First World War. 05. Soldiers billeted in Witham

First World War.
05. Soldiers billeted in Witham
For a list of other chapters about WW1, click here.

General. Camps and billeting
(from schoolnet web site)
After men joined the army they were sent to local army camps to be turned into soldiers. As experienced officers were needed in France to organise the war against the Germans, elderly people were bought out of retirement to train the men. These men were often over the age of sixty. One sixty five year old officer died of a heart attack while on parade. Another gave out instructions while sitting in his bath-chair. An elderly cavalry officer weighed over 20 stone and the regiment had great difficulty finding a horse that could carry him. They also had to build a special loading platform so that the officer could get on his horse.

Most of the officers were recruited from universities and public schools. Sometimes men became officers without even an interview. George Gillet was offered a commission while playing cricket with a colonel. Gillet was told that any of his friends that he wanted to bring with him from Harrow could also have a commission.

Training camps rarely had enough huts for men. Most of the recruits had to sleep in tents. Conditions in these tents in winter were appalling and there were several examples of soldiers going on strike. Eventually it was decided to billet the men in local towns and villages. This also created serious problems. One soldier, Charles Cain, admitted later that the recruits sometimes took advantage of their hosts: “ten soldiers were billeted to one women who had three teenage daughters, and the mother and all the daughters finished up the family way.”

From talks by Ian Hook in March 2000 to Brain Valley Archaeological Society and in April 2001 to Witham History Group.
Billeting eg Essex and Norfolk
17 thousand troops to Essex to repel invasion and also to prepare to go abroad. Billeting officer would go round and survey and allocate soldiers. Allowance received. At first public worried about women etc. Soon made close ties. Soldiers often new. Large estates also used.

Tented camps and hutted camps.

Charities, eg YMCA to occupy them and get them to behave.

Extract from letter from T S Greatrex of Merlyn, Bells Chase Gt Baddow, 15 Dec 1963, as follows, to Witham Archaeological Research Group. Now part of ERO D/DU 1443/162.
About a photo he had: ‘The other one is of Witham High Street showing the Spread Eagle Hotel, which is said to be the only four-gabled Hotel in Essex, but I don’t know if that is correct. The telegraph messenger in the photo is myself and the soldier one of the 7th Royal Warwickshire Regt who were stationed at Witham at that time. The building further on right being the HQ of the 1st/7th Warwicks and 2/9th Royal Scots and the Royal engineers. At the same time Whitehall was the headquarters of the 195th Infantry Brigade this building was very delapidated and became even worse in the years that followed. It had in earlier years been a private boarding school.’

Extract from Mrs Peecock’s writings (ERO T/P 133/1)
‘Mention must be made of the part played by Witham in the Great War. Almost from the first week soldiers were billeted in the town, both in private houses and ‘lying rough’, in large empty mansions. To provide for all these men was an undertaking, but the townsfolk rose nobly to the occasion and three canteens and two reading rooms were opened, and run by relays of voluntary workers. It is safe to say that never before or since has Witham been so united in spirit and endeavour. The petty jealousies and rivalries which are apt to mar life in a small country town were forgotten, and high and low, rich and poor, worked together with no thought of class or creed. Mr Afford’s shop was the great meeting place. Informal committee meetings, plans for concerts and entertainments, were all thought out in that small, rather dark stationers shop’

Extract from letter from Regimental Area Secretary (Warwickshire), Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, 17 January 2001
‘When the war broke out in early August 1914, the Regiment consisted of two regular battalions (1st and 2nd) and four Territorial Army battalions (5th, 6th, 7th and 8th). The four TA battalions each split into three separate ones and renamed (eg 1/7th, 2/7th and 3/7th) with the 3rd battalion in each one remaining in the UK as a training and reserve battalion.

[of the first group of Territorial Army battalions, the 1/5th, 1/6th. 1/7th and 1/8th moved to the Chelmsford area for training during August 1914, and sailed for France on 22 March 1915, where they formed 143 Brigade. The second group of Territorial Army battalions, the 2/5th, 2/6th, 2/7th and 2/8th moved to the Chelmsford area in March 1915 and remained there until March 1916 when they moved to Salisbury Plain. As the carving in your photograph [of Chipping Hill bridge] is dated 1/6/15 it would have been carved by men in this later formation, which became 182 Brigade and sailed to France on 21 May 1916’.

Email from Kings Own Scottish Borderers, 6 Jan 2004
From: “RHQ KOSB” <>
Subject: Re: World War I
To: Janet Gyford
I have looked through our photographic collection; there are very few photographs of 2/5 KOSB, and none that can be identified as having been taken while the Battalion was based in Witham. I still have a large number of framed photographs that need to be identified and catalogued; if I come across any from Witham, I will let you know.
Yours sincerely, Ian Martin Regimental Museum

Two letters from Richard Goring, 27 Park Street, Westcliff on Sea, Essex, SS0 7PA

Letter 1 re Warwickshire Regiment
In response to letter asking about Privates FV Edwards and P Baylis, Range Wardens with 7th Warwickshire Regt who carved their names on Chipping Hill Bridge in 1815 (photo M828)

Thank you for your letter and the cheque. You certainly set me an interesting query or two, but I think I may have something to offer.

The Royal Warwickshire Regiment was indeed an infantry regiment. In the early years of this century, virtually all such regiments had two battalions, each of around 1,000 men. The 1st Battalion was usually in some far flung part of the Empire, while the 2nd remained on home ground, usually in the regimental depot (eg, Essex Regiment ‘home’ was Warley, near Brentwood). This battalion recruited and trained men and supplied refreshment drafts of men to the 1st.

There was usually a 3rd and sometimes 4th Battalion, which were reservists, some of them ‘old sweats’ and others who worked full-time but trained regularly with their battalion. There was also a Territorial Force, which was quickly mobilised (as were the reservists) when war broke out and which became further battalions of the various regiments, usually numbered from 5th upwards. Initially, the Territorials were created for home defence, but many volunteered for active overseas service, so you find them in the thick of battle from early 1915 onwards.

As more and more men joined up, more and more battalions were created, but the organisation structure to run them could not keep pace, so several might end up nominally under the same ‘management’ and these were then numbered lst/5th, 2nd/5th, etc., meaning that they were the first, second, third or whatever line battalion of the 5th (or whatever). In practise, the lst/5th often continued to call itself just 5th (or at any rate its personnel did).

I’ve spelled all this out because there were, in fact, several such battalions of the Royal Warwicks in the Chelmsford area between 1914 and 1916, including the 1st/7th and 2nd/7th. The 1st/7th (often abbreviated to 1/7) was a Territorial Force battalion formed at Coventry and allocated, along with 1/5 and 1/8, to the Warwickshire Brigade, South Midlands Division, which was around Chelmsford from Aug 1914 (very soon after the war started) until March 1915. They all moved on from there and became 143rd Brigade, 48th Division and were in action in France later in the year. Also in March 1915, the 2/5, 2/6 and 2/7, as 2nd/1st Warwickshire Brigade, 2nd/1st South Midlands Division, arrived at Chelmsford and stayed until March 1916. They became 182nd Brigade, 61st Division, and also went to France.

I imagine your two carvers were from 1/7, if they only gave their unit as 7th Warwicks. And it does appear that one of them, Frank Victor EDWARDS, did not survive. As Private 21043 of 1/6 Warwicks, he was killed in action on 4 Feb 1917 and is buried at Assevillers, New British Cemetery, 10 km south-west of Peronne, in grave V.C.7. He was born in Warwick, where he enlisted. The apparent change of unit is not uncommon, especially as both 1/6 and 1/7 were part of the same division. He may have applied to transfer in order to be with pals, or may have been drafted to make up casualty losses, or wounded and absorbed into a different battalion upon return to duty. Of course, it is possible that there were two F V Edwards and ‘yours’ survived, but you would need to check the medal rolls at the PRO to verify that.

As for P Baylis, there is a Percy Baylis on the Arras Memorial to the Missing, but he was Sergeant A/1588 of the 9th Battalion, King’s Royal Rifle Corps, killed in action 9 Apr 1917. He was born in Stratford (upon Avon, I imagine), enlisted in Birmingham and lived at Studley (which I guess is a mis-recording of Studeley), Warwicks. It is possible he had transferred, but more likely just a coincidence of name. Again, the medal rolls should tell.

Lastly, the photograph (which I hope I may keep?). It is clearly First World War. The uniform style of the group at left indicates so, as do the ‘uniforms’ of the ladies at the rear. If any of the posters or the blackboard can be read on the original picture, that might yield further clues as to when and where. As there is at least one man in civilian clothes, it must surely be some sort of ‘comforts station’ in Britain. [probably YMCA hut, Collingwood Road] The Chap at foreground right seems to have a Scottish infantryman’s cap, as does one of those the other side of the stove, but I cannot pick out more than that. I will take the picture to the next local Western Front Association meeting and see if anyone there has anything to say.

Thanks again for the challenge. I hope you feet you’ve had your money’s worth.

Letter 2 re Scots Regiments
21 April 1999, in response to request for advice about photos of Scots soldiers in Witham in World War I including one with VAD collecting outside Afford’s shop (M828)

Thank you for your latest letter. You certainly do set some challenges!
When the Great War started, and for some time afterwards, there was an expectation that Germany might try to invade Britain, and the East Anglian coast was the most likely area. So large numbers of troops were brought into the region, along the coast itself and further inland, so that they could respond quickly. These units were by and large Territorials and Kitchener’s volunteers, so moving them from home ground also began the process of changing civilian habits into army discipline. While they were based in the area they underwent soldierly training, of course, and when they were at least trained in the basics they were conveniently placed for movement to the south coast, across the Channel and up to the Front.

Some units were housed in barracks, others in tented or hutted camps, and others in billets. My researches have revealed several Scottish regiments which had battalions in various parts of Essex at times, mostly 1916, but none specifically at Witham. Both the Royal Scots (the Lothian Regiment) and the Royal Scots Fusiliers were here, the former simply ‘in Essex’ and the latter with the 2/4th battalion at Chelmsford from Mar 1916 to Jan 1917. The size and shape of the cap badge worn by the soldiers in your two pictures appears similar to the Royal Scots, but is not like the Fusiliers. The Highland Light Infantry had two battalions at Maldon and Danbury over the same time period, and the badge also looks a little like theirs, but the HLI did not wear the kilt in World War I. Four battalions of the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) were at Billericay, then Terling, again during the same time period, but I do not think the men were from that regiment. The Kings Own Scottish Borderers were at Chelmsford from Feb 1916 to Jan 1917, and their cap badge was also of the same general size and shape, and two other Great War enthusiasts to whom I showed the pictures (and whose knowledge of uniforms and badges is certainly greater than mine) both immediately thought they were KOSB. One of them pointed out that the badge appears to be on a black (or other dark material) square attached to the cap and he thought that also supported the KOSB identification. Unfortunately, the laser photocopies are not sharp enough for the badge detail to be seen, nor the badge on the left arm of the short-stature bandsman in the Red Cross picture to be identified.

The picture seem to have been taken at some kind of event, perhaps a parade associated with Red Cross Week. Did Witham have its own newspaper during the war? And, if so, do copies survive. It could be worth while looking through copies, or perhaps the Essex Chronicle, copies of which for the war years are at both Chelmsford Library and the ERO. Censorship was not as great during World War I and newspapers did sometimes mention locally-based units. You might come across the ‘original’ of your picture and find it has a useful caption. At least it will pin down the date. A quick look through the Witham PRs for marriages might also indicate which units were based nearby, as there always seem to have been a few marriages and the man’s unit is invariably given.
Anyway, The battalion concerned was the 2/5th (Dumfries & Galloway) Battalion, Territorial Force, which formed at Dumfries in Sep 1914. It was home based, mostly in parts of Scotland, and in late 1915 along with the 2/4th it formed No.14 Battalion in 194th Brigade. But in Jan 1916 it absorbed the 2/4th and then resumed its identity as 2/5th Battalion before moving to Chelmsford in Feb 1916. In Jan 1917 it went to Ireland and remained there until disbanded in May 1918.

By definition, the Territorial Army was a home-soil army, raised to defend the British Isles. Members were not required to serve overseas but could volunteer to do so, which very many did. Whether the 2/5th opted to stay at home (all Ireland was then, of course, part of Britain) I do not know. And when I say that a unit was ‘at Chelmsford’, that means the area and not just the town, so 2/5 KOSB, if it is they, may have been billeted in or camped close by Witham (the same source which identified the Warwickshire men spoke of ‘Chelmsford area’ not ‘Witham).
I am happy to accept £1 a name from what might be termed casual enquirers upon the Soldiers Died… database, but don’t charge for minor research, general enquiries and information, etc., so return your cheque herewith. If you resolve the mysteries of these photos (by the way, one of my friends straightaway said the ‘canteen’ looked to be a fairly standard YMCA facility, of which numbers were put up all over Britain – and I also read ‘Roll Up’ at the bottom of the blackboard, suggesting an invite to some entertainments) I’ll be delighted to hear.

End of Richard Goring’s two letters

Territorials etc.
Email 30 December 2004 from Ian Hook about photos M2190 and M2191, soldiers of 2nd/7th Warwicks passing Freebornes, High House and Red Lion (also relevant to M452 and M1897-M1899 of the same occasion)

They really are a lovely detailed set of troops in “Field Service Marching Order” or FSMO as it was known. I think the only comment I can make is that I think that the timing is probably early in the Witham tour of the 2/7th evidenced by M2190.
The soldier 2 from L has an Imperial Service badge on is chest. This was a white metal badge worn above the pocket consisting of a crown over a tablet inscribed “Imperial Service”. These were worn by Territorial soldiers who, voluntarily, had agreed to take on the extra Imperial Service obligation, that is to serve anywhere in the Empire if the King required it. The standard terms and conditions for the Territorial Force (TF) from 1908 were for Home Service only, for the Defence of the UK, but, from 1911, the extra obligation was offered. Soldiers who took this up and signed form E.624 got their badge and considered themselves a cut above the rest.

Until 03/1915 recruits for the TF were able to enlist for Home Service rather as this was possibly an attractive option for new recruits to avoid the usual white feathers etc..

Under the Military Service Act 16/01/1916 which, inter alia, introduced conscription.
1. All TF soldiers under 41 had until 02/03/1916 to take Imperial Service obligation or:
Officers: Be forced to resign
Men: Be discharged and therefore made liable to conscription.
2. Eliminated pre-war TF soldiers right to discharge at end of engagement.
Four year term extended by one year in war. Option of taking 1 month furlough and bounty on re-engagement for another 4 years or duration.
It was theoretically illegal to transfer Territorial soldiers or amalgamate or disband units. This was a nonsense in an increasingly conscript Army where men were conscripted by age and later occupation cohorts (that is men who could be spared or were “combed out” from industry).

I suspect I have given you too much detail, but to cut a long story short the once proud bearers of the Imperial Service badge threw them away as a nonsense once conscription was a reality from early 1916 and circumstances demanded there could only be one class of soldier.

Judging by the trees I suspect it is spring 1915 rather then winter 1916!

The soldiers also have the 1908 Web Equipment and it might be possible to establish when the 2nd Line Warwicks got theirs from their War Diaries. The Essex Territorials (Witham men amongst them!) got the 1914 leather equipment prior to leaving for Gallipoli in July 1915 and did not get webbing until they reached Egypt in 1916.

The officers still have the old Sam Browne equipment which most discarded on being warned for overseas.
Were it not for the fact that I have had a disappointing experience with the R.Warwicks Museum I would suggest you might send them copies! I sent them a lovely 1920’s photo of “The Antelope Lodge”, clearly a Regimental Institution as it had 25 Warwicks and 2 Essex men on it, but they returned it with a compliments slip saying they had no evidence of it being a Regimental connection. The 6th Foot and Royal Warwicks wore an antelope as their badge from at least 1742!

End of email from Ian Hook about Territorials

Chronological account from newspapers etc

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.

August 1914 to March 1915
South Midland Division were in Essex. Including 7th Battalion Royal Warwicks, in Witham, and Gloucesters et al., engineers and medics etc. (information from Ian Hook)

UDC 21 September 1914, extraordinary meeting
Letter from County Council Medical Officer of Health, suggesting applying to Local Government Board for permission to make measles and chicken pox notifiable, ‘in view of the possibility of Troops being billeted in the District’. Agreed.

16 Oct 1914. Log book of Chipping Hill Infants (ERO T/P 378/1)
‘Capt Abrey visited school found all the children looking well in fact quite surprised to see them, put it down to the troops’.

Re October 1914, written between March and June 1915 and reproduced below at that date too, didn’t note exact date, page 544, D/UWi 1/4/2 Urban District Council Letter Book
‘Sir, Witham Rates, Referring to your letter of the 3rd inst, the following is the information your require.

Premises    /    Troops    /    Date of occupation
Witham House [57 Newland Street] / 1st 7th Royal Warwickshire Regiment / 20th October 1914
Shops (2) and premises, Newland Street  / Ditto  /  Ditto
Collingwood Hall [sic, probably Public Hall]  /  Ditto  /  Ditto
The Retreat [Maldon Road]  /  Ditto  /  Ditto
House and premises, Chipping Hill  /  Army Service Corps  /  29th October 1914
Whitehall [18 Newland Street]  /   1st South Midland Field Ambulance RAMC  /   16th October 1914

Yours faithfully
Wm B Blood
[To] Colonel Commanding, Army Service Corps, Headquarters Office, Colchester’

UDC, 26 October 1914
page 218. ‘The charge to be made for water where soldiers were occupying empty houses, warehouses, etc. was fixed at 1s. per day per building’. Surveyor to get payment. Pumps at work for 70 hours last week, as against 58 hours the first week of the month. If this continues Mr Goody would need help.
page 219. Local Government Board have approved extension of infectious disease scope.

UDC Waterworks Committee, 7 November 1914
‘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].

UDC 23 November 1914, extraordinary meeting
Letter from Mr P E Laurence. Committee formed with view to establishing ‘some hot and cold water baths for the benefit of the troops in Witham’. Would council meet deputation to discuss site to adapt or construct temporary Building ‘to cover 4 or 5 baths’ and supply the water. Ask Council to help but get expense from private enterprise.

Mr Laurence said site proposed was the old water works, existing coal shed could be adapted, using water which at present runs away, he should arrange the use of the water with Lord Rayleigh. No burden on rates. Small charge for use. Will Council support. Proposed that Council give the Committee power to do it. Carried nem con, Mr Garrett didn’t vote. Present water supply ought not to be used because consumption had increased 30 or 40 per cent, but OK ‘to tap the old main in Mill Lane, failing the scheme at the Old water works’.

UDC 30 November 1914
page 225. Plans for Bookstall, also to be used as Refreshment Stall ‘at the new Rifle Range’ for Messrs W H Smith. Temporary so no objection.
Request from Mr G J Hicks, ‘the refreshment caterer at the stall’ for permission to draw approximately 30 gallons of water per day ‘from stand pipe at Victoria Inn’. Agreed, he to pay 2s. a month.

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.
page 226. Resolved on proposal of Mr Pinkham, clerk ‘to write to Colonel Commanding 7th Warwickshire Regiment; suggesting that War Office be approached re provision of ‘a Disinfector’ for use of troops in Witham.

4 December 1914, page 485, D/UWi 1/4/2 Urban District Council Letter Book
Letter to Colonel Elton, 7th Warwickshire Regiment, The Const’al [???] Collingwood Road. About baths.

23 December 1914, page 489, D/UWi 1/4/2 Urban District Council Letter Book
Letter to Major H W Higginson, Warwickshire Infantry Brigade, Felix Hall, Kelvedon. Acknowledging receipt of letter.

UDC 28 December 1914
page 229. Medical Officer of Health reported case of Enteric fever, viz. Private Cross Ar.C. billeted at Sewage Farm. Sent to isolation hospital.
Correspondence with Lieut Col Elton and ‘Mr P E Laurence (Chairman of the Baths Committee)’ re provision of a ‘Disinfector’. Clerk write to Col Elton suggesting a ‘Thresh Disinfector’ at cost of War Office.

29 December 1914, page 491, D/UWi 1/4/2 Urban District Council Letter Book
Letter to Lieut Colonel Elton, Commanding 7th Battn Royal Warwickshire Regiment, Constitutional [—]. Re disinfector.

29 December 1914, page 493, D/UWi 1/4/2 Urban District Council Letter Book
Higginson as before.

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’.
Surveyor couldn’t get labour to clear recent heavy snow. ‘Empowered to approach the Military‘ at rate same as given to casual labourers.
page 235. Letter from Lieut Col 7th Batt Warwickshire Regt, ‘War Office said provision of Disinfector for use at the Baths superfluous’.

Essex County Chronicle, 29 January 1915
page 6 ‘Soldiers and the snow’. Surveyor reported on snow fall which thawed quickly. Six of the Council workmen were ill so it could have been difficult. Can he ask soldiers in future. ‘In past years he had engaged as many as eighty casual workers for snow clearing, but there were no such numbers available now’. Mr E J Smith said he had seen soldiers clearing snow at Braintree. Surveyor authorised in future ‘to apply to the Colonel Commanding the Warwick Regiment’ for help and pay the soldiers the same rate as casual workers would be paid.

UDC 22 February 1915
page 240. Letter from Lieut Col R A M C re charge for water supplied ‘at Pelican House [probably 113 Newland Street or possibly 16 Collingwood Road] viz. 1s per day, which he said was ‘excessive in comparison with White Hall’. Also letter from ‘Deputy Assistant Quarter Master General S M Division in reference to water supply to other houses occupied by Military. Discussion. Tell them ‘as the Military in larger houses used an abnormal quantity of water the charge of 1s on the smaller houses counterbalance the extra water used in the large houses’.

Essex County Chronicle, 5 March 1915
page 8
Soldiers’ concert. ‘Public Hall crowded with soldiers for a concert arranged by Miss Laurence, in connection with Messrs Broadwood. An enjoyable programme was rendered by professional artistes’.

‘Fatal case at Witham … Pt War of Stratford, member of the Essex Regt National Reserve, died at the military Hospital, Witham, from spotted fever’. Age 45. Admitted with flu.

13 March 1915, page 523, D/UWi 1/4/2 Urban District Council Letter Book
Water Supply at Collingwood House. [15 Collingwood Road].
I have received your cheque for £17 5 0 for above and have seen our Surveyor thereon. He has several a/cs in his Book against the various Forces billetted in Witham amongst them the following.
Royal Warwickshire Regiment Water Supply” [sums, for 20 Oct 1915 to Dec 3].
Please tell me if this is what the cheque is for’.
From Blood
To Cashiers Office Eastern Command, 91 York Street Westminster.

Essex Weekly News, 26 March 1915
page 8 ‘The Royal Warwicks. The Royal Warwicks who have been billeted in Witham for about five months attended a drumhead service on Sunday morning, when the Chaplain preached an appropriate sermon and a letter was read from Canon Ingles. Col Elton, the officer commanding, congratulated the men upon their fine discipline and conduct, which he hoped would be maintained. The Rev D M Picton gave a special address to soldiers at the Congregational Church on Sunday evening, remarking upon the way in which the men had cheered and inspired the members of that Church by their presence at the services. At the close of the sermon the soldiers were entertained to a social and refreshments by the Pastor in the Lecture Hall. The Lord Mayor of Birmingham spent the weekend in the town and visited the men at various points of Monday. At the usual concert in the Congregational Schoolroom on the 18th inst. Lance-Corpl. Foss, 7th Royal Warwick Regiment, on behalf of the men, presented Miss Stevenson with an ivory manicure set in token of appreciation of her work for the comfort and amusement of the troops. Miss Stevenson who was taken by surprise, briefly acknowledged the kind gift, and the Rev D M Picton responded for her. he said the Committee had made many friends among the officers and men’.

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 matches and ‘especially that facilities be given to soldiers to play’.

page 8 ‘Witham and the soldiers. Farewell presentation and service. At the last of the twice-weekly concerts arranged by a local committee in the Congregational Hall, Witham, Corpl. Foss, of the 7th Royal Warwicks, asked Miss Stevenson, the lady who has devoted her time and talent for the comfort of the soldiers to accept, on behalf of his comrades, a silver manicure set. The Rev. D. Marsden Picton (Congregationalist), on behalf of the lady, thanked the men for their thoughtful kindness and token of appreciation of what had been done for their comfort. The committee had found many friends amongst the officers and men, and would greatly miss them, while they knew they would carry with them many kind thoughts regarding Witham. (Hear, hear)

On Sunday morning an open-air church parade took place on the Land Company’s estate. In addition to the military a large number of residents of the town were present, and visitors from Coventry. The Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress of Birmingham were likewise on the ground. The Chaplain, in a brief address spoke from God’s message to the children of Israel in Egypt by Moses, viz., “The God of our fathers has sent me unto you.” Canon Ingles sent a message of God-speed to the men.

At the close of a very impressive service, Col. Eltham [elsewhere Elton], the commandant, complimented the men on their conduct during their five months’ stay in the town. He had heard from all sides nothing but praise from those who had become associated with them in their billets and in the various halls and rooms which had been set apart for canteens, etc. He took that opportunity also of thanking those who had formed themselves into a committee to care for their comfort. He must further express himself gratified at the proficiency attained. All present then joined heartily in the National Anthem.

The town during Saturday and Sunday was frequented by large numbers of visitors and a two-days’ excursion train left Witham station for the Midlands on Sunday night. At all the churches during the day allusion was made to the Warwicks, and a special service was held in the evening at the Congregational Church. The Rev D Marsden Picton, who has been appointed by the War Office chaplain to the members of the Free Churches among the forces in the district, preached and bade the men “God-speed,” the service concluding with. the hymn, “God be with you till we meet again. The soldiers were then invited to the. Lecture Hall to a farewell social gathering, light refreshments being provided.

At Witham Roman Catholic Church on Sunday the Rev. Fr Donelan, who was appointed Chaplain to the Forces during the stay of the regiment at Witham, officiated at a farewell celebration of Mass in honour of the soldiers. Pt. F Purcell Warren, of the Royal Warwicks who has frequently presided at the church organ, officiated in that capacity for the last time, and played “The War March of the Priests”. Fr Donelan, in his farewell sermon, said that was, very appropriately, Passion Sunday, set aside by the Holy Church for the Faithful to consider the passion of the Redeemer. All through life the lesson was taught that nothing could be won without suffering, and the soldiers going to battle should remember and try to follow the passion of Jesus, then they would gain the golden crown of victory.

The Warwicks appreciation. On Monday Colonel A G G Elton, commanding the 7th Royal Warwick Regt, issued the following order:- “Col Elton, officers, non com officers, and men of the 7th Royal Warwickshire Regt., desire most sincerely to thank the inhabitants of Witham for the generous hospitality that has been offered to the regiment during the time it has been quartered in the town. They fully realise and appreciate what has been done for the regiment and offer their most grateful thanks’.
[F Purcell Warren was killed in July 1916 and Col Elton died in November 1919, see later at those dates]

March 1915
South Midland Division, who had been in Essex since August 1914 were posted overseas, and replaced by 2/South Midland Division (who in May  became 48th (2/South Midland) Division and in Jan-March 1916 were posted away prior to going overseas [information from Ian Hook].

Information about 2nd/7th Warwicks, sent in emails with photos M2190-M2192 by Norman John Murray (known as John),, The Yarne, 38 Ford Lane, Farnham, Surrey GU10 4SF. Phone 01252 715623
email 2 December 2004
I attach the only 2 photos which might be of interest in that they both have relevance to the presence of the 2nd/7th battalion of the Royal Warwickshire Regimen in Witham. Firstly there is the one you saw published [in Essex Chronicle]. The other one depicts my father’s youngest brother Norman–after whom I am named –who was killed in action on the Somme on 30th June 1916 and his grave is shown. The two brothers were in the same action and my father was wounded with sufficient severity that he was invalided home and entered one of the military hospitals in London. He was mentioned in depatches and I understand that the occasion was, in fact, this particular action.
email 22 December 2004
and as a postscript, I will add that my uncle Norman was killed on the Somme on 30th june 1916–the day before the main offensive and he was on a party cutting the German defensive wire entanglements.
email 28 December 2004
To reply to your’s.
(1) I suspect that they were either on a ‘route march’, an exercise that prevailed in the British army even at the start of WW2 whenever those in charge were unable to be more imaginative about keeping their troops from become too bored! Cynic that I am.
The only alternative that occurs to me is that they were en route to eventually embark for France.
(2) Yes, my father, his four brothers and two sisters were all born in Melbourne and, on the death of their father who contrived to die owing the bookies vast sums of money, my grandmother brought 4 of the five and 1 of the two sisters to the UK, the remaining brother settled in NZ and the other sister went to Canada. As to how or why my father and uncle Norman came to be in the Warwicks I am not too sure. I think it was probably the fact that another uncle who was the financial support of the family was a director of The Bolsover Colliery which is/was near Nuneaton in Warwickshire and certainly,
(3) after the war, my father was a mining engineer there–a spot of nepotism, if you will.
Un-enumerated, one of the photos shows a shop under the name of ROWE and by coincidence, my grandmother re-married and her spouse was a Captain Rowe, about whom, I have absolutely no knowledge and I suspect that for whatever reason, he was not around for long as I recollect the first time that I met granny Rowe was when I was about 3 years old and she then lived in Canterbury and the gallant captain was certainly not amongst the family Christmas gathering. Granny died in 1942 in Frinton-on-Sea, the last house on the left on the way to Walton-on-the -Naze–it’s probably gone over the cliff edge by now!
(4) I will be perfectly happy for you to pass on the photos and information–other than some of the personal information–to either or both of the Essex Museum and your friend Ian Hook.


UDC Recreation Ground Committee, 1 April 1915, page 146
‘The Surveyor explained that the Military had taken possession of the Ground without permission’.

The Committee were unanimously of the opinion that they had no power to grant the Military permission to use the ground, and interviewed the Adjutant of the Regiment, who promised that the soldiers should interfere as little as possible with the children’s use of the ground and in the meantime would endeavour to make other arrangements.
The Committee had no objection to the use of the ground for Church parade’.

Essex County Chronicle, 2 April 1915
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.

page 8  ‘Soldiers’ concert. The first of a further series of soldiers’ concerts was held on Wednesday evening at the Soldiers’ Institute, Congregational Hall, where there was a large attendance, and an enjoyable programme was rendered.

Lord Mayor’s visit. The Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress of Birmingham (Col and Mrs Bowater) whose son is a lieutenant in the RAMC, South Midland Division, visited the corps on Monday, and the Lord Mayor addressed the men, who responded with hearty cheers’.

Essex County Chronicle, 16 April 1915
page 5  ‘Witham Vestry Meeting. Record Offertories’. Long report. Easter Vestry. … Accounts presented. Good. ‘The organists, blowers, cleaners, and other workers had all been paid for the extra work done through the soldiers’ services, the total paid being £21 6s.’ But nothing to curates; Rev G H Bishop, senior curate had been very hard worked and agreed to give him £20 extra.

Essex Weekly News, 23 April 1915
page 8 (full transcripts)
‘Social. By invitation of the Rev D M Picton, a number of soldiers were entertained to a social hour in the Congregational Lecture Hall after service on Sunday evening. Several ladies served refreshments.
Dance. In conjunction with the band of the 7th Royal Warwicks, Mr Bert Pinkham arranged a successful dance at the Public Hall on Tuesday. Upwards of 100 assembled and spent a very pleasant time up till midnight. Mr B Pinkham was MC. Refreshments were served during the interval.

Military Funeral. On Tuesday the funeral of Private G O’Connell, B Company, Royal Warwickshire Regt., who died from consumption on Saturday at the age of 35 years, took place at Witham. The coffin, covered with the Union Jack, was placed upon a gun carriage drawn by six horses, and preceded by a firing party with reversed arms and the band playing the Dead March. Behind the coffin the whole of B Company marched four deep, with eight officers at the rear. No relatives were present. As the procession passed through the town members of the Royal Warwicks and RAMC lined the streets and stood at the salute. The service was conducted at the Roman Catholic Church by the Rev Father Donelan. After the interment the firing party fired over the grave and six buglers sounded the Last Post. Floral tributes were received from the officers, non-commissioned officers, and men.’ [he is in but no more details, except his initial is J – 7th Bn Royal Warwickshire Regiment, died 17th April 1915, service number 3088, grave in north-east corner of Witham Catholic churchyard. The J is confirmed by the tombstone).

UDC 26 April 1915, Annual meeting
page 252. Re Recreation Ground Committee, report of 1 April 1915 re. Military using Recreation Ground, adopted.
Re Finance Committee, adopt recommendations, e.g. asking War Office who is responsible for rates on houses occupied by military.

Essex County Chronicle, 30 April 1915
page 2  ‘The South Midland Division. Casualties at the Front’. Long report, S M Div trained in Mid Essex before going abroad. Several letters. Bucks Territorials in action not long after arrival in France. One written on 10 April. Strange sights, Terrible damage to property. ‘You cannot realise what it is like’. Shelling. Bread scarce. One has officers in farmhouse and men in a factory. Training in trench warfare. Sniping. Trench only 35 yards from enemy. Rifle fire and grenades.

page 5  Witham UDC, April 26. Philip Hutley presided. Letter from LGB; glad houses still being inspected, and what steps being taken to remedy defects. Also info on working men’s cottages and why not prepare a scheme now in readiness. Mr Greatrex said ‘I move that the LGB be told plainly that with the town full of soldiers we cannot do anything in the matter of cottage inspection. Mr S Richardson: I will second that if you will add that things cannot be so very bad when the Government see fit to stow away 1,700 soldiers in the present cottages at Witham. They have got as many as five soldiers in some small cottages, and then complain about the sanitary condition of Witham. The addition was accepted by Mr Greatrex, but the motion was defeated, and the question was referred, with Dr Gimson’s annual report to the Housing Committee.

May 1915
2/South Midland Division which were in Essex, became 48th (2/South Midland) Division.

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.
page 256. Finance Committee report including asking landlords for rates on houses occupied solely by troops.

UDC 21 June 1915, extraordinary meeting
Letter from Mr J Daldry, enclosing plan of temporary ‘Recreation Hut which the national Committee of the YMCA had been asked to erect for the use of His Majesty’s Forces billeted in Witham’ and asking permission to put it up on site ‘near the old water tower’. Proposed yes and compensate tenant for loss of crop. For it was Pinkham, Smith and Garrett. Against, Abrey Greatrex, Richardson Wakelin, lost. Refer to Building Committee with power to act if site secured. [wasn’t put there, went opposite  the cattle market in Collingwood Road]

26 June 1915, D/UWi 1/4/2 Urban District Council Letter Book
To YMCA at Colchester. Sanction erection of ‘the Hut’ provided removed when Council requires. Water to be metered.

UDC 28 June 1915
page 263. Building Committee report, sanctioning erection of YMCA hut, adopted.

UDC 26 July 1915
page 268. Write to ‘Colonel Commanding the Royal Engineers informing him of nuisance in Avenue Road, reported by Mr Richardson, arising through manure heaps being left at the side of the road’.
page 270. Letter from Mr J Daldry agreeing on behalf of YMCA to conditions re ‘recently erected Hut’.

Essex Weekly News, 30 July 1915 (full transcript)
‘Witham Boy Drowned. On Wednesday Percy Kellock, aged seven, son of Harry Kellock of Chipping Hill, was drowned in the bathing place at Witham. The boy left home with two little playmates, and proceeded to the bathing place, where they enjoyed themselves paddling from the bank. By some means Kellock fell into the river, and his companions hurried home and told their parents. Sergeant Haggar, Signalman Feakes, and Arthur Wallis dived and searched the river for hours and the body was eventually located by PC Mynott with a pole. Sapper A Beck[?], Royal Engineers, who was bathing at the time, dived at the request of Sergt. Haggar and recovered it. Several men were working near at hand when the accident happened, but the children said that they were too frightened to tell them.’

‘Opening of YMCA Hut at Witham. Lord Salisbury and Recreation. Last night a new hut for the use of the troops for recreation purposes was opened by the YMCA at Witham on a site in the Collingwood Road near the railway station, lent by Mr Percy E Laurence, JP. The formal opening was performed by Brigadier General the Marquis of Salisbury. The chair was taken by the Hon C H Strutt, JP’. Supported by various others. Hymn and prayer. Speech by chairman saying ‘Witham had not been neglectful of the soldiers hitherto, the ladies having looked after them in various buildings. But a feeling was abroad that they should have one large place, so that the work should not entail such a strain upon the ladies … He knew there was a tendency to put aside all kinds of amusement just now, but he did not think that should apply to soldiers, and he did not see why they should give up all pleasures even to them. The Chairman then introduced the Marquis of Salisbury, whom he had long known as a sturdy Englishman (Applause)’. Speech by Marquis. Address by YMCA rep on its work. £100 had been raised in Witham and hope to raise another £200. Mr E Pelly vote of thanks, seconded by Mr Pinkham. Rev Picton prayer. National anthem, Concert in new hut. [see photos M818-821]

Essex County Chronicle, 30 July 1915
‘Military Recreation Hut opened at Witham. Ceremony by the Marquis of Salisbury’. Opened last evening, large gathering. ‘Near the Church House, on land given by Mr P E Laurence, JP’. ‘Commodious wooden structure, capable of accommodating 400 soldiers’.
Hon C H Strutt presided. Lord Salisbury spoke. Needed recreation etc. YMCA had met need in many cases. Lots in Essex. Christian motive.
‘Mr E E Pelly said they had given 6,000 baths to soldiers, largely through the kindness of Mr Percy Laurence (Applause).’

Essex County Chronicle, 6 August 1915
‘Intercession service. On Sunday, the Rev G H Bishop, senior curate, resumed his open-air services on the bowling green for intercession in the war. There was a large attendance.’
The YMCA Hut. Well patronised by troops in its first week. ‘On Saturday evening a concert, arranged by Mr B C Afford, was given, and proved to be most enjoyable. On Sunday evening a soldiers’ song service was held’. Informal concerts held every evening since, ‘under the leadership of Mr A E Torey. The lady helpers, under Miss E Luard, have been very busy during the week. An average of a hundred letters have been written in the hut nightly’.

Essex Weekly News, 6 August 1915
page 6 [extracts]
‘Military Gymkhana at Witham. The 2/1st South Midland Division Royal Engineers arranged a successful gymkhana in the Avenue Field at Witham on Monday, by permission of Mr Percy E Laurence, JP’. Had been twice postponed. Was ‘thoroughly enjoyed by a very large crowd of spectators’. Lots of names. Band of 6th Gloucesters played in afternoon and also for dancing in the evening. Prizes distributed by ‘Brig General the Marquis of Salisbury’. Cheered on departure. Collection for wounded soldiers. Detailed results of events including knotting, drill, bugling, tug of war etc. Also ‘Wrestling on horseback. 1. 4/1st Field Co., composed mostly of Canadians.’ Also ‘Live bomb throwing for NCOs’.

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.

Essex Weekly News, 20 August 1915
page 2  Magistrate’s court. Capt Arnold Leslie [???] 2/7th[?] Royal Warwickshire Regt. Summoned for driving a motor car … head lights of a greater brightness than was necessary for public safety’. Ps Hagger. 11.45 p.m. on duty with Constable Wenden. ‘The lights … bright, and as the car passed the local headquarters of the military witness heard … sentry challenge the driver. The lights … reduced, but the car did not stop and … came towards witness the lights … again.’ Told him too bright. Glass of lamps had been smeared with whitening. Charles Blade Wenden special constable and Supt Coppin corroborated. Deft said no side lights. Going from Colchester to Epping. Met a ‘picquet of special constables’ who stopped car and examined contents. ‘The picquet was stopping … traffic.’ They had passed the car with no comment so assumed OK. Had done everything could. Capt Graham riding with him. Bench fined him £1.

24 August 1915, D/UWi 1/4/2 Urban District Council Letter Book
To officer commanding 2/7th Btn Royal Warwickshire Regt, Ongar Essex. Account sent for certification.

Essex County Chronicle, 27 August 1915
page 7  ‘Water Carnival at Witham. The Royal Engineers of the S M Division carried out an interesting programme at the Bathing Place, Witham, on Saturday afternoon. Among those present were Col Seymour Williams, Major Langley, Capt W Warr, Capt Whitwell, and Lieuts Rawlings, Vowles, Brown, Savery, Barrell, and Regimental Sergt Major Munroe, Mrs Langley, Mrs and Miss Willink, and others’. Results in detail. All soldiers. Included High Dive, Running Dive, Pillow fight on Pole over river, Team Race, Mess Race, Barrel Race, Swimming Race and Life Saving Race’. [The Bathing Place place was in the river Blackwater at the north corner of Whet Mead]

UDC 13 September 1915, extraordinary meeting
page 279. 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. [57 Newland Street]

UDC 27 September 1915
page 284. Letter from Lieut Col Royal Engineers saying all proper precautions are taken re explosives.

Essex County Chronicle, 8 October 1915
page 8  ‘Soldiers entertained. On Sunday afternoon soldiers billeted at Witham were entertained to tea at the Congregational Schoolroom from the fund raised by Mr Afford’s recent concert’.

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.

UDC 25 October 1915
page 288. 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.
page 291. Application from ‘officer commanding Royal Engineers for water to be laid on the Horse Lines[?] in Mill Field’. Leave to Surveyor.

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, 5 November 1915
page 10  Exciting runaway. ‘Two horses attached to an Army wagon, in charge of Pt H Fowler, SMRE, Witham, bolted from opposite the Vicarage at Hatfield Peverel, and dashed at full speed all along the road, a distance of two miles, to Witham. A baker’s cart, belonging to Mr Frederick Bohannon, baker, Newland Street, Witham, was standing opposite the George and Dragon Inn, at the entrance to Witham Street, and the Army wagon collided heavily with the cart, smashing it, and throwing the pony down. One of the horses in the Army Wagon also fell down, and this stopped their wild career. Very fortunately no one was injured. The pony in the baker’s cart was cut about the knees, and the Army wagon was broken in front’.

Essex Weekly News, 26 November 1915
page 2  ‘Soldier’s theft at the Maldon YMCA.’. Private of 2/6th Royal Warwicks. Two cash boxes et al at Market Hill Maldon. Company officer said had been in regiment 12 months. Character indifferent but this first serious allegation. Justices ‘sentenced prisoner to one months hard labour and advised him to take the pledge’. Advised prosecutor to keep money more careful so not a temptation.

page 6. ‘Institution of the new Vicar of Witham’. Rev F W Galpin, late Vicar of Hatfield Broad Oak, at All Saints. Large Gathering. Bishops of Chelmsford and Colchester. Other clergy present included Rev ‘Gardner-Brown’, chaplain to the Forces, Witham’. Sermon etc.

War diary of 2/1 Bedfordshire Yeomanry at Hatfield Peverel, 8 December 1915. PRO WO 95/5455
‘Regimental Drill and Individual Squadron night operations. Baths at Witham placed at disposal of the Regt on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 9 a.m to 8 p m.’

January to March 1916
48th (2/South Midland) Division were posted away prior to going overseas. Gradually replaced by the 65th (2nd Lowland) Division, including 2/9th Highland Royal Scots, who were here till posted to Ireland in January 1917 (information from Ian Hook)

Essex County Chronicle, 7 January 1916
page 3. Intercession services, New Year, Witham. All Saints, attended by S M Royal Engineers. Also patients from hospital under Miss Gimson (commandant) and Miss Boulton (matron). Prayers by Rev Alan Gardner-Brown, U.P.
St Nicholas, Congregational, Wesleyan, Ch of Holy Family also, just names of ministers.

UDC Finance Committee, 31 January 1916, page 167
Letter from Mr C Roberts and enclosure from Mr W Gardner re arrears of rates ‘on property occupied by Troops’. Mr G said the houses ‘were taken under the Defence of the Realm Act, there was no agreement and no rent paid up to date’. Recommended collection of rates from owner.

UDC 31 January 1916
page 304. Report of Finance Committee recommended that Mr C Roberts be instructed to collect ‘the rates owing in respect of the property occupied by the troops, from the owners’.

Essex County Chronicle, 4 February 1916, page 6
Report of UDC meeting. Water supply – use fallen but discoloured. Because tank emptied out at night, probably caused by soldiers using.
Chairman – disgraceful condition of Powershall End. ‘Ladies could not walk along it in comfort to church on Sundays’. Surveyor – labour short.

Essex County Chronicle, 11 February 1916, page 8
‘The Soldiers Friend’. Service at YMCA. Sapper Amos addressed soldiers on the Bible.
Whist drive at Constitutional Club, with 60 players. Names.
‘A lucky escape’. Army mule in charge of Driver Clark, R E, restive in Newland Street, upset a milk church belonging to John Newman. Also a trap belonging to Mrs Geo Lake, who driving up street (her husband with Essex Yeomanry). She jumped out so unhurt.
‘Motor Mishaps’. Corner of Collingwood Road. Coachman, Arthur Fenner, employed by Geo Ottley, ‘driving a fare round the corner’. Car following driven by Pt R Jones of 2/6th Royal Warwicks, Maldon, with Col Shannecy in it. Capt Adams of 2nd Lancs Regt of Cottage Halstead, driving a lady in a car to Maldon. A trial car came along from Colchester. Brakes applied. Skids. No personal injury. Some wheels and axles bent.

Essex County Chronicle, 18 February 1916, page 8
Temperance Society. Members of Witham CETS, tea at Church House given by Rev and Mrs Galpin. AGM after, Mr E Pelly presided. Sec Mr S Woolnough. Work of soc ‘considerably affected by the military occupation, and subscriptions had not been collected’. But arrangements to extend work. Condolence to relatives of Geo Claydon who died last week.

Essex County Chronicle, 25 February 1916
page 1. Advert. ‘Quartering of Troops … all letters on subjects connected with the quartering of Troops in the Area occupied by the 61st South Midland Division should be addressed to the Secretary, Central Quartering Committee, Boreham House, Chelmsford’.

4 March 1916
The move of the 65th (Lowland) Division from Scottish Command to the Chelmsford area has now been completed (PRO WO 95/5453, Central Force, Eastern Command, War Diary).

Essex County Chronicle, 17 March 1916
page 5  ‘Bishop at Witham. Address to Scottish soldiers. On Sunday morning the Bishop of Chelmsford visited Witham, and gave the address at the church parade of the Lowland Scottish Regt., RE, at the Parish Church. The Lowland Scottish are mostly Presbyterians, and their Sunday services had been fixed for Witham Congregational Church, but in view of the visit of the Bishop, it was arranged that the troops should attend the Parish Church to give his Lordship the opportunity to speak to them. There was a parade of 500 of the soldiers, headed buy their brass band. The Chaplain, Capt Yuill, conducted the service from the pulpit’. Pep talk. Clean living men survived injuries in War but others didn’t.

Essex County Chronicle, 24 March 1916
page 8  ‘Soldiers Centre. At a meeting of the local Soldier’s Entertainment Committee on Saturday it was decided to open the Congregational Hall for the use of the soldiers’.

‘Soldiers’ Dance. … the Scottish Regiments gave a dance at the Public Hall, to which local ladies were invited, and the company included several officers and their wives. The dancing was kept up very heartily till three in the morning, with much jollity on the part of the soldiers’.
‘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’.

‘Soldiers’ Concert’. Public Hall. Crowded. ‘Capt Yuille, chaplain to the forces’, one of singers. Also ‘bagpipe selections by S-M Lynch’. Corpl Lempriere played violin. Other soldiers and Mr Afford.

YMCA hut, concert. ‘In the absence of the Colonel, Major C M Jackson (1/3rd Lowland Field Company) kindly presided’. Miss E W Drake accompanied. Performances. Chaplain again. Also ‘Coy Sergt Major Lynch and Sapper Blake rendered bagpipe and euphonium solos respectively’. Also recitations, songs etc. Also on Sun evening at Congreg church, W C Rice gave an address to soldiers.

‘Soldiers charged’. Special bench. Driver Wm Hughes, 19, 3/2nd Lowland Royal Engineers’. Stealing fruit cordial. Private Michael Corrigan, 20, same regt, with being involved. Belonged to G J Hicks of 9 Easton Road, who had a canteen at Faulkbourne, broken into. ‘Alfred Griggs, shopkeeper, Church Street, Witham, said the prisoners came to his shop on Sunday afternoon and he gave them cups of tea.’ Offered to sell him the bottles. Remanded to Petty Sessions.

‘Buffaloes’ Bounty’. Concert for Benevolent Fund of the Pride of Witham Buffaloes’ Lodge’. Public Hall. Success. Proceeds over £5. Piano selection by Bro Taylor (CM), with Corpl Lithgow on cornet. Mr Fred Whiting musical monologue. Trumpeter Dunn. Et al. Miss Pinkham sang. Alex Lafferty ‘the champion light-weight boxer of Scotland, gave an excellent club-swinging exhibition’. Et al. esp soldiers. Under management of Regt Sergt Maj Haig and Corpl South.

11 April 1916
, page 670, D/UWi 1/4/2 Urban District Council Letter Book
‘Dear Sir
In October 1914, certain empty houses and shops in this District were taken by the Military for billetting soldiers and for Army stores etc, and the premises are still occupied by the Military, and the owner refuses to pay the General District, Water and Poor Rate on these premises’ Is the owner liable?
To Secretary of UDC Clerks Association

Essex Weekly News, 26 May 1916
page 6. ‘Military Tattoo and concert. As an expression of appreciation of the enjoyment given to the inhabitants by the playing of the silver and pipe band of the 2/9th Royal Scots in High Street on Sunday afternoons, a suggestion was made by Messrs Powell Jones and E R Green that the men should be entertained. The idea was warmly taken up, and the entertainment took place at the cricket pavilion in the park on Wednesday. The bandsmen were awaited upon by Mr James Powell Jones, E Brewster, … the bands played selections .. concert in front of the pavilion before a large audience. Songs contributed by ‘Sapper Brisbaine[?], Pte Keppie[?][ and Mr R C Afford. Magic and mystery by Pte J Ewing, cornet solo by Bandsman Wood, and humorous items by Sergt Cordon and Mr F Powell’. Dancing . Military tattoo at end of evening. Capt Bathgate[?] gave thanks on behalf of bandsmen. Proceeds of entertainment, donation to the Scottish Red Cross. Mr B C Afford arranged the concert. W Cooper had charge of reserved enclosure. Fred Hayward at the Gate.

Essex County Chronicle, 26 May 1916
page 8  YMCA Hut. Excellent concert by Misses Bate from Maldon. ‘The eight sisters presented an excellent programme’. Col Gordon was chairman and thanked them.

‘Military Concert. On Wednesday evening a military concert and tattoo by the Band and Pipers of the 2/9th Royal Scots was given on the Cricket Ground … large gathering. The idea was on the initiative of Mr Powell Jones, who, with a few others, arranged to entertain the bands, whose playing the he High Street on Sunday afternoons has been so much appreciated. The members of the bands, some 50 in number, first partook of “high teas” in the cricket pavilion’. Also an open air concert arranged by Messrs B C Afford and N Linley Howlett. Contributions from civilians and soldiers (named). Tattoo etc. Proceed to sent to Col Gordon for the Scottish Red Cross. Bandmasters Grieve and Swanston.

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 Finance Committee, 29 May 1916, page 177
Auditor had said couldn’t recover rates by distress against owners of houses occupied by troops. Undertaking obtained from Mr Gardner instead.
Re water rate at Whitehall, Mr Smith the owner refused to pay because of resolution passed by Council ‘fixing rate to be charged the Military for rates where soldiers were occupying empty houses’. Surveyor said Military Authorities refused to pay this charge’. Resolved to approach the War Office.

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’.

2 June 1916, page 682, D/UWi 1/4/2 Urban District Council Letter Book
Sir … Rate Collector reported that Mr J E Smith the Owner of premises known as Whitehall situate in Witham, refused to pay arrears of Water Rate … During this period the premises aforesaid have been occupied by Troops’
Appears not legally chargeable. ‘… enquire whether the War Office would not discharge the amount due and adjust the matter with the Owner in the next payment for Rent, as I presume the rent received by the Owner was intended to include all local rates. … [To] Under Secretary of State for War, War Office, London’

Essex County Chronicle, 9 June 1916
page 6  ‘Presbyterian Communion’. Held for soldiers of Lowland Scottish at Congregational Church. Captain Yuille, chaplain. Twelve officers and over a hundred soldiers.’

Essex County Chronicle, 16 June 1916
Includes a full-length photo of the three Pictons. ‘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. …Inquest. Rev Picton 52, Lieut 22, of 3/1st Highland Field Co., attached to the 1/3rd Lowland Field Co. RE. … The Lieut an expert. Sunday services described. Also ‘Capt Yuille, CF, at his open-air service, made an impressive allusion … also loss … McLagan’.

Info from
McLagan, JAMES, Second Lieutenant Regiment: Royal Engineers: 61st Div. Lowland Field Coy. Age: 21. Date of Death: 08/06/1916. Son of James and Jeannie R. McLagan, of 11, Sutherland St., Hillhead, Glasgow. Buried in Glasgow (Sighthill) Cemetery. Spec. Memorial, Glasgow (Eastwood) Cemetery

UDC 26 June 1916
page 327. Letter from Lt Col R E Stores enquiring possibility of extension from three inch water main to stores in Maldon Road. Resolved that ‘as the Council were supplying three camps with water the extension of the Main could not be entertained at present’.
Chairman ‘mentioned the extraordinary traffic of Army waggons, motors etc passing along Powers Hall Road.’ Surveyor instructed to take a census. [Firing ranges etc. were there, to right of Victoria]
Water works Committee, re extra help by Duncombe going in at 2 p.m. instead of 4 p.m., adopted.

3 July 1916
From F P Warren had played the organ at the Catholic Church when he was in Witham with the Warwicks, see above for Essex County Chronicle 26 March 1915
Name: Warren, Francis Purcell. Second Lieutenant. South Lancashire Regiment, 2nd Bn.
Age 21: Date Of Death: 03/07/1916 [Somme had begun on 1st with ‘worst day in history of British Army’ with one third killed]
Son Of Walter And Kezia Warren, Of 10, Holly Walk, Leamington Spa. “Morley” Scholar At Royal College Of Music. Enlisted Sept., 1914, In 7th Bn. Royal Warickshire Regt.
Grave: Pier And Face 7 A And 7 B, Thiepval Memorial

Essex Weekly News, 7 July 1916
page 6, col 8  ‘Cricket. Witham drew with the Bedfordshire Yeomanry on Saturday, making 215 for 7 wickets (Rev C G Littlehales 110[?], C S Richardson 29, Corpl Yates 24, G C Butler 22); Yeomanry 108 for 6 wickets (Lieut Bicker-Caarten 39, Major Spencer 32, Pte Turner 13 not out)’.

‘Strawberry Tea. From a fund raised by Mr Afford and friends upwards of 100 A.S.C. men, accompanied by their officers, were entertained to a strawberry tea on Sunday afternoon in the paddock at Avenue House, lent by Mr F T Round, CMG. The helpers included Mr, Mrs and Miss Round, Capt and Mrs Cullen, Mrs W Brown, the Misses Pattisson, Payne, Eldred (two), Stevenson, Vaux and Mann. Capt Cullen expressed the thanks of the men for the entertainment.

YMCA Hut. On Saturday a capital concert was given by local talent, Mr Edmund Pelly presiding. Miss Eldred was the accompanist, and Miss Gill charmed everyone with her singing. Miss Edith Luard and Sapper Robertson recited and a duet was given by Ptes Churcher, London Scottish, and Smith, Rifle Brigade, who also contributed solos. Prte Preistner[?] AAC, sang, and the Assistant Leader gave [???] solos. The proceeds from the concert by the Allies on behalf of YMCA funds amounted to £19 5s 3d’.

Essex Weekly News, 21 July 1916
page 6, col 6. Bowls. In a three-rink game on Wednesday the local Club ran out winners by 62 to 27 against a party of Lowland Engineers.

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.

Surveyor reported ‘Consumption of water had increased enormously during the month and suggested that a strong protest be made against the watering of Military horses from the Town supply and that private individuals be warned that they must not use the town water for this purpose without the Sanction of the council or its officers. Mr Smith reported that a number of horses were watered recently from the Avenue Supply. ‘Resolved that Council could not allow town water to be used for watering horses in future. Tell Mr Laurence ‘and another private individual to whom it may concern’.
Request from the D O R E for further tapping of water mains in Maldon Road. No, in view of ‘quantity of water already being supplied to the Military’.
Resolved that Military authorities be requested to desist from using water from Council mains for watering horses. If they didn’t in a week, put before Waterworks Committee.

UDC 28 August 1916
Letter from Mr E H Ronnebeck[?] asking permission for temporary YMCA sign board in town. Yes.

Essex Weekly News, 15 September 1916
page 6  ‘Tea. On Sunday afternoon Mr P E Laurence, JP, entertained the Engineers and the wounded from the VAD Hospital to tea on the lawn under the old cedars at his residence, the Grove. A band was in attendance’.

‘Accident. On Friday Mr George Pavelin was wheeling his wife, who is an invalid in her bath chair on the Hatfield road, when a number of Army carts came, along and a wheel of one of them struck the chair smashing one of the wheels. Mrs Pavelin, fortunately, was not injured’

‘Soldier’s accident. As Driver Bryson, B E was returning with his team and wagons from the sports on Wednesday and was proceeding along the Maldon Road the horses became restive and the driver fell heavily. One of the wheels passed over his right leg, breaking the bone.’

‘Engineers Sports. The Royal Engineers, 65th Lowland Division, under Lieut Col Arthur and his officers, were responsible for an excellent afternoon’s entertainment on the Grove field, kindly lent by Mr P E Laurence, JP on Wednesday, when sports were keenly contested, much to the delight of the large crowd present. The band of the 2/4th Royal Scots provided music. The proceeds are to be directed to the Scottish Red Cross Society. Lady de Crespigny distributed the prices and was thanked by Lieut Col Arthur. In the evening a concert was held at the Public Hall. Col Arthur presided and songs were sung by Miss Gill, Capt Yuill, CF, and Capt Boyd. Recitations were contributed … cornet sole … A feature of the programme was the graceful and artistic dancing of little Miss N Eylot Hawkins, who also gave a recitation’.

Essex County Chronicle, 15 September 1916
page 6  ‘Military Sports at Witham’. Wednesday afternoon’, ‘sports of the 65th Lowland Division, Royal Engineers’ on Grove Field. Lieut Ogilvie in charge. Prizes distributed by Lady de Crespigny, Sir Claude judge boxing. In evening, concert at Public Hall, ‘Colonel Arthur, DSO, CRE, presiding’. Results of sports, including races, grenade throwing, drill, riding, boxing, ‘cycle tent pegging’, ‘boot and sock race’, saddlery, officers race, officers jumping, wagon driving, Five a side football. Winners from various units i.e. ‘3/1 LFC’, 1/3, 3/2, Signal Co, Signal Co Chelmsford, ‘Adjutant 65th Div RE’ In boxing, ‘an exhibition bout between Spr Laffaty, light weight champion of Scotland, and Sgt Pattisson, late a champion of South Africa’.

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 343. Finance Committee report adopted including that surveyor instructed to interview the Military authorities re scavenging roads.
page 344. Proposed that all water supplied by Council other than domestic, should be metered, because of reports of wastage. Refer to Water works Committee.

UDC 18 December 1916
page 358. Bad condition of the Terling Road.

January 1917
65th (2nd Lowland) Division who were in Essex were posted to Ireland. Replaced by 73rd (2nd Northumbrian) Division, till it was gradually broken up in January 1918 (information from Ian Hook)

Essex County Chronicle, 19 January 1917
page 6  ‘Plucky Driver. – Yesterday morning a pair of horses attached to an empty transport wagon bolted from near the White Horse at Chipping Hill, and dashed over the railway bridge into Witham. Driver Corfield, RE, who was mounted on the leader, was thrown from his seat three times on to the pole, but he stuck most pluckily to this horse, and went along hanging on to it by the neck. Fortunately there was no traffic on the bridge, and the horses, galloping full speed, took the narrow road and turnings without coming to grief. The driver eventually pulled them up near the Public Hall’.

15 March 1917, page 800, D/UWi 1/4/2 Urban District Council Letter Book
Account for emptying latrine pails. To ‘the Command Paymaster, Eastern Command, Army Pay Office, Science museum, South Kensington, SW’.

15 March 1917, page 801, D/UWi 1/4/2 Urban District Council Letter Book
Enclose account ‘for water supplied to Witham Range on Army Form’… [To] O i/c Supplies, ASC Office, New Barracks, Fermoy’.

UDC 30 April 1917, Annual meeting
page 379. Surveyor has got supply of water meters. Confirmed purchase.

13 June 1917, page 837, D/UWi 1/4/2 Urban District Council Letter Book
Correspondence ‘between Surveyor and Captn Samuelson’ re terns for water supply. [no desails]. ‘‘The additional charge for horses is for one year, or for the duration of the camp if not extending so long’
[To] Major Otway, ASC 73rd Division, Bank Buildings, Chelmsford’

Essex Weekly News, 13 July 1917
‘Staff-officer killed at Witham. Yesterday an inquest was held at Witham relative to the death of Capt the Hon E J Kay-Shuttleworth, second son of Baron Shuttleworth, who was killed while riding a motor cycle towards the town on Tuesday. At the corner of the three cross-roads near Brown’s Farm he collided with a pony trap, driven by Mr Charles Cooper, greengrocer, of Braintree, who was accompanied by Mr Charles Smith. Capt. Kay-Shuttleworth’s right chest struck the shaft, causing internal injuries, from which he died fifteen minutes later’ Men in trap tipped out but no injury. ‘During his residence in Witham the deceased officer had gained the esteem of all who came into contact with him. The deepest sympathy is felt with Mrs Kay-Shuttleworth and her two children. About a fortnight ago deceased lost a brother in France, whither he was shortly to proceed again on active service. At the inquest, which was conducted by Mr Coroner Harrison, Lieut. Playford represented the military authorities, and Mr P E Laurence, JP at whose house deceased was staying, was also present. Mr Eustace Hills, barrister, Cherry-gardens, Chelsea, brother-in-law of deceased, said he was 27 years of age and a Staff Captain of an Infantry Brigade. Deceased’s sight and hearing were exceptionally good and he was an efficient motor cycle rider’ Mr Cooper said ‘in rounding the corner the trap went close to the near side hedge, which was very high. Suddenly they saw a motor cycle rushing on to them, and it immediately struck the pony’s head. Deceased was on the wrong side and struck the near side shaft. The pony’s harness broke … deceased lying under the hedge .. motor cycle .. in the middle of the road. Smith went for a doctor, and Drs Gimson and Knight came. Smith asked deceased where he came from, and he replied “Witham” He never spoke again and died in about 15 minutes.
Mrs Lizzie Handley, Kelvedon, who was cycling from Rivenhall to Witham at the time, said she hears a motor cycle coming from the direction of Braintree, and as it appeared to be running very fast she got off her machine and walked. Soon afterwards she heard a smash at the corner, and on reaching the spot … Pc Haggar said the shafts … were iron-tipped … the track of the motor cycle indicated that the machine had cut across from the other side of the road a few yards before reaching the corner … severe injuries … main artery … severed. Pc Haggar … the deceased had ridden a motor cycle about six weeks and was a careful driver. The Coroner said. … the deceased cut into the corner thinking nothing was coming … Jury … Accidental death … recommended that the hedge at the corner should be immediately lopped and that a representation should he made to the Urban Council for the substitution of an open fence. Deceased … home, Babraham, Cambridge’.

Urban District Council minutes, 30 July 1917
page 393. Letter from Dr Harrisson (coroner). Jury recommended on the occasion of the inquest on the late Captain Shuttleworth that ‘the hedges at the corner where the accident occurred should be considerably lowered’. Do it.

Urban District Council minutes, 24 September 1917
page 405. Surveyor presented plan of proposed alteration to ‘dangerous corner at Cocks Farm’, estimated cost £55 15s. Refer to Road Committee.

Urban District Council minutes, 29 October 1917
page 410. Road Committee. Report adopted recommendation that proposed alteration ‘to the corner at the junction of the Rivenhall and Braintree Roads be not carried out but that the hedge be kept well cut down’.

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.

10 August 1917, page 858, D/UWi 1/4/2 Urban District Council Letter Book
Received your letter. To ‘The Officer i/c Barracks, 125 London Road, Chelmsford’

27 August 1917
page 400. Letter from ‘Officer I/C[?] Barracks Chelmsford’ re rates allowance. No.

31 August 1917, page 872, D/UWi 1/4/2 Urban District Council Letter Book
Received cheque ‘for water supplied to Maldon Road and Collingwood Road Camps for the month of July’. Small extra balance, will carry over
To ‘Major Otway, ASC, Bank Buildings, Chelmsford’

3 November 1917, page 903, D/UWi 1/4/2 Urban District Council Letter Book
Sanitary Services at Witham. ‘All the Sanitary Conveniences were extra to normal times, and were necessary to meet the military occupation of the respective premises … [To] The Officer i/c Barracks, EC, 125 London Road, Chelmsford’.

8 November 1917, page 904, D/UWi 1/4/2 Urban District Council Letter Book
‘Our Surveyor informs me that owing to shortage of both labour and horses the Council are not in a position to undertake the emptying of the six latrine buckets behind the Church House, Witham …
[To] The O/C No 2 (830) Coy, A.S.C., Witham’

8 December 1917, page 913, D/UWi 1/4/2 Urban District Council Letter Book
Enclose accounts ‘for water supplied to the 830th Company, ASC, during November … …much obliged if you will expedite payment of the long overdue a/c for emptying latrine pails.
[To] Officer i/c Barracks, E.D., 125 London Road, Chelmsford.’

Essex County Chronicle, 28 December 1917
page 2. ‘Soldier fined at Witham’. Petty Sessions. Private John Peachey, 19, King’s Liverpool Regt’ stealing 10s and a 5s PO from ‘Mrs Eliza Cope of Braintree Road, Witham’. Prisoner had seen her put it in her bag and later missed it. PS Hagger found postal order within an hour. When accused prisoner he denied and said had money from a pal, ‘with which he had purchased cakes at the YMCA hut’. Later admitted it. Pleaded guilty. Asked for chance to refund. ‘Sgt Balshaw stated that the prisoner was an expert rifle shot, and was giving instruction of an important character’. Chairman said Mrs Cope had caused temptation. Fine £2 and return the stolen goods.

page 5. ‘Soldiers entertained. On Boxing Day the soldiers in Witham were entertained to tea by the townspeople, at the YMCA Hut, the school, and other places. In the evening an entertainment was given at the Public Hall, the programme including the sketch “A Matrimonial Agency,” arranged by Mrs Kemp of Witham. The characters were sustained by Mrs H M Everard (Terling), Mrs Hicks (Hatfield Peverel), Miss Una Morse, Lieuts Cave [sic, though Cane below], Lattimer [sic, though Latimer below] and Abbott, ASC, and Major Quack, Liverpool Regt. Miss Kendall (London) played violin solos, and Miss Watson was at the piano’.

‘The Red Cross Hospital. The 35 wounded soldiers at the Witham Red Cross Hospital were given a happy Christmas. The Matron, Mrs R C Dunn, visited the wards, distributing presents at each soldier’s bed. Dinner consisted of roast turkey, plum pudding, mincepies, etc., provided by friends. Miss C A Pattisson, the commandant, presented each soldier with a leather pocket-case. In the evening a concert was held, Mrs Kemp, of Rosslyn House, with Lieuts Cane [sic, though Cave above] and Latimer [sic though Lattimer above], from Danbury, providing a capital programme. Mr B C Afford was a welcome visitor. At the close the wounded insisted upon singing “A Perfect Day”. Yesterday the soldiers were taken to a theatre at Chelmsford’.

January 1918
73rd (2nd Northumbrian) Division who were in Essex were gradually broken up, and defensive duties assumed by Training Units (information from Ian Hook).

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. Whist. 72 tables occupied at whist drive at Constitutional Club. Mr J Glover distributed the prizes. Ladies: 1 Mrs Edwards, 2 Mr T Stiff (playing as a lady), 3 Mr O Long (ditto), 4 Mrs Safe. Gentlemen: 1 Mr J E Schnell, 2 Corpl G Edwards, 3 Mr E Wainwright, 4 Mr J Linge.

Essex Weekly News, 25 January 1918
page 6, col 6. Sapper Charlie Stevens charged with insulting behaviour. Captain Brookes gave good character. Prison for 21 days hard labour – would have been more if not good character. ‘Mr Laurence thanked two young ladies who came forward to give evidence’.

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.

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’.

Essex Weekly News, 1 February 1918
page 6, col 7. Witham. Raised funds for Colchester Hospital Comfort Fund. Entertainment by officers and friends in YMCA Hut. Vocal contributions by Miss Wright, Lieut Jones and Mr B C Afford with Sergeant Potter at piano. Private Volte did monologues. Farce ‘My Lord in Livery’ ‘created much merriment’ – characters by Misses V, M and D Thorn, Master H Thorn, Lieut L C Collins, Lieut F C Watson and Lieut R N Thorn. Major Price appealed for funds. This and two other entertainments elsewhere raised nearly £20.

Essex Weekly News, 8 February 1918
page 1, col 1. Feb 2 ‘Marriage by special licence at Witham Parish Church by Canon Galpin. James Bryce of Wilson Town, Lanark, to Emma Hicks, eldest daughter of Mr and Mrs G I Hicks of Easton Road, Witham’.
page 6, col 7.

Pair of horses attached to a military wagon bolted from Chipping Hill and passed along Collingwood Road, High Street, Mill Lane and Guithavon Valley. No damage. Eventually stopped by soldier.

UDC 25 February 1918
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 6, col 6. Whist Drive at Constitutional Club. 25 tables. Mr A Mead distributed prizes. Ladies: 1 Miss Barker, 2 Mrs Richards, 3 Miss Daizley, 4 Miss Ager. Gentlemen: 1 Private S Kellingbucks, 2 Lance Corporal Ling, 3 Sergeant Argyle, 4 Sergeant H Plinston.

Essex Weekly News, 15 March 1918
page 4, col 4. Witham Petty Sessions. Salter, Capt Ffinch [?], W Butler, Laurence, J W Moss, E N R Pelly, F R Round. ‘Private Fredk Barnett, Durham Light Infantry, was summoned by Beatrice M Fleming, Church Street, Witham, to show cause etc.’ Mr H P Bawtree instructed by act by NSPCC. Complainant only 16 years old when child born on November 30 last. To pay 5 shillings a week for 14 years.

page 5, col 7. Whist Drive, Constitutional Club. 21 tables. Mr A Mead distributed the prizes. Lades: 1 Mrs R Hodges, 2 Miss M Ottley, 3 Miss Wilkin, 4 Miss H Hills. Gentlemen: Corporal Streamer, 2 Private Klabrow, 3 Mr F Gill, 4 Private J Lovey.

11 November 1918, message on postcard
Message on photo M1460 from Owen to his father, Staff sgt F E Cole, c/o Mrs Lovedy, Elmdon Lee, Saffron Walden, Essex’. Pm 11.11.18.‘Dearest Dad, Monday afternoon. We got the news this morning that the Germans had accepted our armistice terms: it was put up in the window of the stationers shop opposite. We saw it at 11 o’clock: it is so hard to understand and believe flags are flying from every house: boys are marching round the streets with flags: we are not doing any work this afternoon: I cannot understand what is going to happen: how things are going to be arranged. There may be anarchy in Germany as in Russia. I might yet see some fighting there. We must wait and see’.

4 February 1919, message on postcard
M1463 . from Owen Cole (see 11 November 1918) to presumably his mother. This one is postmarked 4 Feb 1919 from Witham. Message includes ‘We go on Thursday: we have been getting ready today, cleaning our equipment and such like things: the Sergeant told us today that we should continue signalling at Colchester and he would be with us, and probably the Brigade School would be started again in Cologne, so that’s rather cheered me up: we shall get six days leave before we go to Cologne: all this has come so suddenly, we knew things would move soon, but never expected anything like this, its like a bomb shell. This is a nice card of Witham, the most fashionable road in the place: the field on the right is our General Parade Ground’.[i.e. west of Avenue]

Essex County Chronicle, 28 March 1919
page 6  ‘Witham Cricket Club. Why Outdoor Recreation was preferred to growing potatoes’. Annual meeting at the Grove by invitation of the President, Mr P E Laurence. Mr W Stevens, for many years hon sec, voted to chair. Mr Laurence not well. Mr A P Snell of Brighton had written. Report by management committee, Laurence, Stevens and H B Peecock. ‘Carried on the club last year for the benefit of soldiers, and military league matches were played. The bar had not been open ..’
Letter from Essex sec, hoped to arrange a match at Witham ‘between the Australian Imperial Forces and Essex Amateurs’.
Mr Pelly thanked committee for ‘the use of the ground by the Volunteers for drilling’.
Hope to get a professional to improve the ground.
‘The Chairman: It has been thrown in my teeth several times that the Witham cricket ground should have been ploughed up to grow food, but I consider that it was far better to maintain the cricket ground to provide outdoor recreation for our soldiers than to grow potatoes to fill the stomachs of the British public (Hear, hear).
Mr Bawtree said ‘Witham had a perfect wicket in the past – easily the best in Essex’.
Mr Stewart Richardson disappointed young men not at meeting.
Mr S Richardson elected captain, he had been in 1914. Said ‘In the future Witham Cricket Club will occupy a more prominent position than ever. The clubs at Chelmsford, Colchester and Brentwood have gone, and Witham alone remains’.

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’.

November 1919
From; death of Colonel Elton, was with the 7th Warwicks Regiment who left Witham in March 1915.
Name: Elton, Alfred George Goodenough. Rank: Colonel. Regiment: Connaught Rangers. Secondary Regiment: Royal Warwickshire Regiment: Commanding 7th Bn. Age:62. Date Of Death: 17/11/1919. Son Of Alfred Elton, Of Shenstone Lodge, Bedford; Husband Of Alice Maud Elton, Of Knole Lodge, Burnham-On-Sea, Somerset. Grave: North-East Part Tenbury (Or Tenbury Wells) (St. Mary) Churchyard

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.

OS map 1922
Behind Powershall, are ‘Rifle Butts (disused)’, shown as long straight ridge with bank on one side (I enquired about this in 2001 and was told it was no longer there).



PRO WO 95/5460
WW1 war diary. Includes lots of units including: 978 MT COY RASC 1917-18
CLAYDON [then has Colchester written on in blue pencil]
Typed account. Includes: ‘Previous to October 1917 the area … was … maintained by 373 MT Company, Bedford, with sub-workshops at Chelmsford and East Bergholt. 373 Company was then divided into 3 Companies, one of which was 978 Co … formed …Oct 1st 1917′. Premises at Claydon. Work was ‘supply and maintenance of all MT vehicles attached to Units in … Essex north of Thames, and Suffolk south of a line … Haverhill to Aldeburgh’. Sub workshop at Chelmsford handed over to this Coy and East Bergholt workshop vacated. 1,100 vehicles. Increased to 1,200 by March 1918 then reduced to 620 before armistice especially because of withdrawal of 324 vehicles to 2 cyclist brigades. Various lathes and things at Claydon Lot of non standard units. Women from Feb 1918. Now 95 women, especially driving. German POWs arrived at HQ on 10 March, 45 of them, most are ‘most useful’.

Mrs Chipperfield, wife of Warwick Chipperfield, at Templars Junior School fete, 7 December 1996
Mrs Dazley who lived in Nelson House, Maldon Road, in 1914, called a baby Warwick after the two Warwickshire regiment soldiers who were billeted with her. The baby died in 1915 (is on the burial register), and Mrs D wouldn’t be satisfied until another member of the family was called Warwick. I think Warwick Chipperfield, the speaker’s husband, was Mrs D’s daughter’s grandson, and received the name after there were a couple of other children with other names as preferred by their parents. Mrs C. the speaker has also called her son Warwick; he is at the junior school.

Royal Warwicks
Reply-To: “DAVID L SEENEY” <>
To: <>
Date: Tue, 25 Jan 2005 17:09:01 -0000
X-Mailer: Microsoft Outlook Express 6.00.2800.1437
Dear Janet
Thank you for your letter regarding the Royal Warwicks in Essex.
I will pass your details on at the next meeting of the Friends of the Royal Warwicks Museum, we would of course welcome any articles or notes for the news letter.
David L Seeney – Research Advisor
Sunset Militaria, Dinedor Cross,
Herefordshire, HR2 6PF – UK
TEL: 01432 870420
FAX:: 01432 870309

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