Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Great Wave Of Patriotism

In December 1915 the Group Scheme for recruitment came to a close. This had been introduced in order to bolster the dwindling numbers of volunteer recruits, and it is at this time that William Britton stepped forward for military service.

4 Dowry Place, Hotwells,
is the fourth property from the right
William Edward Britton was born on 11 June 1895 at 4 Dowry Place, Hotwells, Bristol. He was the son of Thomas John Britton (1869-1939) and Georgina Eliza Vale (c1869-1947). In 1911, aged 15 William was a postmasters errand boy.

The National Registration Act of July 1915 required men aged between of 15 and 65 and not already in the military to register, giving details of their employment. Subsequent to this, Lord Derby, Director-General of Recruiting, brought forward the Group Scheme (often called the Derby Scheme) of recruitment in October 1915.

Bristol newspapers kept the topic of recruitment before their readers and the following article extract explains local arrangements:
The Bristol Recruiting Committee, in company with other recruiting authorities throughout the country, have, during the past few days, been giving serious attention to Lord Derby’s scheme – the final scheme as it is thought – for securing by voluntary means the men needed to keep our armies in the field up to strength. Briefly it means that all men of military age not starred, i.e., not engaged on munitions, aeroplane, or other Government work, are to be personally canvassed and urged to join the colours. Also, that the canvass is to be carried out by civilians under the auspices the Local Parliamentary Recruiting Committees, or where such does not exist, the political agents of the district.

As is well known the Bristol Recruiting Committee has been in existence since August, 1914, to deal with schemes of this description, and they have delegated their duties connected with the carrying out of Lord Derby’s scheme to a sub-committee consisting of the various political agents who are already members of the Committee, and also representatives of the Labour party. We understand that steps have been taken to put the canvass into operation at once.

Western Daily Press - Wednesday 20 October 1915
Under the Group Scheme, men aged 18 to 40 were informed that they could continue to enlist voluntarily or attest with an obligation to come if called up later on. A period of notice would be given to all such men before they were called up to join, so that they might wind up business affairs.

Voluntary enlistment under the scheme was to have ceased at midnight on Saturday 11 December 1915. As this date approached so there was a great rush of recruits.

Sunday, 13 December 2015

The Best Parade Of The Day

Two postcards written by Thomas Minshall to his wife, Eva, and sent from Aldershot in October 1915 are shown below. At this time Thomas was a Lance Corporal with the Cheshire Yeomanry and throughout 1915 the Regiment was stationed in Norfolk on coastal defence duties and undergoing training.

Headquarters Office. Aldershot

Aldershot, 8 October 1915
Dear Eva,
I have come into the town this evening to buy a few things, so not time for letter. I received yours this morning; and will send long letter tomorrow. Keeping tip top, hope all are well.
Your loving husband x.
Aldershot Gymnasium

Aldershot, 17 October 1915
Dear Eva,
I am just going for a short walk with Sgt. Childes. It is a lovely afternoon, so we are going to the flying grounds. I will write letter after tea, before I go into the Gym. I thought you might like pic of the Gym. I hope your cold is better, & Ma & Pa are quite well.
Your loving husband x.

So, why was Thomas detached from his Regiment and what was he doing in Aldershot? He was likely to have been undergoing a course of physical and bayonet training there preparatory to becoming an instructor.

The Army School of Physical and Bayonet Training was based at Aldershot. This school and later others modelled upon it were not for soldiers. Their purpose was to instruct officers and non-commissioned officers in physical drill and bayonet work sufficiently so that they could teach essentials to the rank and file.

Monday, 7 December 2015

Sunshine and Tears

Frank Moore enlisted with the Cheshire Yeomanry in August 1914. Moving from camp at Eccleston near Chester, the Yeomanry arrived in Norfolk in September 1914 to take up coastal defence duties. This time was also occupied with training and Frank unfortunately had a fall from his horse, which hospitalised him for a short time. Whilst recuperating he was interviewed by the Chester Chronicle who published on 24 October 1914 Frank's description of life in camp in Norfolk. In a follow-up letter he wrote somewhat graphically about his experience in the Eastern General Hospital at Cambridge.

Chester Chronicle - Saturday 07 November 1914




Trooper F. B. Moore, of the Crescent, Northwich, who is attached to the Cheshire Yeomanry, and has been invalided home consequent upon accident sustained under circumstances described in a recent issue of "The Chronicle," has written for us the following interesting impressions of life in a present-day military hospital. He says;

"At 7 a.m. breakfast is served, consisting two eggs per man, with bread and butter and tea. Afterwards some of the men make their beds, and the nurses do it for these who are too badly wounded to do their own.

"The hospital orderlies wash up the plates, etc., but are helped considerably by those men who are nearly better. The nurses then begin the dressings. This was my most unpleasant experience. Several men had been so badly hit that they could hardly bear being touched. Yet the nurses had to keep with the good work all the time the poor fellows were screaming. One man had a hole the back of thigh. I saw it myself, and I could have put two fists it easily. He was


bursting behind him. Had to dressed every hour, and it was Iike a murder each time. We ate our meals while it took place. Occasionally some one muttered 'Poor devil,' or 'He’s going through it,' but, as rule, we ate silently.

"After dinner, some of the people of Cambridge who owned cars would call at the hospital and take a number out each day for a drive. Each sister of each ward would select a few, and they paraded at 2-30. It was very amusing see us arrayed in the hospital clothes of saxe blue, with all kinds, of coloured dressing gowns put over them.

"I would like to mention that the doctors are very kind and spare no pains to make each man thoroughly fit and well. I myself saw a man who had the flesh blown from his leg from the knee to the thigh. His life was given up, and for the short time he was expected to live he had everything asked for. His slightest wish was law. The doctors and nurses between them managed to save his life, but thought the limb would have to be amputated because of gangrene. However, this evil was overcome and his life and leg were saved, and the man is doing famously. His name is Conway, ward 3B. This is only one instance of many marvellous cures. I have seen men there wounded in all manner places. One had bullet which had entered


another had a bullet through his left ribs and out at the right shoulder. Many were in the legs, and one man had each lip divided by a piece of shell. I also saw a piece shell casing roughly about 2 inches square taken out man’s back.

"From my own knowledge and asking each man, I know all these cases are doing splendidly. I watched them improving each day. You would notice a man walk better, another would have a little less bandaging on him, and so on.

"I now come to the arrival of 150 wounded Belgians. These poor fellows had been through it from Liege till the fall of Antwerp. I got the hats from two of them, and a prominent Northwich tradesman has them in his window. Several of them could speak French, and I was able to have a little chat with them. One, a gunner, told that he had found his wife and three children murdered. They met their deaths in the burning and sacking of Louvain, and he himself found their mutilated bodies. Another one with tears in his eyes and in the saddest of voices said, "There is


Others had had sleep for days, and told they did not want to sleep. I was struck by the restless look of some of them. They seemed to be at it again their mind’s eye. You could see that their thoughts were miles away. They are mostly very strongly-built men, and I venture to think that when they do get their own back they’ll get it four-fold.

"When the Belgians arrived, we, still in our blue suits, greeted them with a few good old British cheers. We lit cigarettes for them and put them in their mouths, and it was grand to see the look of satisfaction on taking the first whiff. I would that the young fellows who are hanging back could have seen them. It would have stirred their small spark of patriotism into a burning flame, with strong desire to help them to get back what they have lost.

"These Belgians think the world of the British soldier, and it was great to see them fraternising round the beds, laughing at the funny attempts explanation, the gesticulations, etc."

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Salonika Bound

On Wednesday, 1st December 1915, Joseph William Minshall signed his Short Service Attestation form at Northwich, Cheshire.

Joseph was born in 1881 at Winsford, Cheshire, the son of George Minshall and Martha Alice Steen. He had an older brother, Alfred, and three younger sisters, Elizabeth, Florence and Frances. Alfred emigrated to the USA in 1907.

In 1901 Joseph was living at the family home in Northwich where his father George was a blacksmith, and Joseph a watch and clock maker. The 1911 Census records Joseph in lodgings in Sheffield.

The National Registration Act of July 1915 required men aged between of 15 and 65 and not already in the military to register, giving details of their employment. Subsequent to this, Lord Derby, Director-General of Recruiting, brought forward the Group Scheme (often called the Derby Scheme) of recruitment in October 1915.

Under the Group Scheme, men aged 18 to 40 were informed that they could continue to enlist voluntarily or attest with an obligation to come if called up later on. The War Office notified the public that voluntary enlistment would soon cease and that the last day of registration would be 15 December 1915.