the Witham Bench, and have every confidence in his being able to carry out this onerous duty under my direction.
I find at the present time it is absolutely impossible for me to give the time that is necessary, and neither can I be absent from the vicinity of my Head Quarters owing to innumerable orders by Telephone and Telegram daily received from the Home Office and War Office which require instant attention, and having constantly to carry out the orders of the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief Eastern Command, Horse Guards, London, as well as the Generals Commanding at Colchester, Chelmsford and Warley, as well as the Officers Commanding Eastern Coast and Thames Defences. I would suggest some remuneration should be allowed to Captain Ffinch for his out-of-pocket expenses, postages, etc., whilst so engaged. It will be his duty to go round the County seeing Gentlemen who will undertake the command and supervision of groups of Parishes, and afterwards visit each village to inspect and drill the Special Constables, and explaining to them their duties and generally supervising them from time to time, as also their Leaders, and collect reports of each unit, and enquire into any complaints.
I submit a copy of instructions to Special Constables, which, if approved of, I purpose having printed and circulated to each Special Constable of the County of Essex, showing them their powers and duties whilst so employed.
ALSO. Draft Instructions to Special Constables, prepared by the Chief Constable, as follows
Special Constables are informed that they have the same powers as an ordinary Constable, and will be expected to perform their duties in a straightforward honest manner, and are liable to dismissal for bad conduct. Should they receive an injury in the execution of their duty, it should immediately be reported. They should carry out their duties with energy, promptness and determination, and obey the orders of those over them, using great tact and good temper at all times, and they are to remember that should they at any time find themselves being overpowered, or overwhelmed by numbers, they can call upon any person (whether his name is known or not) “in the King’s name” to assist them; “I call upon you in the King’s name to assist me,” and the Law provides a heavy penalty for refusal to do so. They should perfect themselves, if possible in Elementary Drill, merely turnings, formation of fours, and wheeling to the right or left, which will be found sufficient for the purpose.
Each Town, Parish, or Village should elect its own Leader, who will be responsible and arrange that the duties are properly carried out and supervised.
(1). To patrol all roads on the Constable’s beat, and constantly inspect telegraph wires and posts, buttresses, arches, roadways of bridges, and all culverts under roadways and railways. It is of the greatest importance that all vulnerable points liable to outrage should be guarded. These are Railway and other bridges, Waterworks, Reservoirs, Lighting Works, Magazines, Churches, Town Halls and other large buildings, and report to the nearest Essex County Constable any damage they may discover, or any other suspicious circumstances.
(2). To take notice of all passers by and stop and question all who look like foreigners or suspicious persons, and if the Special Constable suspects them to be either Germans or Austrians to demand their permits (which he must very carefully read) and unless produced to detain the suspects until be can hand them over to the nearest Essex Police Constable.
(3). Every patrol will have his Warrant Card, which should always be carried, a truncheon and wear an armlet on the left arm above the elbow, and if necessary hand the two latter over to the relieving patrol. The Warrant Card is his authority to act and the armlet the visible badge of office, and will be worn only when actually on duty. The Truncheon is the only authorized weapon, and no description of firearms or other weapon is to be carried except under special authorisation. The above are to be returned to the Police Authority upon the termination of the duty for which Special Constables were attested. Great care should be taken of those articles, and in the event of loss the fact is to be immediately reported.
(4). No unnecessary violence to be used and Constables will not leave their beats unless assistance should be required or to report some serious circumstance.
(5). Constables are invited to use their Motor Cars, Motor Cycles, Bicycles or Horses for patrolling a district.
(6). No person to be allowed to loiter on or near any Bridge, Culvert, Waterworks, Lighting Works or other vulnerable points.
(7). In cases of breaches of the peace committed within his View he should immediately interfere, and if the offenders do not desist he should endeavour to take them into custody and restore order, and hand the prisoner over to the nearest County Constable.
(8). All ranks of the Essex Police will give every assistance, instruction and advice to Special Constables when required and do everything in their power to forward their efficiency. The Chief Constable feels sure both Forces will work harmoniously together for the Public good during the serious crisis that has come upon the Country.
RESOLVED. That the Report of. the Chief Constable and the Draft Instructions be approved.
RESOLVED ALSO. That the Standing Joint Committee be asked to sanction the payment of the Chief Staff Officer’s travelling and. incidental expenses.
[signed] Chris. W Parker. Chairman

Essex County Chronicle, 11 September 1914
‘Meeting at Witham. Canon’s desire to see all young men clean out of Witham’. Long report. Friday evening [4th], at Public Hall. To consider call of Lord Kitchener for recruits. Mr Q D Greatrex JP presided. Supported by C H Strutt, JP, Canon Ingles, Mr F R Round, CMG, Mr Collingwood Hope, KC, Major Fred Taylor (Chelmsford), Mr C W Parker (Faulkbourne) Mr P E Laurence, Rev D M Picton and others. ‘Witham Town Band played patriotic airs about the streets before the meeting, and led off the proceedings by playing the National Anthems of the Allies’. Patriotic interruptions to speeches given in brackets. ‘Canon Ingles, vicar of Witham, said they had not had such a grand meeting in Witham for many years. It showed the spirit in which the men of Witham were ready to respond …’. Said Lord Roberts warned three years ago that country not prepared for war but people didn’t believe him. ‘Said “I shall for ever be ashamed of my parish if she does not send out all her young men, and those of the proper age to fight. I don’t want to see the married men go out first. I want to see all the single men from 19 to 35 years clean out of Witham parish” (Applause)’. Speech by Mr Strutt – righteous war etc. Young men who were hesitating would want to be able to tell their children they went to fight. ‘Major Taylor delivered a stirring speech on the call for men’. ‘Canon Ingles announced that Dr Edward Gimson, of Witham, was going to the front, and would have been present as an example to other Witham men, but he had been called away. Vote of thanks from Messrs Pinkham and Laurence to Strutt and Taylor. National Anthem. ‘Twenty-five recruits were then enrolled, and there was a promise of others to follow’.

UDC 28 September 1914
page 213. ‘Soldier employees’ wives’ to be allowed 4s. a week instead of 8s. after 1 October

UDC, Council in Committee, 28 Sept 1914, page 137
Mr Pinkham reported case of ‘Leo Weil a Bavarian Subject who resided with Mrs Dean Church Street, and to whom a special permit had been given to reside there, and in view of the somewhat suspicious movements taken by Mr Weil lately, the Clerk was instructed to write to the Chief Constable and inform him the Council were of opinion that Mr Weil was not a desirable person to remain within the area which had been restricted to aliens’.

7 October 1914
Date when Mr Dibben sworn into Special Constables, according to later court case, see below for Essex County Chronicle 4 June 1915.

15th October, 1914
Battle of Ypres. Essex Yeomanry into action at Ypres and 60% killed or wounded.

Witham Gas Co., 22 October 1914 (D/F 27/7/1)
‘The reduction of the Street Lighting which had taken place pursuant to the Home Office’s and Chief Constable’s notices was considered’. Agreed to write to Urban District Council that Company ‘not allowed to light the full number of Street Lamps’ as in agreement.
To donate £5 5s to ‘the local prince of Wales Fund’.

23 Oct 1914. Log book of Girls National School (ERO E/ML 74/3)
‘A good parcel of clothing for children of the Belgian Refugees will be despatched today the majority of the garments have been made by the children, some being given by parents and friends. 141 garments’.

UDC, 26 October 1914
page 219. Letter from Miss Howard Vyse suggesting that some of amount allowed to Soldiers’ employees’ wives be kept back for the men ‘when they returned home’. Telling Council she proposed to start a Savings Club, the sum of money could go to that. Write and say in sympathy but not able to carry out.
Letter from Witham Gas Company. Orders from Home Office and Chief Constable for Essex, not allowed to light full number of street lamps as in the agreement with the Council.

UDC, Council in Committee, 26 October 1914, page 139
Read letter from Chief Constable of Essex ‘enclosing report from Police in reference to Mr Leo Wiel’ [sic: was Weil last time].

29 Oct 1914. Log book of Girls National School (ERO E/ML 74/3)
‘Mrs Pelly of the Lodge called to thank children for parcel of clothing sent on the 23rd.

UDC Waterworks Committee, 7 November 1914
What should be done with waste land ‘at the New Waterworks’. Proposed to offer to Council’s workmen in ‘suitable lots for two years rent free’.
‘Mr Smith proposed and Mr Wakelin seconded that Mr Goodey have some assistance whilst troops are stationed at Witham’. Carried [i.e. at water works probably, see later].

17 Nov 1914. Log book of Chipping Hill Infants (ERO T/P 378/1)
‘The scholars have brought pence to school, with these wool has been bought. The girls are knitting scarves for the sailors and soldiers. Three scarves have been sent today to the sailors’.

UDC 30 November 1914
page 225. Report of Waterworks Committee recommends waste land at new water works be offered in lots to Council’s workmen rent free, and Mr Goodey to have assistance whilst troops at Witham. Adopted.

UDC 28 December 1914
page 229. Granite delivery delayed.

UDC 25 January 1915
page 234. Case of scarlet fever viz. Miss Aldridge of London House Drapery Stores, to Heybridge Hospital. Also diphtheria Serjt Palmer billeted at Mrs Ellis’s Newland Street, sent to Heybridge by ‘the Military’.
Extra cost of some materials, re granite.
Surveyor couldn’t get labour to clear recent heavy snow. ‘Empowered to approach the Military‘ at rate same as given to casual labourers.

UDC 22 February 1915
page 241. Application from Council’s employees for increase of 2s in wages because of increased ‘cost of living caused by the War’. Granted.
page 242. Increased cost of wagon hire from coal contractors.

Essex County Chronicle, 26 March 1915
page 8. Letter from an old member saying applaud decision of cricket club [not to have matches]. Witham ‘done well in way of recruiting, and the Cricket Club itself has furnished over forty members who are serving his Majesty’s Forces, no fewer than thirty of whom are playing members’. Hoped for some local members and ‘especially that facilities be given to soldiers to play’.

UDC 29 March 1915
page 246. Letters from County Surveyor and Road Board informed him that War Office requested that ‘nothing but rehydrated or refined tar’ be used on roads ‘owing to crude tar, which contains certain bye products, being required by the Government for manufacturing high explosives’. Agreed.

Essex County Chronicle, 2 April 1915
page 5. Sir Fortescue Flannery, MP, entertained a party of fifty farmers at the White Hart, Witham, to luncheon. Discussion on compensation for use of their land eg. for ‘gunpits, trenches and rifle ranges’ etc.
page 7. UDC meeting. Increase in use of water. … W P Perkins, Surveyor, wanted increased salary, said had been the same for 15 years. Mr J Goodey, waterworks engineer, ditto, said had had same wages for 33 years. Refer to Finance Committee.

Essex County Chronicle, 9 April 1915
page 4. ‘Bowls. Witham Club’. Annual meeting at Spread Eagle. Successful season last year. Committee etc. Mr J C Croxall Hon Sec. Cricket Club prepared to offer ground as before. Decided to have opening game on May Day.

Witham Gas Co., 15 April 1915 (D/F 27/7/1)
Insurance against Air Craft Risk completed.

25th April, 1915
Allied landings at Gallipoli.

UDC 26 April 1915, Annual meeting
page 252. Couldn’t make allowance to Mrs N Barber whose husband in National Reserve.
page 253. Letter from Mr C C Roberts ‘with a quotation for insurance against Bombs’ read. Resolved not to effect it.

UDC Finance Committee, 26 April 1915, page 147
Freight for granite cost extra because of War. No War clause in contract.

Essex County Chronicle, 30 April 1915
page 3. Annual meeting of UDC. Mr Philip Hutley, last year’s vice-chair, ‘and formerly for over twenty years its chairman’ was elected chair (proposed by Mr Greatrex and R W Wakelin), and Mr Q D Greatrex, last year’s chairman, was elected vice chair. Before the vote, Mr Pinkham said he wanted to propose amendment. Not personal but thought chairmanship should be available to every member, whereas a system had grown up of no change. Proposed J E Smith who had twice been vice chairman. This seconded by A W Garrett. Mr Smith said ‘obliged to his friends for submitting his name again’ and ordinarily would have been pleased to accept. But because of country’s grave crisis, felt there should be unanimity, so withdrew. Mr S Richardson agreed. Mr Pinkham therefore withdrew his nomination. Mr Greatrex said had nominated Mr Hutley because of his great experience and he would be pleased to retire in his favour. Unanimous vote for Hutley. Hutley then proposed Greatrex for vice chairman and thanked him for his chairmanship last year, saying that ‘For a young chairman Mr Greatrex fulfilled his duties in an admirable manner, particularly at the town’s recruiting meeting’. Unanimous.
page 5. Witham UDC, April 26. Philip Hutley presided.
Soldiers separation pay. Letter from Mrs N Barber, Maldon Road. Her husband who formerly worked for the UDC, had been transferred from the 5th Essex Regiment on medical grounds and had joined the National Reserve. She hadn’t had money from UDC like other wives were. Discussion, disagreement. Said that the man earning well. Refuse, only Capt Abrey voted for granting it.

7th May, 1915
Sinking of the Lusitania

Witham Gas Co., 11 May 1915 (D/F 27/7/1)
Police had issued summons against Manager because the ‘Engine Room Windows were not effectively shaded’. Had been discussion with Superintendent of police over telephone. Discussion at great length. Secretary to appear for him and directors.

13 May 1915
Frazenburg 13 May 1915 ‘the black day for Essex’ Regiment.

25th May, 1915
Asquith forms coalition government

31st May, 1915
First Zeppelin raid on London

UDC Finance Committee, 31 May 1915, page 152
Correspondence with Military Authorities re payment of rates ‘on houses occupied by the Military’ read. Resolved application be made to the Landlords for rates.

Essex County Chronicle, 4 June 1915
‘Special Constable and Drill. Prosecution at Witham’. Witham Petty Sessions. Long report. William Henry Charles Dibben, hairdresser, summoned ‘as a special constable for unlawfully neglecting to attend drill on April 21’. Prosecution by Mr Stamp Wortley for Chief Constable. Hugh Bawtree for defendant. Mr Wortley said ‘special constables had been given a certain amount of licence when they put forward a reasonable excuse’. Regretted proceedings against volunteer, but discipline necessary. Only case of drilling – defendant had attended patrols but ‘had consistently refused to attend drills from the beginning’. Mr Bawtree said ‘That is not correct’. Mr W said def sworn on 7 October, and had attended one of weekly drills up to 1 March. On 1 March Mr W P Perkins was appointed sergeant, and because his predecessor had had difficulty over drills, he issued a circular, including asking volunteers which was their best night. Defendant ‘took absolutely no notice whatsoever of it’. A few others likewise. Mr Perkins issued special order for the non-repliers to meet on 17 March for special duty. Defendant came but ‘Sergt Perkins had considerable difficulty in getting him to fall in for drill’. Another notice for 21 April said absence would be an offence. During 21st Sergeant received a letter from defendant resigning and saying couldn’t come to drill as would be out on business till 10.30 p.m.
Sergt Perkins spoke. Told them at a special meeting he was expecting a message from Captain Ffinch and that there would be drill. Defendant and another demurred but eventually ‘defendant did drill after a fashion’. Didn’t come on 7 April. Admitted the message from Captain Ffinch was a fabrication. Witness said average attendance at drill out of the 52 members was 30. Defendant carried out other duties OK. On night of 21 April defendant on duty from 12 to 2.
Mr Bawtree said that on day in question, defendant in his shop from 8 to 1, then ‘attended a gentleman at his private house’, then went to Chelmsford on business’, back to Witham 10.18, and went on patrol.
Mr C S Richardson, ‘corporal of No 3 Patrol Special Constables’ said defendant formerly in his patrol and always did duties satisfactorily and only refused the drill. ‘Did his patrol work very well indeed’. ‘He had voluntarily gone out alone on patrol work because he had a bulldog he could take with him (Laughter). Questioned, agreed that drilling part of duty. He had asked Mr Dibben about it but he ‘said Wednesday was the only half-day he had, and he wanted to visit his invalid father and do other business’. So he Richardson ‘left it at that’. Also was told that Dibben not in the best of health, so overlooked drill because ‘he was so good at patrol’.
Defendant said had letter of dismissal on 29 April. Had always fulfilled patrol. ‘Was a chronic sufferer from a complaint’ but had always carried out orders of superior officers. Notice he first had said that ‘should perfect themselves … in elementary drill’ if possible. Thought couldn’t resign.
Chairman asked if there were other special constables in default. Mr Bawtree said fifteen. Mr Perkins said no others ‘in equal default’. Chairman ‘He was the worst specimen?’ (laughter) Mr P said yes.
Bench consulted in private. Exceptional times. Realised he had done duties which were most hazardous and exciting but dislike drill. Singular that had been singled out. But small fine of 10s as message to all special constables that ‘they must conform to the laws of the service and not enter on the duties simply as exciting incidents in their life’.

Witham Gas Co., 15 June 1915 (D/F 27/7/1)
Proposed by Capt Abrey and seconded Mr D Brown that each of workmen’s wages be increased 2s per week ‘by way of War Bonus’. Carried unanimously.
Proposed increase in price of gas 5d per 1000 cubic feet, agreed.

UDC 28 June 1915
page 264. Importance of having signal for firemen at present time, and additional hose. Refer to committee.

Essex County Chronicle, 2 July 1915
page 6. Comment columns. ‘There seems always a tendency at the meetings of the Witham Urban Council to spoil the ship for a ha’porth of tar, which is somewhat surprising, seeing that Witham has acquired somewhat of a reputation for thinking Imperially, and in the word of Lord Milner, “Damning the consequences”. Need a means of calling out the Fire Brigade, ‘the prevailing view apparently being that Witham, if not exactly the hub of the Empire, is at least the hub of the county, and being so, might expect Zeppelins and Taubes’. But when known that would cost £20 or £60, referred to a committee.
Same re medical officer, which needed recently, only one applicant, so appointed at £20 a year. Not enough.

UDC 26 July 1915
page 268. More cases of enteric fever. Discussion about possible origin. Inspector of nuisances suggested fowls in yard at back of cottage where fever started. Abate.
page 270. Dr E A[?] Smith came, thanks Council for appointing him Medical Officer of Health. Said might be leaving ‘for a few months on War Service in France’ so leave appointment in hands of Council. Decided to proceed.
Circular from Local Government Board re National Registration Act.
page 271. Suggest public service in Church on 4 August at 6 p.m., being anniversary of declaration of war, to coincide with service that King and Queen would attend in St Paul’s. Ask Canon Ingles. Also resolved to hold a Public Meeting afterwards.

18 Aug 1915. Log book of Chipping Hill Infants (ERO T/P 378/1)
‘A half holiday was given this afternoon to allow some of the children to take part in a Patriotic Play’.

18 Aug 1915. Log book of Girls National School (ERO E/ML 74/3)
‘A holiday this afternoon .. so many of the children are taking part in an out-of-door entertainment in aid of wounded soldiers’.

Essex County Chronicle, 20 August 1915
page 8. Co-op. Quarterly meeting. Mr J Cropton presided. Dividend of 2s in the £. Sales increased £1,600 over corresponding quarter last year ‘due to the presence of troops and the higher prices’. Mr T Johnson elected to Committee in place of Mr C Hubbard.
‘Death of a National Reservist’. Mr Edward Cooper, landlord of Morning Star, ‘member of the Witham National Reserve’, died aged about 60. ‘He was a native of Witham, and in his younger days served in the old West Essex Militia, in which he attained the rank of sergeant, under Captain Round’. Worked on farm at Bradwell on sea then returned to Witham and had had Morning Star for 14 years. In 1913 joined the National Reserve. Two brothers, one in Army and one in Navy. Widow but no children. Funeral. Mourners included Able Seaman A Drury, half brother, and Private W Cooper, 6th Essex Regiment, brother. Witham National Reserves represented ‘by “Chief” Petty Officer Champ, Sergt Sam Woolnough, Corpl T Gallop, Ptes Butcher, Perry and Woodwards. Others named including local licensees.

Essex Weekly News, 20 August 1915
page 8. ‘Patriotic Pastoral Play. By the kindness of Mr P E Laurence … a patriotic play entitled “The Birth of the Union Jack” was performed under the old cedars in the garden at the Grove on Wednesday’. Britannia etc. Miss Pelly and various people as Scotland etc. Each had young attendants. Songs. Sword dances by Miss M Hawkins, and other dances. Hearty applause. Union Jack formed by juveniles led by Miss Maisey closed first part. Second part in present. Britannia again. Cheers. Grand march past at end. Thanks to Miss E Luard and helpers. Misses Willink and Maisey trained the dancers and Miss Pelly assisted. Proceeds between £30 and £40 to Lord Roberts memorial fund for wounded soldiers and sailors. Takings from tea served on the terrace to the Bermondsey Settlement’. [see photos M173-M184, M1796-1797]

Essex County Chronicle, 27 August 1915
page 4. New Vicar of Witham. Rev F W Galpin to succeed Canon Ingles. Head and shoulders photo. Famous as the possessor of a collection of musical instruments probably unique. no less than six hundred different kinds of musical instruments, and he can play every one’. Travelled extensively. At present at Hatfield Broad Oak. Also given lectures and demos. Instruments arranged at Hatfield Vicarage to show evolution of instruments. Have had musical services in the church. Comes from West Country. Has always declined other offers since at Hatfield, but felt called to come to Witham, especially after visiting. Won’t come till after October.

UDC 30 August 1915
pages 273-74. Letter from Dr Smith saying Red Cross Society ‘desperately in need of a medical man for service in France at once’, had consulted chairman and decided to go on Saturday 21 August. Dr Gimson promised to act while away. Agreed.
Unanimous vote of thanks ‘to the gentlemen’ for voluntary services under National Registration Act 1915.

September 1915
General note about reports of signalling to enemy aircraft from motor cars. So ‘picquetting’ main roads up to 10 miles from coast. ‘Results to end of September, nil’ (PRO WO 95/5453, Central Force, Eastern Command, War Diary)

September 1915, Minutes of Witham Co-op (D/Z 189/5/1)
Mr Hubbard gone. From October 18 shop closes at 6, and 8 on Saturdays. Wednesdays at 1. Closes for dinner hour. Members ‘asked kindly to do their shopping as early as possible’.

8 September 1915.
3 Zeppelins raided London and E Counties 7th/8th, came in at Foulness, Clacton and Bradwell, headed for London. 15 killed (PRO WO 95/5453, Central Force, Eastern Command, War Diary).

11 September 1915.
One Zeppelin raided the East Coast. Bomb in RFA lines at Epping. NO casualties (PRO WO 95/5453, Central Force, Eastern Command, War Diary).

12 September 1915.
1 Zeppelin over eastern counties. Bomb southwest of Ipswich, no damage. Signed James H Gordon, Capt General Staff, Control Force, Eastern Command (PRO WO 95/5453, Central Force, Eastern Command, War Diary).

UDC 13 September 1915, extraordinary meeting
page 279. Aircraft Insurance. Clerk instructed to insure Council’s property against ‘damage by Aircraft’.
‘In view of the recent and frequent visits of enemy aircraft the lighting of any street lamps was considered a source of danger’. Clerk to tell Gas Company not to light any in future.
Mr Garrett said ‘a quantity of Gun cotton was stored at Witham House’ and he considered it danger because near other property. So bring to attention of ‘Officer Commanding South Midland Royal Engineers’, and say please take precautions ‘to safeguard the residents of Witham’ if it is necessary to store it there.

14 September 1915, page 597, D/UWi 1/4/2 Urban District Council Letter Book
‘Dear Sir
At a meeting of the Council held last night the matter of street lighting was discussed, and it was resolved that in view of the recent and frequent visits of enemy Aircraft the lighting of any street lamps was considered a source of danger, and as a precautionary measure I was instructed to give you notice that as from this date no public street lamps were to be lighted.
W Bindon Blood to Mr J Croxall, manager Witham Gas Light and Coke Co Ltd, Witham.

25th September, 1915
Anglo-French Offensive at Artois-Loos. Charles and George Sneezum wounded at Loos. Charles died. Funeral in Witham [October 1915]. George back to France , killed May 1916

UDC 27 September 1915
page 284. Letter from Board of Trade. Importance of accumulating stock of coal, and arrange with merchants to limit price.
Letter from Lieut Col Royal Engineers saying all proper precautions are taken re explosives.

October 1915 (from schoolnet web site)
The British government announced several measures they believed would reduce alcohol consumption. A No Treating Order laid down that people could not buy alcoholic drinks for other people. Public House opening times were also reduced to 12.00 noon to 2.30 pm and 6.30 to 9.30 pm. Before the law was changed, public houses could open from 5 am in the morning to 12.30 pm at night.

6 October 1915.
‘GOC in C was present at the manning of the Braintree, Wightam [sic] position by the 2/2nd London Divn and 2/1st S Midland Divn’ (PRO WO 95/5453, Central Force, Eastern Command, War Diary).

Essex County Chronicle, 8 October 1915
page 4. ‘Peculiars at Witham. A soldier “Saved by Prayer”’. Annual harvest thanksgiving, from various parts of Essex, at Congregational Church. Bishop Heddle of Southend presided. ‘Bishop Chignal’ of Witham spoke. Also Elder J Moore of Canning Town. Farmers and labourers should all have come to thank God. Peculiars had prayed for ‘men they loved who were in danger and those prayers were answered’. Brother Whale’s son came home from war after 14 months, and was in great danger. Stood by gun with shells, set affection in Lord, was saved, attributed it to prayers of his brothers and sisters.
page 8. ‘For the Fleet’. Hon sec W Hubbard send second large consignment.
‘Scout’s collection.’ At suggestion of Mrs Christopher Parker, Boy Scouts under direction of Rev D Field made collection for ‘French wounded fund’, raised £9 9s 6d.

11 October 1915, D/UWi 1/4/2 Urban District Council Letter Book
‘Dear Sir
Precautions against fire’. Letter received, will put before Council
[To] Lieut Colonel S Williams, CRE 61st (SM) Division, Witham.

18 Oct 1915. Log book of Chipping Hill Infants (ERO T/P 378/1)
‘Owing to lighting restrictions, the afternoon session commences at 1.30 pm and close at 3.20 pm’

UDC 25 October 1915
page 288. Fire Brigade Captain had instructed Firemen ‘that when hostile aircraft were in the neighbourhood to assemble at the Fire station on hearing the military whistles’. Agreed.
Read letter from Lieut Col Royal Engineers informing the Council he was arranging a scheme to be put into operation in the event of air raids on the Town which might cause conflagrations, and asking the Council whether they would work in co-operation and inquiring what provision the Council had in the shape of a Fire Brigade and Fire appliances. ‘ Reply willing to co-operate as far as possible and tell him arrangements so far.
Recreation Ground Committee. Reported death of caretaker’s son wounded in France. Letter of sympathy to Mr Sneezum.
School Medical Officer of Health has joined the forces, will UDC Medical Officer of Health do schools. Ask him.
Dr Smith, to have leave of absence for four months from 29 September.
Letter from Lady Paget[?whether I typed this right] asking for co-operation on November 18th, to be known throughout British Isles as ‘Russias Day’ and arrange flag day. Ask Miss Pattisson to do it.
Letter from Joint Secretaries of ‘Maldon division Parliamentary Recruiting Committee’ asking for member to serve on Committee. Elect Mr P Hutley.

26 October 1915, D/UWi 1/4/2 Urban District Council Letter Book
Dear Sir
Precaution against fire. Council ‘willing to co-operate with proposed scheme’.
‘As regards the Fire Brigade and Fire Appliances. The Brigade consists of 10 members, and the Surveyor Mr W P Perkins is Captain. There are 2 Fire Engines, 1 Steamer and 1 manual, 1,000 feet Hose, and Hose Cart. No Fire Escape. My Council wish me to point out that the Fire Engines are to be under the Captain’s control.
I may also mention that it was arranged last night, on the suggestion of the Fire Brigade Captain, that when hostile Aircraft are in the neighbourhood, the Brigade are to assemble on hearing the Military Whistles blown, and stand by at the Fire Station ready for immediate action in case of need. … [from] … Blood
[To] Lieut Col S Williams, Commanding Royal Engineers, 61st (S.M.) Division, Witham’

Essex County Chronicle, 29 October 1915
page 6 Capt Shafto Abrey wanted something done with ‘the setting stones outside the Red Lion’. Two accidents. Also ‘the pipe near Newland Place which projects beyond the path’ ‘the granites now lying in Avenue Road’ should be whitewashed and also kerbs of dangerous corners. All referred to Road Committee.
Lady Paget wrote re Russian Flag Day. ‘Invite Miss C Pattisson to undertake this for the Council’.

November 1915 to February 1916
2/1 Bedfordshire Yeomanry at Hatfield Peverel. See notes on PRO WO 95/5455, especially re field exercises.

UDC 4 November 1915, Extraordinary meeting
Clerk had invited ‘3 Ladies’ to undertake work re Russia’s Day but other duties meant they couldn’t. Ask Miss Edith Luard.
Circular from Sec ‘National Committee for Relief in Belgium’ suggesting special appeal on 15 November for funds and explaining schemes. Carry out as far as possible.

Essex County Chronicle, 5 November 1915
page 10. ‘For the Fleet. Mr W Hubbard has dispatched another consignment of fruit and vegetables, making a grand total of over a ton, from Witham to the Grand Fleet’.

12 Nov 1915. Log book of Boys National School (ERO E/ML 73/2)
Conference of staff at Braintree re forming cadet corps.

UDC 29 November 1915
page 294. D Jopson applied for increase in wages as ploughman as he understood ploughmen were now getting £1 per week. At present he gets 18s. Decided to review all wages.
Mr Pinkham reported a landlord had increased rent of a cottage from 4s 9d to 7s a week. Occupier was married soldier now in France. Rent Bill now before Parliament. So propose to urge on Government, the need that a bill prohibiting raising of rents on small houses should apply to all UK and not just certain areas. Carried.
page 296. Letter from Lieut Col J Colvin, together with proceedings of meeting at Chelmsford to discuss County organisation for co-ordinating Voluntary work. Agreed no further steps because independent organisations in District carry on the work contemplated.

3 Dec 1915. Log book of Girls National School (ERO E/ML 74/3)
‘Sent 18/6 collected by the children to the Overseas Club for Xmas cheer for soldiers at the front. Children are also sending stretcher cushions and handkerchiefs and scarves to the soldiers’.

(PRO WO 95/5455, War diary of 2/1 Bedfordshire Yeomanry at Hatfield Peverel)

UDC 20 December 1915
page 299. Finance Committee had resolved that any of employees engaged in ploughing should get £1 a week.

30 December 1915.
Personnel to be drawn from … 1/1st Essex … to form 1/5th Lowland Brigade, for 52nd Lowland Division, for service in Egypt (PRO WO 95/5453, Central Force, Eastern Command, War Diary).

Essex County Chronicle, 14 January 1916
page 1. Advert – Lady Clerks in offices urgently required.
page 4. Meeting of Essex War Agricultural Committee. E G Smith presided. Men (about 12), Miss K M Courtauld of Earls Colne co-opted.

Essex County Chronicle, 4 February 1916, page 6.
Relief to disabled soldiers – should they have a local committee or leave to ECC – equal voting, defer.

Essex County Chronicle, 11 February 1916
page 8 Sapper Amos gave inspiring address to religious service at YMCA.
Whist for 60 players. One of winners was Sapper Ogborne.
Army mule became restive in High Street. Upset a milk churn belonging to John Newman and trap belonging to Mrs Geo Lake who escaped.

Essex County Chronicle, 18 February 1916
page 3. ‘Women and agriculture. Meeting of Essex Ladies’. Under auspices of Essex War Agricultural Committee ‘to make the necessary preliminary arrangements in connection with the organisation in Essex of women’s labour on the land’. Hon E G Strutt presided. Lots of ladies, many named. Included Lady Rayleigh, Mrs Christopher Parker. ‘Chairman said some people had expressed the opinion that farmers did not want the assistance of women.’ Might have been so earlier in War but not now because of call-up of men etc. Long speech. One speaker on other counties and another on ‘Women’s National Land Service Corps’, one of whose objects was ‘to get women of the professional classes in towns to undertake a course of training to fit themselves for acting as forewomen of local village corps, and to make the various arrangements with the farmers’. Lady Petre to be president of the women’s organisation. Executive Committee provisionally appointed.

24 February 1916.
65th (Lowland) Division commences to detrain from Scottish Command at Chelmsford and neighbourhood (PRO WO 95/5453, Central Force, Eastern Command, War Diary).

UDC 28 February 1916
pages 307-308. Letter from Council’s employees, want increase of 2s. a week because of extra cost of living in War. Resolved to grant extra 1s. a week.
page 309. Letter from Brigadier General H Greenfield enquiring whether Council would ‘undertake the display and distribution of notices warning the public as to the possible harm caused by indiscreet discussion in reference to the war or of any matters connected therewith’. Resolved to give all assistance and obtain 100 notices.

Witham Gas Co., 2 March 1916 (D/F 27/7/1)
Agreed to elect Mr E M Blyth chair of Board of Directors and Capt Abrey Vice chair.
Resolved to increase aircraft and fire insurance.

Essex County Chronicle, 24 March 1916
page 8.
‘All Queens’. ‘Lieut J Gardner, 3/5th Essex Regt, second son of Mr W Gardner’. At home on sick leave. Caught lots of insects including two queen hornets and half a dozen queen wasps in the heated summer house.
‘Military Church Parade’. To Congreg Church. Collection for Red Cross Hospital. Chaplain Capt Yuell address. God was for us. Not for Germans, whose ‘method of conducting war was against divine law’.

UDC 27 March 1916
page 313. Owing to ‘Hammond joining the Army’, arrangements for Council employee to ‘inspect horse each day’, pay 1s. a week.

UDC 26 April 1916, Annual meeting
page 319. Circular from Local Government Board, regulations made under Defence of the Realm Act re ‘visitation of houses to inspect the Certificates of all Male persons who are or ought to be registered under the National Registration Act 1915’. Proposed by Mr Pinkham and Mr Smith to ask enumerators to do the canvas. Amendment by Mr Taber and Mr Richardson to take no action was carried.
page 320. Letter from eleven of Council’s employees asking for increased wages. At present 19s. a week. Capt Abrey and Mr Smith proposed increase to £1. Amendment by Mr Greatrex and Mr Garrett that increase to £1 1s. Amendment lost. Proposition carried. Apply to all.

UDC 29 May 1916
page 323. Letter from Mr J Goodey re long hours ‘he and Duncombe’ were working because of summer approaching and the number of troops. Suggest Duncombe made full time, or otherwise additional pay. To Water Works Committee.

UDC Waterworks Committee, 2 June 1916, page 178
Mr Goodey to have extra help during the War ‘by Mr Duncombe going to the water Works at 2 p.m. each day instead of 4 p.m. as heretofore’.

13 June 1916.  Log book of Girls National School (ERO E/ML 74/3)
‘Girls of the First Class accompanied by the Teachers attended Memorial Service for the late Lord Kitchener at 12 today’.

Essex County Chronicle, 16 June 1916
‘Witham Bomb Tragedy. Inquest and funerals’. Deaths of Revd D M Picton Congregational minister, and Lieut James McLagan, R E, and serious injury to Mrs and Miss Picton’. Lieut billeted at the Manse with them. Showing a hand grenade at ten on night. The two of them killed outright. Mrs Picton injury to foot and Miss Picton to eye and arm. 17 panes of glass blown out of window.
Inquest. Rev Picton 52, Lieut 22, of 3/1st Highland Field Co., attached to the 1/3rd Lowland Field Co. RE. Walter Coker chair of jury. Inspected scene etc. and viewed bodies. Jacob Marsden Picton, draper of Westminster Bridge Road, his brother. Lots of detail. The Lieut an expert.
Funeral. ‘Remarkable demonstration of sympathy’. Cortege from Manse, ministers etc. Down High Street to church. Flags half mast and blinds closed. Interment in All Saints. ‘It is long since such a general scene of mourning was witnessed in the town’. Rev E M Edmunds of Hadleigh, formerly of Witham, there. Address. Miss Winifred Drake at organ. Relatives from all over.
Sunday services described. Also ‘Capt Yuille, CF, at his open-air service, made an impressive allusion … also loss … McLagan’.
Letter of appreciation by WCW of Witham. Tragic. Loveable, happy knack of making friends.

UDC 26 June 1916
page 327. Water works Committee, re extra help by Duncombe going in at 2 p.m. instead of 4 p.m., adopted.
In Committee.
pages 329-30. Letter from eight employees of council for further increase in wages. Refuse.

1st July, 1916
Start of Anglo-French Somme Offensive. Could hear guns in Essex.

Essex County Chronicle, 14 July 1916
page 3. Dr Edward C Gimson recommended for VC, serving in France. [actually got DSO].

Essex Weekly News, 14 July 1916
page 5. ‘Dr E C Gimson and the VC. Great satisfaction was created in Witham on Monday, when it was reported that Mrs Gimson, of the Gables, had been officially informed that her son, Dr E C Gimson, who holds the rank of Captain in the RAMC and is now on active service, had been recommended for the VC for distinguished bravery in the great offensive on July 1. Before joining up Dr “Ted” as he is locally known, was in practice with his brother, Dr Karl Gimson, at Witham, where he is popular among all classes. Dr Gimson first proceeded to Colchester Hospital, where he worked among the wounded, and later was attached to units in various parts of the country, proceeding to France about ten months ago’. [he actually got the DSO]
page 5, col 4. ‘A meeting of the Executive Committee of the Essex Women’s War Agricultural Association was held in London, on Wednesday, Lady Petre presiding.
The Hon Mrs Champion R Russell reported that in the Romford district the same number of women were at work as was recorded last month. She had experienced some difficulties with regard to people who wanted to get work, as when she sought information from farmers as to what they wanted she sometimes got not reply. The farmers generally seemed well supplied. She feared, however, that some of the women were taking advantage of the position, and one farmer had stated that he thought he was spending 100[?] per cent more in wages  because their women got through their work so slowly. The Chairman asked if it would be possible to put the women on piece work ? Mrs Russell said the farmer referred to did not seem to think so.
Reports as follows were also received from the districts …:-
Witham – Mrs Parker. 385 women were registered, and 100 had armlets. She believed they were working extremely well, and that local farmers were quite satisfied.
Miss Image, of the Board of Trade, in reply to questions, said it should be clearly understood that the armlets were only for women who were engaged on farms and in kitchen gardens, and could not be issued to those employed in the cultivation of flowers’.

Witham Gas Co., 18 July 1916 (D/F 27/7/1)
‘The Manager brought up the question of Street Lighting and the Witham Urban District Council and stated that the Chelmsford Town Council had allowed the Chelmsford Gas Coy 20 % on their outlay’. Decided to make a claim on Witham UDC.

Essex Weekly News, 21 July 1916
The Picton Fund. The Picton Memorial Fund, the appeal for which was generously responded to by all classes, has now been closed, the sum contributed being £320. Mrs and Miss Picton are both making steady progress towards recovery from their injuries and shock.
Edward Spurge and Co’s, High street, Witham. Annual Clearance Sale is now proceeding All Summer Season Goods are being offered at Greatly Reduced Prices. Linen, Damask Cloths, Serviettes, ready made Sheets, Pillow Cases, Towels, Quilts, Bedspreads, Carpets, Linoleums etc., at prices 15 to 25 per cent under present market valued (Advt).’

UDC 31 July 1916
page 333. Medical Officer reports tuberculosis at Grove Cottage occupied by Mr Perry, ‘also Military case of Scarlet Fever at Maldon Road Camp’, latter to Heybridge hospital.
page 335. Mr R W Wakelin absent from Council for six consecutive months ‘engaged on military duties’. Unanimously approved reason of his absence.

September 1916, Minutes of Witham Co-op (D/Z 189/5/1)
Business difficult re supplies and employees. Almost all male staff have had to join forces. In consideration to staff, shop as early as possible in these times of restricted lighting. Manager still Baldwin. No women on Committee. Members 788.

1 Sept 1916. Log book of Girls National School (ERO E/ML 74/3)
‘Fruit and vegetables were brought by the girls this morning to be sent to the Fleet’.

6 Sept 1916. Log book of Girls National School (ERO E/ML 74/3)
‘Up to date 43 stretcher cushions have been made, filled and despatched to the Front from this school’.

Essex Weekly News, 15 September 1916
page 6. ‘Fruit for the Fleet. Through the exertions of Mr W Hubbard a large quantity of fruit and vegetables was collected by the elementary school children of the district last week and sent to the Grand Fleet’.

24 September 1916, ERO J/P 12/7 (see under this ref for full transcript
Letter from Special Constable at Wickham Bishops, about objects fallen from a Zeppelin in various parts of the village, including pieces of magnet and a machine gun. He and his colleagues had collected them with the help of the Royal Engineers from Witham who took them away.

UDC 25 September 1916
page 342. Obtain blinds ‘to obscure light at the engine house’.
Adopt Sewage Land Committee recommendation not to sell bay gelding Major. Surveyor may hire a horse when required during next month.
Finance Committee reported Mr Roberts joining HM forces so resigned, and Mrs Mens application for vacancy [probably rate collector].
page 343. Support appeals of Mr Daniel and Mr Claydon to local tribunal [about transcription].
Finance Committee report adopted including that surveyor instructed to interview the Military authorities re scavenging roads.
page 344. Letter Mr C C Roberts resigned as deputy rate collector, thanks. Letter from Mrs M A Mens for same job. Accepted.
Proposed that all water supplied by Council other than domestic, should be metered, because of reports of wastage. Refer to Water works Committee.
Letter from Local Government Board wanting ‘certain information in reference to execution of works after the war’, read.
page 345. Application from Secretary of ‘the Gifts of Fruit to the Navy Charity’ for exemption from provisions of War Charities Act 1916, agreed.

Witham Gas Co., 17 October 1916 (D/F 27/7/1)
Correspondence with Witham Urban District Council re ‘non-lighting of lamps’. Decided to take Counsel’s opinion.
‘Matthews (Stoker) had left to go to Grays Gas Coy at wages of 45/- per week and 5/- war Bonus’.
Agreed to raise the wages of employees 3s a week.

Witham Gas Co., 27 October 1916 (D/F 27/7/1)
Discussion about Urban District Council. Letter sent forthwith and proceedings taken.
‘The manager reported that the men were perfectly satisfied with the rise in Wages’.

UDC 30 October 1916
page 348. Waterworks Committee recommend meters for non domestic water. Carried though some wanted to defer.
page 349. Hon C H Strutt resigned membership of Local Tribunal for Witham ‘owing to absence abroad for the next five months’ resolved to elect Mr C W Parker if willing.
Writ from Gas Company against Council for not adhering to agreement (probably about street lighting). To be a meeting.
Letter from Mr F Hayward suggesting ‘band of luminous paint … round the lamp posts and telegraph posts that stand upon the paths edge with a view to preventing accidents’. Forward to authorities concerned.
Letter re arranging ‘a Rumanian Flag Day’. Write to Miss Luard and ask if she with Miss Afford and Mrs Hanson Pullen could do it.

UDC ? November 1916, extraordinary meeting
page 351. Serious illness of clerk, so S M Daniel be authorised to sign cheques in his absence.

Witham Gas Co., 7 November 1916 (D/F 27/7/1)
Deputation to meet Urban District Council.

13 Nov 1916. Log book of Chipping Hill Infants (ERO T/P 378/1)
‘Owing to the restricted use of paper in Schools now, two of the afternoon drawing lessons have been omitted and Reading taken in their place. One writing lesson has also been substituted for clay-modelling’.

Witham Gas Co., 14 November 1916 (D/F 27/7/1)
Joint Conference with UDC representatives.
For the company, Mr E M Blyth, Mr W E Shee and Mr David Brown plus secretary and manager.
UDC represented by Mr P Hutley (chair), Mr W Pinkham and Mr A W Garrett. Also Deputy clerk and surveyor.
Discussion. Agreement about liability and payment.

17 Nov 1916. Log book of Girls National School(ERO E/ML 74/3)
‘The Girls have collected £3.3.0 for the Army Xmas Pudding Fund’.

UDC 27 November 1916
page 353. Because of shortage of labour, employ caretaker of Recreation Ground on road work.
Letters from Post Office and Gas Company agreeing poles and lamps painted at Council’s expense.
In Camera: Re Gas Company. Terms in letter accepted.

6th December, 1916
Lloyd George becomes British Prime Minister

8 Dec 1916. Log book of Girls National School (ERO E/ML 74/3)
‘During the last fortnight the girls have made and filled 11 cushions for the War Depot’.

8 Dec 1916. Log book of Girls National School (ERO E/ML 74/3)
‘Am sending 5/- to the YMCA for Tobacco Fund for Xmas’.

UDC 18 December 1916
page 358. Bad condition of the Terling Road.
Adopted Finance Committee re, increase in wages and in Surveyor salary

ERO D/Z 45/3 Essex War Agricultural Committee. Census of farms, December 1916
Totals for Witham Urban District
Permanent grass    1,437
Clover and grasses    236
Wheat, autumn    717
Wheat, spring    302
Other arable    1,382
Market garden land    89
Heath etc    38
Total    4,201

Horses    154
Plough teams    58
Cows in milk    251
Cows dry    50
Cattle stall fed    183
Other cattle    76
Sheep enclosed    601
Sheep, hill    82
Sows    26
Other pigs    144

Farmers    26
Horsemen    51
Stockmen    6
Shepherds    2
Daymen[sic]    50
Women workers    none
Casual workers    none *
Total workers    135
*none of these in whole Union

Similar lists for each farm. All Witham ones say ‘adequate labour’ except Howbridge and Dengie given as ‘excessive’ Gives names of occupiers, though often spelt wrong.
Pans Haven Field: Witham CS: no labour, 7 perm grass, 7 market garden, 2 heath, total 16 acres [this will be the Co-op, on or near the later site of Crittalls]
Spa field: Quintin D Greatrex: no labour, 14¼ perm grass, total 14¼ acres
Also at end includes:
Wallasea: ‘S and Partic’: 780 perm grass, 102 autumn wheat, 380 other arable, total 1262 acres, lots sheep and cattle, 21 labour
Norpits Island: ‘S and Partic’: 20 perm grass, 52 autumn wheat, 179 other arable, total 251 acres, with, sheep, cattle etc.

Essex County Chronicle, 1917
5 January 1917
Mr Hugh Page will have ‘agricultural jumble sale on the Witham Market Sale ground’ in aid of ‘British Farmers’ Red Cross Fund’. Contributions in money or in kind.

9 Jan 1917. Log book of Girls National School (ERO E/ML 74/3)
‘£1.15.0 has been sent to the Belgian Relief Fund as a result of the Xmas Collection’.

10 Jan 1917. Log book of Girls National School (ERO E/ML 74/3)
‘Sixteen cushions and 7 pair of socks have been completed and sent to the War Depot this week’.

Essex County Chronicle, 19 January 1917
page 6.
‘The VTC. The first drill took place at Cullen’s seed warehouse, when there were 15 on parade. Lt Christie and Mr W W Boulton addressed the members, who ere drilled by Corpl Willett, RE. Several new members have joined.’ [Voluntary Training Corps]
‘Home from the Front. – Sgt Charlie Driver, formerly Essex Regt., now Gloucester Regt, who won the Military Medal for gallantry in a bombing attack at La Bastee[?], has returned to his home at Witham this week on a few days’ leave. Before the war, Charlie Driver was a popular singer of Witham and Chelmsford. He looks remarkable well, and has already obliged his friends by proving that his voice is as good as ever’.

23 Jan 1917. Log book of Girls National School (ERO E/ML 74/3)
‘7 more pairs of socks and 2 cushions sent’.

UDC 29 January 1917
page 364. Explained regulations from Board of Agriculture, under Defence of Realm Consolidation Act 1914. With the object of increasing food supplies, are extending powers of providing land for cultivation. Chairman and Mr Taber to inspect cemetery site about cultivation.
Also ‘write to the Co-operative Society inquiring if it was the Society’s intention to cultivate their field at Chipping Hill known as Pains Havens’[see above].
Circular from Young Women’s Christian Association re collection day for ‘Women Wartime Workers Fund’.
page 365. Circular received re Flag day for Lord Kitchener Memorial Holiday Home
Letter received enclosing memo of suggestions ‘for War Loan Campaign’ from National War Savings Committee.
Letter from Essex War Agricultural Committee as to distribution of Scotch Seed potatoes.

Essex County Chronicle, 23 February 1917
Annual Meeting of Essex Red Cross. Chair Lady Gwendolin Colvin. Colonel Colvin ‘severed’, i.e. left.

UDC 26 February 1917
page 369. Adopt Water works Committee including Mr Goody’s salary 6s per week.
Cemetery site. Mr Taber recommended harrowing it. Agreed.
Letter from Witham Co-op informing Council that Pains Havens Field would be cultivated as hitherto if it remained in the occupation of the Society.
Obtain 250 copies of water regulations, and issue a notice saying copies could be obtained at office for 2d.

9 March 1917. Log book of Boys National School (ERO E/ML 73/2)
‘The Vicar came in at 12 pm and spoke to the boys on their duty during my absence on Military Service … Today I terminate my duties as Headmaster, until released from Military duties’.

12 March 1917. Log book of Boys National School (ERO E/ML 73/2)
‘Commenced duties as Head Teacher during absence of Mr Thompson on Military Duties. Kate Thompson’.

UDC 26 March 1917
page 374. Letter from Mrs Mens (Deputy Rate Collector) she observed the water rates were to be collected quarterly under the new regulations, if so she couldn’t do it. Resolved that they be yearly during war and every 6 months after.
page 375. Finance Committee report adopted, including increase 3s per week for workmen’s wages except old age pensioners 2s a week.
page 376. Letter from Mr W W Boulton asking Council for Contribution to funds of ‘3/2 Battalion of Essex Volunteer regiment’ which recently formed. Council not legally empowered to give.
Letter from Lady Carson, re street collection for British and Foreign Sailors Society. Refer her ‘to Miss Luard who doubtless would organise a collection’.

2 April 1917. Log book of Boys National School (ERO E/ML 73/2)
‘Being home on leave Mr Thompson kindly gave his help in the reorganisation of the school for the new year’.

6th April, 1917
United States declares war on Germany

UDC 30 April 1917, Annual meeting
page 379. Surveyor has got supply of water meters. Confirmed purchase.
W P Perkins to be Deputy Assistant Overseer during absence of the Assistant Overseer A F Claydon ‘who was called up to join the army.’
Ploughing cemetery site left to surveyor.
Letter from Mr W W Boulton saying no legal problem about Council contributing to funds of volunteers. Ditto from Local Government Board though latter would have to give sanction. Leave on table.
Letter re holdings ‘France’s day’ in aid for French Red Cross. Forward to Miss Gimson with view to her organising it.
Letter re holdings a ‘Jutland Day’ for funds for cottage homes for disabled sailors. Resolved that it was the duty of the Government to provide homes and provide for disabled sailors and soldiers.
Letter from Mr H F Bawtree re ‘dust nuisance’ in High Street. Say this because of shortage of labour.
[Difficulties in obtaining road materials at right price as always, not noted generally]
No increase in wages to assistant caretaker of recreation ground. which he had asked for.

UDC 21 May 1917
page 385. Mr W P Perkins to be ‘officer under Local Authorities (Food Control) Order (No 1) 1917’.
Mr C S Richardson absent for 6 consecutive months on military duties. Approve this reason.

Witham Gas Co., 19 June 1917 (D/F 27/7/1)
No tenders for cartage. Discussed company getting ‘a Horse and Cart and getting another man’. Referred to a committee.

25th June, 1917
United States troops arrive in France

UDC 25 June 1917
page 388. Letter from Sheppy[sic] Chemical Works, re ‘importance of saving bones and fat owing to the Glycerine they produced’. Surveyor to ‘instruct his men to collect these materials when emptying dustbins etc.’

Witham Gas Co., 17 July 1917 (D/F 27/7/1)
Agreement with Mr J E Glover and the Company for hire of stable. Approved.
‘As to Horse. Mr Speakman reported difficulties of buying one just now consequent on Government permission being required, and Chairman and Mr Speakman were to see Mr Laurence thereon at Braintree tomorrow’.
‘As to Cart. Messrs Joslin’s Ltd tender of £25 accepted’.
Messrs A J Brewster and Sons, tender for new harness at £11, accepted.
‘As to Lorry. Mr W Butler reported inspection of second hand lorry the price of which was £10 10s 0d. Accepted.
Temporary arrangement with Mr N Shelley to supply horse and cart at 30s per week.
Mr Dean tender of £4 for manure be accepted.

UDC 30 July 1917
page 392. Surveyor said duties under Food Control Order took up more time than expected. Question of remuneration referred to Finance Committee.

UDC Waterworks Committee, 30 July 1917, page 204
Letters of complaint received new rate of charge for water supply. Following results:
‘P E Laurence. Has 2 Cars, no Horses of his own, only Military Horses’. Resolved he should pay, and obtain it from Military. [The Grove]
‘Mrs Beville, Stables commandeered by Military’. To pay and get from Military [Roslyn House]

‘Revd Canon Galpin. Garden tap disconnected. Meadow tap. Paid 10s instead of 7s 6d. No Horses of his own. Military Horses in Winter. Motor Car not in use and no license’. Remit charge in garden tap. ‘If Horses there, charge to stand unless water cut off’.

Mr Castell (Wilderness). Has no garden taps. Tap in stable not yet charged for. Military Horses in winter’. Collector to investigate. If tap done away with, no charge.

17 August 1917, ERO L/P 3/35, Lieutenancy papers, correspondence, 1916-1918
Maldon District Emergency Committee, 17 August 1917, to Shire Hall
Re correspondence about clearing banks etc. of money in case of invasion.
‘I am also to ask you if a woman can be sworn in as a Special Constable to be in charge of the Bank’s property’. Forwarded to Major Gen Hay[?] Pall Mall, Central Force and Emergency [?]
His reply doesn’t mention women. But Goold clerk to county, says to Maldon:
‘I believe no woman has yet been sworn in as a Special Constable for this County and I think it would be better for a man to be in charge of the Bank’s property in the event of it having to be removed’.

UDC 20 August 1917, extraordinary meeting
page 396. Necessary to appoint Food Control Committee. To be the seven ‘active members’ plus representative from Co-op, and also ‘Mr Ebenezer Smith’ as ‘labour representative’. Also Miss Afford be asked, and also Messrs F J Hayward and Mr E C Quick.

27 August 1917
page 401. People invited to Food Control committee had agreed.
Resignation of Clerk because called up for military service in October next. Accept with regret.

UDC Finance Committee, 27 August 1917, page 207
Mr W Perkins [Surveyor] appointed under Food Control Orders. Salary increased 5 shillings a week whilst has these duties.

UDC 10 September 1917, extraordinary meeting
Clerk willing to withdraw resignation if deputy to his satisfaction is appointed. Committee of two to be appointed to consult with the Clerk and Mr Naylor as to Mr Naylor agreeing to act as Deputy Clerk for Mr Daniel during his absence.

UDC 24 September 1917
page 403. Mr Naylor willing to be deputy as above.
page 406. Accept Finance Committee report; re letter from ‘Mrs Mens (Collector)’ ‘ for more money. Give her £7 10s for extra work done and no additional salary.
page 407. Circular re forming Retail Coal Prices Committee. Yes.

UDC ‘Retail Coal Prices Order Committee’. First Meeting, 27 Sept 1917, page 209
Agreed to meet coal retailers re prices. Write to Messrs Moy Ltd, Witham Cartage and Coal Co Ltd, Witham Co-operative Society Ltd, Mr W Shelley and others if any to invite.

UDC Retail Coal Prices Order Committee, 2 October 1917, page 210
Interviewed: [various re coal companies] None had brought right information.

UDC Retail Coal Prices Order Committee, 11 October 1917, page 210
Prices fixed for coal after consideration of information supplied. To be advertised.

12th October, 1917
British Offensive at Passchendaele

Witham Gas Co., 16 October 1917 (D/F 27/7/1)
Sub-committee ‘appointed to purchase a horse had done so at the price of £99.15s.’
Manager had arranged with Messrs Moy to assist in carting in winter when required.

UDC 29 October 1917
page 413. Report of Food Committee. Accept and thank ‘Mr Gallop the Executive officer for his excellent work’.
Local Government Board said appoint an inspector under Meat Sales Order. Don’t appoint one (Chairman’s casting vote).

30 Oct 1917. Log book of Chipping Hill Infants (ERO T/P 378/1)
‘The school has been very cold the last week. Owing to shortage of coal we have been unable to have fires’.

UDC 26 November 1917
page 416. Letters from Rt Hon Bonar Law about investing surplus funds in National War Bonds. To Finance Committee.
page 417. What arrangements were there re ‘warning the Fire Brigade in the event of their services being necessary during Air Raids. The Surveyor as Captain of the Fire Brigade replied that the orders were in the event of hostile air craft being in the vicinity that the Brigade was to “stand by” until the danger was past’.

The Diary of Virginia Woolf, vol 1, 1915-19, Hogarth Press, 1977
pp.87-88 re December 1917. ‘… Virginia milks cows at Lord Rayleigh’s place in Essex. She prefers horses, but she couldn’t get horses, and she’s very fond of cows’. [This was Virginia Isham, Virginia Woolf’s cousin Millicent’s daughter (another cousin married Ralph Vaughan Williams)]

UDC 10 December 1917
page 418. Letter from Sir Arthur Pearson re collection ‘for the Blinded Soldiers Children’s fund’ ‘Ask Miss Pattisson if she could arrange for the Boy-Scouts to distribute and collect envelopes for subscriptions as suggested in the letter’.

11 Dec 1917. Log book of Chipping Hill Infants (ERO T/P 378/1)
‘A half holiday was given this afternoon to celebrate the capture of Jerusalem by General Allenby’.

11 Dec 1917. Log book of Girls National School (ERO E/ML 74/3)
Holiday ‘to celebrate the capture of Jerusalem by General Allenby`’.

21 Dec 1917. Log book of Girls National School (ERO E/ML 74/3)
Concert, parents came. Collection for ‘Blinded Soldiers Children’s Fund’.

Essex County Chronicle, 28 December 1917
page 5. ‘Grandfathers’ Choir.’ Early Communion on xmas day, choir all grandfathers. W Beardwell (great grandfather), H Mortimer, W Kentfield, G Hammond (grandfathers).

UDC 31 December 1917
page 421. ‘Bay horse rising 5 years’ Received from Roland Partridge. ‘had been worked constantly since that date and found quiet and a good worker’.
page 422. ‘The Bay horse … was inspected’. Proposition to get a cheaper one not seconded. So pay £130 cheque for it.
page 423. ‘Death of fireman Harry W Porter on active service in France’. Write to widow.
page 424. Mr Gallop couldn’t continue as Food Control Executive Officer. So far no successor found.
Communications received from ‘Garden City and Town Planning Association, Hon Secretary Association for provision of comforts for Road construction and Quarrying Companies in France, Local Government Board re heavy Motor Cars, Committee on War Damage ..’ et al. No action on any.

January 1918 (from schoolnet web site)
The Ministry of Food did not introduce food rationing until January 1918. Sugar was the first to be rationed and this was later followed by butchers’ meat. The idea of rationing food was to guarantee supplies, not to reduce consumption. This was successful and official figures show that the intake of calories almost kept up to the pre-war level.
Background: Soon after the outbreak of the First World War the German Navy attempted to halt the flow of imports to Britain by introducing unrestricted submarine warfare. By the end of 1916, U-German boats were on average destroying about 300,000 tons of shipping a month. In February 1917, the German Navy sank 230 ships bringing food and other supplies to Britain. The following month a record 507,001 tons of shipping was lost as a result of the U-boat campaign. However, Britain was successful at increasing food production and the wheat harvest of 1917 was the best in our history. Potatoes were often in short-supply and sugar was often difficult to get. Whereas the weekly consumption of sugar was 1.49 lb in 1914, it fell to 0.93 lb in 1918. The consumption of butchers’ meat also dropped from an average of 2.36 to 1.53 lb a week during this period. At the end of 1917 people began to fear that the country was running out of food. Panic buying led to shortages and so in January 1918, the Ministry of Food decided to introduce rationing.

Essex Weekly News, 4 January 1918
page 4, col 5. Witham Urban District Council. Mr P Hutley, JP, CA, presided. Mr Perkins paid £130 for horse – authorised though some criticism. Mr Garrett said £60 enough. Chair and Mr Taber had authorised. Extravagant times. Agreed.
Sloppy paths. Captain Abrey said pavements on Christmas Day were ‘dirty and sloppy’. ‘The Surveyor said he had not noticed that the paths were more than ordinarily sloppy, except at places occupied by the military’. Council men not at work. Should residents keep their own clean? Not in bye laws but generally accepted. Surveyor said was in bye laws but never tried to enforce except by persuasion. ‘The ratepayers ask, “What do we pay rates for?” Matter dropped.
Mrs Russell, Church Street, Witham, notified that her husband Private William Russell, Royal Berks, is prisoner in Germany, in good health.

Essex Weekly News, 11 January 1918
page 5, col 2. Under National Day of Prayer. Witham. ‘Nearly 200 men of A Co 3/2nd Vol Batt Essex Regiment paraded in the High Street under Capt R Duke Hill’ et al. Also present, Major W W Boulton in command and Colonel P E Laurence. Headed by Bridge Industrial School Band. To St Nicholas Church. Party of Boy Scouts under Scoutmaster Duncombe. At church, joined by regular police under Supt Coppin and special constables under Supt Perkins, VAD nurses under Miss Pattisson (Commandant), 26 wounded soldiers under Sergt Jenkins, munition workers and representatives of W A Corps. Many of public couldn’t find room. Major Boulton read lesson and Rev J B Haslam did prayers. Band accompanied hymns. Vicar, Canon Galpin, gave address. ‘If the Lord be God, follow him’. Collection, shared between Red Cross and St John’s Ambulance.
At Congregational Church on Sunday evening Reverend J Gilbert Rees, pastor, delivered ‘an impressive address’, ‘Thanksgiving, ministration and consecration’.
page 6, col 7. Specials. Captain Ffinch [sic] visited the Police Station and inspected the Special Constables under Supt W Perkins.
The late Mrs Fleuty. Funeral of Mrs R Fleuty, wife of Mr R Fleuty, retired wheelwright of Braintree Road. … Floral tributes included one from girls at Munition Board[?].

Witham Gas Co., 15 January 1918 (D/F 27/7/1)
Manager’s report ‘satisfactory in every way.’
‘The Manager reported that the Horse died on 10th inst and he had hired a Horse from the Witham Cartage Coy at £1 a week. He had sold dead Horse for £2 5s’
A permit had been got to purchase another. Agreed a sub-committee to buy it, in mean time hire one from Witham Cartage. ‘Any new Horse purchased should be insured’.

Essex Weekly News, 25 January 1918
page 5, col 7. Awards include Military Cross to Lieutenant Leslie Smith, Yeomanry, eldest son of Mr E J Smith of Earlsmead – Palestine operations.
page 6, col 6. Pastor of Congregational Church, i.e. Rev J Gilbert Rees, appointed executive officer under Food Control Committee in place of Mr T Gallop ‘who at his time of life found the work too heavy’.
Lieutenant L E W Smith, Lincs Yeomanry, awarded MC, is son of Mr J Ernest Smith, Earlsmead.
Prisoners of War. From Witham the Middlesex Regiment raised £40 for fund by entertainments. Matinee at Constitutional Club, evening in Congregational Schoolroom, packed. Captain S Abrey the local secretary to the Prisoner of War Fund. Canon Galpin. Both thanked by Major Hast and Battalion.
Mr Peter Tyrell of Chipping Hill, funeral. … Mourners: Miss K Tyrell and Mrs Dyke, daughters; Miss M Tyrell and Mrs H Shelley, sisters; … Mr and Mrs Tyrell recently lost second son in France. Eldest at present in Salonika.

UDC 28 January 1918
page 429. Discussion in general that the roads needed improving. Included letter from ‘Mr C W Parker of Faulkbourne Hall complaining of the bad condition of the Road from Powers Hall End past Highfields Farm which was almost impossible to cyclists to travel over’. Problem about getting material and labour. Surveyor to try and get ‘300 tons of material from some source’.
page 431. Letter from Essex War Agricultural Committee re ‘cultivation of as much land as possible in allotments’. No action necessary.
Communication from ‘East Anglian Institute of Agriculture’ re obtaining sittings of eggs of pure breed of poultry. Put it on ‘Council Board’.
Letter from French Red Cross (British Committee) re arranging ‘France’ Red Cross day. ‘Ask some Witham Ladies to try and fix a date’.

Essex Weekly News, 1 February 1918
page 1, col 2. ‘Owing to both partners being on active service, Richardson and Wakelin of Witham, Essex, will dispose of their business, consisting of traction threshing tackle, Fowlers[?] compound ploughing sets etc.’
page 4, col 3. Witham Urban District Council meeting. Road. Mr W Pinkham wrote re dangerous condition of the roads, ‘a scandal’. Chairman agreed. Mr Smith chair of Roads Committee, said difficulties re men and materials. Agreed to purchase 300 tons of granite.
Allotments. Captain Abrey proposed Council should use land purchased for cemetery, for allotments. Cemetery not required for years. Mr Garrett seconded. Chairman said notice required.
page 5, col 5. Military medals include Pte C Bolton, Witham.

Essex Weekly News, 8 February 1918
page 6, col 1. Accident. Private F Whiting, son of Mrs Whiting, Freelands House, Witham, home on 14 days leave. Gun which he’d used for rabbiting previous day, blew part of his hand away.

Witham Gas Co., 15 February 1918 (D/F 27/7/1)
Mr Partridge of Broomfield was to submit a horse for approval.

20 Feb 1918. Log book of Boys National School (ERO E/ML 73/2)
Help from headmaster, on leave again.

Essex Weekly News, 22 February 1918
page 3, col 2. Advert. ‘Bakers – Wanted, Youth or Discharged soldier, to serve bread round with horse and cart – W Ardley, Baker, Witham’.
page 6, col 1. ‘In the House of Commons on Wednesday Sir Fortescue Flannery called attention to the case of Mr Philip Hutley of Witham, part of whose farm was taken over by the Government in November 1914 to build a rifle range, and also to his farm at Goldhanger where it was alleged 40 trees were cut down by the military … Mr Macpherson replying for the War Office said; part of Mr Philip Hutley’s farm at Witham had been occupied … rifle range, and a representative of the War Office met Mr Hutley on the farm on November 28 last, and agreed the amount of compensation … settlement delayed owing to Mr Hutley’s landlord failing to concur …’ Goldhanger farm since taken over by Admiralty and discussions to be held with Mr Hutley.

UDC 25 February 1918
page 435. Dr E B Smith recently ‘returned from Foreign Service for a period’ came to the meeting. General discussion. Agreed ‘how glad the Council were to see him with them again and hoped that his time with them might be for more than the six months period of leave given to him’.
page 437. Re letter from National War Savings Committee ‘as to “Business Mens week” campaign, leave to Mr Pinkham to see Mrs Peecock, Secretary of War Savings Committee at Witham.
pages 437-38. Discussion how best to cultivate cemetery field, e.g. allotments. Decided to ask ‘Messrs Crittall if they would let their field in Braintree Road to the Council for purposes of allotments for duration of the war’.
Library. Disposing of ‘old and useless books for waste paper.’ Mr Garrett said ‘the Books had recently been overhauled and he did not think there were any such books’. Discussion. Mr Garrett empowered to dispose of ‘any such’.
page 439. ‘Read letter from P E Laurence esq. as to working of public baths at Witham during 1917.’ [no details]

Essex Weekly News, 1 March 1918
page 1, col 1. Death of Chelmsford man killed by ‘bomb dropped from a German aeroplane in London’.
page 2, col 2. The Avenue, Witham. Sale of engines etc. of Richardson and Wakelin. Both on military duties.
page 5, col 5. Witham Urban District Council Meeting, Mr P Hutley in chair. Contractors couldn’t get trucks for granite.
War Investments. Mr Pinkham proposed and Council approved purchase of savings certificates (500) and bonds.
Mr W G Naylor, Deputy Clerk, resigned because of increased work with national register.

6 March 1918. Minutes of Administration of Police Sub-Committee of Essex County Council
Supervision of Aliens and Suspected Persons
Letter, dated 2 March 1918, from the Chief Constable submitting a letter from the Secretary of State, dated 28th February 1918 (No.357291) expressing the appreciation of the good work done by members of the Police Force in connection with the numerous enquiries and reports as to aliens and suspected persons, which have been of the greatest assistance to him in carrying out the duties of his Department, and particularly mentioning the following officers:- Sergt. Herbert John Rolfe, Supt H Mules, Supt George William Page, Supt Alfred C Cowell, Insp Charles Arthur Harwood.

Witham Gas Co., 7 March 1918 (D/F 27/7/1)
Horse had been purchased after trial and examination by a vet, at £150, and insured for £100.

Essex Weekly News, 8 March 1918
page 5. ‘Essex District Wages Committee. Agricultural Wages Board’. District Wages Committee for Essex as follows – including five appointed members and eight employers representatives and nine employees. Latter included J Messent, Elm Hall, Witham, and George Dallas, 32 Charing Cross, SW1.

21st March, 1918
Start of German Spring Offensive

Essex Weekly News, 22 March 1918
page 6, col 6. Sudden death. Mrs Mortimer died at Stradavon, Avenue Road, in 65th year. Wife of Mr Henry Mortimer ‘for many years in a confidential position with the late Mr W B Blood, solicitor’. Two sons in Essex regiment.

UDC 25 March 1918
page 440. Chairman recommended increasing workmen’s wages. Increase 2s a week, carried unanimously.
pages 441-42. No luck with getting Deputy Clerk. Letter from Clerk hoping for appointment to be kept open when return to civilian life but would resign if necessary. Agreed to accept and advertise for new one.
page 445. ‘Read letter from Mr W Gardner of 12th inst. as to 7 acres of land of the Crittall Manufacturing Company Limited which was available for allotments.’ Ask press to record facts in their reports.
pages 445-46. Local Government Board letters, ‘re execution of works after the War, re Housing of the Working Classes, and re national Salvage Council. No action at present.

UDC 29 April 1918, Annual Meeting
page 451. Only one application for clerkship i.e. Mr F H Bright of Maldon. Accept. Capt Abrey expressed ‘regret that the Clerkship had gone out of the town’. Deputy Clerk to make arrangements. Thank Mr Naylor for work as Deputy and regret he couldn’t carry on.
page 452. Allotments. Interview with Mr Jacques Inspector of allotments from Food Production Department, Whitehall, and ‘inspection of Pans Have field. Mr Gardner (agent for Messrs Crittall, the owners) also attended and stated that Messrs Crittall had received permission of the Government to commence building on the field at any time and he had received instructions to provide storage in the neighbourhood for the machinery etc which was ready. Also that arrangements had been made with the Great Eastern Railway Company to construct a Railway Siding’. Agreed to explain to Mr J that Council willing to hire but would have to be short notice.

UDC 27 May 1918
page 2 Letter from Food Production Department enclosing a copy of a letter from Mr Crittall and urging Council to acquire field under Cultivation of Lands Order 1917 no 2. Unanimous that the Council should acquire under the Order that part of the field that is uncultivated.
Letter from Essex War Agricultural Committee read, asking ‘if any of the Council’s Workmen will be available for voluntary work on the land’. Reply that all fully engaged.
page 3 Seats for wounded soldiers. Mr J A Beadel applied for permission to put two seats for accommodation of Wounded Soldiers in front of Congregational Church. Yes and thank you.
Food Control. Letter from Lord Rhondda re institution of National Kitchen. Refer to Local Food Control Committee.
Welcome Mr F H Bright, new Clerk to Council.

UDC 24 June 1918
page 5. Endorse payment of £100 as advance to Local Food Control Committee.
Re land at Payns Haven. Letter from Crittalls saying that ‘in the event of any portion of the land at Payns Haven being required for the extension of Munition works, such portion as is required must be released to the Company, they paying compensation to the tenants for loss of crops’. Agreed.

UDC 16 July 1918
page 6 Household Fuel and Lighting Order 1918. Considerable discussion. Don’t unite with another Local Authority. Advertise for Local Fuel Overseer, also to be secretary of Fuel and Lighting Committee. Also appoint the following onto the Fuel and Lighting Co to supervise and assist the overseer:
E C Quick, Maldon road, Schoolmaster
Mrs Thompson, Guithavon Street, Witham, Schoolmistress
E Smith, Braintree Road, Signalman
Councillors Pinkham, Taber, and Hutley. The latter to be chair.
Flag Day. Letter from Admiral Berisford, asking sanction for holding Flag Day for funds of Society for Wounded Soldiers and Sailors in Hospitals etc at Home and Abroad. OK.
Condolences to Mr J E Smith on death of his son Allan killed on active service in France.

UDC full Council, 29 July 1918 or is it all 20 August?
page 7. Secretary for Fund for Wounded Soldiers and Sailors says thanks and is there anyone they could approach to assist. Mr Afford will do, and also lend shop for day, but cant organise. Tell Secretary and refer him to Mrs Brandt with view to her forming a Committee to organise.
page 8. Household Fuel and Lighting Order. No reply from Mr Quick. Captain Abrey to be on Committee. Applications from Mr E C Quick, and from Mr W P Perkins if the salary is increased. Leave to Committee.
Letter from Local Government Board ‘as to the collection of Fruit Stones etc’. Give it to Mr B C Afford, secretary of Witham Food Production Committee, who had matter in hand.
Food Controller has decided to extend term of office of Local Food Control Committee.

UDC, full Council, 20 August 1918, page 11
Gift of seats. Mr W Pinkham on behalf of his son Mr B Pinkham, offered to give two seats ‘to be placed in suitable positions in the Town for the use of Wounded Soldiers and the public. The offer was gratefully accepted’.

21st August, 1918
Allied breakthrough at Albert

UDC full Council, Special meeting, 30 August 1918
Mr Pinkham submitted return of material estimated to be needed during the two years following the War. Return to the Minister of Reconstruction [no details]
page 15. Letter from Ministry of Food re saving fuel by cooking food in National Kitchens. No action.

5th October, 1918
Allied forces capture the Hindenburg Line

22 October 1918 (ERO L/P 3/80, Lieutenancy correspondence)
Letter from Lieut [???] Munday for Lieut Colonel, D A A G, Competent Military Authority, No 9 (Essex and Herts) Area 4 King Edwards Avenue, Chelmsford. To the Secretary of the Essex Central Organising Committee’. ‘Sir, The Military Authorities have now requested that the civilian labour available on Emergency should be collected at Witham, and they ask that 200 men should be collected there. Will you kindly say if this number could be made available, or if not, what number could be collected at Witham’.
From Clerk to Dr Salter (head of Witham Division Emergency Committee). Enclose copy of letter from Col Barclay [i.e. the above]. ‘Please let me hear as soon as possible whether the 200 men could be collected at Witham. If your Division cannot provide the required number you may perhaps be able to arrange with neighbouring Local Committees for them to assist’. For reply see 1 November.

1 November 1918 (ERO L/P 3/80, Lieutenancy correspondence)
Reply to 22 October 1918. From Dr Salter (head of Witham Division Emergency Committee) to Goold, the clerk of the Lieutenancy. ‘I would like you to know that no relaxation has taken place in my … district with regard to this – but I fear it will not be possible to supply 200 men for labour at Witham as desired … There is no labour to spare in the villages round, and very few indeed in the Towns within my area’.

9th November, 1918
Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany abdicates

11th November, 1918

Essex County Chronicle, 15 November 1918
page 5. [celebrating the Armistice] ‘Witham. At Witham the streets were quickly decked with flags and the church bells rang. A procession, composed of work girls from a munition shop and kilted soldiers quartered in the town, paraded the streets, carrying a large Union Jack and singing joyfully’. Church services in the evening. ‘At ten o’clock on Monday night a great bonfire was lit in the old Market Place in the middle of Witham High Street. Tar barrels, with a quantity of tar, boxes, timber and other fuel were provided, and a great flare was created, reaching as high as the tops o houses adjoining the street. A crowd of many hundred people, soldiers, sailors, munition girls, and townspeople, assembled round the fire, dancing, singing patriotic songs, and generally enjoying themselves. the fire, which lasted four hours, was the greatest seen for many years in Witham Street, where on previous historic occasions such fires were lighted’.

UDC full Council, 25 November 1918
page 19. Question of cultivating the field at Paynes Haven considered. In order to avoid unnecessary labour and expense which would ultimately fall on Messrs Crittall, write and ask them how soon they contemplate building operations.
page 21. Peace. Mr Pinkham called attention of Council to fact that ‘Peace might be declared in the near future’. Desirable to prepare for ‘proper celebration’. Moved that should form into Committee to consider. Agreed.

10 Dec 1918. Log book of Boys National School (ERO E/ML 73/2)
Report by H M Inspectors. ‘The Boys Department with 132 on the books, was being carried on by 4 married women teachers, all of them with husbands in the Army. The boys are no means easy to manage, but the Acting Head Mistress, wife of the Head Master, is a strong disciplinarian’.[i.e Mrs Thompson].

14th December, 1918
Lloyd George wins British General Election

12th January, 1919
Paris Peace Conference

16 Jan 1919. Log book of Boys National School (ERO E/ML 73/2)
‘After nearly two years service in his majesty’s forces I resume duties as Headmaster. A G Thompson’.

Essex Weekly News, 14 February 1919, page 6
Volunteers’ dinner. By invitation of Hon Lt Col P E Laurence, the ‘Witham Detachment of the 7th V B Essex Regiment. Called on Major W W Boulton to propose ‘The Witham Detachment’. When WWB had found the Volunteers not to be mobilised, he resigned and joined the Horse Guards. WWB said that under Lieutenant W Taber’s command, ‘the Witham platoon had been brought up to one of the best’. Men joined when great danger of invasion, and would look back with pride. Lieut E Pelly responded and said ‘they had done their part to assist their country in the time of danger’. ‘Co. Sergt Major Stiff on behalf of the Witham detachment presented Lieut W Taber with a pair of photographic enlargements, one of the platoon and the other of the NCOs’. Photos inscribed that presented to him on behalf of detachment Feb 1919. WT thanked Co Sergt Major Stiff, Co QMS Hayward, Sergeants Hines and Rudkin, and Corporals Randall and Brewster. ‘Lieut E R Green proposed “The Adjutant and Assistant Adjutant”, and both Capt B Green and Lieut A M Bradhurst replied’. Songs sung etc.

Essex County Chronicle, 28 February 1919
Death of Com Herbert Luard, RN, son of late Admiral Sir William Luard of Witham. Aged 43[?]. ‘During the war Commander Luard was engaged upon technical naval work ashore at Plymouth. He took part in the Boxer rebellion, and won promotion and a medal for his work when employed in the relief of Tientsin, bringing in the present Admiral Beatty, who was wounded on the field’. Married ten years ago at Witham Miss Bessie Ingles, daughter of Canon Ingles. Widow and two sons. Body rested at Ivy Chimneys, funeral at All Saints. Wheeled on hand bier from Ivy Chimneys, Union Jack, floral tribute and laurel cross. ‘The only military display was given by the wounded soldiers of the Witham VAD Hospital, who lined[?] the churchyard path as the cortege passed, and stood at the salute’. Officiating clergy Canon Galpin, Canon Ingles, father in law, and Rev BP[?] Luard rector at Birch, cousin. Mourners, widow, Mrs Luard, and her two little boys, Masters David and Alexander Luard, Major W Du Cane Luard, brother, Mrs C B[?or H] Bond, the Misses Henrietta, Edith, Lilian and Gertrude Luard, sisters, Miss C G Luard Cousin, Lieut. Col J B Luard, cousin, Mr W E L Pattisson, Miss Pattisson, cousins, Misses V F and R Fowler, Mr J Ducane Wilkinson, the Misses Marion, Dorothy and Marjorie Ingles, sisters in law, and Mrs Claydon, the deceased officer’s old nurse’. Et al. [can’t read more on xerox]

Essex County Chronicle, 7 March 1919, page 6
‘Margarine free again. On and from March 3rd we can supply anyone with any quantity for cash at 9½ d per lb. Note our price. Edward A Francis, Grocer, Witham. Ad.’

Essex Weekly News, 14 March 1919, page 6
‘Mr A G Crayfourd, Maldon Road … begs to announce that he has now returned from France demobilised, and is free to undertake the Tuning and Repair of Pianofortes as formerly. Tuning of the highest class. Chelmsford, Braintree, Kelvedon, Tiptree, Maldon and Coggeshall visited weekly’.

Essex Weekly News, 4 April 1919, page 2
Witham Petty Sessions. ‘Mrs Jane A Hammond, Sewage Farm, Witham, was summoned for assaulting Mrs Sarah E Hammond, Maldon Road. Complainant said defendant smacked her face when she went to see her husband who was working at the Sewage Farm. Defendant’s children had previously insulted her. Defendant was her husband’s brother’s wife. In reply to Mr H F Bawtree, who defended, complainant admitted telling defendant’s boy to go home and tell his mother to keep away from the soldiers. Defendant, on oath, said her little boy, aged 11, came running home, and in consequence of what he told her she called her husband and his brother, and told them what she had heard reflecting on her character, and also on the character of her daughter. Other witnesses gave evidence. The Chairman said it was a disgraceful case, and if there was any assault, which the Bench doubted, it was brought about by complainant’s own conduct. The case would be dismissed, complainant to pay the costs.’

28th June, 1919
Treaty of Versailles signed

Essex Weekly News, 4 July 1919
UD Council declined offer of War Trophies – War Office had been asked by the Lord Lieutenant of Essex to offer to Witham a damaged German machine gun if the Council paid the carriage. Declined. Chairman Mr Hutley said ‘We don’t want anything German here’.

Essex Weekly News, 4 July 1919
UDC meeting, 30 June. Problem of who to pay for peace celebrations. Some places ex-servicemen would not partake. Eg Chelmsford where the man said ‘they are fed up with marching’.

Essex Weekly News, 4 July 1919, page 2
UDC meeting, 30 June. ‘The Baths. Mr P E Laurence wrote offering the Council the public baths at Witham at a valuation; and Mr C Haskins, hon secretary to the baths, supplied statistics showing that they had been mostly used by soldiers. Mr S Richardson remarked that the baths could not pay, and the Chairman said if the Council took them over they would have to pay for the water used. The Council decided that the Council could not undertake the baths at present in view of other commitments, and resolved to ask the present Committee to carry on for three months further to see if civilians used the baths’. [Probably baths for having baths in, rather than swimming]

Essex Weekly News, 4 July 1919, page 2
UDC meeting, 30 June. ‘War Trophies declined. The War Office Trophies Department wrote that it was asked by the Lord-Lieutenant of Essex to offer to Witham a damaged German machine gun, ammunition box, etc., the Council to pay the carriage on same. The Chairman [Philip Hutley]: We don’t want anything German here. Mr W Pinkham: I want to forget everything German. It was unanimously decided to decline the trophies. Mr W Taber said they wanted a big German gun for Witham.’ [?]

Essex Weekly News, 11 July 1919, page 8
Decided to do Peace Celebrations on July 19. Subscription proposed rather than rates. Various suggestions put forward. Dr Knight wanted to give money to soldiers instead.

Essex Weekly News, 11 July 1919, page 8
Comrades of the Great War, meet on Wednesdays 7.30 to 9.30mp at YMCA Hut. Hope to form Social Club.

Essex County Chronicle, 25 July 1919
page 5. Peace festivities.
Long report of Witham celebration. ‘The chief item in the celebration at Witham was a public dinner to 125[?] discharged soldiers belonging to Witham, Rivenhall and Little Braxted. The dinner was served in marquees erected on the Recreation Ground. The Comrades of the Great War and the Discharged Soldiers Association each officially accepted the invitation.’ Public subscription exceeded £400 including £120 from Hon C H Strutt, members of UDC, rector of Lt Braxted and curate of Rivenhall. The company totalled [???]. Speech and toast from Strutt to ‘His Majesty’s Forces’. Gallant fallen. ‘More men incapacitated in England than our whole Army numbered at the beginning of the war’ Don’t forget wounded. Some not back yet, not released. Some had ‘no inclination to be soldiers’.  Must work to build country now. Officers and men worked well in field, hope they still will. Major Gerald Bright, MC, replied. Mr G H Darby also replied and ‘pleaded for the disabled men’. Mr W Pinkham, chairman of ‘Peace Celebration Committee’ toasted ‘Our Guests’, Messrs D E Chambers and Stubbings replied. Mr E Pelly JP proposed and Mr H B Peecock supported ‘Our Empire’. Mr R S Brown propose ‘Our Committee’. Thanks for the meal. Rev C Reed replied for Entertainment Committee, thanks for subs and to Mr Pinkham chair and Mr Bright Sec. Mr Laurence not there because not well. Cheers, National Anthem.
‘The children of Witham were given a jolly day. They marched in procession, headed by the town band, to the Park, where sports were held, and afterwards they had tea, There were also races for the discharged soldiers. Dancing in evening. At close Dr C F Knight, JP, on behalf of committee, proposed thanks to Mr W G Naylor the bandmaster. The celebrations terminated, according to Witham precedent for public rejoicings by a bonfire in the middle of High Street, opposite the town clock.
Poor people had dinners ‘by the kindness of Mrs Reece, and “Peace” cakes, tea and sugar were also given to the needy by Miss Gertrude Howard and Dr C F Knight’.
Prominent decorations, especially Bridge Home, MAB [Metropolitan Asylums Board], brilliantly illuminated with Victory and Peace.
Two cases at ambulance tent on field in charge of Nurse Kentfield and Miss Vaux.
Results. Races for children (names given).
Demobilised soldiers: 100 yards handicap: 1 R Stoneham, 2 F T Chivers, 3 E[?] Bickmore. 100 yards, men over 40: 1 J Potter, 2 Ed Pearce, 3 Bob Ling. 220 yards handicap: 1 J Mawdsley, 2 Thos Poulter, 3 B Behn. Potato race: A Bickmore. Boot race: S French. Blindfold race: R Griffiths and Miss B Cutmore. Obstacle race: 1 A Bickmore, 2 J Mawdsley, 3 W Wright. Tug of War: Rivenhall.
Civilians races, names including men over 50 L C Feakes. Ladies with open umbrellas. Band race, 100 yards playing instruments.
Miss A Pattisson distributed prizes. Chairman of Sports Committee Mr Frank Moore, hon sec Mr Fred Hayward.
page 5. ‘The Witham Bonfire. There were some exciting scenes connected with the lighting of a bonfire in Witham High Street on Saturday night at the conclusion of the Peace Day celebrations. For several generations Witham was noted for its High Street bonfires on Guy Fawkes’ nights, and some wild scenes were enacted there, as many as a hundred police being drafted into the town to stop the fires. But gradually the display wore down, and for nearly a dozen years one had not been known in the street, and then it would be a moderate affair to mark some national rejoicings. At the armistice, however, the old Witham spirit rose suddenly from the ashes, and much to the surprise of the police a great fire was lit in the middle of High Street, flaming barrels of tar being rolled about “according to precedent”. It was concluded that another attempt would be made on peace night, and a strong posse of police was posted there to prevent it.
The supply of tar barrels had been stopped previously, and warning given that the authorities would not allow a fire in the street. At eleven o’clock, in heavy rain and falling darkness, a grim struggle began. The “young bloods” appeared carrying combustibles. Three times the fire was started opposite the clock, and three times the police stamped it out. Numbers then began to tell. The police were rushed from pillar to post by a couple of hundred men and women; a man who was supposed to be arrested was liberated; Supt Coppin, who was in charge, had his hat knocked off and his stick taken; besides which there were threats. While this was going on the fire was stacked and started and the flames reached the housetops. Seeing the impossibility of preventing it, the police took the incident good naturedly and let it go on. So fiercely did the flames rage that the telegraph wires above crackled and hummed to such a tune that it was feared they would collapse, but they stood the strain, and the fire burnt gaily till next breakfast-time. So this exhibition of “a bit of old Witham” concluded. It is a pity there was this disorder but now that the bonfire spirit has been rekindled, the Witham authorities would do well in future festivities to provide an official bonfire elsewhere than in the High Street to give vent to local feelings’.

Essex Weekly News, 25 July 1919, page 6
Peace celebrations described as earlier.

Essex Weekly News, 15 August 1919, page 8
Grace O Laurence and Cicely Pelly served on War Agricultural Committee at Chelmsford and both were presented with antique writing table and chair by Essex farmers, especially for ‘obtaining labour for the land’.

Essex Weekly News, 22 August 1919, page 8
‘Owing to the shortage of cottage accommodation thirty London children have been housed in the V A D hospital for their fortnight’s country holiday, under the management of Miss Pattisson, and with the generous help of friends, especially Mrs Gibbs, of Bridge School’.

29 August 1919
page 8. ‘Comrades Club. The Witham [???], Comrades of the Great War, have secured, on favourable terms, the YMCA Hut near the railway station for the headquarters of their Club, and will move into possession before the coming winter. The Hon Lt Col P E Laurence, JP, who provided the site for the YMCA Hut, has consented to the Comrades becoming the users of it, and he has himself joined the Comrades Club, which has now 120 members’. [The YMCA Hut was in Collingwood Road, opposite what is now the Labour Hall.]

UDC Waterworks Committee, 3 September 1919, page 5
Discussion re sewer to Mr Mens’ house in Maldon Road. Mr M to contribute. Resolved to find out if Government ‘would allocate German Prisoner labour for the excavations necessary’. Also to get contribution from Mr W Butler who also proposed to build there.

Essex Weekly News, 31 October 1919, page 8
‘Two copies of a roll of honour containing the names of 14 members of the Witham post office staff who served in the war were unveiled on Sunday by Miss Wilkin and Miss Griggs, one in the public office and the other in the sorting room’. All staff and postmen present. Speeches. One member, Stephen Tyrell, was killed in France.

Essex Weekly News, 12 December 1919, page 4
Witham Comrades’ Hut opened. Local branch of Comrades of Great War, had acquired the YMCA hut. Subscribers and friends to a social in the hut. It has been improved and divided into two rooms, one for reading and one for games and refreshments.

Essex County Chronicle, 14 May 1920
page 7. Advert. £9 Battlefield Tour. Including travelling and hotel accommodation. Motor Tour Bruges, Ypres, Passchendale etc. Also tours to Italy and Switzerland. Booklet from Secretary, Touring Guild, 88 Memorial Hall, Farringdon Street, London EC4.

Braintree and Witham Times, 26 September, 1930
D Adams of Cressing Road dug up an anti-aircraft projectile in back garden. Authorities say decayed so harmless.

Essex Weekly News, 26 June 1936, page 5
‘5th Battalion Essex Regiment. Re-Union of Comrades at Witham’. Annual event. Took place at Witham. Nearly 250 members assembled near railway station and marched to All Saints church, via war memorial. Lot of branches. Service at AS Ch. Details of sermon.  400 people had tea in Public Hall. AGM afterwards. Major F Gerald Bright, MC, chairman of Witham branch. In evening a display in Avenue Road by drums of Battalion. Lots of public. Mr V Beardwell hon sec of Witham branch.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *