Archive for the ‘World War 1’ Category

A 1914 Description of Alresford

In Pursuit of Spring

Edward Thomas, in 1914, lived in London. That Spring, he decided to journey from his home, down through Guildford, Alresford, Salisbury and on to the Quantocks, on (and with) his bicycle. Whether he cycled all the way is not really clear at all. But his account of this journey was described in his book, “In Pursuit of Spring”. This gives an early account of the towns and villages, “Rich in literary associations and observations”. Robert Frost recognised this book as “A kind of poetry, having the cadences of fine verse”.

What drew me to this book was that Thomas, later a resident of Petersfield, took a camera with him on this journey, and has an interesting picture of the Avenue in Alresford, in 1914, before the older carriage track and path were covered over with grassed areas. Petersfield Museum put on a display of some of these photographs in 2017: the picture of the Alresford Avenue is shown below.

DSCN6006 The Avenue Alresford in 1914

More or less the same view in August 2017, with all the trees in leaf, is shown below. Obviously his original photo is taken from a higher viewpoint, maybe standing on his bicycle!

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Further old pictures, circa 1900, of the Avenue and the various paths and tracks, can be seen in the AlresfordHeritage website collection, in the pages that feature the Avenue. Also the picture below from AlresfordHeritage shows these paths in the early 1900s, near the top of Pound Hill, and what is now the site of the ARC.

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The Edward Thomas account

The book – the copy I have seen – is words only (it has none of his photos), ISBN 0 7045 0423 5, a 1981 reissue by Wildwood House, available from Hampshire Libraries, with an introduction by P J Kavanagh. It describes Farnham, Bentley, Holybourne, Alton and Fourmarks, before arriving in Ropley. The comments about Ropley, and Bishops Sutton, are shown below, before he enters Alresford.

96-97

Then he enters Alresford, ‘sad coloured, but not cold, and very airy’. At least East Street is no longer “sad” in colour! He considered Alresford was “Consisting of one street, plus a side turning, very broad”! The following pages also describe Alresford Pond in the words of George Wither, a poet, who praised the pond for its beauty:

98-99

So, Thomas then goes on to spend pages extolling the virtues of the Norgett family, who lived at Oldhurst. Anyone know where that is, or who they were?

100-101

The next extract sees him leaving Alresford, along the Avenue, where he stops to take a photo, and then he turns right along the Worthies road, but on the pages shown below does not get past Itchen Abbas.

110-111

The pictures

The Edward Thomas photographs, 53 of them, were unearthed by Rob Hudson, a Photographer specialising in landscapes, based in Wales. Rob has published them in his blog, of March 1st 2016, accessible via his website. A couple more are shown below, that might interest local residents.

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Bishop’s Sutton Church, 1914

 

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Getting dark, at Headbourne Worthy, 1914

 

 

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The Kingsley Bungalows, in New Farm Road

DSC01563b“During World War I (1914-18), Winchester became a major transit location for troops destined for the Western Front and battlefields. Vast numbers of barrack huts and recreation buildings were built, covering large tracts of Morn Hill, Magdalen Hill, Winnall Down and Avington Park. It is claimed the Morn Hill Camps could accommodate more than 50,000 troops when Winchester at the time only had a population of about 20,000.”

This above is the first paragraph from the website www.tohonourapromise.co.uk, which describes the camps and troop activities on Morn Hill and generally around Winchester during WW1. In Alresford, Tichborne and Old Alresford there were large encampments of soldiers waiting, in transit to France.

At the end of the war many of these young men returned home, and needed somewhere to live: there had been no house construction for five or more years. Efforts were made to construct houses quickly: and the huts used for the barracks and dormitories obviously offered a ready source of what were expected to be temporary accommodation huts for families.

Lt Kingsley Baker, MC

DSC01831aThe full story of these bungalows was difficult to confirm, as my first assumption was that Kingsley related to a family surname! The outline was always present, that the bungalows were erected in memory of a loved son who was killed (and decorated for his actions) in WW1.

The answer came from reading Glenn Gilbertson’s book, published by the Alresford Historical and Literary Society, called “Not Just a Name”. Lieutenant Kingsley Baker, MC, of A Battery, 51st Brigade, Royal Field Artillery, died on 30 March 1918, aged 23, and is buried in the Abbeville Communal Cemetery on the Somme, in France. Kingsley Baker was the son of Henry Charles Baker and Nellie (nee Stubbs) Baker: Henry was a Draper and Outfitter of Broad Street in Alresford. They had three sons, and Kingsley was the youngest: the other two sons had previously been injured during WW1. Lt G Baker of the Royal Berkshire Regiment suffered a serious arm injury, and Lt P Baker, of the RAF, suffered severe burns in an aircraft accident in September 1917.

DSC01830aThe father wanted to do something in his son Kingsley’s memory, and he decided to buy some land at the end of New Farm Road, and have seven of these surplus army huts dismantled and re-erected on this land, as “temporary” homes for returning soldiers. In Glenn’s book the facts are quoted as “After the Great War Henry Baker purchased army huts at the bottom of New Farm Road, turning them into homes, named Kingsley bungalows, in his son’s memory.”

Hampshire Chronicle Reports

As quoted in “Not Just a Name” by Glenn Gilbertson:

Baker Kingsley real06.04.1918: “…Lt Baker … [from Alresford] was extremely popular in the town and district. He enlisted in September 1914 in the Hussars, and when volunteers were asked for he was one of the first to come forward, and was transferred to the Royal Naval Air Service. He served through the whole of the Gallipoli Campaign, and was one of the last thirty to leave Sulva Bay. On his return he was granted a commission in the Royal Field Artillery, and went to the Western Front in 1916.”

13.04.1918: “Letter from HQ – Brigade – Division BEF, to the Baker family: ‘I have just received intimation of the death from wounds of your son. I hope you will allow me to express to you my deep personal sorrow at the loss of a most gallant officer and friend, and my fellow-feeling for you in your great sorrow. He was one of my best officers, and, at the time he was wounded, was performing most gallant and efficient work as a forward observing officer in front of ******. He did so well that his name has gone in for immediate award of the Military Cross, and I feel very sad that he did not live to wear a much deserved decoration. I trust it may help you to know how much we thought of your son, and how gallantly he has fought throughout this great battle.’”

Kingsley Baker is listed on the New Alresford and the Tichborne WW1 memorials, the latter because prior to WW1 he had worked as a member of the Tichborne Estate Management team.

The Kingsley Bungalows

Kingsley Bungalows, as marked on OS maps

The Kingsley Bungalows plan, as shown on OS maps

These bungalows, created by Henry Baker in memory of his son, are still known as “The Kingsley Bungalows”, and labelled as such on the OS maps. Situated at the southern end of New Farm Road, they are constructed of seven huts end to end, ie with the roof line parallel to the road.

DSC01828aAll that can be seen to confirm this name is one plaque next to the doorway of Number 1, saying “1 Kingsleys”. These homes are around 24 feet deep and 30 feet wide, and still have the metal framework in place that was the strength of the original construction. Possibly the walls have now been replaced with brickwork, which is why the “temporary” homes are still standing, and permanent, sought after homes, after nearly 100 years. Obviously there have been extensions and modifications added over the years.

It is possible the two further similar bungalows, sited along Spring Way, now much modified, also started life as similar military huts: it is not known whether they were also part of Mr Baker’s project, but it seems likely.

Other Kingsley donations?

Possibly some of the military huts used in the camps around Winchester were dismantled and re-erected as community halls, scout huts and similar. Others were used for homes – Pat Bentley, in his recent article published on this website, describing his 1950s newspaper delivery round, quotes the use of two such huts that formed the home he lived in on the Bishop’s Sutton road outside Alresford, where here the huts were side by side.

Ropley008aAnother possible site of a ‘Kingsley’ related bungalow is on Church Lane in Ropley, where Nurse Johnson lived for a time in the 1950s or 60s, near to the Ropley school: the postcard photo of her wood-board faced bungalow is distinctly named (in a hand-written addition on the corner of the photo) as “Kingsley”. With two chimneys and a tiled roof it has been much modified from any original military hut. The use of the Kingsley name there is interesting: but further research by Una Yeates (now living in Alresford) into her family links with Ropley, has shown that her relation Walter Ford (later of 3 Church Cottages, Ropley) married a Fanny Walton in  1878: Fanny was quoted to be resident at ‘Kingsley’ in Ropley, at that much earlier date. Una provided the attached picture from family archives.

In Ropley and Fourmarks, it was reported that after WW1 returning servicemen erected what were known as “Colonial style” bungalows as homes on land which was provided at low cost: one is pictured in the Ropley Millennium booklet. Les Holder comments that there were four huts similar to the Kingsley bungalows opposite the Flower Pots Pub in Cheriton, and his brother lived in such a hut in Darvills Terrace, next to “The Ship” in Bishop’s Sutton.

From the “To Honour a Promise” research activities, Tony Dowland comments that the WW1 hutments were frequently used post-war, for civil use. “In King’s Worthy. Much of Springvale Road was ‘developed’ using strips of land upon which a hut would be placed. There is no real evidence of where they came from. They could have come from the many camps around Winchester including wider Morn Hill, Worthy Down and Morestead. In Kings Worthy the ‘developer’ was Cundell Blake of Woodhams Farm.”

He also comments that “If you look back in the Chronicle for the immediate post-war period you will find auctioneer’s adverts listing the many items being sold as war surplus. Huts would go for about £25, with the purchaser to dismantle. They even offered rail transport via the camp railway. Also the large camp cinema on Morn Hill was transferred to Park Avenue (on North Walls) – where it became first a theatre, and later a cinema.”

Colonial style bungalow in Ropley

Colonial style bungalow in Ropley

In Ropley and Fourmarks, it was reported that after WW1, returning servicemen erected what were known as “Colonial style” bungalows as homes on land which was provided at low cost: one is pictured in the Ropley Millennium booklet. Possibly these were based around war surplus hut purchases. Les Holder (aged 101 now I think, but still resident in Alresford) comments that there were four huts similar to the Kingsley bungalows opposite the Flower Pots Pub in Cheriton, and his brother lived in such a hut in Darvills Terrace, next to “The Ship” in Bishop’s Sutton.

Again in Ropley, the Ford brothers (relatives of Una Yeates), who were painters and decorators, so associated with builders, both lived in such bungalow huts. Una also remembers that there were four such huts erected in Walter Read’s builder’s yard in West Meon, and that in fact six families lived in these four huts. This continued even after Read’s was taken over by another builder (Jenkins of Bournemouth), but the yard was developed and replaced by modern residential housing in the 1950s.

It was also reported that the first council houses built at the far end of Grange Road, during or towards the end of WW1, were in fact built with the help of German POWs! A different legacy to the town, compared to the French soldiers who, as Napoleonic POWs, left us some gravestones. Across the country, after WW1, some of these German POWs decided to stay and settle down in the UK, maybe because they had been absorbed closely into the community while working on such projects.

History repeats itself

The same story occurs in WW2, where there were major encampments of soldiers in transit, camped in Alresford, Northington and Old Alresford: also during WW2 the St Swithun’s school buildings on the road into Winchester were used as a Hospital for injured soldiers – in fact my stepmother (an Army nurse from Great Yarmouth/Gorleston) was stationed there. Then, after the war ended, all the returning soldiers were desperate to find or create homes for their families, the moreso because of the bomb damage to city centres like Portsmouth and Southampton. Notably the Fire Service accommodation erected on the Stratton Bates Recreation Ground was turned into homes for evacuees, and continued in such use until the early 1950s. This story is told by Brian Rothwell in his article ‘The Stratton Bates Legacy’ in the 2014 edition of Alresford Articles, published by the Alresford Historical and Literary Society – he even has a sketch of the last hut left on the recreation ground, as the first sports pavilion and changing rooms, which served until 1994.

Thatched and wood clad, this was the Golf course Clubhouse, based round a railway carriage: picture from alresfordheritage.co.uk, and "The History of Alresford Golf Club" by ER Hedges, 1990.

A picture of the Clubhouse on the Golf course, based on a railway carriage: picture from alresfordheritage.co.uk, and “The History of Alresford Golf Club” by ER Hedges, 1990.

Another temporary home, mentioned by Pat Bentley in his recent article, was the Railway carriage that was positioned in the field at the top of Jacklyn’s Lane, near the water tower. There was another Railway carriage in Alresford at that time: this one was heavily disguised, with a thatched roof and wood cladding on the sides – it was used as a clubhouse by the Golf Club for some years. It was located opposite the Cricketer’s Pub, across Tichborne Down, and had a car park between the two for the golfers. This cannot really be classed as an emergency temporary home…..

 

Update from 1950-60

Number 1: "Bennett's" shop in the 50s-60s.

Number 1: A modern picture of what was Mrs Bennett’s shop in the 50s-60s.

Gog Andrews remembers that Number 1, Kingsley Bungalows, in the 1950-60 period, was a thriving local shop, known as Bennett’s, run by Tom and Emma Bennett. Thriving, because at that time the main industry and employment in Alresford was located in Prospect Road: these were companies like Gush & Dent (Agricultural Steel Fabricators), White & Etherington (Timber Merchants), Wessenden Products (Brush Manufacturers), William Thorne (Timber Merchants), The Chicken Factory (Poultry Slaughter, Prep & Packing). Mrs Bennett sold a selection of groceries, sweets, tobacco, cigarettes, cakes, paraffin, etc, to all the Prospect Road workers, and the local residents, so it was relatively busy. Tom Bennett had a farm, along on Tichborne Down, and fresh eggs from the chickens there were also sold in the shop.

But the bungalow was in the same format as it remains today – Mr and Mrs Bennett lived there, and the sitting room was to the left through the front door. The room to the right was the shop, in just one smallish room, containing a counter, a few shelves and a large table: a hanging bell on the front door called Mrs Bennett out to serve. Gog says that from the outside it was hardly noticeable as a shop, with hardly any signage or advertising: in fact it looked almost the same then as it does today, approached up the front path through the lawn in the front garden, with the door in the centre and windows either side.

Postscript: April 2016

A new document donated to the Alresford Museum shows road layout plans (hand-drawn) and lists the house names and numbers existing in Alresford in 1946. The Kingsley bungalows are shown there, labelled 1-7, and these are also labelled with their house numbers as allocated on the New Farm Road numbering system, which are numbers 14 to 20, with the bungalow known as number 1 Kingsley Bungalows also being number 20, New Farm Road!

WW1 – Alresford Remembers

DSC01562aSeveral hundred visitors to the Alresford Community Centre on August 9th & 10th appreciated an exhibition commemorating the contribution made by Alresford and the surrounding area, for example the Tichborne and Morn Hill camps, during World War 1.

The exhibition was organised by the Alresford Community Association Fund Raising Committee. Contributors to the many displays included Alresford Heritage with support from the Alresford Museum Committee, The Alresford Historical & Literary Society, Perins School and the Morn Hill project ‘To Honour a Promise’. Many treasured artifacts and memorabilia were kindly donated for display by local residents.

Refreshments were provided by the Community Centre Fund Raising Committee & Volunteers and over the weekend £135 was received in donations which will be given to the Perins School World War 1 ‘Plant a Tree’ project.

Some of the photographs from the WW1 display

Some of the photographs from the WW1 display

Some of the items and stories shown in the Community Centre over the weekend have been returned to the Alresford Museum display cabinet in Alresford Library in Broad Street, where they will be on show until late September. The five panels showing pictures of local scenes from WW1, created by Gog Andrews of www.alresfordheritage.co.uk, are now on display in the alleyway off Broad Street (between Lavenders and the AgeUK Charity shop) which leads to the Courtyard Tearooms, and will remain there during the autumn. If you have any further pictures which could be copied and added to this record, please contact Alresford Heritage, or Alresford Memories via a comment on this webpage.

The alleyway to the Courtyard Tearooms

The alleyway to the Courtyard Tearooms

WW1 Silks

Because its August 4th, here are some further images showing Silks from WW1.

These items are still on display in the Alresford Library NATT Museum cabinet.

 

WW1 Silks260

WW1 Silks262

WW1 Silks265

 

Different experiences of being a PoW in Germany

……from one family, in two World Wars!

Valery Hollier is the grand-daughter of Edgar and Alice Teresa Blake. Edgar Blake was the manager of The World Stores in East Street, in Alresford, at number 15, which is now the hairdressers. The World Stores (or, looking at the picture, maybe it was called the Worlds Stores) was in East Street from around the 1920s until the 1950s: Pat Bentley and Audrey Chalk remember the World Stores in the 1950s, Pat from his paper round (See Alresford Articles Number 4) – and Audrey worked in the shop for a time.

Edgar and Alice Blake, probably in the 1930s

Edgar and Alice Blake, probably in the 1930s

Edgar and Alice had four children, Kenneth, Marjorie, Primrose [Valery’s Mum, known as Peggy] and Barbara. Barbara is still alive, living in Winchester, aged 92, and Valery, born in 1946, lives in Bournemouth, but returns to Alresford to visit whenever she can.

Edgar Blake in WW1

In WW1 Edgar Blake was in the Royal Hampshire Regiment, fighting at the Somme. A shell exploded close to him, and it blew half his face away: these very bad injuries led to his comrades leaving him where he lay, believing he would die. The advancing German troops found him and took him back to a field hospital – this led to a series of 22 operations on his face, rebuilding it and using skin grafts from his chest. Valery says that each operation was photographed and written up in German: at the side of each photograph each procedure was described. This album is now to be passed to a museum from one of her cousins in Hertfordshire. During his treatment Edgar heard one of the Doctors say that “This one will not make old bones”, implying a short life expectancy. In this diagnosis they were wrong, in that he lived until March 1977, achieving the age of 89. His face was always disfigured, and he had to eat what Valery calls ‘sloppy food’ – like shepherd’s pie, home-made soups etc. Alice died in 1963, and both of them are interred in St John’s churchyard: in their retirement they lived at 8 Bridge Road.

Peggy Blake and Len Swatton in WW2

Peggy Blake was living in Alresford at the outbreak of WW2, and was courting Leonard (Len) Reginald Swatton, from Winchester, at the outbreak of WW2: he went off to France with the 51st Highland Division of the Royal Horse Artillery. Early in February 1940 Peggy received a telegram saying “See the Vicar , we are getting married!”. With leave from France and a special license they were married, on 14 February 1940 in St John’s Church. Only 3 days later Len went back to Europe via Chideock in Devon: he was captured by the Germans in late May/early June 1940 at St Valery en Caux. Because, despite the events, he liked the name of the place, this is why Valery, who arrived after the war in 1946, was given the name, with the unusual spelling. She was christened by Canon Robertson Len was a POW for five years, held in the Stalag VIIIB camp near Auschwitz in Southern Germany. When he was released in 1945 he told Valery [as a child] that the Germans marched them round and round in circles, but later she discovered this was what was known as The Death March, with prisoners trudging around Germany between January and March 1945.

Strange comparison

It is ironic that two members of the same family could have had such contrasting treatment as POWs of the Germans in the two wars. But at least both survived the war to come home.

And the Worlds Stores as it looked today:

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Comment from Valerie, August 5th 2014:

Thank you, thank you, SO much for the wonderful “Write up” with regards to my Grandfather and my own Father during World Wars I and II, in your reminiscences.

Valery

Unique WW1 items on display

The Alresford library display, which commemorates 100 years since the start of WW1, has been updated with some new items for July and August: the people of Alresford and the surrounding area who remember those who fought in WW1 have provided some treasured mementos for us to see.

New to the display, which has been on show for two months already, are some embroidered cards, known as ‘WW1 Silks’ and a set of spurs worn by a soldier in the Royal Artillery.

WW1 Silks

silks 264  cut down

These embroidered cards were made by the local French and Belgian people in refugee camps, and sold to the soldiers to send home to their loved ones. The cards on show were sent home to West Meon by Bert Wicks, to both his wife and his mother. The lace attached to a postcard formed an envelope, and inside there was typically a card for a personal message. Half a dozen cards are on show, just a portion of the many cards sent home by Bert throughout the war.

Royal Artillery spurs

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The spurs worn by Frank Holland, a horseman in the Royal Artillery during WW1 are also on show. Frank rode a horse, which with up to five others in the team pulled the field guns, attached to a Limber, which was a two wheeled cart. When the guns were in position, the Limber was used to collect the shells from the munitions base, and deliver them to the gun position.  See the spurs just visible on the right of this photo.

See further explanations and photos in the display organised by the Alresford Museum, in the library in Broad Street. This will continue through July and August.

Commemorating WW1 in Alresford

This year we commemorate 100 years since the start of WW1, and there will be a display by the Alresford Museum committee of WW1 memories from us all in the Alresford Library cabinets. The first set of objects will be on display for May and June 2014, and a second set in July/August, and if we have a lot of items, also a third set.library cab4 What does WW1 mean to you and your family?

In the display to start in May, as an example, the Museum Committee have collected some items from their family histories relating to WW1: some of these are from my grandfather, who fought in that war. He had no links to Alresford, but the items on display will be relevant to most of that generation of men who went off to fight, whether from Alresford, or in his case from Leeds in Yorkshire. What would you wish to display to remember that time, for your family? Please show us the items, let us put them on display, on loan for a few weeks, with a story about what they meant at the time, and what they now mean to you. Contact us through the NATT website, www.towntrust.org.uk, or via Nick Denbow on phone 734824 or nick@nickdenbow.com.

During May/June some of the items on display are:

Princess Mary Christmas Box

This Christmas presentation box was sent to every soldier fighting in Christmas 1914, ie the first Christmas in the war, by Princess Mary, the seventeen year old daughter of King George V and Queen Mary. The purpose was to provide everyone wearing the King’s uniform and serving overseas on Christmas Day 1914 with a ‘Gift from the Nation’. princess Mary box (2)The contents of the box varied considerably; officers and men on active service afloat or at the front received a box containing a combination of pipe, lighter, 1 oz of tobacco and twenty cigarettes in distinctive yellow monogrammed wrappers. Non-smokers and boys received a bullet pencil and a packet of sweets instead. Indian troops often got sweets and spices, and nurses were treated to chocolate. Many of these items were despatched separately from the tins themselves, as once the standard issue of tobacco and cigarettes was placed in the tin there was little room for much else apart from the greetings card.

The box design was by Messrs Adshead and Ramsey. Actually, the funds for the box came from a press appeal to the British public made in November 1914, via an advertisement inviting monetary contributions to a ‘Sailors and Soldiers Christmas Fund’. The picture here comes from a box now offered for sale, still with the original contents, for GBP300. As you might expect, empty boxes are sold regularly, there are a lot around, and are worth maybe £50 on Ebay! (A recent Bargain Hunt BBC TV programme saw one sold at auction for £10)

WW1 Diary from East Africa

The soldiers in WW1 were expressly forbidden to keep diaries of their time at the front, or anywhere else, as these would have been invaluable to the enemy, if they had been captured, in knowing troop movements and routes, amongst other things. However, a lot of soldiers wrote such diaries, even if only after the war, in order to get the memory out of their minds. My grandfather was one of the latter, and he had many months to do this, recovering from malaria in a UK convalescent hospital, after fighting in East Africa (Tanganyika) with the Royal Engineers. Much of the text of the diary section of his record is already re-published on the website www.dockraydiary.wordpress.com . The diary and his medals will be on display in the library cabinet. Other diaries and memoirs are on show, one as reported in the previous story on this website.

Detail of the cyclists and equipment!

Detail of the cyclists and equipment!

John Triggs of West Meon

Prior to the Great War, John Triggs of West Meon joined the Hampshire Cycle Regiment, and then volunteered for the Hampshire Regiment after the outbreak of war. He fought at the battle of the Somme in Summer 1916, and was killed in the October of that year. His story is given separately on the www.alresfordmemories.wordpress.com website, and this page will be shown in the library.

The Telescope Scout Regiment

Look-out posts, or scouts, were the primary methods of obtaining military intelligence about enemy intentions in WW1. Most scouts were issued with a telescope, to enable them to see the approaching enemy, observe troop movements or aircraft, or to identify where the cannon fire was landing to advise the artillery to move their aim up or down, right or left. Many of these scouts were hoisted up on barrage balloon type platforms, to better see over the enemy lines.

Other “Officer of the Watch” telescopes were developed for the Royal Navy. These were made by Dollond, BCC (Broadhurst Clarkson Company), N+Z (Negretti & Zambra), Troughton & Simms, Ross, and others. On display currently is an “Officer of the Watch” telescope that saw service off the Belgian coast, with its owner, Captain Haselfoot of the Royal Navy. In later years Capt Haselfoot was famous for sighting a “Sea Serpent” with a long swan like neck, in the North Sea – rather like what we imagined that the Loch Ness monster looked like.

What can you add?

Send us your memories, or loan us your Grandad’s or Great-Grandad’s souvenirs, or his medals, with a brief explanation about what they are and who he was, where he fought etc, and we will be delighted to display them and record them on line. Or maybe your grandmother has memories of working in a different style of job to help the war effort here at home, in WW1?