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Bugbrooke and the Great War - Page 3. October 1914 - January 1915

Page 1 - Overview, Info & Articles Page 2 - August, September 1914 Page 3 - October 1914 - January 1915
Page 4- February 1915 - May 1915 Page 5 - June - September 1915 Page 6   October15 - January 1916
Page 7 February 1916 - May 1916 Page 8 June 1916 - Sept 1916 Page 9 October 16 - January 1917

Bugbrooke in the Great War.  Events 100 years ago October, November 1914

The weekly school newsletters were much as before, recording local events and sights, with the quality of chrysanthemums a regular theme.  These letters soon grew to include reports from those recently-enlisted and undergoing training around England.There was also regular contact from many soldiers already on active service in France with the British Expeditionary Force (BEF).  Their news was more guarded – on a standard postcard with little scope for personal information and carefully censored.  These cards were also quite belated and the ‘news’ could be up to two weeks old.  On 1 October the Kaiser had referred to the BEF as “… a contemptible little army …” and those men have been known as ‘The Old Contemptibles’ ever since.Apart from the soldiers, there were two pre-war sailors, Able Seaman Harry Hope and Signaller Thomas King, both at sea in battleships, HMS Queen Mary and HMS Britannia respectively.Next off to France, on 6 October, was Sergeant John Foley, a pre-war regular with the Army Service Corps (ASC), attached to 3rd Cavalry Division.The BEF was ordered west to counter German advances and as it completed its move from the Aisne to Flanders, the protracted first battle of Ypres began, on 15 October.Privates Charles King and Eric Poole, with 2nd Battalion, Northamptonshire Regiment, had returned from Egypt and were destined for France in December.  Eric was able to visit the school during his dis-embarkation leave and reportedly gave a ‘most interesting talk’ to the pupils on 20 October.Nurse Evelyn Moore left the General Hospital at Shorncliffe and joined the Hospital Ship Gloucester Castle at Southampton, sailing on 1 November for Alexandria. She was promoted to Sister while aboard, on 5 November.Private Joseph Bannard, with brothers Private John and Lance-Corporal William Payne, went to France on 6 November, with ‘A’ Squadron of the Northamptonshire Yeomanry.At home, there were shortages of some everyday items and the wireless had been removed from the school.  Three battalions of the Monmouthshire Regiment, mobilised from the Territorial Force, were stationed in Northampton and detachments carried out frequent exercises in the Bugbrooke area.  Belgian refugees staying in Pattishall were seen and made welcome in the village.On 3 November, the German navy bombarded the coastal town of Yarmouth, witnessed first-hand by Gunner John Marshall, Royal Garrison Artillery (RGA), who was stationed there.On the Western Front, the worst of trench warfare was yet to come, though that first battle of Ypres lasted until 21 November and was most costly on a national level; it also brought the village its first army fatality.  We now know that this occurred in action on 29 October, though it was not confirmed here or reported in the surviving school letters before the Christmas break (and is incorrectly recorded as 24 October by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission).  The fatal casualty was 26-year old Lance-Corporal (Walter) James Clarke (shown, above right, from the Northampton Independent), a long-serving Bandsman with 1st Battalion, Northamptonshire Regiment, and therefore probably employed as a stretcher-bearer.  His last card home was dated 26 October, but his brother Sergeant (William) Bailey Clarke, of the Royal Field Artillery, wrote that he had seen him on the morning of 29 October (sadly not then knowing that it was for the last time).  A roughly typed note in the battalion War Diary for October states:Oct 26th to November 15th|  Diary Lost.  The Regiment was heavily engaged most of the time   in fact on November 14th there were only two officers left – about 300 men – A battalion at full strength would have had over 900 men.  We learned that Private Fred Wooding, of the same battalion, was wounded around this time, causing his eventual evacuation to England.King George V arrived at the Western Front on 30 November to visit the troops, including those in the trenches, staying until 5 December.  He was seen by Trooper James Barnes, serving with ‘C’ Squadron, 11th Hussars.Enlistments during October included Lewis Ambler and George Bass in the ASC (both under-age); Edwin Barr in 7th Battalion, the Cheshire Regiment (Territorial Force); Albert Billingham and Joseph Hakes in 4th (Reserve) Battalion, the Northamptonshire Regiment; brothers Frank and Wallace Nightingale in 4th (Reserve) Battalion,  the Northamptonshire Regiment and 11th (County of London) Battalion, the London Regiment (Territorial Force) [calling themselves the ‘Finsbury Rifles’] respectively; Henry Westle in 5th (Service) Battalion, Northamptonshire Regiment and Percy Wright in 8th Battalion, the Sherwood Foresters (Nottinghamshire & Derbyshire Regiment) (Territorial Force).  Charles Bubb is reported to have enlisted in the Australian Imperial Forces during the month.  Unfortunately for David Moore, who had enlisted in 7th (Service) Battalion, the Northamptonshire Regiment (soon known as ‘Mobbs Own’), in September and received early promotion, he was found to be medically unfit for military service and was discharged on 9 October.Volunteers were fewer in November and included George/William Allen in the RGA; William Ashby in 6th (Service) Battalion, the Northamptonshire Regiment; Frederick Barnes, with brothers John and William Billingham (all under-age), and William Bonham, in the ASC; Paul Nightingale and Charles Davis in the Royal Engineers.It is likely that John Pritchard enlisted during this period, in London, in 12th (County of London) Battalion, the London Regiment (Territorial Force) [‘The Rangers’].Walter James Clarke is commemorated on the Menin Gate.

Roger Colbourne for the 100 Years Project

 Bugbrooke's First War Death, October 29th 1914

Obituary from the Northampton Independent.

Bugbrooke in the Great War — Snippets From the School Letters – December 1914

The last School letters we have available are for December 1914 . (We would love to know the whereabouts of any later volumes of letters.)  The content of the letters at this time is very much dominated by the war, though a few purely local things get a mention too (such as eggs being very scarce in the village and an outbreak of mumps). Here are some of the things mentioned in that month, 100 years ago, leading up to the first Christmas of the war:

Week ending 4th December

Signalman Thomas King on the battleship HMS Britannia had written to say he was in A1 health, but it was against the rules to tell them what the Fleet was doing.

Schoolchildren who lived near the railway say they constantly see special army transport trains laden with very big guns.

Mr Leeson of the Swan Inn collected 300 cigarettes to send to soldiers on the front.

Mr Nathanoff gave an account of the bombardment of Antwerp and how a friend of his was able to escape to England. (See the article below on Belgian refugees.)

Miss M. Moore (sister of the nurse Eva Moore whose story we gave in Roger Colbourne’s article in the October LINK) calls attention to the fact that in Shorncliffe Hospital a hundred patients (soldiers) were received in one day suffering from pneumonia, bronchitis, rheumatism, fever and influenza.

Eric Poole had sent a letter giving the bright side of life in the trenches. As an instance they occasionally stuck up a loaf of bread for the enemy to fire at and in one case a loaf had five shots through it. He said he was well and “writes as if it were fine fun to be in the trenches up to the knees in mud”. (Note Eric Poole was to be killed in action in July 1916.)

Strong winds that week prompted the remark: “as far as zeppelins and flying machines are concerned the stronger the better”.

Stanley Barnard enlisted.

Week ending 11th December

Advice was received not to send postcards to soldiers on the front that showed humorous pictures of the Kaiser because if a soldier is captured with one “he is liable to be ill-treated or perhaps shot”.

Gunner J. Marshall wrote to Miss M. Moore thanking her for a muffler.

Mr W. Higginbottom showed pupils a boot his Northampton firm were making for soldiers on the front.

Shortly after midnight on Wednesday military manoeuvres took place in the village – “a stirring and exciting scene under a bright moon”.

The Rector asked for (and received) a supply of plum puddings, cigarettes etc to the weight of 7lbs to send to soldiers on the front.

Concern is expressed that no news has been received from Corporal James Clarke (we now know he had been killed on 29th October – the village’s first casualty of the war. More details about him are in the last issue of LINK).

Private James Barnes writes in a postcard that HM the King had visited them.

News received that private Fred Wooding had been invalided home from the front to Bury St Edmunds.

Week ending 18th December

New recruits were private John Billingham and private W J Billingham.

Mr A Reginald Wright of the Army Transport Service left Lea with a convoy of 50 wagons for Avonmouth, Bristol and embarked for France (he was a son of the school master Frank Wright).

A long and interesting letter was received from Private James Barnes, 11th Hussars. This gave a well written account of his experiences in the fighting lines and was sent on to the local newspapers who published extracts from it. (Note James Barnes was to be killed in action in May 1915.)

Gunner Philip Turland spent last weekend at home.

Lance Corporal Horace White was believed to have received a commission (Note he had been made a temporary second lieutenant. He was to be another casualty of the war, dying of wounds in 1917.)

A brief note had now been received from a sergeant in James Clarke’s regiment stating that James had been killed in action. It was decided not to accept this as final however since he was not named in any of the official lists.

A postcard received from signalman Thomas King on HMS Britannia recording his thanks for Christmas parcels.

Visit from private Henry Westle, Northants Regiment. (Note he was to be another casualty being killed in April 1916. His brother William was killed later the same year.)

Private Fred Wooding now invalided home.

An aeroplane was seen over Fosters Booth.

As the end of term approaches this comment is made: “We cannot honestly wish our friends the usual merry and joyful greetings. It may be a children’s Christmas but for adults the time is too serious and we can only offer our good wishes”.

Jim Inch for the 100 years project,   www.Bugbrookelink.co.uk/ww1