Wednesday, 25 November 2015

50 Jam Tins

One of the Troopers identified to have been with the Cheshire Yeomanry in Norfolk on coastal defence duties was Frank Blatchford Moore.

He was unlucky enough to have two accidents whilst in camp with the Yeomanry at Langley Park, Norfolk, both falls from a horse. After leaving hospital in Cambridge, and whilst convalescing at home, he discussed camp life with the Chester Chronicle who published the following report.

Chester Chronicle - Saturday 24 October 1914



Trooper F.B. Moore, of No. 5, The Crescent, Northwich, has returned home from the Eastern General Hospital at Cambridge, in the hopes of making a good recovery from injuries sustained while in camp. Trooper Moore, who is well known in the town, is a member of the Cheshire Yeomanry and has been in camp at a place near to Bungay on the East Coast. He had an interesting story of camp life tell our representative, who found him in excellent health after his term of "roughing it."

"The Cheshire Yeomanry," said Trooper Moore, "who are at present on the East Coast, are forming part of the Welsh Mounted Brigade, which comprises the Cheshires, Shropshires and Denbighshires, and the Shropshire Royal Horse Artillery. A detachment of the R.A.M.C. and Army Service Corps are also in the camp. The regiments of Yeomanry are seven miles apart, but it is possible to form a brigade at the shortest notice.”

"To give you an idea of camp life, the day’s programme includes the sounding of reveille at 5.30 a.m., and at 6 o’clock we are in the stables. There we spend one hour, and at 7 o’clock the horses are fed and the men go breakfast. At 8 o’clock we are obliged to saddle-up, and half an hour later we turn out. Some days we get squadron drill, and others it is outpost schemes and tactical exercises with occasional night alarm about an hour after ‘lights out.’ The men return to camp at 1 o’clock, after having watered the horses in the surrounding rivers. Grooming then takes place, and following the feeding of the horses we go down for dinner. It is always the horses before the men. For an hour after dinner the men are allowed to rest, the time being spent in writing letters and reading the daily papers. We fall in for rifle drill on foot, and drilling is proceeded with until about 5 o’clock. The horses are then taken and watered and fed and this done, the men retire for tea. All who are not on night guard are free from 7 till 9.45, when lights out is blown and roll call takes place in each tent. The night guard is posted at 7 o’clock, and consists of nine men from each squadron, who serve terms of two hours on and four hours off, all through the night till reveille. Occasionally you will be detailed for main-guard; that is, guarding all approaches to the camp and patrolling the ammunition carts.

"The night alarm is an exciting time in camp. One squadron with a Maxim gun defend the camp while the remaining two squadrons endeavour to capture the camp, using only recognised roads, lanes and by-passes. A very amusing incident occurred one evening, when the defending company posted a picket about 200 yards down a road which promised a good attack. A string of


were stretched across the path and the picket then lay in waiting. On came the attacking squadron all mounted and unsuspectingly rushed into the tins, which made a terrible clatter. All the horses stopped, and the men were captured before they had time to realise what had happened.

"This is only one the many amusing incidents we see. Another was when a private was in the act of watering a horse. Mounting the horse’s back, he waded right into the centre of the river. Unfortunately, the horse slipped and the man took a lovely dive. What made the occasion more ludicrous was that the Captain came along and uttered an angry threat to the man, who stood in the middle the river wet to the skin, for disturbing the horses during watering.”

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Spirit of the Times

In September 1914 the Welsh Border Mounted Brigade moved to Norfolk for coastal defence purposes. The following letter by a man serving with the Brigade in the Royal Army Medical Corps provides some indication of the 'spirit of the times'.

Chester Chronicle - Saturday, 3 October 1914



We have received an interesting letter from a Runcorn man, Mr. C. Faulkner, of Bold-st., who is serving with the Cheshire Royal Army Medical Corps in Suffolk. That body, he says, attached to the Welsh Border Mounted Brigade, comprising the Shropshire Yeomanry, Shropshire Royal Horse Artillery, Denbighshire Hussars, Cheshire Yeomanry, and the Transport and Supply Column, numbering in all about 3,000 men, “and every one ready and waiting the call to the field of action.”

“We have been here four weeks,” writes Mr. Faulkner, “during which time a great many have gone to the front. Twenty of our men left here a fortnight ago to fill the places of some members of the Royal Army Medical Corps who were cut up while doing their duty to their wounded comrades, and to their country, at the battle of Mons. There were touching scenes when we parted with twenty chums, but most of the sorrow was due the fact that we were not going. Still we hope to meet them at the front some time next month. While we have been here we have chiefly been concerned with accident cases, arising out of ‘preparations,’ and it is interesting to know that we have not had more than an average of 23 sick men, day by day, which is an excellent record, and proves the good health the brigade.

“It was my pleasure to meet Mr. Jersey de Knoop yesterday, and to find him as genial a soldier as is a politician. He was inoculated at our hospital here with amo-toxin (typhoid serum) and has left for abroad to-day (Thursday) to take up his active duties. I could not help being impressed by his kindliness and courtesy.

The Welsh Border Mounted Brigade, which includes many from Cheshire, have volunteered to a main, and have been accepted for the front.

Saturday, 14 November 2015

The Godwin Family and WWI

Brief notes on a Macclesfield family during the First World War

A letter written by George Godwin discussing daily activities with the Cheshire Yeomanry was published by Chester Chronicle on Saturday, 26 September 1914. At the time the Cheshire Yeomanry were encamped at Kirby Cane Hall, near Lowestoft in Norfolk, on home defence duties.

George was the son of John Godwin (1844-1911) and Elizabeth Anne Bagshaw (b.1851). John and Elizabeth were married at Manchester Cathederal in 1872 and had nine children, two of whom died in infancy. The surviving children, all born in Macclesfield, were:

Harry Bagshaw Godwin . . . . . . . (1874-1952)
John Godwin . . . . . . . (b.1877)
Annie Godwin . . . . . . . (b.1881)
Alfred Godwin . . . . . . . (1883-1941)
George Godwin . . . . . . . (1885-1956)
Robert Godwin . . . . . . . (1889-1918)
Frederick Harold Godwin . . . . . . . (b.1895)

John Godwin was an employer and textile designer; he died in November 1911. Census information also identifies his sons Harry and John as textile designers. The 1911 Census shows Alfred as a clerk for a textile designer and George as a bank clerk for Parrs Bank. Harry married Dorothea Mary Woodhouse in 1912 and they had two children: John (b.1914) and Derek (b.1917).

Alfred appears to have moved into farming; his mother, Elizabeth, was living at Ivy Farm, Macclesfield, in 1917 and in 1939 both Alfred and Elizabeth were living at Old Hall Farm, Rainow, Cheshire, where Alfred was a milk and poultry farmer.

Thursday, 12 November 2015

The Likely Lads

Life with the Cheshire Yeomanry in camp at Kirby Cane, Norfolk, September 1914

TB Minshall at bottom
On Thursday 3 September 1914 the Cheshire Yeomanry moved from their camp at Eccleston, near Chester, to Norfolk on the east coast of England. As part of the Welsh Border Mounted Brigade they were bound for Norwich to join the 1st Mounted Division, the division being formed in August for the purpose of home defence.

After a short stay at a camp at Bungay, the Cheshire Yeomanry moved to a new site at Kirby Cane Hall nearby. Two postcards of camp from this time survive, belonging to and featuring Thomas Minshall of “C” Squadron, Cheshire Yeomanry, along with 8 other men. Each card is simply dated “October 1914” on the reverse in Thomas’ handwriting. "C" Squadron drew from an area covering Northwich, Tarporley, Nantwich and Audlem.

On 26 September 1914 the Chester Chronicle published an interesting letter by a trooper of “C” Squadron that detailed daily life in camp.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Well Ordered Bustle and Activity

Cheshire Yeomanry’s Mobilisation and Move to Norfolk, 1914

The Chalmondsbury Flower Show at the beginning of August 1914 included a military tournament. Reportedly great skill was shown by members of the Cheshire Yeomanry and Shropshire Yeomanry in the prize events, which included tent pegging, lemon cutting, potato race and Victoria Cross race. From these genteel times the yeomanry shifted onto a war footing during the month.

On the 4th August 1914 the United Kingdom declared war with Germany and the the next day the Territorial Army was mobilised. Cheshire Yeomanry mobilisation took place at its pre-war training centres:
  • Regimental Headquarters: Chester
  • "A" (Tatton) Squadron: Knutsford
  • "B" (Eaton) Squadron: Chester
  • "C" Squadron: Northwich
  • "D" Squadron: Macclesfield
The Regimental Sports, advertised to take place on 12th August, were cancelled.

Manchester Evening News reported on 10 August that the "C" Squadron of the Cheshire Yeomanry, quartered at Northwich and drawing from an area covering Northwich, Tarporley, Nantwich and Audlem, had practically completed the purchase of horses and were well mounted. It was also noted that the Northwich football field, the Drill Field, had been converted into a camp, the horses being stabled beneath the covered stands.

Within a week "C" Squadron were on the move to a new camp. After several false alarms the men received orders to leave the Drill Field on Saturday 15 August and the Chester Chronicle (22 August) described the departing camp preparation as in a "state of well ordered bustle and activity".