© JOHN TAYLOR

INTRODUCTION

Born in 1823 at Water Eaton Mill, at an early age Thomas Lake Harris moved to America with his parents, and eventually became minister of a chapel in New York. Having earned a certain reputation as a mystic, he died in 1906, and amongst his visions wrote; ‘looking forward to an era of love and liberty and peace, when there shall be visible signs of brotherhood in Christ among all Christian men.’ However, perhaps he meant in the very distant future, for within nine years of his death there would be the most horrific war in human history, followed by a repeat performance twenty years later, followed by sundry conflicts all over the world, followed by even more hostilities that continue today. Yet in the aftermath of the Edwardian era, despite international tensions there still seemed the hope that Britain and her Empire could bask in imperial glory, and at Bletchley the year of 1914 began with the idyllic vista of a water colour drawing of ‘The Ousel at Fenny Stratford,’ as the front piece of the St. Martin’s Church calendar. In fact while politicians troubled themselves with such matters as Home Rule for Ireland, local life continued its usual pace, and when on Saturday, July 4th the local press gave a passing mention to some Archduke, who was assassinated with his wife somewhere in Bosnia, it seemed to be just another of those pointless squabbles in the Balkans. Of far more concern was the local whereabouts of ‘Beppo,’ a large sable and white collie dog who, possessed of such talents as shutting the door, ‘playing’ the piano, and cricket, had slipped its collar at Bletchley station on July 7th. In fact the story soon gripped the local imagination, and offering a £1 reward the dog’s owner, Miss Kerr, of Coventry, even travelled to Victoria Docks to investigate a sighting. With the reward increased to £5, hundreds of illustrated notices were printed for distribution to nearly every town in the country, but sadly on the last Sunday in July came the tragic news that Beppo had been found dead, in the fields between Whaddon and Calverton. Then just a few days later came more tragic news, when ‘The International Situation has assumed an exceedingly grave and very threatening aspect, and the chances of preserving the peace of Europe have perceptibly dwindled. The political parties are to sink their differences, so that the country can ‘speak with the authority of an undivided nation.’’ Thus war was declared on August 4th, and - as they say - the rest is history. At Bletchley a patriotic meeting was held in the Town Hall, and, with every expectation that it would all be over by Christmas, young men flocked to join ‘Kitchener’s Army.’ Many of the older men volunteered for home defence duties, as special constables, or as ‘Volunteers,’ and - primarily to guard the local railway bridges - a contingent of the Norfolk National Reserves would be stationed in the town, as also, during their transit to destinations elsewhere, hundreds of troops. Without hesitation the town gave hospitality and accommodation to refugees fleeing from Belgium, whilst at Staple Hall the Royal Engineers would establish an important signals depot, to be later replaced by a wireless depot. When it became clear that this was to be a prolonged war, men could voluntarily join the forces at a recruiting office in the town, based firstly in the yard of the Park Hotel, and later in Bletchley Road, and when compulsory military service was then introduced, the many cases for exemption were heard at the Council Offices, and also at the Police Court. With the armies locked in a stagnant warfare, on the Western Front the need for large quantities of timber arose, not least as pit props for the tunnels dug beneath the enemy lines, and as duckboards and supports in the trenches, and to cope with this demand a large Timber Supply Depot, employing much Portuguese labour, was established at Bletchley. As another priority, with the increasing peril posed by the U boats came the need to grow as much food as possible, and so came into being War Agricultural Committees, rationing, and Land Army Girls. At home, the families of those on active service were kept informed of conditions at the Front by the letters, often published in the local press, from their loved ones, and at Christmas local committees would send parcels to those men from the parish who were on active service. When peace finally came, throughout the country ‘trophies’ captured from the enemy were offered to many towns throughout the land, and in consequence Bletchley agreed to display a German field gun. However, when by February 1920 this had still not arrived the comment arose that; ‘That gun may, no doubt will, arrive in Bletchley sometime or other in the dim and distant future - about the time, possibly, when the League of Nations will be engaged in staving off the next great war - and the War Office will be engaged in commandeering all and every weapon of destruction that it can lay its hands upon.’ How prophetic would those words prove to be.


AIRSHIPS, AEROPLANES & AIR RAIDS

In February 1915, special warnings to the public were issued in Buckinghamshire regarding hostile aircraft and airships, and if any approached then arrangements had been made for an alert to be sounded by blasts upon the hooters in various local factories. Therefore on Tuesday, May 4th 1915 'all our steam "buzzers" started buzzing' when, at about 6.30a.m., a large vessel travelling at altitude loomed into view. It then descended over Bletchley station, but there was great relief when the flags it was carrying were seen to be Union Jacks. The airship then remained over the station for a few minutes, before gaining height and making off, as if following the railway line. As seen in this modern day photo, the aerial view of Bletchley station is now very different. In fact occupying the site of the old steam locomotive sheds is a car park (now adapted to accommodate even more vehicles), an interesting feature being that the retaining wall was built from the stone sleepers of the original London to Birmingham railway line.

On Sunday, September 13th 1914, at 8p.m. many Bletchley residents saw a cigar shaped airship travelling in the direction of Leighton Buzzard. In fact some residents reported having seen airships on various evenings during the week, and causing more excitement an aeroplane passed over Bletchley on Tuesday afternoon, April 28th 1914. However, following the outbreak of war it quickly became apparent that apart from being objects of fascination, aeroplanes and airships could now become objects of terror, and in February 1915 special warnings to the public were issued in Buckinghamshire regarding hostile aircraft. Should any approach, then arrangements had been made for an alert to be sounded by blasts upon the hooters in various local factories, and on hearing such a warning people were advised to take cover in their houses, and not to congregate in the streets. In fact the nearest hooter to Bletchley would be at Read and Andrews’ brickworks at Newton Longville, with others situated at Newport Pagnell, Stony Stratford, and Wolverton. Indeed, on several mornings during March local residents thought they heard a Zeppelin alert, but it transpired that this had been caused by a newly installed hooter at Staple Hall Depot, which sounded at about 6a.m. each morning. Yet there was no mistaking the approach of an airship at about 6.30a.m. on Tuesday, May 4th 1915, when, travelling at altitude, a large vessel loomed into view. A flag fluttered from each end of the car, but because the detail could not be distinguished the police were called out. Then, as the airship descended towards Bletchley, it became clear that the flags were Union Jacks, and after remaining over Bletchley station for a few minutes the airship slowly gained height, and, as though following the railway line, made off in a northerly direction. Afterwards, it was thought that the airship had been a dirigible of the British Army, since it resembled - as did all the four types of airship then in use - ‘Astras Torres, Betas, Etas and Parsevals’ - a short, fat cigar with pointed ends, but nevertheless at the approach of the vessel ‘all our steam “buzzers” started buzzing.’ On May 6th 1915 Arthur Cox, ‘3068, A Flight, 14 Squadron Royal Flying Corps,’ made his first flight, during which he ascended to 2,000 feet and achieved a speed of 45m.p.h. The son of Mr. and Mrs. Cox, of Pavilion Lodge, Bletchley Park, he had been apprenticed four years ago to Mr. Stanley, of the Walton Motor Works, Aylesbury, but having enlisted in the R.F.C. in January was sent for a short while to Farnborough. He was then posted to Shoreham, where he passed the examination to become 2nd Air Mechanic, but next went to Scotland to receive aerial instruction. As for his elder married brother, Herbert, he was now living in Canada, but after enlisting in January was currently undergoing training at Calgary, being expected to shortly sail to England. Causing the usual excitement, on Thursday, June 24th 1915 a plane flew south over the town at high speed, whilst on the following day a balloon was seen overhead. Having drifted towards Newport Pagnell, it came down near Singleborough, and the same night the crew of four naval men were seen on a platform at Bletchley station, presumably returning to their base. There was more aerial activity on Tuesday morning, July 6th 1915, when a monoplane flying at great speed passed over the Bletchley district.

However, there came the threat of a less welcome aerial visitor during the early hours of Wednesday morning, September 8th 1915, when news arrived of another possible Zeppelin raid. In case any motor cars were guiding the airships, measures to keep watch and guard the roads were swiftly taken, but since nothing happened the police, special constables, and military guards resumed their normal duties after dawn.

Despite the continuing menace of Zeppelin raids, in 1915 many people did not consider the small print of their household insurance policies, which would not provide any cover in the event of damage by enemy air attack.
However, there was one company which at a moderate cost specialised in such protection, as detailed by this advert.

Yet all were called out again on Thursday morning, although with the same result. Nevertheless, no street lamps were kept alight in Bletchley and Fenny Stratford on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings, and on Saturday in a carriage in a train of the L.&N.W.R. leaflets had been laid on the seats headed ‘Hostile aircraft,’ informing travellers that ‘It is of great importance that when the lamps are lighted the blinds, where provided, should be kept drawn, in accordance with the notices exhibited in the trains, and passengers are earnestly requested to co-operate and assist the staff in giving effect to this order.’ On the night of Wednesday, October 13th 1915 another Zeppelin alert was sounded, and again in consequence the military, police, and special constables were called out. In fact some of the members distinctly saw three shells, ‘fired from somewhere,’ explode in the air, and the New Year brought no relief from the airborne peril, since thuds were distinctly heard in the Woburn district during a Zeppelin raid on Monday, January 31st 1916. Then during the early and middle part of the first week in February, in consequence of more Zeppelin raids members of the regular police and special constables were again busy, and with the possibility that motor car or bicycle guides might be passing through the district, traffic barriers were swiftly erected. However, the only apprehension was that of an inebriated woman, who duly spent the night in the cells at the Police Station, before later being charged and fined. In view of the continuing Zeppelin menace, not surprisingly at the Council meeting on February 8th 1916 Mr. Kirby raised the question of insuring the Council Offices against aerial attack, and it was duly agreed that the Clerk should apply to the County Fire Office for insurance to the sum of £2,000. By now Mr. Walter Carlile, the honorary assistant Chief Constable of the county, had been given responsibility for the orders regarding lights. Previously there had been no orders in the district, although on the sounding of a Zeppelin alert all street lights had to be immediately extinguished, with those persons on duty during such occasions to be in constant touch with the authorities by telephone. Now, by a letter from the Chief Constable the whole of the county was to be put under the full General Lighting Order from February 15th, and amongst the lengthy details it was included that the restrictions would apply not only to the lights in streets, shops, and private houses, but also motor cars and vehicles of all sorts. Dark blinds were to be placed at windows, and in fact it was due to the new Lighting Order that nearly all the town’s churches, and other places of worship, had altered the hour of their evening services to conclude by daylight, or the hour after sunset. The coverage by national newspapers had now made the consequence of a Zeppelin raid well known, and throughout the town there was a wise compliance with the regulations by households and commercial premises. Indeed, window lights were no longer visible, and towards this intention the proceeds from the successful social evening at the Albert Street Primitive Church, held on Thursday, February 17th, were to be applied to the cost of purchasing the necessary dark blinds. Major Otway Mayne, the Chief Constable of Buckinghamshire, now called attention to the unnecessary use by the public of the telephone service during air raid alerts; ‘On the occasion of the recent air raid the transmission of official telephone messages of urgent importance was seriously interfered with at several places by the inconsiderate and unnecessary use of the telephone by private subscribers to call up the police and other public officials. The Post-Master General earnestly appeals to the public to use the telephone as little as possible on such occasions and on no account to call up the police or other public officials on unimportant or merely personal matters. If this warning is not regarded it may be necessary for the Postmaster General to curtail the facilities afforded to private persons on occasions of public emergency.’ In a statement from Mr. Tonman Mosley, Chairman of the Bucks Standing Joint Committee, it was now revealed that on March 2nd 1916 an emergency meeting of the Standing Joint Committee for the county was held, at which the Chief Constable and all the Superintendents of the police had been present. This considered the measures necessary in the event of an air raid, with it being decided that the warning to the public by hooters etc., as arranged in the earlier days of the war, was no longer needed, and the notice issued by the Chief Constable on January 26th, 1915 had therefore been cancelled. Instead, under a carefully devised scheme warnings were to be issued to those in authority throughout the county, including the police and special constables, who had specified duties allotted to them. Furthermore, in the event of a raid the public were now asked to a) not congregate in the streets, b) remain quietly in their homes, c) to immediately extinguish all inside lights that might be seen outside, d) in the event of the gas being turned off at the main, users were to turn off their own gas jets, to avoid accidents when the supply was turned back on. However, during the early hours of Monday, March 6th 1916 the public had no need to heed these regulations when another Zeppelin alert was raised, for although all the services were prepared, all lights extinguished, traffic on the railway stopped, and cars held up, all the arrangements worked smoothly, and, with there being no reason for a hooter to be sounded, the general public remained unaware of the potential danger. Then on Friday night, March 31st 1916 there was another Zeppelin scare, and, hampered by the many lines brought down by a recent blizzard, telephone messages were coming in from various directions. Practically all the local special constables were on the streets of the town to look for infringements of the Lighting Order, and in consequence at the Petty Sessions, John Blunt, a butcher of Aylesbury Street, would be fined 10s. As for other offenders, Fanny Best, of Aylesbury Street, was summoned for having failed to reduce the lights in her house on the night in question. Giving evidence, special constable W. Bramley said that at 10p.m. he had asked for the lights in the house to be put out, but, having returned with special constable Wallis, at 11p.m. he found a bright light to be shining from an upstairs window. In her defence Mrs. Best said that the light had only been on whilst the people in the house were going to bed, but a fine of 10s was imposed. As regarding John Kermick, a corporal of the Royal Engineers, resident in Osborne Street, he had just returned from the Front and said that he did not know the regulations. Nevertheless, the military authorities had asked for prosecution in the civil courts, and although a fine of 5s was imposed, no conviction would be recorded. Other cases heard at Petty Sessions would include that in April 1916 of Elizabeth Timms, confectioner, of the High Street, who was summoned in respect of a bright light showing from her house on the night of March 19th. Pleading guilty, she said that dark blinds had been provided for all the windows, but on that night she had forgotten to pull down the blind of her bedroom window, which she always kept open at the top. Alfred Green, of the Three Tuns, High Street, was summoned for showing a light at the back of the house on the night of March 25th, whilst the offence of Herbert Long, a boot maker of Victoria Road, was for showing a light on the night of November 24th 1915. After considering the three cases the Chairman of the Bench said that although they were averse to recording convictions against respectable citizens, compliance with the Lighting Order was most important. Therefore although no convictions would be recorded, each of the defendants was ordered to pay 5s costs. As for a more unusual case, two showmen were summoned for a light showing from a caravan on Bletchley Road on April 3rd. They were fined 20s, but the fine could have been £100. Not that everyone heeded this potential severity, for at about 11p.m. on June 30th police sergeant Hill observed a bright light at Ropley House. This was found to be fixed to a tree, and when he knocked at the house Miss Lilian Rowland looked out from an upstairs window. Explaining that, in order to light the Avenue, the light had been fixed on the tree for use after the war, she said that it was alight by accident, but nevertheless costs of 8s 6d. were imposed. Near the railway bridge, on the evening of Thursday, July 6th 1916 two large war department motor wagons halted for a while in Bletchley Road, and crowds soon gathered when it became known that they were loaded with the parts of an aeroplane which, with the pilot shaken but otherwise unhurt, had come down near Bletchley the previous afternoon. Being in the charge of a contingent of the Royal Flying Corps, the vehicles then moved off towards Fenny Stratford, but there would be more aerial excitement on Wednesday, July 19th 1916, when shortly after 5p.m. an aeroplane was seen over the town either in difficulties, or looking for a place to land. Circling around to the north it seemed dangerously near to the roof tops, before being seen to drop. The crowds of onlookers then ran up Albert Street, Park Street, and the goods entrance to Bletchley station to find the aircraft undamaged in a field at the back of the L.&N.W.R. goods shed, with the unharmed pilot still in his seat. After a while the plane then took off, and continued its unknown journey. On Saturday evening, September 2nd 1916 two men of the Royal Flying Corps were travelling on a motorcycle along Bletchley Road, when, having passed under the railway bridge, they collided on the Bletchley side with a small child. However, despite being knocked down the infant suffered only badly cut legs, and was carried by one of the riders to Dr. Bradbrook’s house, where the injuries were attended. As told in the chapter on the Picture Palace, Henry Shepherd, cinematograph operator of Fenny Stratford, was summoned in September 1916 for allowing a bright light to shine from the Picture Palace on September 9th, and the vigilance of the special constables was again needed in the town on a Saturday night and Monday night later in the month, during an air raid alert. In fact with such alerts now becoming more frequent, the two windows in the ‘cookery centre’ at the Bletchley Road Schools were to be darkened, and in November 1916 James Kelland, medical practitioner of Bracknell House, was summoned on two counts for contravening the lighting regulations, namely failing to reduce an inside light, and failing to extinguish an outside light.

A passing Zeppelin would have found Bracknell House, in Aylesbury Street, an inviting target on the night of October 24th, 1916, when, in contravention of the Lighting Order, an inside light and an outside light were both left unscreened. James Kelland, a medical practitioner who occupied the house, would be subsequently fined 10s for each offence.

Inspector Callaway said that whilst in Denmark Street, on the night of October 24th he noticed a strong reflection of light from the house of the defendant. This was issuing from a window in the surgery, and in the yard he saw an unscreened gas lamp on the outside wall. A fine of 10s was imposed for each offence. By the Defence of the Realm Act, at the end of November 1916 church bells were to be silent during the same hours between sunset and sunrise in which ‘windows and glass doors have to be “obscured,” and “brilliant lights shining in any direction above the horizontal” were prohibited.’ One brilliant light that was certainly prohibited was that coming from the ‘Show’ in the New Inn paddock, Bletchley Road, on November 16th, and in consequence John Bostock, a managing proprietor of Glasgow, was summoned in December. Police sergeant Hill said that on the night in question, whilst in Bletchley Road at 10.10p.m. he noticed the offending light, and on investigation found the source to be a powerful arc lamp, which was used to illuminate the tent. When questioned, the defendant then allegedly said “You country policemen are too fussy. I have been to many big towns and have not been interfered with.” However, he admitted having been cautioned earlier the same night about another lamp, but in his defence said that the light usually had a large shade, which, by an oversight, had not been used.

Major Edward Mannock V.C.
Having once been stationed with the Royal Engineers at Staple Hall Depot, Edward 'Mick' Mannock became the highest scoring British pilot of the First World War, with a confirmed total of 73 victories. Incredibly, he had the sight of only one eye, since a mystery illness during childhood had left him partially blind, but he overcame the proviso that a pilot must have 100% vision by memorising the test chart before his medical examination! Bored by the clerical complacency of an early employment with the National Telephone Company, he had applied for the less sedentary role of a telephone linesman, and, lured by a large cable laying contract, worked his passage to Turkey, where, as with many others, he would be interned following the outbreak of the First World War. It would be due to the rough treatment that he subsequently endured that on his eventual return to England, secured through the efforts of the Red Cross, that he sought to seek quick revenge, and towards this intention he transferred from his Territorial R.A.M.C. unit to the Royal Engineers. After a formal interview he was then posted to the Signal Depot at Fenny Stratford, and wrote to a friend; "I'm going to be a tunnelling officer and blow the bastards up. The higher they go and the more pieces that come down the better!" Then during a spell of leave he encountered an old friend at Bedford station who was in the Royal Flying Corps, and from thereon it would be this branch of the Services that he determined to join. Passing as a proficient pilot in 1917, he was sent to France, and although during a brief career he would remain undefeated in air combat, he was to eventually die in the flaming wreckage of an aircraft hit by ground fire.

In late April 1917 three aeroplanes suddenly landed in a field at Simpson, but the next day took off at noon, performed aerial manoeuvres over Bletchley, and departed, with no one any the wiser as to where they came from, why they were there, or where they were going! On March 20th 1917, at 8.30p.m. police sergeant Hill saw a bright light shining from the front bay window of a house in Western Road, and on investigation found the source to be a strong incandescent burner in the front room. When questioned, the resident explained that a dark table cloth was usually hung up at the window, but this had been forgotten. Nevertheless, this was scant excuse, for with the continuing threat of raids from the air such transgressions could prove tragic, and indeed it was because of the damage and death being wrought on the East End of London that, in July 1917, there began an exodus of mainly Jews, crowds of whom could at one time be seen on the platforms of Bletchley station, changing trains to reach their various destinations. Yet considerable numbers would decide to stay in this district, and most would make their way to Woburn Sands and the near vicinity. In fact perhaps some were among the many people who on Saturday, September 15th 1917 walked to Little Brickhill, where the object of fascination was an aeroplane which had descended near the church. Those in charge of the site allowed the onlookers a fairly close inspection of the machine, which was of the latest type, and it transpired that the pilot had come from Norwich, from where the parts necessary for the small repairs had to be obtained. An attempt to resume the flight was then made on Thursday, but with high winds having caused the pilot to land at Potsgrove, in Mr. Hill’s field, it would not be until early Friday morning that in better weather he was able to resume his flight, after circling for several times. By October 1917 Lieutenant Gerald Knight had arrived safely back in England, to be received by the King at Buckingham Palace. As the grandson of the former rector, until recently he had been living in the village of Bow Brickhill, but as an airman during the war he had been forced to land in enemy territory, being subsequently taken prisoner. However, he managed to escape to England, and apart from his book, ‘Brother Boche,’ the story of his adventures was also told in letters sent to several of the villagers by his aunts in Devonshire. With the arrangements having been chiefly made by Mrs. Bradbrook, honorary secretary to the Bletchley District War Savings Committee, on Wednesday afternoon and evening, November 13th 1917, at the Picture Palace two lantern lectures were given. The former was attended by some 500 children from the Bletchley Road Council Schools, all ‘war savers,’ whilst the latter was for adults. Being fully illustrated by lantern slides, and written by Mr. Gray, editor of ‘The Aeroplane,’ both were delivered by Mr. W. Dixon, of Leighton Buzzard, and dealt with the construction of aircraft and their cost. Saying that it had been a very foggy night, a builder of Bletchley was fined 15s for driving a car with two unscreened lamps on November 16th. Then for having on the night of November 17th allowed a brilliant light to show from a bedroom window, James Kelland, medical practitioner of Bracknell House, was summoned, but pleaded not guilty. It had been from Denmark Street that a police constable, in the company of another policeman and Inspector Callaway, had noticed the light, and when the trio called at the house an ill fitting blind, which had been the cause of the problem, was re-adjusted. Dr. Kelland was fined 20s, but having been similarly reported a year ago he made due protest against the way ‘that the police prowled around and then jumped on some unfortunate person,’ saying that he had been most abominably treated. Yet no doubt he would have thought his treatment more abominable had Zeppelins dropped their bombs in his vicinity. As for more welcome aerial visitors, one Saturday in July 1918 Pilot Officer Francis Tattam greatly entertained the residents of Fenny Stratford with a display of flying stunts, and indeed his performance would merit a communication to his parents ‘expressing the Council’s high appreciation and admiration of the splendid exhibition of flying given to the inhabitants of the District on the 16th July 1918.’ Born at an address in Simpson Road, when aged about 14 Francis had worked his passage to Canada, where apart from several jobs in Saskatchewan he also helped to build the Kansas City railway station. He later joined the Mounties, but shortly after the outbreak of war enlisted in the Army, and served in the Canadian Engineers in France. He then gained his wings as a pilot in the R.F.C. in 1916, and, having soon received his commission, in October 1918 would go with the B.E.F. to the Murman Coast, Russia, with a Canadian contingent. At Bletchley, the only festivity to welcome in 1918 was a dance held in the Town Hall, which had been temporarily given up for the evening by the military authorities. The ringing of church bells at night was forbidden, as also the holding of watch night services, and this was due to the wartime regulations regarding noise and light. In fact it was the latter that Alice Rogers, a fishmonger of Fenny Stratford, became acquainted with at the Petty Sessions during January, when she was summoned for not having obscured a light in her house on December 10th 1917. Providing details of the case, Inspector Callaway said that from the ‘back jetty,’ which ran behind the defendant’s shop, he saw a very bright light coming from one of the windows, and on investigation found it be issuing from a large unscreened lamp. That night there happened to be an air raid alert, and although he told her to put the lamp out, before she could do so a second air raid warning came through. Having been previously cautioned, she was fined 5s. An emergency meeting of the Bletchley District Central War Savings Committee (comprised of Woburn Sands and the parishes of Bletchley, Simpson, Fenny Stratford, Newton Longville, Stoke Hammond, Water Eaton, Great. Little and Bow Brickhill, Walton, Woughton and the Woolstones) was held on Thursday evening, February 21st 1918 in the Council Offices, this being to consider a scheme - put forward by the London Central War Savings Association - to raise £100,000,000 by way of purchasing War Bonds throughout the country.

The idea was that during this period, termed the ‘Business men’s week,’ every district should try to collect a sufficient sum in War Bonds to defray the cost of at least one weapon of war, and for Bletchley it was hoped that £15,000 could be collected as the sum necessary to cover the cost of six aeroplanes, ie a squadron. With Mr. A. Bramley presiding, the meeting was well attended, and with Mrs. Bradbrook and Mr. Badger, chairman of the Committee, explaining the scheme at length, support was expressed by the Clerk and the Chairman of the Council, with Mr. Shardlow pointing out that this amount meant only £3 per head of the population. As the Central Rooms and Office, Mr. A.J. Stevens had granted the use of vacant premises in Aylesbury Street, and at noon on Monday, March 4th in the street opposite the house Mr. Badger, after making a short speech, asked Sir Herbert Leon to perform the opening ceremony. In his speech Sir Herbert then praised the intention, and said that Lady Leon, who was present, had subscribed her £25 in certificates, and he would invest £5,000 in bonds. Including Saturday, the premises would be open daily from 10a.m to 8p.m., and members of the committee, the Post Office, and Barclay’s Bank would be in attendance to receive subscriptions of amounts from a sixpenny coupon (to start a certificate card), to the largest loan or bond transaction. In fact a telegram had been received by the Chairman of the Urban District Council from Mr. Bonar Law, stating ‘I know that I can depend on you doing your utmost. Every War Bond bought this week will show Germany to what extent we are in earnest.’ In fact his faith would not be misplaced, for £22,000 was to be the final amount raised by Bletchley’s ‘War Weapon Week.’ At the Petty Sessions on Thursday, May 31st 1918 John William Plumb, a grocer’s assistant, pleaded guilty to having allowed a brilliant fire to be alight on the night of May 21st 1918. Police sergeant Adams said that he had seen a very bright fire burning in the Bletchley Road allotments, and the flames could be seen for a considerable distance. On investigation he then found that a quantity of straw had been covered up with grass turf, but this had burnt through and he therefore put out the fire. Explaining the reason for the fire, the defendant said with there having been a death in the house an old straw mattress had to be burnt, and, since he could not do this at home, he instead took it to the allotment. However, as pointed out by Inspector Callaway an aeroplane had been over the town that night, and it had taken two hours to find out what the blaze was. Costs of 5s 6d were imposed. The same amount was then imposed on George Tarbox, a platelayer of Bletchley, for causing an offence on the same night. This fire had been on the Eight Bells allotments, and was also put out by a police constable. In October 1918 it was reported that Lieutenant J.A. Pouchot, R.A.F., was missing, having been seen going down on the Hun side of the lines under control. The grandson of Thomas Holdom, of Bletchley, enlisting in the Queen’s Westminster Rifles at the age of 15 he had been awarded the D.C.M. for gallantry in the field, but about a year ago transferred to the air force, and, having soon received his commission, had gone to France a short while past. Also serving in the air force was Lieutenant Hugh Bradbrook, the third son of Dr. and Mrs. W. Bradbrook, of Bletchley Road. He had recently received his commission in the R.A.F., and having recently made his first cross Channel flight, was now stationed in France. As for Mr. F.W. Grover, the garage proprietor of Bletchley, by late November 1918 he had finished his contract with the Ministry of Munitions, and was available to attend to those in need of ‘Aeroplane & Motor Repairs.’ Also he had cars for hire, and ‘If you require a new or second hand Car or Motor Cycle let me know your requirements and I will find the goods.’ Fenny Stratford Garage, London Road. Telephone 45 Bletchley. In early April 1919 Mr. and Mrs. Tattam, of Simpson Road, received a telegram to say that their son, Lieutenant Francis Tattam, R.A.F. had been posted missing since March 31st on the Murman Coast, to where he had been despatched with the B.E.F. in October 1918. Then in April 1920 they received a letter from the War Office stating that their son had arrived from Russia in Terijoki, on the frontier of Russia and Finland, and with arrangements for his repatriation to be made as soon as possible, in a cable he told his parents that he was safe and well. Believed to have been taken prisoner, it later transpired that he had been captured by the Bolsheviks on March 31st whilst on a wireless station, and in fact only a few days before he had distinguished himself on active service, in consequence of which the French Government bestowed upon him the Croix de Guerre. This had duly been sent to Mr. and Mrs. Tattam by his commanding officer at Archangel, with the following details in French;

‘A very good pilot; did not hesitate to take observations at Bolchoe-Ozerki from 20th to 30th March with a machine which he had never piloted previously, and he bombarded the enemy with success, submitting himself to a violent bombardment. He returned with his machine riddled with bullets on 23rd March, 1919.’

However, in 1920 he broke his arms and legs in an air crash, and on returning to Bletchley he married in 1922 and began employment at the Tompkins Moss garage in the High Street. Then at the age of 51 he joined the R.A.F. as an officer during the Second World War, after which he resumed his former employment, and later became a temporary agent for the Prudential. Continuing the family tradition his son would become a Master Pilot in the R.A.F., whilst as for Francis, at the age of 71 he died at Renny Lodge, Newport Pagnell, in 1966.


A PERSONAL REMINISCENCE

For most people, the First World War no doubt seems like a different era, not only in terms of time but also in terms of social values, the idea of Empire, and the sense of patriotism. Across the nation a war on such a scale, and with such means of mechanised slaughter, inevitably wrought anguish and sorrow to countless households, and for many of the sons, fathers and brothers who did come home, all too often their lives would be tainted not only by physical disabilities, but also by the effects of ‘shell shock,’ which was then little understood. Of the present population, many with the longest memories can still recall the effects that the war had on themselves and their families, and in the following words Mrs. Eileen Corden, a long standing resident of Bletchley, remembers her father, Ernest Haddon, who, having joined up as little more than a boy, fought in many of the now infamous battles, only to be seriously wounded in March 1918. Overcoming his disability, after the war Mr. Haddon became a postman, and when the Second World War broke out he took on additional duties as a member of the Auxiliary Fire Service - the A.F.S. Tragically he was killed in 1943 whilst on his rounds on his post bike, in a collision with an Army lorry turning out of Cambridge Street, driven by a learner driver.

ERNEST ‘BOB’ HADDON 10-09-1895 - 30-06-1943

“Dad was born at Little Brickhill on September 10th 1895, his parents were William and Mary Haddon - nee Green. He had an older brother (Uncle Jack) and eight sisters; Eliza Jane, Ada (a spinster), Annie, Daisy, Jessie, Kathleen (Kitty) and Lucy May (died 10 months old) and Olive. His father died in 1903 and his mother in 1911, so sister Jinny (Eliza) kept the house going. Dad got the name of Bobbin when all his curls were cut off, this got shortened to Bob. He was a choirboy at Little Brickhill church and used to carry the cross in the service. When he started work he went to Bletchley and worked at Randall’s Engineering on the corner of Cambridge Street. His sister Jinny died on June 24th 1914, after the funeral Dad came home from work one day to find he had no home, his sisters had cleared the house, all they left for Dad were his two small china dogs one of which was broken. Not knowing what to do, he went to see Mum, who was in service at the Vicarage. They were already courting. Mum took him to her home at 31, Brooklands Road, Bletchley. Her mother said that Dad could stay as long as Mum stayed in service. War was declared on August 4th 1914 and Dad joined up on September 5th 1914. His nineteenth birthday was September 10th. He must have done his training with the Oxford and Bucks before being enrolled in the 1st Royal Berkshire Regiment. He then trained as a Lewis gunner. The following details were found in the National Roll of the Great War 1914 - 1918, section X11 Bedford and Northampton;

Haddon E. Private. He volunteered in September 1914 and was engaged on important work at Chelmsford until May 1916 when he was drafted to the Western Front as a Gunner. He was in the engagement at Albert, the Somme, Arras, Ypres and CambraI, and was badly wounded in action during the retreat in March 1918. He was invalided to England and discharged in March 1919, holding the Service and Victory Medals. He was sent to 31, Brooklands Road, Bletchley.

This was a great find as I had been trying (with help) to trace his army service. Dad would never talk about the war, except to say he slept between Lil and Nancy! (Lille and Nancy, two towns in France that witnessed much fierce fighting). He would not attend the Remembrance Services at the Cenotaph, but always listened to the Service from the Albert Hall. An Army friend told Mum that Dad should have been given a medal. Apparently when his mate was wounded the officer was rigid with fright and had gone berserk. Dad got his comrade over his shoulder and drove the officer out of the trenches to safety at gun point. If this had been reported the officer could have been shot for cowardice, or Dad could have been accused of mutiny, there must have been a lot of incidents like this during the war. While in Hospital, Dad wore a special uniform known as ‘Hospital Blue.’ He had a bullet lodged in his left side. Mum told us that it was removed with a strong magnet, as it was close to his heart, and his right arm was disabled. After being discharged he returned to 31, Brooklands Road, and Mum stayed in service with Mr. and Mrs. Percy Hammond, farmers. One day a gypsy called at No. 31 selling clothes pegs. On noticing Dad’s arm she asked Mum if she would be willing to get his arm working. She said to mix equal quantities of Neatsfoot oil and rum and massage the arm three times a day. This Mum did, and finally got the use back in his arm, although at times it would lock in a bent position and had to be gently straightened out. Mum and Dad were married on July 31st 1920 at St. Martin’s Church, Fenny Stratford. Dad got a job as a postman and the day he started his war pension was stopped. They rented two rooms in a house at West Hill, Aspley Guise. Their neighbours, Mr. and Mrs. White, became lifelong friends. On September 4th 1921 Margaret Rhoda was born, she was always known as Peg. Early in 1921 Mum’s mother died in childbirth and her sister had to keep house and look after the younger ones in the family. It must have been some time in 1922 that Mum and Dad moved to No. 6, Woodbine Terrace, where I, Eileen Mary, was born on July 21st 1923. Beryl Jean was born on April 8th 1925. Woodbine Terrace was a row of ten cottages, two rooms downstairs, and two bedrooms. The front door opened into the front room, and the back door opened into the back room. The stairs were in the corner of the room. The wash house, toilet and coal barn were across the back yard, each house had a bit of a garden, this was divided from the back entrance to the Three Tuns pub by a tall, corrugated fence. The path to all the cottages was round the front and back, one path for all. In 1925, Dad’s sister Olive died in childbirth in April 1926, and Mum went to stay at Little Brickhill for several weeks taking Peg and Beryl with her, leaving me with Dad. I stayed with Dad because the house at Little Brickhill was very small, and as well as Uncle Harry there were four children. When Dad was at work I stayed with Aunt Ginny and Uncle Fred, who lived next door.”

The Bletchley memories of Mrs. Corden during the Second World War may be read in the book ‘Bletchley and District at War,’ ISBN 978 I 903747 53 7.


BLETCHLEY PARK PAVILION

Primarily as a London financier, Sir Herbert Leon had amassed a fortune, which, in 1883, enabled him to purchase Bletchley Park. Soon he began to make enlargements to the existing dwelling, and in continuing improvements in November 1896 plans were submitted to the Council for a cricket pavilion. Yet despite the drawings being incomplete, it was agreed that the work should proceed, albeit on condition that full tracings were submitted at the next Council meeting. (However, this was not the first cricket pavilion to have graced the town, for just a few years earlier such a facility had been built behind the Park Hotel in the Park Field, with the ground having been laid out in 1890 by Mr. T. Todd. In fact at one time he had been the grounds man at the Oval, and the pavilion would survive until 1952, when the remnants were sold off during June of that year.) As well as being a picturesque backdrop to the annual Bletchley Show, by permission of Sir Herbert Leon the pavilion would often be used by local organisations, but at the outbreak of the First World War all entertainments and sports at Bletchley Park were cancelled, and, with the country now facing more pressing needs, Sir Herbert offered to lend the premises as a convalescent home for wounded soldiers. Thus towards providing garments for the anticipated inmates, one Thursday afternoon in August 1914 Lady Leon presided at a meeting of ladies from the town and district. This was held on the Vicarage lawn, and with the offer of Miss F. Ridgway to act as under nurse being accepted, agreement was also reached to assist in the making of clothes for soldiers and sailors on foreign service, as well as their dependents. Mrs. Kirby was unanimously elected as secretary, and in further measures it was agreed to appoint a ‘cutting out’ committee, with any surplus clothing to be sent to central offices. In order to raise the necessary finance, representatives from each village were to be appointed for a house to house collection, and the money would then be forwarded to the treasurer by August 21st. As a welcome bonus, at a meeting of the Ladies’ War Needlework Committee - held in the Board Room at the Bletchley Road Council Schools - Lady Leon then announced that she and Sir Herbert Leon would equip the pavilion at their own expense, and so allow the funds to be entirely expended on other things. In fact Sir Herbert and Lady Leon had a very personal reason for providing such a facility, for having volunteered for active service their son, Reginald Leon, had now been appointed as a special despatch carrier at the front. Whilst the need to provide convalescence was important, also of national concern was the need to accommodate the increasing influx of Belgian refugees, fleeing from German oppression, and in consequence Lady Leon, in one of her cottages on the Bletchley Park estate, provided a home for a Belgian family. This consisted of the mother, father and five children, but when the man eventually found work (at the Diamond Iron Foundry) the family would move to London. However, there would still be another family accommodated at the pavilion, as also two Belgian ladies who in 1915, because of the stagnant ‘stability’ afforded by the stalemate of the Western Front, made a brief trip to Antwerp. Also now more relaxed were the restrictions regarding the sports events at Bletchley Park, and this was due mainly to the need to provide recreational facilities for the many troops stationed in the locality. Thus during May, one Saturday afternoon the gates of Bletchley Park were opened to the public on the occasion of a cricket match, staged between the Regular Royal Engineers, based at Woburn Sands, and the Southern Army troops, (Signal Company), whose headquarters lay in Bletchley. Many military personnel and civilians had turned out to watch the game, but in late July an already postponed cricket match had to be abandoned, when washed out by rain. The match should have been played between an eleven drawn from the Signal Company R.E. (T.F.), now at Sandy, and a Bletchley eleven, but as the proceeds from the advance sale of tickets the sum of £1 17s 4d (despite the fact that not a ball had been bowled) was still handed over to the Bucks Territorial Units’ Comforts Fund, to which in early August 1915 Miss Broome Giles sent 40 pairs of socks. Variously, other teams from the military would also enjoy the facilities of Bletchley Park, but in late August 1915 there would be a more poignant military presence when, from Northampton General Hospital, and the Weston Home, some 50 wounded soldiers were driven to Bletchley Park for an afternoon outing. The idea had been broached to Lady Leon by, amongst others, Mr. E. Bland, of the Park Hotel, and on arrival the men, many of whom had lost limbs, were shown around the grounds, gardens and conservatories by Mr. Cooper, the head gardener to Sir Herbert Leon.

For convalescent soldiers, by kind permission of Sir Herbert and Lady Leon the beautiful grounds of Bletchley Park, as seen in this contemporary view, provided a tranquil and therapeutic setting for excursions.

However, as compared in the aerial views, respectively taken in 1927 and 2005, the surroundings of Bletchley Park are nowadays anything but picturesque.

As for those who were unable to walk, they were entertained on the grass near the pavilion. Following an excellent tea, served by the Bletchley Park household staff in the pavilion, the men were each presented with a packet of cigarettes by Master Richard Leon, grandson of Sir Herbert and Lady Leon, and from the gardens Mr. Cooper had sent a choice buttonhole, not only for the men but, by their earnest request, also for their nurses at the hospital and home. The men were duly conveyed back to Northampton in cars, all of which had been lent by their owners. From December 1916 ‘War Hospital Work for Women’ was being regularly undertaken at the pavilion in the ‘Bletchley War Work Rooms,’ which were open every Wednesday from 10a.m. to 5p.m. The articles made there would be subsequently sent to hospitals at home and abroad, and ‘Donations and Gifts of Old Linen, Wool and other materials will be gladly received by Lady Leon, Bletchley Park, or Mrs. Stockley, Gable Cottage, Far Bletchley.’

No doubt this scene, courtesy of The Times, would have been similar to that in the Bletchley war workrooms, accommodated in the Cricket Pavilion at Bletchley Park.

By March 1917 the hours were 1.30p.m. to 5p.m., and to advertise this activity at the Lawn Lodge entrance to Bletchley Park a large sign bore the words, in sizeable letters, ‘Come and see.’ In fact being very welcome, on a typical day visitors would be able to witness 32 energetic ladies busy at their work, as well as not only Lady Leon, industriously engaged at a sewing machine, but also Mrs. Stockley, busy at her desk. In the centre of the large room a board gave details of the subscriptions received, and also the gifts of materials sent by friends, and additionally displayed were the amounts of money received from other sources, and actual donations. In fact these included not only the results of a whist drive, but also £1 4s, as the profits on the sale of cheese, made some four weeks ago at the cheese making classes held at the Rectory. On Tuesday, June 12th 1917, no doubt the work being undertaken at the pavilion was then much appreciated by the twenty wounded soldiers from Tickford Abbey, Newport Pagnell, who spent a pleasant afternoon at Bletchley Park by the kind invitation of Sir Herbert and Lady Leon. With most of the men being able to get around, although for some only with the aid of crutches, firstly they were shown the private gardens and lawns, where it came as a great surprise to find that all the beds in the gardens and grounds had been planted with vegetables. The conservatories, vineries and green houses were also visited, including the famous orchid house, where girl labour was now almost exclusively employed, and a punt on the lake also proved popular. Afterwards, in the large dining room of the mansion a tea was served, with Mrs. P.C. Lovett taking charge of a subsequent musical and social entertainment. Concluding a very enjoyable time, before they left the soldiers were then presented with cigarettes by Lady Leon. In November 1917 it was proposed to affiliate the workrooms with the British Red Cross Central Work Rooms, whose headquarters were in London, although Mrs. Stockley, who for the first six months had been the honorary secretary and treasurer, had now left the district, with Lady Leon taking over her duties. Nevertheless, the work carried on, and the need was graphically emphasised when news arrived of the death of Private Albert Charter, Beds. Regiment, the only son of Mr. & Mrs. Charter, of 5, Osborne Street, Bletchley. He had been killed in action on September 21st 1918, and in a subsequent letter Lieutenant C. Hart would write; ‘Though he had only been a short while in my platoon we all liked him. I did not know until a short time ago his home was at Bletchley. I am always interested in Bletchley because I am a nephew of Lady Leon and have often stayed at the Park.’ As for the circumstance of his death, one of his comrades would write; ‘we were taking shelter in a shell hole after going ‘over the top,’ when a shell pitched in the hole where Bert and another man were. I feel certain they were both killed instantly.’ Following the end of the war, the workrooms at Bletchley Park pavilion finally closed on Wednesday, February 12th 1919, having made 2,766 garments for distribution amongst hospitals at home and abroad. As for the balance of the funds, which amounted to £4 7s 9d, this would be appropriately sent to the Star and Garter hospital at Richmond, for the relief of totally disabled soldiers.

After the First World War, the Bletchley Park Pavilion and the sports field would again host joyful occasions, such as this Bletchley Show in 1924.
Today the Pavilion is derelict and vandalised, whilst the once first class sports ground has had some sort of 'sports facility' dumped on it.

CHURCHES & CHAPELS

THE SPURGEON MEMORIAL BAPTIST CHURCH

The 108th anniversary of the Spurgeon Memorial Baptist Church Sunday School was celebrated on Sunday, July 19th 1914, when over 200 scholars were given their annual treat, this being a tea at Manor Farm, Bow Brickhill. However, within a month future festivities would seem in doubt, and following the declaration of war, by the end of August donations totalling £5 1s for the Prince of Wales Relief Fund would be forwarded from the Spurgeon Memorial Baptist Church (referred to from hereon as the Church.) On Wednesday, September 16th 1914 the annual assembly of the North Buckinghamshire and North Oxfordshire Federation of Free Church Councils took place, with a tea being given in the schoolroom of the Church. Afterwards, the business of the meeting then took place, and a public meeting concluded the event in the evening. At the same venue, with the bride charmingly attired in a dress of ivory silk crepe de chine, trimmed with lace and pearls, on September 18th 1914 Miss Margaret Smith, the only daughter of Mr. and Mrs. J. Smith of the Mill, Water Eaton, married William Gurney. He was the eldest son of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Gurney of Leys Farm, Water Eaton, and with the ceremony being conducted by the pastor, the Reverend B. Williams, the couple would spend their honeymoon near London. The death occurred on October 16th 1914 of Tom Smith, who, born in Fenny Stratford in 1851, was one of the first engine drivers. In fact he would spend 30 years as a main line passenger driver for the L.&N.W. railway, for whom he worked for 46 years, whilst in other occupations he was a member of the board of the Church. On the subject of a visit that he paid in June 1911 to America (primarily to attend the meetings of the Baptist World’s Congress at Philadelphia), the Reverend Williams gave an interesting lecture on Tuesday, October 27th 1914 at the Church, where, as a means to hopefully end the year debt free, a sale of the articles left over from the Easter bazaar took place on Wednesday, November 25th 1914. In the evening a musical programme was staged, with £22 being made. At the Church on Monday, January 18th 1915 Herbert Bailey, the only son of Mrs. E. Bailey, of the Wilberforce Hotel, married Miss Mary Frost, the twin daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Fred Frost of Bow Brickhill. In fact this was a double wedding, for Harry Starling, of Hastings, married Lucy Hammond of Hazelbeech, Northants. She was a niece of Mrs. E. Bailey, and the reception was appropriately held at the Wilberforce Hotel. For the soldiers quartered in the town, the schoolroom of the Church had been made available for their use. Here they were provided with music, games, reading material, writing utensils, and, provided by the ladies, refreshments, and additionally some soldiers might also entertain at the piano, or perform songs and recitations. In early March 1915 the Reverend Williams received the following letter from the Colonel of Southern Command, at Salisbury;

In the 1980s, at the demolition of the old Co-op Hall a large advert was revealed on the end wall of the adjoining house. This extolled the virtue of 'Sunlight Soap,' and beneath was the wording 'E BAILEY PUBLIC BATHS.' This referred to those for which - no doubt in view of the many railwaymen in the town - Mr. E. Bailey had submitted plans in 1893, these being for a temperance hotel and baths. It would be at his Wilberforce Hotel in Bletchley Road, that, following their wedding at the Spurgeon Memorial Baptist Church, on Monday, January 18th 1915 the reception was held for Herbert Bailey, the only son of Mr. and Mrs. E. Bailey, and the former Miss Mary Frost, the twin daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Fred Frost of Bow Brickhill. In fact this was a double wedding, for Harry Starling, of Hastings, married Lucy Hammond of Hazelbeech, Northants., who was a niece of Mrs. E. Bailey. Apart from keeping the hotel, Mr. Bailey was also doing his bit to feed the nation, for in the garden on Friday, August 24th 1917 he found, when lifting a root of the King Edward variety, three potatoes weighing a total of 31b 4oz.

‘I am to inform you that your appointment as temporary officiating clergyman of the four denominations to the troops at Fenny Stratford has been notified to the officer commanding troops at that place. Your appointment was published in the Southern Command Orders No. 244 dated 4/2/1915.’

The denominations were the Baptist, Congregational, Primitive Methodist and United Methodist, but all were welcome at a social and musical evening in the schoolroom of the Church on Wednesday evening, March 3rd 1915. This had been arranged by members of the Royal Engineers, and in fact all the contributions were by soldiers, including Corporals Stone, Wickens and Silver, Sappers Rabone, Claydon, Jones, Taylor, Young and Hall, and Driver Gates. With the chairman for the evening being Corporal Greedy, the well attended event raised £8, which, in recognition of their permission to use the premises, would be given to the Trustees of the Church. The Reverend Williams celebrated his second anniversary at Fenny Stratford on Sunday, March 30th 1915, whilst on December 25th 126 soldiers celebrated Christmas Day by attending a military Church parade. As usual in recent years there was a joint attendance at the morning service, which had been arranged in conjunction with the other Non Conformist churches in the town, and also on the premises on Christmas Day the wedding was solemnised between Ellen, the youngest daughter of Mr. & Mrs. J. Stevens, of Church Street, and Horace William, the second son of Mr. & Mrs. A. Maycock, of Denmark Street. The bridegroom’s brother, Sydney, was best man, and after a reception, held at the home of the bride’s parents, the couple left for a honeymoon in Birmingham. In aid of the Building Fund, on Sunday evening, March 5th 1916 a sacred concert was given in the Church, where, on Sunday, July 23rd 1916 the anniversary services of the Sunday School were celebrated. A children’s service took place in the afternoon, and during the morning and evening the Reverend E.A. Raids Jones preached to a large attendance. He was now at Shepherd’s Bush, London, but had formerly been a pastor of the Church, where Mr. F.W. Randall was presently the senior deacon. On Tuesday afternoon, July 25th 1916 the children attending the Sunday School of the Church enjoyed their annual outing and treat. The location was a field at Water Eaton lent by Mr. C. Jones, of Water Hall Farm, and, with the weather being fine and warm, a good time was had by all. For several weeks, among the soldiers billeted in the town had been a number of Anzacs, and quite a few had figured prominently at the concerts held at the Church. In fact no exception was Corporal Monk, an Australian, who on Sunday evening, September 3rd 1916 sang the solo ‘Total Eclipse,’ from the oratorio ‘Samson.’ The performance was greatly appreciated, and the accompanying pianist, Miss Nora Cook, again employed her talents on Sunday evening, October 22nd 1916 at the Temperance Hall, where, conducted by Mr. F.A. Bates, the Baptist Church Choir performed at the first of a series of Sunday night concerts, arranged by the Good Templar Lodge. Before a large attendance, the three solos from ‘The Messiah’ performed by Sapper O’Connell were ‘finely given,’ and the collection taken during the event would be for the Y.M.C.A. War Fund. In fact the event had been staged for the Royal Engineers, who on Friday evening, October 27th 1916 arranged an entertainment in the schoolroom of the Church. Leaving a widow, son and daughter, the death had recently occurred of the Reverend H.S. Smith, of Potter’s Bar, where he had been the pastor after 21 years of similar service at Fenny Stratford. Indeed, it was he who had rallied the congregation to build the present Spurgeon Memorial Baptist Church, to where, after a memorial service held in the Potter’s Bar church, on Thursday, November 16th his remains were conveyed by motor car. This had been his wish, and the casket was duly laid in the Church until the following day, when a memorial service was conducted by the present pastor. Representatives from all the colonies, and all parts of Britain, were present on Christmas Day, when, arranged by the Church, members of the Royal Engineers and Women’s Legion were entertained to a tea and social gathering. Long before the event commenced all the seats were occupied, and with late comers having to be accommodated ‘in odd corners,’ ‘A general cheeriness was apparent at every turn.’ Around 250 members of the Forces enjoyed the occasion, at which, amongst others, Mrs. Brooks, the Misses and Mr. Daniel, and Mrs. Brandon, gave instrumental and vocal items. Also performed were topical and Welsh items by the Reverend & Mrs. Williams, as also a Welsh soldier, who, to the accompaniment of Mrs. Williams on the harp, sang two verses in his native language. During the evening coffee, cakes and fruit were served, and the event proved a huge success. Since January 1915 the premises had been open for the recreation of the local soldiers, and since the usual venue was now being used as a Soldiers’ Institute and Recreation Room, last year the choir of the Church had not held their annual social evening. However, this year by the kindness of Mrs. Bailey the Assembly Room at the Wilberforce Hotel, Bletchley Road, had been placed at their disposal, and here a pleasant evening was enjoyed on Friday, February 9th 1917. Both the pastor and his wife were present, and the various games were interspersed with musical items, several of which were performed by soldiers. On Wednesday afternoon, February 14th 1917 the funeral of Mr. H. Lee took place. Leading the cortege from the house was a strong contingent of the Bletchley Company Bucks special constables, of which he had been a member, and with the first part of the service having been held in the Church, he was laid to rest in Fenny Stratford Cemetery. On Sunday, September 23rd 1917 the Reverend Williams conducted the harvest thanksgiving services at the Church, where on Monday evening a sale of the offerings was held, with the proceeds being for the Building Fund. Amongst the several stalwarts of the Church were Mr. G.T. Gazeley, as assistant choir master, and as choir master Mr. Fred Bates, whose sister, Mrs. T. Whitmee, was presented after the evening service on Sunday, October 14th 1917 with a wedding present, this, on behalf of the choir, being a Wedgwood biscuit barrel and a Jardinière. Towards the end of October 1917 Mrs. Russell and Miss M. Brookes, of 22, Inman Road, Harlesden, N.W., were informed of the death in action of their brother, Sergeant Harold Brookes of the Rifle Brigade. He had once been associated with the Church, where the news of his death was first locally announced by the Reverend Williams. Harold, whose late parents had lived in Napier Street, had been employed as a grocer’s assistant by the late Joseph Cutler, and being a keen sportsman he was a well known player for the Fenny Stars and Fenny Wednesdays Football Clubs. With five other local men he had joined the Rifle Brigade soon after the outbreak of war, and, having taken part in several important attacks, had seen 22 months of active service in France, before being granted leave last August. His grandmother, Mrs. Foolkes, was one of the oldest inhabitants of the town, whilst his youngest brother, Rifleman Frederick Brookes, who enlisted in the Rifle Brigade at the same time, had been sent home from active service in France a while ago with frozen feet. However, having now recovered he was presently at Sheerness, and would probably soon be sent to France. As for another brother, he was employed by the L.N.W.R. at Northampton. After the ordinary service in the Church, on Sunday evening, December 9th, 1917 the united choirs of the churches, and other places of worship in Bletchley and Fenny Stratford, gave a sacred concert comprised of choruses from ‘The Messiah’ and ‘Elijah.’ Proceeds were for the British Red Cross Society and the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, whilst the proceeds from a concert on Friday evening, March 1st 1918 were in aid of the Church funds. In attendance was the Royal Engineers orchestra, with songs and recitations being performed by soldiers, and also by Mrs. C. Berwick. Then on Sunday evening, March 17th 1918 after service in the Church the united choirs gave another sacred concert, with Mr. T. Pearch presiding. After a short illness, Mrs. Benford, the wife of Mr. Alfred W. Benford, died on June 24th 1918 at the age of 25. The couple had married some four years ago, and of their three young daughters, the last had been born in May. For many years Mr. Benford’s father had been in business as a butcher in Fenny Stratford, and when he died some 16 years ago the business was continued by his widow and Alfred, who then took over the business on his marriage, with his mother leaving to reside in Bletchley Road. The funeral took place at Fenny Stratford Cemetery, with the first part of the service being held in the Church, of which she had not only been a member of the choir, but also the organist until her marriage, after which she had still continued to occasionally play. As a measure of the respect in which the family was held, attending the funeral were a large number of the traders of the town, some of whom acted as the pall bearers.

Fenny Stratford

On Thursday, July 18th 1918 Mrs. G.T. Gazeley, of the High Street, died following a period of ill health. She had been a member of the Church, and, conducted by the Reverend Williams, the funeral took place in Fenny Stratford Cemetery where her daughter, Miss M. Gazeley, was present. However, her son could unfortunately not attend, since he was serving with the Motor Transport in Salonica. The second of a series of winter concerts took place at the Church on Tuesday, October 8th 1918. From the soldiers stationed at Staple Hall Depot, Corporal Hankinson had assembled a good deal of talent, and soldiers also comprised the audience, which thoroughly enjoyed the performance. Several of the soloists were accompanied on the violin by Corporal S. Ellingham, and he also gave a solo, since before the war he had been a member of the Fenny Stratford Musical Society, and had often featured in local concerts. During the proceedings a collection was taken for the New Organ Fund, and to raise further finance a successful sale of work took place on Wednesday, December 11th 1918. With the girls being under the supervision of Mrs. Williams, and the boys, at a woodwork class, under Mr. Wibberley, for some weeks the young people of the Church had been hard at work preparing articles for sale, and in addition a class of 12 year old girls, under Miss C. Potton, had made many useful articles of needlework. The decorations had been the work of Mr. E. White, assisted by other workers, and at the end of the sale, which had been opened by Mrs. Butt, of Stewkley, a concert took place. Then on Sunday the pastor announced that the sum of £101 10s 0d had been made. With the signing of the Armistice, and the return of peace, at the Church on the evening of Sunday, December 15th 1918 a memorial service took place, conducted by the Reverend Williams. This was for those men associated with the Church who had given their lives during the war, and, with a collection being made towards providing a permanent memorial, during the service the roll of the ultimate sacrifice was read; Bert Baldwin, Fred Baldwin, Wilfred Barden, Frank Barden, Archibald Betts, Thomas Bridge, Harold Brookes, Harold Cutler, Fred Daniel, Arthur French, Victor Lord, William Marriott, Harold Perry, Barnet Souster, Albert Thurlow, Sidney White and Victor Page.

The grave in Fenny Stratford Cemetery of Private Victor Page, who died in Salonika.

ST. MARGARET’S MISSION CHURCH &THE SOLDIERS’ INSTITUTE

At the instigation of the Reverend Alfred Barrow, the vicar of St. Martin’s Church from 1883 until 1891, Saint Martin’s Mission Room, as St. Margaret’s Mission Room was originally known, was built in 1886 by Henry Welsh of Fenny Stratford, although the iron cross on the building formerly graced Woolstone church. The site had been purchased from Rowland Bros., the timber merchants at Fenny Stratford, and they had acquired the interest from the Holdom family. With the railway company donating £45, the costs of the building and land amounted to £458 5s 8d, which included £88 2s 9d for the land, £28 for the wooden block floor, £7 10s for glazing with ‘Cathedral Glass,’ £5 for the bell cote, and £3 3s for the new bell, which, at the opening of the church by the Bishop of Oxford, was first rung on March 1st by Mr. George Campbell. No doubt he subsequently took a dim view of the small boys who, by throwing stones, often had their own means of ringing the bell, and another longstanding churchman who would have certainly disapproved was Mr. Daniel Fennell, of Albert Street. For many years he would hold the position of sidesman until his death, aged 81, in March 1915. Two days later, on March 13th his widow Elizabeth then died, aged 83, and both had been born at Bromham, Wiltshire. However, it would be at Euston that Daniel entered service with the L.&N.E.R., and becoming for 30 years the foreman of the Carriage Department at Bletchley, on several occasions he would accompany the Royal Train. As for the ‘Mission Room,’ here on the evening of Friday, May 28th 1915 a lecture was given by the vicar of Fenny Stratford on the subject of Russia, her Empire, people and church. Yet disappointingly only a few people turned up, although this was perhaps due to the event having not been widely advertised, and also possibly to the ‘apology’ for a footpath on the south side of Bletchley Road, which, although gravelled, was only partly kerbed. However, by late July it had been tarred, and then became ‘a thing of beauty and joy for ever,’ extending from the Park Hotel to just beyond the Mission Room.

The International Stores is seen in this view of Fenny Stratford cattle market, taken around 1900. During the First World War the premises would become a Soldiers' Institute.

At the other end of the town, now vacant and devoid of soldiers was the large building in Aylesbury Street which formerly accommodated the International Stores, and thus under the auspices of the vicar, officers and congregation of St. Martin’s Church, in January 1916 it was proposed that this should become the ‘St. Martin’s Institute for Soldiers,’ with Mr. E.R. Ramsbotham as the honorary secretary. In fact including small tables, pens, pencils, chess sets, towels and basket chairs, he had issued an appeal for ‘wants’ to furnish the empty premises, the intention of which, under a local committee, was to provide a home away from home for the large number of soldiers in the town. Meanwhile, opportunely on the opposite side of the street the Royal Engineers’ canteen was now in full operation, in the charge of Mr. Evans. By late January 1916, in a ‘well arranged and comfortable’ room the St. Martin’s Institute was in constant use, being conducted by the clergy, officers and members of the congregation of St. Martin’s Church. Then by February ‘friends’ in Eaton Bray had arranged to lend a billiard table from the Village Institute, and with the facility now well frequented, also sometimes using the premises would be the St. Martin’s Lodge of the Ancient and Honourable Fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons. In September 1916 the tragic news arrived that Second Lieutenant Lawrence Barrow, of the Royal Sussex Regiment, had been killed in action on the first day of the month. He had been the youngest son of the Reverend A. Barrow, who, although he was now the Rector of All Saints, Hastings, had until leaving 24 years ago been the vicar of St. Martin’s Church, Fenny Stratford. This position he held for eight years, and during this period his would be the idea for the Mission Room. Ironically, when in October 1916 he then left Hastings, it would be for a village only twenty miles distant from Fenny Stratford, on the Watling Street. Also in October 1916 it would be proposed that for the recreational purposes of the troops, who were shortly to again go into billets, a ‘portable, temporary building’ should be erected adjoining the Mission Room, comparable to the now well established Soldiers’ Institute and Reading Room in Aylesbury Street, which catered for such a need at the Fenny Stratford end of the town. Thus during the month, at a Tuesday meeting of the Council the Surveyor submitted the application for a ‘Temperance Refreshment Room,’ although what he actually produced was a ‘sort of a plan’ for an annexe to the Mission Room. The purpose, he explained, was to be a ‘canteen’ for light refreshments, and permission - ‘subject to six months notice to remove’ - was duly given. As for the Mission Room, by mid November as another ‘Soldiers’ Institute and Reading Room’ this was open every evening for reading, writing and recreation from 5.30p.m. to 9.30p.m., although during the month the Reverend Firminger, writing in the Parish Magazine, would point out that the building was not consecrated for use on weekday evenings, and only had the Bishop’s licence for the holding of divine service. Nevertheless, on November 26th 1916 the annexe was opened as ‘a well constructed, commodious and well lighted wooden erection, standing on ground which closely adjoins the Mission Room, being in direct communication with the Mission Room through the porch.’ Then in aid of funds for the facility, in the Picture Palace on Wednesday evening February 7th 1917 a grand military concert took place, having been arranged by those members of the Royal Engineers who frequented the premises. The Royal Engineers orchestra provided the music, conducted by Corporal G. Gripton, and between the items a few lantern slides of local scenes and personages were shown. As for the Reverend J. Townley, who as the Reverend Firminger’s able curate was principally in charge at the Mission Room, having been in the town with his wife for some three years he had enrolled for national service, and it was now learned that he would leave Bletchley on April 9th, Easter Monday 1917. This was for duties at the Head Offices of Barclay’s Bank, in London, and in consequence the Sunday morning service at the Mission Room would be dropped. Nevertheless, at the premises on Sunday evening, April 1st 1917, by the invitation of the officers of the ‘St. Martin’s Institute’ the Good Templar choir, together with the orchestra, provided the soldiers with a high class programme of vocal and instrumental music. Pleasingly the event attracted a good attendance, and during the performance a collection was taken for the Red Cross Fund. In aid of the general funds, a jumble sale was then held in the Mission Room on Wednesday, May 16th 1917, and a crowd had gathered even before the sale. Therefore in view of all these activities it was understandable that the need for a cleaner at the Mission Room was advertised in June 1917 - ‘Apply E.R. Ramsbotham.’ In fact to include the distempering of the walls, by mid August 1917 the premises had been thoroughly renovated, with new curtains and fittings supplied for the sanctuary and altar, and curtains fitted to all the windows in the body of the building. Contributions had been collected by Mrs. T. Holdom, and Mr. C. Bourne, with the labour carried out ‘by a little band of voluntary workers.’ A thanksgiving service for the harvest was held on Thursday evening, October 4th 1917 in the Mission Room. This was conducted by the Lay Reader, Christopher Bourne, whilst on Wednesday, October 17th 1917 a successful jumble sale took place in the annexe. Also in October it was reported in the ‘Parish Magazine’ that the site for a proposed War Shrine was to be in front of the Mission Room, and in the words of the article the idea had ‘originated in a parish in the east end of London. After a visit paid by Queen Mary it soon became widely known and also imitated. It is proposed to erect a shrine for this parish on the ground in front of the Mission Room, facing the Bletchley Road. A good number of names for the “Roll of Honour” have been collected, and we shall be glad to receive any that have not already been sent in.’ Thus to honour both the memory of those men from Bletchley and Fenny Stratford who had fallen, and the service of their comrades who were still in action, the War Shrine, manufactured in London, at a cost of around £5, was erected within the grounds, and on the afternoon of Thursday, December 6th 1917 the Right Reverend E.D. Shaw, D.D., the Bishop of Buckingham, arrived to perform the dedication. With the Mission Room choir in attendance, before a large and respectful gathering he was assisted in the proceedings by the Reverend Firminger and Mr. C. Bourne, and after the singing of a hymn, and the reciting of the Lord’s Prayer, the Bishop gave a brief address. Following a second hymn the clergy and congregation next proceeded to the War Shrine, where, with many onlookers watching from Bletchley Road, the Bishop read a dedication. With a prayer being said, the final hymn was then followed by an Episcopal blessing and the National Anthem. Located just inside the Mission Room fence, on the south side of Bletchley Road, the War Shrine stood as a wooden structure raised on posts, and consisted of ‘two panel encased divisions, one above the other. In the upper was a Crucifix. The enclosing panels of this, those of the lower division, and the back of that are glazed inside, the names of those in whose memory it has been erected being inscribed inside the glass covered panels. The doors of the Shrine will remain constantly open, with the Cross, Crucifix and names of the Bletchley and Fenny Stratford Roll of Service, and of the deaths, in full view of passers by.’ As for the remembrance of other people of the town, on Wednesday, January 9th 1918 a service was held in the Mission Room at 2.30p.m. for Joseph Roads, who, having never married, died at the age of 85. From Thornborough, he had moved to Bletchley some 13 years ago, and firstly lived at ‘The Cleve,’ Denbigh Road, and then Waddesdon House, Bletchley Road, where he had died on the Saturday. Some two or three years ago his brother had died at Holmbury, Far Bletchley, and in their earlier years both had farmed the Grange land at Thornborough. Charged with being on the premises of St. Martin’s Institute on June 3rd 1917, with the intent to commit a felony, and for having been found on the same ‘enclosed premises,’ a 16 year old youth appeared at the Petty Sessions on Thursday, February 7th 1918. Mr. Peter Cooley, the verger of St. Martin’s Church, and caretaker of the Institute, said that on February 3rd, a Sunday, when closing the windows at the Institute his suspicions had been aroused by the defendant and another boy passing by. On going down the stairs he then found that the catch at the bottom had been put back, such that the window could be opened, and after re-setting the catch he locked up and waited for a while at the back of the Institute. Sure enough, when he came out the lads passed him again in the street. Mr. Cooley next went home to Church Street, but on returning to the Institute found the defendant close to the back window, rubbing his hands ‘as if he had dirt on them.’ On questioning the boy, Mr. Cooley said that if he could not give a better explanation of his actions then he must come to the police station, where on arrival Mr. Cooley gave a statement of the facts to the Inspector. In the lining of the boy’s overcoat a long knife was found, and in the pockets two keys, one of which was later found to fit the kitchen door at the Institute. Indeed, when such a key had been lately reported missing, a new one had to be made. Continuing his evidence, Mr. Cooley said that having locked up the premises he put the key of the back door under a jam jar on the window sill, but on leaving he thought that he could hear someone at the rear, and in confirmation about two minutes later the youth came out and went into George Street. As for the evidence of the churchwarden of St. Martin’s Church, he said that on Sunday, June 3rd 1917 at about 1p.m. he went to the Institute, where on going to the bar he saw a boy behind the counter, stooping down about a yard from the till. Saying hallo, the boy walked out into George Street and then started running, whereupon the churchwarden reported the incident that evening to Inspector Callaway. On February 3rd at an identity parade at the police station the churchwarden then picked out the boy, who, by a majority decision of the Bench, was sent for trial on one of the charges, with the other postponed sine die. Bail was allowed, on a surety of £20 being given by the father. On Sunday evening, May 5th 1918 Mrs. Thomas Gale, soprano, was amongst the several performers for an Evensong sacred concert at the Mission Room. This had been arranged by Mr. Christopher Bourne, and during the event a collection was taken in aid of reducing the debt on the new American organ. With the end of the war, there remained no further need for the annexe at the Mission Room, and in March 1919 the Bletchley Co-operative Society applied for permission to re-erect it on their land in Victoria Road, for use as a branch shop. Despite contravening the bye laws, since this was only a temporary measure permission - subject to conditions - was granted, and eventually the structure was seemingly moved to Little Brickhill. By now the Mission Room had reverted to its peacetime role, and would continue for worship until Low Sunday, April 29th 1962, when following a combined service it finally closed. At the end of May of that year, at the Conservative Club the site was then sold by public auction for £31,000 to the estate agents Marcus Leaver and Co. of London, and ‘almost certainly for a supermarket type shop, with flats and accommodation above.’ A third of the proceeds from the sale would be subsequently used to finance the building of a new vestry, and sacristy, with kitchen and lavatories, at St. Martin’s Church, and this new facility was duly blessed on the first weekend in October, 1965 by the Bishop of Buckingham.

St. Margaret's Court, built in 1965 at Fenny Stratford on the site of the old Vicarage, seen in the lower photo.

Yet despite the demolition of St. Margaret’s Mission Church - the Mission Room - the name would still be recalled by St Margaret’s Court, which, built on the site of the old vicarage, in 1965 offered two bedroom maisonettes, with central heating, from £3,810 plus £10 p.a. ground rent, albeit on a 99 year lease. As for the Soldiers' Institute in Aylesbury Street, with the curtains having already gone, as also the billiard table and piano, by November 1919 this had closed, and at a meeting of the National Federation of Discharged and Demobilised Soldiers and Sailors (forerunner of the British Legion), held at the Park Hotel on Thursday evening, August 21st 1919, it was suggested that the premises, owned by the Rowland family, might be suitable as a club for the members. This was especially since it had a billiard room, a large reading room, silent room and other offices and rooms, and, although the rent was unknown, it was agreed to try and secure the premises, with the Executive Committee of Messrs. Clayfield, Sinfield and Morgan, plus Mr. W. Lailey Rowland, Mr. R. Ruffle and Mr. Wrigley, being tasked to try and arrange the best terms. However, at a later meeting of the Bletchley Branch, held at the Park Hotel in early September, it was reported that the committee now had the offer of other premises, which was just as well since, at the same venue, the following week a general meeting would be called to report that the former Soldiers’ Institute in Aylesbury Street was no longer available.

After the end of World War One, the National Federation of Discharged and Demobilised Soldiers and Sailors (the forerunner of the British Legion) considered buying the wartime Soldiers' Institute, in Aylesbury Street to accommodate their club. However, this did not transpire, and, as detailed in this newspaper announcement, the premises found another use.

Therefore as an alternative the premises known during the war as the ‘Maison Belge,’ in Church Street, was considered. After the war this had been occupied for a few months by the military, but would then be bought by Mr. Hedley Clarke for £220. He now agreed to sell the premises to the N.F.D.D.S.S. for £400, and although there would be the additional expense of £50 for repairs and decoration, and £150 for furnishing, all of this Mr. Clarke was prepared to find, allowing it to remain on the mortgage at 5½% p.a. interest, with the capital to be paid off as and when the Federation chose, in sums of not less than £50. After a discussion amongst the members it was duly decided to take the house as a club, with the money to be raised by shares to be taken up by the members. However, unfortunately this proposal later fell through, and the building instead opened as a Catholic Church on Trinity Sunday 1920.

THE ALBERT STREET PRIMITIVE METHODIST CHAPEL

Due to the war, the Albert Street Primitive Methodist Church Sunday School cancelled its usual outing to Claydon Park on Whit Monday 1915, and by kind permission of Sir Herbert Leon, for their annual treat would instead spend Saturday, July 10th 1915 at Bletchley Park ‘Home Farm,’ to where they had marched from the chapel. With a good tea provided, the arrangements had been carried out by Mr. W. Muckley, the assistant superintendent, and also Mr. F. Scott, the secretary. For awhile the boys of the Sunday School had been collecting with their teacher, Mr. Barden, money to purchase new tea urns, and two were duly presented to the trustees on Tuesday evening, October 12th 1915. A tea and social evening followed, with the proceeds of £3 to be applied to the new notice board fund. A sacred concert was then given on Sunday, February 13th 1916 in the chapel to reduce the debt on the building, whilst in other fund raising events, a successful social evening took place on Thursday, February 17th 1916, this being to raise funds for the purchase of the dark blinds needed to comply with the Lighting Order. At the Harvest Festival the monies raised would be applied to help clear the debt on the chapel, but as a break from fund raising, one Tuesday in November 1916 a concert was given by the Albert Street Primitive Methodist Band of Hope, with Mr. W. Muckley both presiding and conducting the choir, and Mrs. Jesse Edwards playing the organ. By now, recording the names of 25 former scholars of the Sunday School who were serving with the colours, a roll of honour had been placed in the chapel, and also on a military note on Sunday evening, January 28th 1917, the Albert Street Primitive Methodist Choir gave a concert for soldiers at the Temperance Hall, which would be acknowledged as one of the best of those arranged for this purpose by the Good Templars. The collection being for the Y.M.C.A. War Funds, the conductor was Mr. W. Muckley, and the performance was assisted by a contingent of the Royal Engineers Band, conducted by Corporal Gripton. On Monday, August 6th 1917, by permission of Mr. & Mrs. Eames the scholars of the Albert Street Primitive Methodist Church had their annual treat at ‘Belvedere,’ Bow Brickhill. A public tea was provided on the lawn, and with most of the provisions having been donated, the event made a considerable sum for the Sunday School funds. Another public tea was then held on Monday, September 23rd 1918 at the chapel, and with this being a continuation of the Harvest thanksgiving services, the £20 raised by the sale of the gifts of produce in the evening would be applied towards the new church fund.

THE AYLESBURY STREET PRIMITIVE METHODIST CHAPEL

The children of the Aylesbury Street Primitive Methodist Chapel were to have held their annual treat at Stewkley on Wednesday, August 5th 1914. However, due to the weather the tea was served in the Chapel, although in the evening conditions had sufficiently improved for two brake loads to be taken for a drive around Woburn Park. Then in 1915, on Wednesday, July 14th for their annual treat the children were taken to Belvedere, Bow Brickhill, and this was by the kind permission of Mr. A. Eames. With tea being served in a large shed, afterwards races and other amusements took place, and despite the wet weather a good time was had by all. Then on Bank Holiday Monday 1915 Miss Mabel Eames, the Missionary Secretary of the Aylesbury Street Primitive Methodist Church, assisted by her sister, Miss Florrie Eames, arranged a picnic at their home, Belvedere, and with tea and games again being a feature, the proceeds were for the African Missionary Fund. Before a good attendance, on Sunday evening, April 16th 1916 the weekly concert to the soldiers was given at the Temperance Hall by the choir of the Aylesbury Street Primitive Methodist Chapel, where on Sunday, July 23rd 1916 the Reverend Thomas Collins, of Salisbury, the newly appointed Primitive Methodist circuit minister, preached his first sermon at the premises.

An Indian takeaway now occupies the site of the Aylesbury Street Primitive Methodist Church.

Bank Holiday in 1916 saw some of the shops in the town closed for half a day, and a few for the whole day, and with few people about the town was quiet. However, between 10a.m. and 11a.m. a crowd of women and children gathered around the canal bridge in anticipation of the Sunday School outing to Leighton Buzzard, but with no boats available for pleasure trips, after awhile they dispersed and caught a train. Arranged by Miss Mabel Eames, a concert followed by a coffee supper took place in the Chapel on Tuesday evening, January 9th 1917, this being to raise money for the Primitive Methodist African Missionary Fund. Then, including musical items, a social evening arranged by the single members of the Chapel took place on Tuesday, February 13th 1917, to say farewell to the very popular Mr. Antliff Edward Burton, A.V.C.M. (Associate of the Victoria College of Music.) He had been called to the colours to join the Cyclist Section of the Queen’s Own Oxfordshire Hussars, at Ipswich, and at the conclusion of the occasion was presented with a handsome wristlet radium watch, in appreciation of his services as organist and choirmaster. Yet all too soon he would become the subject of another farewell, for, aged 18 years and 8 months, he died on March 29th 1917 in the military hospital at Ipswich, from spotted fever. The news, telegraphed through by the military authorities at Ipswich, came as a great shock to his parents, for in his last letter he had said that he was quite well. In fact it had been on Tuesday night that he had complained of feeling ill, and after medical attention (a delay having been caused by there being another private named Burton in the regiment) he was confined to the military hospital on Wednesday night. An operation was performed, but tragically he failed to recover from the anaesthetic. The only son of Mr. William Burton, the schoolmaster at Bow Brickhill, before joining up he had been a student teacher at Bow Brickhill Council Schools, and had recently passed the Oxford Local Examination. A service to his memory was conducted at the Chapel on Sunday morning, April 15th 1917, and there would be further sorrow for the family a few months later, when official notice was received that his uncle, Colour Sergeant Major T. Burton, of the Leicestershire Regiment, had been killed in France during the fighting in September 1916. In September 1917 the proceeds of the Harvest Festival, and an associated scheme, were used to renovate and brighten the exterior of the Chapel, but in late October 1917 the outlook was decidedly more gloomy when Mr. & Mrs. F. Lovell, of Denbigh Cottages, Fenny Stratford, were officially notified of the death of their grandson, Private Bert Thorogood, who had been killed in action whilst serving with the Oxon & Bucks Light Infantry. Aged 19, whilst at Fenny Stratford he had lived with his grandparents, and although he was employed in the railway loco department at Watford, he applied for permission to enlist. However, he had only been released by the railway company in April, and, with part of the time spent in hospital, had been in France for just two months. Being an old scholar of the Aylesbury Street Primitive Methodist Sunday School, he was the first of their number to be killed in action, and regarding the circumstance one of his officers would write; “He was killed while gallantly taking part in the attack we made on that date. He has always by his gallant conduct and devotion to duty set an example to his comrades, and they, together with myself, feel his death very much. May I offer you my sincerest sympathy in your great loss.” The Chaplain had also sent a letter, saying; “I have made enquiries from his comrades for particulars, but nobody can tell me more than that he fell quite soon after they went over the top. There is a Burial Party at work now, so if they come across his body and identify it, you may rest assured that it will be decently buried, also notification of his grave will be sent to you by the Graves Registration Unit and a cross put up.” October was also the month for another tragedy, when Mrs. Mary Bevis, the wife of George Bevis, of Victoria Road, died at Northampton General Hospital on Wednesday, October 24th 1917. Aged 56, she had been suddenly taken ill the previous Wednesday - the wedding day of her youngest daughter - and although subsequently removed to hospital for an operation, she died from peritonitis. Having been an active worker for Primitive Methodism, some 18 years ago she had arrived with her husband and family at Fenny Stratford, where Mr. Bevis was formerly a partner in Garner and Bevis, iron founders and shoeing smiths. With the firm of Bevis and Haywood, he was now in business as a shoeing smith in Denmark Street, and after a short service held in the Chapel, the funeral of his wife took place in the Cemetery on Saturday afternoon. Then at the Chapel on Sunday evening, November 4th 1917 a memorial service took place. This was conducted by a friend of the deceased, Mr. C. Chance, of Linslade, and afterwards a musical service was given by the choir from the sister church in Albert Street. Apart from her daughters, Mrs. Bevis also had a son, Corporal Frank Bevis, of the Army Pay Corps. In aid of the new organ fund, the members of the Chapel held a jumble sale on Wednesday, April 10th 1918, but in late May 1918 the premises witnessed a more sober occasion, when a memorial service for the late Lieutenant F.C. Baldwin was held by the Good Templar Lodge, of which he had been a member for 12 years. Subsequent to the sorrow of having lost their son, Antliff, there was at last a happy circumstance for his parents on August 7th 1918, when Mrs. Burton gave birth to a son at the School House, Bow Brickhill. Born at Bulwell, Notts., her husband was the village schoolmaster, having, after a university education, been previously a teacher at the Council Schools in Bletchley, where he was also a preacher at the Primitive Methodist Church in Aylesbury Street. As for another preacher, on Sunday November 17th 1918 the Reverend N. Boocock paid a visit to the Chapel and preached ‘stirring Missionary sermons.’ In fact this was his first visit since leaving the circuit, and he was warmly congratulated on his recovery from a severe illness.

ST. MARTIN’S CHURCH

St. Martin's Church, at the time of the First World War. This was the cantonment church for the Royal Engineers at Staple Hall Depot, and included in the wording on the back of this postcard (one of a series published by H.A. Staniford, 61, Aylesbury Street, Fenny Stratford) was; 'This is the Church we go to, it's the beginning of Aylesbury St.

As the front piece for 1914, the St. Martin’s Church calendar featured an excellent reproduction of a water colour drawing, entitled ‘The Ousel at Fenny Stratford.’ This tranquil representation had been the work of the vicar, the Reverend Firminger, but elsewhere within only a few months such peaceful scenes would be just a memory, and during the first week of the First World War the scoutmaster of the Newport Pagnell and Lathbury Boy Scouts, which had been encamped on the Vicarage Paddock, Fenny Stratford, was called up as a reservist. As for the Reverend Firminger, he not only volunteered for defence duty in the town on Friday night, August 21st 1914, but on Wednesday evening August 26th 1914 was also amongst the second batch of special constables who attended the Police Court, to take the oath. His only son, Mr. J.E. Firminger - a Bedford ‘old boy’ - had also answered the national call, and in October 1914 was stationed with his regiment at Epsom, having joined the Public Schools and University Men’s Forces. Yet despite the war, on the afternoon of Wednesday, November 11th 1914, St. Martin’s Day was celebrated as usual with the traditional ‘Fenny Poppers.’ These were fired by Mark Dickinson, the verger of St. Martin’s Church, but on Monday, December 7th 1914 he would leave the town and rejoin the Metropolitan Police Force. During the first week of September 1915, for the first time since 1904 the bells of St. Martin’s Church were used for regular and genuine change ringing, and the eldest son of George Matthews, of the High Street, was one of those who took part. He was Mr. J.D. Matthews, who, having begun his bell ringing career at St. Martin’s Church, was now Master of the Royal Society of Cumberland Youths of London. Founded around 1721, this was amongst the oldest of Campanological Societies in existence, and Mr. Matthews, being also connected with other associations, would be frequently featured in the columns of ‘Ringing World.’

Apart from his religious duties, on Thursday, January 7th 1915 the Reverend Firminger chaired a meeting of the Higher Education Committee, at which a letter from Aylesbury was read. This stated that the Committee could not supply chairs for the evening classes, but this had not hindered the recent Home Nursing classes, which, with the standards for qualification having been laid down by the St. John Ambulance Association, had been attended by the Reverend’s daughter, Miss Helen Firminger. In conjunction with the local Higher Education Committee, the classes had been held during the winter months under the instruction of Dr. Sydney Moberly, of Winslow, and in mid May 1915 amongst those who successfully passed the examination, conducted by Dr. Owen Harvey, was Miss Firminger. Having been licensed to the curacy of St. Martin’s Church on Wednesday, July 22nd 1914, the Reverend J.A. Townley was now taking a rest at Bournemouth with his wife. Thus the Reverend Firminger was conducting the services at St. Martin’s, whilst as for his son, in mid June 1915 he was appointed as a local representative of the Inns of Court O.T.C. Having now been mobilised, this would train men to be officers, and those seeking information were to contact Mr. Firminger. By the end of August 1915 the Fenny Stratford Branch of the C.E.M.S. (Church of England’s Men’s Society) was providing voluntary help in the Y.M.C.A. tent at the camp at Staple Hall Depot, where through the kindness of the Reverend Firminger, and Miss Firminger, a bagatelle table had now been installed. For those troops stationed at Staple Hall Depot, St. Martin’s became their Cantonment Church, and for those soldiers attending the services on Sunday, October 17th 1915, Father Paul Bull began a week long crusade, presenting a brass cross to each man who accepted the conditions laid down, which included that the cross must not be sold or given away, and that each day the soldier would offer up a prayer for the King, country, and those serving in the Army and Navy. During the South African war, Father Bull had served as Chaplain to Sir John French’s Cavalry Brigade, whilst as for the present hostilities, with service in Egypt he had been Chaplain to one of the large military hospitals. It would then be as a result of his Fenny Stratford crusade that in mid November 1915 at the visit to St. Martin’s Church by the Lord Bishop of Buckingham, the Right Reverend E.D. Shaw, eleven military postulants would present themselves for confirmation into the Church of England. In 1916 the annual Easter Vestry meeting of St. Martin’s Church took place in the Parish Room at the Vicarage, and during the proceedings Mr. D.C. Edward, and Mr. H.T. Fracy, both of whom were now resident outside the parish, were each presented with a writing bureau and desk, bearing a brass plate inscribed ‘Presented by the Parishioners of Fenny Stratford, April 1916.’ Mr. Fracy had been appointed as parishioners’ warden at the Easter Vestry in 1909, and in this position he then continued until 1915, in the September of which year the need for a verger arose. As Vicar’s Warden he then succeeded Mr. D.C. Edwards, who, having occupied the office for twenty years, had left Simpson just before Easter to move to Northamptonshire. The festivities for St. Martin’s Day on Saturday, November 11th 1916 took the form of firing the traditional ‘poppers,’ and then on the following Tuesday with another firing of the poppers a special memorial sermon was preached at 5p.m. by the Bishop of Buckingham, the Reverend E.D. Shaw, who had lost three sons in the war. Afterwards, with the principal guest being the Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford University, the Canadian Sir William Osler, Bart, F.R.S. a dinner was held at the Swan Hotel, where the company of about 30 enjoyed an excellent repast provided by Mr. & Mrs. W.C. Ruffle. The Vicar presided over this informal affair, and there were no toasts or speeches since these were reserved for the reception held at 7p.m. at the Town Hall, where about 100 people gathered. With other doctors present, here Sir William Osler, who, being highly regarded in his profession, had come from the Dominion to take up his eminent position, spoke to the memory of Browne Willis, and with music playing, and tea and coffee provided by the ladies in charge of the event, a small exhibition was staged of objects of interest connected with the Festival. In fact Sir William Osler had brought with him not only a bound volume of the works of Thomas Willis, but also photographs of the title pages of these Works, and of others written by the friends and contemporaries of Willis at Oxford. An engraving of Thomas Willis from the vestry at St. Martin’s Church was additionally on view, and proved of especial interest since underneath Browne Willis had written;

‘In honour to thy memory, blessed shade,
Was the foundation of this Chapell laid.
Purchased by thee, thy son and present heir.
Owe these three mannours to thy art and care.
For this, may all thy race, thanks ever pay,
And yearly celebrate St. Martin’s Day.’

A portrait of Browne Willis was also displayed, with an engraving of Fenny Stratford in 1800, and with admission to the exhibition priced at 6d and 1s, tickets had been available from Mrs. Staniford, Aylesbury Street, or the churchwardens, Mr. W. Cooke, 61, Victoria Road, or Mr. E. Ramsbotham. On the local educational scene, Miss Evans had now proposed a class in cooking ‘without meat.’ However, the education authorities adhered to the original class of domestic economy, although when this was not filled the meatless class went ahead on January 9th 1917, albeit with Miss Field taking the place of Miss Evans, who had been transferred to South Bucks. As for the opinion of the Reverend Firminger, he was all in favour, saying “It is wonderful what you can do with vegetables alone. Personally, I never touch meat.” Having principally been in charge at the St. Martin’s Mission Room, the Reverend J. Townley, the Reverend Firminger’s able curate, had now enrolled for national service, and in due course would depart on April 9th, Easter Monday 1917 to commence duties the next day at the Head Offices in London of Barclay’s Bank. For the past couple of years he had served the national effort at Bletchley as a special constable, and also serving the national effort was the Bible Class of St. Martin’s Church, which in April 1917 acquired an allotment, which they would dig and plant between them. After Evensong on Sunday, April 22nd the famous ‘Battle Hymn’ (by the American poetess Mrs. Julia Ward Howe) was sung at St. Martin’s Church, being made especially rousing by the stirring music of Mr. Martin Shaw. The occasion was to mark the alliance of the United States with the Allied Forces, whilst regarding other parts of the globe, in early June 1917 it was announced that Miss H.L. Firminger, of Bletchley Road, was to be Ruri-decanal Secretary of the Universities’ Mission to Central Africa. Also during the month a beautiful printed copy of the English Liturgy was given to St. Martin’s Church by the nearest relatives of 2nd Lieutenant J.P. Mason, late of the 2nd Battalion East Surrey Regiment, for use at the Altar. Then during early August 1917 the interior of St. Martin’s Church was thoroughly cleaned, with the work having been organised by Miss E. Reuter. She had been welcomed to the parish as ‘lady worker,’ but there was no such welcome for two men of no fixed abode, who, on Thursday, September 27th 1917, appeared at the Petty Sessions charged with breaking into St. Martin’s Church between September 16th and 17th, and stealing three brass candlesticks, three wax candles, and one surplice. Giving evidence, the verger said that on the evening of Sunday, September 16th he had locked up the church at 8p.m. and, leaving the key of the south door in the lock, took the key of the north door with him. Then on Monday, September 17th at 6.30a.m. he entered the church by the north door, but on going across to open the south door he found it unlocked, with the key in place. Arranged as if someone had been sleeping there, he then noticed a number of cassocks, surplices, and four hassocks lying near the door, as well as several cigarette ends scattered around the church. With the glass and lead forced up, the window near the south door had been ‘cut round,’ and the discovery was subsequently made that two candlesticks were missing from the small altar, and one from the pulpit. Also, items stored in the vestry had been rifled, and the verger at once informed the police. Consequently, on the same day a telephone message was sent to Northampton police, who, at about 11.20a.m., were called to the pawnbroker shop of Messrs. Hopwood, in Bridge Street, where one of the men was in the process of offering a pair of candlesticks for sale. The other man was found in the passage behind the shop, attending to two cycles, and both men were taken to the central police station. There, hidden about their persons, as also in a packet attached to one of the cycles, were found the stolen items, and at 3p.m. the men and the articles were handed over to Inspector Callaway. Not surprisingly, the Reverend Firminger could have done without such incidents, for around mid October 1917 he returned from a private hospital in London following an operation. Fortunately this had been successful, although during his stay there had been the added tension of enemy air raids. In late October 1917 Mr. & Mrs. J. Dimmock, of Mount Pleasant, were informed that their youngest son, Private Charles Edward Dimmock, 242,399 Royal Warwickshire Regiment, was a prisoner of war in Germany, but this came as a welcome and surprise relief, since in early September they had received a letter from a Chaplain in France saying that he ‘fell fighting bravely in a recent raid on the enemy trenches.’ The Reverend Firminger had received a similar letter, and - not least since a comrade had written to his fiancée, saying that he fell close to the German lines - Mr. and Mrs. Dimmock assumed that their son was dead. Consequently they went into mourning, with the knell being rung by the bell at St. Martin’s Church, but before noon on Friday, October 19th 1917 she and her husband received a package from the War Office, containing a letter card addressed to them from Absendung, Limburg. Dated September 20th, this was signed ‘Charlie,’ and stated;

‘To my darling mother and father, hoping this will find you in the best of health, as I am getting on a bit now. I was taken prisoner on September 2nd, Sunday night, and am with some English boys, so you see it is not so bad. I can tell you that the Germans are not so bad as people say. They treated me like a soldier when I was on the battlefield. I will send you my address as soon as I can.’

Mr. and Mrs. Dimmock were asked to identify their son’s writing and regimental number, and then, from the same address, on Sunday morning another letter was received, dated September 13th. This stated;

‘I have been wounded again and am a prisoner of war. Do not worry about me. All we want is the war to end. I will send you my address when I get out of hospital.’

Aged 21, Private Dimmock had joined the Royal Warwicks in March 1916, and after training was sent to France, where he saw considerable service. Being wounded in August of that year, after recovering in hospital at Liverpool he was again sent to the Western Front, only to be badly wounded in both legs eight months later. He was then taken to hospital at Rouen, and after a quick recovery again returned to the Front, being taken prisoner a few days later. Before joining up he had been employed by Sir Everard Duncombe at Great Brickhill, where he lived with his parents, and prior to this he had at one time been employed on the Duke of Bedford’s estate, living with his parents at Eversholt. A while ago his brother had received a severe wound to the jaw in France, and after treatment in hospital at Bradford was sent to convalesce at Ampthill. From a respectable family, a 25 year old ship’s cook, whose parents were now in Australia, appeared for trial with a 19 year old seaman cook at the Bucks Assizes on Tuesday, October 16th 1917, charged with breaking into St. Martin’s Church on the night of September 16th and stealing 3 brass candlesticks, 3 wax candles and one surplice, the property of the Vicar and Churchwardens. Both pleaded guilty, and the former, who already had several convictions, admitted a previous offence at Manchester, for which he had received eight months hard labour. As for the latter, he had joined the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Forces on May 4th 1915, but after arriving in Britain was later discharged from the Army as physically unfit. He then returned to Canada, but would later travel to London with the intention of marrying a young woman. However, on finding that she was already married he had apparently ‘taken up’ with the ship’s cook and gone to Dunstable, from where, after committing an offence, they went to Fenny Stratford and broke into the church. The ship’s cook, who from 1914 until March 1917 had served on various ships, was sentenced to nine months hard labour, whilst his companion received four months in prison. With the Reverend Firminger presiding, the annual meeting of the Bletchley district of the N.S.P.C.C. took place at the Wilberforce Hotel on Thursday, March 21st 1918. In fact collecting £14 17s 8d during the first year, the branch for the Bletchley district had been started in 1912, and, as was stated during the meeting, in view of the horrendous casualties caused by the war ‘every young life possible must be preserved to take its place in the future work of the Empire.’ As for any prosecutions, it had only been necessary to issue a few warnings, with there being no circumstance to warrant any proceedings. In mid September 1918 the Reverend Firminger’s mother, at ‘Ashcroft,’ Bletchley Road,’ required ‘a good general servant, good cook, two ladies,’ although it would be medical attention that her son needed on Thursday afternoon, September 26th 1918, when, whilst passing along Aylesbury Street towards the Vicarage, he was knocked down by a horse and trap belonging to Moss & Co., grocers, of Aylesbury Street. Coming from the direction of Water Eaton, this was being driven by a young lady, and sustaining a broken rib the severely shaken Reverend was taken to the Vicarage, where, although confined to his room, he would make satisfactory progress. In fact by the end of October he would have almost recovered, although this had not been his only recent mishap, for he had also suffered a nasty accident one Friday evening in May 1914, when cycling home from Newton Longville. On descending the steep hill to the Eight Bells he had tried to readjust his hat, but loosing control of his bicycle he was thrown off, and, unconscious and with badly grazed hands and face, was consequently carried to the Eight Bells for treatment. Indeed, it would be several hours before he regained consciousness, although he nevertheless still attended his church duties on Sunday. Also in the wars was the Reverend’s son, Lieutenant J. Firminger, of the Oxon & Bucks Light Infantry, who had not only been awarded the Military Cross but also the Italian Silver Medal, for gallantry in action. When the war broke out he had still been at school, but he then joined the Public Schools O.T.C. and was later gazetted to the Oxon. & Bucks Light Infantry, with which he served in Flanders, France and also Italy, where he had been wounded during the late fighting. He was presently recovering in England, but whilst it was good news that his injuries were not serious, there would soon come the tragic news that his paternal grandmother, Mrs. Georgiana Firminger, had died during October at her home, ‘Ashcroft,’ in Bletchley Road. The coffin was removed on Friday evening, November 1st 1918 to St. Martin’s Church, and there the following morning the first part of the service was held. With the bereaved Vicar officiating, the Reverend G. Richards, Chaplain to the Forces, Staple Hall Depot, read the lessons, and at the interment in the Cemetery the Committal Service was read by the Vicar’s elder brother. As throughout the country, with the signing of the Armistice there was great relief in the town on Monday, November 11th 1918, although when an attempt was made to hoist the white ensign on the tower of St. Martin’s Church, it unfortunately became stuck at half mast. However, there was no hitch to celebrate the homecoming of Private Charles Dimmock, who, having been exchanged from Germany about a week before the signing of the Armistice, had just been home on a visit before returning to London for an operation, which would involve taking a bone from his thigh. He had spent a great deal of time in five German hospitals and two prison camps, and although he said that he was treated fairly well in the hospitals, when in camp he said that he had to ‘rough it.’ In fact many times the prisoners of war had very little to eat, and were mainly sustained by the parcels sent by the British Red Cross. Ironically, the date of the Armistice coincided with that of the St. Martin’s Day celebrations at Fenny Stratford, especially since Thomas Willis, the man in whose honour the celebration was held, had apparently begun his career as a soldier. Thus there was added reason to celebrate on Monday, November 11th 1918, with the celebrations of Holy Communion taking place at St. Martin’s Church and in St. Martin’s Mission Room. Lent by Mr. G. Hammond, the Paddock at Manor Farm provided the location for the firing of the Fenny Poppers at 8a.m., noon, and 4p.m., with the Browne Willis commemoration dinner then being held in the Parish Room at the Vicarage. However, this was confined to the Church officers, and, with there being no speeches, there were only two toasts; the Vicar giving ‘His Majesty the King and the Royal Family’, and Mr. E. Ramsbotham, the parishioner’s warden, ‘To the memory of our Founder, Browne Willis.’ After the supper a special Evensong was held in St. Martin’s Church, with the Vicar of Aylesbury, the Reverend Victor Whitchurch (who was well known in literary circles as a writer of fiction) preaching the sermon. By order of the Executrix of the late Mrs. Georgiana Firminger, furniture at ‘Ashcroft’, Bletchley Road was to be auctioned by Foll and Bawden on Wednesday, November 20th at noon, but it was now to the future that her son, the Reverend Firminger, was looking, when, at a meeting at the Picture Palace on Wednesday, November 27th, held under the auspices of the League of Nations Union, he said that now “their hope was that such a League of Nations would bring about better times, and a better life for one and all.”

ST. MARY’S CHURCH

On Sunday, January 4th 1914, at the evening service at St. Mary’s Church the rector, the Reverend Bennitt, offered prayers for a peaceful and happy end to the problems in Ireland. However, on the international scene there would soon be more urgent concerns, and following the declaration of war, in August 1914 not only did the choirboys of St. Mary’s Church have to forego their annual outing, but the church workers decided to abandon a forthcoming rummage sale and missionary play. Yet Harry Goodin, the churchwarden of St. Mary’s, had other matters on his mind, for on Monday, September 28th 1914 his mother died, having for many years been the landlady of the Shoulder of Mutton. By early October 1914 many men from the parish had answered the national call, and amongst those now on military service were;

George Goodman - Grenadier Guards, Arthur Inns - Army Service Corps, John Guntrip - Northamptonshire Regiment, E.W. Winsor - 1st King’s Royal Rifles, W. Heather - Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry, T. Caldwell - Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry, F.W. Coxon - Grenadier Guards, Joseph Guntrip - Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry, A.S. Hawkes - 3rd Hussars, Joseph Marks - Royal Field Artillery, Edward Read - Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry, William Sinfield - Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry, Owen Stevens - Royal Field Artillery, John Wallsgrove - Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry, Harry Hands - Beds Yeomanry, Clarence Makeham - Beds Yeomanry, Ridgeway Monk - Bucks Yeomanry, Fred Smith - Beds Yeomanry, Arthur Clark - signalman in submarine C. 32, Percy Troughton - H.M.S. Grafton, and William Jones - Petty Officer on Torpedo Destroyer Leonides.

As for the home front, the Reverend Bennitt would provide meals at Bletchley Rectory for a party of Belgian refugees, who, having arrived in the town on Thursday, October 29th 1914, would have their sleeping accommodation arranged by the parishioners. With many troops now quartered in the town, a second Church Parade took place on Sunday, February 1st 1915, when about 150 men of the Royal Engineers, plus their band, assembled for a service at St. Mary’s Church. Indeed, the collections had been considerably increased by the Church Parades, and although the military had stated their wish not to take the money back, there was some concern as to whether the Churchwardens should accept any donations from this source. Nevertheless, after ten such parades the collections would amount to £11 6s 2½d, with the sum (after expenses) of £7 8s being used to repair the church battlements, roof and drainage. During the months of June, July, and August 1916, as an experiment it was decided to alter the time of the evening service at St. Mary’s from 6p.m. to 6.30p.m. Then in other measures in November 1915 efforts were made to provide the eighty or so parishioners now in the Forces with a Christmas present. With Mr. H. Goodin becoming the secretary of the ‘Soldiers’ Christmas Gift Fund,’ and Mr. C. Boyes as the auditor, as a means to raise the necessary money a grand evening concert was staged in the St. Mary’s School on Friday evening, November 5th 1915, and by the end of the month a sum sufficient to purchase suitable gifts, each of which would be accompanied by ‘a simple, but hearty and kindly’ Christmas card, had been raised. On Sunday, January 9th 1916, a short service took place at St. Mary’s Church to dedicate a stain glass window, fashioned by Messrs. Powell, to the memory of Alexander Coutts Trotter. This had been given by his widow, the former Miss Madelaine Selby Lowndes, of the local family of renown, and also of local renown was Sir George Martin who, having for many years been the organist at St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, died in the early weeks of 1916. When a few years ago it was decided to replace the old organ in St. Mary’s Church, he had supervised the construction of the new instrument, and following its completion he then came to Bletchley to perform a recital. In fact more recently he had again returned to Bletchley, as a guest of Colonel Broome Giles, at Holne Chase. Variously throughout the war the weekly concert for soldiers, arranged by the Good Templar Lodge in the Temperance Hall, would be given by the Bletchley St. Mary’s Choir, and one such performance took place on Sunday, April 30th 1916. Then also for the benefit of soldiers, at the beginning of May 1916 the Reverend Bennitt and Mr. H. Goodin urgently provided parcels for Messrs. A. King and J. Betts, who, owing to sickness, had each only received one package whilst serving in the Dardanelles. Parcels were also to be sent to J. Jackson who, again owing to sickness, had not received his Christmas parcel, as well as E. Meredith, who shortly after Christmas had become a prisoner of war in Germany. In addition, powers were now to be given to send parcels to any men on the St. Mary’s roll of service who, ‘through special circumstances,’ might be in need of help from the fund. On the afternoon of Saturday, July 29th 1916, a joint outing of the children attending the Sunday Schools of St Martin’s Church and St. Mary’s Church took place. By the kind permission of Mr. W. Snoxell, the venue was a couple of fields adjoining the St. Mary’s Schools, and during the occasion games, sports and a tea were all greatly enjoyed. Towards the end of July 1916 the Reverend Bennitt was appointed Secretary to the National Mission in the Bletchley Deanery (of which the Reverend A. Matheson, Rector of Newton Longville, was Rural Dean), with the ‘National Mission of Intercession and Repentance’ having been started because many felt that there was something very wrong with the world, and the moment of the war was the time to set it right. It was therefore perhaps due to these duties that the Reverend Bennitt was absent on Sunday, August 19th 1916, with the services at St. Mary’s Church conducted instead by the Reverend R. Daniell Bainbridge, who was presently resident at the Rectory. However, soon to return from an absence was Sydney Herbert King, who before joining the Army had been a bellringer at St. Mary’s Church. In fact here the bells would now be rung on his behalf, for having been granted special leave he married Mabel Alice Leah French, the second daughter of Mr. & Mrs. J. French, of Glebe Farm, Far Bletchley, on Saturday, September 2nd 1916. She had been a teacher in the St. Mary’s Schools, whilst he was now a Sergeant in the Railway Operative Corps, Royal Engineers, (L.&N.W. Railway), which he had joined from a previous employment on the Locomotive Department Staff of Bletchley Station. With the Corps, he had gone to France in January 1916, and in July 1917 would be promoted to the rank of company sergeant major. At the Harvest Festival, a distribution of the vegetables was made amongst the poor of the congregation of St. Mary’s Church, where during the first week of November 1916 the Bishop of Oxford, during his visit to the parish, conducted a service to dedicate the altar in the north of the Chantry Chapel. This had been given by the widow of Mr. A.E. Coutts Trotter, and with the Chapel having been thoroughly restored, here it was proposed to place any memorial that the parishioners might wish, as a tribute to their relatives killed in the war. In fact the front of the new altar was made of the material used at the Coronation of the King, at Westminster Abbey, and with the pattern being outlined with gold cord by three girls of Bletchley, the linen cloths were embroidered by members of the congregation. In the parish magazine of December 1916, the Reverend Bennitt explained that - as had been made clear during a meeting in the Council Offices - the Bletchley committee would not unite their funds for the soldiers’ Christmas parcels with Fenny Stratford, but instead would send the list of their men to the Secretary. Thereby, this would avoid overlapping, and in fact because arrangements for raising the funds had now been made, some of the parcels had already been posted. Indeed, before Christmas 68 parcels would be sent to those men from the parish who were serving in the Forces, having been packed by a committee of ladies comprising Mrs. F. Bennitt, Mrs. J. French, Mrs. J. Atkins, Mrs. T. Halsey, Mrs. Keyte, Mrs. Markham, Mrs. Meager, Mrs. Tompkins and Miss Scott. That the parcels were greatly appreciated was beyond doubt, but the men on active service were not only remembered at Christmas, for in the parish magazine in May 1917 mention was made of John Clarke, who was suffering from severe shell shock, and Harold West who had been wounded. Both were with the troops at Salonica, whilst Edward Boon and George Goom had now joined the Railway (L.&N.W.R.) Operating Corps. A whist drive was held in St. Mary’s Schools on the evening of Friday, May 25th 1917. This was to raise funds for the repair of the main gates and pillars at St. Mary’s Churchyard, and in due course the work would be carried out at a cost of £11 15s. On Sunday afternoon, August 5th 1917 there was a special service for men in St. Mary’s Church, the occasion being the third anniversary of the outbreak of war, and also during the first week of the month the bell ringers had the assistance for a few days of Gunner Joseph Marks. After some 19 months of continuous service he was home on leave from France, and was due to return on Wednesday, August 8th. On Friday, September 21st 1917 the Harvest Festival was held at St. Mary’s Church, and with the collection being for Sunday School Funds, the services continued on Sunday, with a collection taken for the Home Missions Society. This was to provide ‘curates for populous places,’ and undertook to make up any deficit in the income of those clergy specially appointed to ‘munition areas.’ In October 1917 Mr. & Mrs. Fred Meager, of Far Bletchley, were informed that their eldest son, Sapper Lawrence Meager, of the Royal Engineers, had died in France on September 28th, having been struck the previous day by a fragment of shrapnel shell. A bell ringer at St. Mary’s Church for 20 years, he had been a consistent member of the Church of England Men’s Society, and joined up early in 1916. Being for many years the parishioners’ warden, also involved with St. Mary’s Church was his father, who, having at Far Bletchley established a flourishing business as blacksmith and wheelwright, had retired a few years ago. His sons then took over the concern, with the younger remaining in Bletchley when his brother was called up for the Army. However, he would now have to manage the business alone, and to the widow of his brother Captain Richards would write;

St. Mary's Church.

‘During the two months your husband was with this company he always did his duty and was very well liked, both by his officers and by his comrades, and they wish to join with me in offering you our sympathy in your bereavement.’

Apart from a widow, Lawrence also left five children. By early December 1917 the Far Bletchley (St. Mary’s) Fund, for sending a Christmas parcel to each man from the parish on active service, had reached £40 4s 3d, but, with another £15 being needed, various fund raising events would still be required, including on Monday, December 3rd 1917 a dance staged in the cricket pavilion of Bletchley Park. A quarter peal was rung at St. Mary’s Church on Wednesday evening, March 27th 1918 as a farewell to Sapper J. Mead, one of the ringers, who had been home on a short leave from France. As for another of the ringers, the unveiling and dedication of a wall tablet to the memory of Sapper Lawrence Meager was conducted by the Reverend Bennitt on Saturday evening, April 27th 1918. This took the form of a short service held in the belfry of St. Mary’s Church, and in a further commemoration, two days later a peal of 5,040 changes was rung on half muffled bells. On Tuesday afternoon, June 11th 1918, there was another sombre occasion at St. Mary’s Church, when the remains of Mr. Taberner, who had been a regular worshipper, were laid to rest. A large number of railwaymen attended, with the chief mourners being his widow and also his niece, who for some time had lived at their address of ‘Woodthorpe,’ Bletchley Road. Mr. Taberner’s sons were now on active service in France and Palestine, and also now on active service was the Reverend Bennitt, with the services on Sunday, July 7th 1918 being consequently taken at St. Mary’s Church by the incumbents of Woughton & Great Brickhill. Having already experienced soldiering during the South African war, as an Army Chaplain in 1901, in early April 1917 he had offered - in response to the call from the Bishop of the Diocese of Oxford - to serve as an Army Chaplain, and in due course was classed by the Medical Board as ‘Grade 1, older men.’ He then received his call up papers dated for June 28th, which was perhaps somewhat ironic, since on his instructions, and with the approval of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, on Thursday afternoon, June 27th Foll & Bawden offered for sale at the Swan Hotel three farms, which had formerly been part of the Bletchley Glebe Estate; Denbigh Hall Farm was subsequently sold for £2,475 to Sir Herbert Leon, but Eaton Fields, Water Eaton, at £1,500, and Bletchley Leys Farm, at £2,200, were both withdrawn. For his departure, the bell ringers had intended to ring a peal for good luck, but this had to be abandoned due to illness in the parish and at the Rectory. On Sunday, July 14th 1918 the bells at St. Mary’s Church were half muffled in memory of the late Lieutenant Richard C.W. Selby Lowndes, A.S.C., who had been buried in the churchyard the previous day. He had died on July 11th 1918 from septic poisoning, contracted whilst on active service, and had been at the Front since June 1917. The eldest son of the late Richard William Selby Lowndes, he was 44 years of age, and saw service in the Matabele revolt of 1896 and also the Boer War. For the last year and a half of the latter he had acted as galloper to General French, by whom he was mentioned for conspicuous gallantry and presence of mind, receiving the King’s and the Queen’s medals with several clasps. In aid of funds for the Sunday Schools a dance took place on Thursday evening, August 8th 1918 in the St. Mary’s Schools. Meanwhile, now being with 1 Training Brigade, R.A.M.C., Blackpool, the Reverend Bennitt was settling into Army life, and of his experience would write in the Parish Magazine;

‘I am in training for the Army Medical Corps: many men have been drafted out of it into the infantry. There are several clergy under training in the camp. The camp is three miles from the town and on sand - sand everywhere, and in everything - it is the chief enemy. We are in tents, and the sand blows into clothes and food and eyes. There is a large ‘Church Army and C.E.M.S.’ tent at the entrance of the camp; the Church parade is held in it. The Y.M.C.A. have a tent at a side entrance to the 2nd Brigade; both have a canteen and tables for letter writing. The ladies who serve the Church Army tent seem quite the nicest people, and as far as this camp goes the Church has not been backward in providing for the troops. I think it is a useful influence for clergy to live with the men on an equality both of clothes and general life. The language of some of the Lancashire lads is unprintable and pours out on every occasion; but it affords a relaxation between the times of discipline, and has little meaning to them. The sense of comradeship and brotherhood is wonderful, - a man you have never met before addresses you as chum, and converses like an old friend.’

Prior to Evensong, at St. Mary’s Church on Sunday evening, August 25th 1918 the bell ringers rang a peal in honour of one of their number, Second Lieutenant Sydney King, who, having won promotion and the Military Medal, was now home on a short leave. Also home on leave in late August would be another of the ringers, Sapper H. Morris, who was serving in the R.O.C. of the Royal Engineers. In his honour the bells at St. Mary’s Church would be rung on September 4th, but it would be a knell that would need to be rung on October 30th 1918, when Eddy Leonard, the only son of Mr. & Mrs. Leonard, of Bletchley, died from influenza in France. He had also been a bell ringer at St. Mary’s Church, and on Sunday the bells were rung half muffled at both services. The destination being Salonica, on November 8th 1918 the Reverend Bennitt left England as one of a draft of 300 men of the R.A.M.C., in which he was now serving as a full private. Nevertheless, the usual festal service took place at St. Mary’s Church on Christmas Day, 1918, and on Sunday was continued and combined with memorial services which, with their names being read from the pulpit, commemorated those sailors and soldiers of the parish who had sacrificed their lives during the ‘great struggle.’ By April 1919 the Reverend Bennitt had returned to England from active service in Salonica with the R.A.M.C., but being taken seriously ill after his arrival was sent to the Military Hospital, West Bridgford, Nottingham, from where in a letter he wrote; ‘Early in November I was sent to Salonika; at about the time when the troops advanced against Bulgaria. There was a great deal of malaria and influenza, and a strong reinforcement of R.A.M.C. was sent out. However, by the time we arrived, an improvement had taken place, and only about half our number were needed. Personally, I was put in the Army Pay Office at the Base Depot, and have done very little R.A.M.C. work at all. However, from another point of view, my work in the Army has been of value. I have frequently taken services, both week-days and Sundays, and it does seem to have been a good thing for me to have shared in the ordinary daily life among the men on an exact equality rather than as a Chaplain. At any rate, I have learnt more of the general point of view of the men of all branches of the service than otherwise could have been possible.’ As printed in an issue of the Bletchley Church Magazine, he continued ‘I expect to be back at home by the second Sunday in April,’ and indeed having made favourable progress he was able to conduct the services at St. Mary’s Church on Sunday, April 13th, being heartily welcomed by the parishioners. (In January 1923 the Reverend F.W. Bennitt would be appointed as the Rural Dean of Bletchley, in succession to the Reverend J.F. Hoyle, who had resigned the living of Great Brickhill. This would be ‘the first time in living memory’ that a rector of Bletchley had held the office of Rural Dean in the ecclesiastical district called after his parish.)

ST. MARTIN’S COTTAGES

On July 4th 1730, Browne Willis, the lord of the manor of Bletchley, and an ardent defender of the established church, settled a rent charge of £1 on Dr. Martin Benson (the Rector of Bletchley), the Churchwarden of Fenny Stratford, and the Overseer of the Poor of Fenny Stratford. This was to be paid annually out of a close of land in Bletchley called Parsons Piece, and in memory of the revered grandfather of Browne Willis, Thomas Willis, who had been an eminent surgeon, the three Trustees would consequently pay the curate of Fenny Stratford to preach a sermon every St. Martin’s Day. However, on February 11th 1736 the curacy was endowed with a small farm at Bletchley, which included Parsons Piece, and by this arrangement an income of £18 a year was provided. Then in January 1740, for £33 Browne Willis acquired a thatched house and grounds, ‘fronting the common street of Fenny Stratford,’ from Mary Gibbs and her eldest son, John, and in fact Mary, together with Thomas Gibbs, had acquired the property on July 20th, 1716 from her brother, Matthew Cherry. Sometime later the premises found use as an alehouse, known as The Crispin, but when Browne Willis acquired the property it was in such a poor state of repair that, in order for it to be made habitable, he had the front wall completely rebuilt, and duly recorded this expense on the deed of conveyance. He then gave the property to the town, to fund both a sermon on St. Martin’s Day ‘and to buy small divinity tracts to give to poor persons yearly.’ Bounded on the north by the premises of Benjamin Pomfret, on the south by Richard Stapp, and on the west by John Page, the house was occupied by Mary Lovell, a widow, at a rent of 3d p.a., but by 1839 the property had been divided into two dwellings, which were let at 1s a week to Richard Baseley and Conyers Burton. However, in the case of the latter this was perhaps with a sense of irony, if the Conyers Burton so mentioned was the same person who, before the building of a small Baptist church in 1805, had allowed those inhabitants inclined towards the Baptist faith to use his house as a meeting place! By the later 19th century, becoming known as St. Martin’s Cottages (sometimes St. Martin’s House), as 25 and 27, Aylesbury Street the properties produced a revenue of between £8 and £10 per annum, and from this a payment was made for a dinner to honour the memory of Thomas Willis. Other sums were spent on tax, rates, upkeep and insurance, and additionally the vicar received £1 1s for preaching a sermon, with 6s being spent on gunpowder, 2s for bell ringing, and 2s for firing the famous ‘Fenny Poppers.’ (However, whether these pieces of ‘ordnance’ were part of the original celebrations to honour Thomas Willis seems obscure, since no specific mention of the ceremony occurs until the 1830s.) From the Charity Commissioners, during the later 19th century the churchwardens received a proposal ‘for the appropriating of the charities of the town, and more especially the St. Martin’s or Browne Willis charity for educational purposes,’ but since only one churchwarden recommended acceptance, and with the motion not being seconded, it was the general opinion that it ‘is not desirable in as much as the said charities have been carried out strictly according to the will of the donors.’ Whilst the intention of the charity seemed therefore secure, the same could not be said regarding the future of the cottages, which had become so dilapidated that, under the 1909 Housing Act, on May 12th 1914 the Council placed a closing order on the premises, since by the verdict of a Medical Officer of Health, assisted by a Sanitary Inspector, they were ‘unfit for human habitation,’ unless extensive alterations and enlargements were made. Thus in June 1914 the Clerk of the Council reported that he had served the first notice of the closing order on the Reverend Firminger, and the two churchwardens, on May 19th. This became operative two weeks later, and since the Church officers had no funds to carry out the necessary alterations and enlargements, he served the notice of closing orders on the occupiers on June 3rd. If the occupants, Francis Dickens and Elizabeth Thomas, had not left by the required time, then proceedings would be taken, and although one family had found another home, an old lady and her son continued to live in the other house until Tuesday, August 25th 1914, when they were evicted by the police. With the Clerk of the Council instructed to apply for a demolition order, it was decided, at the Council meeting on November 10th 1914, that the question of demolition would be placed on the formal agenda for the Council meeting on Tuesday, January 12th 1915, and the owners were duly informed of this date. Therefore, since no further developments had been forthcoming, on the stated date at 8p.m. the order was sealed.

St. Martin's Cottages.

Then in July 1915 the Ecclesiastical Commissioners received an offer of £50 for the property, but with this not being accepted, subsequently George Wigley and Sons were instructed by the Trustees of the ‘St. Martin’s House Charity, Fenny Stratford’ to auction the brick and thatched dwellings. This took place at 4p.m at the Swan Hotel on Thursday, September 23rd 1915, but despite the properties being described as having a frontage of about 39 feet to the road, with a large piece of garden ground, no bids would reach the reserve price. Therefore, the cottages were offered for sale by private treaty, being eventually purchased for £70 by Messrs. Howard, a local firm of builders. After expenses, £60 12s was then sent to the Charity Commissioners, and they duly invested the amount in the 4½% War Loan, producing an annual income of just over £2. By the end of April 1916 St. Martin’s Cottages had been demolished, although bearing the wording; ‘This houses was settl’d on ye Parish Officers of this town for the annual observation of St. Martin’s Day, ANNO DOMINI, 1752’, a stone slab, which had been set into the front wall of the properties, was fixed to the wall in the porch of St. Martin’s Church, Fenny Stratford, to remind of their former existence. Despite plans from Messrs. Howard having been passed for two cottages in Aylesbury Street, it seems that when the site was cleared the firm of George Manyweather and Sons purchased the area on moving from premises in Denmark Street, and built a wheelwrights shop, where they would produce many shanks for gun carriages for the Army. In fact born at Marston, in Bedfordshire, George Manyweather had come to the district a few years after his marriage, in 1898 at Ampthill, to Emily Harris, and before starting his own business would work as a wheelwright at Rowlands. (In later life he would then marry Christiana, whose first husband, Thomas Tolton, had died in 1933.)


DEACON’S STABLES, & THE WOOD SUPPLY DEPOT

Aside of the main road running through Far Bletchley, during the 19th century a large range of posting and hunting stables had been built near Bletchley station by Mr. Wallace Parmeter, ‘livery stable proprietor, job master etc.,’ with ‘Wedding, Funeral, and every description of Carriage on Hire.’ The premises consisted of a large yard, which had on the east and west sides long ranges of stables and horse boxes, with lofts and rooms above, and on the north side on each side of the entrance a house. These faced towards the yard, and had no doorway to the road onto which they backed. Following the death of Mr. Parmeter’s son, Walter, who had carried on the business after the demise of his father, the premises were sold at auction by Geo. Wigley to Sir Herbert Leon, and were then occupied by a succession of tenants including Mr. Holland-Corbett, Mr. Clode, Mr. Tutt, Mr. Croft and lastly a Mr. Deacon, by whose association the popular name ‘Deacon’s Stables’ became acquired. However, at the end of his tenancy the premises became vacant and almost derelict. Then during the third week in August 1914, 250 men of the R.A.M.C. (South Midland) arrived at Far Bletchley, and with their billets being in the local area they stored their Red Cross wagons at both Deacon’s Stables and also the old golf links, situated in fields adjoining the Oxford Branch of the L.N.W.R., and between that and the main Bletchley to Buckingham Road. The soldiers stayed until leaving by road for Dunstable, en route for Brentwood, on Friday, August 21st 1914, and their departure proved quite a spectacle, for as the long line of wagons passed along Aylesbury Street the men, to the accompaniment of mouth organs, sang ‘It’s a long way to Tipperary,’ and other music hall numbers. The wagons had been drawn by commandeered horses, and with this depletion Deacon’s Stables then remained vacant until early in the last week in January, 1915, when the advance guard of the Southern Division of the Royal Engineers (Signal Section) arrived in the town. Apart from Staple Hall, they now established a headquarters at Deacon’s Stables, but the premises again became vacant following their departure a few weeks later. As the war dragged on, the need for timber, not least for pit props in the trenches, became increasingly important, and in early 1917 it was reported that, under the Defence of the Realm Act, the Army Council had taken steps to assume control of all stocks in the United Kingdom of soft sawn timber - planed and unplaned - including railway sleepers. This was to both safeguard supplies for military use and to prevent any further inflation of price, and in a further measure at the beginning of June 1917, adorning the doorway of what until recently had been the Bletchley Recruiting Office (in Bletchley Road) large posters announced that the premises were to be occupied by the ‘Director of wood supplies, A.D.T.S. 4., Divisional Works Office, Div. 11.’, and would thus accommodate the district office of Mr. Johnston, the Director of Wood Supplies. In consequence, for use as the Depot the Wood Supply Directorate had acquired Deacon’s Stables, which now began to undergo much repair and renovation work, with this being carried out to a high standard by chiefly a mixed gang of Portuguese labour. Mostly as pit prop cutters, they were probably all timber workers, and would afterwards form part of the labour contingent at this ‘Central Depot.’ As part of the renovations, all the stalls and horse boxes were demolished, with the space above converted into workshops, stores etc., whilst as for the lofts, on one side of the yard these were arranged as offices for the clerical establishment, and on the other side into dormitories and cubicles for the accommodation of the women foresters, who were to be trained in timber measuring and similar work. Including a laundry and bathrooms etc., the facilities featured the latest sanitary appliances, and in the centre of the yard was erected a large wooden shed for the main machinery. In fact a good deal of the machinery and material for the workshops was already on site - plus a traction engine, and some 21 powerful timber cart horses - and nearby other sheds and structures were erected, as also in the paddock, into which the yard opened on the south. In the workshops it was expected that buildings and huts would be constructed, and during July 1917 adverts were placed in London newspapers seeking 40 women to apply for work at the premises, which, when the alterations were complete, would provide the residence for some 20 of them. As for the meanwhile, they would occupy three cottages on the Bletchley Park Estate. The rest of the women were to be stationed at other depots connected with Bletchley, which as the chief work centre would supply all the others. As for the two dwelling houses on the premises, they would be occupied by the officers in charge of the work. Soon the Depot was in full operation, and within the first few months took over adjoining stabling which had been occupied for many years by Messrs. Essen, coal merchants. In fact this seemed somewhat ironic, for with the coming of winter in December 1917 Mr. J. Bodley, the acting Correspondent, said at a meeting of the School Managers that due to the impossibility of obtaining coal he had, ‘on his own responsibility,’ obtained three tons of wood from the ‘Government Foresters’ Camp.’ The cost was 10s a ton, including the carting that he had to arrange, and with five more tons of wood to be procured, coal would be obtained whenever possible. Yet conversely the Depot had a need for anthracite dust, and, as reported at a meeting of the Council in January 1918, had expressed an interest in purchasing the surplus available at the Sand House Waterworks. Apart from timber workers, the Depot also had two blacksmiths, and on March 21st 1918 at the Local Military Service Tribunal one of these, Thomas Milburn, aged 24, was appealed for by the Timber Supply Director, Bletchley, since the two blacksmiths had more work than they could do. In fact if he was taken then urgent work would have to stop, but nevertheless the appeal was dismissed, although the man was not to be called for one month. On Wednesday, November 27th 1918, some time after 5.30p.m. a serious fire broke out at what was now termed the Government Control Wood Supply Depot, Bletchley. The blaze had supposedly started either in the main machine shed or one of the adjoining sheds, and with the flames having quickly reached the petrol supply, by 6 o’clock the machine shed was practically burnt out. Indeed, only a few timbers remained upright, and with the smaller sheds in the yard having all been consumed, by this time the roof of the buildings on the west side of the yard was also well alight. In fact the whole of the roof would be destroyed and the upper storey completely gutted, although the lower (ground floor) storey and its contents were only partly damaged. Here the flames had extended to one of the rooms in the dwelling house (adjoining the range of stables) occupied by the Controller of the Depot, but fortunately the remainder of the house was undamaged, except for some scorching on the front, and a few broken windows. As for the range of buildings on the east side of the yard, in which most of the living quarters were situated, this escaped practically intact, with the only real damage being to the south end corner, where the fire, although having taken a hold, was mastered before any great damage was caused. Many people, some arriving in cars, had come to witness the fire, and some perhaps helped the staff to carry quantities of sawn timber, planks, stores etc. into the road for salvage. Only a narrow strip of land separated the backs of the cottages of ‘Company’s Row’ from the east side stable buildings, and had this range caught alight then the railway cottages, especially as a south west wind was blowing, would probably have also been ablaze. As soon as the alarm had been raised, the matter was immediately taken in hand by the Bletchley station authorities, and with the railwaymen promptly on the scene, their station fire hose and appliances were supplemented by the engine and pumps at the Company’s ‘reservoir’ at the New Found Out. Additionally, from the railway hydrants on the line, and around the railway carriage sheds, an ample high pressure water supply was obtained, with the hose being carried through the cottage grounds and gardens to the stable buildings, where a numerous gang of men were at work isolating that range of structures. Under James Garner, the fire brigade (more correctly known as the Bletchley Urban Council Fire Brigade) also arrived swiftly on the scene, but since the water supply from the town mains proved of little use, the steam fire engine had to be taken to the lake in Bletchley Park, from which an ample supply was then pumped. By telephone, even the Newport Pagnell fire brigade had been summoned, but in the event they were not required, and in fact by 10p.m. the fire was practically out. Nevertheless, a watch had to be kept all night, and the Bletchley fire brigade and engine would not return to the fire station until noon on Thursday.


DOCTORS AT WAR

DR. GURNEY WHITE BUXTON

Medically educated at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, London, Gurney White Buxton qualified in his profession in 1891, and in 1893 settled down to a practice in Fenny Stratford. There, with his garden occupying much of his free time, he would remain for the next 22 years, serving as a member of the B.M.A., and also on the Executive Committee of the Buckinghamshire Division. In politics he held the views of a Liberal Unionist, whilst as for religion he was for many years a sidesman at St. Martin’s Church, being also a member of the Church of England Men’s Society, and a lay representative on the Oxford Diocesan Conference. In 1900 he was initiated into the St. Martin’s Lodge of Freemasons (of which he became Worshipful Master in 1907) and in other pursuits became a Manager of the Bletchley Road County Schools, a member of the Mutual Improvement Society, and a member of the Buckinghamshire Archaeological Society. Prior to the outbreak of the First World War, for a few years he held a commission as Lieutenant, and later Captain, in the 2nd South Midland Brigade, Mounted Ambulance, Territorial Royal Army Medical Corps, and thus with war declared in August 1914 was required to join his unit. Yet during the early stages of the war he and his corps would remain in England, but although this meant that on occasion he could still attend the Council meetings at Bletchley, he could no longer attend to his medical practice. Therefore, from Monday, September 28th 1914 this was removed to Bracknell House, but with the War Office having a continued and increasing need for doctors, soon also to be removed was the locum tenens who had acted for Captain Buxton for several weeks, Dr. Farris. He left Fenny Stratford on Thursday, December 3rd 1914 to join the R.A.M.C., and although he had been promised a fortnight’s notice, he in fact received only three days. At the meeting in January 1915, it was stated that since they were both now serving in the medical branch of the Army, Dr. C.J. Deyns and Dr. Buxton had offered to resign from the committee of the Fenny Stratford School Managers, but, with this not being accepted, Lady Leon would be asked to reply to say that their seats would be kept open. Now on active service, Captain Buxton - who was attached to the Ambulance Unit commanded by Lieutenant Colonel C.J. Deyns, R.A.M.C. - would be stationed on the shores of the Gallipoli Peninsula, and subsequently wrote of his experience;

Dr. Gurney White Buxton.

'Duty impelled you and you never faltered
There was no need for her to whisper twice:
The end you saw not, no, nor would have altered, You took the Cross and made the sacrifice.'

“We are now living in holes in the ground and sleep on the hard ground in dirt, and there is dirt all around, and we are all dirty. Water is very scarce and only just sufficient for our bottles. We are not comfortable and sleep in our clothes and boots, the nights being cold. We are, it is needless to say, in the Dardanelles, and really seeing active service. We see numbers of wounded soldiers and shells and bullets falling everywhere. Our stretcher bearers are splendid and brave, one has been killed and others wounded, but none of the officers. Guns and rifles are going all day and night; things are terrible, and I shall be glad when it is all over. Do not worry, I shall turn up some day. This would be a delightful spot if it was not for the war. We get next to no news, and have been living quite out of the world with nothing to talk about except shells and shots. I could write a lot more, but it would all be so sad.”

This plaque in St. Martin's Church commemorates Dr. Gurney White Buxton, who, having contracted an illness during active service at Gallipoli, died from dysentery aboard a hospital ship in January 1915. He was buried at sea near Malta.

However, when orders were received to proceed to Chocolate Hill he was in declining health, and although his was the opinion that the illness could be shaken off, the medical authorities thought otherwise, and transferred him to a hospital ship. Aboard this he then died from dysentery near Malta in January 1915, and was buried at sea. Yet news of his death would only reach his comrades, now in the trenches of Chocolate Hill, several weeks later via a local newspaper, which had been sent to one of the soldiers from England. As for Dr. Buxton’s medical practice at Bletchley, from March 1915 this would be carried on by Mr. J. Kelland, M.B., C.M., L.R.C.P., S.D.P.B., whilst as for the vacancy for a manager of the Bletchley Road Council Schools, in October 1915 Mr. W.J. Brown was appointed. In St. Martin’s Church, near to where Dr. Buxton used to sit may be seen on the north wall of the nave, at the western end, a memorial tablet in bronze, mounted on an oak base, With a faculty having been obtained from the Bishop of Oxford, this was placed in June 1917, and on Saturday evening, August 25th 1917 a special celebration of choral evensong took place for the dedication. During his time at Bletchley, Dr. Buxton had lived at ‘Ivy Dene,’ abutting on to the High Street, but this was sold in February 1920 as part of the premises known either as ‘Cave’s Solid Beer Brewery,’ or the ‘Bletchley Brewery Company.’ This lay adjacent to the Watling Street, just on the Brickhill side of the Grand Junction Canal bridge, and purchase would be made by Gibbs and Co., house furnishers, of Leighton Buzzard, who, until then, had used the premises in Bletchley Road once occupied by Messrs. Phillips and Sons, coachbuilders.

DR. CHARLES JOHN DEYNS

Born the second son of Dr. Frederick Deyns, in 1890 Dr. Charles John Deyns took over the practice of his father at the Red House, in the High Street, which for many years had been the home of various doctors. Leaving his medical partner Dr. Nicholson to continue the Red House tradition, some time before 1907 he then bought ‘The Gables,’ in Bletchley Road, where being unmarried he would live with his sisters. Apart from his medical practice, for many years he would be an officer on the medical side of the Bucks Volunteers, and in other pursuits on April 14th 1910 presided at a meeting at the Council Offices, where he declared that “the time has arrived when a determined effort should be made to establish a horticultural society in the district.” In consequence the use of Bletchley Park was granted, and the idea would soon prove popular. As Chairman of the newly created Council, at the Coronation of King George V his was the honour of firing a ‘Salute of 21 guns’ from the Fenny Poppers, but it would be guns of a more deadly intent that he became more acquainted with following the outbreak of the war. Despite being over military age, as lieutenant colonel in command of the 2nd South Midland Mounted Brigade, Field Ambulance, which in peace time had its headquarters in Stony Stratford, he joined his men, and through being initially stationed in England was able to obtain a short leave to attend a meeting of the Council on Tuesday, September 8th 1914. However, during his military absence his position would thereafter be covered by Mr. A. Bramley. The youngest brother of Dr. Deyns, Ernest Fuller Victor Deyns, would also opt for active service, and in December 1914 was granted a temporary lieutenancy in the Royal Bucks Hussars. In fact he had served as a trooper throughout the South African war, and despite having emigrated to Canada rejoined his old regiment at the request of the Commanding Officer. As for Dr. Deyns sister, Miss Deyns, by February 1915 she had been granted permission to use the Bletchley Road Schools for concerts, on behalf of the local Women’s War Needlework Committee. Then under the direction of Lieutenant Colonel W.J. Levi, on Wednesday evening, April 21st 1915 she would be amongst the members of the Fenny Stratford, Bletchley and District Musical Society at their annual concert in the Town Hall. By August 1915 Lieutenant Colonel Deyns was on military service in Egypt, and whilst at Alexandria would gratefully receive from Miss Smith and Miss Walduck, of the Coffee Tavern, Bletchley station, 385 cigarettes, which the ladies had sent for distribution amongst the men in the 2nd South Midland Mounted Brigade, Field Ambulance. Meanwhile, in Bletchley towards the end of September 1915 Miss Deyns was voluntarily assisting at the Recruiting Office, in connection with the compilation of the National Register. Also in Bletchley, Dr. Maynard Vasey was now taking the medical role of Lieutenant Colonel Deyns, although by February 1916 he would be back at Bletchley, having been invalided from the Gallipoli Peninsula to Egypt, suffering from frostbite to his hands and toes. In fact so severe had been the cold that, shortly before he succumbed, 1,400 men had to be invalided due to the same cause, being sent to the coast for transport to hospital. For his service at Gallipoli, Lieutenant Colonel Deyns would be awarded the coveted Territorial Decoration, and being now back in Bletchley he would attend the meeting of the Managers of the Bletchley Road Council Schools on the afternoon of Monday, February 7th 1916. In fact this was his first attendance since the beginning of the war, and he was heartily welcomed. However, by August 1916 he was again away on military service, as also by March 1917, whilst as for his sister, at a meeting of the Bletchley, Fenny Stratford and District War Pensions Sub Committee on Friday, October 25th 1918 she gave a report regarding a Fenny Stratford case for dental treatment. This had been referred to the Ivory Cross Society, and because they had agreed to pay the bill the man had now had his teeth attended to. Having in February 1920 returned from the Forces, Lieutenant Colonel Deyns could thereon resume his many responsibilities, which variously included being a county magistrate, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Fenny Stratford Gas Light and Coke Company, and, as a keen cricketer, presiding at the inaugural meeting of the Bletchley Town Cricket Club. This had been founded on February 16th 1928, but was then moved to Manor Fields in 1950, this ironically being the same year in which Dr. Deyns died.

DR. WILIAM BRADBROOK AND FAMILY

Being an eminent local historian, Dr. William Bradbrook, or Bradbrooke, (d1939) is probably best remembered for his History of Fenny Stratford, published in 1911. However, he was also prominent in civic life, and at the Town Hall on Wednesday evening, August 5th 1914 would be unanimously elected as chairman, at a meeting to approve of the Government’s action following the outbreak of war. By joining the Forces, members of his family would also demonstrate their approval, and by July 1915 serving in one or other of the Canadian Contingents were Captain Howard Bradbrook, Captain Charles Bradbrook, Trooper Francis Bradbrook and Trooper Gerard Bradbrook. With Charles having won the D.C.M. during the Boer War, the first two were the brothers of Dr. Bradbrook, with the other two being his sons. In fact with them in the Canadians was also 18 year old Trooper Bruce Edward, the six foot five inches tall second son of Mr. and Mrs. D.C. Edward, who, previously of Aylesbury Street, were now living at Simpson. Francis was the eldest son of Dr. & Mrs. Bradbrook, and had arrived from Canada with the First Canadian Contingent, as one of the three signallers of the Canadian Mounted Rifles. As for Gerard Bradbrook, he was the second son, and having been in Canada when the war broke out, when aged 17 joined the Canadian Regiment as a bugler. (Later he would join the Machine Gun Section, before transferring to the Mounted Rifles.) Arriving in Britain with the first Canadian Expeditionary Force, he would be quartered at Salisbury Plain, but when his regiment left for France in 1915 he, and about 100 of his comrades, had to remain behind suffering from German measles. Despite recovering from the disease, he then suffered complications, and after treatment and an operation joined the Canadian headquarters at Shorncliffe, where he would remain until around mid 1916. Therefore by late September 1915 it would be Captain Howard Bradbrook, his nephew Trooper Francis Bradbrook, and Trooper Bruce Edward who had left for ‘somewhere in France.’ During the war, apart from his medical practice Dr. Bradbrook would be the chief instructor in the Bletchley Station first aid classes, and would also act as one of the medical examiners for new recruits at the Co-op Hall, Albert Street. As for his wife, she also played a local role, and indeed in early March 1916 had to relinquish her position as president of the parish branch of the Mothers’ Union, due to the stress of her other duties. Yet nevertheless she would still carry on the work in conjunction with other members of the committee. During the following month her husband was sworn in at Bletchley as a special constable, but dated May 10th he then received a letter from his eldest son, Trooper Francis Bradbrook, stating that he had been wounded by a shrapnel bullet. Sustained in the trenches, apparently the wound was not serious, for despite having been caught without his helmet, when Francis heard the shell coming he used his spade to protect his head. Nevertheless, the next thing he remembered was being at the Base Hospital. On Wednesday, May 31st 1916, Major Howard Bradbrook arrived at Bletchley from France to stay with Dr. and Mrs. Bradbrook for a few days, but on reading in the Sunday newspapers of the severe fighting at Ypres, he at once cancelled his leave and left the same evening to rejoin his regiment. Dr. Bradbrook’s third son, Hugh Bradbrook, was now a scholar at Bletchley Grammar School, and with Latin, French, maths, arithmetic and drawing included amongst the subjects, he had attained Senior 1st Class Honours at the Oxford Local Examinations, held in December 1915. Indeed, in July 1916 when aged 16 (the earliest age allowed) he would then appear in the list of successful candidates at the London University Matriculation Exam, which had been held the previous month. Having seen action at the Ypres salient, the Somme, the Ancre and Arras, in December 1916 Trooper (Divisional Signaller) Francis Bradbrook, 1st Canadian Mounted Rifles, came home for his first short leave with his parents, but as for another guest of the household, at the Petty Sessions on December 14th 1916 Marie Pactre, now companion to Mrs. Browning, of Curson Court, Limerick, was summoned for having failed to register as an alien at Bletchley. Of Swiss nationality, for a while she, having correctly registered, had stayed with Dr. & Mrs. Bradbrook at Bletchley, but in due course she went away and registered at her new address. Then, despite this being for only a day, she returned to Bletchley, but on trying to re-register could not find anyone in relevant authority. Since she was now in Ireland, at the hearing a Mr. Thornley appeared on her behalf, whilst as for Dr. Bradbrook, he could not attend due to having been called out to a patient. A fine of 10s was imposed. Also in December, Major Howard Bradbrook was mentioned in despatches for ‘brilliant work’ whilst in command of his regiment on the Somme - Ancre Sector. Then in January 1917 came news that as Second in Command, 1st Canadian Mounted Rifles, he had been awarded the Military Cross. This was for bravery during June, but in a letter received one Sunday morning in April 1917, Dr. Bradbrook received news that Major Bradbrook was now in the First General Military Hospital at Camberwell, London, having been wounded in the arm during the storming and carrying of Vimy Ridge, near Arras. In fact having left England with his regiment in June 1915, until now he had remained unscathed, despite experiencing the fighting firstly in the Ypres Salient, and subsequently at Arras, the Somme, the Ancre, again at Arrras, and then in the front fighting line with the Canadians in the great push, which was still proceeding. In May 1917 Private Gerard Bradbrook, Machine Gun Section, Canadians, the second son of Dr. Bradbrook, was gazetted to a direct commission as Second Lieutenant in the Machine Gun Section, and subsequent to arriving in France he also had taken part in all the hard fighting around Arras, on the Somme and the Ancre, as well as being at the capture of Vimy Ridge, where his uncle, Major Howard Bradbrook, M.C., was wounded. At the instigation of Sir Herbert Leon, to consider forming a war savings committee for Bletchley, Fenny Stratford and the surrounding district, a meeting was held on Wednesday evening June 20th 1917 in the Council Offices, where a committee was duly appointed, to include Lady Leon and Miss Broome Giles, with Mrs. W. Bradbrook as secretary. In December 1917 came news that Second Lieutenant Gerard Bradbrook, Machine Gun Section, Canadian Mounted Rifles, had been awarded the Military Cross. This was ‘for conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty,’ and in fact on October 31st despite being wounded twice he had continued to remain at his position in the severe fighting at Passchendaele Ridge. He had now been invalided home, but hoped to shortly rejoin his regiment. In early January 1918, at a meeting of the local War Savings Committee Mrs. Bradbrook, the honorary secretary, gave a concise report regarding the work of the committee during the six months of its existence, saying that lantern lectures had been given for publicity at Bletchley, Woburn Sands, Great Brickhill, and Little Brickhill. Yet she would soon take on additional duties, when Sir Herbert Leon resigned from the Local Food Control Committee. Since he was now unable to come out at night, ‘To be a member of a committee and not be able to attend the meetings simply worried him,’ and regarding the vacancy a member had suggested that his replacement should be a woman. With Mrs. R. Hammond proposed by Sir Herbert Leon, another proposal was Miss Sinfield, a ticket collector for the L.&N.W.R., but the third nomination was Mrs. Bradbrook, since not only had she been intimately and closely connected with the War Saving and War Economy movements, but she was also the only one who had wartime experience of maintaining a household and catering for a family of children. Thus when a vote was held she gained 3 votes, including that of the Chairman, whilst Miss Sinfield and Mrs. Hammond each polled 2 votes. As for Dr. Bradbrook, at the annual church conference of the Rural Deanery of Bletchley, held at the Vicarage Room on Wednesday evening June 5th 1918, he proposed the resolution ‘That this conference of the Rural Deanery of Bletchley opposes any further relaxation of the Marriage Laws, especially the proposal that separation for a term of years shall give a right to divorce,’ and this was carried unanimously. A meeting of the Central Committee of the Bletchley District War Savings Association took place in the Council Offices on Thursday evening, June 20th 1918, and with the Reverend F. Bennitt having resigned as the honorary treasurer (since he was shortly to join the Army) Mrs. Bradbrook was asked to temporarily take over the role. Then in October 1918 she and Dr. Bradbrook heard that having been wounded in the late fighting in the Cambrai sector, Major Howard Bradbrook, M.C., of the Canadian Mounted Rifles, had arrived in England. However, at the same time they received news that their second son, Lieutenant Gerard Bradbrook, M.C., Machine Gun Section, Canadian Division, had been wounded in the same action, although no details of his injuries were available. In November 1918 then came the further distressing news that their first son, Sergeant Major Francis Bradbrook, Machine Gun Section, Canadian Division, had been gassed during the operations following the German retreat. Presently he was in hospital in France, whilst as for his youngest brother, Hugh, he was now a lieutenant in the R.A.F. Indeed, having lately received his commission, he had recently made his first cross Channel flight, and would be stationed with the British air force in France. With the war now at an end, on Saturday, November 16th 1918 at Buckingham Palace the King invested Major Howard Bradbrook, M.C., Canadian Mounted Rifles, with the D.S.O. This was for action whilst in command of his regiment during the Somme operations, and at the same investiture the King conferred the Bronze Edward Medal on John Carter, of Bletchley. He had been away on munitions work during the war, and his award was for courage ‘in saving life on land.’


FEEDING THE NATION

In January 1914 the death occurred of Thomas Crane, of Duncombe Street. Probably the oldest inhabitant of Bletchley, where he was born on October 20th 1818, during his earlier years he had helped in managing his father’s farm, and in 1830 was one of the farmers who, for carting in the materials, hired out his team to the contractors at Denbigh engaged in building the railway. This he continued until 1838, and in fact he remembered the coaches from Liverpool to Birmingham pulling up at the ‘station.’ In 1844 he then became the licensee of the Old Swan, where he lived for 62 years, but, having also been engaged in hauling, he left the pub about 1906.

Denbigh Hall Inn, on the Watling Street.
Before its completion by the cutting of the Kilsby Tunnel, the London to Birmingham railway line opened on April 9th 1838 as far as Denbigh Hall, where, as remembered by Thomas Crane, passengers alighted, to then board stagecoaches for Rugby, where they rejoined the railway to Birmingham. For those travellers having to wait for their connection, around Denbigh Hall a multitude of improvised shelters sprang up, and also catering for their needs was the Denbigh Hall Inn, which, having been recently renamed from the Pig and Whistle, was run by Thomas Holdom. For the five months before the completion of the railway he then attempted to operate the premises as a hotel, and even converted the parlour into a coffee room. In August 1920 Sir Herbert and Lady Leon, of Bletchley Park, commemorated this unique piece of railway history by erecting a plaque, and this is still to be seen on the railway bridge spanning the Watling Street.

The two views show the other side of the railway bridge, which carries a commemorative plaque.

At a time of agricultural decline, opportunities for a better life in Canada and Australia were now being advertised to local farm workers, although for one person of foreign extraction, Paul Klameth (now a naturalised British citizen) about 12 years ago he had taken over nurseries in Bletchley Road, from where ‘a various variety of seeds’ were presently available. Also in Bletchley Road, agricultural machinery was the province of Randalls Vulcan Works, which in February 1914 needed moulders, fitters, turners, and erectors. In March 1914 the authorities at Aylesbury sanctioned the renting of a piece of land ajoining the Wesleyan Chapel in Bletchley Road for a school garden, where ‘Already a man and a spade have been busy on the “promised land,” and it will be only a matter of a few days before the boys will be able to commence work.’ In fact the boys would receive half the proceeds of the sale of produce, whilst as for the local farmers, a meeting to form a branch of the N.F.U., for Fenny Stratford and district, would be held at the Swan Hotel on April 23rd 1914. Not that this was of much interest to Mr. J. Finch Hill, of Denbigh Hall Farm, for he was leaving the district, and, on May 11th there would be a consequent auction by George Wigley and Sons of various effects, to include furniture, 17 head of cattle, 2 cart horses, 200 poultry, geese and ducks, and farm implements. Of those farmers who remained in the district, Thomas Gale, of Water Eaton, required an under milker (single), who, with every third Sunday free, would be paid 16s a week. As for other opportunities for employment, Mrs. Ramsbotham now had the need for a general servant at ‘Brooklands,’ Bletchley. With admission priced at 1s (or 6d after 5p.m.) the 5th annual ‘Bletchley Park Monster Show of the Bletchley and Fenny Stratford Horticultural Society’ (of which Lady Leon was the president) took place ‘in the Charming Grounds of Bletchley Park, the Beauty Spot of the Midlands,’ on August 3rd Bank Holiday.

As well as the annual Bletchley Show, the grounds of Bletchley Park would often accommodate various other shows, including, as described in this leaflet, that of the Royal and Central Bucks Agricultural Association in 1899.
However, with the outbreak of the First World War all entertainments and sports at Bletchley Park were initially cancelled.

With the orchid houses and gardens being open to the public from 2p.m. until 4.30p.m., amongst the events were included horse jumping and driving competitions, whilst music was the province of the 3rd Battalion Northampton Regiment. Luncheons and teas were available ‘at popular prices,’ and in the evening dancing took place, with special late return trains having been laid on for the benefit of the revellers. On Saturday, July 18th 1914 the 4th annual show of the L.&N.W. Railway (Southern Division) Horticultural Society was held by kind permission of Colonel and Mrs. Broome Giles at Holne Chase, and whilst there were fewer entries than usual, these were of better quality. Extra classes for the year included lace making and fancy work, and in the afternoon the Caledonian Boy Pipers played selections, and also gave a display of Scottish dancing. During the evening music for dancing was provided by the Bletchley Station Band, which had performed selections throughout the day, and also throughout the day fine weather had been a welcome feature. There was also good weather for the Fenny Stratford market on Thursday, August 13th, when Messrs. Geo. Wigley had to erect canvas coverings to protect the pigs from the sun. Arranged by the Bucks County Education Committee, at 7p.m. at the Bletchley Road Council Schools the County Horticultural Instructor, Mr. Mann, gave a practical demonstration on ‘Methods of Preserving Fruit with or without Sugar.’ This was held on Tuesday, September 15th and ‘Every effort should be made by housewives to attend this interesting subject.’ However, although being scheduled to preside Lady Leon had wired to apologise for her absence, which, with her recent election as a member of the Shorthorn Society, was probably due to her many other commitments. Instead the chair was taken by Mr. T. Marchant, vice chairman of the local committee, and at the end of the demonstration the prepared bottles of fruit were handed around the audience for inspection. Mr. Kemp, a local dairyman, could now offer five poultry houses, built in sections, for sale, whilst for the sale of dairy cattle a show and sale took place at the Park Hotel on Friday, October 2nd. Not that dairy stock was of great interest to Mr. D.C. Edwards, for as a butcher and game dealer in Fenny Stratford he had now taken a partner to help with the demands of trade. In fact he had carried on the business for many years, but as for Mr. William Marriott, of 6, High Street, he was now leaving the district, and had instructed George Wigley and Sons to auction on Monday, October 12th an active bay cart mare, and various carts and other agricultural items, including a plough. For the right to graze sheep on the Recreation Ground, in January 1915 the tender of £9 from Mr. J. Colgrove was accepted, whilst in March Mr. W. Gurney required a farm hand at Water Eaton, ‘able to milk, plough and undertake general duties.’ On March 13th 1915 the business at 75, Aylesbury Street of William Kirby, saddler and harness maker, was relinquished, and in consequence his widow was leaving Bletchley to take up residence at Hemel Hempstead, where her gifted son, Mr. W.E. Kirby, F.R.C.O., L.R.A.M., held an important musical position. William Kirby had died a few years ago, having conducted a saddle and harness making business, on the subject of which ‘The Shire Horse in Peace and War,’ by J. Albert Frost of The Homestead, Bletchley Road, Bletchley, was available for 2s from the publishers, Vinton and Co., 8, Breams Buildings, Chancery Lane, E.C., or from any local bookstalls.

Published in 1915, 'The Shire Horse in Peace and War' was written by Mr. J. Albert Frost. He lived at The Homestead, Bletchley Road, which in this view is seen in 1914 on a rather snowy day.

He also had Rhode Island Red eggs for sale, ‘2s 6d per sitting.’ Regarding the 12 acres known as Cottenham Field, situated opposite the Eight Bells pub, by applying to ‘The Cottage Homes, Syndicate, Bletchley,’ particulars could be obtained of the mowing or grazing for sale. Additionally, about nine acres of this desirable commodity would - promising ‘exceptionally heavy Crops’ - also be available on the instruction of the Council by auction at the Sewage Works, where, on Thursday, May 20th interested persons were to meet George Wigley at 5p.m. Roger Stimson, of Fenny Stratford would offer the highest bid, of £13. A number of panes of glass had recently been broken at the nursery premises of Paul Klameth, a naturalised Briton, in Bletchley Road, and in consequence on the night of Saturday, May 15th 1915 Inspector Callaway, police sergeant Snelling and four special constables kept the premises under surveillance. Shortly after 11p.m. they then saw about ten men and youths arrive, and when two entered the grounds two arrests were made. However, the rest of the men dispersed, and on Sunday morning several more panes of glass were found to have been broken. With Mr. Klameth being of foreign birth, and therefore having had his name removed from the list of voters at the last Revision Court, this was no doubt the ‘motive’ behind the attacks. In due course the two persons arrested on the premises, a carter and a labourer, both of Fenny Stratford, were brought to court on Thursday, May 20th 1915, and although they pleaded guilty they said they were not intent on any unlawful purpose. Having come from Fenny Stratford they had passed the house and nurseries but then returned, and climbing over the fence looked in at the dining room window of the house, which stood amongst the glass and hothouses. They then went round to the back, where, in the company of a special constable, police sergeant Snelling found them by the door. On asking them what they were doing he received the reply “only having a look,” but they were then arrested, and, with Inspector Callaway’s assistance, brought to the police station to be locked up over night, with the carter remarking “My mates are not having fair play at the front, so I thought I would try and get it for them.” The two, named Cox and Shepherd, had been under the influence of drink, and being released on bail the following morning, when brought to court it was suggested that both should join the Army.

AIn 1863, on the land he had speculatively purchased from William Linnell, Robert Holdom laid out Denmark Street, on the corner of which in 1864 the Randall Co., of Bedford, established a branch of an iron and brass foundry, under the management of Charles Higgs Holdom. Now the site of the Londis shop, here were made castings for agricultural machinery, but the foundry later moved to a site north of Fenny Lodge. This would then be acquired by Rowland Brothers for timber storage and seasoning, when the foundry moved in 1881 to the corner of Cambridge Street and Bletchley Road. During 1926 the engineering works then closed although for the manager, Mr. Albert Hurst, who had been apprenticed to the firm as a boy, this marked the start of a new beginning, for at the age of 45 not only did he design his own home, formerly his allotment, but also commenced a general engineering works in Denmark Street. In 1906, at Berkhampstead parish church he had married the Bletchley born Lillie Moss (who for a while had been lady's maid to Clementine Hozier, who later became Lady Churchill) and of their children there would be a daughter, who married Bert Weatherhead, and two sons, Ron and Stan, who would duly assist their father in the engineering firm.

With an imposition of 5s shillings costs, they were bound over for the sum of £5 each, and were ordered to keep the peace for 12 months. For the local farmers, W. Randall and Sons, Vulcan Works, now had for sale not only an eight row Bedfordshire drill, and several first class horse hoes, ‘in perfect order; cheap,’ but also a large stock of shearing machines for immediate delivery. In fact these might have been of interest to Mr. Jones at Water Hall Farm, where he now required a man for general farm work, ‘able to build and thatch if necessary,’ and be a good hedge cutter. During June 1915 G. Littlewood, nurseryman, seedsman and florist, purchased Park Nurseries, Bletchley, which had been latterly operated by Mrs. Paul Klameth, and there he was able to offer a fine selection of bedding and window plants, cut flowers, cucumbers and tomatoes. ‘Specialist in all floral designs.’ However, the stock was perhaps depleted following the nights and early mornings of Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, June 17th, 18th, 19th, 20th, when frosts caused severe damage to the crops in gardens and allotments. As for the hay crop in the Bletchley and Fenny Stratford district, this was generally light, and, with many men now in the Forces, farmers in need of labour were invited to contact the Mid Bucks Volunteer Corps via E.W. Robinson, Liscombe, ‘second in command.’ Yet the necessary machinery seemed more abundant, since haymakers and horse rakes were now for sale at W. Randall and Sons, Vulcan Works.

Rain came at last on Wednesday, June 30th 1915 about noon, when, accompanied by hail, a thunderstorm broke over the town. Yet after a cool and dull morning, Thursday afternoon proved scorching hot, although rain fell in the evening. Friday and Saturday enjoyed fine weather, but on Sunday afternoon there was another thunderstorm and also a severe hail storm, whereby, with the hail stones being the largest seen locally for many years, the allotments and gardens suffered great damage. With the nursery now sold, in late July it was announced that Mrs. Paul Klameth was leaving the district, and would therefore resign as honorary secretary of the Bletchley Branch Committee of the N.S.P.C.C. She was duly thanked for her work, and Mrs. G. Lamb, of Bletchley Road, and Miss Lamb, of Water Eaton, would now act as joint honorary secretaries. On the night of Thursday, July 22nd 1915, or the early hours of Friday, a fire broke out at the hayrick on the Council’s land at the Sewage Outfall Works. The cause was unknown, but although the hayrick was destroyed the purchaser of the grass was rather fortunate, for he had sold the hayrick shortly after its completion! In early September 1915 Mrs. A. Evered, of Manor Farm, advertised for a ‘good general,’ whilst at the Three Tuns, in the High Street, persons could contact John Edge if they had the need for a traction engine, threshing plant, chaff cutter, saw bench and saws, ‘all in good working order.’ In the empty premises in Aylesbury Street, which had been lately occupied by the International Stores, on Wednesday, October 12th a sale of English grown bulbs was auctioned at 3p.m. by Foll and Bawden. This was on the instructions of Christopher Bourne, F.R.H.S., a local bulb specialist of Ye Olde Wharfe, Simpson, and, being surplus stocks of daffodils, narcissi, tulips etc., the 20,000 bulbs had all been grown in his bulb gardens at Bletchley and Simpson. Meanwhile, two tons of English onions and walnuts, plus 10-20 tons of King Edward potatoes, were required by ‘Johnson, Bletchley.’ A public meeting was held on Monday evening, October 18th in the Assembly Room of the Wilberforce Hotel, Bletchley Road. This was to discuss organising a local committee to work in conjunction with the Central Association for the supply of fruit, vegetables etc. to the Navy, and with Lieutenant Colonel Levi presiding, amongst those attending was Mrs. Broome Giles, who had organised the meeting. Admiral Purefy gave an address on the subject, and said that of the 500 local organisations the nearest to Bletchley were at Winslow and Great Brickhill. It was duly decided to form a small committee to investigate the details, and Mrs. Broome Giles was unanimously elected as chief of the local organisation. In November 1915 Sir Herbert Leon’s ‘Bletchley Promise,’ ‘a huge stylish roan,’ beat Mr. Cazalet’s ‘Newtonian,’ the well known yearling of 1914, in the senior steer class at Norwich Show. It afterwards took the male championship, and in other farming matters in early December 1915 a good all round farm labourer was needed by W.J. Makeham, Water Eaton, who offered the incentive of a tied cottage. In place of her mother, who was indisposed, on Tuesday evening December 21st Miss Giles presided at a meeting at the home of Mr. T.O. Cliffe, in Bletchley Road. This was regarding the newly formed Bletchley Branch of the Vegetable Products Committee which, embracing a wide circle of parishes and villages, had, with the recognition and support of the War Office and Admiralty, been formed to collect and deliver fresh fruit which, free of charge, would be supplied to warships in accessible stations. Indeed, on the evening of November 1st (only a fortnight after its formation) the committee had sent the first consignment to the Navy from Bletchley station, and, with contributions from many people, including Mrs. Vaughan Harley, as also the schools, further supplies had been despatched every Monday evening since. In fact in recognition Mrs. Broome Giles had received a letter from Admiral Lionel Halsey of H.M.S. Iron Duke,’ in which he said that although Admiral Sir John Jellicoe had already expressed appreciation for the efforts of the committee, he wished to communicate to each branch of the organisation his personal thanks for their patriotic and generous support. (As Admiral Sir Lionel Halsey, he would also have a connection with Bletchley during the Second World War, when he performed the opening ceremony at the Leon Recreation Ground for the ‘Warship Week,’ March 21st - 28th. He had retired in 1922, his long and distinguished naval career having encompassed the command of H.M.S. New Zealand during her Empire cruise in 1913, active service at Heligoland Bight in 1914, and Dogger Bank in 1915, service in H.M.S. Iron Duke at Jutland, and for two years the command of the Royal Australian Navy.) The year 1916 began with a letter from Annie Turner, the honorary secretary of the Vegetable Product Committee, The Rectory Farm, Great Brickhill, who on January 1st wrote;

‘Sir, - I read in your newspaper of Dec. 28th an account of a meeting at Bletchley to consider a scheme for sending vegetables to the Navy. I note that it was suggested that other villages including Great Brickhill and Stoke Hammond should be asked to join the Bletchley Branch. I should like to state that Great Brickhill has been sending fortnightly consignments of fruit and vegetables since Sept. 15th and Stoke Hammond joined their branch in October.’ So that put the record straight. Littlewoods, ‘The Bletchley Art Florists’, were now to be found at Park Nurseries, and at the other end of town John Colgrove had offered £9 for the right to graze sheep on the Recreation Ground. This was accepted, whilst at Staple Hall with there being 150 fruit trees the gardens, orchards and greenhouses were now to let, ‘Apply Mr. G. King, gardener, Rhondda House.’ At 70, Victoria Road, F. Williamson had some fowl for sale, including two white Leghorn cocks, which might benefit from Karswood Spice, ‘containing ground insects,’ which, with the apparent ability to double egg production, was available from ‘Vasey, 27, Bletchley Road.’ In February 1916 the Council received a letter from Moss and Sons, the grocery stores in Aylesbury Street. In this they complained about the nuisance being caused through the use of carbolic disinfectant on market days, and in consequence the strength would be reduced as much as possible. Also in February a pony boy was required by Ramsbotham and Co., who, now having the need for extra ground, could offer rose trees for sale, ‘our selection.’ These were priced at 3 for 1s, and hopefully survived a snowstorm which, beginning on Wednesday, February 23rd 1916, and lasting throughout Thursday into Friday, was the severest the district had experienced that century. From Sir Herbert Leon’s celebrated herd of Shorthorn cattle, a selection of young bulls had been recently sold, and, bound for export to South America, were loaded aboard the steamer ‘La Rosarina’ in the charge of 17 year old Wilfred Watson, the son of James T. Watson, the manager of Sir Herbert’s farms and breeding establishment at Bletchley. Mr. Watson’s brother, Thomas, had been in Buenos Ayres for 9 years, and, as the manager of ‘Cabano Retiro,’ had secured the consignment. With skills in garden and nursery work, in March 1916 five or six good men were needed at Littlewoods, Park Nurseries, Bletchley, and with the prevailing shortage of labour good wages were offered, and even elderly applicants would be considered to ‘do their bit.’ Also doing his bit was the Reverend Townley, the able curate of the Reverend Firminger, of St. Martin‘s Church, for whilst on duty as a special constable at Church Corner, on Saturday morning, March 18th 1916 he managed to bring to a halt a runaway pony which, coming along Simpson Road, tried to cross the High Street on the way home to the nurseries of Ramsbotham’s, at whose shop at 48, Aylesbury Street there would shortly be the need for a a girl assistant. There were still extensive floods from the last snowfall when, at about half past five, on Friday, March 24th 1916 there was another snowstorm, and in fact due to the recent frosts and snow, and also the heavy passage of traffic, there was now no tarmac left on the surface of the High Street. Then on the following Monday the worst storm for 50 years occurred, lasting until Tuesday evening. Around the town trees were blown down across many roads, as also, especially the Watling Street, many telegraph poles, and at Bletchley station the large post carrying all the main wires into the Post Office snapped almost half way up. Thus with the top half suspended by the wires on the Post Office roof, for two days or so telegraphic traffic was almost non existent. Many railway timetables were affected, the district mail carts could not get through, and many slates and tiles were blown off the roofs of houses, although when the storm eventually subsided there was at least one benefit, for, shifted onto the roadsides, the fallen trees provided a free source of firewood for the local population people. Being no longer connected with the Park Nurseries, in April 1916 G. Littlewood left Bletchley, and in consequence ‘All applications for flowers, seeds etc. are to be made to the manager. N.B. Special low quotations for extra tall, bushy Laurels.’ Meanwhile, at Bletchley Park Home Farm, during the first week in May 1916 Lady Leon and four women helpers could be seen hard at work hoeing beans, which would have gladdened the heart of Lord Selborne, the President of the Board of Agriculture, who throughout the past few months had made several appeals for everyone to grow as much food as possible on their allotments and holdings. He had also appealed to the Mayors of boroughs, and county boroughs, to assist by ensuring as far as possible that all gardens of empty houses were cultivated, but despite all the efforts the price of most garden produce had increased. Apart from hoeing beans, Lady Leon had also often milked the cows at the Bletchley Park Dairy Farm, whilst as for her husband, Sir Herbert Leon, he had now rented out a large field adjoining the Watling Street north of Fenny Stratford. Presently this was well cultivated and fully cropped, and also rented out, at about £2 an acre, had been a large field ‘beyond Bletchley Station,’ where a number of railway workers had taken plots. The area was owned by Sir E. Duncombe, and he had also let two other fields, one near the schools and one near Messrs. Randalls which, although rented at a slightly higher price, were much sought after by the nearby residents, especially the workmen of the L.&N.W.R. In fact with cabbages now being expensive, there were presently some good beds of this produce in all the local fields, and onions and lettuce were also being extensively grown, whilst on the allotment field at Water Eaton ‘Every plot has been dug and cropped, looks clean and tidy, and the owners are for a brief space taking it easy until the crops show themselves and can be hoed.’ With labour now scarce, farmers who needed the loan of soldiers for hay making etc. were advised by Major Hammans to write to Walter Long or Lord Selborne, and he further stated that the Commanding Officers of regiments were authorised to allow leave of absence to men who wished to help on farms, where in the Woburn district numerous women were currently employed ‘and are giving satisfaction.’ (As for his opinion as to what would happen if a man turned 41 years of age after joining up, in reply to this question from the Winslow Tribunal his answer was “The Army has got him and will stick to him.”) Yirrell Bros., ‘high class family butchers’, had now taken over the old established business lately carried on by Irving J. Betts, in Aylesbury Street, but at 34, Church Street, the Pork Shop was still in the ownership of Colgroves.

In June 1916, Mr. G. Cooper left to take up work at Maidenhead, having for some time been the indispensable head gardener to Sir Herbert Leon. As for other indispensable persons, in early July 1916 a circular issued by the Local Government Board to Local Tribunals stated that, as a result of full consideration, it had been agreed that as far as possible the War Office would not withdraw from farms men who were shown, ‘after careful investigation,’ to be indispensable for the cultivation of the land, and for the maintenance of the head of livestock upon it. In fact a scale had been agreed between the Army Council and the Board of Agriculture as a general guide for determining the number of men to be retained on farms; One skilled able bodied man or lad (wherever possible not of military age) for each of the following: Each team of horses required to cultivate the land; every 20 cows in milk, when the assistance of women and boys is available; every 50 head of stall or yard stock, when auxiliary feeding is resorted to and the assistance of women or boys is available; every 200 sheep, inclusive of lambs, grazed on enclosed land; every 800 sheep running on mountain or hill pasturage. However, the above was issued for guidance only. A special meeting of the Bletchley and Fenny Stratford Co-operative Industrial Society was held on Thursday evening, July 6th 1916. This was to consider purchasing the Park Nurseries on Bletchley Road, and it was decided to pay the asking price. 100,000 Carter’s Drumhead Cow Cabbage Plants were now offered for sale by Thomas Gale, at Home Farm, Water Eaton, where at Sycamore Dairy Farm a good cowman was needed by W.J. Makeham, ‘Good wages and cottage.’ At the Council meeting on August 15th it was decided that the Surveyor should purchase a roller and weighing machine from W. Randall & Sons at £6 and £5, and also during the month came news that the bulls recently supplied from Bletchley to Buenos Ayres had achieved great success. As for other cattle, an important auction by John Thornton and Co. of pure bred dairy shorthorns took place at 4p.m. at Old Bletchley on Tuesday, September 15th. This was at Mr. J. Shirley’s farm, situated about a mile from Bletchley station, and on offer were about 50 head, with almost all being from the well known herd which for many years had won numerous prizes at all the leading shows. The highest price would be for a red bull, and this was sold to Mr. J. Croft of Calthorpe, Rugby, for 320 guineas, with the gross total of the sale amounting to 3,620 guineas. (During the war, Mr. Shirley was appointed chairman of the North London Area Feeding Stuffs Committee, the operations of which included Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire.) The third annual Show and Sale of dairy cattle took place in the Park Hotel yard on Friday, October 6th, whilst on the 13th at 2p.m. Geo. Wigley and Sons, on the instructions of Geo. Kilsby, auctioned on the field adjacent to the King’s Head a quantity of surplus building materials, as also a hayrick, a roan mare - ‘good worker in all gears’ - four store pigs, and ten head of poultry. In May, a farmer at Yards End, Fenny Stratford, who was aged 24, and single, had been given temporary exemption by the Local Military Service Tribunal to December 31st, but this was now appealed against by the military authorities, on the grounds that he was needed more as a soldier than to work on a 30 acre farm, with two milking cows. Indeed, appeals by the military authorities were now proving more numerous, as emphasised at the Bucks County Tribunal where a long letter was read by Lieutenant Sydenham, the military representative, from Captain L.H. Green, in which he complained that where an appeal had been disallowed by both the Local and Area Tribunals, in more than one case the Bucks Agricultural War Committee had referred the case to the War Office through the Board of Agriculture, with the result that the men were recalled from service. The matter would now be referred to the Local Government Board for their observations. In December, at the Park Nurseries a quantity of standard and bush apple trees, plus pear and plum trees, were available, and also for sale were ornamental and flowering trees and shrubs. ‘Apply to the manager.’ Then ending the year, at 22s a week, plus a cottage, a man was required by Thomas Gale at Home Farm, Water Eaton, as head cowman - although ‘Knowledge of sheep preferred’ - and in adverse weather the annual show of Fat Stock and Dairy cattle took place in Fenny Stratford, with the erection of the pens and stalls having been carried out by Mr. H.A. Lee, of Aylesbury Street. Having been one of the oldest of Fenny Stratford’s tradesmen, on Tuesday morning, January 2nd 1917 Mr. W. Collins died aged 68, and was buried at Bedford.

In the view looking towards St. Martin's Church, Collins Bazaar is seen on the corner of Aylesbury Street and Church Street. William Collins had originally begun in business in Victoria Road, but around 1891 moved to premises in the High Street, and afterwards to Aylesbury Street, where he purchased an old farm house to which he added a shop front. Clearly visible in the other view of the premises (during the ownership of Mrs. Douglas) are the tall chimney stacks of the old farmhouse (some of the chimneys being dummies), which, being one cluster of four, and the other of eight, dated from the 17th century. They were demolished in early 1928.

Several years ago he had handed his business to his son, but since he was now serving in the Royal Garrison Artillery the concern had been closed. (In fact Gunner Fred Collins would be wounded in action in 1917, being then removed to a French hospital.) Mr. Collins had begun commercial life in the furniture, hardware and general goods trade in Victoria Road many years ago, and about 1891 moved to premises in the High Street. He then moved to Aylesbury Street, and there shortly afterwards purchased an old farm house to which, with the business being much enlarged, he added a shop front. On land acquired with the farmhouse two houses were then built in Church Street, and in one of these he continued to live until, after a short illness, he died. As for his civic life, for some years he had been a member of the Council, only losing his seat about three years ago. Snow showers and frost were a feature of January, and on occasion people had even been able to go skating. Therefore it was of no surprise that in such conditions there was little opportunity to carry out any agricultural or horticultural work, although nevertheless the Allotments Sub Committee would ‘do all such things as in their opinion considered necessary or expedient’ regarding the provision of allotments.’ Indeed, posters in the town now announced that plots for cultivation were available; ‘size 10 - 40 pole, at 4d rent per pole,’ and as an added incentive ‘the ground will be ploughed by the Council.’ At the meeting of the Bucks County War Agricultural Committee, held at Aylesbury on Thursday, January 25th 1917, concern was expressed regarding the number of skilled agricultural men who, by a decision of the War Office, were to be taken from the land, and in other concerns the need for a central reserve of motor tractors was noted. Sir Herbert Leon, the chairman, then intimated that he would have to resign from this position on medical advice. This was in view of his many other responsibilities, but, with it being consequently asked that he reconsider his decision, he agreed to continue as chairman, but without the obligation of having to attend the Executive Committee meetings. In fact Sir Herbert played a very important role in local agricultural matters, and it would be due to his benevolence that, free of charge, teams from the Bletchley Park Farms were loaned to plough up the land on the Leon Avenue Estate, for which, as well as covering all rates and taxes, the Council would pay Sir Herbert 5s per acre per annum. As for the rent payable from the allotment holders, this would be 4d per pole per annum, due in advance on March 1st. In fact the Allotment Committee now reported that with 80 applications having been received, the whole of the available ground had been let, and in addition Mr. Matthews, of Winslow, had agreed that his acre or so on the Estate could also be ploughed up and let as allotments by the Council. However, the cost of fencing the Estate would be prohibitive, and therefore as a temporary measure it had been arranged to erect gates leading to Leon Avenue, Lennox Avenue and Eaton Avenue, ‘and trust that the public will not trespass on such Allotments.’ At a cost of £86, the Allotment Committee had ordered six tons of seed potatoes, and these would be resold to the allotment holders at cost price by the Council, with it being up to Aylesbury and the War Agricultural Committee to send the seed on to the holders to plant. As for pigs, if anyone applied to the Council for permission to keep pigs, the Council had the power to waive the existing byelaws. Held in the Rural District Council Offices, at the Newport Pagnell War Agricultural Committee Combined Meeting, of the north and south divisions, which took place on the afternoon of Wednesday, February 14th 1917, it was announced that two motor tractor ploughs would be coming to Bletchley, and these, with men being sent by the Government, could be hired from the War Agricultural Committee. In March 1917 Mr. Shardlow, the headmaster of the Bletchley Road Boys’ School, wrote to the Council to ask permission for the boys and girls to dig up the school lawns and, as a matter of ‘national importance,’ plant potatoes. However, due to the availability of land on the Leon Avenue Estate, and the time that it would take to get the lawns back to grass, it was decided to reply saying that the necessity was not understood. Nevertheless, it was suggested that regarding the school gardens, which were situated on the opposite side of the road to the lawns, the present plantings of cabbages, as also radishes, lettuces etc., might be replaced with potatoes, with a path laid through the centre of the area. On March 14th Elizabeth Ann Gibbs died at Waddesdon. Yet her burial took place at Bletchley churchyard, for she had been the widow of Robert Gibbs, who for many years was the occupier of Denbigh Hall Farm. By now Mr. Foll had been appointed to supervise the work of motor ploughing in the district, and, at a meeting of the War Agricultural Committee for the Bletchley district, held on Thursday afternoon, March 22nd 1917, he duly explained the system. A supervisor was appointed for either one or more counties, and, with Bucks being one of three counties, the supervisor lived in London. He arranged for a local mechanic to take charge of the motor tractors on arrival, put them together and work them, and the man had to find mechanics, drivers and ploughmen, and also supplies of oil etc. As for a farmer who had the need for such a mechanised aid, he was to apply to Mr. Bodley (secretary to the War Agricultural Committee), ‘who would summon a meeting of the committee, or sub committee, with 45, High Street, Aylesbury.’ On the Leon Avenue Estate, at the end of March some of the Bletchley Road school boys had begun digging the plots allocated to them by the headmaster, who on his own behalf had rented the ground from the Council. Meanwhile, at Brooklands Nursery, where a pony boy was presently required, Ramsbotham and Co. stated that they would now only sell cucumber, tomatoes and vegetables wholesale, whilst as for other produce, on Thursday, April 5th 1917 ‘the potato cultivating tenants’ of the Council each received a letter from the Clerk of the Council, saying that (with the rest of the consignment expected the following week) a consignment of King Edward and British Queen Seed Potatoes had been received that morning. At cost price - 14s 6d per cwt. - these would then be given out at 9a.m. the following day (Good Friday) at the Council Yard, where, despite two inches of snow on the ground, some of the 80 claimants would be waiting long before the appointed time. The quantity amounted to some three tons, about half of the total order, and, with the snow having cleared, by noon those portions of ground on the Leon Avenue Estate which could be worked were a hive of industry, whilst work on the opposite side of the road was also going on in the old ‘Duncombe’ allotments. On some of Sir Herbert Leon’s land at Denbigh, towards the end of the first week in April 1917 a motor tractor was at work with a four furrow plough, but during the last week of the month the more traditional form of motive power could be seen on the Leon Avenue Estate, where, under a military escort, horses from the Staple Hall Depot were engaged in ploughing up that acreage not already under cultivation. The last consignment of seed potatoes for the Council arrived on Saturday, April 21st 1917, and, although some of the potatoes had initially gone to Woburn Sands by mistake, were distributed to the allotment holders on the same day. By the direction of the Food Controller, on Friday, May 4th 1917 at the Stony Stratford Sessions a potato salesman, from Bletchley, was summoned for selling seed potatoes at a price exceeding the maximum. He was Reginald William Johnson, and also summoned was Daniel Salisbury, a greengrocer of Wolverton, who was accused not only of buying seed potatoes, but also selling seed potatoes to an unauthorised person, and selling potatoes of the 1916 crop at a price exceeding the maximum. Mr. C. Allinson, of Stony Stratford, appeared for the defendants, and on their behalf entered a plea of not guilty. Giving evidence, Superintendent Dibben said that on April 7th at Wolverton he interviewed Salisbury about some potatoes he was selling, and received the reply that they were King Edward VII seed potatoes, which had been purchased from Mr. Johnson. The stock had arrived at Wolverton by rail from Whittlesea, and he paid £14 a ton. As for Mr. Johnson, when questioned he admitted having oversold the potatoes by about 10s a ton, but although the case against him was dismissed, for having sold seed potatoes to an unauthorised person Mr. Salisbury was fined £5, with £1 2s costs. In respect of their request that the school gardens should be used to grow potatoes, Mr. Shardlow, the headmaster of the Boys’ School, had now written to the School Managers saying that since no measures had been taken to supply seed potatoes, the gardens would remain, which, as one of the Managers remarked, was ‘A neat way of getting out of it.’ At the Park Hotel Yard, the Bletchley Dairy and Young Stock Sale was held at 2p.m. by Geo. Wigley and Sons on Friday, May 18th. As for sheep farmers, they could now purchase sheep shearing machines from W. Randall and Sons, who had a large consignment available at their Vulcan Works, in Bletchley Road. After a fortnight’s illness, Joseph Cutler died on Tuesday evening, May 22nd 1917. A native of Fenny Stratford, he was aged about 54, and had served his apprenticeship to the grocery and provision trade under the late Henry Makeham, in the shop at the corner of Aylesbury Street and Denmark Street presently occupied by Mr. Page, the bootmaker. Afterwards he left Fenny Stratford for a while, but returned to set up in Bletchley Road as a grocer and provision merchant. These premises he occupied for 29 years, and it would be here that he died. Having married a daughter of the late Thomas Freeman, who was formerly headmistress of the girls’ department in the then Fenny Stratford Board Schools, he had one daughter (now of school age) and two sons, both of whom joined the Army at the outbreak of war. Tragically the eldest, Rifleman Harold Cutler, of the Rifle Brigade, had been killed in action in the early part of 1915. As for his brother, Frank, he joined the London Rifle Brigade in February 1917, having not been released by the Government from his employment on the staff of the Income Tax Department, of the Inland Revenue, until earlier in the year. In fact after some four months in France he would be wounded in his left calf by shrapnel from a bursting shell on October 30th 1917, whilst marching up to the line. Due to disease, the potato crop of the country had been reduced by a third in 1916, and so with Mr. S.F. Jones, chairman of the Council, presiding, at a meeting of allotment holders and potato growers, held in the Bletchley Road Schools on the evening of May 31st, it was decided to spray the potato crops in the Bletchley urban district. The process of wet and dry spraying was duly explained, and on view were examples of diseased and healthy potatoes. These had been provided by Mr. Ramsbotham of Brooklands Nurseries, and came from their farm at Newton Longville. The diseased sample had been dug from a plot which, owing to a shortage of labour, had not been sprayed, and as regarded the two processes it was recommended to use the dry system, ie. with powder. However, it might take a while to procure the equipment, and ‘The disease will be here before your materials, and spraying won’t cure, it only prevents.’ The decision was then made to put the scheme into immediate operation, with a small committee of allotment holders, including Mr. Weatherhead, to be appointed to work in conjunction with the Allotments Committee for the Council. Thus in early June 1917 the Allotment Committee was authorised and empowered to purchase spraying machines and material for spraying potatoes, and for fruit bottling they were also given the authority to buy glass jars, 200 dozen of which would be eventually purchased! At Brooklands Nursery, Ramsbotham and Co. now had ‘extra strong’ tomato plants for sale at 2s 6d per dozen, ‘out of pots,’ whilst presently available from Greenfield, Windmill Farm, Far Bletchley were ‘eggs for hatching.’ The cheese making classes at the Parish Room, Bletchley Rectory, which had commenced on the afternoon of Monday, May 21st, came to an end on Saturday, June 2nd, and Miss King, who, as one of the Bucks County Council Instructors in cheese making, had taken the classes, was now devoting her time to visiting farm houses and small holders, to demonstrate how best to use spare milk. The classes had six regular pupils, and also quite regularly present were Mrs. Vaughan Harley, Miss Harley, the Reverend & Mrs. Bennitt, and Lady Leon, by whose permission all the milk used in the classes had been kindly supplied, from the celebrated Bletchley Park herd of Shorthorn cattle. An array of the cheeses would be placed on a shelf to mature for a month, with the cheese making equipment, which belonged to the County Council, being despatched to another centre in the county. The War Agricultural Committee for the Bletchley district, an offshoot of the Newport Pagnell Rural District Council Committee, had been scheduled to meet on June 14th. However, it met instead on the afternoon of June 12th, and Sir Herbert Leon proposed that at least ten motor or steam tractors should be asked for the Bletchley district. As an Executors sale ‘to wind up an estate,’ during the later month Geo. Wigley and Sons auctioned no. 50 Aylesbury Street with two adjoining cottages. These had been lately in the occupation of Mr. H. Lee, and also at the auction, which was held on Thursday, June 28th 1917 at 4p.m. at the Swan Hotel, were offered a house and shop at 48, Aylesbury Street, presently let to Ramsbotham and Co. However, this was withdrawn at £375, although for £85 Mr. E.R. Ramsbotham bought a garden ground adjoining Fairfield Terrace, having a frontage to Water Eaton Road and Windsor Street. By the end of June 1917 the Council’s allotment sub committee, acting jointly with those allotment holders appointed at the lately held public meeting, had started spraying the potato crops in the district, and Saturday, June 30th would be the last day for growers to apply to have their crops sprayed. Names were to be given for Fenny Stratford to Mr. Charter Wilson at the Council Offices, and for Bletchley the Rector, Mr. Moodie, Mr. Weatherhead and Mr. Bert Atkins. ‘My Pigs came on Splendidly after getting Karswood Pig Powders,’ said one user of the product, which was currently available from Holyoak, 41, Aylesbury Street. Meanwhile, E. Vasey, at 27, Bletchley Road, could offer ‘MALTMA (Regd.) the Perfected Laying Meal, you will get an abundance of Eggs, ’ This was available from E. Vasey, 27, Bletchley Road, and eggs for hatching were now available from Greenfield, Windmill Farm, Far Bletchley. The Food Controller Orders, which the local authorities were to carry out, were discussed by the Bucks Standing Joint Committee on Tuesday, July 3rd 1917. Here, the Chief Constable explained that he had instructed police officers to render what assistance they could to local authorities, and indeed in several instances various local officers had been appointed to enforce the Orders. However, no appointment had been made by some authorities, and these included Bletchley Urban District Council. They had decided to leave the matter to the police, but the chairman of the Bucks Standing Joint Committee, Lord Anslow, said that it was not the duty of the police but the authorities. As for the duties imposed, these were to prevent food hoarding and profiteering, although concerns were expressed about the insufficient number of officers to carry this out. The ‘Health, Wealth and Labour Saving Exhibition took place on Friday afternoon, July 6th 1917 in the infants’ department of the Bletchley Road Schools. With every classroom in use, many local dignitaries were present, and to loud applause in her opening address Lady Leon said that “Now, one of the objects of this exhibition is to impart the knowledge of saving in cooking and other domestic matters, to those who care to avail themselves of it.” The programme of demonstrations was carried through on Friday and Saturday, and, with all the events being well attended, the subjects included vegetable and fruit crops, taken by Mr. P. Mann, cookery, housewifery and laundry, taken by Miss Spice, how to save on the gas bill, soldering etc., by Mr. W. Marsh, and bee keeping, by Mrs. Bass. With the Allotment Committee having now purchased three spraying machines (plus the necessary powder), in July 1917 potato spraying in the district was being carried out under the guidance of the War Crop Agricultural Disease Exterminating Committee. One sprayer, having previously been in operation at Fenny Stratford, arrived from use at Simpson at 10.35a.m. on Wednesday morning, July 11th 1917, and was sent directly to the Denbigh Road allotments, where complaints had been voiced about the delay. In fact the holders had considered buying their own sprayer, despite the delay having been caused by the weather. As for the whereabouts of the other two sprayers, this was presently unknown!

In the later stages of the war, German submarine warfare brought Britain close to collapse.
This poster was produced in 1917, in an attempt to conserve the nation's dwindling stocks of grain.

The Bucks War Agricultural Committee now reported that 1,500 soldiers had so far been placed in the county to help with the hay and corn harvests, and also placed in the county was another unit of ten ‘Titan’ tractors, making a total of 21, which were under the control of the Committee. Then towards the end of July 1917 the Bucks Agricultural Executive Committee announced that farm labour was immediately available, with 100 men having been allotted to the county for permanent employment, ‘subject to Military Exigencies.’ With their employment to be in connection with the 1918 ploughing programme, all were used to working with horses and had a knowledge of agriculture, but their labour would only be available to those farmers who were breaking up grassland, or otherwise cultivating an additional area of corn land. However, ‘when such farmers are unable to commence ploughing operations before harvest, they can, if in need of additional men for harvest, employ the men at the rates laid down for such work.’ One hundred unskilled men would also be available for work in connection with the 1918 harvest, and forms could be obtained from Reginald Davey, Secretary, 45, High Street, Aylesbury. Tel 158. During late July 1917 a boy had been stealing eggs from the farm of Thomas Lionel Victor Gale, at Water Eaton, and was caught due to the eggs having been marked. His mother knew of the theft, and consequently suffered a fine of 20s. With Mr. T. Jordan being the chairman, on Friday, August 17th 1917 a meeting of the War Agricultural Committee took place, at which it was stated that farmers requiring artificial manures, seeds, wheat etc. were first to go to their usual dealer, and only approach the Committee if their needs could not be met. However, there was now a good supply of motor tractors, which farmers could purchase by applying through the Committee. As for directing the use in the district of the county tractors, Mr. Foll was again acting as local machinery officer, working in conjunction with the county officer. The 8½ acres of the ‘Leon Avenue Bletchley Urban Council Controlled Estate’ was now flourishing with potato plots, and also flourishing was that of Mr. Bailey in his garden at the Wilberforce Hotel, Bletchley Road, where on Friday, August 24th 1917 he lifted a root of potatoes. Of the King Edward variety, these included three specimens weighing a total of 3lb 4oz, and perhaps there were also potatoes in the garden of Gable Cottage, Far Bletchley, where more certainly in September 1917 there were four good rabbit hutches on legs for sale. A well attended meeting of the Allotment Association was held at the Social Club on Wednesday evening, August 29th, with the ‘set up’ rules prepared by the committee appointed at the last meeting being adopted. More than 50 people had signed for membership, but they had to be members of the Social Club, under the auspices of which the Allotment Association would be run. During the blackberry season, local schoolchildren would be given two half days a week to gather blackberries, for which 1d per pound would be paid. These would then be used for jam making, since their medicinal qualities were considered essential for the Army. Mr. J. Shardlow was to be the organiser, with Bletchley allocated as the collecting centre for the surrounding villages. As for other healthy produce, Ramsbotham and Co., Brooklands Nursery, could offer ‘Cabbage plants, July sown, best strains, only 3d per score, 1s per 120,’ with the same price applying for lettuce plants. At the meeting of the Bletchley District War Agricultural Committee, held on Friday evening, September 21st 1917, a Local Horse Controller, Mr. Monk, was appointed. However, no War Agricultural Committee horses had yet arrived in the Bletchley district, although, with Mr. Foll as the Tractor Controller, a motor tractor had been at work at Far Bletchley and Bletchley Park. The two tons of sugar for jam making and fruit preserving, which had been allocated to the district under the purview of the Bletchley War Agricultural Committee, arrived on Saturday, September 22nd 1917, and was delivered to Mr. J.D. Bushell, a grocer of the High Street. The Committee had placed him in charge of the distribution to the various ‘allocaters,’ and, having been made up into packs of from 80lb down to 6lb., the sugar would all be delivered to various destinations in 16 surrounding villages by Monday evening. The milk sellers of Bletchley and Fenny Stratford, ‘who up to the present have been selling milk at 5d per quart,’ held a meeting on Thursday evening, September 20th 1917. This was to discuss the price as fixed by the Food Controller, and it was duly decided to raise the price to 6d per quart for the two months of October and November, and 7d per quart from the 1st of December to 31st of March. According to the advertising, by using ‘MALTMA (Regd.) the Perfected Laying Meal, you will get an abundance of Eggs,’ the veracity of which could be tested by purchasing a quantity from E. Vasey, 27, Bletchley Road. In fact this may have been of interest at the meeting of the Local Food Control Committee, held on Tuesday, October 2nd 1917, when amongst the various topics the maximum prices of meat to be sold in the district were fixed. Lists would be printed and distributed to the butchers, and also to be fixed were the maximum prices for milk delivered to customers. As for other matters, applications were now received from those persons who wished to be registered as wholesale and retail dealers under the Potatoes Order, and amounts of sugar were allotted to caterers, Institutes and manufacturers. Having been started in a small way four years ago, Bletchley’s fourth annual dairy cattle show was held on Friday, October 5th 1917 in the Park Hotel field and yard. The second year had proved to be a good improvement, and last year thanks to the generosity of Mr. J.L. Shirley, who gave the prizes, open classes were added, which attracted some of the best dairy shorthorn cattle in the country. This year only cattle for sale were allowed, and these were only exhibited by tenant farmers. A meeting of the Food Control Committee was held on Tuesday, October 22nd 1917, at which the Executive Officer reported that with 1,370 sugar cards having been issued, which represented 5,019 persons, 46cwt 24lb of sugar had been allotted to manufacturers for the twenty four weeks to 20th April 1918. The tragic news now arrived that Private Jack Langley, of the Irish Guards, had been killed in action after being in France for only three weeks, having joined the regiment six months earlier. With his relatives resident at Woburn, he had lived at Yards End Farm, which, comprising the freehold accommodation of a dairy holding of about 23 acres, with a cottage and buildings, was auctioned on Thursday, November 1st at the Swan Hotel at 4.30p.m. by Mr. Sydney Wigley, of Geo. Wigley and Sons. The holding was situated near to Fenny Stratford Station, and with the Yards End Gravel Pits, containing rich stores of un-worked gravel, included in the sale, the purchaser would be Mr. Hedley Clarke, for £2,200. The farm had been let under an agreement to John Langley on a tenancy which expired on September 29th, whilst the gravel pits were let to the executrix of the late Mr. H.A. Lee, this being under a separate tenancy which would expire next mid summer. The reserved rent was £20p.a., with an additional income in royalties for the excavated gravel and sand. In late November many householders along Bletchley Road ‘lopped’ the trees in their front gardens for fuel. This was due to the coal shortage, but at least certain cuts of mutton and lamb seemed more plentiful, since at a meeting of the Food Control Committee, held on Tuesday, November 20th, it was reported that these were to be reduced in price. Most of the crops had now been lifted off the allotments on the Leon Avenue Estate, and with the terms being that 2/3rds of the rented ground should be planted with potatoes, the original tenancies would expire next March, although they could probably be renewed for another year. On the evening of Tuesday, November 20th Mr. J. King gave the second of the series of talks on bee keeping at the Bletchley Road Council Schools. Given in connection with the Higher Education Committee, this dealt with ‘The securing and preparation of honey for the market,’ but since the first real snow of the winter fell on Sunday morning, November 25th, honey preparation for the time being was probably not a hive of industry, especially since during the early hours of Sunday morning, December 2nd, there was another sharp fall of snow, which in the shade did not melt all day. By the beginning of December 1917, 27 motor tractors were now at work in the county, under the direction of the Executive Committee. In fact three more had been consigned, which had perhaps been a topic of conversation on Thursday afternoon, November 29th 1917 when, immediately after the fortnightly market, a meeting of the Fenny Stratford Market Committee met at the Swan Hotel, to organise a collection in aid of the British Farmers’ Red Cross Fund, this being instead of a sale. Then on Wednesday, December 5th there was a meeting of the Food Control Committee, where it was announced that an application had been received from the Divisional Works Officer, Timber Supplies, Bletchley, for supplies of sugar. However, it was decided to forward this to the Ministry of Food for instructions. The collection for the British Farmers’ Red Cross Fund closed on Thursday afternoon, December 13th, with the committee meeting to receive the reports of the various district collectors. The total would probably amount to around £700, being achieved entirely by voluntary subscriptions, with most of the subscribers living within five miles of Fenny Stratford, and who were regular attendants at the market. The meeting took place immediately after the special Christmas market and sale of fat stock held by Geo. Wigley and Sons, and with there being a large attendance, prices were very high for all classes of stock. However, the auctioneers declined to have anything to do with the sale of pigs and pork, since the Maximum Prices Order made it advisable to allow those wishing to sell or buy to do so privately. The Bletchley (Urban District) Food Control Committee held a meeting on Tuesday evening, December 18th, at which applications had been received from wholesalers for supplies of sugar, as also from meat sellers to be registered, and from secondary wholesalers, public institutions and retailers, to be registered in respect to imported bacon, hams and lard. The Executive Officer was instructed to issue certificates accordingly, but reported that he had not been able to obtain a sufficient supply of envelopes for use as regards the new sugar scheme, despite having repeatedly written to and telegraphed the Ministry of Food. Having received sufficient envelopes, the Bletchley Food Control Committee had been able to deliver the new sugar cards to householders, and others, around New Year’s Day. Then on the evening of Friday, January 4th 1918 the Bletchley District War Agricultural Committee held a short meeting, having been called only the day before, in the Council Offices, where Sir Herbert Leon, who presided in the absence of Mr. T. Jordan, made a point that this situation should not happen again, by getting those assembled to fix the date of the next meeting for ‘that day three weeks.’ As for other matters, it was announced that a general meeting of the War Agricultural Committee would be held at Newport Pagnell on the 15th, this being chiefly to consider its constitution as a separate organisation from the Newport Pagnell body. Also discussed was the setting up of a central market to sell surplus garden and allotment produce, and this had origins from the Bucks County Women’s War Agricultural Committee. In fact they asked most of the questions, and, with one of their aims being to seek the representation of women on War Agricultural Committees, in response to their appeal Lady Leon and Miss Hird, of Bletchley Leys, had now accepted seats on that of Bletchley and District. During the proceedings, Mr. J. Bodley, the Correspondent, said that at the last meeting they had partially ‘got through’ the census of agricultural machinery in the district, as required by the Executive Committee. This was for any sort of privately owned machinery in the district, and, with the intention being to remedy any shortage by sending equipment from elsewhere, the census was then completed as far as possible from the information supplied by those present. Since, presumably for medical reasons, he could now not come out at night, at the Council meeting on January 8th Sir Herbert Leon said that he had resigned his membership of the Local Food Control Committee, for ‘To be a member of a committee and not be able to attend the meetings simply worried him.’ A member then suggested that his replacement should be a woman, whereupon Sir Herbert proposed Mrs. R. Hammond. Another proposal was Miss Sinfield, a ticket collector for the L.&N.W.R., whilst a third nomination was Mrs. Bradbrook, who had been intimately and closely connected with the War Saving and War Economy movements. Indeed, it was thought that she should especially be on the Food Control Committee, since this had taken over the work formerly done by the War Economy Committee. Additionally, she was the only one who had maintained a household, and catered for a family of children in wartime, and when the vote was taken Mrs. Bradbrook gained three nominations (including that of the chairman), Miss Sinfield two, and Mrs. Hammond two. In mid January a ‘capital mare’ - ‘would suit smallholder’ - was for sale for £40 from Ramsbotham & Co., Brooklands Nursery, whilst on matters regarding sheep, Mr. J. Colgrove (having tendered £17 10s, against the £15 of Mr. J.C. Edwards) had now been awarded the right to graze his flock on the Leon Recreation Ground. As for the Leon Avenue Estate, Sir Herbert Leon had now confirmed that this would be available as per last year for allotments, for the planting on which the Clerk of the Council had recently received, through Aylesbury, a communication from the Board of Agriculture, stating that seed potatoes could only be supplied in lots of four tons, each of any one variety. However, the Clerk had orders in hand for much lesser quantities, and of several sorts, and after much discussion it was decided to, since the order had to be in by January 10th, request four tons of King Edward and four tons of Arran Chief. In addition, a strong application would be made for two tons of British Queen. On Thursday, January 10th, before the start of the fortnightly market a crowded meeting of farmers, dealers, butchers and others, all having an interest in the Fenny Stratford Market (which included practically all the members of the market committee) was held at the Swan Hotel, and, regarding the new order governing ‘the sale of beast,’ this had been convened by Mr. S.P. Wigley of Geo. Wigley and Sons, auctioneers. Explaining the objects of the meeting, he said that a ‘temporary’ Grading Committee must be formed from the market, consisting of one farmer, one butcher and one auctioneer, and the appointment of this committee was to be subject to later confirmation by the Area Advisory Committee. After discussions it was agreed to appoint Mr. Hugh Sipthorpe as farmer, with Mr. J. T. Watson as deputy, Mr. J.C. Edwards as butcher (with Mr. A. Benford as deputy) and Mr. S.P. Wigley as auctioneer. At the meeting of the Food Control Committee on Tuesday, January 8th a model schedule of the maximum prices for meat, sent by the Food Commissioner, as also a 15 page telegram as to the scheme of control and distribution of live stock and dead meat, were submitted by the Executive Officer, who was instructed to issue certificates to the butchers to purchase 50% of their October sales. Then, in connection with the new scheme, the retail butchers in the district met Mr. Jones, chairman, and the Executive Officer at the Council Offices on Thursday, January 10th, and, on forming a committee, appointed Mr. J. Colgrove as chairman, Mr. A. Wood as secretary, and Messrs. Hall and Colgrove as buying agents. Twelve trucks of coal had now been allotted by the Coal Controller to the Local Coal Committee, and these would be allocated for the use of the schools in the district, as well as the charities and the Coal Clubs in the villages. In fact three trucks had already arrived, with a further delivery expected in two or three weeks. The need was then emphasised when snow arrived on Tuesday, January 15th 1918, on the afternoon of which the Bletchley District War Agricultural Committee held an extraordinary meeting. With almost all the members present, here a sub committee was appointed to tackle the question of marketing the surplus garden and allotment produce. However, conversely on the evening of Wednesday, January 30th a meeting of the Bletchley and Fenny Stratford Co-operative Industrial Society took place to discuss ‘The present shortage of foodstuffs.’ With Mr. J. Goodwin presiding, this was held at the Co-op Hall, where wives made up most of the crowded attendance. Mostly there was a shortage of fats, and there had been a 50% cut in beef and mutton, although, except in price, as yet there had been no restriction on pork. In fact Mr. Colgrove had let them have some of the pigs he had bought, and he promised to give further help. As for their supply of butter, this was down from 700cwt. Margarine - for which there had been no trade before the war - was also short, and as ‘co-operators’ their duty was to complain as individuals to Food Control Committees and the Ministry of Food. With three members of the committee being on the Food Control Committee, a resolution was then passed to impress on the Food Control Committees ‘the urgent necessity of a general rationing scheme; otherwise we fear that National Unity may be undermined and destroyed, as the present unfair method of distribution of essential foodstuffs is causing bitterness and is a menace to national well being.’ On Saturday, February 2nd, for the first time Bletchley and Fenny Stratford ran short of several sorts of foodstuffs, and, with the butchers’ shops mostly closed, a sign in the window of one stated ‘just enough meat to make a respectable ‘buck dumpling.’ At one of the leading grocers there were no supplies of tea, sugar, cheese, butter, margarine and bacon, although vegetables fortunately ‘still hold out.’ Called by Lady Leon, the District Representative of the Women’s War Agricultural Committee for the county, a meeting was held in the Council Offices on Saturday afternoon, February 9th, this being to discuss the creation of a scheme for collecting and distributing surplus produce from gardens, allotments and small holdings in the district. Then with Captain Morrison representing the Board of Agriculture, at the meeting of the local War Agricultural Committee on Friday, February 1st Mr. Jordan, the Chairman, reported on the tour round the district, which had been decided at the last meeting by Mr. Foll, Mr. Bodley and himself. This was to meet the farmers in the various parishes, and to see what they were prepared to do voluntarily to meet the increased demand to convert grass land to arable. Mostly agreement had been forthcoming, above that set aside under the original schedule, although their expectations were not met at Bletchley, Walton, Bow Brickhill and Simpson. Nevertheless, overall their visits had succeeded ‘contrary to his anticipation,’ and they had obtained offers for some 650 acres for immediate conversion. At the beginning of February a meeting of landowners and farmers in Bletchley & Water Eaton parishes, held in the Cricket Pavilion, Bletchley Park, reportedly concluded that it was not possible to schedule more land than that already scheduled for conversion, due to the soil being mostly clay. However, Captain Morrison said that in his opinion the time for action had come, and he suggested that the three members who had acted previously should be empowered by the committee to go round and schedule the land they thought necessary. A resolution to this effect was then passed, with powers to include the parishes of Bow Brickhill, Walton and Simpson where necessary, and, if needed, even the district in general. Another resolution was also passed, that under the original schedule farmers who had not completed their quota should, unless having obtained exemption from the Executive Committee, be compelled to do so. In other matters, Lady Leon, Miss Hird, and Mr. E. Ramsbotham were appointed as a sub committee to carry out a scheme for the collecting and marketing of surplus garden allotment produce in the Bletchley district, and pointing out that the present division of the area was unequal, a letter had been received from the Central War Agricultural Committee, Aylesbury, regarding constituting the Bletchley District as an entirely separate one from the Newport Pagnell Rural District, as recommended by both the local committees. It was stated that more parishes should be added to the Bletchley area, but Mr. Foll said that the only parishes which could be added were Woolstone and Milton Keynes, and since they did all their other business with Newport Pagnell, and their farmers attended that market, they preferred to remain in the Newport Pagnell area. It was therefore agreed to let the Central Committee know that it might be best to not make any alterations. In early February 1918 it was decided to market surplus garden and allotment produce as wholesale, one reason being that this would not introduce competition to local traders. On Tuesday evening, February 5th 1918 Mr. Phillip Mann, the Bucks County Horticultural Instructor, gave a lecture on ‘Wartime Gardening’ in the Bletchley Road County Schools. The audience numbered about 15, and he dealt chiefly with the preparation of the land for vegetable cultivation. At a local grocery, on Saturday, February 9th there were now some each of the six commodities of which the shop had previously run out of stock, and overall the food shortages had eased slightly. In fact the available meat was being served as equally as possible by the butchers, whose shops had been closed on Monday morning. By now there were 1,112 members of the Co-op, an increase on the year of 182, and although the financial results were good, the difficulties of buying supplies became greater each week, and ‘Members must not expect too much, and try and bear in mind if they cannot get what they desire, that at least Bletchley is not alone.’ Bletchley was certainly not alone in needing potatoes, for at ‘Glenwood,’ Bletchley, these were presently wanted by Mr. R.W. Johnson at ‘Government Base price,’ as also any quantity of apples, ‘best prices for good stuff.’ At her own expense, on the afternoon of February 9th Lady Leon, the District Representative of the Bucks Women’s War Agricultural Committee, convened a meeting at the Council Offices regarding surplus garden and allotment produce. Almost every parish in the committee’s area was represented, and Mr. T. Jordan, chairman of the local War Agricultural Committee, presided, supported by the recently appointed sub committee for initiating the scheme. In fact Mr. Jordan was unanimously elected as chairman, Mr. Marshall as honorary secretary, and as vice chairman Lady Leon, who suggested that a Central Committee should be formed, composed of one representative from each village which entered the scheme. Mr. Jordan shared this opinion, and it was proposed that the body should comprise 15 or so members, with Miss Hird and Mr. Ramsbotham acting ‘ex officio’ for the War Agricultural Committee. It being thought advisable to sell to a wholesale agent, Mr. Johnson said that he was willing to take all there might be, including fruit, and give a fair price, but he stipulated that the produce must be supplied in marketable quantities, and with this agreed he was appointed as wholesale agent. At the last meeting of the War Agricultural Committee, Sir Herbert Leon had said that for the harvest work forty German prisoners would be available, if the local Committee could find a site on which to erect accommodation huts, and guarantee sufficient work within a five mile radius. Supposedly being skilled agriculturalists, the prisoners were in parties of forty, and with ‘No Man’s Land,’ ‘an ancient and present gypsy camping place,’ being named as a possible site, it was decided to apply for a group. Having been arrested the previous evening, on Thursday, February 14th 1918 a man of no fixed abode was brought up in custody at the Police Court, for having used abusive and obscene language in a public place. Arriving at Bletchley by train, in the evening he had gone into the shop of Mr. J.C. Edwards, butcher, and asked for some meat, but Mrs. Mary Edwards explained that she was unable to let him have any. However, he could have half a pound of brawn, as ‘pressed meat,’ but instead he pointed at a different produce, only to be told by Mrs. Edwards; “Yes, but I cannot serve it, I am under the Food Control.” Despite another woman being in the shop, and with a number of children just outside, the man then began to use foul language, at which she showed him the door. From the other side of the road Mr. Colgrove then came to remove him, and later police constable Hedges went to the High Street to arrest him, just as he was about to enter the Chequers Inn. Denying having used bad language, the man was taken to the Police Station for fingerprinting, and these were then sent by Inspector Callaway to Scotland Yard. In consequence he, on receiving the prisoner’s record, then discovered that the man had been convicted for various offences at Cannock, Swindon, Crewe, and Bow Street, London, with some being for drunkenness, one for stealing wine, and another as a ‘suspected person.’ A fine of 40s, or in default 14 days, was imposed, but when asked to pay part of the fine the prisoner replied “I will pay nothing.” At the meeting of the local War Agricultural Committee, held on Friday, January 22nd 1918, a reply was read regarding the application for a party of German prisoners, and a form had been received by which to make a definite application. Yet as for a site for their accommodation, ‘No Man’s Land’ had been deemed unsuitable, due to the lack of a water supply. However, some vacant buildings were available elsewhere, and it was resolved to apply for the party and indicate that these buildings could be used. Their rate of pay would be 5½d per hour, and with the stipulation that they were not to be employed further than three miles from their depot, an hour was to be deducted for travelling time, with an hour for lunch. Specially convened, a meeting of the Bletchley & District Committee for the collection and disposal of surplus garden and allotment produce was held in the Council Offices on the evening of Friday, March 1st. This was principally to appoint a representative of the allotment holders and garden cultivators in the parish, who would sit on the Central Organising Committee for the district, but despite a large number of circulars having been issued, not a single Fenny Stratford allotment holder, or garden cultivator, attended. Nevertheless, representatives from neighbouring parishes were present, and the scheme for the collecting, receiving and taking over for disposal of the produce, drawn up by Mr. Johnson, the committee’s wholesale agent, Bletchley, was read, and, after a few minor alterations, adopted. With all the preliminary expenses of starting the scheme having been met, the only cost to the producers would be that of collecting, weighing and delivery to the committee’s agent etc., and the committee thought that a charge of 1d in the shilling on the price received would cover the need. However, it was stressed that the produce must be delivered at Bletchley on the days named in the scheme, and during the fixed hours. A special meeting of the Bletchley District War Agricultural Committee was held in the Council Offices on Tuesday, March 5th 1918, and with Mr. T. Jordan, chairman, presiding, the purpose was to hear appeals by farmers, occupiers and owners of land against the apportionments made, and scheduled, by the appointed sub committee, most of whose recommendations and schedules were confirmed. Since the land had to be immediately ploughed up, Government assistance was available to those who did not have their own labour, and with a team of ten horses with men already at work in the Bletchley district, stables and billets had been booked for further teams and gangs at Walton and Bow Brickhill. Prosecution awaited those who did not comply. ‘Commencing at 1 o’clock to the minute,’ the sale of ‘Fat & Store Stock’ at Fenny Stratford Market took place on Thursday, March 7th, with at least 14 days notice of entries having been required, to comply with the regulations of the Ministry of Food. ‘All Fat Stock should be taken to the weighbridge at the gasworks by 11a.m.,’ and immediately after the market a meeting took place at the Swan Hotel in connection with the British Farmers’ Union. Having just been elected as the president, Alderman Nunnerley, of the Northamptonshire Farmers’ Union, gave an address urging farmers to join the Union, and it was unanimously decided to revive the old Fenny Stratford Branch of the Farmers’ Union. Having been in existence before the war, this had now almost completely lapsed, although by the end of the month there would be some 60 members. With the Reverend Bennitt in the chair, a successful meeting of allotment holders was held at Water Eaton on Monday, March 11th 1918 This was to explain the scheme taken up by the Surplus Vegetables Committee, and during the proceedings one of the Panel of Expert Garden Advisers to the Food Production Department advised on the catch crop system, relating to vegetable cultivation. At the close of the meeting a committee was then formed, with Mr. Fairey appointed as secretary. In March 1918 a ‘Useful companion help’ was required at Manor Farm by Mrs. G. Hammond, who perhaps attended the meeting of the Bletchley War Agricultural Committee, on Friday, March 15th 1918, at which Mr. Ramsbotham said that there had been 35 applications from Bletchley for allotments. However, he expected still more, and having therefore communicated with the agent for the Duncombe Estate, had been told that, although available for allotments, the land on Bletchley Road was presently tenanted by a man now serving in the Army. Therefore the usual notice would need to be given, and enquiries were to be made with regard to the hastening of this process. However, during the middle of a discussion on the breaking up of land, one farmer suddenly startled the committee by offering up a fervent prayer for snow! Illustrated by slides and coloured diagrams, also on March 15th an interesting lecture on potato spraying was given in the evening by Mr. Slack, F.R.H.S., in the Bletchley Road Schools, and amongst those attending were the person who had arranged the event, Mr. Coles, who was gardener to Colonel Broome Giles. Mr. C. Bourne presided, and also present were Mr. Halsey, gardener to Lord Dalmeny, Mr. Weatherhead, gardener to the Co-op Nurseries, Mr. Marshall, general secretary to the Fenny Stratford Surplus Vegetable Committee, Mr. Parsons, secretary to the Bletchley Surplus Vegetable Committee, and representatives from the Eight Bells allotments, Shenley Road allotments and others. The occasion proved very successful, and a similar lecture, entitled ‘The cultivation of the potato, with special reference to spraying,’ would be staged at the same venue by Mr. Slack on Tuesday evening, April 9th 1918. At a meeting of the School Managers, on Monday, March 25th 1918 the Correspondent reported that he had written to the occupier of the field in Bletchley Road, since part of this would be very suitable for providing extra land for the school gardens. In consequence a reply had been received saying that a letter had immediately been sent to the Duncombe Estates, but as yet no communication had been forthcoming. Also on educational matters, the Bucks Schools which last year had cultivated ‘Victory Potato Plots’ were now given as Bletchley C. of E., 10 poles, which produced 9½ bushels of potatoes, Bletchley Road C. Boys, 33, 40; Girls 2, 1. A special meeting of the Bletchley District War Agricultural Committee was held on Tuesday evening, March 26th 1918 in the Council Offices, with it being stated that the reply from the Executive Committee, regarding the application for further allotments at Bletchley, was that if the Council decided to take over the proposed land, and there was any objection by the owner or occupier, then the Executive Committee would be prepared to exercise their compulsory powers. In other business, Sir Herbert Leon said that he and others had now inspected the proposed quarters for a party of German prisoners at the ‘Old Brewery,’ in the High Street, as well as other buildings on the other side of the street, and in fact the latter had seemed the most suitable. They would be able to provide ample accommodation for 40 prisoners or more, and the military authorities were prepared to give up the premises at once. The report was then adopted, with it being decided to enter an urgent request for the necessary repair work to be done as soon as possible. Then in other matters it was revealed that Aylesbury had been granting exemptions for ploughing up grass land without consulting the Bletchley District War Agricultural Committee, and this then lead to the suggestion that all their cases should therefore be ‘parcelled off’ to Aylesbury. For allotment holders and gardeners, R. Vasey, corn merchant, 27, Bletchley Road, could now supply RITO (Horticultural No. 1), not only ‘suits everything that grows’ but ‘Wonderfully increases all crops,’ and perhaps might be a sales line for ‘The Bletchley and Fenny Stratford Industrial Society, Limited,’ which changed its name to ‘The Bletchley and District Co-operative Society, Limited’ at a special meeting of the members on Wednesday evening, April 3rd 1918. Not that this eased the prevailing food shortage, for Bletchley & Fenny Stratford had their first week of rations in early April, and on the first day, April 8th, all the butchers shops, excepting the Colonial meat shop, were closed, and ‘hungry mortals out on a meat hunt, carrying coupon cards, knocked and rattled at those portals in vain.’ However, by Thursday the shops were open again, and seemingly supplied with meat. Yet food matters were not helped when in the field of old allotments, situated on the north side of Bletchley Road, a loose horse caused great damage to the crops. It was now some 40 or so years ago that the late George Wigley had started a fortnightly market at Fenny Stratford, but on Thursday, April 25th 1918 the first of Fenny Stratford’s weekly markets was held, this being a necessity brought about by the war, and the closing of other and neighbouring markets. At the Area Military Tribunal on Thursday, May 2nd, J.W. Throssell, aged 37, graded ‘B1,’ married, was appealed against, and in defence he said that on being re-examined he was now Grade 2. He was the manager of the late Mr. J. Cutler’s grocery stores, one at Bletchley and the other in Fenny Stratford, and he not only did all the buying and managing, but also attended to the distribution of the goods. Having been asked about the number of cards registered with them, and the amount of business that was carried out, he was then granted six months, but would have to join the Volunteers. Mr. J.D. Bushell, aged 36, Class A, married, was a grocer of the High Street, and said that although he had not been medically re-examined, he felt, since he did all the buying and managing, and a good deal of the portering, that he was in Grade 1! He had purchased the business seven years ago, but his wife knew nothing about the trade, and she could certainly not do the buying. He then gave details of the amount of business done, and the number of cards registered, and was given six months. J. Colgrove, aged 36, B1, butcher of Victoria Road, said that besides the shop in Victoria Road he also had the Pork Shop at 34, Church Street, and he was helped, when her health permitted, by his wife. He rented about 35 acres of land, had over 100 sheep, did all the shepherding, and employed a boy of 16 and a girl of 15 to help in the shop, and with details of the business being given, he was granted six months, conditional on joining the Volunteers. Also in business as a butcher, in Simpson Road, was Mr. A. Benford, who, aged 33, Grade 1, married, gave particulars of his business. He said that in addition to his registered customers he did a trade with the canal boat people, had over 50 acres of land, which he kept for his cows, carried on a milk trade, which was looked after by a man aged 70, and had a part time book keeper, besides employing two boys, aged 13 and 14. He was given six months, and told to join the Special Constabulary. Being the manager for Messrs. Shirley and Son, coal and corn merchants of Bletchley, Thomas Rumbelow, aged 40, Grade II, married, had claimed exemption, but could not be present. Also not present, due to a meeting of the Farmers’ Union, was Mr. Shirley, but in a letter he explained how the man was indispensable. In deciding the case, Captain Porter said there was no one to whom he could ask questions, and three months was granted, but again conditional on joining the Special Constabulary. With reference to the new military age, it was presently not envisaged to call up men of various occupations, including agriculture, and coal mining, and this would apply to those who were registered as being in one of those trades as at April 18th. Also included were education officers, teachers, policemen, and wireless school instructors. Now excused from military service, at least for the time being, Mr. Colgrove now had a van for sale - ‘As new, suitable for various deliveries. Coach built top’ - and perhaps this might have been of interest to the Allotment and Gardening Association which, formed last autumn from amongst the members of the Bletchley Social Club, had now issued a balance sheet. This showed that of the contributions £10 12s 6d had been spent on seed potatoes, whilst on vegetable seeds £6 had been expended. At the Council meeting on Tuesday, May 14th the Clerk said that he had made inquiries about obtaining the New Inn paddock, on Bletchley Road, for allotment purposes, either on terms, or by compulsory powers through the War Agricultural Committee. The owners, Messrs. Hopcraft and Norris, had agreed to let the land to the Council, but because they had first asked for a rent of £15p.a., the Clerk had asked them to state their lowest price in writing, to which a reply of £12p.a. had been received. They also asked if any compensation would be paid for conversion, since, in conjunction with the house, the paddock was more valuable to them as grassland, and in consequence the Clerk had forwarded the correspondence to the Executive Committee. However, he had since received from Mr. Hill, of Western Road (who had forwarded the original applications for land for allotments) a petition - signed by practically all the applicants - in which they refused to have anything to do with the New Inn paddock, since it had been revealed that the acting tenant was the wife of one of their colleagues now serving in the Army. Therefore they protested about the land being taken away from her, and asked if any other land was available. Yet there was none available, since the rent was prohibitive, equating to about 1s a pole. Tomatoes, ‘A Food of National Importance,’ were now available from Ramsbotham & Co., namely large plants in 5 inch pots, 6s per dozen, and smaller plants in 3 inch pots, 3s per dozen. ‘Best Strain only. Send for list.’ At the meeting of the War Agricultural Committee on Tuesday, May 14th, it was stated that the Executive Committee had written to say that the number of German prisoners applied for by the Bletchley Committee had been voted, and the War Office had been asked to expedite their arrival in the district. A further communication was then read in which it was stated that the gang destined for Bletchley had been medically examined and passed, and it duly decided to appoint a small sub committee to expedite putting the proposed depot in order, and to compile a list of those wishing to employ the labour. Other business included the mention of a certain number of applications for agricultural certificates of exemption, and it was recommended that these should be forwarded to the Executive Committee. They were mainly of men already certified, but who had been called up under the new regulations. As explained by the chairman, Mr. T. Jordan, exemption on certificate could be given from 18 to 19, but at 19 the man would be called up, although under certain circumstances permission to appeal could be obtained. A letter had been received saying that the Board of Agriculture had a number of agricultural implements available. These could be hired by farmers, and in many cases there would be an option to buy. Applications were to be made through the Executive Committee, which had now written that post cards would be sent out immediately to all farmers and owners scheduled to convert land from grass to arable, asking for particulars as to whether the work had been done, the crops sown etc. The communication requested that the local committee should assist in seeing that the cards were properly filled up and promptly returned, but the cards had already been filled in and sent off a week ago. As for the use of tractors, two applications had been received. Foll & Bawden had now received instructions from the Reverend Bennitt, with the approval of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners for England, to auction at 3p.m. at the Swan Hotel on Thursday, June 27th three valuable farms, having a total acreage of 278¼. These were Denbigh Hall, let to Mr. F. Button, Eaton Fields Holding, let to Mr. Hattil and T. Arnold, and Bletchley Leys Farm, let to Norman Bryant. With the Agricultural Representatives as Mr. G. Tayler, and Mr. T. Jordan, at the Bucks County Tribunal, held at Bletchley, Captain Porter, as the National Service Representative, explained the position regarding agricultural cases before Tribunals. With the Cabinet about to enter into some arrangement as regards coal miners, he understood that the total number of men to be released for service from the land was to be arranged with the Board of Agriculture, who would then allocate numbers to each county, that for Bucks being about 350. As for the cases considered, B.H. Clarke, aged 29, Grade 1, single, had been granted exemption by the Bletchley Local Tribunal, and his father said there were 93 acres of land, 42 of which were arable. Working on the farm were two sons, including the appellant, two daughters, aged 16 and 17, and himself. Another son, graded as B1, was at present at home from the Army, and there was also another son, but it was doubtful if he would be made available for work at home. An adjournment was therefore suggested by Captain Porter, to give the father time to try and get a further extension for the son at home, and to apply in respect of the other son, and this was adopted. The first annual general meeting of the members of the Gardening Association, run in connection with the Bletchley Social Club, was held on Wednesday evening May 22nd. Successful business was reported, and hopefully also successful was the quest in June by ‘W.G.’ 60, Tavistock Street, for a good swarm of bees. On March 28th the Food Controller had issued a Press announcement that on May 15th the Ministry of Food would purchase all sound ware potatoes, in four ton lots, in the U.K., for which the grower was otherwise unable to find a market. Now the Food Controller had announced that growers who wished to take advantage of this offer must advise the Director of Vegetable Supplies, 100, Cromwell Road, S.W.7., on or before Tuesday, 18th June of the quantity and variety of sound ware potatoes that they had for disposal, and also give the name of the loading station and the names and addresses of dealers to whom they have unsuccessfully offered their stocks, ‘at not less than the base price.’ ‘The Ministry of Food cannot accept any responsibility in regard of any potatoes, the grower of which has not complied with the above conditions, or who failed to render the statutory return called for on April 22nd last.’ At the meeting of the War Agricultural Committee on Friday, June 14th 1918, it was stated that the Old Brewery at Fenny Stratford had been inspected, but was condemned as being unsuitable for the accommodation of the German prisoners. Under the Bucks Education Authority, having lasted a fortnight a course of cheese making classes had recently been held at the Rectory, and, with 13 pupils, 185lb of cheese had been made, of either Cheshire, Cheddar or Small Holder. The cost of the milk had totalled £8 10s 6d, (at 1s a gallon), with the cheese being sold for £14 9s. Aged 23, Sidney Clark, single, of Railway Farm, whose case had been adjourned at a previous sitting of the Bucks Military Tribunal, came up for review on June 10th. However, it was reported that one of his brothers had joined the Army the previous Monday, and he was therefore granted an exemption of three months. On Tuesday, June 11th Mr. Slack, of the Food Production Department, gave a demonstration of potato spraying on the allotments at Far Bletchley, and also the Co-operative Society’s plot of land on the Bletchley Road. The method used was ‘wet spraying,’ and at this technique several of the onlookers tried their hand. Lady Leon, the local representative of the Bucks County Women’s War Agricultural Committee, had now undertaken to receive and attend to all applications from farmers wishing to employ female labour. Also she would deal with applications for this employment from females, who might therefore become acquainted with such machines as the two, one horse mowing machines which, ‘in first class condition,’ were offered for sale in late June by Messrs. W. Randall and Sons, who from their Vulcan Works could also supply new Massey Harris loaders, the ‘best machines on the market.’ Sadly, on June 24th 1918, at the age of 25 Hilda, the wife of Mr. Alfred W. Benford died after a short illness. The couple had been married for four years, and with there being a young family of three daughters, the last had been born in May. When some 16 years ago Mr. Benford’s father had died, having long been in business as a butcher in Fenny Stratford, the business was continued by his widow, but she then went to live at an address in Bletchley Road when her son, Alfred, took over the business following his marriage. On Wednesday, June 26th 1918 a large number of the town’s traders, some of whom comprised the bearer party, attended the funeral, of which the first part of the service was held at the Spurgeon Memorial Baptist Chapel, where, having continued to occasionally play after her marriage, Mrs. Benford had been the organist and a member of the choir. With Mr. Cluer as National Service Representative, at the Military Service Tribunal on Thursday, June 27th Charles Matthews, aged 44, Grade 1, appealed against a calling up order, on account of his wife’s health. He was the landlord and owner of The Old Swan, Far Bletchley, and besides cultivating an acre of ground with a spade, worked during his spare time at ‘The Grange.’ Placed in the category of Grade 1, he protested because his eyesight was bad, and having worn glasses for many years he had been required to pay an extra premium on his life insurance. He had a daughter at home, aged 9, whilst his son now worked in a bank at Chesham, having been discharged in 1916 from the Army (in which he enlisted in 1915) after being wounded in action. The case was adjourned for further medical assessment. Under instructions from the Rector, the Reverend F. Bennitt, and with the approval of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, at the Swan Hotel on Thursday afternoon, June 27th 1918, Foll & Bawden offered for sale the three farms which had been part of the Bletchley Glebe Estate. However, although Denbigh Hall Farm was sold for £2,475 to Sir Herbert Leon, the other two, Eaton Fields, Water Eaton, and Bletchley Leys Farm, were withdrawn, respectively at £1,500 and £2,200. During July, those appealing against military service included Thomas E. Brace, aged 44, Grade 1, general stores and dairyman, who said that he was carrying on his own business and also that of another man, who was serving in the Army. His wife could not run the business alone, and by the Tribunal’s decision he was given the choice of either joining the Volunteers or the Special Constables. He then chose the latter, since men who had been given this exemption did not attend drills, and he did not see why he should give up his time under those circumstances. A gardener for Mr. Ramsbotham, Albert Davis, aged 42, Grade 1, appealed on personal grounds, saying that he would be of more use at home, since there were 10 children in the household, all aged under 15. In fact four of these were in delicate health, as was also his wife, and he worked at Mr. Ramsbotham’s garden and nurseries from practically 6a.m. until 6p.m., as well as on Sundays. In addition he had to cultivate his garden ground to provide for the family, and in view of these circumstances three months was granted, as well as exemption from joining the Volunteers. Alfred Guymer, aged 44, Grade 1, fruiterer, appealed on the grounds that his wife was in ill health, and that the whole of his time was taken up in the business, and in cultivating an acre of ground. Both being aged over 70, his wife’s parents were dependent on him, and his time was greatly spent in the shop and delivering goods. He also grew and sold flowers, and had to go out in the mornings to canvass orders from hotels and customers. He considered the business, which had been established for 4½ years, to be essential, but the appeal was dismissed, ‘Not to be called for one month.’ William Butcher, aged 43, Grade 2, and a head warehouseman, was appealed for by Messrs. Moss & Co., his employers. Mr. Moss said that except for the van driver, an over age man, and the general manager of the Fenny Stratford business, the appellant was the only man they had left, and he did a lot of the heavy work which the girls, who he also supervised, couldn’t do. The manager’s health was very indifferent, and if the man went the business would probably have to close. With regard to the Grade 3 man now in the Army, who had been formerly employed by them, they were trying to get him released, but as yet had heard nothing. Three months exemption was granted, conditional on joining the Special Constables. At a meeting of the Bucks Women’s War Agricultural Committee, it was reported that the Land Army in Bucks consisted of 479 whole time workers, 868 part time, 241 unplaced, and 58 under instruction. Training centres and hostels had been established at Ivinghoe Grange, 30 beds, Bayman Manor, 31 beds, and Leighton Buzzard, 60 beds, whilst courses in instruction in cheese making had been held at Hambleden, Bletchley, and Grendon Underwood. In fact over 4cwts had been made, and with the necessary equipment a second instructress would begin work forthwith. In the Co-op Hall, at a special general meeting of members, held on Saturday, June 29th 1918, it was decided by 106 votes to 18 that the scheme of amalgamation with the Bletchley & District Co-operative Society, as presented to the members, should be adopted. Then on the instructions of Mr. W.J. Claridge, who was retiring from business, on Thursday, July 25th at 11a.m. Foll and Bawden would auction the stock in trade of a builder, decorator and plumber, and also in Victoria Road, at number 9 Mr. J. Colgrove presently claimed that ‘You may rely on us to do our best for all our Customers in supplying BEEF, PORK & MUTTON at a fair price.’

Meanwhile, at The Creameries, Bletchley Road, guaranteed pure clean milk could be delivered daily, and also available were new laid eggs, butter and cream. As makers of cream and soft curd cheese, ‘We are buyers of surplus Pure New Milk, New Laid Eggs, Poultry and Dairy Produce.’ F.L. & J. Camp, proprietors. On Tuesday, July 9th 1918, at the Council meeting it was reported that the hay of the Bathing Shed field was now stacked in the Council yard. In other matters, plans had been submitted for alterations to be carried out at Bletchley Road Sub Post Office and Brooklands Nurseries, and trees had been recently damaged in the Recreation Ground. In consequence of letters sent to the parents of the culprits, the Clerk had now received replies saying that, having been admonished, the boys promised not to do it again, and ‘The parents thanked the Council for having given them the opportunity of dealing with the matter,’ and expressed their regret ‘that anything of the sort should have occurred.’ Held by the Fenny Stratford Branch of the Farmers’ Union, a well attended meeting took place at the Swan Hotel on Thursday afternoon, July 11th. Amongst the topics were the shortage of labour on the land, wages, and the results of the conversion of grass to arable, and during the proceedings Mr. H. Rigby Kewley, Chief Live Stock Commissioner, gave an address on the subject of the ‘grading’ of cattle for market sale. Also on July 11th, a meeting of the Bletchley District War Agricultural Committee was held at the Council Offices, with attention being called to the ‘Joining Up’ Orders. In fact some farmers had received four or five telegrams telling them to report at once, but they didn’t know how to respond, for the military authorities told them to report, but the Executive Committee said they need not go. Some farmers had even been on the verge of arrest by the military authorities, but that was when the Executive Committee ‘was not half strong,’ and matters had now changed. At the Bucks Military Service Tribunal, held in the Police Court, Bletchley, on Monday, July 22nd, Christopher Bourne, a bulb grower, aged 34, Grade 2, married, had been called ‘on review’ by the National Service Representative, Captain Porter, who said that on the re-grading by the Medical Board he had been compelled to pursue this course of action. With the case having been heard on more than one occasion, a grant of conditional exemption had been made in February 1917, subject to a number of days work a week being put in on the land, but in December 1917 this decision had been challenged, and now the appellant asked to be left until the end of the present bulb season. As a conclusion, exemption was now granted until November 1st. Alfred Guymer, aged 44, Grade 1, a fruiterer, florist and green grocer of Bletchley, appealed against a decision of the Bletchley Urban Tribunal, which had given him one month’s exemption to July 27th. Formerly employed at Wolverton Carriage Works, he had put all his savings into his present business, and following the decision of the Local Tribunal he had been offered work by Randall Bros., iron founders, whose premises were in Bletchley Road. If he took that employment during the day, and remained at home, he would then to a certain extent be able to supervise his business in the evening, although in additional responsibilities his father in law, aged 68, was dependent on him, and he cultivated ‘a good deal of garden around.’ Expanding on the details, it was stated that he had just bought his present premises, but still had the former ones on a lease. Captain Porter then enquired that if exempted, and he went to work at Randall’s, would they release a younger man. Saying that they were already short handed, the appellant replied that he did not know, whereupon the appeal was dismissed. A meeting of the Bletchley District War Agricultural Committee was held in the Council Offices on Thursday afternoon, August 1st, with Mr. T. Jordan as chairman. The Executive Committee had written that negotiations were being made for a further supply of steam agricultural machinery, and asked if the committee needed any in their district. However, it was thought probably not, since the one that had been stationed in the district had been moved elsewhere, as there was apparently no work to carry out. Mr. Foll then clarified the situation, by saying that it had been taken away for repair, and a letter to this effect would be sent to the Executive Committee. In fact there was a lot of work to do, and in another letter the Executive Committee said that they had a supply of binders ready to lend to farmers for the harvest, either to be worked by the farmers horses, or those of the Committee. Eight could be supplied if necessary, and Mr. Jordan said that four were definitely required, with one consideration possibly being the second hand example, ‘in first class condition,’ now for sale at Randalls, Vulcan Works, Bletchley Road. These were ‘thoroughly overhauled, and ready for delivery,’ and also available were two, one horse mowing machines, in first class condition. Mr. Jordan also reported that the German prisoners were now expected to arrive in the district on Saturday. In fact they had been due last Saturday, with a guard having been sent to the prison camp on the Denbigh Road, but no prisoners had arrived. Therefore Mr. Bodley had gone to Woburn and seen the officer commanding the prison camp there, and in consequence a party of 30 to 40 were promised to arrive on Saturday. As for their deployment, Mr. Foll, in conversation with the steward of Sir Herbert Leon, said that Sir Herbert had applied for six for regular employment, but he would also take others should they not be needed elsewhere, so as to not remain idle in camp. Farmers would be required to pay the guard if he worked, but not otherwise, and in conclusion it was reported that the use of prisoners in the Newport Pagnell district had gone well. Indeed, an advert was to be placed stating that applicants requiring prisoners of war could contact W.A. Foll, Oakley, Bletchley. However, for warehouse work at Cutler’s Stores it was an ineligible man who was needed in August ‘to make himself generally useful.’ A meeting of the Bletchley District War Agricultural Committee was held in the Council Offices on Thursday, August 8th 1918, and with tractors already being available for ploughing, the binders were now in the district, and Mr. Shirley suggested that two of the eight should be reserved for the use of small growers. Mr. Monks, who had charge of the machines, said that his foreman was fully competent to look after them, and at any time a man could be summoned from Aylesbury. However, if farmers hired a binder and worked with their own horses and men, they would be responsible for any breakages and damage. Mr. Foll then reported on the arrival of the gang of prisoners of war in the district to work on the land. They were Hungarians, not Germans, and had been taken prisoner in the last few days during the fighting on the Piave River, Italy. They seemed quite content and willing, and on arrival he had them allocated, as best he could, to those farmers and employers who had applied for such labour, there being 12 left over when these demands had been met. As for feeding the prisoners, it was optional if the farmer gave them a meal in the middle of the day, since each morning at their camp the men received a whole day’s food, and they chose when to eat it. They would not be paid more than the standard agricultural wage, and the Executive Committee had written to ask for suggestions regarding suitable winter quarters for the prisoners after October 15th. Two places had been suggested, the Old Brewery, or the stables at The Grange. However, for some reason these had been condemned, and in explanation Lady Leon said that the stables had been deemed as unsuitable due to the recurring water shortages at Far Bletchley. She then suggested erecting huts on the site of the present camp, and this was adopted, to be forwarded to the Executive Committee. The 137th report and balance sheet of the Bletchley and District Co-operative Society now showed a large increase in trade, with the disposable profit being £561. The ‘divi’ of 1s in the pound on members checks amounted to £525, and a donation of £1 1s to the Y.M.C.A. Hut Fund had been made. A serious rick fire destroyed 80 tons of hay, the property of Dr. Vaughan Harley, on Sunday evening, August 11th. A call for assistance to the Bletchley Urban Council Fire Brigade had been received at 10p.m., and the steam fire engine and all the appliances turned out promptly. Fortunately water was plentiful, with the river being nearby, with this being rather opportune since, with Thomas Best as the Chief Officer, the Fire Brigade comprised several retired members, who now filled the vacancies caused by men leaving for the Forces. The Area Military Service Tribunal for the County of Buckingham sat on Friday, August 16th at the Police Court. Joseph Downs Bushell, aged 35, Grade 1, grocer, High Street, applied for a further term of exemption, having during the previous May been given six months by the Bletchley Urban District Tribunal. On appeal to the County Tribunal by the National Service Representative, this had been reduced to three months, and giving his details Mr. Bushell stated that he had 1,200 registered customers for groceries, 100 for sugar, and 800 for bacon. In addition, besides the business in the urban district he served 16 other villages and having before the war employed four men, now his staff consisted of three boys, the eldest being 16, and two girls. Having a wife and child, he said he was now doing more work than before, including all the management and heavy manual work, but despite letters being put in from the Bletchley Urban District Food Committee, and those of Newport Pagnell and Winslow Rural districts, stating that in their opinion the business was necessary to the local residents, the appeal was dismissed, not to be called until October 30th. Also appealing for exemption was John Throssell, aged 38, Grade 2, married. Being the manager for the widow of the late Joseph Cutler (who had lost one son killed on active service, with her second son having just rejoined his regiment at the Front, after being wounded) he had been given six months last May, but on appeal by the National Service Representative this was reduced to three. In evidence it was said that Mrs. Cutler knew nothing about the business, and the man was the only one who could carry it on. Three months exemption was allowed. For a fee of 2s, rabbits at stud were now to be found at the home of Sydney C. Staniford, ‘St. Albans’, Bletchley Road, namely a large pure bred Belgian Hare and Flemish Giant, ‘fine specimens; true to type and colour.’ Then at Holne Chase Fields, Geo, Wigley & Sons were instructed by Mrs. Snoxell to auction on Tuesday, September 3rd twenty seven ‘particularly choice and very fresh cattle,’ as also 103 very fresh half bred sheep. In late August a meeting of the Bletchley District War Agricultural Committee was held one Thursday in the Council Offices, but having been involved in a serious trap accident Mr. Bodley, the secretary, had written to say that he had posted the minute book to Mr. Foll. However, this hadn’t been received. During the meeting a letter was read from the Executive Committee, in reply to the recommendations sent regarding winter quarters for the prisoners of war, who were now in the district and employed on the land. The suggestion of erecting huts on the site of the present site was out of the question, since it seemed that the authorities demanded ‘house’ accommodation, not ‘outbuildings,’ and although it had been initially recommended that the Solid Beer premises would be suitable, all the premises were in the hands of the Royal Engineers, and an objection appeared to be the proximity to an installation of the Royal Engineers ‘apparatus.’ A letter pointing out these various facts would be sent to the Executive. As explained by Mr. Foll, the Bletchley district now had more orders in hand for ploughing than could be obliged with the equipment and men at his disposal. He had therefore applied to Aylesbury suggesting that a horse camp be established at Bletchley, but no definite reply had yet been received. Steam engines were apparently available but there was no tackle, and it was then decided to apply for at least six plough teams to be sent into the district. A meeting of the Fenny Stratford Cattle Shows Committee was held at the Swan Hotel on Thursday afternoon, September 5th. This was principally to arrange the details for holding the fifth annual dairy cattle show at Bletchley in October, and it was agreed that the entries should be limited to those farmers who were resident within a six mile radius of the town. The Ministry of Food had now made arrangements for the use of the slaughterhouse situated at Aberdeen House, Fenny Stratford, as a Government Authorised Slaughterhouse. Mr. W. Woods, of 9, Cambridge Street, had been appointed as the Government Slaughterhouse Agent, with the accountancy work to be done by Mr. H. Barnett, the Borough Accountant at Aylesbury. Arrangements had been made to commence killing operations as from September 5th, and from that date farmers and stock owners who might wish to exercise their option of selling, on the Dead Weight Basis, could forward stock to the above mentioned slaughterhouse. A smart milk delivery float, ‘London style’. cob size, was presently for sale at The Creameries, Bletchley Road, whilst ‘To get out of hen food all the eggs there are in it’, Karswood Poultry Spice could be obtained from Holyoak, chemist, at 41, Aylesbury Street. ‘Results usually double when Karswood is added,’ and packets were priced at 2½d, 7½d, and 1s 3d. A meeting of the Bletchley District War Agricultural Committee took place on Thursday afternoon, September 26th 1918 in the Council Offices. Here the question of winter quarters for the prisoners of war now encamped at Bletchley was raised, and a strong recommendation was duly sent in to the Executive Committee, at Aylesbury, urging them to lose no time in securing the suitable premises which had been offered, since these would not encroach on or near any of the ‘apparatus or machinery’ of the Royal Engineers at Staple Hall Depot. A meeting of the committee of the Bletchley and district branch of the Bucks County Surplus Vegetable Association was held in the Cricket Pavilion, Bletchley Park, on Tuesday evening, October 1st. Mr. T. Jordan was chairman, and in attendance were Lady Leon, Miss Hird, Mr. E. Ramsbotham, and Mr. A. Marshall, secretary. No very large quantities had yet been dealt with, but through the Association cottage gardeners and allotment holders had found purchasers for their surplus produce in the immediate district. A larger and wider scheme was now being formed for the county, and this would eventually take the place of the original Association. In October a donkey harness and small cart for same - ‘donkey is a good honest worker’ - could be purchased from Mr. Faulkner, at 26, Aylesbury Street, and regarding cattle there would be a good attendance, and good weather, for the 5th annual show of dairy cattle. With the venue being the Park Hotel field, the excellent arrangement of the show ground and sale yard would be the work of Mr. Geo. Kilsby, of Fenny Stratford. The Military Service Tribunal for the Bletchley Urban District sat in the Council Offices on Thursday afternoon, October 3rd, with Captain King appearing for the Recruiting Staff. With three months having been granted by the Tribunal in June, Thomas Brace, aged 45, Grade 1, appealed for a renewal of exemption, and the facts were the same as before, except that the girl he employed had left to take up service on the railway. He had subsequently been unable to find a replacement, and three months was granted. Albert Davis, aged 44, had also been granted three months in June, on a personal appeal on domestic grounds. He had 10 children, and a wife in delicate health, and Mr. E. Ramsbotham, of Brooklands Nurseries, said that the man was almost wholly employed producing foodstuffs. He only did about two months work on chrysanthemums in the winter, which were grown just to keep the staff together and occupied, and there was a great deal of work in the nurseries that the girls could not do, such as the weekly spraying, and attending to the night fires. In fact he had a letter from the Food Production Department stating that tomato growing was of national importance, and the man had been ‘at that’ all year. The chairman, Mr. S.F. Jones, then asked if Mr. Ramsbotham had applied for a certificate of exemption from the Executive Committee of the War Agricultural Committee, to which the reply was that perhaps he should have done, and, if given time, he would do so at once. The case was adjourned until the next Tribunal, with the certificate to be applied for in the meantime. William Butcher, aged 44, Grade 2, was employed by Messrs. Moss and Co., Hitchin, at their Fenny Stratford branch. He had been granted three months in June, and his employers now applied for a further term. Mr. Moss had sent a letter regretting that he could not personally attend, and the manager of the branch was away on holiday, but nevertheless three months was granted. At a specially convened meeting of the Bletchley District War Agricultural Committee, held at the Council Offices on Thursday afternoon, October 10th, the secretary, Mr. J. Bodley, said that he had now received notification that Danish land labour was available for those who applied. Yet the purpose of the hurriedly summoned meeting was to interview two of the owners of the threshing machines now working in the Bletchley area. The prices to be paid for the hire of such outfits, as laid down by the Executive Committee at Aylesbury, had raised a storm of objection, as also had the number of machines available in relation to the amount of work to be done, but nevertheless ‘useful decisions’ were arrived at during the proceedings, and the problems were now hopefully resolved. The stables at the Eight Bells had recently been the subject of an inspection by an official from the War Office, an official from Bedford, the Commandant from Leighton Buzzard, and by the Medical Officer of Health. This was to determine their suitability as winter quarters for the prisoners of war, and a decision was presently awaited. An important sale of shorthorn dairy cattle was held at the Park Hotel on Friday October 18th. This comprised the dairy herd of Mr. W. Denchfield, of Burston, Aylesbury, and also, due to his absence on active service, the entire small herd of Lord Dalmeny of The Grange, (which had been formed a few years ago under the personal advice and supervision of Mr. J. L. Shirley). Additionally, three bulls were sold from the well known Silverton herd of Mr. J.L. Shirley. At a meeting of the local branch of the N.F.U., on Thursday afternoon, October 24th objection was raised regarding the multiplicity of officials now controlling almost every aspect of agriculture and farming. In fact the stupidities being caused had resulted in much anger, and seemingly of little surprise since, as just one instance, hay had been sent to Norfolk, only to then be fetched back to Bletchley for use at the Timber Supply Depot. As another absurdity, sheep had been sent from Fenny Stratford market by Government officials to some other district one day, only for sheep to then be brought in a few days later to make up the deficiency for mutton! At the Swan Hotel, on the afternoon of Thursday, November 14th Foll & Bawden auctioned Wood Farm, Denbigh, which, having a long frontage to the Watling Street, lay about 2½ miles from Bletchley. For many years the farm had been in the occupation of the late Mr. Farmbrough, and after his death had been sold in 1905 - to include some 125 acres, the house and buildings - for £1.980. A few years later it again changed hands, and in 1911 was sold at a public auction for £3,000. The present tenant was Mr. Edward Dunkley, and with the bidding commencing at £2,500 the farm would be bought by Albert Rose, of Haddenham, Bucks, for £3,850. The tragic news had now been received by Mr. W. Purvis, of the Food Production Department, that his eldest son, Sergeant Eric Purvis, of the Queen’s Royal West Surrey Regiment, had been instantly killed by a shell on October 25th, during the last big battle near Courtrai. Sergeant Purvis had first served at the Front with the Oxon & Bucks Light Infantry, and was wounded in 1916, at the same time that Second Lieutenant Douglas Chadwick, of the same regiment, was killed. While at Fenny Stratford he had attended the Ridgmont Model Farm as a student, whilst as for his father, who was well known as a journalist, and a strong advocate of intensive garden and allotment cultivation, he had joined the Food Production Department, and a short while ago received the O.B.E. for his services. Eric had been Scoutmaster of the Bletchley Boy Scouts, during the year that his parents lived in the town. At the Council meeting on Tuesday, November 12th, the Chairman said that they met that evening in the knowledge that the Armistice had been signed, and to all intents and purposes the war was now over. Yet wartime business still had to be continued, and the Clerk said that he had received instructions from the Local Government Board regarding the appointment of the new Food Control Committee. This provided for the inclusion of women and also representatives of the Labour and Co-operative Societies, and regarding the latter two he had received letters from the Bletchley Co-op recommending the names of Mrs. Bradshaw, Mr. J. Goodwin and Mr. A. Timms, and from the local Labour Party submitting the name of Mr. O. Wells. After discussions it was then agreed that the members should include Mrs. Bradshaw and Mrs. Bradbrook, and Mr. O. Wells. In late November the Fenny Stratford and District Market Committee organised a collection on behalf of the British Farmers’ Red Cross Fund, for although the war was practically over the work of the Red Cross still had to go on. The fact that interest in holding a sale had fallen off was the reason to hold a collection, for thereby everyone could contribute financially. All present agreed to make the same contributions as last year, and Mr. Wigley and Mr. Foll were asked to again act as joint honorary secretaries. Also on agricultural matters, a cowman was now needed by Mr. C.E. Jones, Water Hall Farm, Water Eaton; ‘Must be a good milker. Cottage in village,’ whilst regarding the demobilisation of Army horses, at 11a.m. there would be an auction by W. Brown and Co. on Saturday, December 21st at Great Western Street, Aylesbury, to include 50 heavy draft horses from ‘Home Camp.’ With the war now at an end, and the need to find employment for returning ex servicemen, in late December those belonging to Buckinghamshire, or who had served in a Bucks battalion, could, if they wished to obtain a smallholding, and had sufficient capital and knowledge to cultivate it, receive a form of application by sending their name and address to the secretary, Small Holdings Department, County Hall, Aylesbury. In fact the Board of Agriculture had been empowered by the Small Holding Colonies Act, 1916, to acquire land for the settlement of ex servicemen, and ‘The land may be acquired by taking the same on a long lease or in consideration of the grant of a rent charge or other annual payment, but not by payment of a capital sum.’ Then in another move which emphasised the final end of the war, by a newspaper notice John Bodley, the secretary to the Bletchley Agricultural Committee, announced that all soldiers working on the land were entitled to 12 days leave during December and January. However, where more than one was employed arrangements had to be made to rotate.


HIGHWAYS & HOUSING

In the embryonic motoring age, those sufficiently affluent could travel the highways in their own cars, attending the mechanical needs of which was the province of Gazeley and Son of the High Street - ‘Motor and Cycle Expert.’ With their own inspection pit, in January 1914 they were not only the official repairer to the R.A.C., M.U., and A.A., but also had taxi cabs for hire, although at the nearby Swan Hotel, a ‘Family Commercial and Posting House,’ Mr. W.C. Ruffle, the proprietor, could additionally cater for the more traditional mode of transport by offering horses and carriages for hire - as also a motor car ‘for short or long journeys or for touring purposes.’ As for local housing, the ‘Cottage Homes Syndicate,’ which had been successful in providing housing accommodation elsewhere, was now able to provide ‘Model Homes’ in Bletchley ‘to suit tenants and customers on usual terms.’ As to how a person might purchase his home ‘by the rent,’ free particulars were available on request. However, for anyone in more urgent need of accommodation, single young men could find comfortable lodgings at Page’s Boot Shop, Denmark Street, or else - ‘to let at Lady Day next’ - there was ‘Somerville’ in the High Street, Fenny Stratford, which, with 8 rooms with front and back gardens, was in the occupation of Mrs. Cave. £25 would secure a year’s tenancy, with applicants to contact Mr. J. Hill, of Tavistock Street. As opposed to renting, ‘new builds’ could be undertaken by Mr. W.J. Claridge, builder and contractor of Victoria Road, whose tender of £4 10s to repair, and also paint, the bandstand in the Leon Recreation Ground would shortly be accepted. Being also a decorator, he could offer a large assortment of wall paper, which might have been of interest to F.W. Branton, a decorator and plumber whose premises lay in Aylesbury Street. He was also a hot water and sanitary engineer, whose skills might have therefore been needed when, in February 1914, the Highways Committee reported that the Grand Junction Canal Co. had, not surprisingly, complained about sewage being emptied into the canal. Since they were not connected to the town sewer, in fact the effluent was found to be coming from the Swan Hotel and the Rose and Crown, but nevertheless the local sanitary conditions were generally good, although there had been 68 cases of infectious diseases during the past year, including 33 of scarlet fever, 25 of chicken pox and 5 of tuberculosis. During the early hours of Sunday morning, March 1st 1914 a fire broke out at the rear of the extensive premises of Gibbs and Co., ‘Complete house furnishers,’ whose premises were situated along Bletchley Road, near the station.

Just before 2a.m. Mr. F. Vince, the steward of the Bletchley Social Club, had been awoken when his bedroom began to fill with smoke, and he quickly alerted Mr. T. Keeler, the resident manager for Gibbs, who was sleeping on the premises. Fortunately the alarm bell at the fire station had been rung by some observant railwaymen, and the blaze, following the arrival of the fire brigade in under seven minutes, was restricted to the photo studio in the occupation of Messrs. Anderson and Co., of Leighton Buzzard. In March 1914, at a meeting of the Council it was stated that ‘It is pleasing to learn that bricks and mortar will soon be evidence on the Leon Estate, and it is to be hoped that when a start with building is made many others will follow suit. The town can do with a few more residents, for we are afraid many of the tradesmen find business anything but brisk at times.’ Indeed, the commodious premises at the corner of Aylesbury Street and Denmark Street had been vacant for a while, until opened on Saturday, March 28th by Mr. A.G. Cowlishaw, who, with the premises also accommodating the dressmaking business of his wife, which was presently carried on in Bletchley Road, was setting up as a ‘Fancy Draper and High-class Costumiere.’

At the corner of Aylesbury Street and Denmark Street, on Saturday, March 28th 1914 Mr. A.G. Cowlishaw opened in business as a 'Fancy Draper and High-class Costumiere.' The premises had been vacant for a while, although as seen in the post card, which is franked with the date December 12th 1911, it had been in the occupation of a baker, confectioner, and wine and spirits merchant. Today the premises accommodate P and D Cycles, but the doorstep still reminds of a former use. The story of the Cowlishaw family was told in the September 2007 edition of 'Bletchley and Fenny Stratford Local Pages,' published by the Milton Keynes Citizen.

It had now been decided that a lamp was to be kept alight all night in Oliver Road, at the entrance to Windsor Street, but when the Council turned down a request for a lamp to be kept alight in Western Road, which had been taken over by the Council, ‘Long Suffering’ felt compelled to write to the local press, pointing out that it would have enabled people to see the large stones which protrude through ‘the apology of a footpath on the south side of the road, which is a disgrace to an up-to-date town,’ and not a penny had been spent since it was made 15 years ago. On Easter Monday, Grover’s garage, Fenny Stratford, ran a motor car to the Towcester races at 5s per head, but for anyone wishing to purchase their own transport not only did the garage have motor vehicles available, but also bicycles, ‘new and secondhand.’ In April 1914 plans were passed for Messrs. R.&S. Staniford, wine and spirit merchants, to have two houses built in Bletchley Road. Sealed tenders for their construction were to be sent to the architect, J. Dellow, at 16, Moon Street, Wolverton, and for the chosen contractor building sand could be bought from H. Franklin, George Street, which in due course might also be of interest to those engaged in the rebuilding of the Navigation Inn, the plans for which had just been approved. During the last week in April, Aylesbury Street and Bletchley Road received the attention of the County Council tarring brigade. ‘Their entry to the town was heralded by the usual cloud of dust ---,’ and in other aggravations the following month the smell emanating from the vicinity of the Old Swan, Far Bletchley, was increasingly causing a nuisance. Situated opposite to the pub, this was found to be coming from a ditch used as a rubbish dump, and in remedy it was recommended to pipe the length for about 30 yards. At the other end of the town, in May 1914 plans were passed for a garage in the High Street for Rowland Bros., as also four semi detached houses for Thomas Best on the Leon Estate, and four houses in Napier Street for Thomas Best junior. Meanwhile, building had commenced on the Leon Estate, whilst elsewhere Messrs. R. and S. Staniford were having two semi detached villas constructed, on an enclosure which had once been suggested as a probable site for a new ‘picture palace.’ By June 1914 between 200 and 300 cars were travelling along the Watling Street every day, and although the speed limit was 5m.p.h., many travelled at between 10m.p.h. and 20m.p.h. The railways were also busy, and while hauling granite blocks from Bletchley station, a traction engine, en route to the road near Denbigh railway bridge, lost a wheel whilst going down the hill past Stag Bridge. It then ended up in a ditch, whilst the wheel, which weighed 3 cwt., collided with a tree and ended up likewise. In June 1914 tenders were invited to build four cottages at Bletchley for Thomas Best junior, with plans also passed for two houses in Windsor Street for Mr. Perry, and two cottages in Shenley Road for Sir Herbert Leon. As for commercial premises, in July 1914 the new ladies and gents footwear business of Mr. J.T. Page at 35, Aylesbury Street, was open, but, having been trading for 22 years, he would still keep his old premises in Denmark Street as a repair shop. At the Swan Hotel, on the instructions of E. Holdom J.P., of Marston Park, on Thursday, July 16th, George Wigley and Sons auctioned eleven valuable plots of freehold building land in Western Road. Two of these would be bought by W.J. Claridge, at 2s 6d per yard, although the other lots remained unsold. Being quite literally a busman’s holiday, about 50 London bus drivers came to Bletchley by train on Sunday, July 19th 1914, and in the morning were taken in four chartered vehicles to Woburn, where they had dinner at the Magpie. In the afternoon they were then driven around the Ridgmont area, to arrive back in Bletchley in time to catch the late train to Euston. On Tuesday, August 4th 1914 an employee of the Anglo American Oil Co. was made sharply aware of the wartime rules regarding petrol requisition, whereby an officer on duty could commandeer anything to get him to his destination. Colonel Briggs, of Little Brickhill, had received orders to join his regiment, the Durham Light Infantry, and in consequence intended to motor through to Newcastle. He then realised that he had insufficient petrol, and so called in at the garage of Gazeley and Son in Fenny Stratford. When they were unable to supply all his need he then noticed an Anglo American Oil Co. cart loaded with petrol, but when he duly asked for a certain number of cans the oilman refused, saying that they had all been ordered. Thereupon the police had to be called for the necessary amount to be requisitioned. Also due to the wartime situation, proprietors of cars for hire were not to let them to any ‘suspicious stranger of foreign aspect,’ and certainly not to the three men who, near Woughton, were seen early one Friday morning apparently making a sketch of the Three Arches railway bridge. Not surprisingly, it was rumoured in Bletchley that they were spies, who had been detailed to blow up the bridge, and in view of such tensions barriers were erected at the canal bridge on the evening of Friday, August 14th 1914, whereby only one vehicle would be let through at a time.

Following the outbreak of the First World War, there was great suspicion that spies might be travelling about the country, and proprietors of cars for hire were told not to let them to any 'suspicious stranger of foreign aspect.' Indeed, in the prevailing paranoia on Friday evening, August 14th 1914 barriers allowing only one vehicle to pass at a time were erected at the canal bridge, at Fenny Stratford, whereby the police constable on duty could observe the occupants. However, at night all vehicles were stopped, and papers inspected. In these two views, that which features the prominent telegraph poles shows the scene before the rebuilding of the canal bridge in ???? The modern day photo shows the present bridge, and the housing that has replaced the Repeater Station.

During the day the vehicles would be only observed by the police constable on duty, but at night all vehicles were to be stopped, and papers inspected. For people needing their own transport, in late August 1914 a roan pony was for sale, ‘5 years old, 13 hands,’ at the Eight Bells, whilst at F.W. Grover’s Garage at Fenny Stratford (where an apprentice was now required a.s.a.p.) a Fiat 24h.p. touring car chassis, ‘suitable for any trade,’ could be purchased at a competitive price. The vehicle had been formerly owned by an officer, and the incentive of ‘Will learn buyer to drive’ was offered. During the past few months, in the old brewery yard at Fenny Stratford hundreds of tons of granite had been deposited, and on Monday, August 31st 1914 a start was made using a special machine to mix tar with the stone, the mix then being taken to wherever it was needed on the County Council roads. Previously the County Council had rolled the granite and then sprayed the road with tar, but this new method supposedly gave a longer lasting result. On Wednesday afternoon, September 2nd 1914, at about 2p.m. three people were injured in a car crash opposite the Navigation Inn. A motorist driving from Leicester to London had been approaching the barrier on the canal bridge, but when he tried to apply the foot brake he discovered that it was jammed by the footboard slipping out of place. The vehicle then crashed into the barrier, near to which Mr. F. Harris, the automobile scout, sustained a cut knee. As for Mr. W. Byway, a mechanic with the Gazeley garage, although he had been sitting on the barrier he escaped with bruises to his leg and cut clothing, and a child sitting beside the driver also had a miraculous escape, for despite being thrown into the windscreen the infant sustained only slight cuts. During the recent stay of the troops in the town there had been difficulty in supplying the town with water. This had been compounded by the huge increase in demand caused by the watering of lawns and gardens, and perhaps also the washing of the several ‘high class light cars’ that F.W. Grover could now offer, in addition to a heavy chassis ‘suitable for converting to vans and lorries.’ However, for some of the motorists who were stopped at the canal barrier their motoring days would be curtailed, when it was discovered that they had no licence. Such cases were referred to the police, as also that of a motor salesman of Great Eastern Street, London, whose front number plate dangled on a piece of string fastened around the tap of the vehicle’s water tank. In explanation he said that since the car had been recently painted he had not had the time to fix either the front or rear plates, but he was nevertheless fined 10s, with 8s 6d costs. In other crimes, also in September public lamps had been damaged in the local area, and a reward of 10s was being offered by the Council for any information leading to a conviction. On Thursday, October 15th 1914 George Wigley and Sons auctioned furniture and effects for Mr. W. Muscutt of 34, Church Street, who was giving up house keeping. In fact perhaps some of the items might have proved useful to Mr. F. Blakemore, for his house at 8, George Street, had been damaged by fire on the morning of Tuesday, September 29th. Fortunately the blaze was put out by neighbours, and to insure against further occurrences there was either the Atlas Assurance Co. Ltd., London, via their local contact, Bodley and Co., commission agents, Fenny Stratford, or alternatively the County Fire Office, London, whose local representative was Mr. J. Cave, Roseville, High Street. (However, Mr. Cave was shortly to leave the district, whereupon Hedley J. Clarke of the Post Office, Bletchley Road, would carry on the agency of the County Fire Office Ltd.) In October 1914 perhaps they could also arrange cover for a ladies bicycle, which was being offered for sale at 49, Park Street. Near the Navigation Inn, over 20 properties were still draining into the canal, and subsequent to the complaints made by the Canal Co. this situation was now to be remedied. Also to be remedied was the situation regarding the trees on the Leon Avenue Estate, and - with the 15 or so dead ones to be replaced - in due course the tender of Messrs. Ramsbotham of £8 0s 4d was accepted. Since this had not been carried out satisfactorily, the sum would include the removal and re-fixing of the iron railings around the trees, but the firm would trim and point the trees in the Recreation Ground free of charge. By late October 1914 Gazeley and Son, High Street, had dispensed with their taxi cab and acquired a handsome landaulet. Indeed, this was equipped ‘with all the latest fittings,’ but horse drawn transport was still a common sight, regarding which Mr. John Hands, of the Livery Stables, suffered several injuries when, whilst turning from the stables into the approach leading to Bletchley station, he was knocked down by a car. In November, among the bequests in the will of William Rowland, whose death had occurred in July, was the sum of £1,000 for the provision of four almshouses in the town. These were to accommodate poor widows or spinsters, aged over 60, who had resided in the town for over 50 years, whilst as for other accommodation, also during the month plans were approved for four cottages in Tavistock Street for Mr. H. Howard, a house in Tattenhoe Road for Mrs. T. Clarke, and two cottages in Tavistock Street for Howard Brothers. For more immediate accommodation, 2, Hill Bank, a six room property, was available to rent at 6s 3d, with interested persons to apply to J. Hill, at 28, Tavistock Street, where he also had chickens and a cockerel for sale. By early December 1914 the planting of trees on the Leon Avenue Estate was complete, but regarding a large number of the remaining trees, Mr. Ramsbotham reported that they were not worth re-staking, due to having been so badly cut by wire. Also in a bad condition was the road from Swan corner to the White Hart, and in consequence the Council were to communicate with the County Road Authority. The year 1914 then came to an end with the opening by the Fenny Stratford Motor Engineering Co. of new premises at 6, High Street. There motor repairs of all descriptions would be carried out, and nearby on the canal bridge the police barrier had again been erected, where driving licences would be examined, and, if necessary, cars searched. Whilst no spies or subversives were found, many motorists being stopped by the police at the canal bridge barrier would be fined for various offences. These included having no licence, and on instructions from the County Police on Thursday, January 28th 1915 a barrier was also erected at Fenny Stratford crossroads, primarily to stop motorists and examine their documents. Apart from motor vehicles, horses were still a common sight on the local roads, and in Bletchley Road on Saturday, April 29th 1915 Private Kitchin, of the Royal Engineers, whilst exercising his horse suffered an unfortunate accident when the animal became restive, and, after making a number of plunges, reared up. Nevertheless, Private Kitchin managed to hang onto the reins, but in doing so pulled over the horse which fell on top of him. Fortunately, although severely shaken he escaped without injury, and being later taken back to his billet for medical attention, had initially been conveyed a short distance to the house of Mr. Arscot by some nearby soldiers. However, not that all the actions of the local soldiers were so commendable, for, by the evidence of Inspector Callaway, three sappers would be implicated in breaking lamps in Bletchley Road. It was subsequently recommended that a written report should be sent to their Commanding Officer in confidence, with the view that if the men attended the Council Offices and expressed remorse, then no legal proceedings would be taken. On the evening of Sunday, April 5th 1915 a batch of touring cyclists arrived in Bletchley, 15 having ridden from London, and others from Leicester. They then had dinner at the Wilberforce Hotel, in Bletchley Road, but also popular with touring cyclists was the Swan Hotel, where, after the market, on Thursday, April 22nd 1915 Messrs. Geo. Wigley and Sons auctioned the freehold properties of 22, 24, 26 and 28 Aylesbury Street. As Lot 1, there was next to no bidding for the first three, which were withdrawn at £340, and so the property as a whole was then submitted. However, with the highest bid being £500, this was not accepted, whilst as for Lot 2 in the catalogue - No. 28, a brick and slate house - it was decided not to submit this separately. The object of the sale had been to wind up the Lucas Estate, and although she had not died in the district, the body of Mrs. Lucas had been buried in St. Mary’s Churchyard about a year ago. Yet until recent years she had lived all her life in Bletchley, and in fact for many years in the farm house where now stood Bletchley Park, the residence of Sir Herbert Leon. There had been a good deal more Lucas property in Aylesbury Street, but this has either been already sold off, or passed to other members of the family. On April 27th Council employees were busy tar painting the High Street, and, with other roads and streets also being attended to, this was viewed as being unusually early, since such measures were normally undertaken in late summer or early August. On the afternoon of Wednesday, April 28th Mr. Meager, of Far Bletchley, the son of Fred Meager, was cycling along Victoria Road when he was knocked down by a pony and trap. The pony had been startled by a military motorcycle, but apart from a severe shaking Mr. Meager was uninjured, although his cycle was badly damaged. Ironically, on the same day Thomas Gale, of Manor Farm, Water Eaton, also suffered an accident, whilst driving a pony and trap along Bletchley Road. On passing a cart, a wheel caught the trace horse which was tethered behind, and Mr. Gale was thrown from the cart as it overturned. Dragging the trap along the pony bolted, but was then stopped by the opportune presence of Dr. Nicholson. Fortunately Mr. Gale and the pony were unharmed, but the trap not surprisingly suffered some damage. Despite Victoria Road having been prepared in readiness, the tar plant did not arrive on the scheduled date of May 15th, although the equipment could be seen in use on the following Wednesday in the High Street. As for Victoria Road, this finally received attention on Saturday, May 29th, with the result that the surface now became greatly more suited to handle the constant flow of traffic from Staple Hall Depot. In fact it seemed that the progress of some of the traffic was particularly detrimental, for, at his appearance at Linslade for having no licence, on May 22nd a 30 year old private, serving with the Royal Engineers, was told by the Chairman of the court that “Your men scorch along the road far too fast. Some of you go thirty miles an hour. It is a wonder more people are not killed. Some of you will get into trouble some day.” Prophetic words indeed, for at about 4p.m. on Sunday, June 6th 1915 Corporal Wright, a Royal Engineer motorcyclist, was involved in a serious accident in Bletchley Road opposite Randall’s Foundry Works. Travelling from Fenny Stratford, he had safely passed two cyclists but then somehow managed to collide with a bicycle being ridden towards Fenny Stratford by Second Lieutenant Frost, an officer of the Royal Engineers. Two doctors were soon on the scene, as well as Mr. W. Brown, of the Bletchley Station Ambulance Corps, but despite damage to their bicycles, the two other cyclists were unhurt. However, the officer had sustained a broken leg, and having been put into a passing car, lent by Mrs. Walker of Bletchley, was taken to Dr. Bradbrook. Later he was conveyed to his billet at the Vicarage, and thence to Aylesbury hospital. As for Corporal Wright, having sustained head injuries he lay semi conscious for a while, before being taken to his quarters. Another accident then occurred on the afternoon of Wednesday, July 7th, when delivering beer to the Bull and Butcher, Aylesbury Street, the driver of a motor lorry whilst manoeuvring the vehicle inadvertently crushed the drayman against a barrel. The man was swiftly taken into the chemist shop of Mr. Holyoak, on the opposite side of the road, and having been examined by a doctor, was driven by Mr. Ruffle, of the Swan Hotel, to Aylesbury Hospital, accompanied by police constable Stevens. The Defence of the Realm Act now stated that all lamps on motor driven vehicles must be immovable, which should also have been the case with one of the brick and stone pillars of the ‘County School Avenue,’ which was the only carriage entrance to the Leon Recreation Ground. However, during the removal of the material used for laying out the ground at the military sports, which had been held on the ‘Rec’ on Saturday, July 17th 1915, one of the structures was demolished when inadvertently hit by a large military motor lorry, and on Monday morning a couple of Royal Engineers had to be sent to repair the damage. By the end of July, the ‘apology’ for a footpath on the south side of Bletchley Road, which had been gravelled, but only partly kerbed, had been tarred and now as ‘a thing of beauty and joy for ever’ extended from the Park Hotel to just beyond St. Martin’s Mission Hall. During late June 1915, for a few days a man and a boy had been painting the lamp heads and lamp posts in the town, such that the latter were now red and black, instead of the previous yellow and brown. Then by a report of the Highways and Estates Committee, it was recommended that the public street lighting should commence on and from September 1st, with twenty new lamp heads to be procured, since those on Whaddon Road and Water Eaton Road were beyond repair. Yet regarding the local roads no extensive repairs were to be carried out, although four truck loads of 1½ inch granite would be purchased for patching, as also several loads of rubble for Far Bletchley. With Victoria Road scheduled for tar painting, Bedford Street was resurfaced on Monday, August 23rd, and in fact by the end of the month the Surveyor’s department of the Council had surfaced one of the footpaths in Oxford Street with tar macadam, and ‘even went beyond its promise and squirted tar over both the footpaths in Oxford Street - not entirely to the satisfaction of residents in that street.’ During September 1915 the building plots on the Leon Estate, which had failed to sell at auction, were being offered for sale by private treaty, and also at this time the street lighting in Bletchley had been reduced, with the provisions of the Defence of the Realm Act Regulations explained by Inspector Callaway as being put into force by the competent Naval or Military Authority for the district. At present there were no orders in the district regarding lights in shops, houses and streets, but should these be introduced then a special constable had the power to enter a shop, or premises, and order compliance if there was any contravention. If this was refused, he then had the authority to do ‘what ever was necessary.’ During October the pot holes in Bletchley Road were filled in. Then later in the month the patching up with tarmac of Victoria Road and Denmark Street was carried out, and in other improvements fire hydrants were installed by the Council in Oliver Road, Windsor Street, Osborne Street, and also ‘close by where the parish pump once stood.’ However, there were spectacular scenes regarding the installation of a fire hydrant in a hole dug in Bletchley Road opposite Park Street, for although the town water supply had been turned off, so as to allow a piece of the existing pipe to be replaced with the length containing the hydrant valve, following the report of a fire at the sawmills of Rowland Bros. the water had to be turned back on, whereupon the resulting aquatic display ‘would have rivalled the fountains of Crystal Palace.’ On Friday, December 10th 1915, whilst out on his rounds on his bicycle young Fred Tarbox, who was employed by Mr. H. Kemp, ‘dairyman etc.’, collided with a van driven by Mr. C. Matthews, of ‘The Old Swan’, who was just starting out on his delivery round. One of the boy’s hands and arm was badly hurt, and he also sustained other injuries, but fortunately there were no injuries when on the afternoon of Monday, December 27th one of the chimney stacks of the house of Mrs. T. Holdom crashed through the roof. This occurred during a gale of a severity unknown in the district for many years, and in fact with the winds not subsiding until the evening, about 20 yards of the garden fence at the Wilberforce Hotel was blown down. In February 1916 the Council decided to purchase a new tumbler sanitary cart. Of 150 gallons capacity, ‘with self balancing axle,’ this would be purchased from the Municipal Appliances Co. for £28 5s, whilst as for the old cart, which had been in use for 20 years, this was to be sold at auction as soon as possible. In other watery matters, the decision was taken to purchase two 1,000 gallon tanks at £22 5s each, and these would be installed at Bletchley on sites to be arranged by the Water Committee. Indeed, at the Council meeting on May 9th 1916 in a letter Sir Herbert Leon confirmed that he would allow a tank to be located on the field adjoining School Lane at 5s p.a., and also in May the iron fence adjoining the footpath in the Recreation Ground was to be removed and fixed at the Great Brickhill reservoir. Whilst passing through the town, at Church Corner on the morning of Friday, June 9th 1916 it was noticed that the tarpaulin of a steam motor lorry was on fire. However, with assistance swiftly summoned the blaze was put out before any serious damage could occur. Near to Bletchley station, ‘Richmond House’ was now available to let, having three reception rooms, six bedrooms and a garage, and interested persons were to contact C. Holdom, Ivy Lane, Great Brickhill. As for new houses, in July Mr. W. Claridge, a local builder, required a bricklayer to ‘take brickwork’ for two cottages, and hopefully the work would be more substantial than the tar painting of the High Street during the month, when the application had been made on top of a surface broken up by weather and the constant heavy and light traffic. In six lots, by order of the Trustees on Thursday, August 24th 1916 at 5p.m. Geo. Wigley and Sons auctioned at the Park Hotel the freehold estate known as the Station Estate. More usually this was known as the Henry Pettit Estate, and, with a part being let out as allotments, the area was described as ‘possessing unparalleled Sites for the Erection of Houses in this prospective industrial centre,’ being near to the station, and abutting onto the L.&N.W.R. goods yard. Yet despite this incentive although the first three lots were bought by the local Co-operative Society (comprising ‘Blunt’s Field’, a large field of over 15 acres) the remaining lots remained unsold, as also three houses in Water Eaton Road.

During August, due to the lateness of the season, and the shortage of labour, tar paving could only be carried out on one side of Albert Street, Oxford Street, Church Street and Napier Street, although 40 tons of tar macadam was to be purchased for Victoria Road. Thus perhaps in consequence at a meeting of the Council, held on August 15th, the Surveyor was instructed to purchase a roller and weighing machine from W. Randall & Sons, at the respective sums of £6 and £5. In September painters who were not eligible for the Army were needed by Mr. W. Claridge, and by the middle of the month the Bletchley and Fenny Stratford footpaths had been tar painted, and dusted with slag dust. In fact with the Tarmac Company having begun the delivery of tarmac, the footpaths had also been properly laid in Albert Street and Oxford Street, with those in Napier Street and Church Street to be the next to receive attention. In addition, during the second week of September the authorities at Aylesbury had arranged for a cart, a wheelbarrow, two men and a boy to effect repairs with tarmac to Bletchley Road, but although many of the holes were filled in, the overall result would resemble ‘a badly designed patchwork quilt.’ By now one of the new large water tanks had been erected at Bletchley near The Hatch. Another was to be put up on Whaddon Road, but only as soon as the labour became available, since so many of the local men were now on active service. As for those who were ineligible for the Army, in October a man with bricklaying skills was required by Mr. W. Claridge, the local builder. In October the Council was to purchase a ‘light lorry’ for general use, since at present they had to hire a vehicle, and thereby in effect paid for one many times over. Yet horses were still in Council service, and the tender of Mr. J. C. Farmborough for the supply of fodder to September 30th, 1917 had now been accepted. At a Council meeting in October 1916 it was decided to drain the pond in the Recreation Ground into the drains of the Cemetery extension, and put up a tank to supply the animals grazing in the Recreation Ground with water. In years gone by the area had been familiarly known as ‘The Wilderness,’ but with the coming of the Recreation Ground the pond was thought to be dangerous to children, and had been fenced around. This then caused the person who had taken the grass keeping lease of the Recreation Ground to complain that his sheep became thirsty, and so a part of the fence was taken down, since half the pond was in the Recreation Ground and the other half in the adjoining field, which had now become the Cemetery extension. With Bletchley Road being ‘owned’ by the authorities at Aylesbury, in October they came under increasing pressure, especially in view of the Lighting Order, to do something about the abnormally high, and therefore dangerous, kerbs, since at least three people had suffered falls by slipping off, or stepping off the kerbs in the dark. There were also dangerous conditions on October 31st 1916, when a gale blew the iron roof off the shed in the Council yard and carried it some 150 feet, damaging the roofs of several properties. Yet since the cause had been outside the control of the Council, regarding claims for damages the Clerk was to write repudiating all liability. In early November the tender of the Co-operative Society to not only plant 67 trees on the Leon Avenue Estate roads, but to also attend to the trees still there, and to provide the maintenance was accepted. This would be for five years, with the charge being £11 15s for the planting, and £2 10s p.a. for the maintaining.

Aged 70, leaving a widow, Harriet, three grown up sons and two daughters, after a long illness on Wednesday, November 8th 1916 Mr. Henry William Staniford died at his home, 61, Aylesbury Street. Employing many men, in his younger days he had been a prominent builder, and had erected numerous houses and buildings in the locality, including the Town Hall, Salvation Army Barracks and the Brush Factory, as well as many of the first houses at the Bletchley end of town. Due to the increased cost of materials, and heavy taxation, Overland cars were now more expensive, but nevertheless they still offered good value for money, with the sole agent for Fenny Stratford and district being G.T. Gazeley and Son, High Street, Fenny Stratford. As for the Grover Motor Works, due to being called up for service during the month bargains in motor cycles were available - Bradbury, Douglas, Humber - with any reasonable offer accepted. On December 12th 1916 at the meeting of the Council a report was read regarding a meeting of the Water Works Committee, at which a serious shortage of water at Far Bletchley was stated. Until the next meeting of the Water Works Committee it had therefore been decided to leave the water full on in the mains at night, and meanwhile a report was to be made each morning as to the quantity of water in the tanks at Bletchley Park. In fact some reports had now been received, and in view of these it was decided to continue to keep the water on at nights, and to put in meters at Bletchley. In preparation for winter, by now the Council had acquired two small hand snow ploughs and six ‘squeezers,’ but the vehicle they thought they had purchased had been sold to someone else. Therefore it was recommended that since the hose cart at the fire station had never been used, since it was unsuitable, this should be adapted to take the Council’s men and stores to the water works at Sand House. A committee of three would be appointed to consider the matter, and in consequence the Council would soon have the use of a ’suitable’ vehicle. By the end of the year the repairs and patching of the local roads was complete, as also the draining of the Cemetery extension, and in other considerations it was proposed to obtain quotes for re-erecting the shed in the Council yard, which had been destroyed by a recent blizzard.

In January 1917 Henry Eames, a boot repairer of Fenny Stratford, was summoned for having ridden a bicycle at Fenny Stratford on December 10th with an ‘unshrouded’ front acetylene lamp. Giving evidence, police constable Marsh said that on encountering the accused in Bletchley Road he had been told that the paint covering on the lamp had now worn off, and in consequence a fine of 5s was imposed. At the Council meeting on January 9th 1917 a report was made of ‘a serious shortage of water’ at Far Bletchley, and, if approved by a water engineer, as a temporary measure it was proposed to erect a pumping station in the region of the railway bridge. In fact some years ago there had been such a pumping station in a field opposite the Eight Bells, but this was now built over. The situation was compounded by the fact that for the soldiers in the town most of the billets were presently at the Bletchley end, ‘just round about Cambridge Street,’ where the water pressure was the lowest, although at Fenny Stratford the Staple Hall Depot had three or four special water supplies off the mains. On Sunday morning, February 11th 1917 Mr. H. Lee, of 58, Aylesbury Street, was found dead in bed. He had come to Fenny Stratford some 30 years ago, and after his marriage began to build up a business as a builder, decorator, and plumber, with a builder’s yard in George Street. Also he ran a general hardware shop in Aylesbury Street, and owned a number of houses and cottages in the town. As for civic life, for some years he sat as a Guardian, and was also a rural district councillor for the Water Eaton and Newport Pagnell authority. He had also tried to obtain a seat on the Council, but in a tie lost out to the late Robert Hammond, when the Returning Officer, the late Thomas Best, gave his casting vote in favour of Mr. Hammond. With there being no children, his wife had died some years ago, and since then his mother had lived with him. Having on the Saturday afternoon fitted a gas stove in his bedroom, with this in operation he, in view of a heavy cold, retired to bed after supper, but when at around 9a.m. the following morning his mother went into his room, she could get no response. Dr. James Kelland was then called, and reporting a strong smell of gas he concluded that gas poisoning had been the cause of death, subsequent to which the jury, with Mr. W.C. Ruffle as the foreman, would record a verdict of accidental death. By late February 1917 arrangements had been made with the L.&N.W.R. to erect a subsidiary pumping station near the railway bridge. However, frost was presently delaying proceedings and in the interim the water cart would be sent out. In fact the problem would have been solved by putting in a larger mains, as advised by the Surveyor, Major Chadwick, several years ago, whilst as for the dismantling of the earlier pumping station, this had been strongly opposed by Colonel Broome Giles. Nevertheless, the problem needed to be swiftly resolved, for already there were cases of diphtheria at Newton Longville and Bletchley and although the lately erected water tank had helped to alleviate the problem, it was uncovered and open to dust and debris. On the afternoon of Wednesday, February 14th the body of Mr. H. Lee was laid to rest in Fenny Stratford Cemetery. The first part of the service was held in the Spurgeon Memorial Baptist Chapel, and leading the cortege from the house had been a large contingent of the Bletchley special constables, of which Mr. Lee had been a member. In early March 1917, following a frost the Co-op were putting in the remaining trees along Leon, Lennox and Eaton Avenues, and replacing the dead ones, and although the gates and gate posts to these Avenues had been erected, they had not yet been connected to the side fences. After leaving school, on the last day of February at about 4p.m. a boy of 8, whose home was in Church Street, was knocked down in Bletchley Road by a ‘powerful’ car. This was taking a group of soldiers to Bletchley station, and the occupants immediately carried the boy into the school house where the caretaker, Mr. W.O. Clarke, and Miss Lane, a teacher, both of whom were trained in first aid, attended the casualty, assisted by Mrs. Boreham, a member of the teaching staff. With Dr. Nicholson having treated the injuries, which consisted of fractures to a leg, bruises and shock, the boy was then sent by train to Bedford General Infirmary. In Western Road, on the instructions of the executrix of the late Mr. H. Lee, on Thursday, April 5th 1917 Geo. Wigley and Sons auctioned an assortment of stock, to include two ponies, a small Governess cart with rubber tyres, two Spring Market carts, a covered in Mail cart, suitable for a baker, and 18 head of poultry. Then on Friday, May 4th, at 50, Aylesbury Street, again on the instructions of the said executrix they carried out the sale of the whole stock in trade of a glass and china merchant and fancy dealer, including light ironmongery, an iron safe and a Salter typewriter. During late April 1917 work on the auxiliary pumping station, near the railway bridge in Bletchley Road, had been delayed by not only frost and snow, but also the non delivery of materials by the L.&N.W.R. Nevertheless, by early May the framework of the shed, in which the pumps were to be housed, had been completed, and with an improvement in the weather work would soon recommence. By now traffic along the local Watling Street had become much reduced, in contrast to the situation during 1915 and 1916 when, with much War Department traffic passing in both directions, ‘Scheme rides,’ by anything from 150 to 200 motorcycle dispatch riders, took place almost daily. With the ‘fleet’ numbering 100 or more, ‘trial runs’ by ambulances and other cars from Coventry were also numerous, but now with the shortage of petrol the military traffic had become spasmodic. By late May 1917 the auxiliary pumping station was awaiting the delivery of materials by the railway, but at least the pipes from the water main had now been laid on, and the concrete beds for the pump laid down. With the Staple Hall Rest Camp again under canvas, the absence of billeting in private houses had eased the immediate situation regarding accommodation, and in fact by applying to Mr. T. Rowland, at Rhonnda House, in early April a detached house was available to let. As for anyone wishing to buy a property, Geo. Wigley and Sons were instructed by the owner to auction ‘Hey Tor,’ a sizeable residence with five bedrooms, three reception rooms, a well planted garden and a full size tennis court, the total area amounting to ¼ acre. The sale would take place at the Swan Hotel on Thursday, June 28th at 4p.m., and as an executors sale to wind up an estate, also at the auction was offered 50, Aylesbury Street and two adjoining cottages. These had been lately in the occupation of Mr. H. Lee, and additionally offered for sale was a house cum shop at 48, Aylesbury Street, presently in the occupation of Ramsbotham and Co. As for other properties, these included 6, High Street, a double fronted house with yard and buildings, four modern houses known as ‘Water Lily Villas’ (6,8,10,12 George Street), six newly erected villa houses (‘Fairfield Terrace’, 33 - 43 (odd numbers) in Water Eaton Road) and two adjoining plots of building land. Additionally, by order of the personal representative of the late Mr. L.W. Guscott, Foll & Bawden were to auction 19,23,25,25a,27 Bletchley Road. These had a return frontage to Park Street, and were respectively let to the London Central Meat Co. Ltd., Mr. William Slade, Miss Chapell and Mrs. Vasey. By order of the owners, also to be auctioned was Fenny Lodge, Simpson Road, which, with a pretty garden and extensive stabling, was let to Mr. S.H. Rowland at £40 p.a. However, during the auction Hey Tor would be withdrawn at £1,200, but remained on the market. 48, Aylesbury Street was withdrawn at £375, with 50, 52 and 54 Aylesbury Street being ‘knocked down’ to Percy King, of Fenny Stratford, for £575. As for 6, High Street, a nine roomed house having at the back a large yard, which was approached through double gates from the High Street, this was sold to Thomas Best for £275, and although it until lately had been in the occupation of Mr. Jacob, the building now accommodated the military. Water Lily Villas were bought by Mr. W.J. Claridge for £400, and he also purchased nos. 10 & 12. Amongst the other lots Mr. Hedley J. Clarke purchased 37 and 39, Water Eaton Road for £415, and nos. 33 and 35 for £410. As for Mr. E.R. Ramsbotham, he bought a garden ground adjoining Fairfield Terrace, with a frontage to Water Eaton Road and Windsor Street, for £85. Fenny Lodge was sold for £600, but the premises partly let to the London Central Meat Co. Ltd. were withdrawn from sale at £525. However, three excellent shops known as Manchester House - 23, 25 and 25a Bletchley Road - which, as for several years past, were occupied as a drapery establishment, and let to Miss L. Chapell at £50p.a., were bought by the tenant for £850. Also purchased was 27, Bletchley Road, occupied as a corn chandler and seed merchant’s business by Mrs. Emma Vasey at £30p.a. The buyer was Mr. R. Walton, of Leighton Buzzard, with the price paid being £550. By July 1917 the High Street had been painted with tar by the Highways Department of Aylesbury. However, although the potholes had been filled with tarmac this was done during wet conditions, on the subject of which on Thursday, July 5th 1917 the auxiliary pumping station, practically adjoining the Park Hotel, at the junction of Duncombe Street with Bletchley Road, was opened, and the assembled members of the Water Works Committee then travelled to Far Bletchley to inspect the roof tanks at Holne Chase and The Grange. The supply tank on the Whaddon Road was also visited, and with great relief the water was found to be flowing plentifully. On Monday, July 23rd the employees of Bucks County Council, preceded by a mechanical dust sweeper, made a start on tarring the High Street end of Aylesbury Street, and by nightfall Bletchley station had been reached. At noon on Friday, August 3rd, in the ongoing disposal of the assets of the late Mr. H. Lee an auction took place in Western Road. The stock comprised an extensive range of builder’s materials, contractors plant, ironmongery, plumbers fittings, and the contents of a paint shop, and also on offer were four builder’s huts, an excellent corrugated iron portable building, a boarded hen house on wheels, a builder’s cart and two Spring carts, two gents cycles, a bay mare, and a black nag horse. Meanwhile, at 50, Aylesbury Street there would be an associated sale of household furniture and effects, which might have proved useful for persons contemplating the purchase of one of the houses being planned at the other end of town, where Mr. Geo. H. Tranfield, of ‘Ivanhoe,’ Bletchley, was able to offer ‘on easy terms over a number of years,’ and ‘within five minutes of Bletchley Station,’ plots of land from 40 poles upwards.

Drawn by the Surveyor to the Council, John Chadwick, this plan shows the local golf links, the Bletchley Golf Club having been founded in 1906. Instrumental in the formation had been Colonel Broome Giles whose residence, Holne Chase, is featured on this plan.

In fact his was the opinion that ‘The Most Popular Investment of the future will be a Modern Cottage standing upon half an acre of land, well stocked with fruit trees,’ and this no doubt referred to the ‘Cottenham Grove Building Estate,’ which was owned by the Cottage Homes Syndicate, of which he was secretary. Indeed, on application to him ‘These most excellent sites can be purchased on very moderate terms,’ and the land had once been part of the Bletchley Golf Links, being situated adjoining the main road from Bletchley to Winslow, Whaddon and Buckingham. Already along this road frontage seven villas had been erected and occupied, and all except two had a rood of garden or orchard ground attached. The idea behind developing the remainder of the Estate - an extent of 8 acres - was to continue this plan and build the prospective houses for the most part in pairs - semi detached in style, and on 1½ acre plots - with each having a rood of land. A 40 foot wide road would run from the main Bletchley road down the centre of the Estate to the end of this building land, below which, and adjoining the Buckingham Branch of the L.&N.W.R., would be four ¾ acre plots laid out as orchards. Indeed, one had already been sold, and running down the west side of the Estate was an orchard of about 1¼ acres. Well planted with standard apple trees, in fact this lay at the rear of, and connected with, the building site on the main road where Mr. Tranfield intended to build his own residence. The overall idea behind the scheme was to encourage fruit growing and profitable gardening, and not to allow the land to become crowded with houses and buildings. As for the rood of land provisionally allocated to each prospective house, this was not ‘arbitrary’ since plots would be arranged to suit the purchasers, but less than a rood was not contemplated. Five acres of the land had already been let as allotments - all of which were presently covered with excellent crops - and here, as also on land in Windsor Street, which belonged to the same owners, it was estimated that over 100 tons of potatoes would be grown during the year. By applying to Ernest Thornley, the Red House in the High Street could now be rented fully furnished, but for anyone needing furniture, a few pieces, as well as household effects, were to be disposed of privately between August 9th and 11th at 44, Victoria Road. During the month the Surveyor reported that it was almost impossible to get tarmac or tar, and even if it could be obtained he could not do much due to a shortage of labour. However, he hoped to be able to complete the programme of the previous year of road and footpath repairs, although hopefully with a greater competence than the Aylesbury Highways Department, who would shortly repair parts of Bletchley Road by dumping a shovelful into water filled potholes! - ‘It is not a thing of beauty, nor will it be a joy forever.’ During August the Council workmen were to receive a 10% wage increase, which might enable them to consider purchasing the Sunbeam touring car, in good mechanical condition, ‘and not used since 1914,’ which was available at Grover’s Garage, Fenny Stratford, as also a Ford touring car, which had only covered 2,000 miles. On Saturday morning, September 8th the seven or eight year old son of Mr. Alf Lord, an employee of Messrs. A. Bramley and Son, coal merchants, met with a serious accident whilst waiting at Church Corner for his father, who was going to take him on the coal lorry to Little Brickhill. Seeing the approach of the lorry the boy rushed out into the road, but was struck by the vehicle before his father had time to react. After being attended by Dr. Nicholson the boy was then driven to Bedford Hospital. In September, the executors of the late Henry Lee instructed Geo. Wigley & Sons to auction, at the Swan Hotel, a freehold plot of building land in Western Road, having a useful range of buildings and workshops. There was also a motor garage with concrete floor and inspection pit, and an orchard at the back, and also to be auctioned was the double fronted house and shop at 48, Aylesbury Street, presently let to Messrs. Ramsbotham & Co. on a lease for £30p.a. At the Petty Sessions, the Royal Flying Corps driver of a heavy military lorry was fined £10, plus costs, for ‘driving at a speed dangerous to the public’ on September 1st, and thereby at the Groveway turn to Simpson knocking over a lady cyclist from Windsor Street. The lady had only just recovered from a nervous breakdown, and with her husband, who was riding a short distance behind, had been cycling along the Watling Street when the lorry passed. However, in doing so it caught her mudguard and she fell off, although fortunately in a direction away from the wheels of the vehicle. Taking the registration number, her husband reported the matter to the police, and the lorry was stopped at Towcester by a reserve constable. The driver, en route from London, then admitted the incident, but - as confirmed by his passenger, a member of the Forces - declared that he had stopped and found the lady to be unhurt, stating that as he passed she wobbled on her cycle when he sounded his horn. However, it was the opinion of the Chairman of the Bench, Lieutenant Colonel W.J. Levi, D.L., that these military vehicles were being driven ‘almost without exception at an excessive and quite unnecessary speed.’ Beginning from Monday, September 17th, permission was obtained from the police authorities for 20 street lamps to be lit half an hour after sunset. Nevertheless, lighting restrictions still remained for motor vehicles, such as a 1912 Ford, ‘make a splendid van’, which, ‘as new,’ was for sale in October for £85 at Grover’s garage. In fact the vehicle had only covered 2,500 miles, and also available was a T.T. Triumph motorcycle, 1912. Yet alternatively Lieutenant F. Schofield, of the Royal Engineers Signal Depot, could offer an Enfield Combination, 1914, 6h.p. Twin model de luxe with sidecar, ‘Includes spares, lamps, tubes etc. Any trial up any hill.’ The price was £60, and there were to be ‘no agents, no exchanges.’ At the Council meeting on October 9th the scheme was discussed of Mr. Hayes Fisher, President of the Local Government Board, regarding the future housing of the working classes. Thus the report of the Council’s sub committee, appointed to inquire into the matter, came up for consideration, and although this recommended the building of 50 houses, there was a difference of opinion between the Council members, whose recommendations ranged from 25 to 100 houses. As for other matters on the agenda, it appeared - from the minutes of a special meeting - that for laying out and planting the new Cemetery extension the tender had been accepted of the Bletchley and Fenny Stratford Co-operative Society. This was for £35 15s, and the work had already commenced, although the contractors were awaiting fine weather to sow the grass. In other considerations the engineer at the Sand House Waterworks had sent in his resignation, due to impending military service. However, it had been stated that if he was called up he would be immediately sent back until released by the Council, and therefore he had since withdrawn his resignation. The connecting up of the Park Hotel yard drainage with the main sewer had now been completed by the owners of the property, whilst for a new shed in the Council yard £25 had been the lowest price obtained. Yet because this would have to be erected on leased land, it was decided to repair the old shed instead. In the Urban District there were now 1,146 houses rated at £12 or under, and 126 over that sum, but no working class houses had been built in the town since 1911. Therefore overcrowding existed, and under the scheme of Mr. Hayes Fisher, as previously mentioned it was recommended that 50 houses should be locally built; 30 in Fenny Stratford, 10 in Bletchley, and 10 in Simpson. Also on housing matters, at 19, Aylesbury Street, by order of Mr. F. Blakemore, who was joining the Army, on Wednesday, November 21st at noon Foll & Parker auctioned ‘modern and well made furniture,’ to include (apart from 2¾ tons of coal, and 7cwt. of potatoes) a ‘Finely toned full compass piano by Dale Forty Co., Birmingham, with 6 years warranty to run.’ Meanwhile the Red House was still for let, and, at the Swan Hotel, on Thursday afternoon, November 1st Mr. Sydney Wigley auctioned the ‘freehold dairy accommodation farm’ known as Yards End Farm, close to Fenny Stratford station. This was bought by Hedley J. Clarke for £2,200, and had been let, under an agreement to John Langley, on a tenancy which expired on September 29th. As for the associated gravel pits, these were let to the executrix of the late Mr. H.A. Lee under a separate tenancy, which would expire next mid summer. The reserved rent was £20p.a., with the addition of royalties for the excavated gravel and sand. Also at the sale, Mr. Clarke purchased freehold building land in Fenny Stratford with a 300 foot frontage to Western Road, and although the second and fourth lot were withdrawn, a third, fronting the extension of Tavistock Street, was bought by Mr. W.J. Claridge. At the Council meeting on Tuesday, November 13th it was reported that repairs to the footpath in Park Street were now complete. Work on the Cemetery extension was progressing, with the footpath being properly made up and constructed, and in the Council yard a shed to store the street lamp heads not currently in use (which were previously stored in a house in Church Street) had been erected. As for elsewhere, plans for an outhouse at the Shoulder of Mutton were approved. In the High Street, on Sunday evening, December 9th 1917 a Government transport lorry caught fire, when the driver was filling his petrol tanks. However, assistance was soon at hand, and with the use of buckets of water the blaze was soon extinguished, with the damage confined to the burning out of the driver’s seat, rugs etc. By mid December, 150 tons of granite for the roads had been delivered. The Surveyor had been instructed to obtain quotations for further supplies, and also needing further supplies, albeit of water, was the firm of Messrs. Morris and Co., Ampthill, who, in December, wrote to the Council applying for a source for their road transport steam lorries. The appointed committee then recommended that the firm, at their own expense, should be permitted to erect a standpipe with water meter on the road near the King’s Head, which was in their ownership, with the water to be charged at 1s 6d per 1,000 gallons. It was duly agreed that they could go ahead, but they would have responsibility, and would be allowed to make a small charge to other users. At the Military Service Tribunal on Thursday, December 13th Ernest French, a plumber, aged 30, appealed for absolute exemption, on the grounds that he and his father had taken over the business lately carried on by Mr. H.A. Lee. With a solicitor appearing on his behalf it was stated that Mr. French had been working for Mr. Lee, but had changed his occupation since first appearing before the Tribunal. In fact had he been 31, instead of just under that age, he would have been in a protected trade, but as Lieutenant Waterhouse pointed out those regulations only applied to plumbers, and the appellant was involved in chimney sweeping, painting etc. However, at this the solicitor argued that the chimney sweeping was in military camps, and, although the old contract had just been renewed, his client was now wholly involved in plumbing. Conditional exemption was granted.

At the Military Service Tribunal on March 21st 1918, Herbert Beckham, a 31 year old motor driver, was appealed for by his employer, Mr. A. E. Jacob, described as a ‘motor contractor’ of Fenny Stratford. A solicitor was present to speak for the driver, who, despite having been originally rejected, on re-examination had been classified as Grade 3. Presently he was employed driving one of Mr. Jacob’s motor lorries at Amersham, since on accepting a contract with the Timber Supply Depot, at Bletchley, Mr. Jacob had found it necessary to employ a driver and purchase an extra lorry. In fact he had taken this work at the urgent request of the directors, and in a letter supporting the appeal Mr. Johnson, the director at Bletchley, stated that the contact was most important, and that the motor lorry must not be ‘hung up.’ Being out for long hours, the driver was doing ‘good work,’ especially since one lorry at the Depot was idle for want of a driver, whilst as for Mr. Jacob, at present he had two Government motor lorries at his garage undergoing repairs, and he could not take over this man’s work himself. In view of the situation, conditional exemption was granted. Also granted conditional exemption was Joseph Nix, aged 41, a dust collector, who was appealed for by the Council. He had been put back for substitution, but the subsequent substitute had not proved satisfactory. Also unsatisfactory seemed the skills of a military motor driver from Fenny Stratford who, whilst taking a party of wireless operators to Southampton, managed to knock down part of the wall on Canal Square at Linslade on Easter Sunday. The car was put out of action, but although shaken the occupants were not seriously hurt. Regarding further motoring misdemeanours, in April for the illegal use of petrol a motor car agent of Ealing was fined 20s. On April 3rd Inspector Callaway had seen the defendant passing through the town towards London, and on stopping the vehicle he asked the driver why he was using petrol, to which the man replied that he had bought the car for his firm, and was driving it to London. As for a domestic servant of Aspley Heath, she was summoned for having ridden a bicycle in Bletchley Road on March 24th with the acetylene lamp not obscured, and no red lamp at the rear. A fine of 7s 6d was imposed, reflecting the fact that she had given a false name and address. Also giving a wrong name and address was another girl, who was riding a bicycle without lights at the same time and place. Within some 15 yards of a police sergeant she had got off the bike and tried to light the lamp, which she said had just gone out, but she then tried to ride away, and was only stopped after some difficulty. A fine of 5s was imposed. At the Local Military Tribunal on Thursday, May 2nd 1918 the previously mentioned Mr. Jacob, aged 34, classed as Grade 2, married, appealed for exemption. As the owner of a motor garage in the High Street he said that his work was mostly repairs, but he also did a lot of haulage work for the Timber Supply Department in the way of provisions and food for their Portuguese Camp. Most of each day he spent driving, and although he employed a lady driver, she was entirely engaged on a hackney vehicle, as well as helping him with the accounts. He also had a boy engaged in the garage, and in view of these details six months was granted, on condition that he joined the Special Constabulary. Mr. J. Barker was a 34 year old cab driver employed by Mr. J. Hands, Bletchley, and his exemption was now appealed against. Mr. Hands said that the man was entirely employed as a chauffeur at Woburn Sands and Woburn, with his work being practically all hospital duties. However, he had been re-examined, and passed as Grade 1 his exemption was withdrawn, and he was held for service. By May there were only one or two houses on the Leon Avenue Estate, but for rented accommodation a comfortably furnished bed and sitting room, near to Bletchley station, was available by applying to 65, Windsor Street. Meanwhile a Spanish lady ‘who speaks a little English’ wished to meet a lady or gent requiring a housekeeper or companion, and, stating that she is ‘domesticated’ and a good needle woman, would ‘exchange services for English lessons until proficient’ - contact ‘C.E.’, 19, Bletchley Road. A sitting of the Bucks Appeals Tribunal took place on Wednesday, May 8th and amongst the cases was that of Mr. Jacob, the motor garage owner of Fenny Stratford. Mainly engaged in driving a lorry, he had been granted six months exemption by the Bletchley Local Military Tribunal, and to support his case a letter was produced from the Director of the Timber Supply Depot, Bletchley, for which he did haulage and stores work. Replying to questions, Mr. Jacob said that apart from this, and a small amount of private work, he was also transporting fuses for a Luton firm, and in evidence handed in a copy of his last month’s business accounts. In the town there were two other ‘motor men,’ one being presently engaged on munitions work, and, not being able to get a driver, Mr. Jacob said that he had to do much of the driving himself. However, supporting the appeal Captain Porter said that at Halton Camp women were driving the big lorries, and there were always men to load and unload the vehicles. The appeal was allowed, ‘one month, to June 8th.’ At the Petty Sessions on Thursday, May 16th a cadet attached to the Royal Engineers Depot, Staple Hall, was summoned on two counts. The first was for having on May 6th ridden a bicycle in Aylesbury Street at 12.10a.m. without a white lamp in front, and the second for not having a red lamp at the rear. He pleaded guilty, but said that the front lamp had jerked off, coming down the hill from Brickhill, and, having only been tied on with string, the rear lamp had broken off. Being on a pass, he had leave until the first parade the next morning, and had been riding close behind a friend who had lamps on his bike. In fact they only had a short way to go, but nevertheless costs of 5s on each charge were imposed. Of the commercial vehicles now available for sale, in May a light, strong van, ‘As new, suitable for various deliveries. Coach built top,’ could be purchased from ‘Colgrove, butcher,’ but horse drawn traffic was still prevalent, and on Friday morning May 17th a pony, which was harnessed to a light governess cart, caused some excitement when, left unattended, it suddenly turned off Bletchley Road into Oliver Road, coming to a halt on reaching Osborne Street. Following urgently behind was its owner, a rector of one of the neighbouring parishes! Also regarding horse drawn conveyances, on Friday afternoon, May 23rd 1918, in Bletchley Road a horse drawn trolley, owned by Messrs. Oldham, mineral water manufacturers, Sherington, and driven by Miss Oldham, was delivering goods when near Mr. Kemp’s shop the undercarriage locked, and the heavily laden trolley overturned, carrying the horse with it. Accompanying the driver was Mrs. Fisher, and with her leg badly fractured below the knee Dr. Vasey, and also Mr. W.J. Brown, of the Bletchley Station Ambulance Corps, were promptly on the scene, after which Mrs. Fisher was taken to Bedford General Hospital. Miss Oldham and the horse had managed to escape injury, but the contents of the trolley were greatly damaged, and there was much noisy commotion when many of the bottles of lemonade, ginger beer, and soda water exploded. In May 1918, ‘Ivy Dene’ was bought by the husband of Sarah Willison, of Chadwell Farm, Stoke Hammond. Having retired from farming he had now sold his farm, whilst elsewhere in Bletchley at ‘Glenarm,’ ‘a small, modern house,’ in June 1918 a good maid was required at once, ‘no washing,’ by Mrs. W. Charter Wilson for a family of two. From Vicarage Corner to Church Corner, in early June 1918 the highway authorities at Aylesbury arranged for the road to be coated with a layer of surface material, and the steam engine in use was supplied with water from a water cart, which was trundled up and down Bletchley Road to a roadside well by a youth, who was also doing the laborious pumping. Also on watery matters, following a report by the Surveyor it was stated at a meeting of the Council in June, held on Tuesday 11th, that after the auxiliary pumps on Bletchley Road had been started up there were no further complaints about a shortage of water at Far Bletchley. As for the cause of the problem, the vice chairman said that people just attached a hose to a tap to use water in their gardens, ‘and then sat and lolled in deck chairs and watched the fountains play on their lawns.’ The matter would be noted. In the concert hall of the Park Hotel, on Thursday, June 13th six freehold properties in Oxford Street, nos. 17,19,21,23,25,27, with gardens at the rear, were auctioned by Stafford, Rogers and A.W. Merry Ltd. at 6p.m., and with the auctioneer being Mr. A.W. Merry, bidding started at £500 and rose to £1,100. Mr. Hedley J. Clarke was the purchaser, and also on housing matters during the month the Council advertised for suitable land in Bletchley, Fenny Stratford, and Simpson on which to build houses for the working classes; 50 being proposed for Fenny Stratford, and ten each for Bletchley and Simpson. Offers in writing were to be made to the Clerk of the Council, Mr. W. Charter Wilson, whilst for persons wishing to build their own house, or to buy a property, the Fenny Stratford, Bletchley and District Building Society now invited applications. Meetings were held at the Council Offices every second Monday in the month at 8.30p.m., and details of the terms etc. could be obtained from the Secretary, C. Boyes, Westfield Road. On Tuesday evening, June 18th 1918 several members of the Council visited Far Bletchley, their mission being to find suitable sites for building the ten cottages under the Local Government Board’s scheme for housing the working classes. Then at the Council meeting on Tuesday, July 9th 1918 a report of the Housing Committee was read, stating that with the sites offered to the Council at Far Bletchley and Fenny Stratford having been inspected, of the latter it was recommended that 4½ acres on Leon Avenue should be purchased at the asking price of £1,100. However, this was subject to the approval and financial assistance of the Local Government Board, although provisional agreement was to be entered into with Sir Herbert Leon. With the frontage being about 200 yards, each house would have sufficient land for a large garden, and 2½ acres was thought to be sufficient for 30 houses. However, regarding the existing housing in the town, in a property auction, held at 6p.m. at the Park Hotel, on Thursday, July 11th 1918 Foll and Bawden offered in four lots seven excellent brick and slated six room cottages, with gardens, namely 26 to 38 (even) Park Street. They produced a rent of £80 12s p.a., and also on offer was 86, Duncombe Street, a seven roomed brick and slate ‘villa residence,’ which produced £17 11s 0d p.a. Having previously advertised for bicycles, in July a lady’s cycle in ‘splendid condition’ could be purchased from the garage of Mr. Grover, at Fenny Stratford. The price was £6 10s, but for anyone seeking a cheaper alternative another ‘in fair order’ was available for £2 10s. On his retirement from business, Mr. W.J. Claridge instructed Foll and Bawden to auction on July 25th at 11a.m. the stock in trade of a builder, decorator and plumber. Meanwhile, the Spanish lady was still looking for lodgings, which to a suitable person Mrs. Foll could offer at ‘Oakley,’ via her need for a mother’s help, who was able to do plain cooking and assist generally. ‘Charwoman and nursemaid employed. Comfortable home. Three in family.’ At a meeting of the Local Military Service Tribunal, John Carvell, aged 43, Grade 2, a master plasterer and sub contractor, was appealed for by his employer, Geo. Tranfield, who asked for time to finish the contracts that he had in hand. As a local builder he had contracted the man to do the work, and now asked for two months to finish it. Two of the houses had been in progress before the war, and thus great pressure was being put on him to complete them. Stating that he was now solely engaged as manager and engineer of a laundry, exclusively engaged on military washing for the Bletchley and other Depots, Mr. Tranfield said that he had employed the man since last Christmas, but although the appeal was dismissed, the man was not to be called up for one month. On Thursday, August 22nd, at the Swan Hotel at 4p.m. the brick and slate freehold villa houses, nos. 5 & 7 St. Martin’s Street, were auctioned, and amongst the other properties on offer were four freehold houses known as Woodbine Terrace, Park Street, producing a gross rental of £46 16s 0d. However, 5 & 7 St. Martin’s Street, let to Fred Bates and Mrs. Snoxell, were withdrawn at £445, whilst Woodbine Cottage, 54, Park Street, occupied by Mrs. Snoxell, and which included stabling, a coach house, harness room and fruit trees, failed to find a purchaser. It was then put up with four adjoining freehold properties, 46,48,50,52 Park Street, being purchased by Mr. Phil Coles for £650. Then in three lots, on Thursday, September 5th Geo. Wigley and Sons auctioned at 4p.m. at the Swan Hotel no. 6, High Street, a brick built double fronted house and yard, now occupied, at a rent of 13s 6d a week, by the Royal Engineers. This was on the instructions of Thomas Best, and the property, an eight roomed, double fronted house with a cellar, included at the back ‘a capital yard’ with coach house or workshop or barn. Nevertheless, the lot was withdrawn at £270. Lot 2 comprised 19 & 21 Napier Street, a pair of modern, six roomed freehold houses, and when these were withdrawn at £450, they were then put with Lot 3; 23 & 25 Napier Street. Yet with the highest bid being only £88, again this was withdrawn, and the auctioneer announced that he was open to deal by private treaty. One of the travelling motor cinema vans, the intention of which was to stimulate war aims and war savings, visited Bletchley & Fenny Stratford on Friday, October 3rd 1918, and to a large gathering screened its show in the evening in Church Street. With the funeral taking place at Highgate Cemetery, on October 22nd 1918 Julius G. Mosenthal died in a Nursing Home in Brighton. For some time, about 18 to 20 years ago he had resided at Staple Hall, to which he made considerable additions after his purchase. In fact it was whilst at Bletchley that he first went into house building, but with no great success. However, when the present recreation ground was given to the Bletchley Urban Council by Sir (then Mr.) Leon, he was one of the first to subscribe most handsomely to the cost of laying out the ground. At the Swan Hotel, on Thursday, November 14th at 3p.m. Foll and Bawden auctioned Wood Farm, Denbigh. Of some 125 acres, having long road and railway frontages this was let to Edward Dunkley, and, situated near to Bletchley station, included an ‘excellent modern residence.’ Freehold and tithe free the interest would be sold in one or two lots, and also auctioned on the same day were a pair of brick and slate cottages, 102 and 104, Victoria Road. For many years Wood Farm had been in the occupation of the late Mr. Farmbrough, and was sold when he died. With the price of the farm realising £1,980, in fact the first sale took place in 1905, and in 1911 at a public auction it was then sold for £3,000. Now the bidding commenced at £2,500, and the farm was bought by Albert Rose of Haddenham, Bucks, for £3,850. As for 102 & 104, Victoria Road, being freehold each had two rooms up and two down, with barns, and were bought by George King of Bletchley for £240. With no. 104 let to Sergeant Rosenthal at 3s 9d a week, the properties had been previously owned by Miss Hammond, and her death was the cause of the sale. Then following the death of Mrs. Georgiana Firminger, furniture at ‘Ashcroft’, Bletchley Road was auctioned by Foll and Bawden by order of the executrix at noon on Wednesday, November 20th. A serious accident occurred on Tuesday, November 19th 1918 outside Freeman Cottages, Far Bletchley, when on coming down the hill a four horse heavily laden timber cart, belonging to Rowland Bros., skidded and collided with a stationary pony and trap. On overturning this pitched Miss Wallsgrove under the timber cart, but fortunately both sets of wheels missed her legs and, having alighted to visit one of the cottages, her mother immediately ran back and stopped the pony, which had started to bolt. Miss Wallsgrove, who was unhurt apart from bruises and a severe shaking, was then taken home by her mother to be attended by a doctor. In fact this had not been the only recent accident involving a horse drawn timber wagon, for shortly after 4p.m. on Wednesday afternoon, June 26th 1918, having left from the Timber Supply Depot a horse, pulling a trolley heavily laden with planks, had gone out of control and bolted while coming down the inclined entrance to the Bletchley station goods yard. On reaching the road it ran straight across and, despite the high kerb, crashed through the front fence into the garden of the Bletchley Social Club. Almost two feet high, a large portion of the brick wall, plus the superimposed cast iron railings, also about two feet high, were demolished, but although the driver was thrown off into the garden, he was fortunately unhurt. However, the horse sustained minor cuts and injuries, and was lead back to the stables at the Depot, from where another horse had to be brought to retrieve the trolley. A Lieutenant of the Royal Engineers, at Fenny Stratford, was summoned at Newport Pagnell on Wednesday, November 20th 1918 for having on November 11th driven a motor cycle without lights at a dangerous speed - about 40m.p.h. - between 9.30p.m. and 10p.m. along the High Street, Newport Pagnell. Dressed in white night attire, with a man on the back carrier similarly dressed, he had gone in the direction of Wolverton, and after a few minutes returned at the same speed. In explanation he said that since it was the night of the Armistice he was ‘slightly exhilarated,’ and although he was let off with a caution, the chairman remarked that when the real peace night came perhaps he would rejoice in a less dangerous manner.

The sign for 'Graver's Motor & Cycle Works' can be seen to the
right of the group of boys, who are standing in the High Street.

With the end of the war, Mr. F.W. Grover had now finished his contract with the Ministry of Munitions, and was back in the High Street, Fenny Stratford (telephone 45) to attend to ‘Aeroplane & Motor Repairs.’ He also had cars for hire, and ‘If you require a new or second hand Car or Motor Cycle let me know your requirements and I will find the goods.’ However, in early December 1918 he more urgently had the need to find an oil vessel and burner belonging to a car side lamp, which had somehow been lost - ‘Reward for finder, if brought to Grover, Fenny Stratford Garage.’ With the hostilities now at an end, at 11a.m. on Saturday, December 21st, W. Brown and Co. held an auction of demobilised Army horses, plus 50 heavy draft horses from ‘Home Camp,’ at Great Western Street, Aylesbury, and with the prospect of there soon also being demobilised servicemen, labour would now be available for local road and housing work. In fact in December repairs were to be made to Duncombe Street and Victoria Road, whilst as for housing, by late December 1918 the land at Far Bletchley had been inspected, and in consequence the Council decided to accept the offer of Mr. Tranfield to sell, at 1s per square yard, the quantity required for the house building scheme for the parish of Bletchley.


‘HOLNE CHASE,’ & COLONEL PETER BROOME GILES & FAMILY

Born on April 5th 1850, the eldest son of his namesake father, of Staunton on Wye, Peter Broome Giles was educated at St. Catherine’s Hermitage, Bath. He then studied medicine at University College, London, and from there, after a number of house appointments, returned to the West Country, to combine his work as a general practitioner with an active participation in the ambulance and Volunteer movements. In fact following many years in practice at Brobury, near Hereford, when he moved to Holne Chase, at Bletchley, it would be under his chairmanship, as Brigade Surgeon Lieutenant Colonel Giles, that it was decided, at a public meeting held in the Church Schools in January 1900, to form a local Volunteers. Much activity followed, and with Colonel Alfred Gilbey agreeing to include the infant company in his regiment - the 1st Bucks Volunteer Company - the Surveyor of the Council, Captain Chadwick, late of the 3rd Hants. Volunteer Company, was re-gazetted and posted to the command. With a collection having been made to raise funds for equipment, the 70 members of ‘I (Bletchley) Company 1st Bucks V.R.C.’ duly attended their first camp the following August at Shorncliffe, under Sergeant Instructor Elburn (a Sergeant in the Grenadier Guards), and with the armoury being in Park Street, Bletchley, the rifle range was situated at Newton Longville. Here targets were handled by a system invented and patented by Captain Chadwick, although shooting practice with the ‘Morris tube’ would also be undertaken each week at a range at the Bull Hotel, on the Watling Street, at Fenny Stratford. Colonel Broome Giles had begun his military career in the Artists’ Rifles, and when qualified took a commission as surgeon in the Herefordshire Rifles, later being promoted to the rank of Brigade Surgeon in the Welsh Border Brigade. In due course he was appointed as Surgeon Lieutenant Colonel in the Army Medical Reserve, and in 1905 became county director of the City of London Branch of the British Red Cross Society. When on coming to Bletchley he found that there were no ambulance facilities in the town (except at Bletchley station) it would be through his auspices that an ambulance stretcher, plus other first aid appliances, was obtained for local cases of accident or sudden illness, and in fact as part of the Council’s equipment the stretcher was fitted into a box attached to the outside of the west wall of the Council Offices. The first use would be made to carry a person home to Far Bletchley, whilst the second occasion would arise on June 1st, 1915, when one of the men employed by the G.P.O. on the telephone and telegraph lines was suddenly taken ill, whilst working at Church Corner, Aylesbury Street. With the stretcher being fetched by the police, the man would be swiftly taken to his home in Napier Street. (However, it seems that after this the stretcher found little use, for in June 1917 Mr. W.J. Brown, who in the early months of the war had been granted the use of a room in Bletchley Infants School for first aid and nursing classes, ‘in case any necessity may arise for them to nurse convalescent soldiers and sailors,’would write to the Council, saying that when he took their stretcher out for a recent first aid exhibition he found it was quite out of repair, and dangerous to use. Remedial work would be duly carried out, following confirmation of the condition by the Clerk.) Apart from such medical facilities, together with the famous jockey Mornington Cannon (a neighbour who lived at nearby ‘Brooklands’) in 1906 Colonel Broome Giles was instrumental in forming the Bletchley Golf Club, which featured a nine hole course laid out under the supervision of Jack White, an ex open champion. The holes were positioned from 90 to 400 yards apart, and with some of the bunkers being natural, and some artificial, the links were in fields adjoining the Oxford Branch of the L.N.W.R., and between that and the main Bletchley to Buckingham Road. The land was comprised of old pasture, and this partly belonged to Mornington Cannon and partly to Colonel Broome Giles, who was the president, with Captain S. Akroyd, of Wavendon House, being the honorary secretary. The headquarters lay at the Eight Bells Hotel, and here by permission of the landlord, Mr. A. Fraser, in a special room clubs, balls, and caddies could be bought or hired. With the club having attracted some 60 or so members, Mornington Cannon then presented a handsome Challenge Cup, which would be competed for each Spring. On the formation of the Territorial Force, in 1907, Colonel Broome Giles became A.D.M.S. of the 1st London Division, of the British Red Cross Society, with the rank of Colonel, but despite becoming a J.P. for the county, and being created a C.B. in 1911, he still found the time to take a prominent role in local affairs, with one instance being in 1914, when he allowed the 4th annual show of the L.&N.W. Railway (Southern Division) Horticultural Society to be held one Saturday in July at Holne Chase. On this occasion, although there were fewer entries than usual these were of a better quality, and as additional classes for the year lace making and fancy work had been included. During the afternoon the Caledonian Boy Pipers played selections and gave a display of Scottish dancing, and throughout the day the Bletchley Station Band performed various pieces, prior to providing the music for dancing in the evening. With the outbreak of the First World War, Colonel Broome Giles was tasked to arrange and open a hospital in Scotland, and in fact he was already ‘up north’ on holiday to commence shooting on August 12th. However, in view of the urgency of the situation he was hurriedly recalled to organise and arrange hospitals for the wounded in Edinburgh and elsewhere. Then during the early part of the war he would be in London in control of work under the Red Cross Society, whilst as for his daughter, by September 1914 she had been appointed as one of the secretaries for the Soldiers and Sailors Families Association divisions in Buckinghamshire. During September 1914 the ideas of Colonel Broome Giles, and the manufacturing capability of Messrs. Salmons and Sons, of Newport Pagnell, produced what soon came to be recognised as the finest type of motor ambulance on the market, but despite his onerous military duties, on occasion Colonel Broome Giles would return to Bletchley, and during one such visit on Friday, September 18th 1914 he was amongst the many local worthies who, on the platform at a meeting at the Town Hall, Fenny Stratford, supported the appointment of a local Relief Committee of the urban district. This would work in conjunction with the County Relief Committee at Aylesbury, whilst in other measures at the Council meeting on October 13th he seconded a motion, proposed by Mr. Bourne, to form a committee to consider how best to provide assistance to Belgian refugees. In fact regarding both intentions, in aid of the County Relief Fund a concert was held at the Picture Palace on the afternoon of Thursday, October 15th, with several Belgian refugees amongst the audience. During the proceedings Colonel Broome Giles announced his intention to provide a concert once a month for the benefit of the patriotic funds, and further revealed that his wife would be going on Friday to Aldwych, London, to bring back ten Belgian refugees. With another house having been taken at Fenny Stratford, they would be accommodated in a house kindly lent by Major Bond at Little Brickhill, and thus in the company of Mrs. Broome Giles the refugees duly arrived, being M. and Mme. Van Camp, M. Massart, M. and Mme. Meyer, with a girl of 10 and a boy of 6, Mme. Braille, M. and Mme. Jacob, M. and Mme. Chabot, M. and Mme. Thys, with a girl of 3 and boy of 9, and Mme. Van dere Ondenhoven. Then on Wednesday, October 21st Mrs. Broome Giles received a telegram from the Belgian Central Office, asking if the town could take another eleven refugees, but with no accommodation being available at Bletchley, arrangements had to instead be made at Wolverton. Therefore to consider future measures for the accommodation of Belgian refugees, a meeting was held on the evening of Friday, October 23rd, where Mrs. Broome Giles said that during the day she, together with her niece, Mrs. Douglas Bull, and Mrs. Bond, of Bletchley, had again paid a visit to Aldwych, but had so many applications ‘that she thought she must run away.’ Nevertheless, present at the meeting were a Belgian lady and gentleman with whom she had returned. In December 1914 Colonel Broome Giles became a member of the Bucks Special Constabulary, whilst as for his wife, apart from her work for the refugees she also maintained her more usual activities, and on Wednesday, December 30th 1914 visited the Bletchley National School for the annual presentation of prizes, having the previous day opened the proceedings for a social held in the schools in Bletchley Road. This was in aid of the local branch of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, and the event would raise £3 10s. Then on New Year’s Day 1915, she, together with her daughter, provided much of the fare that enabled the Belgian refugees to spend an enjoyable time at the ‘Maison Belge,’ their three storied home in Church Street, Fenny Stratford. Members of the committee had provided presents and gifts, and, following the arrival of the party, tea was taken in the afternoon, with Colonel, Mrs. and Miss Broome Giles all joining in the festivities, which continued until 1a.m. Colonel Broome Giles was then one of the patrons of a ‘Café Chantant,’ held at the Town Hall on Tuesday, January 12th. Tickets had been priced at 1s, with the proceeds being for the Lady French and Lady Fisher’s funds. Having recently advertised for a boy to assist in the garage at Holne Chase, ‘and make himself generally useful,’ the Colonel was again in the town on the evening of Monday, February 22nd 1915. At an assembly of the members of the Fenny Stratford Fire Brigade, this was to present a testimonial at their offices to their late Captain, Mr. G. Garner, and, as Chairman of the Estates Committee of the Urban District Council, the Colonel spoke appreciatively of Mr. Garner’s 23 years of service. Under the command of Colonel Broome Giles, one Saturday at the end of February 1915, about 300 members of the City Division of the British Red Cross Society paraded at the Guild Hall, London, and held a subsequent route march to Regent’s Park. At the rear were five motor ambulances and a motor field kitchen, and after drill in Regent’s Park a meat tea was served to the men gathered round the kitchen van, which was being used for the first time. In fact, as with the earlier production of the motor ambulance, this had been produced by the co-operation of Colonel Broome Giles with Messrs. Salmons and Sons, of Newport Pagnell, and would prove to be one of the best types available, not least since cooking could be undertaken whilst on the move. Indeed, the vehicles would feature in photographic articles published in the Daily Graphic of Monday March 15th and Thursday March 18th 1915. The removal of all the wounded who were brought to London had been dealt with by the City Division of the British Red Cross Society, and it would be from the medical units trained by himself in the City of London that, during February, Colonel Broome Giles assigned staff for the care and transfer of over 100 wounded German officers and men to Germany. Collected from various hospitals, they had been assembled at a General Hospital in London, and from there were taken by motor ambulance to Charing Cross Station, to become the responsibility of a number of medical officers, nurses and men. Next the Germans were moved to Flushing, before being passed on to a neutral station for exchange with a larger number of Englishmen. Having been escorted to the centre of the pitch by a guard of the Royal Engineers, at the Park Hotel field, Bletchley, on Saturday, March 6th Colonel Broome Giles performed the kick off for the return football match between the Royal Engineers and the Bletchley players. The field had been kindly loaned by Mr. E. Bland, proprietor of the Park Hotel, and the match would be won by the Royal Engineers. The 15th annual parish meeting of the electors of the Bletchley ward took place on the evening of Monday, March 8th 1915, held in the Church of England school at Far Bletchley. Here the official who was about to retire, Mr. J. French, was re-appointed as parish constable for a further 12 months, and Colonel Broome Giles, who had been elected to the chair, duly expressed the hope that he “would not have his head broken’ during his term of office, but things were now pretty quiet, with ‘more milk than ‘tiddly’ in the parish.” Meanwhile, Mrs. Broome Giles was continuing her endeavours regarding the refugees, and on Wednesday, March 17th and Thursday, March 18th, 1915, presided at ‘an interesting and instructive’ patriotic operetta entitled ‘The Birth of the Union Jack.’ Performed by about 50 children at the Co-operative Hall, this had been arranged by the Women’s Guild, and with admission priced at 1s 6d reserved, and 1s and 6d, the proceeds were for the Belgium Funds. Mrs. Broome Giles was also on the committee of War Hospital Work for Women, conducted at the workrooms in the cricket pavilion at Bletchley Park, whilst as for Colonel Broome Giles, by mid April 1915 he had been appointed by the Bucks Discharged Prisoners Aid Society as visiting justice for the Northampton Gaol. However, by early June he was again on Red Cross duties in London, but by July had returned to the town to preside at the Police Court, where a military motorcyclist was charged with speeding on a motorcycle. The offender had been apprehended for exceeding the 5m.p.h. limit at the High Street corner, and was duly told by Colonel Broome Giles that “When riding on duty you must have a warrant to that effect, signed by an officer not under the rank of Major. We do not want to be hard on you chaps, but the public must be protected, and if this sort of thing goes on we shall have to approach the military authorities.” Yet during the same month the Colonel was less forgiving regarding three boys, who were summoned for damaging trees. Since the parents were deemed to be mostly at fault, a fine was imposed, although it was the opinion of Colonel Broome Giles that someone should give each of the boys a good whipping. As for his own son, having been invalided from the fighting at the Dardanelles he returned to Holne Chase in early August. Some years ago he had emigrated to New Zealand, where at the outbreak of the war he was in a very prosperous position, but when duty called he would nevertheless serve as a corporal with the Auckland Battalion of New Zealanders - only to contract a severe bout of pneumonia after 18 days in the trenches. On the initial day his regiment had been one of the first to land, and with 132 men being lost from the 230 of his Company, he would write of the experience;

“The storm of shrapnel began before we reached the shore. We scaled the steep cliffs and occupied a trench taken by the Australians, passing over the dead bodies of those brave fellows, and throughout the whole day the ambulance stretcher bearers worked fearlessly. I am not exaggerating, but can assure you that on that fateful Sunday the Gallipoli Peninsula was dyed red with the blood of Australian and New Zealand men. Towards dusk I found myself in the foremost trench with some West Australians and in command. It was a brilliant clear moonlight night, but I managed to put my sentries so that I lost none. Next day I re-formed my Company and was in the trenches for 15 days and nights. At times we had 23 shells a minute breaking over our trench. For a fortnight we fought for our existence. We were outnumbered and the Turks mutilated any of our wounded that fell into their hands. I took a severe chill and was sent to the base hospital. On the way there I fell on my back and could not get up. Later a chaplain and two men took me to the hospital. After 48 hours I was sent in an hospital ship to Alexandria and on to Heliopolis. I was very delirious but the Australian nurses stuck to me and to their unremitting care I owe my recovery, but I am still lamentably weak. I have lost all my kit.” In fact he was fortunate not to have been killed, when pieces of shrapnel shell passed through his sun helmet and riding breeches. In September 1915 Sir George Martin, who for many years had been the organist at St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, came to stay as a guest of Colonel and Mrs. Broome Giles at Holne Chase, although sadly he would die only a short while later. When a few years ago it had been decided to replace the old organ in St. Mary’s Church, he supervised the construction of the new instrument, and then came to Bletchley to perform the opening recital. As for this year, he would again be present at St. Mary’s Church for the Harvest Festival on September 26th 1915, but regarding Colonel Broome Giles, following his excellent work since the beginning of the war with the Red Cross Society in London, he was now to be specially sent ‘somewhere’ in the north of England. In fact this was to open and take charge of a new Red Cross and Military Convalescent Hospital at Alnwick, Northumberland. This would accommodate men from units in Northern and Scottish Commands, whose homes were in Scotland, or who belonged to Scottish regiments from any command, and, with even a concert by Harry Lauder on one occasion, ‘the general opinion amongst the convalescent soldiers is that the atmosphere of Alnwick is much more recuperative than at Blackpool or Eastbourne.’ As for the son of Colonel Broome Giles, on Saturday, September 18th 1915 he sailed for his colonial home, having now been invalided from military service. With her men folk away, Mrs. Broome Giles organised a public meeting in the Assembly Room of the Wilberforce Hotel, Bletchley Road, held on Monday evening, October 18th 1915. For the purpose of working in conjunction with the Central Association for the supply of fruit, vegetables etc. to the Navy, this was to form a local committee tasked with investigating the necessary details, and by a unanimous vote Mrs. Broome Giles was elected as chief of the local organisation. Indeed, with Mrs. Broome Giles at the helm on the evening of November 1st, 1915, the ‘Bletchley Branch of the Vegetable Products Committee’ despatched the first consignment to the Navy from Bletchley station, although having succumbed to illness it would instead be her daughter, Miss Broome Giles, who one Tuesday evening in late December 1915 presided at a subsequent meeting of the organisation, held at the home of Mr. T.O. Cliffe, in Bletchley Road. However, the Bletchley branch was not the first to have been locally commenced, as curtly pointed out in a letter of January 1st 1916 from Annie Turner, ‘Hon. Sec. for Vegetable Product Committee, The Rectory Farm, Great Brickhill.’

‘Sir, - I read in your newspaper of Dec. 28th an account of a meeting at Bletchley to consider a scheme for sending vegetables to the Navy. I note that it was suggested that other villages including Great Brickhill and Stoke Hammond should be asked to join the Bletchley Branch. I should like to state that Great Brickhill has been sending fortnightly consignments of fruit and vegetables since Sept. 15th and Stoke Hammond joined their branch in October.’

During the early part of the war, Colonel Broome Giles, of Holne Chase, would be in London in control of work under the Red Cross Society, and it would be the uniform of the British Red Cross Society, City of London detachment, that his daughter wore when, at the Picture Palace on the evening of Friday, October 18th 1918, she explained the local effort to raise funds for the British Red Cross Society and the Order of St. John of Jerusalem. Depicted in this contemporary article is the uniform of a Red Cross nurse.

Elsewhere, Colonel Broome Giles was now many miles away in charge of the hospital at Alnwick, although as a reminder of the local area in August 1916 one of the patients, Private Sidney Wall, of the Coldstream Guards, received an egg sent by six year old Florence Greenwood, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. A. Greenwood, of the Green Man Inn, Hanslope. She had been one of the most consistent collectors in the village infants’ school for the National Egg Collection, and in his letter of thanks Private Wall said that he had enjoyed the egg very much. Having been granted eight days leave, on Thursday, September 14th 1916 Colonel Broome Giles attended the Council meeting at Bletchley, and entered the room to great applause. He would then be home again on a short Christmas leave, and, in the company of his wife, on the afternoon of Wednesday, December 20th 1916 visited the Church of England School at Far Bletchley, there to distribute four Bucks County Education certificates of merit for complete attendance. Other certificates were awarded for various achievements, and Mrs. Broome Giles presented suitable monetary prizes to 29 children, who had been commended in the report of the Diocesan Inspector. On Thursday, December 28th 1916 the Colonel was then in the chair at the Petty Sessions, having now been appointed by the Bucks Quarter Sessions as a visiting justice to Northampton gaol. In the Church of England School, Far Bletchley, in February 1917 a meeting on the subject of the British Red Cross was addressed by Miss Broome Giles, whilst on the evening of Easter Monday a successful social gathering and dance took place in the Town Hall, held under the patronage of Colonel and Mrs. Broome Giles, and the Commanding Officer of Staple Hall Depot, Lieutenant Colonel J.F. Lister, by whom permission to use the venue had been granted. Proceeds were for the local branch of the N.S.P.C.C., of which Mrs. Broome Giles was President. In June 1917, at a meeting held in the Council Offices, Miss Broome Giles was elected to a committee to form a war savings movement. This would encompass Bletchley, Fenny Stratford and the surrounding district, and also for the purpose of raising money, one Wednesday in August 1917 a concert, dance, flying bowls handicap and other amusements took place in the grounds of Holne Chase. By permission of Colonel and Mrs. Broome Giles, this was in aid of the Bucks County Territorial Comforts Fund, and had been previously postponed due to the weather. However, on the rescheduled date there was still little improvement, and, with no outdoor events taking place, the dancing had to be accommodated in the large motor shed, with music provided by the Royal Engineers string orchestra. During the year Colonel Broome Giles was appointed commandant of the Military Convalescent Hospital at Ashton-in-Makerfield, but unfortunately it would be here that he was to be severely injured during an air raid. Having been organised by Miss Broome Giles and others, on Friday evening, February 8th 1918 the Bletchley Branch of the Red Cross Society held a whist drive and dance in the Bletchley Road Schools. Miss Broome Giles was the honorary secretary, and in other duties during early March she would assist when, being opened daily for a week, the central Committee Rooms of the local War Savings Committee were opened. For reasons of health, Mr. Thomas Richard Coles, the gardener to Colonel Broome Giles, had been rejected by the Army for military service, but he nevertheless afforded help to the war effort by organising a lecture on the means to increase food production, which was held in the Bletchley Road Schools on the evening of Friday, March 15th 1918. Illustrated by slides and coloured diagrams, the talk was given by Mr. Slack, F.R.H.S. on the subject of potato spraying, but it was a different type of pest that Mr. Coles had to deal with a while later, when on June 22nd 1918 he was assaulted by a man trespassing on the Colonel’s land. Whilst inspecting some potatoes, during that evening Mr. Coles had noticed the intruder hiding behind a fir tree, pointing a gun at a rabbit in the potatoes, but when Mr. Coles shouted, the man initially threw the gun away, but on retrieving it then refused to give his name and address. Thereupon Mr. Coles tried to take the gun from the man, who knocked him into a fence, took the firearm to pieces, put them in his pocket, and ran off. Having telephoned the police, later Mr. Coles in the company of Inspector Callaway chanced across the assailant in Windsor Street where, stating that he was employed as a gas fitter by the L.&N.W.R., the man duly admitted his guilt. Yet in his defence he said that since he had permission to shoot vermin and wood pigeons on certain land, he thought an acquaintance owned the area, and at the Petty Sessions in July he therefore pleaded not guilty. Indeed, the case for assault would be dismissed, although a fine of 15s was nevertheless imposed. By permission of Colonel and Mrs. Broome Giles, with the blessing of fine weather the grounds of Holne Chase were opened for a garden fete on the afternoon of Tuesday, August 6th 1918. Extending into the evening, this was in aid of the Soldiers’ Comforts Fund, and, with the orchestral band of the Royal Engineers Signal Depot, Staple Hall, being present, the well attended amusements included a whist drive, a dance, and side shows. On the evening of Monday, October 8th 1918, in the Infants’ Department of the Council Schools a meeting took place at which Mr. A. Kirkham Hamilton, an ex Sergeant, and one of the old ‘Contemptibles,’ spoke at length regarding the war aims of the Allies. This was held under the auspices of the Central War Aims Committee, and a special invitation for ladies to attend seemed wise, since, as explained by Miss Broome Giles, the new scale of calculating a man’s keep in making out applications for pensions or grants was dealt with. Dressed in the uniform of the British Red Cross Society, City of London detachment, her expertise was again employed on the evening of Friday, October 18th, when regarding the Bletchley, Fenny Stratford and district effort in aid of ‘Our Day’ (this being collections for the funds of the British Red Cross Society and the Order of St. John of Jerusalem) she explained the work of the Bletchley Division, which had been started in January 1917. The venue was the Picture Palace, and for the well attended concert the organisers had the able assistance of the Entertainment Committee of the Royal Engineer Signal Depot, Staple Hall. Elsewhere, Mrs. Broome Giles was still busy in her various duties, and in early November at a concert at Water Eaton she gave a brief speech as the local president of the N.S.P.C.C., for the benefit of which the event had been staged. With the Armistice now signed, just before Christmas a meeting of the collectors and committee of the Bletchley Division of the British Red Cross Society and Order of St. John took place at the Council Offices. Here recognition of the dedication and achievements of the collectors was expressed, with a report being read regarding the work undertaken during the last two years. As the organising secretary, Miss Broome Giles then suggested that a cottage hospital was very necessary for the district, but since this would entail a large expense the honorary secretary instead suggested buying a motor ambulance, to convey patients to hospital. In fact Miss Broome Giles had already applied to Headquarters for the particulars about obtaining such a vehicle, and had been told in reply that this would be possible as soon as demobilisation progressed. Meanwhile, it was decided to ask the workers to continue collecting, such that when available a suitable vehicle could be acquired. The cost would be around £200, and after discussion the proposal was agreed. After the war, in December 1920 it was announced that Colonel Broome Giles was shortly to leave Holne Chase for Folkestone, and, having for 20 years been a county magistrate in Bucks, he had now been placed by the Rt. Hon. Lord Chancellor on the list of J.P.s for the county of Kent and Borough of Folkestone. Consequently Holne Chase was put up for sale in 1921, and at a sale of the effects on January 10th a black oak sideboard, beautifully carved with masks in high relief, with the pediment shaped back surmounted by a fleur-de-lys, and illustrating the Spanish legend of two flying fish eating a bunch of grapes, fetched £27. In fact it had been taken by General Stephenson at the Siege of Badajos! Mrs. Farnham would now become the new occupant of Holne Chase, but Colonel Broome Giles and his family would not be forgotten, as witnessed by a letter sent from their new home, at 51, Earl’s Avenue, Folkestone, by Miss Broome Giles. Therein she thanked all the kind friends at Old Bletchley who had subscribed to a beautiful antique Chippendale chair, and wrote; ‘We have just received the lovely old chair, which has given us intense pleasure, not only for itself, but as proof of the kindly feeling which prompted the gift. In time we shall write to each subscriber.’ In 1925 the Colonel’s former gardener, Mr. Thomas Coles, began work for Major John Whiteley, who had purchased the spacious residence of The Grange, which was situated nearby, and subsequent details regarding Mr. Coles, and the tragic death of his wife, are told in one of the ‘Bletchley at War’ volumes. As for Colonel Broome Giles, after a long illness he died at Folkestone on December 19th, 1928, leaving as his legacy his several published books and papers on the training of stretcher bearers, ambulance work, and the organisation of medical units.

The Holne Chase Centre. This now occupies the site of the residence of Colonel Broomes Giles.

IN MEMORIAM
NBT = North Bucks Times

NBT 1917 Sep. 11th Tue.

In loving memory of Joseph Litchfield, who was killed in France, September 8th, 1916.

‘Twelve months have passed, our hearts still sore,
As time rolls on we miss him more.
His frequent smile, his loving face.
No one on earth can fill his place.’
From his sorrowing mother and father, brother and sisters.
72, Victoria Road. Fenny Stratford.


NBT 1917 Sep. 18th Tue.

A memorial poem to Private Frank Gurney, killed in action aged 21, ‘somewhere in France,’ on September 15th;

‘With a willing heart like a hero true
He answered his country’s call:
It’s not for King alone he fought,
But those both great and small.
We gave our son so dear to us.
To die and suffer pain;
The only hope that’s left to us:
Is that we may meet again.’


NBT 1917 Oct. 23rd Tue.

A poem in loving memory of Private George Edward Day, killed on October 21st, 1916, in the Battle of the Somme, aged 19;

‘Killed in action, our hearts are sore
For King and country, we miss him more
His tender smile, his loving face,
No one on earth can fill his place.
In health and strength he left his home
Not thinking death so near;
It pleased the Lord to bid him come,
And in His sight appear.’
From his loving mother, father and sister.
High Street.


NBT 1917 Oct. 30th Tue.

A memorial poem to Private H. Wallinger, Bedfordshire Regiment, who was killed in France, October 26th, 1914, aged 24;

‘He sleeps beside his comrades
In a soldier’s grave unknown,
But his name is written in letters of love
On the hearts he left at home.
He proudly answered duty’s call.
His life he gave for one and all:
A loving son, a brother kind,
A beautiful memory left behind.’
Ever mourned by his loving Mother, Father, Sisters and Brothers.
40, High Street.


NBT 1918 Apr. 2nd Tue.

In loving memory of Antliff Edward Burton, son of Mr. W.E. Burton, School House, Bow Brickhill, who died on March 28th, 1917.

‘The voices are silent, the hearts are now cold.
The smiles and the welcomes that met us of old:
We miss them and mourn them in sorrow unseen
And dwell on the memory of days that have been.’


NBT 1918 May 7th Tue.

Private S. ---- Killed in France April 1917. From his family at 9, Church Street.

‘His country called for help
And to its aid he sped,
And now sleeps in bloodstained France
Amid her noble dead.’


Poem from Mr. & Mrs. Thomas King, 19, High Street, in ever loving memory of their son Private Frank King, who fell in action somewhere in France on October 7th, 1915, aged 28.

‘One year has gone;
Oh, how we miss him,
Loving him dearly, his memory we keep;
Never till life ends shall we forget him, Dear to our hearts is the place where he sleeps.’


NBT 1918 May 14th Tue.

Poem to Private H. Cook, R.A.M.C., killed in action in France May 1917, aged 29. From his widow.

‘I think of him in silence, his name I oft recall
There is nothing left to answer but a photo on the wall;
The parting was hard, the shock severe
To part with one I loved so dear.
‘Tis only those who have lost can tell
The pain and grief of a last farewell.’


NBT 1918 Aug. 20th

In loving memory of Private W.B. Souster, Oxon & Bucks Light Infantry, killed in action August 22nd 1917.

‘No one knows the silent heartache,
Only those can tell,
Who have lost their dearest loved one,
Without saying a last farewell;


He bravely answered duty’s call,
He gave his life for one and all,
The unknown grave is the bitterest blow
None but all aching hearts can know.’
From his sorrowing mother, brothers and sisters.
68, High Street.

In memory of Private James Garner, Grenadier Guards, died of wounds March 1918, aged 20. From his father, mother and brother, 70, Duncombe Street.

‘We little thought when he left here it
Was his last good-bye,
As he left his home one evening in a
Distant land to die;
But the hardest part is yet to come when
The heroes will return,
And we miss among the cheering crowds
The face for which we yearn.
Time changes many things, but memories
like the ivy clings.’


NBT 1918 August 27th.

In loving memory of Private T. Chambers, son of Mr. & Mrs. Chambers of Tavistock Street. Killed in action aged 29 on August 27th 1917;

‘In an unknown grave in France sleeps
Our dear son true and brave,
One whom we dearly loved but could not save;
We mourn for you dear son, but not with outward show.
For those who mourn sincerely mourn
Silently and low.
No matter how we pray, no matter how we call,
There is nothing left to answer but your photo on the wall.’
From his sorrowing mother, father and sister.


NBT Sept. 17th 1918 Tue.

In loving memory of our dear and only son, Private Frank Gurney, who was killed in action, September 15th, 1916.

‘Two years have passed, our hearts still sore,
As time goes on we miss him more:
Sweet is the memory that never will fade,
Dear is the spot where thou art laid;
Often we think of thee, sad to recall
Of the sad day when thou gavest all.’
11, Duncombe Street.


In loving memory of Harold Southwell, King’s Liverpool Regiment, who died of wounds received in action August 28th, 1915.

‘We little thought when they left their home
It was their last good-bye,
As they left their home one evening
In a distant land to die:
But the hardest part is yet to come
When the heroes will return,
And we miss among the cheering crowd
The faces for which we yearn.
Time changes many things, but memory
like the ivy clings.’
Mother, brothers and sisters.


In fond remembrance of Private George Edward Day, killed in action on the Somme October 21st, 1916, aged 19 years 11 months.;

‘Sleep on, dear brother, you so nobly fell
Your last march past is o’er.
You sleep beside your comrades now, far from your native shore:
Gently the stars are shining out there on
His silent grave,
There lies our dear one sleeping, for England he fought so brave.
Just two years ago.’
From his loving Father, Mother and sisters.
16, High Street.


NBT Sep. 24th 1918 Tue.

In loving memory of Private Thomas Jackman, 6th Battn. Oxon & Bucks Light Infantry, who was killed in action on September 20th, 1917.
‘We little thought when he left home,
It was his last good-bye;
As he left his home one evening,
In a distant land to die.
But the hardest part is yet to come,
When the heroes will return;
And we miss among the cheering crowd,
The face for which we yearn.’
From his sorrowing mother, father, sisters and brothers.
61, High Street.


NBT Oct. 8th 1918 Tue.

In tender memory of my dear husband Corporal Alfred Lunn, R.E., who died at the War Hospital, Murthly, Perthshire, October 8th, 1917.

‘Some day, some time, my eyes shall see
The face I keep in memory;
Some day my hand shall clasp his hand.
Just over in the better land.’
From his loving wife.
68, High Street.

The grave of Corporal Alfred Lunn, Royal Engineers, which also commemorates Private William Souster, Oxon & Bucks Light Infantry, and Mr. Frank Lunn. Having seen 13 years service with the Royal Engineers, during active service in France in the early days of the war Corporal Lunn had been severely wounded in the head, and was eventually transferred to Staple Hall Depot for about 12 months. In July 1916 he married the youngest daughter of Mrs. B. Souster, of the High Street, and after a while he again volunteered for service in France. However, in April 1917 he was taken ill, and having undergone treatment in various French hospitals, he was then sent to Netley, and next to Murthly Hospital, Perthshire, where, with his condition having gradually worsened, he died on Monday, October 8th 1917, aged 28. With full military honours the funeral took place on the Thursday afternoon, with the coffin, covered with a Union Jack, having been borne to Fenny Stratford Cemetery on a gun carriage. Included amongst the wreaths was one from the Warrant Officers the and N.C.O.s of Staple Hall Depot, one from the drivers and blacksmiths, Royal Engineers, and one from members of the Staple Hall Depot band.

NBT Oct. 15th 1918 Tue.

In loving memory of Private James Warr, New Zealand Regiment, who was killed in action at Passchendaele on October 12th, 1917.

‘Sleep on, dear Jim, you nobly fell.
Your last march past is o’er:
You sleep beside your comrades now,
Far from your native shore.
Gently the stars are shining,
Out there on his silent grave;
There lies our dear one sleeping,
For England he fought so brave.’
Ever remembered by his father, mother, brothers and sisters.
South Terrace, Bletchley.


NBT 1920 Nov. 9th Tue.

In loving memory of our dear boy, Gunner W.H. Munday, M.M., second son of Mr. and Mrs. E. Munday, late of Western road, now of Rogate, Petersfield, who died of wounds Nov. 9th 1918 aged 20 years.

Shall we forget him, never,
The link of love’s bright chain;
Shall bind our hearts to him in Heaven, Until we meet again.
From his loving mum and dad, brothers and sisters.

Apart from the Bletchley men, a tribute must also be paid to two young ladies from the town. They also made the ultimate sacrifice during the First World War, and their final resting place would be Fenny Stratford Cemetery.

At the age of 18, May Emma Constable, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Constable, of 74, Aylesbury Street, was working in Luton at the munitions factory of George Kents Ltd., where on March 7th 1918 a massive explosion occurred. May was taken to Bute Hospital in Luton with severe burns, but passed away on March 7th from Toxaemia, (blood poisoning). On the afternoon of Tuesday, March 12th, draped with a Union Jack, and covered with a large number of wreaths, her coffin was drawn by four horses to Fenny Stratford Cemetery on a gun carriage, and with this having been supplied by the Royal Engineer Depot, Staple Hall, it was from here that the Royal Engineers forming the bearer party came. Wearing their factory uniforms, a contingent of some 65 of the deceased’s workmates lead the cortege, and large numbers of people lined the route from the house to the Cemetery, and attended the graveside. Later in the month her father applied in the Luton County Court for £50 forthwith, and payment of the balance at £3 a month, out of a sum of £100 awarded in respect of his tragic loss, and, since this was to pay off his debts and ‘get square,’ the application was granted. With Mrs. Thomas Best, senior, of Oxford House, and Miss Staniford, having been foremost in raising the funds, a permanent and suitably symbolic memorial to May was then placed over the grave in June 1919.

At the Royal Victoria Hospital, Dover, on May 1st 1918 Miss Lillian Saunders, a member of Queen Mary’s Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps, died at the age of 25 from jaundice, following appendicitis. She was the third daughter of Mr. & Mrs. J. Saunders, of Tavistock Street, and underwent an operation subsequent to being suddenly taken ill. Previously engaged as a children’s nurse at Carlton Lodge, Heath, she had joined the W.A.A.C. in December 1917, and was stationed in camp at Dover. By the wish of her parents her funeral would be of a quiet nature, with no military attendants, and a large number of W.A.A.C.s escorted the coffin when carried, by men of The Buffs, to the train from the hearse. Amongst the many letters of sympathy would be one from the King and Queen.


JOSEPH DOWNS BUSHELL

An orphan, Joseph Downs Bushell had been early apprenticed to the grocery trade in Reading. Travelling about his duties in a pony and trap, he was later employed for ten years with a wholesale and retail grocers, Messrs. Cantell’s, in Buckingham before moving in 1912 to Bletchley, where he took over a retail shop at 39, High Street from a Mr. White. During the following year he would then employ his nephew, Len Bushell, in the business, as also George Guess, who for many years would be the shop manager. With ‘free samples available,’ and advertising ‘Nuts, fruit, finest mincemeat. Bushell’s Nut Margarine, 6d and 8d per lb. This will save you money now Butter is getting dearer,’ by the first Christmas of the war the shop, termed a ‘Grocery and Provision Stores,’ was providing a much needed service to the town, and this Mr. Bushell would duly emphasis at the subsequent Military Tribunals, at which those claiming exemption from Army service could make their case. However, at the Bletchley Military Service Tribunal in September 1917, Mr. Bushell, now aged 33, and graded ‘Class A,’ was told that he would need a very strong case to ‘get off,’ whereupon Mr. Bushell, stating the facts, said that he had carried on the business for 5 years, following an apprenticeship at Buckingham. Having formerly had four men in the business, now there were only three boys, one of whom would have to join up in 6 months, two girls, himself, and his wife, Margery, and apart from keeping the books he had to deliver to 16 villages, for which he hired a horse to pull the cart. His wife, whom he had married in 1915, had no previous experience of the trade, and therefore he did all the retail and wholesale buying. In fact since the closing of a rival business in Aylesbury Street his trade had increased by about 30%, and he was now the only sole proprietor of a grocery business in the town. If he had to go the business would close, and in view of this - for the time being - exemption was granted. Thus Mr. Bushell carried on with his vital work, and when two tons of sugar for the district arrived on Saturday, September 22nd 1917, it would be to his premises that it was delivered. For the purposes of jam making and fruit preservation the sugar had been allocated under the purview of the Bletchley War Agricultural Committee, and with this body having placed Mr. Bushell in charge of making it up into lots of from 80lb to 6lb. packets, he then delivered these to various destinations in 16 surrounding villages, with the work complete by Monday evening. Yet apart from such pressures Mr. Bushell also had to sometimes contend with other trying situations, of which the case of a member of the Bedfordshire Regiment was one. The soldier was charged on Wednesday, November 21st 1917 with stealing 1,230 cigarettes, valued at £1 19s 6d, from Mr. Bushell’s shop, and in evidence Inspector Callaway said that on November 18th he had received a telephone message from the Sergeant Major at Ampthill Camp, regarding a quantity of cigarettes which had been found in the possession of one of the soldiers. When asked by the Sergeant Major why he had so many cigarettes, the man said that his mother kept a tobacconist shop at Fenny Stratford, from where he had bought them. However, on seeing Mr. Bushell, Inspector Callaway was told that 200 Players were missing, and when again questioned at the Camp the soldier said “Yes, I got them from Bushell’s. I climbed up a ladder and got in at a window which was open.” The man was taken to Bletchley Police Station to be remanded to Northampton gaol, and in due course would appear at the Petty Sessions. In fact the prisoner was the brother of Mrs. Bushell, to whom in a letter opened on November 20th the prisoner admitted not only this theft, but others as well. Pleading guilty, the man asked to be fined, but although he had twice been on active service in France, during which time he had been wounded, he was sentenced to a month in prison. At the Military Service Tribunal on Thursday, May 2nd 1918 Captain Porter, the National Service Representative, said that the cases before the Tribunal that day were all of those men who were in no essential employment, and even though there might be instances of hardship, and where the distribution of goods might be affected, the Tribunal should consider whether these men should be called up, in view of the urgent situation. As for one of these potential recruits, Mr. Bushell, now aged 36, and graded Class A, said that although he had not been medically re-examined he felt that he was in Grade 1, due to the amount of work that he had to do! Saying that he did all the buying and managing, and a good deal of the portering, he then gave details regarding the amount of business, and the number of cards that were registered, and in consequence he was granted six months. However, this was on condition that he joined the special constables, but the decision was then challenged by the National Service Representative, Captain Porter, at the Bucks Appeals Tribunal, which took place at Bletchley on Wednesday, May 8th 1918. He considered that the period was too long, and although Mr. Bushell argued the details, the appeal was allowed, with the exemption reduced to three months. Thus at the Area Military Service Tribunal for the County of Buckingham, held at the Police Court on Friday, August 16th 1918, Mr. Bushell applied for a further term of exemption, stating that he had 1,200 registered customers for groceries, 100 for sugar, and 800 for bacon, and, besides attending his business in the urban district, he also served 16 other villages. Now his staff consisted of three boys (the eldest 16) and two girls, and letters stating that the business in their opinion was necessary to the local residents were put from the Bletchley Urban District Food Committee, and those of Newport Pagnell and Winslow Rural districts. Yet despite the explanations of the work, and it’s necessity, the appeal was dismissed, although Mr. Bushell was not to be called until October 30th. However, with the signing of the Armistice a few days later there would be no further need for Tribunals, or appeals, and after the war Mr. Bushell, realising the potential for trade in Bletchley, bought a shop from Tom Brace in 1924 and went into partnership with a then employee, Fred Thurlow, as Bushell and Thurlow. Yet this was also a year which would bring him tragedy, for on Sunday, August 10th his 30 year old wife was found dead at her home. That morning Mr. Bushell and their two children had gone for a walk, leaving Mrs. Bushell, seeming her usual cheery self, to make jam pies and prepare the dinner. They duly returned just over an hour later, at about 1p.m., but although he could not get into the house, Mr. Bushell was not unduly concerned, since he reasoned that his wife must be upstairs. Remaining in the garden, he later sent his son, Gordon, back to the house, but with there being no sounds from within, or a smell of cooking, Mr. Bushell climbed in through a window, and eventually discovered the body of his wife in the copper house, or kitchen, with her head submerged in the copper of water. With the confines being dark, the remnant of a candle was still burning, and it appeared that having overbalanced she had not been able to get out by herself. Removing the body, Mr. Bushell sent for the police, and with the arrival of police constable Amor medical help was summoned. However, by the respective opinions of two doctors the cause of death could have either been drowning or poison, since there had been a history of insanity in her family, and in conclusion a jury would record a verdict of ‘Suicide whilst temporarily insane.’ Nevertheless, the business of Bushell and Thurlow continued and further details, including those regarding the tragic death of Mr. Bushell’s son, Gordon, as a fighter pilot in the Battle of Britain, are given in the companion to this book, ‘Bletchley and District at War,’ as also the three volume reference series, ‘Bletchley during World War Two.’ Mr.Thurlow died in 1935, whilst as for Joseph Downs Bushell, a grave which commemorates him and his son, Gordon, may be seen in the local cemetery.

The grave in Fenny Stratford Cemetery of Joseph Downs Bushell and his son, Gordon.

LETTERS FROM THE LOCAL PRESS

BLETCHLEY, FENNY STRATFORD, WATER EATON

(NBT = North Bucks Times, WE = Wolverton Express.)

NBT Oct. 10th 1914

The first wounded soldier to return home to Fenny Stratford was Private William Keightley, of the first Beds., whose mother lives in Simpson Road. He took part in five engagements, and of his experiences said;

“I was attached to the machine gun section and took part in the now historic retreat from Mons. Quite early in the war I was in the firing line in Belgium, and whilst there we had an exciting incident in a small village. We had taken the machine gun into the upstairs room of a cottage, which we thought would provide us with good shelter. We did not, however, take into account the German artillery until a shell demolished a cottage three doors away. It was then a case of getting out of the cottage in quick time. We only did that in the nick of time, for just as we were coming downstairs a shell took off the roof of the cottage and smothered us with dust. The fighting was awfully fierce at Mons, where our Army kept hordes of Germans at bay. It was so hot that the machine guns had to be abandoned in the trenches, but not before the locks had been smashed to make them useless. We fought a rear-guard action and covered 55 miles in the day and night. The Germans came on like a swarm of bees. We were expecting reinforcements all the time but they never came until we were within 21 miles of Paris. When the reinforcements turned up the retreat ended and it was a welcome relief. But we were quite done up. With my machine gun in the trenches at Mons I had to rely on my rifle. I was able to account for one German sniper who had climbed a tree. I met with my wound early one morning. On the previous night we had sheltered behind a railway bank near a village called Liminisy and in the early morning we were eating our bully beef and biscuits when I was shot through the chin. The bullet dropped on my shoulder and I have kept it ever since. It doesn’t weigh much, but when it hit me I thought it weighed a ton. Previous to this wound a bullet struck my water bottle and bruised my hip. After receiving first aid I was removed to the base with other wounded in open waggons - country carts which have been commandeered - the horses being driven by civilian Frenchmen. We were then sent in motor cars to the railway station and then to the hospital at St. Lazarre, where we were attended to by the Australian Voluntary Hospital. When convalescent I was brought to England and sent to Birmingham Hospital, from where I received my discharge after remaining there a short time. The French people and the hospital authorities were very kind to us and nothing was too much for them to do. The Germans are dubbed awful cowards when it comes to fighting at close quarters. They can only fight when they are drunk. When they are retreating they throw their helmets away and put small caps on their heads. Anything is sacrificed to get away from cold steel. On the other hand their artillery fire is splendid and is responsible for nearly all the damage. Their rifle fire is rotten, nearly all of it being done from the hip.”

Private Keightley returns to his depot on Saturday.

NBT 1914 Oct. 17th Sat.

Mrs. S.G. Howard, of Victoria Road, has received a letter from her brother Private R.H. Jones, of the 16th Dragoon Guards, 4th Cavalry Brigade. He thanks her for her consignment of cigarettes, which ‘I have been longing for ever since I came out’, and then recounts his experiences at the front;

“We have been in the thick of the fighting since our first engagement at Mons. If the French had only come up we should have been in Germany by now. I am getting used to the bullets now. The only things that make you ‘duck’ your head are the shells from their big siege guns. They do terrible damage if they catch anyone. One burst a few yards from me 2 days ago, and killed 12 horses and 8 men. I only escaped being hit through lying on the ground. It killed two horses standing near me. Yesterday two of these shells killed and wounded fifty of the 9th Lancers. I have had my own horse shot and I am now riding a German horse which I captured from a Uhlan. I was almost captured by the Germans, whilst riding “on my own” through a forest one night with despatches. They were as frightened as myself. They never attempted to catch hold of my horse so I dug my spurs in and galloped like “blazes.” They fired a few shots which went “miles away.” I don’t know when we shall shift from the position we are in now, but I hope soon. The country is in a terrible state round here. Whole villages are blown to pieces, and all the hay and corn stacks are burnt down through shell fire. There is nothing but dead horses and graves and holes six feet deep where the big shells have dropped. I don’t think much of their shrapnel shells.”

NBT 1914 Oct. 24th 1914

A letter has been received by a fruiterer and confectioner of Newport Pagnell, sent by Private Frank Morris of Bletchley Road. He is serving with the 1st Northants. and writes; This is a jolly hot shop, I can tell you … the worst of it is the Germans will keep sending us those shells which we call ‘coal boxes’. There are two or three falling within one hundred yards of me while I am writing this letter.’ He then says that they make holes in which a horse could be buried, and, since there is a valley just below, the troops have named this ‘Coal Box Valley’. ‘This writing paper was what I took from a dead German officer.’ ‘We are all hoping to be home by Christmas, but I very much doubt it.’

NBT 1914 Oct. 24th Sat.

A letter has been received from a French soldier who spent his holidays last July in Bletchley;

‘My dear old Friend, - I received your good news, and I have been very glad indeed to get them from a sincere friend. Here I am amongst English soldiers and officers and the time goes quickly and pleasantly, and I am learning the English language again. What can I say about the war? You know as well as we do that we are slowly beating the Germans back. We have to do it foot by foot, for they have huge guns and their shell fire is terrible, but we keep on pegging away. How well we dig ourselves in. We go on fighting and fighting until the time comes when we can make a small advance. We crawl up and again we entrench ourselves, and so go on. At the end, of course, it comes to the cold steel. We are alright at that. Day and night the battle rages without intercession; ebbing and flowing like the tide, seething like a cauldron. The battle westward, near the forest of Argle, Chantilly has been carried back from the river bank some 10 miles, but at Soissons the enemy hold their ground. Victory is not yet. We quite expect the war to last at least six months. But the men I say are victors moving in the very spirit of victory. I await the morrow with hope and with confidence. Our troops are very much taken up with the English army in every way. At the present time the English army is pushing on to the north of the Germans, and we have every hope of driving them out of France by the end of October. We have actually taken Roye near Auriens by a bloody battle with many wounded both on the English and French side, but the Germans lost very heavily with our artillery and our guns of 75, and we have given them some shells from the heavy guns captured from the Germans. We had at Maubreuge a terrible siege, which lasted 25 days, where we lost many as prisoners. I lost about all my intimate friends and comrades. They have been sent to Germany where they are employed digging trenches. The second part of the war is none the less interesting, for we are going us French with the English to find the Russians at Berlin. This will be the grande victoire, and the downfall of the German empire, for we shall capture the Kaiser. He may be dead before then. We hope so, as it will save us a lot of trouble. We shall then all shout with a good heart “Long live England and France and liberty.”

From a soldier from Fenny Stratford who is serving as orderly to a Colonel in the 4th Hussars;

Just a few lines hoping you are both keeping well. I am very sorry I did not write before but have had such a lot to do. Am getting on fine and am in the best of health. I am not allowed to tell you anything about the Forces. You might try and send me a few papers, that is all I shall want just now. The gentleman I am with is very nice and he looks after me fine. I am stopping at a very fine house for a time until we go on again. I have sent you a lot of service cards but do not know if you got them all or not.’

NBT 1914 Nov. 7th Sat.

An account of life as soldier with the British Expeditionary Force is given by Sergeant T. Wodhams, the youngest son of Mr. Charles Wodhams, of Church Street, Fenny Stratford. He has been invalided home, and, formerly being employed at the Euston Hotel, volunteered for service as orderly to a Captain of the 4th Hussars;

“We left London in July at a very short notice and on our arrival at Southampton we had a glorious time for a week. We had orders there to get ready to set sail for Havre, and there we stopped another week. We camped at a very fine chateau. The thousands and thousands of camps made it an imposing sight, and amongst the regiments with us were the Black Watch. As our first experience as to what France was like we had to sleep out in the open. It was a beautiful night, but a tremendous thunderstorm came on and gave us “volunteers” a terrible fright. It thundered and lightened (sic) for two days; our clothes were drenched to the skin and we did not have time to change. Then we had orders to pack and get ready for Lecatre, and we were there for three days. The Germans were well on to our lines then, and as we were in our billets one morning about 2.45 we had orders to get out as soon as possible. We had three quarters of an hour to pack. Our next move was to St. Quentin, a most magnificent city. We were there two days, and again we had an order to move out of it as soon as possible on account of the Germans. This, of course, was during the retirement from Mons. It was a most magnificent sight to see the French doubling through the streets to attack the Germans. We were next sent on to Noyon, where a terrible battle had been fought. It was an awful sight along the road, dead men, horses, and shattered motor lorries. The destruction was something terrible. For miles there were German and French graves. I got off the motor transport and examined some of these dead Germans, who were supposed to have been starved. They didn’t look starved, as they were in good condition. We went on to Compiegne, another very fine place, which was blown to “hell”. There was also a terrible battle there which we escaped by being transferred to Rouen. There we had a very comfortable time after the excitement. We were afterwards billeted at De Marten, where Capt. McCullen and myself transferred to the 4th Hussars. Previously I had been in the Intelligence Corps with General French’s Headquarters. The Captain and his groom went off with their horses and I was left with the kit to bring along in a motor car. The chauffeur who brought me was an American and I had to meet my officer at Metz. When the chauffeur first heard one of the guns go off, or as we call it, “getting the wind up,” he said he was not going to have his car blown up and if he was going to take me he was not going to take my kit. I told him I wasn’t going to get out till I was thrown out on account of his having orders to take me to Metz. So we went to the 3rd Cavalry Division and made enquiries as to where the 4th Hussars were stationed and they directed us to the 4th Division. They could not give us any information as to the whereabouts of the Hussars so the chauffeur had me put from the car into the 3rd Cavalry Division Ambulance. I was absolutely flabbergasted as to where I was going. I was lost for five days and I had the kit to look after. We were in the midst of the big gun firing at Metz and I laid in a hedge with the kit for ten hours, after which I was taken on again by the 3rd Cavalry. From there we went to Esbli, where we had a very good time for a day and a half. The orderlies of the ambulance were delighted to think I was a volunteer for the occasion and said they admired my pluck on having gone through what I did and not being a regular Army man. The sergeant-major and orderlies were very kind to me, so I went out in the village and sent back a big hamper of wine, with which we had a “rare old beano” that afternoon. Our next move was to Chaily and it was there that I found out where the 4th Hussars were stationed. On circling around the country for nearly four hours I found that there was a tremendous big farm. On entering it I asked for my officer, who said he thought I had been shot as he had had no news of me. He had sent despatches to several big places trying to find me and his kit. I told him I had had a glorious time and a wonderful experience of war life. They did not know what to do with me then so I was asked to ride on an ammunition wagon for a day. I did so at my cost as I was bruised from head to foot through lying on the ammunition. On the following day we went to a place called Rabias, where I was put on to the transport of the 4th Hussars. This was a gentleman’s life as all I had to do was to sit on the box and drive the last two horses. We next went to Cuiry and there the Germans had been driven out of the town during the day and every house we passed was either set on fire or blown to pieces by shell and the furniture was thrown out into the streets. We billeted there that night and the sights we saw are beyond description; it looked as if there had been a tremendous earthquake. Later we went to Tigny, where there was no excitement whatever. We had an order come at night that our transport had to be taken to Lime and when we billeted there that night we were still under shell fire. On Sept. 14th we had a further order to go to Chessemy, where we stayed the night, and were warned to be prepared for heavy shell fire. The Germans did not shell the village until about 4.45 in the morning. On walking round the outskirts of a farm I found one of our infantry lying under a haystack with dysentery. I was the only one who could do anything for him, the other men attending to the horses and transport, so I carried him across to the village where our R.A.M.C. had made a temporary hospital. The man was installed in a cottage, and just after I had left the village it was shelled by very heavy fire. The village was blown flat, between 18 and 20 men were killed and wounded, and about thirty horses were killed. The streets were nothing but pieces of horses “scattered all over the show.” Ambulances were also badly damaged and I had a most wonderful escape by getting back to transport. On arriving there I found our men well hid under cover. The Germans had a very good idea of where we were and tried to get the range. We laid there for some considerable time and at last we had orders to gallop from the village. In a desperate charge we all got through except the last ammunition waggon, which was slightly damaged. The Germans fired at us as we galloped along the road, and one shell dropped between 60 to 70 yards away from us. At last we were drawn up at some small village, where we found two old ladies, whose ages must have been between 70 and 80. We stayed with them for about half an hour - time to make them believe that everything was going on all right. All of a sudden one of the drivers of the last transport waggon came up and said the Germans had got range of us. So we were again subjected to shell fire and only the marvellous work of our officer carried us safely through. No one was wounded, but from the time we left Chessemy we didn’t know whether we were coming out dead or alive. All that day we trekked through a thick wood and the heavy ground caused our horses to be absolutely “done up” for the want of food and rest. All we had to eat was a piece of bully beef and bread until we got to a place called Fleury, and there had a quiet time till three in the morning. We were then fetched out and sent back to Brain, and there we stayed on account of the battle of the Aisne, which was a most terrible sight. The cavalry was obliged to stay there for ten days as they could not move forward. The officers used to go on exercise during the day as near the battle as possible, and they used to come back and give an idea of the way the trenches were worked. The Major of the 4th Hussars was telling the other officers at dinner that the German bodies could be seen lying outside the trenches. When our infantry gained trenches in places they had to dig the dead out and stand in their old trenches for eighteen to twenty hours in nothing but water and blood. On Sept. 17th the cook and myself had a very funny experience. We thought Germans had got into the chateau in which we were billeted. It would be about 12.30a.m., and we were lying on the floor talking about one thing and another when we thought we heard footsteps in the dining room. The officers were at rest, so the cook took my revolver and I followed him with his rifle. We crept gradually through the kitchen, and on opening the corridor door found that the door had not been opened. Still we could hear those funny noises and on entering the dining room we found it was a cat playing with two beer stoppers! The cook wanted to shoot the cat, but I suggested he should throw it outside, so he “chucked” it through the window and went back in disgust! The following day we had orders to shift from Brain to Domart la Lace, a distance of about three miles, and there I joined the 4th Hussars with the Headquarters Staff, which was a new experience for me. Well, we did nothing but travelling about the country for several days, passing through villages which were all blown to pieces and looted. The Germans were very fond of leaving cooked stuff about, all ready for us to eat, but, of course, we were warned not to touch it on account of it being poisoned. We then “trekked” to Triermont, to Mount Tigni, to Moneky, till we got to Burget, and finally to Hazebrouk, a very big town where we were billeted one night. Here was nothing but thousands of French and English troops, and the grand cathedral was used for billeting the former. We then went to Maubege and were held up at a small village, as we had run into the Germans. We saw some very sharp fighting with our maxim guns. We were held up for about four hours and then we moved again for a distance of six miles, where we had to take a monastery by such a time at night. The fighting was most terrible, but we had luck, as only six of our men were wounded and killed. By all accounts we must have mowed the Germans down like grass. The 16th Lancers and the 4th Hussars had to take this place. We had no artillery with us at the time; the Germans had one big gun, which they were firing the whole of the time. Messengers were sent for artillery and we soon stopped the firing of their gun, and the monastery was captured after desperate fighting. It was thought that there the Kaiser’s first nephew was killed. The 4th Hussars had rather bad luck, losing four officers. Two were killed and two seriously wounded. I might incidentally mention here that somewhere between Sept. 10th and Sept. 16th the 4th Hussars captured over 700 German prisoners. After the monastery had been captured we moved on again to Fleurte, where we had to sleep anywhere we could get. It was a cold and wet night and we were absolutely “done up.” In the morning we left Fleurte and I was invalided out. I was very sorry to have to give in, and the officer also. However, they put me in an ambulance and brought me right back over the land where I had worked and got on with the regiment, till I was put into a very big monastery, which had been made into a hospital by the Sisters of Mercy. The following morning we were brought on to Hazebrouk, where I laid three or four days. It was there I first had my shirt and boots off for some considerable time. Also it was the first wash I had had for a fortnight. At night we were sent on to some railway station and we had no idea where we were going. Some said Calais and some said Boulogne. However, we laid in the train and eventually found out that we were for Calais. We arrived there, but on account of there being so many refugees it was impossible to be taken on, so they brought us to Boulogne, the journey taking 12 hours! We were then bound for Southampton, but as so many hospitals were full up there I had to go to Edinburgh, where the people were very kind to us. They gave us anything it was possible to want, and when we had been in hospital about a week the Motor Club was very kind and used to take us out for motor drives. On the journey up to Edinburgh we had a good time at Crewe. Tables were laid out on the platform and people brought us hot drinks and food. I received my discharge on the Monday and am staying at home now until Nov. 10th. On the 11th I have to be at the War Office and, of course, anticipate returning to the front.”

NBT 1914 Nov. 7th Sat.

The parents of Gunner Knopp, of the Royal Horse Artillery, reside at the Hospital, Denbigh. Formerly in the police force at Chesterfield, he is now hospitalised with wounds at Worthing, and describes his experiences of the war in a letter to the Chief Constable;

“A few lines to let you know I am in England again after being only a month in the firing line. I had the misfortune to get wounded by a shrapnel bullet which entered my back towards the lower part of my neck, where the doctor took it out. It is rather a bad wound at present, but it is going on all right. The doctor said I was rather lucky, as it struck the bone first. Had it not done so it would have gone into my lungs, so I must be very thankful it was not worse. I thought I was never coming out of our last action alive. We went into a position early one morning and as soon as we opened fire the Germans set fire to all the houses round us with big shells. It was so hot from the fire that we were unable to get away at the finish. I have a bullet in my pocket which the Germans presented me with, and I also sent them a few in remembrance of me, and I hope to do so again when this lot is well. I expect to be in here about three weeks. I may be able to get a short leave before proceeding to the front again. I have been in France and Belgium - Antwerp, Ostend, Ghent, Bruges, and I finished up around Lille, so I have been touring round a bit. The people of Worthing are very good to us, and also the hospital nurses, who do all they can for us. We looked a rough lot when we arrived here, but after a bath and a clean shirt we were ourselves again.”

NBT 1914 Nov. 14th Sat.

Mrs. A.W. Clarke of Mount Pleasant, Fenny Stratford, has received a letter from her husband, Private Clarke, of the 1st Beds. Regiment, who is a prisoner of war in Hamelion Wasser, Germany;

‘My dearest wife. - Just a line to let you know where I am. No doubt you will be as much surprised as I am, but thank God I am alive, for I never expected to be. We were under a terrible shell fire from the German guns for several hours, in fact some of our men were pulled out of the trenches in places where the shells had buried them alive. We stuck it to the last and what I expected would be the last for ever. I think I am the only one from Fenny as I have not seen anyone else here and, of course, I do not know whether anyone of them is wounded or not. I know Bob Kimble of Shenley was hit very badly. Well dear you are allowed to write to me here and also allowed to send anything but I don’t expect you have anything to send. If you send me any tobacco only send one ounce at first until I let you know whether I get it or not. I must tell you I did not get an answer to my last letter so of course if you have sent one it will not get forwarded on so I shall not hear from you until you answer this, so please write back at once. What I have been through this week I shall never forget and hope it will not last much longer. Will you tell Mrs. Sellars to let Jim know I am here then he can tell my mates that I am alive. I don’t want to say anything about how we are being treated here but hope to see and be with you in a few weeks time. Please kiss our dear children for me. I must now close with love to all.

From your loving husband.
A.W. Clarke

(Shortly after Mrs. Clarke received the letter she discovered further information, namely from Mrs. Sellars whose husband, in a letter, says that while out scouting he had come across Private Clarke’s rifle, which was battered to atoms, and guessed that he had been taken prisoner.)


A selection of postcards sent to Bletchley by a soldier on active service.

NBT 1914 Dec. 5th Sat.

Dated November 20th, the following interesting letter has been received from Private ---- of Bletchley, who is serving his country with the Artists’ Rifles;

“I was very pleased with the woollen mittens, as we have had some bitterly cold weather, and our troops have suffered intensely in the trenches. They look very different when they have been out here a few weeks, not like the smart British Tommy in England. You only want to be out here to see what a hard war this is. Some of our regiments have suffered badly . . . (censored) . . . I am glad to see that the Territorials are doing so well everywhere, let us hope it will continue. The spirit of, and care for, the troops is splendid: we have lately received boxes of cigarettes sent from people in England, and they are a real luxury! I was having my horse roughed, because of all the roads being like glass, the other day, when I came across two men of the H.A.C. Infantry Transport, who used to be in “A” Battery, and knew W --- well … one is a Mason and a member of the Fitzroy Lodge. … I find the khaki muffler beautifully warm at nights. I have met several old Bedfordians out here, most of them officers; also two men from the G.C.R. head office. I am writing this letter on picket at 3.30a.m. over nine horses, most of them lying down. The more you have to do with horses the more you like them, especially when they get to know you well and give a little low neigh when you come to the place where they happen to be. It has just been pouring with rain, fortunately we are in a barn. It is quite quiet to-night; we cannot hear any cannonade or rifle fire. The Germans usually attack our trenches between 3 and 5a.m. nearly every morning. I have several interesting souvenirs. I have met several Belgian soldiers - nice men they are too. I can talk French quite fluently with them now, and have been told “vous causez bien.” The general exclamation is “A bas les Allemands!” The Germans are positively loathed by the poor people - all well to do people have fled. A German aeroplane dropped a bomb on our field hospital near here the other day, killing three people - two of them being patients who were too seriously wounded to be sent home. The other portion of the ward was empty, as the men who had occupied the beds in it had been sent home. Every window was broken for some considerable distance round, and the ward was, of course, a complete wreck. The aeroplane was brought down by a British and two French aeroplanes about seven miles away.’

(Soon after this letter was written the Artists Rifles went into action, and two of their men were killed.)

NBT 1914 Dec. 5th Sat.

Mrs. T. Holdom, of Bletchley Road, received a letter from her grandson, Rifleman John Pouchot, of the Rifle Brigade, in which he says;

“Our battalion left England on Sunday, Nov. 1st, and arrived at ---- on Monday, but we did not disembark until Tuesday. On Tuesday we marched to a rest camp 2 miles away. On Wednesday we entrained for --- and arrived there on Thursday night at midnight, and marched to some barracks. We stayed there until Tuesday morning, when we marched to --- 14 miles away. Wednesday we marched to --- 10 miles, Thursday to --- 8 miles, where we are now. When we arrived last night the Germans were bombarding a town a mile away, and the noise was terrible and continued all night, but was not so bad this morning, when we went out to dig trenches. While we were digging our guns started firing again and the shells went right over our heads, but we soon got used to that. Before we had been digging long it came on to pour in torrents with rain, and we got soaked through because we had to keep on digging. The people are so good to us here; they bring us coffee every morning and evening, and dry our things and do anything we want. A little girl about 8 years old came up to me last night and clambered up me and kissed me all over the face and stopped and played with me for about ten minutes.”

(In the following year, Rifleman Pouchot would be awarded the D.C.M. for conspicuous gallantry on the battlefield.)

NBT 1914 Dec. 19th Sat.

In a letter to the editor, and also to the editor of the Bucks Standard, Lt. Col. W.G. Bowyer (retired) writes;

“Sir, - I have just come back from paying a visit to the Bucks (Service) Battalion now training at Chelmsford. The men of this battalion, during the last five months, have been working very hard to render themselves efficient, and with such success that they have been accepted for service in France in due course.

I found that a scheme has been started to give these men a good dinner on Christmas Day. The officers of the battalion are, I understand, contributing handsomely, but a considerable sum is necessary, and it occurs to me that many in this neighbourhood would be glad of the opportunity of taking some share in paying a tribute to these gallant fellows who have left their homes to serve their King and country. The two Wolverton Companies (F and G), in which we here are especially interested, number some 250 men. Besides, of course, Wolverton, they are drawn from Bradwell, Bletchley, Buckingham, Castlethorpe, Deanshanger, Great Linford, Hanslope, Linslade, Newport Pagnell, Stony Stratford, Stantonbury, Weston Underwood, Winslow, Woughton, and a few other places.

Subscriptions will be gladly received and acknowledged by me, or by Captain E.V. Birchall, commanding G Company; or by Captain G.E.W. Bowyer, commanding F Company - the address of the two latter being: Bucks Battalion, Chelmsford, Essex.

I might add that Christmas is very near at hand, and that therefore no time is to be lost. I am, sir, yours faithfully,

W.G. BOWYER, Lt. Col. (retired).

Weston Manor,
Olney.

(From the beginning of the war, Lieutenant Colonel Bowyer, late of the Royal Engineers, would render invaluable service to the military authorities and the Buckinghamshire recruiting agencies. He raised the North Bucks special constables, and would be Chairman of the Emergency Committee, and also of the Recruiting Committee. In August 1915 he ordered by the War Office to report to London for duty.)

NBT 1915 Jan. 9th Sat.

Mrs. T. Holdom, of Bletchley Road, has two grandsons in the Forces, and she has received letters from them both. One is a rifleman in the Rifle Brigade, and recounts his experience of Christmas in the trenches;

“We were in the trenches for Christmas, and had the funniest Christmas I have ever had. On Christmas Eve we had orders not to fire until 12 o’clock midnight Christmas Day unless the Germans did, so we shouted across to the Germans that we would not fire unless they did, and they shouted back the same. So the rest of the evening we spent in singing carols, hymns, National Anthems etc. The Germans lighted fires on top of their trenches and sang and danced around them. On Christmas Day they shouted across and wished us a Happy Christmas and, of course, we did the same, and we both got out of our trenches and walked along the top. During the morning we went half way across to the German trenches and beckoned to them to come over to us, which, after a little hesitation, they did. When they arrived we shook hands and exchanged cigarettes, cigars, buttons, money, and anything we could get hold of. I got four kinds of cigarettes, two cigars, a button, and I also got two of them to write their names and addresses in my pocket book. One of the two had the Iron Cross, which he showed me. We were surprised to find how many of them could speak English. One of them said he knew Clapham Junction well, and another said he used to take the No. 87 ‘bus home to Kilburn every night. We found them to be quite a gentlemanly lot of chaps. Before we left we said we would not fire until they did. They said the same. But early Boxing Day morning we were relieved and are now in the outskirts of a town in reserve and are going into the trenches again on Friday. We are going into different trenches this time and I hope they are not so muddy as the ones before.”

(This letter also appears in the Bucks Standard, 1915, Jan. 16th)

The other grandson is a sailor, and writes;

“I am on the Iron Duke now and like it very much. I left the Palace (Crystal Palace) about a week ago and had a very long train journey. I had to sleep on the rack as there was no room on the seat. Those nice warm things you sent are very useful now I am keeping watch on the bridge. I am just getting used to the ship now and do not feel bad when it rolls. When they fire our big guns the noise is deafening… I was confirmed whilst I was at the Palace, and first communicated on Xmas Day on board ship.”

NBT 1915 Jan. 9th Sat.

Private W. Field, a reservist in the East Surrey Regiment, was called up from his railway duties at Bletchley at the outbreak of war, and after seeing much action was badly wounded in the leg. He is now convalescing at his home in Park Street, and of his military experience he says that his regiment, which belonged to the 5th Division and 14th Brigade, landed at Le Havre and then went to a rest camp for a day. Afterwards they entrained for Le Cateau on the Monday, and on a stifling hot day from there marched to Landrecies, a distance of some 15 miles. They were there for two days, being then rushed on to Mons. The weather was again hot, and the Belgian women tore up their bed linen so that the men could wipe the sweat and dust from their faces. They then ‘bivvied’ in a small village, and began digging trenches. They also had to knock houses down, turn the occupants out, and transform others into blockhouses. Whilst they were doing this the Uhlans came up and they had to break off until the enemy were driven off by rapid fire. That night he and his companions lay in the trenches, and about mid day on Sunday the Germans came up and fire was exchanged for about 6 hours. Eventually they were forced to leave their positions and at 6.30 they left Mons Canal in a very exhausted state. They marched to the town and lay down in the street for two hours, after which they resumed their retreat to Le Casse. Here they had a big ‘set to’, and lost all their transport, ammunition, water carts and food. As a result they were without proper rations for three days, and survived only by procuring food from passing troops and the local inhabitants. Eventually they managed to get something more substantial at Chantilly. Here they formed an outpost, and began to advance on September 6th, pushing the Germans back to the Aisne. The Surreys then crossed the river in two boats but as soon as they landed on the other side the Germans “banged us down like rabbits.” With many missing, they rushed to a village for shelter and when they later tried to advance on the German position were repelled by the heavy fire. They retired from this position and advanced to Missy, where the Germans were entrenched. It was here that in a wood Private Field was wounded, at a time when the regiment was preparing for a charge. However, this was abandoned, since the Germans did not come out in large enough numbers. The bullet had entered the calf of his right leg, shattering the bone and inflicting a nasty flesh wound, before exiting on the opposite side. When hit, he rolled on the road by the side of the wood and lay there for several hours, before being attended to and taken to hospital. Yet whilst in the hospital the Germans shelled the building, causing extensive damage.

NBT 1915 Mar. 27th Sat.

From his home in Oxford Street, George Whiting emigrated to Canada some years ago. He is now a private in the 1st Canadian Contingent, and writes to a local newspaper;

“Sir, I am writing you a few lines just to let you know that you have another from Bletchley in the trenches. I left home ten years ago and went to Canada, and never came back until Christmas, when I obtained leave to see my people before going to the front. I know some of my old school chums are gone, but we all know they died doing their duty towards their country. I was with one the night before I left England. I should have liked to have seen him again as I was over the same ground, and of course it brings back old faces. We were in the trenches 24 hours, and they kept sniping at us in the dark and then they will give you a little of the Kaiser’s Last Post, otherwise a dose of shrapnel. I think they are running short of the “coal boxes” or perhaps they are saving them for some future time. I saw some of our shells burst right in their trenches, but of course we did not know what damage was done.”

NBT 1915 June 1st

During the fighting around Ypres, Sergeant George Woods, of the 4th Battalion King’s Royal Rifles, was wounded in the shoulder by a piece of shrapnel. One of his brothers was killed on active service during the Boer War, and another brother is presently serving in the Army. Sergeant Woods is the nephew of William Woods, of Bletchley, and writes from the Sailormen’s Hospital ‘Dreadnought’, at Greenwich;

“I am not sorry to be out of it, I can tell you, it was horrible the little time I was out there. We left Sheerness on Monday night, and were in the trenches by Tuesday night. We lost a tremendous lot of men on Tuesday and Wednesday, and I am lucky to have escaped as I have. A shell burst right in the trench where I was; it blew three men to pieces and wounded several others. I am feeling well in myself, the arm is a bit painful at times but I don’t mind that. After I was wounded I was sent straight down to the Boulogne hospital, but only stayed there one night and then was sent on here. We just missed a boat on Wednesday night or I should have been in England under 12 hours of being wounded.”

NBT June 15th Tue.

After 18 days in the trenches at Gallipoli, Corporal P. Broome Giles, of the Auckland Battalion of New Zealanders, contracted a severe attack of pneumonia, but he is now out of danger and progressing satisfactorily. On the initial day, his regiment was one of the first to land, and, with 132 being lost from his Company of 230, he writes of his experience;

“The storm of shrapnel began before we reached the shore. We scaled the steep cliffs and occupied a trench taken by the Australians, passing over the dead bodies of those brave fellows, and throughout the whole day the ambulance stretcher bearers worked fearlessly. I am not exaggerating, but can assure you that on that fateful Sunday the Gallipoli Peninsula was dyed red with the blood of Australian and New Zealand men. Towards dusk I found myself in the foremost trench with some West Australians and in command. It was a brilliant clear moonlight night, but I managed to put my sentries so that I lost none. Next day I re-formed my Company and was in the trenches for 15 days and nights. At times we had 23 shells a minute breaking over our trench. For a fortnight we fought for our existence. We were outnumbered and the Turks mutilated any of our wounded that fell into their hands. I took a severe chill and was sent to the base hospital. On the way there I fell on my back and could not get up. Later a chaplain and two men took me to the hospital. After 48 hours I was sent in an hospital ship to Alexandria and on to Heliopolis. I was very delirious but the Australian nurses stuck to me and to their unremitting care I owe my recovery, but I am still lamentably weak. I have lost all my kit.”

(The Corporal is the only son of Colonel P.B. Broome Giles, C.B., M.D., F.R.C.S., J.P., C.C., and Mrs Giles of Holne Chase, Bletchley. He emigrated to New Zealand some years ago, and at the outbreak of war was in a very prosperous position there.)

NBT 1915 June 15th Tue.

A letter has been received from the Front in France by Mrs. Whiting, of Bletchley. It is from her son, Private George Whiting, of the 4th Battalion, 1st Canadian Contingent, and reads;

“I have just come out of the firing line after doing 18 days. We had it pretty hard, we didn’t get a wash the whole time we were in, so you may imagine how we looked. … Three biscuits and a drink of water is pretty good when you feel that a good feed would do you good. They say the Germans are getting short of ammunition, but the only time they stopped shelling us was when they were cleaning their guns out, but I must say they threw a lot away. We have been advancing the last three weeks, and to see the sights behind one of the trenches, they are piled up on top of one another, is a sight which no one will ever forget. I saw a German lying there, and he had hold of his rifle just as if he wasn’t finished, but he was. I don’t think the Canadian Contingent would let many pass. They deserve all that they get. The last two weeks we have been losing men going up to the firing line, and some patrols were sent out trying to find the sniper, but they couldn’t find him. The third night they saw a glass out of a chimney, and he was signalling across the trenches, and, of course, they got him; he had enough food to last him a month, but he happened to be the sniper. They had to take the chimney down to get at him. He was quite a young lad.”

NBT 1915 June 22nd Tue.

From ‘a local man,’ just returned from the Front;

“We had just left the trenches, and reached a cabaret in the nearest village, when a German shell fell and exploded in the street outside. We did not go to see what damage it had done, because where one shell falls it is pretty certain that another will soon hit the same target, so we stopped where we were. Not so the proprietors of the inn. As soon as they heard the shell explode they bolted for the cellars, and as no one remained to serve we just helped ourselves, and to celebrate the auspicious event which had provided us with a “free house” we gave a lusty rendering of “Tipperary”. When we get back home we have to pay 3d for a pint.”

NBT 1915 June 29th Tue.

Private A.J. Tanner, the son in law of Mrs. G. Coleman, of Mount Pleasant, Fenny Stratford, who is staying with his wife at Bow Brickhill, has been seriously wounded on active service, and is now home for a rest. He belongs to the 2nd Beds. Regiment, and at the beginning of the war was serving in South Africa. In September, his regiment had orders to move, and he with several other Fenny Stratford men, including Private H. Wallinger, who has since been killed, were amongst those put on board ship and eventually landed at Southampton. He was wounded on March 11th at Neuve Chapelle, and of his experience says;

“We left Lyndhurst camp one Sunday night early in October, and were taken on board ship, and proceeded to Zeebrugge. From here we went to Bruges, and during our stay here we were nearly always on the march until October 21st. Then we marched to Ypres. Here we came in contact with about 600,000 Germans, and our British force only 17,000 strong, had to hold this huge mass for no less than 10 days. We had not a single man for reserve, and we were in action from October 21st until November 4th. From Ypres we came to Fleur-Baix, where we spent the whole of the winter. On the 3rd March we were relieved by a certain unit for a seven days’ rest, digging trenches. On the 9th March we reached a place called Javentee, and at 3 o’clock on the morning of the 10th we marched up to Neuve Chapelle. The attack commenced at 10.30a.m., our artillery having been bombarding since 7.30. The Yorkshires were the first to obtain the German first line of trenches, then our Regiment were to follow. Luck was with me on the 10th, but on the 11th it seemed as if the enemy were firing at us on all sides. We were called out of our trenches about 1p.m., and on advancing to the German trenches I received four bullets in my head from a machine gun. Whilst I was being removed to safety my stretcher bearers were shot dead, and there I had to lie until fresh assistance could be given. I was then taken to hospital and operated upon.”

Private Tanner is still suffering from the wounds, and is afraid he will be discharged from the Army. He has yet to go into hospital to have a silver plate inserted in his skull. He has four brothers on active service, all of whom have been wounded, and a brother in law who is a prisoner of war in Germany.

NBT 1915 Sep. 7th Tue.

Mr. and Mrs. W. Illing, of Aylesbury Street, have received a brief letter from their son, Private Frank Illing of the Royal Warwickshires, who is with the British Force at the Dardanelles. He writes;

“Just a few lines to let you know I am still all right. I have not received any letters from you yet, but am expecting one now. Well, we are having a bit of a rough time out here. I have lost almost all my poor old pals, and I must think myself very lucky I have come through without a scratch. I suppose you have seen the account of this big engagement by now in the papers. I shall not be sorry when it is over, so that we can get our boots and socks off. We have not had them off for five weeks. However, we must cheer up and make the best of it, for we are fighting for a good cause.”

Private Illing enlisted last September, and sailed for the Dardanelles in June. He has a brother who is serving with the Forces in France.

NBT 1915 Oct. 5th Tue.

In a letter from Rifleman Fred Thurlow, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Harry Thurlow, of Napier Street, to his sister Mrs. B Kemp, of Bletchley, he tells how Corporal Sam Tompkins was wounded. With four other young men from Fenny Stratford, the two had enlisted in Lord Kitchener’s Army in the Rifle Brigade last September, and have since stayed together. They are now in the trenches except for Corporal Tompkins, who is in hospital having been wounded;

“I am getting on all right, and all the other boys are well, with the exception of Sammy. He went out on night patrol with our platoon officer, Mr. Torry. I was outside the trenches lying under our barbed wire, listening for the Germans, when he came out with Mr. Torry. He told me what the password would be when they came back and then they went on; and that is the last we have seen of him. A patrol is supposed to be out for about two hours, but three hours passed before we heard anything. Then a Gurkha came down the line and said what had happened. It seems that this Gurkha was out with a patrol of his men lying on the edge of a ‘Jack Johnson’ hole, watching a party of about ten Germans moving about, when all at once they heard the Germans say: ‘Hands up!’ Then they could see Mr. Torry, with Sammy about five yards behind him. Torry was putting his hands up, and as he was doing so he turned round to Tompkins and said: “Run for it,” and then bolted in the opposite direction to Sammy. As they bolted the Germans fired at them and threw a bomb. Mr. Torry, who it so happened, was running towards the Gurkhas, was hit three of four times and fell down into the hole where the Ghurkhas were. Tompkins seemed to disappear altogether. The Gurkha said he appeared to be going towards the German trenches, mistaking them for our own. Of course, it was very dark at the time and everything was hard to see. The Gurkhas brought Mr. Torry into our trenches, but he died the next day from his wounds. I asked for permission to go out and look for Sammy, as he might have been badly wounded and unable to get in. The Major allowed me to go the following night (Sunday). Sammy had gone out on the Saturday night. Another fellow and I set out. We crawled all over the ground from where the Gurkhas saw them, back to where they started from, but we could not find him nor his rifle.”

The next day Rifleman Thurlow then continued the letter;

“Sammy crawled in the Gurkha trenches half a mile away, as I was writing yesterday. He was captured by the Germans, but managed to get away and hide again in a shell hole.He explained how it was he was out so long. As he was running away when the Germans first saw him, he lost his direction and did not know which were ours or the German lines. He was light-headed when he came in and did not know how long he had been out till we told him. He had not had anything to eat or drink all the time (three days). How he came to be away so long was that he could not remember anything about Sunday night, so I conclude he must have been knocked out by the bomb the Germans threw at him. On Monday night he made for what he thought were our trenches, but they were the Germans! They fired at him and shot him in the hand, but he managed to get away and stopped in a hole all day. On Tuesday night he made his way to the opposite lot of trenches and lay in a ditch waiting for somebody to look over. At length a Gurkha did so. Sammy yelled at him and the Gurkha officer told him to come in. This was about half-a-mile down the line from where he started on the Sunday night. So he had Gurkhas on one side of him and Germans on the other, and could not understand the lingo of either. He is in hospital now, and he needs it, too. While I am writing, a terrible bombardment is still going on. We have absolutely smashed the German trenches to bits.”

Corporal Tompkins is now in hospital at Bristol, and soon hopes to be well enough to go back to the front. Before enlisting he was employed as a baker for many years by Mr. Richardson, of Bletchley Road.

B.S. 1915 Oct. 16th

On Thursday morning, official news was received by Mrs. Gillam that her husband, Sergeant J. Gillam, of the 7th Northants. Regiment, has been killed in action. Captain Edgar Mobbs writes;

“ 7th Northants Regiment,
B.E.F. France.

Dear Mrs. Gillam, I am sorry to say your husband was killed in the great fight on September 26. 1915 I am so sorry for you all. He was such a man in every sense of the word. He was wounded on the Sunday, and as he passed me in the trenches said, “I shall soon be back - it is only a slight wound.” He came back shortly afterwards and started fighting again, but got killed on the following day. I managed to get his disc, which I have sent you. You must bear up and be brave; I know it would be his wish. He died a hero. Yours very truly, EDGAR MOBBS.”

The son of Mr. J. Gillam, formerly stud groom at Lathbury Park, Newport Pagnell, and now the licensee of The Black Horse Inn at Winslow, as a Rugby footballer Sergeant Gillam had gained distinction in the East Midlands, and was a true sportsman. Whilst training to be a teacher he married Miss Dorothy Juffs, the only child of Mr. and Mrs. Juffs, of Bury Street, Newport Pagnell, and with she also being in the teaching profession, at the outbreak of war he was employed on the teaching staff of the Fenny Stratford Council School. When Captain Mobbs raised the football company of the 7th Northants., he readily volunteered his services and was accepted.

(This letter is also carried in the Wolverton Express edition of 1915, October 22nd)

(On Friday, October 22nd a memorial service would be held in the Parish Church, Winslow, with the lesson being read by Captain Hansell, of the Norfolk Reserve, the buglers of which after the Blessing would sound the Last Post outside the church.)

NBT 1915 Nov. 23rd Tue.

From Private Sidney Wodhams of the Buffs, from ‘somewhere’;

“I am still safe and sound and feeling pretty fit after a very rough time in the trenches… We have just come out after eight days in the front line. First of all the weather has been terrible out here, raining every day pretty well, and awfully cold with it. It has been terrible in the trenches as we have had to wade about in mud and water practically up to our knees all the eight days, but I have stuck it all right and still keep smiling, although it is a hard life, but somebody has got to do it and there the fact remains. The fighting has been pretty hot at times, but up to present no advance has been made in our part. There is plenty of grenade fighting going on by both sides, also mining activity. We are superior in the latter, and every night we were in the firing line this last time our people put one up. We generally managed to sap them under the German first line trench, and when one is up it makes a terrible mess of the Germans’ trench, much to ‘Fritz’s’ disgust. They usually reply with rapid rifle fire and machine guns, but we don’t stand any of their old buck, we simply retaliate by rifle fire, machine gun fire, and also send over a good supply of bombs, and lastly we got our artillery (which is much superior to theirs) to send a few greetings… My company were rather unlucky this time, suffering more casualties than usual. One night, while we stood to arms, the Germans sent one of their death dealing affairs over. It is in the shape of a five gallon oil-drum, and apparently they fire them from a trench mortar from their second or third line trench. They are filled with a very high explosive, and the concussion is something terrible. On this particular night it unfortunately fell right in the trench amongst my platoon. One was killed instantly and the rest severely wounded. I was not far from where it fell, and the concussion knocked me down, but it only gave me a bit of a shock. I soon got over it. Trench warfare is not fair fighting in my opinion. It is simply murder.”

NBT 1916 Jan. 4th Tue.

A letter dated December 7th from Private Frank Illing, to his parents Mr. & Mrs. W. Illing of Aylesbury Street. He has been serving with the Royal Warwickshires at the Dardanelles for some months;

“I am sorry to say we have been having a bit of a rough time up this part of the globe. We have been up to our waists in water for a few days, and the consequence is I am in hospital with frostbitten feet. Thank goodness it has turned out better expected, for it was thought at one time I should have to lose my left foot. Yesterday the Sister told me that it would turn out all right, so I feel quite contented to know that I have got off so well. It will be some time, however, before I have the use of my foot again. Well, I hope you will have a good Christmas. I guess my thoughts will be with you all the time, but I hope to be home myself by the next one. I am sending you a card the Chaplain has just given me: I think it is very good considering what part of the globe we are in.”

Since receiving the letter, Private Illing’s parents have received official notification that their son is in an Australian hospital at Lemnos.

NBT 1916 Mar. 28th Tue.

From an officer of the 6th Battalion Oxon & Bucks Light Infantry;

“Dear Mr. Wallsgrove. I am sorry to have to tell you that your son was killed last night. He was on sentry duty and was hit through the head by a machine gun bullet. He used to be in my platoon in England, and for the earlier part of the time out here, but for the last few months I have been in command of a grenade platoon, so that I have not seen much of your son lately. He was a good lad; I always thought he was too young to come out here and admired him for his keenness in enlisting. Please accept my deepest sympathies. I am, yours sincerely, E.E. Middleditch, 6th Oxon and Bucks. L.I.”

(The father, John Wallsgrove, was a nephew of Mr. H. Hands, with whom as a fully qualified Pharmaceutical Chemist he would be in business for many years as a chemist and druggist in Aylesbury Street, Fenny Stratford. As a keen musician he played the flute in the orchestra of the Fenny Stratford Musical Society, and during the war formed and organised the ’Wallsgrove Orchestra,’ which provided musical entertainment around the town. He was also a keen photographer, and won many prizes. In late 1920 he would suffer a stroke, and passed away on December 29th 1920, leaving a widow and daughter.)

Two letters have been received by Mr. and Mrs. Coles, of Simpson Road, regarding the death of their second son in the trenches in France on March 28th, 1916;

“29/3/16. Dear Mr. Coles. I am afraid I have very bad news to give you. Your son was in the front trenches yesterday when a German shell exploded quite close to him. He was killed instantly - you may be sure that he did not suffer at all. He was buried this morning in our little Cemetery here, the place is carefully noted, and his grave will be well looked after. Please accept my very sincere sympathy and that of his comrades in arms. I am, yours faithfully, Arthur B. Lloyd Baker. Captain, commanding ‘D’ Company, Bucks.”

“March 29th. Dear Mr. Coles. I am very sorry indeed to have to send you such very bad news. Your son, in the Bucks. Battn., was killed by a shell yesterday afternoon, and we laid him to rest in the military cemetery this morning. The regiment will place a cross on the grave. As many officers and men as could be spared came to the funeral this morning. With every sympathy for you and yours in your great loss. Yours sincerely, E.J. Helm, Chaplain, Gloucestershire Regiment.”

NBT 1916 June 27th Tue.

A letter to Mr. W. Cranwell of Brooklands Road, concerning the death of his son, Private Edmund Percy, of the 14th (County of London) Battalion, (London Scottish), London Regiment, in action;

‘Dear Sir, I am grieved to have to tell you that Pte. E.P. Cranwell was killed on the 7th inst. The loss is greatly felt in A Company, for his work was highly valued and always cheerfully done under very trying conditions. It will be some comfort to you to know that his death was instantaneous. He was buried in the cemetery of which particulars can be obtained from the Graves Registration Office G.H.A. I am, your truly, A.H. Macgregor, Captain. Private Cranwell was serving with the 1st London Scottish.”

(Private Cranwell was the son of William and Elizabeth Cranwell, of 11, Brooklands Road, Bletchley, and is buried in Hebuterne Military Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France.)

NBT 1916 July 25th Tue.

In his last letter home Private George Benbow remarked that he was looking forward to coming home at Christmas, and what a tale he would have to tell. He also mentioned that he had just met four local fellows, S. Johnson, S. Walduck, E. North and ? Jackson. Tragically, Private Benbow was killed on July 1st, and a letter from the London Scottish Headquarters, dated July 17th, reads;

“It is with very sincere regret that I hear today of the fact that your son has been killed in action. I beg to tender to you the heartfelt sympathy of myself and the regiment in your sad bereavement, but trust that your grief may be mitigated in some degree by the reflection that he gave his life for his King and country. Yours sincerely, Harry E. Stebbing, (Capt.).”

On Tuesday morning Mrs. Benbow then received a letter from the officer commanding Private Benbow’s Company, this being in reply to an enquiry that she had made;

“It is with sincere regret that I have to inform you that your son, Pte. G. Benbow (5566) laid down his life like the gallant soldier he was in the attack we made on July 1st. I trust, madam, that you will accept my sincere sympathy in this hour, which is so trying to many of us.”

(Serving with the 1st/14th (County of London) Battalion (London Scottish), London Regiment, Private Benbow was aged 20, and being a resident of Bletchley, was the son of William and Elizabeth Benbow, of 5, Regent Street, Bletchley. He has no known grave, and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France.)

NBT 1916 Aug. 1st Tue.

A letter to Mrs. Robinson, of Woodbine Terrace;

‘Dear Mrs. Robinson. Your grandson, Pte. Cox (Bucks Battalion) was brought in here on July 21, suffering from wounds in the head. I regret to say the injuries are severe, and we feel most anxious about him. Everything possible is being done for him, and he will receive every care and attention. Hoping to see an improvement soon, yours sincerely, F.R. Holmes (sister in charge.)”

NBT 1916 Aug. 1st Tue.

On Monday, Mrs. Chadwick received the following Royal message;

‘Buckingham Palace, 1p.m., July 31st, to Mrs. John Chadwick, Richmond House, Bletchley. The King and Queen deeply regret the loss you and the Army have sustained by the death of your son in the service of his country. Their Majesties truly sympathise with you in your sorrow. Keeper of the Privy Purse.”


Lance Corporal Frank Barden.

NBT 1916 Aug. 1st Tue.

To Mr. Andrew Barden, Napier Street, from the Captain commanding Lance Corporal Barden’s Company;

‘It is with much regret that I write to inform you of the death of your son, Lance Corporal F. Barden. Though he had only just joined my Company, he had already brought himself to my notice for the extremely efficient and reliable way in which he carried out his duties, and I had him marked down for early promotion. He was killed while standing to behind the lines during one of our attacks, by a big shell. He never knew what hit him. No words of mine can, I know, console you for his loss, but I knew you would like to know how he died and how well he has behaved during the short time he was with us. He will be a loss not only to the Company, but to the whole Battalion. His personal belongings are being sent to you. Any further assistance I can be to you will be willingly given. Assuring you once more of our deepest sympathy with you in your loss, yours sincerely, J.S. Bonser (Capt.).”

Another letter is received, dated July 21st.

“I cannot express in words how great was our sorrow at losing your son, the late Lance Corporal F.H. Barden. He was liked and respected by everyone in the Company, and had earned the admiration of his officers by his readiness in carrying out orders and assisting his comrades in any emergency. You can understand that I feel his loss personally when I tell you he was one of the best N.C.O.s in my Company during the training at Bovington Camp in Dorset, and it was a source of pleasure to me when he joined us in the 6th Battalion out here. Had he been spared he would certainly have been promoted as he deserved. The sympathies of my brother officers and myself are extended to you in your great sorrow, for he died as a British soldier would have wished, doing his duty to the last. Yours very sincerely, J.W. Shaw, (2nd Lieut.).”

(Killed on July 19th, 1916, Lance Corporal Barden was serving with the 6th Battalion, Oxon and Bucks Light Infantry. He was born at, and a resident of, Bletchley, but had enlisted at Liverpool.)

NBT 1916 Aug. 8th Tue.

A letter to a resident of Bletchley from her son, serving with the Army in France;

“Your parcel arrived safely with all its contents. Thanks for the socks, which arrived most opportunely, for I had visited uncle in the front line the night before and stepped into a shell hole full of water on my way back. I found him well and as cheerful as ever in his house which he shares with another officer. It is about the size of a pre war hat box … They shelled us very furiously last night and gave us a lot of work, but I think we are straight again now. I send a ballad which I began composing the other night while attempting to look like a tree stump. I was coming back from the front line by the overland route, and Fritz had such an attack of nerves that he kept the star shells going for about ten minutes at a stretch. I at once gave my renowned impersonation of a moss covered oak by moonlight. Unfortunately most of the moss stood on end and about spoilt the illusion. I became practical and began reciting “Grey’s Elegy.” When I got as far as the verse about “Storied Urn” a hostile shell did “an animated bust” not far away - so I left. I felt like a sophisticated ostrich who had tried the old fashioned method of hiding, but had no faith in it … I am playing chess pretty regularly now, but I cannot get a real stiff opponent. I beat the cook and the R.F.C. wireless man with monotonous regularity. Tell **** to let me know if he feels inclined to start an “overseas” game of chess at the rate of one move a letter. It would for one thing tend to make correspondence more regular.”

NBT 1916 Aug. 22nd Tue.

The children of the Drayton Parslow Council School were asked by the ‘Over land and sea club’ to contribute pennies on Empire Day for the Soldiers and Sailors. A sum of £11 was collected, and amongst the acknowledgments from the recipients is one from Signaller E.W. Spooner, from Fenny Stratford. He writes;

“The School Children, Drayton Parslow Council School, Bletchley. Dear Children, I feel I must write and thank you for your kindness in sending cigarettes, which I can assure you are fully appreciated. It is rather a coincidence that I should have the pleasure of receiving a gift from Drayton when I myself come from Fenny Stratford, and know your village so well. I am enclosing my address in this letter. 12280, H.Q. Company, Oxon and Bucks Light I. France. I may tell you we are at present enjoying the best of weather, and trust it will keep so. Again thanking you for your kindness. I am yours etc., Signaller E.W. Spooner.”

(In December 1916 it is reported that Private E. Spooner, of Bletchley, has been awarded the Military Medal for bravery on the field.)

NBT 1916 Nov. 28th Tue

Mr. and Mrs. Page of 35, Aylesbury Street, have received recent news that their son Alex Page, Gunner R.F.A., has been wounded and is dangerously ill at Rouen. Later news confirmed this, saying that he had gunshot wounds, and his left leg had been amputated. In the early part of last week a message stated that he had been removed to Netley Hospital, and he was still in a serious condition. His parents visited him on Wednesday and found him slightly improved. Two other sons are serving. One is in Salonika and the other, who has arrived from Malta, is shortly to leave for France.

NBT 1917 Apr. 24th Tue.

In a recent letter from the fighting line in France, the son of a well known Bletchley resident writes;

“Things are getting bad in England I know, but if the people at home could only take a trip over here and visit the battle fields and villages it would make their hair stand on end. It is one huge scene of devastation, destruction and desolation. It is said that agricultural scientists have made a tour of the country wrenched from the Huns; they say it will take years upon years before cultivation can take place again, so you can form some idea what the state of the land is like, so when one comes to reckon up it is very consoling to see what dear old England has been saved from.”

NBT 1917 May 29th Tue.

Regarding Private Herbert Cook, who has been killed in action, Captain J.A. Harvey, R.A.M.C., writes to his widow on May 17th;

“Please accept my sympathy in the loss you have sustained of your husband. He was in the section of the 11th Field Ambulance, of which I had charge and was doing, and had been for some days, splendid work stretcher bearing, when, unfortunately, he was killed instantaneously by a shell. He had showed great courage as there was a great deal of shelling, to which the bearers were fully exposed. Though you will feel his loss greatly, probably it is some small consolation to know that he was killed while doing his duty, and will be much missed by his comrades.”

(Born and resident at Bletchley, Private Cook, of the 11th Field Ambulance, R.A.M.C., was killed on May 11th, 1917, and is buried in Crump Trench British Cemetery, Fampoux, Pas de Calais, France.)

NBT 1917 June 19th Tue.

Rifleman C.D. Francis, brother in law of Private Herbert Cook, who was recently killed in action in France, has received a letter from Private C. Jones, his chum;

“We went up the line during the recent operations, as bearers, and were attached to the various regiments, comprising our Brigade. As you probably know, when up line, the bearers and divisions of a Field Ambulance are divided into squads of bearers, four men in each squad. One of the men in my squad was sent down sick, and Herbert volunteered to take his place, to get along with me, as he and I were such fast friends. Up there, amid the din and roar of battle, Herbert worked like a hero, setting a fine example to the rest of the lads in the squad. No matter under what conditions we had to work, he always maintained his cheery disposition, and often was the means of keeping us from getting down in the dumps. One day while we were waiting outside the trenches to carry off the next case a shell dropped in amongst us. When I recovered from the shock of the explosion, I looked around to see how the rest of the boys had fared, and I saw Herbert lying a few yards away beyond human help. He must have been killed instantaneously. With the assistance of the other boys I laid him to rest alongside some more of our Division, still in the zone of fire. The burial service was carried out with as much ceremony as was possible under the circumstances, and now a little wooden cross marks the grave of the best pal I ever had. Everyone in the section were very sorry to hear of his death, but none miss him like I do. One great consolation his relatives will always have is that he died like a hero, while administering to the wants and alleviating the sufferings of his fellow comrades.”

NBT 1917 Aug. 21st Tue.

News has been received that Lieutenant Herbert Wigley, of the King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment, was killed in the heavy fighting in the Ypres district at the end of July. His C.O. writes to the bereaved relatives;

“I must try to write and express what a loss his death is to me personally, and also to the Battalion … I could always depend on him to do everything well. He died gallantly leading his men, and I am sure that his great example did more than anything to help us win our part of the battle.”

From Captain Kendall;

“I cannot tell you how splendid he was in the fight. Although wounded in the left shoulder with a rifle grenade more than three hours previous to his being killed, he refused to go down, but stayed and spent his whole time encouraging his men wonderfully in what was at that time rather a critical situation.”

From the Chaplain;

“Somehow or other he did not expect to return, and he asked me to send you the enclosed letter. I miss him very much - more than I can say. He was so cheery, so optimistic, so kindly, I feel that I have lost a close personal friend. We all loved him, and he was a man full of strength and courage. Your loss must be very great, and it is little that I can do to comfort you, but I send this expression of deepest sympathy. I lived with him in the trenches several days before he was killed, and his fearlessness, unselfishness and devotion to duty were an inspiration to me.”

Aged 37, Lieutenant Wigley was the son of the late Mr. George Wigley, of Winslow, and a member of the well known and long established firm of auctioneers of that name. It was in September 1914 that he joined the Public Schools Battalion as a private, and after a short period of training was given a commission and posted to France. Being involved in much heavy fighting, in the first operations on the Somme he was severely wounded in the thigh, head, and wrist, but after some months in a Manchester hospital, and a short period with his relatives at home, he recovered and rejoined his regiment in France. He was educated at the Leys Public School, Cambridge, and after serving his articles with Messrs. Davis and Champion, of Stroud, Gloucestershire, became associated with his father in the business of Wigley and Sons. On the death of his father he then joined his brother, Sidney, as partner,

NBT 1917 Sep. 4th Tue.

In a letter dated August 21st from his Commanding Officer, the parents of Mr. & Mrs. E. Fennemore, of 21, Victoria Road, are informed that their only son, Private Ernest Hubert Fennemore, has been killed in action in France. Aged 19, he was serving with the 6th Oxon & Bucks Light Infantry, and was killed at Langemarch on August 16th, 1917.

“It is with the greatest regret that I have to inform you that your son was killed by a sniper whilst taking part in the last advance. We had taken our objective and were digging in, when this sniper who had concealed himself in some houses opened fire and hit two or three of our men. I am sorry to say your son was shot through the chest, and died instantly. The Chaplain came up after dark and held a short burial service over his grave, which I have marked and will get a cross put up as soon as possible. Your son was a great favourite in the company, both with the officers and men, and we shall all miss him very much.”

One of Private Fennemore’s comrades writes;

“It happened while we were making an attack against the Germans. Ern was with us when we reached our objective, but his death was caused while we were digging in, in order to be under cover against any counter attacks. Machine guns were playing around us. Some were wounded by the bullets, but Ern was killed. It will help you in your sad bereavement to know he lived a good Christian life among his comrades, and he died a noble death. I personally shall miss him very much, and my deepest sympathy goes with you all.”

(Born at Fenny Stratford, and resident at Bletchley, Private Fennemore has no known grave, and is commemorated on Tyne Cot Memorial, Zonnebeke, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium.)

NBT 1917 Sep. 25th Tue.

A letter sent by the Sister at No. 44 Casualty Clearing Station, France, to Mrs. Huggins, 16, Park Street, regarding the death of her husband, Sergeant Alfred Huggins, on August 20th;

“Your husband was admitted to this Hospital on the 20th August, being badly wounded in the chest and abdomen. He was operated on at once, but his wounds were too bad and he died that same evening at 8 o’clock. The poor fellow sent his love to you and said when better he would write himself. He did not then realise the extent of his wounds. I regret very much having to send such bad news, but want you to know that whilst in my ward we did all that was possible.”

A Chaplain writes;

“Everything possible was done to save his life and for his comfort while he was with us. I have buried him in the Military Cemetery, and the War Grave will notify you about his grave. A cross will be erected to his honoured memory. He was too ill to talk.”

NBT 1917 Sep. 25th Tue.

A letter from L.G.B. Sheldon, Chaplain, regarding the death in action of Private Charles Dimmock, the son of Mr. & Mrs. J. Dimmock, Mount Pleasant;

“You will have already received the sad news about which I write. Your son, Pte. C.E. Dimmock, of the Royal Warwicks, has been called to lay down his life for his country. He fell fighting bravely in a recent raid on the enemy trenches. I do not think he lingered to suffer. No words of mine can take away your sorrow, but may God Himself comfort and help you. Your son’s personal effects will be sent to you as soon as possible.”

NBT 1917 Oct. 9th Tue.

Private C. King, Labour Company, Northants. Regiment, writes to his parents, Mr and Mrs. Thomas King, 19, High Street;

“I am informed by our Colonel that I am to receive the Military Medal for bravery. It happened on August 8th, when a party of us were picked out for putting up light railway lines. We had just started work when a shell burst amongst us wounding a lot. After the others had scattered I went to the assistance of the wounded. While I was carrying the men on the stretcher the shells were bursting around me, but I never flinched and still went on with the work. Three times I went from the table to the Red Cross motor, then I returned later to fill in the shell hole. This was noticed by a Canadian Colonel, who recommended me for my bravery.”

Private Alfred Walker, Oxon and Bucks Light Infantry, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Walker, 17, High Street, has also been awarded the Military Medal, for bravery on the field and for carrying wounded under fire.

NBT 1918 July 30th Tue.

Miss Enid Watney, of the County Folk Visitation Society, Oxford & Bucks Section, Courtfield Road, South Kensington, SW7, writes to the editor;

“Sir, wounded Buckinghamshire men are still pouring into London Hospitals. Some I can arrange to cheer and visit, but I have six men in one, and three in another hospital, yet no Buckinghamshire residents in London will, apparently, trouble to see them, and they have no friends near by. I earnestly appeal to Buckinghamshire residents in London to remove this slur on their charity and good feeling.

Yours etc.,
(Miss) Enid Watney.”

NBT Sept. 10th 1918 Tue.

Corporal W.T. Halsey, Cavalry Gun Section, the son of Mr. & Mrs. Halsey, Far Bletchley, writes from France;

“You will see by the papers that we have been in action. We had quite a lot of fun the first day (like a day’s holiday). We got right on top of the Boche the first day. Tons of stuff were captured, and guns. We only lost a few of the boys, but we lost a good few horses.”

NBT Sept. 24th 1918 Tue.

The Reverend A.J. Billings, Chaplain to the battalion to which Rifleman Jesse Scott was attached, writes to his parents at ‘Ferndale’, 7, Osborne Street, Bletchley;

“The battle for the ‘Switch’, of which much was written in the newspapers, was a splendid triumph and will have far reaching consequences out here, but many brave men like your son have fallen, and many hearts at home will be deeply wounded. … Your son was a good soldier, brave and willing. He was very much liked by his mates and we shall greatly miss him. … The battle on the 29th ult., when he fell, was a very fierce one, the brunt of which fell on our battalion. A great victory was wrought, but many noble lads have suffered.”

(Serving with the 1st Battalion Rifle Brigade (The Prince Consort’s Own), Rifleman Scott was aged 25. Born and resident at Bletchley, he was formerly employed by Mr. R.B. Stevens, of Aylesbury Street.)

NBT Oct. 15th 1918 Tue.

Gunner William Munday, who was formerly employed by Rowland Bros., has won the Military Medal. The official record reads;

“Military Medal, 198285, Gnr. W. Munday, C/286th Brigade, R.F.A. Conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty near … on the 27th August, 1918, when Signaller with the F.O.O. at an advanced post. The telegraph wires had been so cut to pieces by continuous shell fire that a new line had to be laid, as it was of urgent importance to maintain communication. Gunner Munday volunteered to carry out this work alone. He had to cross an area swept by machine gun fire, and it was not possible for him to get any cover from close enemy observation. After three attempts he succeeded. It was an action calling for supreme courage and determination. The G.O.C., 57th Division, congratulates the above on receipt of the reward for his gallantry.”

(Serving with C Battery, 286th Brigade, Royal Field Artillery, Gunner Munday would die of wounds in Britain on November 9th, 1918, aged 20. He is buried in Bletchley cemetery.)

NBT Oct. 22nd 1918 Tue.

From Private Leon Higgs, the adopted son of Mr. & Mrs. Dawson, of Woodbine Terrace. He has been wounded in the thigh in France, and writes from the East Suffolk Hospital, Ipswich;

“It is awfully dull lying in bed day after day, when the sun is shining, but I mustn’t complain, it is better than being in a cramped dug out in France.”

NBT 1918 Nov. 5th Tue.

The son of one of Fenny Stratford’s oldest tradesmen, who has served for a considerable time with the Mechanical Transport in Belgium and France, and is well known locally as a musician, relates the following experience to his parents under the date October 20th;

“It has been raining all day, which is making things very miserable for our boys who are attacking again today. The prisoners coming down are soaked but happy, and doubtless shaking hands with themselves. I spent a happy hour the night before last in the last village we were at. It was really a small town about the size of Fenny, and had hardly been touched by shell fire. It boasts a fine big church, which has had, however, one shell through it, but is otherwise intact. Jerry had cleared all the civilians from this town, so I went and had a look round the church, and while there heard someone playing the organ. We stopped and enjoyed the music for a bit, and as the “volunteer organist” appeared to be staying some time, we went away. Later I went back on my own and found the church deserted. I groped my way up to the organ loft (it was pitch dark now) and sat down at the organ. I was surprised to find it blown by pedals in the same way as a harmonium, but it had a beautiful tone and quite powerful enough for the size of the building. I tried to play in the dark, but finished up by risking lighting a candle and shading it as best I could. I had a fine time, and had got quite the ‘hang’ of it by the time I knocked off. It was rather a weird feeling being perched up there and occasionally a gun going off just behind the village, and absolutely drowning any noise I was making till the echoes died away, the flashes illuminating the whole building. We shifted again yesterday, and the church in our present village has been blown up. It must have been done purposely by Jerry, as there isn’t a wall standing, and none of the buildings round about have been damaged except by masonry falling from the church. We had to fetch some civilians down from the line the other morning about six o’clock. Their villages were just this side of the line, and when Jerry put gas over in the early morning they had to clear out with whatever things they had handy, as of course they had no gas masks. There was a very heavy Scotch mist at the time, and we met them struggling along, young people who took it merely as an adventure, but most pitiful of all, old people of sixty or seventy, with no hats, and soaked through with the mist, dragging bundles of miscellaneous articles which they thought would be necessary. One of the old ladies was quite blind. We got as many as possible into the lorry (not without a struggle) and turned round. A French interpreter was in charge, and he had arranged for us to drop them at a Field Ambulance on the way back for a cup of hot tea and some biscuits. After this there was much shouting of ‘Vive l’Angleterre’ by the younger people. We took them on to a branch of the French Mission. How thankful it makes one feel that the people in ‘Blighty’ have been spared such horrors. It makes me shudder to picture either of my grandmothers in that mist.”

NBT 1918 Nov. 5th Tue.

A letter from one of their sons to Mr. & Mrs. C. Wodhams. He is serving in France, and writes;

“My experiences, since coming back from leave, have been many and varied. We are continually going through towns and villages now that have not been held by us since the beginning of the war, and I am pleased to say that most of them are in comparatively good condition. We are on the outskirts of a town which has been prominent in the fighting these last two or three days. This has suffered pretty badly, and the French civilians living in it have had a pitiable time, in fact, all the time I have been out here I have never witnessed such rotten sights. We have spoken to a lot of them, and to hear their experiences of living four years under German rule would make even a conscientious objector jump into khaki and come out here and do a bit. Their physical condition is wicked owing to the Huns’ treatment: in fact, I have never seen human beings in such a state. They are being well cared for and fed now by the British, and you may well guess they cannot express their thanks sufficiently to the British Tommies for their deliverance.”

The writer encloses a German field telegram and a printed circular found in the cellar they were occupying, which the Germans had left in a hurry that same morning. The circular is headed, “German soldiers.” It starts; “The enemy powers are arranged against the coming of German freedom,” and the whole tone is on the same lines. “The thought of the future frightens the enemy and prolongs the war.” It concludes with the exhortation; “It lies to each one, as the end of the war draws near, to remain one with another in firm assurance of the freedom of our people - the Fatherland lives.”

NBT 1918 Nov. 12th

A letter regarding the death of Private Albert Charter, Beds. Regiment, the only son of Mr. & Mrs. Charter of 5, Osborne Street. He was killed in action on September 21st, and one of his chums writes;

“We were taking shelter in a shell hole after going ‘over the top,’ when a shell pitched in the hole where Bert and another man were. I feel certain they were both killed instantly.”

Lt. C. Hart writes;

“Though he had only been a short while in my platoon we all liked him. I did not know until a short time ago his home was at Bletchley. I am always interested in Bletchley because I am a nephew of Lady Leon and have often stayed at the Park.”

(Born and resident at Bletchley, Private Charter has no known grave, and is commemorated on the Vis-en-Artois Memorial, Pas de Calais, France.)


LORD & LADY DALMENY AT ‘THE GRANGE’

Comprising 52 acres, which stretched not only from Holne Chase to Newton Road, but also beyond the railway line, the whole of the Brooklands estate, at Far Bletchley, had by 1910 been sold to Samuel Hugh Waterhouse, by whom The Grange, one of the more prestigious of residences in the district, was fashioned. Having settled into the premises, in January 1912 he then enlarged the estate by purchasing from Sir Everard Duncombe the contiguous Brookland Farm, of 78 acres. However, on January 13th 1914, for £11,300 he then sold The Grange and the associated land to Lord Dalmeny, whose father had provided the money. Born on January 8th 1882, Albert Edward Harry Mayer Archibald Primrose - Lord Dalmeny - was the eldest son and heir of Lord Rosebery, and having on April 15th 1909 married Dorothy Alice Margaret Augusta Grosvenor, the youngest daughter of the late Lord Henry Grosvenor, their union would produce two children; the Hon. Archibald Ronald Primrose, on August 1st 1910, and the Hon. Helen Dorothy Primrose, on August 8th 1913. Before the purchase of The Grange the couple had lived in houses in England and Scotland owned by Lord Dalmeny’s father, but they had only been in residence in Bletchley for a week when the First World War broke out. Both Lord and Lady Dalmeny were keen hunts people, and so when on Wednesday, August 5th 1914 Government agents in the district began buying horses, which were urgently needed for the Army, several were supplied by Lord Dalmeny, with their new ownership being marked by stamping the animals with the broad arrow of the Government. Lord Dalmeny now obtained an appointment on the staff of General Allenby, with whom he would duly serve in France, whilst as for Lady Dalmeny, she continued to deal with the domestic matters at Bletchley, such as writing a letter dated October 29th 1914, to the Council, complaining about the condition of the main drain from Far Bletchley. This ran uncovered through Lord Dalmeny’s fields, but since the Council’s Surveyor, as well as the male staff of the department, had now joined up, the Council decided ‘to forward a conciliatory reply with a view to postponing expenditure for the present.’ Yet unfortunately from now on there would be few conciliatory replies between Lord and Lady Dalmeny, for their marriage had begun to break down, and in fact on his first leave in November, 1914, Lord Dalmeny found that his wife, when informed of his impending return, had left the town, an occurrence which she then repeated in February 1915. However, for the majority of the nation’s young men hurt feelings were the least of their worries, and one Monday morning in May 1915 a telegram was received stating that Private Sydney Larner, the youngest son of Mr. and Mrs. John Larner, of King Street, Stony Stratford, had died on Sunday morning in hospital at Exeter. Serving with the 2nd Northants. Regiment, he had suffered shrapnel wounds in the left hand and calf, and his death, which occurred only three weeks after his recovery from previous wounds, had been caused by the onset of septic poisoning. Resident at Newton Longville, before the war he had been a gardener for Lord Dalmeny, and with a widow and child left to mourn, he would be buried with full military honours at Exeter on Tuesday, May 20th. Then in August 1915 came news that Lord Dalmeny had been wounded on active service, although this seemed of little concern to his wife, since the frequency of her letters had not only lessened, but their tone had now become colder. Thus in October 1915, having accidentally learned that she had travelled to Paris, Lord Dalmeny obtained special leave from the General to see her, and it would be at this impromptu meeting that he asked why she had taken this attitude. She said in reply that she had ceased to care for him for some 4 or 5 years, and being of the opinion that they were unsuited it was a pity that they had ever been married. Finally she then declared that she would never live with him again, but nevertheless at Bletchley she and the children still maintained an interest in the social life of the town. In fact on Thursday, December 30th 1915, at Bletchley Park at a meet of Lord Dalmeny’s beagles her son, the Hon. Ronald Primrose, collected the sum of £28 12s 6d in aid of the Red Cross Fund, whilst as for Lady Dalmeny, in June 1916 at the Richmond Horse Show she easily won first prize for a hunter ridden by a lady, astride her bay gelding horse, ‘Redmond.’ The following month, in a letter to Lord Dalmeny she then confirmed her marital intentions, and - with the position thus clarified - whenever Lord Dalmeny returned to see the children his wife would be away, except for one occasion when he unexpectedly returned for the day. However, even then she would not acknowledge him. Meanwhile, at the other end of the social spectrum there was also cause for emotional turbulence when - hopefully unconnected with the recent appointment of a ‘smart lad’, aged 15 or 16, who was required as a kennel boy, ‘board and lodging included’ - a housemaid was charged with concealing the birth of an illegitimate male child. Aged 26, the girl had been employed in domestic service for most of her life, and it was on the morning of October 9th 1916 that the body of the infant was found at The Grange, hidden in the cupboard of her bedroom. Dr. Maynard Vasey, acting as locum tenens for Lieutenant Colonel C.J. Deynes, R.A.M.C. (who was away on military service) was duly called to see the girl, but since she was absent he went to her bedroom and on opening a locked cupboard found a boot box lightly tied with string. Inside lay the unmarked body, and on subsequently seeing the maid the doctor asked how she was, to which she replied “You know all about it now.” According to the report of police sergeant Hill, on October 9th on going to The Grange at 5.30p.m. he had been shown the body by the doctor, and, charging her with concealing the birth of a child, he then interviewed the girl who, admitting that she was the mother, said that the baby had been born on Saturday night, and was no doubt still born. She then put the body in a box, which she hid in the cupboard. On suspicion of having caused the death, the girl was consequently brought before the Bench, and on being charged was remanded pending a post mortem and a Coroner’s inquest. This would be held at the Police Court by the District Coroner, Mr. E.T. Worley, and with the jury concluding that the infant had been still born, ‘without experiencing a separate existence,’ at the Bucks Assizes at Aylesbury, held on Friday, January 13th 1917, the girl surrendered to the bail granted at the Fenny Stratford Petty Sessions, and pleaded guilty to concealing a birth at Bletchley on October 7th. In mitigation it was stated that whilst in the employ of Lady Dalmeny she was noted for her excellent character, honesty, integrity and morality, and as soon as she knew of her pregnancy she had fully intended to explain the situation to her mother. However, finding her to be grief stricken at the death of one of her brothers, killed on active service, she felt unable to bring fresh turmoil. Being associated with the ‘North Bucks Branch of the Oxford Diocesan Council for Preventative and Rescue Work,’ Miss Cother, superintendent of the Home at Fenny Stratford, had consequently taken an interest in the case, and, speaking on behalf of the girl, said that during the three months of bail she had performed her house work duties in the Home most satisfactorily, and would certainly be taken back if necessary. Concluding the matter, after giving the accused a lecture about the need to provide for the birth of a child, the judge, on recognising a basic goodness, allowed her to go on her own recognisance, albeit to come up for judgement if called upon to do so. Regarding the other staff at The Grange, Mr. Halsey was employed as the gardener, with Thomas Holland engaged as general manager to Lord Dalmeny. Also he managed the Stud at the farm, in connection with which in February 1917 Henry Hands and John Wallsgrove, who carried on a business as druggists and chemists at Fenny Stratford and Bletchley, were summoned under the Defence of the Realm Act. This concerned having sold 45 grains of cocaine to Mr. Holland for veterinary purposes, with the charge being not only that the cocaine had been sold to an unauthorised person, without a doctor’s prescription, but also for failing to keep a separate register and enter any sales therein. Being by age and health unable to attend (as confirmed by a medical certificate) Mr. Hands was represented by a solicitor at the proceedings (which had been taken under instructions from the competent military authority of the district) and giving evidence, Inspector Callaway said that on Saturday, January 20th at about 12.45p.m. he had visited the shop, in Aylesbury Street, and asked Mr. Wallsgrove; “Has there been an unusual demand for cocaine of late?” Replying that there had been little demand except for Mr. Holland’s order, which, not being ready that day, had been sent on to him in a bottle, Mr. Wallsgrove duly produced the day book containing the entry, and said that he had known nothing about the need for a prescription, until reading a case about it last week. Returning later, Inspector Callaway said that the transaction should have been entered in a separate register, and noted that on being shown the poison book an entry regarding the sale to Thomas Holland had only been written that morning. He then went to Mr. Holland’s house, and on finding a package addressed to ‘Mr. Holland, The Grange, Bletchley,’ discovered on opening the paper wrapper a bottle labelled ‘H. Hands, chemist,’ and marked ‘poison.’ On the label were the words ‘Cocaine solution, 15 per cent,’ and subsequently the bottle, which had not been opened, was returned to the shop. When questioned, Mr. Holland said that although he was not a registered vet, he had spent two years at the Veterinary College, and in a lenient verdict the firm was fined £1 on each count. The local constabulary then became again acquainted with The Grange in March 1917, when Lady Dalmeny was summoned for allowing a dog to be loose between sunrise and sunset. As for the circumstances of this ‘crime,’ special constable Hedley Clarke said that on February 15th at 6.35p.m. he had seen a large Airedale terrier loose in Bletchley Road, and on catching the dog he took it to the police station, since he could find no owner’s name on the collar. Appearing for Lady Dalmeny, Mr. Holland said that she had been given the dog as a present, and greatly valuing the animal had ordered a name plate some four months ago. On the day of the offence it seemed that in the evening the dog had followed a boy to the post, but then decided to ‘go off courting.’ A fine of 7s 6d on each count was imposed. Whilst the dog might have featured largely in the affections of Lady Dalmeny, the same could not be said for her husband, to whom by December 1916 she had ceased to write any letters. Indeed, as evidence of the increasing acrimony in June 1917 Lord Dalmeny published a public notice, to the effect that he ‘will not be responsible for any debts contracted by his wife, Dorothy Alice Margaret Augusta Primrose, commonly called Lady Dalmeny.’ In consequence, the following month Lady Dalmeny then published her own statement;

‘With reference to the announcement in the public Press by Lord Dalmeny that he would not be responsible for any debts, I, Dorothy Dalmeny, commonly called Lady Dalmeny, hereby declare that the sum total of my indebtedness at the present date is represented by the following figures on my personal account:- … On my household account £2,060 represented by a bank overdraft which has accumulated since the year 1910, and which Lord Dalmeny from time to time has had full knowledge of, and until the recent advertisement has never objected to. And I further declare that since my marriage in 1909 Lord Dalmeny has never made any payment on my account beyond a certain fixed personal allowance which has never exceeded £1,000 a year, and an allowance for household expenses which has never exceeded £1,000 a year. July 9th, 1917.’ Having made endeavours to see his wife (whereupon she went away to Ireland) Lord Dalmeny then consulted his solicitor, Sir Charles Russell, in London to make the necessary arrangements for the care of the children, since shortly he would be away for some considerable while in Egypt on the staff of General Allenby. In fact in view of Lady Dalmeny’s wish to change her house, he said that if she took a property in his name she could take a house in a locality of her choosing, as long as it was suitable for the children, but instead she took a house not only without consulting him, but also in her own name. As for her further independence, when on December 1st he came home because his father was seriously ill, his request for his wife and children to meet him at Dalmeny would require an order to be specially obtained from the Court of Chancery, in London. Therefore in view of such goings on it was perhaps not surprising that the housekeeper at The Grange, Miss Isabella Telfer, left at Christmas, 1917. As for Lady Dalmeny, she and the children moved to Stone House, Thornby, from where she was perhaps travelling when stopped by a police officer whilst motoring into Northampton. Explaining that she was taking a saddle into Northampton to send to a friend at Leighton Buzzard, she was told that this contravened the Petrol Restriction Order, and although she immediately agreed to go back, at the Police Court one Saturday in late February 1918 a fine of one guinea was imposed. By April 1918 Lady Dalmeny had voluntarily taken up strenuous war work on the farm of Harold Brown, at Sywell, and no doubt Harold had little choice in the matter, for it was whilst riding with the Pytchley Hunt (of which she was a member) that towards the close of the season she had surprised him by suddenly declaring “I am coming to work for you.” Indeed, during her time in Buckinghamshire she had acquired a practical insight into farming, and these skills she would now usefully employ at Sywell, to and from where she cycled every day from Thornby, despite this being a round journey of 24 miles. Wearing - in the style of the Land Army girls - breeches, leggings and a smock, she would put in a full day’s work on the land, and it was said that there was no task to which she could not turn her hand, from carting mangolds, to washing sheep, to harnessing the horses. Meanwhile, Lord Dalmeny was also performing valuable duties for the war effort, for during that year he would be amongst those officers mentioned for distinguished service in Palestine. (Interestingly, the previous owner of The Grange, Samuel Waterhouse, who by March 1915 was serving as a Captain in the 7th Royal Dragoons, had also gained a mention in despatches.) From Thornby, Lady Dalmeny eventually moved to Little Tew Grange, Oxfordshire, but still she refused to see her husband, excepting a brief meeting of some twenty minutes in May when, before his return to Egypt, they discussed arrangements for the children. A second brief meeting then took place in August, and so with the situation unchanged it was perhaps hardly surprising that in October, 1918, Lord Dalmeny’s entire small herd of shorthorn dairy cattle, which had been formed a few years previous under the personal advice and supervision of Mr. J. Shirley, was put up for sale at the Park Hotel, Bletchley. Lord Dalmeny then began divorce proceedings, and on Thursday, December 18th 1919, in the Court of Session, Edinburgh, the divorce suit was heard by Lord Anderson, and although this was not defended, Mr. C. Murray, K.C., and Mr. Jameson held a watching brief for Lady Dalmeny. As for Lord Dalmeny, whose address was given as Dalmeny House, Edinburgh, he was represented by the Solicitor General and Mr. A. MacKay, and in evidence it was stated that the couple had not lived together since August 1914. Further, that whenever her husband had returned home Lady Dalmeny would be away, although she would always leave her address, such that letters could be forwarded to learn how the children were. With all the facts presented there could be only one outcome, and a divorce was duly granted. At Bletchley, supposedly following a disagreement with the Whaddon Chase Hunt, in November 1919 Lord Dalmeny sold The Grange to Walter Samuel Glynn, by whom in 1925 it would be sold to Major J.P. Whiteley. As for Lady Dalmeny, in 1920 she married a widower and landed gentleman, Captain Robert Bingham Brassey, of Cottesbrooke Hall, Northampton, and Heythrop, Oxfordshire. Late of the 17th Lancers, and a nephew of the yachting peer, in 1904 he had married Violet, second daughter of the late Armar H. Lowry-Corry, but in 1919 he had been left a widower with four children. Hoping for a quiet ceremony at the Registry Office, Chipping Norton, the couple had invited only a few relatives and friends, and with the time of the marriage being kept secret, towards enhancing the anonymity Captain Brassey having motored over from Heythrop left his car on the outskirts of the town. Then as man and wife the couple tried to leave by the back way, but with the door being bolted they instead had to emerge by the front, only to find a large crowd of people and photographers waiting to watch their departure! Driving to Heythrop for the wedding breakfast, they then left for the Forest of Dean, there, with he being Master of the Heythrop Hunt, and she as a member of the Pytchley Hunt, to enjoy a fortnight’s sport.


MAJOR JOHN CHADWICK, HIS FAMILY, & HIS CAREER

From private practice in Petersfield, Hampshire, (having in his early career been articled to the late John Allsopp, who practised extensively amongst public authorities as a consulting engineer) John Chadwick came to Bletchley in 1895, when appointed as Surveyor to Fenny Stratford Urban District Council. For the selection, a special meeting of the Council had been convened on September 11th, with a shortlist made of three candidates; a gentleman from Paignton, George Trevena, of Taunton, and John Chadwick, of Petersfield. With the Council to pay the 3rd class rail fare of the two unsuccessful candidates, the applicants were duly asked to attend a meeting on September 18th, and following the interviews all the committee, excepting one member, voted for Mr. Chadwick, this being a decision that allowed him to continue his private practice in Devon and Cornwall. At Bletchley, Mr. Chadwick would be subsequently responsible for building the newer portions of the town, and these included the houses in Bedford Street and Oxford Street, which were then practically the only dwellings between the Park Hotel and The Elms. He would also be responsible for the design of the Council Offices and the Bletchley Road Schools, and in other activities was appointed to investigate a much needed water supply for the town.

The architectural talents of John Chadwick are still recalled by these two plaques.

Before his arrival the only source was at Great Brickhill, from where water was pumped into a reservoir, and fed by gravity through Little Brickhill to Fenny Stratford, Bletchley and Simpson. However, by his advice the Council sought a new supply at Sand House, and despite the initial disappointments he insisted that an even deeper well should be sunk, whereupon his persistence paid off. He also designed and laid out a much needed local sewerage and sewage disposal scheme, since previously the sewage had been collected by night soil carts, which he would often accompany to ensure that the work was being carried out! A keen Freemason, for many years Mr. Chadwick was a member of the St. Martin’s Lodge, and became Worshipful Master in 1901. During the Boer War the Bucks Volunteers had been formed, and with the Bletchley Company (No. 9) Volunteer Rifles being created in 1900 - as the ‘I’ Company of the Bucks Battalion - John Chadwick became the Company Captain, with Lieutenant Oliver, the son of the Fenny Stratford vicar, as his second in command. Then in 1907 Lord Haldane’s Territorial and Reserve Forces Act brought an end to the Volunteers, and the newly formed Territorial Army would take their place. Thus the Bletchley ‘I’ Company (the last to have been formed in the county) was disbanded, and in 1908 the 1st Bucks Royal Volunteer Corps became the Bucks Territorial Battalion, attached to the Oxon and Bucks Light Infantry. As a captain, John Chadwick became much involved in the activities, and it was in June 1914, during his attendance at the opening of the Wolverton Territorial’s new drill hall (of which he had been the architect), that he was presented by General Bethune, Director General of the Territorial Forces, with the Territorial Decoration, which had been conferred on him the previous month by the King. Shortly afterwards he was promoted to Major, and following the outbreak of the First World War would be amongst those who in August 1914 answered the call to military service. Therefore by the end of the month he was at Plymouth, but nevertheless it would be decided by the Council that ‘leave of absence be granted him during the time the Territorial Forces remain mobilised, and that his salary be continued by the Council.’ However, having been able to obtain a few days leave from his regiment, Major Chadwick managed to attend a meeting of the Water Committee on Tuesday evening, September 1st 1914. In early October 1914, the 1st Battalion Bucks Territorials was at full strength, and Major Chadwick stated that he was now willing to take the names of men who wished to join a second battalion. Training would take place at Aylesbury, with, as they progressed, the recruits being sent to a camp at Chelmsford. As for Major Chadwick’s domestic concerns, in March 1915 on his instructions two freehold brick roughcast and slated properties, ‘Pinewood’ and ‘Hill Brow,’ were put up for sale, although subsequently there would be no bids. These were situated on top of the hill at Bow Brickhill, and in August 1915 Major Chadwick’s son, Second Lieutenant Douglas Gordon Chadwick, of the 2nd Bucks Battalion Oxon and Bucks Light Infantry, also came to enjoy an elevated position, when promoted to Lieutenant. It was now becoming evident that the war would be a protracted affair, and it was in view of this that the auditor’s report (whilst stating that all was in order) added a note expressing some concern about a certain aspect of the Council’s expenditure;

‘I passed with considerable hesitation payments of salary to your Surveyor, who, I am informed, is serving as a Major in His Majesty’s Forces. The conditions under which this officer was granted leave of absence should be reviewed, due regard being given to the suggestions contained in the Local Government Board’s memorandum of the 21st August, 1914 issued for the guidance of local authorities in the matter of payment of wages or salaries to employees on military service.’

In fact since receiving this, the finance committee had held a long discussion regarding the matter, which even before the compilation of the report had also been a cause of concern for Major Chadwick, who, in a letter, said that after next Christmas he would be unable to render any help to the Council, and he therefore asked for a revision of the conditions. It was duly decided that the payment of the salary should cease from September 29th, 1915, with the recommendation that the Council should appoint Thomas Best junior as Deputy Surveyor and Inspector of Nuisances. This would be at a salary of £40 and £60 respectively, subject to the approval of the Local Government Board, but if necessary perhaps advice could be sought from Major Chadwick during the second week of January 1916, when he came home on seven days leave, having been stationed at Chelmsford for the past year. However, his Battalion might soon be leaving ‘for elsewhere,’ but tragic news was received in July, when on the 20th of the month Lieutenant Douglas Gordon Chadwick, of the Bucks Battalion, Oxon & Bucks Light Infantry, died in a hospital in France, from wounds received in action the previous day in the battle of Fromelles, whilst leading his men on a gallant assault on the enemy trenches. Aged 19, as the only son of Major John and Mrs. Chadwick he had been born at Richmond House, Bletchley Road, on October 1st, 1896, and was educated at the St. Martin’s Grammar School, Bletchley, and St. Magdalene’s College School, Brackley, where he gained a scholarship. On leaving school he was then privately coached under the direction of Mr. S.H. Still, of the Grammar School, Bletchley, for the London University Matriculation Examination, and having passed this in January 1914 he entered his father’s office at Bletchley, intending to pursue the same career as architect and surveyor. However, in early 1914 he and some of his old school fellows had joined the Royal Bucks Hussars, and he was therefore mobilised with the regiment on August 4th, 1914, just at the time that he was finishing his articles. In October 1914 he then received a commission in the Oxon and Bucks Light Infantry, of which his father was second in command, and being subsequently appointed as machine gun officer of the battalion, was promoted to Lieutenant. Being stationed during 1915 and a part of 1916 at Northampton, Chelmsford and Colchester, his battalion was then moved to Salisbury Plain, and on May 25th, 1916 he left for France. At the Council meeting on April 11th 1916 it had been proposed that until the return of Major Chadwick the position of Surveyor and Inspector of Nuisances should be filled by Mr. B. Saunderson, of Winslow, at a salary of £50 and £70 respectively, and in due course this was sanctioned by the Local Government Board. In consequence he would attend at the Council Offices on certain days, and also at Council meetings, whilst as for Major Chadwick, he was under orders to leave for France on July 27th, 1916, having remained behind to settle up his affairs and accounts. With his wife and daughter remaining in Bletchley, in late August 1916 he then left ‘for somewhere in France,’ and there he would serve during the next two years in various capacities, including the command of German prisoner camps. During much of this period his role at the Council would be undertaken by Mr. Saunderson, whose initial assumption had been that he could accomplish the work by coming to Bletchley for three days a week. Yet he soon found that this was insufficient, and owing to the revised train services he now had to sleep at Bletchley on Council nights. Therefore in January 1917 it was agreed to pay him the additional sum of £20 p.a., but nevertheless in June 1918 he gave notice of his resignation, stating the main reason to be the train service, which prevented him from getting home after meetings or committee meetings. Also, he had assumed that he would be the Council’s architect under the housing scheme, but found that as Surveyor he could not act in that capacity. In fact he had now received an offer of a part time engagement near his home, and so at a meeting of the Council, held in July 1918, it was stated that all applications for the temporary position of Surveyor had been received, with two of the candidates being interviewed that evening. Meanwhile, Major Chadwick was still ‘somewhere in Northern France,’ attached to the West Riding (Yorks) Regiment as second in command, although during the month - ‘looking remarkably well’ - he came home on a short leave. However, since he was still on military service the position of Surveyor was being occupied by a Mr. Lowe, from whom a claim, which had been sent to the waterworks committee, was considered at the Council meeting on Tuesday, December 10th, 1918. Unfortunately this was for payment for work outside the terms of his agreement with the Council, and it was therefore decided to repudiate the amount. In fact the chairman and clerk had interviewed Mr. Lowe, and following a further meeting it had been decided to terminate his employment. This he duly accepted, although the payment of his full salary was to be made to November 30th. Another meeting had then been held at which a further claim for certain payments had been considered, but again this was repudiated. Thus with Major Chadwick now at home on a short leave, regarding the possibility of his early demobilisation, and resumption of his position as Surveyor, a discussion was held, and therefore no successor to Mr. Lowe would yet be appointed. In fact by March 1919 Major Chadwick had resumed his position as Surveyor to the Urban Council, but it was particularly poignant that his would be the design for the war memorial at Far Bletchley, for amongst the inscribed names would be that of his son. During his career, John Chadwick would become a Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects, a Member of the Institute of Municipal and County Engineers, a Fellow of the Geological Society, and a Member of the Royal Sanitary Institute, and he remained as the local Surveyor until resigning in 1935. However, the Council decided to retain his services as consulting engineer for certain special schemes, and these included a proposed swimming pool. Indeed, he received instructions to proceed with the planning in 1935, but after several delays the Council abandoned the project. Then a while later, with the prospect of a Government grant they decided to proceed, but the new Surveyor was now appointed as architect. Not surprisingly, Major Chadwick claimed damages in respect of the old contract, and it was only after considerable negotiations that the matter was settled out of court, with the Council agreeing to pay him £850. At his home, ‘The Carronades,’ Major John Chadwick died on the last Friday of March 1943, aged 78. He left a widow, and was buried in the grave in the Old Bletchley churchyard occupied by the bodies of his children, Douglas, and his only daughter, Mrs. Joan Adam, who, born in 1900, had died in 1936. In memory of her husband and two children, in 1950 his widow, Nellie (d 1951) gave a new pulpit to St. Martin’s Church, and in August of that year this was duly dedicated by the Lord Bishop of Buckingham.

In 1951 the widow of Major John Chadwick presented this pulpit to St. Martin's Church, dedicated to the memory of her husband and two children.

NORFOLK NATIONAL RESERVES

Charles Murphy, who had carried on a business as a provision dealer and tobacconist in Aylesbury Street, Fenny Stratford, was arrested on Monday, January 19th 1914 charged with stealing a purse which, allegedly, had been left by mistake on the counter. After a formal hearing he was remanded on bail until Thursday, but being taken seriously ill a few hours later, he died on the evening of that day at about 6p.m. Aged around 40, before coming to Fenny Stratford he had been a Colour Sergeant with the Cameron Highlanders, and after retiring on a pension moved to Fenny Stratford about two years ago, where he became a member of the Bletchley branch of the National Reserve. Following the outbreak of war the importance of this body, and their duties during the present crisis, was explained on the evening of Tuesday, August 18th 1914 by General Sir Reginald Arthur Talbot K.C.B., who, addressing the National Reserves at Bletchley at the Town Hall, said that they were taking part in perhaps the largest war in history. However, since the meeting had been convened at short notice, without any prior advertising, only nine people turned up. Born in 1841, and educated at Harrow, having much military experience he was in fact well qualified to speak, whilst of his other experience he had been the Conservative M.P. for Stafford from 1869 until 1874, and was formerly A.D.C. to Queen Victoria. As he explained, there were three classes of National Reservists; the first was of men aged under 42, who might be called upon to join the Army, and perhaps serve abroad. The second was practically the same, except they would serve in the U.K. The third was for men aged over 50, who, not being required to serve outside their locality, would guard bridges etc. At present Bletchley lagged behind other towns, but this was due to the death of the old Secretary, with matters having been allowed to consequently lapse. In order to join the National Reserves there was only one meeting. A doctor would be in attendance, and for class 1 he would examine the potential recruits for eyesight and breathing. In fact Thomas Best, the Clerk to the Council, had in his younger years been one of the first to join the late Lord Roberts’ National Reserve, on its formation, and by November 1914 both he and his namesake son would be members. Then in mid December 1914 it was announced that soldiers of the National Reserves were to be billeted in the town, and with the advance guard, chiefly comprised of cooks, having already arrived, the main contingent of the Norfolk National Reserves reached the town on Friday, December 18th 1914. The Old Brewery yard would be used as a parade ground, whilst Captain Herbert Hatfield Back, the commanding officer, would make his headquarters at the Swan Hotel. On Sunday morning, December 20th 1914 the 100 or so men assembled for service at St. Martin’s Church, and for the first one or two days would be billeted in local houses, before being accommodated in the High Street Schools, the Old Brewery, and empty shops in Aylesbury Street and the High Street. However, they would have their meals at the High Street schools, where the preparation of the food was superintended by Captain Back’s daughter. For the entertainment of the new arrivals, with music by the Fenny Stratford Town Band a smoking concert was given in the High Street Schools on Thursday evening, December 31st 1914, with those responsible for the programme being the Reverend J. Firminger, Mr. C. Berwick and Private Moore, who was lately the musical director of the Yarmouth Hippodrome. The room had been decorated with flags and bunting, and a piece of this, composed of white letters on a heliotrope background, and bearing the words ‘N.N.R. A Happy New Year to all,’ had been the work of Private Butler. The Reverend Firminger presided, supported by Captain Back, Captain G. Coleman and Mr. H. Fracy, whilst as for other means of recreation, with the Salvation Army barracks having been lent as a reading room, here an enjoyable social evening was spent on Boxing Day, attended by about 80 people, including many Reservists. The role of the Norfolk National Reserves would be to guard railways, bridges etc., and at this uncertain time this was of especial importance, since not only had there nationally been several instances of attempted sabotage, but also such locations had attracted the pranks of hoaxers. In fact in late August 1914, whilst on patrol one morning at Olney a special constable had discovered a suspect canister wrapped in brown paper under a railway bridge, and, since the device seemed to have a fuse attached, only after much hesitation was the package unwrapped. Thereupon the contents were found to be only a tin containing a piece of paper, on which was written ‘Made in Germany.’ Any suspect activities were therefore viewed with the utmost gravity, and it would be due to the vigilance of the Norfolk National Reserves that, on Thursday, January 14th 1915, the first prosecution in North Bucks under the Defence of the Realm Act was made. The previous day Captain Back had seen a young woman ‘loitering’ on the Bedford branch of the London and North Western Railway at Bow Brickhill, and in consequence Amy Victoria Markham, of 13, Denmark Street, appeared at the Fenny Stratford Petty Sessions. Saying that she was unaware of having done anything wrong, she explained that she had been taking something to one of the soldiers on the line, but despite her plea of not guilty the Bench considered that she had been ‘behaving in a manner contrary to the regulations of the Defence of the Realm Act,’ and not only bound her over in the sum of £5, but also placed her under the supervision of the lady probation officer for six months. Arranged by Miss Jervis, and two of the Misses Rowlands, raising about £5 an entertainment for the billeted Royal Engineers in the district was held on Friday evening, March 5th 1915 in the Town Hall, which had been lent by Barclay and Co. With Captain Back presiding, this was in aid of local War Relief Funds, although having to attend a lecture not many from the Royal Engineers could attend, including Lieutenant Watkins, who was to have made one of the vocal contributions. Yet despite having colds two of the lady soloists did attend, and despite their afflictions acquitted themselves ‘very well.’ As for Lance Corporal Wickens, he gave a much enjoyed rendition of ‘Gunga Din,’ and afterwards the soldiers were provided with coffee. At the Council meeting on Tuesday, March 9th 1915 a letter was read from Captain Back. This was regarding the emptying of the sanitary pails at the billets of the men, and it was agreed that the charge should be £1 a week, as before. Apart from their military duties, the men were now well integrated into local life, and, in conjunction with the locally stationed Royal Engineers, on Wednesday, March 17th 1915 they staged an entertainment to include several recitals amongst the various items. Mr. J. Garner conducted the orchestra, and Captain Back, supported by Captain Coleman, and a number of officers from the Royal Engineers, presided over an appreciative audience of over 300. In mid April 1915 it was anticipated that within a few days the Norfolk National Reserves, who were still presently billeted at various places in the High Street, would shortly move to a tented camp on the Water Eaton side of the Leon Avenue Estate. Nevertheless, on Wednesday evening, April 21st 1915 they staged another excellent concert, which, held in the Temperance Hall, had been arranged in conjunction with the Royal Engineers of Staple Hall Depot, whose commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Lister, presided. The proceeds were for the benefit of the military. Since they were tasked with guarding the local railway facilities, the vigilance of the Norfolk National Reserves became well proven during the early hours of Sunday, June 13th 1915, when, at about 3a.m., a sentry, who had been posted to guard the railway bridges over the river and canal, noticed a fire at Messrs. Rowlands, the saw mills and extensive timber yard of which lay either side of Simpson Road. He swiftly raised the alarm by telephoning the police, and at 3.15a.m. the fire brigade arrived on the scene with their steam fire engine. Fortunately, by using water from the nearby canal they were able to quickly extinguish the blaze and save the equipment, although the interior of the gas producer house was badly charred. In fact with the machinery being driven by gas engines, which were supplied by a gas producer plant, some three years ago an entirely new set of workshops and saw mills had, with electric lighting installed throughout, been built, and since the plant had been overhauled and cleaned out on Saturday afternoon, it was thought that possibly this work had been the cause of the fire. By July 1915 some of the Norfolk National Reserves were now in billets at Newton Longville and other nearby villages, but apart from their guard duties their continuing presence in the town was also vindicated when, nearly opposite to the New Inn, an accident occurred in Bletchley Road on Saturday evening, July 17th 1915. Driven by Mr. Staniford, junior, Staniford and Sons’ motor lorry was returning to their wine and spirit stores on Bletchley Road when, cycling in the same direction, a soldier of the Royal Engineers collided with the rear of the vehicle. Thrown off his bicycle, he sustained a bad cut to the head, but first aid was immediately applied by Sergeant Chilvers of the Norfolk National Reserves, who happened to be near by. The man was then taken to Staple Hall Depot in the Staniford’s lorry. August Bank Holiday 1915 was a mixture of sunshine and heavy rainstorms. Nevertheless, with the refreshment stall and tea tables being placed in the Rectory dining room and hall, a public tea and sale of work, in aid of the Comfort Fund of the Bucks Territorial Unit, was held in the grounds and paddock of Bletchley Rectory. This was by kind permission of the Reverend F. Bennitt, and welcome shelter for the stalls and visitors was afforded by the large trees. In charge of some of the sports in the paddock had been Lieutenant Albury, who commanded the Norfolk National Reserves stationed at Newton Longville (attached to the Winslow centre of the Reserves) whilst as for the Norfolk National Reserves in Bletchley, who were still quartered at the High Street Schools, and the premises of the Old Brewery, by mid August 1915 their style and title had changed on becoming the 2/4th Battalion Norfolk Regiment. Thus the detachment stationed at Newton Longville became the 2/5th Norfolks, which on Saturday, September 18th 1915 competed in the return shooting match with the Fenny Stratford Company of the ‘Bucks Defence Force.’ This took place on the Denbigh Hall range, with Lieutenant Albury and the rector of Newton Longville having provided the transport. The contest ended in a decisive win for the Norfolks, and although they had also won the first match, their second score of 65 beat their first score by 51 points. As for the best marksmen of the day, as on the previous occasion they were Private Claridge and Sergeant Brace. At the close of the contest an alfresco tea of sandwiches, beer and mineral waters was provided on the range by the Bucks men. Pursuant to the rumours that had been circulating for several weeks, on Saturday, November 20th 1915 the 2/4th Norfolk Battalion left Bletchley for Wolverton, where the other portion of the battalion was presently quartered. They were now succeeded locally by a detachment of the Middlesex Reserves, and their billets lay at Far Bletchley since the previous quarters, at Fenny Stratford, were now occupied by the Royal Engineers (and others) attached to the Staple Hall Depot. Taking over the duties of their predecessors, the Middlesex Reserves would be under the charge of a Colour Sergeant, but although now stationed at Wolverton, when off duty on Saturday, February 5th 1916 two of the previous contingent returned to familiar territory, where at about 6p.m. they were arrested for being drunk in Aylesbury Street by Inspector Callaway. He then took one of them to the police station, but by slipping off the kerb the other sprained his ankle, and was left in the care of two special constables. Then when the Royal Engineer patrol came along, Lance Corporal Baker, as the member in charge, arrested the man and took him to the police station. Subsequently on Monday at the Police Court both men were each fined 5s, after which Captain Back said that he had an escort to return them to Wolverton. On Tuesday, February 15th 1916 a detachment of the Herts. Regiment replaced the company of the Middlesex Reserves, although around the first week in May it seemed that a company of the 4/5th Norfolks would be returning, with the dwelling house at the Park Nurseries, on the Bletchley Road, to be used as their headquarters. Then during the last week in October 1916 other detachments of the same regiment began arriving, with some being billeted at Great Brickhill and other villages. This was in preparation for the visit to Bletchley by Viscount Field Marshall French, which, with the details being given in the chapter on Staple Hall Depot, took place on the morning of Sunday, November 5th 1916. Present would be the 3rd Battalion Bucks Volunteer Regiment and the 4/5th Battalion Norfolk Regiment (National Defence), with the latter having for the past week or so been assembled as a whole at Bletchley and the neighbourhood. However, by mid November 1916 they had been largely dispersed to amongst other centres Northampton, Bedford and Leighton Buzzard, although some of the men still remained in Bletchley on guard duties. In fact during the last week in November 1916 those of the 4/5th Norfolk Regiment who were still in the town, or the adjoining villages, fell in twice a day in Oliver Road, which seemed to have been appropriated as their parade ground, and from here they would march off to some exercise in the local countryside, before later returning to be dismissed. Yet by mid December 1916 the last of the contingent had left the town, and their headquarters on Bletchley Road were taken over by another company.


RECRUITING, RECRUITING OFFICERS, & OFFICES

By 1880 the commercial prosperity of Fenny Stratford had encouraged the building of a town hall, adjacent to the Swan Hotel. However, with the 'Fenny Stratford Town Hall Company Limited' having gone into voluntary liquidation, the premises were auctioned at the Swan Hotel in 1906, to subsequently witness a variety of purposes. Here would be held the local meeting of the townspeople following the declaration of war in August 1914, and in a wartime role, apart from office accommodation the building would be temporarily occupied by the Y.M.C.A., and, for a more prolonged period, by the Royal Engineers, who used the centre for lectures. Social occasions would also be a feature, such as on the wintry Wednesday afternoon of June 14th 1916, when 'England's Call' was performed in aid of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, eight parishes having contributed the performers. The children were all attired in the national costume of various countries, and each set of children separately marched into the hall singing songs appropriate to their dress, remaining on stage until their part was done. The two photographs contrast the premises as seen today, and the building that previously occupied the site.

Scenes of enthusiasm marked a meeting of townsmen held, at only a few hours notice, in the Town Hall on Wednesday evening, August 5th 1914. This was to demonstrate approval for the action taken by the Government in the present European crisis, and with the room being crowded there was also a large assembly outside the building. In fact even before the start of the meeting there had been much singing and cheering, and, to the accompaniment of the Fenny Stratford Town Band, the words of ‘Rule Britannia’ were fervently sung by the audience. By a unanimous vote Dr. Bradbrook was elected to chair the meeting, and supporting him on the platform were the Reverend Bennitt, Mr. A. Stevens, Mr. A. Bramley, Mr. T. Kirby, Mr. C. Bourne, Mr. D. Edwards, Mr. A. Wake, Mr. W. Watson and Mr. Thomas Best. With many other prominent citizens in attendance, the chairman began by addressing the audience as “Englishmen,” and said that in this time of national crisis the resolutions they were about to pass were unanimous, and they were not speaking as political parties, but “as citizens of a great empire and subjects of a great King.” Mr. Bramley then moved “That this meeting of the men of Bletchley expresses its entire approval of the action of the Government in the present European crisis and pledges itself to support in every possible way any offensive and defensive action that may be deemed necessary” With this being greeted with applause, Mr. Kirby proposed “That the county military authorities be asked to establish a recruiting station in this district and provide the necessary organisation for the preliminary training of young men.” Following more applause, this was seconded by Mr. Edwards, who said that in 1900 they had held a similar meeting, which raised a volunteer force of over 90. Moving “That a copy of these resolutions be forwarded to the Prime Minister, the member for the division, and the county military authority,” Mr. Stevens then said that whilst coming to the meeting he had been told, by a gentleman in the Government offices, that two German cruisers had been sunk, and others seized, and when the subsequent cheers had subsided the Reverend Bennitt seconded the resolution, and said that although his experience of soldiering, as a chaplain during the South African War, had been brief, the involvement nevertheless taught him that it was no good for a civilian to take up arms without training. Dr. Bradbrook then explained that the names of those men willing to serve in any civilian capacity would be taken at the end of the meeting by Sergeant Brace, Mr. Bland and ex Sergeant Wilson, and in consequence some 100 men would come forward. Therefore the military authorities would be asked to establish a centre, where, for a few hours a week, training could be put in, albeit for the meanwhile without guns or uniforms. With a committee being elected, to act as the means of communication between the military authorities and the town, Mr. Best proposed a vote of thanks to the chairman, and said they were “face to face with the biggest bully they had ever seen since the time of Napoleon, and they could not stand aside and watch him riding roughshod over Belgium and setting other countries at defiance.” The assembly then broke up to the singing of ‘God Save the King.’ The Bletchley National Defence Committee, which was the outcome of the public meeting in the Town Hall, duly began business, and on Sunday, August 9th 1914 the volunteers, having first assembled near the Town Hall, where they were marshalled and formed into marching order by Colour Sergeant D. Edward, Sergeant T. Brace, and Sergeant W. Watson, paraded for service and roll call, being presented with a simple rosette of red, white and blue as their ‘badge of office.’ Also taking part in the proceedings, and wearing their surplices, were the choirs of St. Martin’s Church and St. Mary’s Church, as also the Fenny Stratford Town Band, and following them in the procession came the Boy Scouts under Scoutmaster Campbell, complete with a bright Union Jack. Behind them marched the volunteers, and crowds lined the way as the assembly progressed along Aylesbury Street and Vicarage Lane (as it was then known) to the Recreation Ground, where, on the bandstand, around which a huge crowd had gathered, the platform was occupied by the Reverend Firminger, the Reverend Bennitt, the Reverend B. Williams, Dr. Bradbrook, Mr. A. Bramley J.P., Mr. A. Stevens J.P., Mr. E. Bland and Mr. W. Webster, (acting honorary secretary.) The Reverend Williams opened a short service by reading verses of ‘O God our help in ages past,’ and this was followed by prayers intoned by the Reverend Firminger for the King, the Government, the men in the war, mothers, fathers, friends, the sick and wounded. The Reverend Bennitt then pronounced the Benediction, after which Dr. Bradbrook said that the County Military Authorities had asked for the names and addresses of those volunteers who had previously served in the Forces. As for the other men, preparations for training were being made, and on Monday a drill would take place on the Vicarage Paddock. Following applause, Mr. Best proposed a vote of thanks, and amongst several patriotic statements said “that the Government had been forced into what was a holy war against a man who had threatened to bring the whole of the world into bloody conflict.”

In 1915 this poster was produced by E.V. Kealey for the British army recruitment campaign. Following the initial heed in 1914 to join 'Kitchener's Army,' it became increasingly apparent that this was to be a long and, in terms of manpower, costly conflict, and therefore more subtle inducements to 'join up' were employed. In the case of this poster the vulnerability of the women and children at home is emphasised, and no doubt the sentiment was fuelled by the stories of German atrocities in Belgium, the validity of which could be confirmed by the many Belgium refugees who had fled to Britain to escape German oppression.

The roll call was then read by Mr. Bland, although some of the men were absent through already being in the regular army, or on duty. After the singing of the National Anthem the company marched back to the Town Hall for dispersal, with Mr. Webster and Mr. Bland remaining behind to enrol several new recruits. On Tuesday evening, August 18th 1914, since the meeting had been convened at short notice (compounded by a lack of prior advertising) only nine people turned up at the Town Hall, to hear General Sir Reginald Talbot explain the duties of the National Reserves. He said - with some degree of prophecy - that in this time of national crisis they were taking part in perhaps the largest war in history, and in explaining the structure of the National Reservists said that the first of the three classes was for men aged under 42, who might be called upon to join the army, and would perhaps serve abroad.

The second was practically the same, except they would only be required to serve in the U.K., whilst as for the third, this was for men aged over 50, who, not being required to serve outside their locality, would guard bridges etc. At present Bletchley lagged behind other towns, but potential recruits had only to attend one meeting, at which, for class 1, a doctor would examine the candidates for eyesight and breathing. On their way to the training camps at Berkhamstead and district, during the third week in September 1914 many train loads of recruits passed through Bletchley station, but towards the end of the month also passing through Bletchley was ‘a hardened old gentleman of the road,’ who in Fenny Stratford asked a police constable; “Which way to the station, sonny?” The police constable then asked if he meant the recruiting station, but the man said that being over 60 years of age he was too old, and anyway he had already served 20 years with the colours, “and have seen some sport with them.” However, at this the small crowd which had gathered looked dubious, until the man presented his discharge from the Army, which stated that not only was he of excellent character, but that he had also been involved in many engagements around the world. In fact now his only intent was to get his pension form signed at the police station! In order to gather new recruits, Lieutenant Buckmaster and Second Lieutenant Douglas Chadwick, of the reserve battalion of the Oxon and Bucks Light Infantry, visited Bletchley and Woburn Sands on Tuesday afternoon, December 1st 1914, with the result that twelve names were forwarded. As for the crowds of labourers who regularly gathered outside his office, by May 1915 Mr. Hedley J. Clarke, the local Labour Exchange Officer, had despatched over 200 recruits to various branches of the Forces.

In fact with over 250 labourers and mechanics having been placed on various jobs around the country, the whole of the area under his control had now been cleared of ‘out of works,’ and therefore it was not surprising that he had received a letter of thanks from the Secretary of the North Bucks Divisional Relief Committee. Being of the philosophy that “If you can’t get nine pence have four pence,” or in other words take what is open until something better turns up, his approach was to monitor all the work locally, but then to look further a field if necessary. Under the command of their chief Recruiting Officer, Captain Owen, on Saturday morning, June 5th 1915 the recruiting detachment of the Oxon and Bucks Light Infantry, composed of men from the various battalions, and accompanied by the full band of the 3rd Battalion, marched into Fenny Stratford from Newport Pagnell, where they had been the day before. Entering via Simpson, they marched along Simpson Road, Aylesbury Street, and Bletchley Road to the Park Hotel field, and there, by permission of Mr. Edgar Bland, pitched camp. With this accomplished the men and the band then ‘turned out,’ and whilst the N.C.O.s and men canvassed amongst the crowd, the band took up position on ‘The Square’ (the open space in front of the shops opposite Park Street) to perform an excellent concert. This was greatly enjoyed by the gathering crowd, which was afterwards entertained to a screening of the ‘Army Film’ in the Co-operative Hall, which had been lent by the Co-operative Society. Falling in for Church Parade, on Sunday the detachment attended matins at St. Mary’s Church, and the following day, after taking down their tents in the morning, marched off for ‘another destination.’ Accessed from Duncombe Street, during the third week in June 1915 an official recruiting station was opened at Bletchley, located in a room of the stable yard at the Park Hotel.

This 1915 recruitment poster, of a demanding Lord Kitchener, is perhaps one of the most iconic images from the First World War.

The Park Hotel, as it would have appeared when the recruiting office was set up in the yard at the rear. A keen cricketer, having often taken charge of the Bletchley Park Team, Mr. Edgar Bland would be the popular proprietor throughout the First World War, and it would be by his permission that many social functions were held in the hotel's Concert Hall, and that many sporting occasions, especially those of the Royal Engineers, took place on the Park Hotel field, which at one time was also to accommodate a military tented encampment. Having been a seafaring man, on Friday, July 23rd 1915 Mr. Bland received the sad news that an old shipmate, who had had been on a short visit to him only a few days before, had been drowned at sea. He was Lieutenant Commander G. Wellburn, who had received the King's R.N.R. decoration about a month before his death for meritorious service. With Colonel Broome Giles presiding, on the evening of Saturday, June 19th 1920 a large crowd gathered at the Concert Hall of the Park Hotel to say goodbye to Mr. and Mrs. E. Bland, after their ten year residence in Bletchley. Mrs. Bland was presented with an engraved silver salver, and, receiving an illuminated address, and a case of three pipes, Mr. Bland in response said that he was not going far away, and hoped to visit from time to time.

With the assistance of Mr. Baldry, this was under the charge of Major Arthur William Hammans, a retired officer of the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry, who, following an education at Westminster Schools, had been gazetted to the regiment after receiving a direct commission in the Army. In fact he would spend 30 years in military service, with his last campaign having been the Burmah Expedition of 1894. One day in mid June, after marching to the station a large number of recruits in the Royal Engineers, albeit wearing civilian clothes, left by train. They had been billeted in Bletchley and Fenny Stratford for a month or more, and perhaps some had been recruited by Superintendent J. Pearce, of the Northern Division of the Bucks Police Force, who, for his enthusiastic work in securing recruits for the new armies, received a letter of thanks dated June 25th from Lord Kitchener. During the second week in July 1915 handsome ‘service cards,’ issued by the Oxford Chief Recruiting Station, and more locally by Major Hammans, were distributed to those parents who had sons in the Regular Army, or to those wives who had husbands in the same. On the top was given the name and rank of the soldier, with the words printed below; ‘Serving King, home and Empire.’ This was accompanied by a picture of the Victoria Cross, and those who had not yet received a card - which was intended to be prominently placed in a window, as an encouragement for others to join up - were invited to contact Major Hammans at the Recruiting Office, at the Park Hotel. However, he was only dealing with the Regular Forces, but on Saturday, July 17th 1915 he suddenly had to leave his local duties and travel to France, following news that his younger son, Lieutenant A.W. Hammans, 6th Battalion Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry, had been seriously wounded. At the outbreak of the war he was serving in the 1st Battalion of his Regiment, but on being transferred to the 6th would initially be stationed at home, training the new recruits. Then some five weeks ago he was sent to France with his Regiment to train 60 bomb throwers, but on July 17th - the day that he and his party first entered the trenches - a new type of bomb he was testing exploded, blowing off his right hand and injuring both legs. Fortunately he was now making a good recovery, and Major Hammans duly returned on the Thursday. As for his elder son, he was serving in the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry, 1st Battalion, and, having been at the Front from the beginning, had been mentioned in three of the four dispatches published in England. In fact for gallantry on the field he had been awarded the Military Cross by the King, apart from being awarded the Legion of Honour by General Joffre. Whilst the Central Recruiting Office was situated in the High Street, Aylesbury, local recruits were being dealt with at Bletchley, where by August 10th 1915 the location of the Recruiting Office had changed. Occupying over a half of the extensive premises (including the large shop downstairs and the rooms above it), this was now situated in rooms at the premises of Mr. Hedley J. Clarke, a portion of which formed Bletchley Post Office (the redeveloped site of which now, June 2010, accommodates ‘Home Bargains) and with the building centrally situated in Bletchley Road, the large shop windows of the extensive frontage were ideally suited for the display of posters etc.

Then by mid August 1915 a finger post had been placed outside Bletchley Station directing to the new centre, the presence of which was indicated by two large boards, and also a finger post pointing to the office door. Additionally, large posters had now appeared on local hoardings, bearing the words ‘To the Recruiting Station,’ with a large arrow to point the way. In due course Mr. Sherry, of Simpson, would join in the work of the office, where in connection with the National Register the tabulation of the forms, and the task of getting out ‘pink’, or other notifications, was being energetically carried out under the charge of Major Hammans. Amongst those giving voluntary assistance were the Misses M. Lait, M. Rowland, Jervis, Deyns, M. Firminger, Matheson, Mrs. Hoyle, the Reverend J. Firminger, the Reverend J. Townley and the Reverend F. Bennitt, whilst as for Lieutenant Johnson, of the 9th Battalion Oxon & Bucks Light Infantry, he had also been detailed to assist. For men who did not pass the military medical, in late September 1915 it became possible for them to be accepted for home service, and indeed ‘practically no man who is organically sound and who can do a decent day’s work is rejected.’ In fact despite having been rejected four times, one man cycled 10½ miles to the Bletchley office, and was accepted. With the harvest now complete, many agricultural workers were expected to come forward, and locally those workers skilled with the pick, spade and shovel could apply to the Pioneer Battalion of the Oxon and Bucks Light Infantry. The remuneration would be 1s 2d a day, as opposed to 1s a day in an infantry battalion, and before being sent on active service a battalion of pioneers would, apart from the standard infantry training, obtain a thorough grounding in other matters, to include elementary engineering, bridge building etc. However, special opportunities awaited miners, carpenters, blacksmiths, gardeners, navvies, agricultural labourers, and skilled workmen of all kinds. As for the Bucks Battalion of the Oxon and Bucks Light Infantry, this was still open to recruits, with the Recruiting Organiser for Bucks being Captain L.H. Green. During the first half of October 1915 several local men came home on leave, including Lieutenant Sayers, who had just received his commission. Before the war he had for some years been stationed at Bletchley as Recruiting Sergeant, but had rejoined his regiment on the outbreak of hostilities. Also home was Stoker C. Reynolds, R.N., the son of Mr. A. Reynolds of Bletchley, who had been engaged on submarine service with the Fleet. The last week in October 1915 witnessed a great increase in the number of men attending the Recruiting Office in Bletchley Road, and on Thursday these included a number from Messrs. Salmons’ Works at Newport Pagnell, who, having travelled over in a motor bus, had been sent by Superintendent Pearce, who acted as their local Recruiting Officer. On Saturday evening, October 30th 1915, in connection with Lord Derby’s National Recruiting Scheme a meeting was held in the Bletchley Road Schools. This had been convened by a circular issued from the North Bucks Central Office at the New Drill Hall, Wolverton, and stated that the Parliamentary Recruiting Committee had made themselves responsible for the canvas of the ‘unstarred’ names in the Division. Indeed, the co-operation of those attending the meeting was of the utmost importance, and, with Mr. A. Bramley in the chair, several portions of the North Bucks Parliamentary Division were dealt with. The agents of the political parties in North Bucks were all working together in this matter, and, as requested in Lord Derby’s letter, they would try to ensure that every ‘unstarred’ man in the constituency should be personally canvassed, with regard to joining the King’s Forces. In fact within the Division there were about 650 men in this category, and with the canvassing to be carried out by female or male civilians - the latter being either over military age, or incapacitated for duty - the main object of the meeting was to therefore ask those present to form a canvassing and recruiting committee. In consequence Mr. E.W. Morgan proposed, and Mr. Tooth seconded, that the meeting should form itself into the recruiting committee for the district of North Bucks, and with this carried unanimously and Mr. J.H. Fennell and Mr. E.W. Morgan were elected as the honorary secretaries. (A few years after the war, the youngest son of Mr. E.W. Morgan, of Duncombe Street, would receive the M.B.E., for his role in the diving operations to recover the large quantity of gold, and other valuable metal, aboard the White Star liner ‘Laurentic,’ which had been sunk by enemy action off the north coast of Ireland in January 1917.) A third nomination was left in the hands of the committee, and those present were then reminded by Mr. Neave that this was the final effort towards concluding the war by voluntary means. Being nightly required for use until November 30th, Mr. J. H. Fennell subsequently wrote to the Council asking for the use of a room at the Council Offices, and with permission granted this was opened on Monday evening. Then under the chairmanship of Mr. Bramley, on Thursday evening, November 11th, 1915 the canvassers, under the local branch of the ‘North Bucks Parliamentary Recruiting Committee,’ and overseen by the joint honorary secretaries, received their authorisation cards, plus the register cards from the various districts, and from thereon they would be hard at work. As for another form of recruiting, following a ‘crusade to soldiers,’ recently carried out by Father Paul Bull in St. Martin’s Church, eleven military postulants presented themselves for confirmation into the Church of England, at a visit to the town by the Right Reverend the Lord Bishop of Buckingham, the Reverend E.D. Shaw. During November 1915 the Council received a long circular from the Local Government Board, dealing with the subject of recruiting under the National Register. By this, the Council was asked to appoint a committee to act as the local tribunal for the district, and this was to consist of no more than five men - not necessarily from the Council - of ‘impartial and balanced judgement.’ Whilst the local Recruiting Officer could not be a member, he, or someone on his behalf, would be present at the hearing of all the cases, and would have the right to appeal to a higher tribunal against any decision. With it being agreed that a committee should be formed, at a meeting of the Council Mr. Bramley said that it would be a most important one, especially with regards as to whether a ‘starred’ man could be considered for military service. Since he had seven or eight men employed of military age, he could not sit on the committee himself, but he moved that the committee should be composed of five members, three from the Council and two from outside. Those from the Council were duly proposed as Mr. Kirby, Mr. Jones and Mr. Stevens, with Mr. Oliver Wells as one of those from outside. This was seconded by Mr. Dimmock, who next suggested that Mr. W. Woods should be added. Then Mr. Stevens said that whilst he did not wish to shirk the responsibility, one of his men had joined the Army, and another might be called upon. Therefore, as with Mr. Bramley he might be required to appeal, although this seemed unlikely since the man was nearing the age of exemption, and if called up would probably be put in one of the ‘late groups.’ Including £20 from Sir Herbert Leon, £10 from Mrs. Jervis, and £1 1s from Mr. James Berwick, subscriptions had now been forwarded to the equipment fund of the Bletchley Company of the Voluntary Defence Corps, which, under the joint command of Captain Lovett and Lieutenant Watson, marched one Sunday in November to Bow Brickhill. On meeting the Woburn Sands contingent, commanded by Lieutenant Cressy, there they were drilled by Sergeant Brace, and with this being the day appointed for an inspection by Captain Green, the Chief Recruiting Officer for the county, in an address to the officers and men he complimented them upon their smartness, and their standards of efficiency. Also he said that throughout the country the organisation had laboured for a year, and although onlookers had generally greeted them with a sneer, the time was now approaching when such men would be compelled to join up. Meanwhile, for those voluntarily joining up, by the end of November 1915 the Recruiting Office in Bletchley Road was open until 10p.m., and a frequent sight would be the numerous numbers of those applying. Conducted by Dr. W. Bradbrook, Dr. M. Vasey and Dr. J. Kelland, the medical examinations took place in the Co-op Hall, Albert Street, although some disruption to these proceedings was caused on Friday afternoon, December 10th 1915, when at the Recruiting Office a fire broke out in one of the upstairs rooms.

A local, and a not so local, call to arms, December 1915.

On smoke being noticed at about 2.30p.m., Mr. H.J. Clarke had been called in by Major Hammans, and, with the surrounding floor boards hurriedly covered with water, the Fire Brigade was summoned by telephone. On their arrival Captain Best, Lieutenant Howard and Engineer Clarke took control, but finding that the fire had been extinguished, they quickly discovered that a burning beam under the fireplace had proved to be the cause. Fortunately the premises, valued at £1,200, were covered by the General Accident, Fire and Life Corporation, of which Mr. H.J. Clarke was the local representative. The builder’s estimate of the damage was then despatched to the Company on Saturday, and on the following Monday a wire would be received stating ‘Claim satisfactory. Cheque in post.’ On December 11th 1915 the Lord Derby Scheme for voluntary enlistment officially came to an end, although an extra day was given for the enrolment and ‘attestation’ of recruits. However, the rush at the Bletchley Road Recruiting Office had practically ended on Saturday night, and thus it was nearly Sunday morning, December 12th 1915 when the office closed. Particularly busy had been the period from November 27th, with contingents of anything from 100 to 400 being sent from Wolverton, where for the last two days arrangements had been made for attestations to be carried out, as well as medical examinations. For the district covered by the Bletchley Parliamentary Recruiting Committee, several hundred cards had now been issued to the canvassers, and when - after an extension of the original period - the Committee’s room at the Council Offices finally closed on Saturday evening, December 11th 1915, only seven cards remained unreturned, the percentage of candidates successfully canvassed having been far higher than expected. Apart from the Lord Derby Scheme, also coming to an end during the month was the local service of Mr. Baldry at the Bletchley Recruiting Office. There he had been employed as assistant to Major Hammans since the opening of the facility, but now it was understood that having received a commission he would be going to the Chief Recruiting Office for Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire at Oxford, under the charge of Captain Green. At the end of December 1915, notice was given, pursuant to an instruction by the Local Government Board, that a Local Tribunal had been constituted for the urban district of Bletchley, and, with the relevant forms to be obtained from the Council Offices, this would consider and determine the following claims;

a) Applications by attested men to be placed in reserve groups.

b) Applications by employers on behalf of employees.

c) Applications by unstarred men to be treated as if they had been starred

Under the Lord Derby Scheme there had been the issue of a khaki armlet. A red armlet had been provided for the Volunteer Training Corps, and a blue and white armlet for special constables, but additional to these in January 1916 it was announced that there would shortly be the issue of another armlet, to those men who were pronounced medically unfit. However, this would not take place until they had all been attested, and two classes were to apply; those who were ‘organically unfit,’ and those who produced a doctor’s certificate, for defective eyesight or similar. Re-examinations would be held at the Chief Recruiting Office of each area, and only from these centres would the armlets be issued. Following the earlier grant, in mid January 1916 an application was approved to use a room for meetings of the North Bucks Parliamentary Recruiting Committee. These would be held at the Council Offices on Wednesday mornings, whilst as for the standard of the local recruits, it seemed to some that ‘A great many of the men were too well fed and had too little exercise,’ which would perhaps also be the opinion at the medical examinations, which were now to be conducted at the sub headquarters, ie. Aylesbury, Bletchley, High Wycombe or Slough. Meanwhile, Captain L. Green, the recruiting organiser for Bucks, and Major Hammans, who had charge of the Recruiting Office at Bletchley, were being kept busy with single attested men anxious to ‘be in time,’ since Saturday, March 4th 1916 was the last day for applications for exemption. As for unattested single men, the last day for application was Wednesday, after which no claims for exemption could be considered, whilst as for ‘starred’ men;

‘All starred men who have attested under Lord Derby’s Scheme are exempt for the time being, but their cases are shortly to be enquired into by the military authorities in order to show that they are rightly starred. All starred men who have not attested under Lord Derby’s Scheme must apply to the military service tribunal by March 1st for their starring to be continued, otherwise they become automatically unstarred by the Military Service Act. All applications for exemption should be made in writing to the Clerk of the local District Council by whom it will be forwarded to the Military Authorities. It is not desirable for applicants to apply personally at Recruiting Offices.’

At the Council Offices, the Local Military Service Tribunal met on Wednesday afternoon, March 8th 1916, composed of Oliver Wells and William Woods, and Stephen Jones, Albert Stevens, and Thomas Kirby. However, although the latter lived next door to the Council Offices, he had not yet received his copy of the printed order referring to the conduct of these tribunals, despite it having been posted in the box outside the Council Offices two days ago! Sir Herbert Leon acted as the military representative for the district, and amongst the cases was an application from the Council, requesting a postponement of six months in the call up of Thomas Best junior, one of their employees. This was granted, but for a wine and spirit merchant his request for exemption, the reason given being that his services were required in the business, was refused. A firm of coal merchants also asked for exemption for one of their employees, who was engaged in carting coal to the neighbouring villages, and also to Staple Hall Depot, but to this the Recruiting Officer raised an objection, claiming that the applicant was not in a ‘certified’ trade. Nevertheless, a postponement of one month was granted. Being a starred man, as were all the other employees of military age at his factory, a departmental manager at a brush works then applied for exemption, being supported by the proprietors of the firm. Again the Recruiting Officer objected, since the man was no longer required in civilian employment, but on being informed that the factory produced articles for the Army and Navy, it was decided that the application should not have come before the Tribunal. At the next Tribunal, on Wednesday, March 15th 1916 Sir Herbert Leon said that he had a suggestion to make. The previous procedure had not seemed entirely satisfactory, and so for the sake of openness he recommended that all the cases should be heard with the applicants and the Press being present, with the Tribunal then retiring to make their decisions. This duly proved more ‘democratic,’ and in further moves at the meeting of the Local Military Service Tribunal on Thursday, April 6th 1916 a letter from the Chief Recruiting Office, Aylesbury, was read, stating that a special military representative had been appointed for the County Appeal Tribunal. Since at these cases full information from the local tribunals would be a pre-requisite, it would be best for the Secretary to the Advisory Committee to be present, and with Mr. R.F. Neave being the Secretary, it was agreed that he should remain at the meeting, but retire while the decisions were made. Then of the cases heard, a married man, in business as a hairdresser and perfumer in Aylesbury Street, applied for total exemption on the grounds that no one else was available to carry on the enterprise. He only had a 17 year old apprentice, and Sir Herbert Leon remarked that it was his understanding the applicant would give up the undertaking if appointed as the military hairdresser at Staple Hall Depot. The applicant then said that on the previous day he had seen the authorities at Staple Hall, and they had repeated the offer, but saying that he had no authority to allow anyone to do anything after his report had gone in, Major Hammans stated that it would be up to Oxford. Farming over 220 acres, and ‘being engaged in feeding the country,’ a married farmer successfully applied for total exemption, which was also the hope of a firm of coal dealers and farmers who applied for a coal carter. Indeed, it was pointed out that under a list from the Board of Trade, received that morning, he was now entitled to exemption, and a postponement of six months was given. The same period was allowed for a baker of the Co-operative Society, which not only did all the baking for the military, but also catered for the civilian population. A builder by trade, the Lieutenant of the Fire Brigade then applied for total exemption. Despite his firm being presently engaged on a number of contracts, he had one brother leaving at once, and since the question of calling up firemen was presently under Government review, a postponement of two months was allowed. When Sir Herbert Leon applied for exemption for his chauffeur, it was agreed by Major Hammans that it would not be possible for the applicant to carry out his duties as military representative without the man, but he hoped that Sir Herbert could find a replacement who was over military age. A postponement of three months was granted. Following the close of the Tribunal, as perhaps to be expected a storm of criticism would greet many of the decisions, but for any persons dissatisfied with a decision of a Local Military Service Tribunal, they were to remember that any appeal to the County Tribunal had to be lodged within three days of the case being heard. Yet dissatisfaction or not, the Local Military Service Tribunals now became a regular feature of wartime life, and an abbreviated record of the many cases heard at Bletchley is given in the addendum of this book.

The Bletchley Police Court. Apart from its more usual function, here on Friday and Saturday, April 7th and 8th 1916 the 'Bucks County Tribunal Bletchley and Linslade Appeals' held their first sittings, whereby the fate of applicants would be decided, as to whether they were to continue their normal employment, or be sent for military service.

With Lieutenant Colonel A. Finlay presiding, on Friday and Saturday, April 7th and 8th 1916 the Bucks County Tribunal Bletchley and Linslade Appeals held their first sittings at Bletchley Police Court. As for the Local Military Service Tribunals, since these had now ceased for the time being that for Bletchley finished the work in hand at a short sitting on Wednesday, April 12th 1916. In mid April 1916 a long letter from the Chief Officer of the Fire Brigade was read to the Council, stating that the military were now calling up firemen for the Army. From Bletchley, four members had already joined, and there were now no single men in the brigade. He therefore asked the Council how many men should be retained for the protection of the town, and it was agreed that as a temporary measure only men who were not eligible for the Army should be recruited. By late April the Local Military Service Tribunals had re-commenced, and, with regimental Commanding Officers now having authority to grant leave of absence to men who wished to help on farms, at the end of May 1916 Major Hammans advised farmers who required the loan of soldiers for hay making, and other agricultural work, to write to Walter Long, or Lord Selborne. Including Captain L. Green, the Chief Recruiting Officer for the county of Buckingham, on Thursday afternoon, June 1st 1916 all the members were present at the Local Military Service Tribunal held in the Council Offices. Sir Herbert Leon acted as the local military representative, and with some 37 appellants being present, also present for the first time at a Bletchley tribunal was a solicitor, who spoke for two of the cases. The first week in June 1916 saw many civilians joining up at the Staple Hall Royal Engineer Signal Depot, as also at the Recruiting Office in Bletchley Road. As for those seeking exemption from military service, Sir Herbert Leon suggested that a Local Military Service Tribunal should refuse to hear any applicant who had not been certified by the military as fit for service. Previously, time had been wasted by applicants who subsequent to the verdict were then declared as being medically unfit for any service, and Sir Herbert therefore proposed the following resolution;

‘Resolved that in future no appeal for complete or temporary exemption will be heard by this Tribunal unless the applicant has previously been medically examined and passed as fit for military service of some kind by the military authorities.’

This was adopted, and also during the proceedings the Clerk read a letter from the Chief Recruiting Officer, Aylesbury, saying there was now an intimation from the medical staff at Oxford that they could no longer deal with men travelling there for examination. They could only deal with those men called up in their respective groups, and therefore other means to conduct the medical examinations should be sought, a military hospital at Aylesbury being one possibility. Aged 71, Major Hammans, who for the past year had been in charge of the Bletchley Recruiting Office, died in June 1916, and, both in the town and the neighbouring district, throughout his duties his kindly presence and unfailing courtesy had been greatly appreciated. On May 27th he had been taken suddenly and seriously ill, and being removed from the house where he had been staying to that of Dr. W. Bradbrook, in Bletchley Road, here on the same evening an operation was performed by Dr. Hastings Gilford, of Reading. In consequence, initially Major Hammans seemed to make a good recovery, and amongst the many well wishers who came to see him were the Commanding Officer and officers from Staple Hall Depot, Sir Herbert and Lady Leon, Colonel and Mrs. Broome Giles, Lieutenant Colonel Back, Lieutenant Colonel W.J. Levi, Lieutenant Colonel A. Finlay, the Vicar of Fenny Stratford, as well as from the recruiting staff Major Dalrymple, (late R.A.), Lieutenant Johnson, Captain L.H. Green (Chief Recruiting Officer for Buckinghamshire) and Captain Baldry, of the Oxford recruiting staff. However, then beginning to weaken he passed peacefully away, leaving two sons; Captain and Adjutant A.J. Spencer Hammans, of the 1st Battalion, Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry, and Lieutenant A.W. Hammans of the same regiment. In fact having served with distinction in France for the past 20 months, the former had now not only been decorated by the King with the Military Cross, but had also been awarded the Legion of Honour by the President of the French Republic. With the arrangements being handled by Mr. E. Fennemore, who was responsible for military funerals, on Wednesday afternoon the coffin, covered by a Union Jack, was carried from the house to a motor hearse by a bearer party of Royal Engineers. This was comprised of an N.C.O. and eight sappers, and on duty between the house and the hearse a small armed guard of the Norfolks stood at the salute, as the coffin passed between their ranks. Also present were Inspector Callaway and police sergeant Hill, together with numerous members of a sympathetic public. The coffin was then conveyed by the motor hearse to The Old Farm House, Goring, and, with many wreaths having been sent, at the well attended village church the funeral took place on Friday, with Dr. Bradbrook and many of the recruiting staff amongst the congregation. As the interment was being made in the parish churchyard eight buglers of Major Hamman’s old regiment then sounded the Last Post. In early June, under new regulations Local Military Service Tribunals could grant an exemption certificate subject to ‘it shall not be renewable or open to variation except on an application made with the leave of the Tribunal.’ Ordinarily, a limited exemption would permit a further appeal on its expiry, but now Tribunals would have the power to prevent any further appeal from being made to them. As for the ‘one man business clause’ of the new regulations, it had to be proved ‘to the satisfaction of the Tribunal that serious hardship would ensue if a man was called up for Army service, owing to the fact that the man is the sole proprietor of a business upon which the support of his family exclusively or mainly depends (not being a business which in the public interest ought to be discontinued) and that it is impossible for him to make arrangements for the carrying on of the business in his absence.’ Nevertheless, any postponement of military service was subject to review at any time, being valid only ‘under the present circumstances.’ Passed as fit for service by recent Tribunals, two men left Bletchley for military duty on Monday, June 12th 1916. From Fenny Stratford, one had arrived at Bletchley station by motor transport, and, having had to dash across the passenger bridge to catch the train, joked as he climbed aboard, “Your King and country need your service. See the rush to join the Army!” A Local Military Service Tribunal was held on Friday, June 16th 1916, and with there being only three cases to deal with, this was perhaps just as well, since insults and threats of violence were now rumoured to be increasing at such hearings. Nevertheless, they continued to be regularly held, and in early July 1916 a circular issued to Local Tribunals, by the Local Government Board, stated that, as far as possible, the War Office would not withdraw men from farms who were shown, after careful investigation, to be indispensable for the cultivation of the land, and/or for the maintenance of the head of livestock upon it. In fact between the Army Council and the Board of Agriculture a general guide for determining the men to be retained on farms had been agreed ;

‘One skilled able bodied man or lad (wherever possible not of military age) for each of the following: Each team of horses required to cultivate the land; every 20 cows in milk, when the assistance of women and boys is available; every 50 head of stall or yard stock, when auxiliary feeding is resorted to and the assistance of women or boys is available; every 200 sheep, inclusive of lambs, grazed on enclosed land; every 800 sheep running on mountain or hill pasturage.’

With most of the appeals being for extensions of previous exemptions, on Thursday, July 20th, 1916 the Local Military Service Tribunal was opened with the reading of a letter from Captain L. Green, the Chief Recruiting Officer for the county. This suggested that exemptions should only be granted subject to those concerned joining the local Company of the Volunteer Regiment, but at the suggestion of Mr. Stevens this was changed to the Bletchley Company of special constables, since their numbers had now been depleted by those leaving for Army service. On the afternoon of Friday, August 4th 1916 the Bucks County Military Tribunal held another sitting at Bletchley. At its first appearance the proceedings had lasted for over a day and a half. At the second meeting the proceedings had lasted for a whole day, but now the current business came to an end shortly after 3p.m.! Present were two conscientious objectors, who were disputing the decisions of the Local Tribunals - Linslade and Buckingham - but they were afforded little sympathy, and when one even declined non combatant work, since this would be ‘aiding and abetting,’ it was swiftly pointed out by the military representative that the man’s employment, as a plate layer for the L.&N.W.R., enabled soldiers and munitions to pass along the railway. As for the opinion of another member of the Tribunal, he remarked that since the man seemed to live for and think only of himself, he had better go out and live ‘in the middle of a big field and eat grass.’ During the month pink medical re-examination forms, popularly known as ‘pink pills,’ were being sent to those men who had been previously declared exempt, and, as a further emphasis of the desperate need for men, at the end of August 1916 employers became liable for punishment if they employed, or concealed, any man who was a deserter from the Army or Army Reserve. In fact a fresh provision would make it an offence - punishable on summary conviction by a fine not exceeding £20 - to ‘knowingly employ, or continue to employ, or conceal any man belonging to the Army Reserve who is an absentee without leave,’ and if in any doubt an employer was to report the particulars to the nearest Recruiting Office. Their compliance was now also required in listing the details of all male persons in their employ of military age, and this register then had to be ‘posted up’ and made available for scrutiny ‘at all reasonable hours’ to ‘inspectors of recruiting, assistant inspectors of recruiting, area commanders, sub area commanders, Recruiting Officers, military representatives, police constables, and any person authorised in that behalf by any Government department.’

In fact for not keeping such a register James Smith, of Water Eaton Mills, was summoned during September 1916 in a case which Inspector Callaway said had been brought under instruction from the Military Authority for the area. The maximum penalty could be a fine of £100, or 6 months imprisonment, but, with the defendant not appearing, 2s 6d was imposed. However, when the man later entered the court he said he would not pay a fine ‘since he had done nothing to deserve one,’ until it was explained by the Clerk that the amount was only for the costs. From the Chief Organiser of Recruiting for Bucks, at the Local Military Service Tribunal, held on Thursday, September 7th 1916, a letter was read stating firstly that in future all appellants must have been previously medically examined, and secondly that men born in 1897 were about to be called up. As one of the cases to be heard, due to his duties in public offices Thomas Best, the Clerk to the Tribunal, appealed for total exemption, since apart from being a certified accountant he was also public auditor. In fact he was the only exponent of this profession in North Bucks, and as such was presently auditing the accounts at Staple Hall Depot. Six months was granted. On Wednesday, September 13th 1916 a special and important meeting was convened by Captain L.H. Green, chief recruiting officer for Bucks, at which large and well known employers of labour in the north of the county, together with agriculturalists and representatives of the various local Tribunals were present. This was held at the Recruiting Office, Bletchley, with the object being to discuss the question of substitution labour, by which it was desired to demobilise from the army men who were only fit for certain categories of military work, and to replace them by men who were now in civil employment but who were fit for service abroad. Thus the employers of labour were asked to co-operate with the military authorities “so that the war might more speedily be carried to a successful conclusion for England and her Allies.” Skilled workmen and others would be released, to be replaced in the factories and workshops by men demobilised from the army. Commanding the Bucks and Oxford area, Lt. Col. Sir Charles Cuyler presided, and amongst those present were General Grove, commanding 7th Regimental District, Captain Baldry, recruiting Staff Officer, Oxford, Captain L.H. Green, Mr. W. Carlile, Colonel W. Levi, the Hon. Cecil Fremantle, Swanbourne, Mr. G. Salmons, Newport Pagnell, Mr. J. Mann J.P., Mr. Mr. W. Pebody, Olney, Mr. Trevethick, superintendent Wolverton Works, and Mr. R. Neave, recruiting agent for North Bucks. Explaining the objects of the meeting, Sir Charles Cuyler said they had been approached by the War Office, and by the military authorities, and told of the absolute necessity to obtain more men for the army. Not for general service, but for the fighting line, and they had only to look at the casualty lists in the papers to realise the importance. In Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire they had been helping in every possible way, and agricultural people were working with the lowest possible staff. There were men serving today who were only fit for certain categories, and it was therefore suggested that these should be demobilised and their places taken by men fit for actual campaigning. There were seven categories of men; a) the men who were fit in all respects to go abroad and fight anywhere, and were first class soldiers. b1) men fit for garrison duty abroad, and who could work the lines of communication. b2) men who were fit for labour abroad, men who could make roads and stand foreign climates. b3) the men who were only fit for sedentary work, such as clerks or storesmen in foreign lands. c1) the men who were fit for service at home, and would garrison this country. c2) men fit for labour at home, and who could work about the permanent camps. c3) men fit for sedentary work, such as clerks or storekeepers at home. What the authorities wanted was to get the men who came under A and replace them by the men enumerated under category C. Speaking to the members of the local tribunals, Sir Charles said that the Advisory Committee only recommended exemption in cases of absolute necessity. They wanted to stiffen up the tribunals, and the military representatives could help by looking after the interests of tribunals and by appealing against every decision that went against them on the balance of facts. The military representative could also help, by seeing that the officer who took a case to the Appeal Tribunal was thoroughly briefed. Employers could help by not retaining fit men as long as they could replace them with those unfit for active service. Captain Baldry said that it must be remembered that every man in this country of military age had been, as far as possible, dealt with by the military authorities, and that every man had to come under one of three headings; either called up for service and posted to a regiment; been rejected for service; or exempted from service. It was for the latter that the appeal was now being made. Various employers then spoke and gave support to the scheme, but pointed out that some men could not be spared. They had specialist skills, or were fulfilling agricultural needs, and in recognising this Sir Charles said “We understand some people can spare no more men. They were having meetings to see if men could be spared and to get employers to release men if possible. All we want to do is win this war.” At the Local Military Tribunal on Thursday, September 21st 1916, a Fenny Stratford builder applied for exemption for an 18 year old apprentice. The appellant had already been passed for general service by the military medical authorities, and four months only was requested, as this would bring him up to the age of 19. As for the builder, who only had one other man, he was aged 26, and saying that he was continually being called to carry out work at Staple Hall Depot, in emphasis he had an order in his pocket for two men to be there the next day. Upon asking what this work entailed, Sir Herbert Leon, the military representative, was told it was for painting and decorating, whereupon Sir Herbert retorted “The military can wait. The inconsistency of the military is deplorable. They want men, and they want work done.” A verdict of ‘Held for service’ was given. In early October 1916 civilian recruits continued to arrive at the Staple Hall Depot, to later march away in batches of 40 or 50 to be equipped at some other centre. Indeed, a contingent of trained men left one Monday afternoon for the fighting fronts, being played to the station by the Depot band, but elsewhere in the town a contemporary complaint was made that in a brush factory, situated in Fenny Stratford, some 30 men of military age were seemingly employed ‘making brushes for polishing the buttons on soldiers’ coats.’ At Bletchley, a considerable disturbance was caused at the Bucks County Tribunal on Monday, October 9th 1916, when one of the appellants was told that the appeal by his employer had been dismissed, and that he would therefore be called up on October 31st. Then at the Bucks County Tribunal on Friday, November 10th more discontent was revealed, when Lieutenant Sydenham, the military representative, read a long letter from Captain L. Green, in which he complained that where an appeal had been disallowed by both the Local and Area Tribunals, in more than one case the Bucks Agricultural War Committee, through the Board of Agriculture, had referred the case to the War Office, with the result that men had been recalled from service. Therefore the matter would now be referred to the Local Government Board for their observations. At this Tribunal the military representative for the county had been Lieutenant Sydenham, but at the Local Military Service Tribunal on Thursday, November 16th he had been succeeded by Captain Rigby. However, more trouble was soon to follow, for on Friday, January 19th 1917 at the Bucks County Appeal Tribunal, held at Aylesbury, speaking in a civilian capacity Captain Rigby said that consequent to a complaint having been made against him, he appeared that morning to make an application to the Tribunal, since he had been ordered to hand over the whole of his papers to his successor as military representative. This he did under protest, but he had applied to his superiors for a full enquiry to be made into his conduct whilst military representative in the county of Bucks. He had never received a single complaint in connection with his appeals before either the County or Local Tribunals, and after a personal interview with Sir Charles Cuyler, at Oxford, he had left without a stain on his character, with Sir Charles even telling him to continue his work. Then when he later went to London he was told by one of the officials that a complaint had been made against him by a member of the Appeal Tribunal. An Army officer for 22 years, Captain Rigby had fought in the South African War, and, with his father being a county magistrate in Cheshire (and someone who had served the county for 20 years in various capacities) he, apart from being captain of the cricket and football clubs, had been Chairman of his local Council when the war broke out. Subsequent to being seriously wounded he was then put on light duties, and acting as military representative in Cheshire, where two Tribunals were sitting four days a week, of the 5,000 cases with which he had to deal no complaints had ever been made by any of the Tribunals or the applicants. In fact he came away with the good wishes of everyone concerned. However, on coming to Bucks to continue his duties he said that almost everyone he came into contact with treated him as if he was a scoundrel or scamp, and, with his honour at stake, he could not understand why he had been reported. His application was therefore to know the reason, and whether he had been reported by the Tribunal as a body, or one or two individual members. Since in 22 years he had never had a stain on his character, honesty, or integrity, he was entitled to know, and not least since he had been replaced by a man who had never been in the Army, although he would not say a word against Mr. Porter, who had been ordered to attend. Despite Captain Rigby repeating that his honour was at stake, the Chairman said that having heard his concerns he did not think he could give any information on the subject, and that it was not a matter for the Tribunal but for the military authorities. Considering this to be a far from satisfactory reply, Captain Rigby then asked the Press to note his alleged unfair treatment as an honourable man and a soldier, and in conclusion he said that being a lawyer he was going to appeal to the highest authority to get his character vindicated.

(In fact perhaps some of the ‘discontent’ had origins from the proceedings during the Bucks County Appeal Tribunal on Tuesday December 12th 1916, which was held at Bletchley. With Colonel A. Finlay as chairman, this comprised Mr. H. Haldin, K.C., Mr. R. Elliston, Dr. L. West and Mr. T. Buckingham, and among the cases was that of a Stantonbury grocer. He had been granted six months exemption at the Newport Pagnell Rural District Tribunal, but this was appealed against by the military representative, Captain Rigby. It was whilst the Tribunal were considering their decision that Captain Rigby intervened with a remark which ‘led to a little breeze,’ and when the captain was reminded that the Tribunal had not yet given a decision, he warmly relied “I was not talking to you.” Mr. Haldin then objected to his attitude, and said he should ask the Tribunal to retire. At this Captain Rigby complained that he had already been reported to London by Mr. Haldin, adding “ I try to do my work properly. You carry on with your work and don’t talk to me.” To this Mr. Haldin replied, “Don’t you talk to me.” In the event the military appeal was allowed, and although the exemption was reduced to three months, further leave to appeal was granted. In the next case the military representative appealed against another decision made by the Newport Pagnell Rural Tribunal. This had granted six months to a grocer at Woburn Sands, but Captain Rigby said that he did not object to the exemption being reduced to three months. However, Mr. Thornley formally asked for leave to appeal, whereupon Captain Rigby remarked; “I think this man ought to be in the army as he is under 41. So did you if you are under 41.” In reply Mr. Thornley said “Politeness is not very cheap where you come from”, to which Captain Rigby retorted “Are you talking to me?” Mr. Thornley replied “Yes. I am talking to you.”)

Thus the new military representative for the county of Buckingham was now Lieutenant S.L. Porter, whilst in other appointments Lieutenant J.V. McFarlane had been engaged on the recruiting staff at Bletchley. In fact better known as the Bletchley Road Sub Post Office, at 41, Bletchley Road, the building which now accommodated the Bletchley Recruiting Office, under Lieutenant Colonel E. L. de Cordes, had by mid December 1916 officially become known as an ‘Employment Exchange and Unemployment Insurance Office’ (otherwise known as a Labour Exchange) under the Board of Trade. In fact this was the first to be opened in the county, and, as at Wolverton, was in the charge of Mr. Hedley Clarke, who with some justification appealed for exemption from military service on the grounds of doing Government work. Aged 38, he had been passed as Class A, and had not appealed before as he was ‘badged,’ or certificated. However, that had now been withdrawn, and the ruling was given as ‘Conditional.’ In late March 1917 the military garrison in Bletchley was larger than usual. Normally, troops departed daily in batches and contingents for equipment and initial training at Birmingham, but now an outbreak of measles had closed the city to recruits, who instead had to stay in Bletchley. On Thursday afternoon, May 17th 1917, at the meeting of the Local Military Service Tribunal, held in the Council Offices, a letter of resignation was read from Sir Herbert Leon, the military representative. The reason was allegedly because complaints had been made that not enough men from the Bletchley district had joined the Army, and he assumed that the blame for this was attached to him. However, the Chairman of the Tribunal, Mr. Jones, said that in no case had the decision of the Tribunal been upset by either the Area Tribunal for the County of Buckingham, or the Central Tribunal in London, commonly known as Spring Gardens, and in fact a main reason for the situation was that the majority of Bletchley men of military age were railway employees, over whom the Local Tribunal had no jurisdiction. Also at the meeting, a letter was read from the commanding officer of the 3rd Battalion Buckinghamshire Volunteers, calling the attention of the Tribunal to the fact that men who joined the Volunteers under ‘conditional’ exemption could resign by giving 14 days notice. Also they could, when they chose, shirk their drills, and so might not be competent for home defence. Therefore men were now being asked to join one of two newly formed sections - A & B - one for men under military age, and the other for men over that age. Under these sections, during the continuance of the war the Army Regulations would apply, and with it being compulsory to attend the drills, the authorities were willing to give any assistance by way of supplying rifles and equipment. By the creation of these sections it was hoped that a large number of the 500,000 men, who were urgently needed to release others for active service, would be found, and the letter asked the Tribunal to make all exemptions conditional on the men joining section A or B. However, the Chairman said that men were often doing the work of 2 or 3, and since finding time for drills was consequently difficult, it was decided to continue deciding each case on its merit. In Buckinghamshire, before the war about one man in every 150 had been in the Forces, but with the figure now being 1 in 5 many of those locally joining up had become acquainted with the Bletchley Recruiting Office. However, on Saturday, May 19th 1917 this was moved to the house in Bletchley Road once occupied by Major and Mrs. Chadwick. Lately this had been used for billeting purposes by the military authorities at Staple Hall Depot, but when tented accommodation again became available at the ‘Staple Hall Rest Camp’ the house became available to provide a more commodious accommodation for the Bletchley Recruiting Office. As for the previous centre, in early June 1917 large announcements adorned the doorway, proclaiming that the premises were to be occupied by the ‘Director of wood supplies, A.D.T.S. 4., Divisional Works Office, Div. 11.’ The monthly Military Service Tribunal was held on the afternoon of Thursday, July 12th, with Lieutenant Porter, the county and local military representative, Lieutenant S. Waterhouse, the Recruiting Officer, and Captain Robinson, Adjutant of the 3rd Battalion Bucks Volunteers, being present. Here, the latter asked that in future cases of ‘conditional’ exemption a clause should stipulate that the exempted men must join the previously mentioned Section B of the Volunteers, saying that a ‘Home Defence Army’ must be trained. Adding “if they don’t attend drills report them to us,” the chairman duly agreed, and further said that since their last meeting a visit had been made by Mr. Nesbitt, the Local Government Inspector of Military Tribunals. As pointed out by Lieutenant Porter, Mr. Nesbitt had no affiliation with the military authorities, although since his opinion had been that every possible man should be ‘raked up’ for military service, the chairman said that he had acted just like a Recruitment Sergeant. Due no doubt to the volume of work, on the subject of recruiting occasional mistakes were being made by the local office, and one instance was that in the first week of August regarding a Stoke Hammond man. Despite having been in the Army for 21 months, and in France for 13 months, he had now been called up by the Bletchley Recruiting Office, which more competently in early September 1917 could direct recruits for the R.F.C. - either skilled or unskilled - to the Special Recruiting Officer of the R.F.C. in this district. Whilst many of those attending the Local Military Service Tribunals actively sought exemption, others who had been granted exemption joined up nevertheless, including Wilfred Matthews, the youngest son of Mr. and Mrs. George Matthews, of the High Street. Being in business in Aylesbury Street as a hairdresser, he, despite having in the early part of 1916 been granted exemption, enlisted in the Royal Engineers, and having rapidly reached the rank of corporal had been at the Front for some time. Then in mid October 1917 came news of his award of the Military Medal for gallantry in action. Three of his four brothers were also in the Forces, including Flight Sergeant Ernest Matthews, R.F.C., and Gunner E. (Ted) Matthews, who, having first joined the Army Service Corps, was now ‘somewhere with the guns.’ There were no cases to be heard at the Local Military Service Tribunal on Thursday, November 1st 1917, but on Thursday, November 29th 1917 at the Petty Sessions the case came up of a man employed at the Wood Supply Depot, Bletchley. He was charged by the military authorities with being an absentee, but the Wood Supply Depot had claimed that he was exempt, and the matter was down for hearing on adjournment. Lieutenant Waterhouse, of the Bletchley recruiting staff, and Mr. Johnson, the Director of the Wood Supply Depot, were both in court, but another adjournment - for a fortnight - was then agreed. Therefore it would be on Thursday, December 13th 1917 that the case (having been adjourned on three previous occasions) came up before the Petty Sessions, although the man failed to surrender to his bail. However, the court was presented with a medical certificate which, although invalid, they decided to accept, on being told that the man ‘was confined to the house.’ In fact Lieutenant Waterhouse said that in view of the doubtful nature of the certificate the case should be dealt with in the man’s absence, and to this Mr. Johnson, Director of the Wood Supply Depot, raised no objection. As evidenced by a letter read by Lieutenant Waterhouse, it was stated that the man had given the military authorities ‘an enormous amount of trouble.’ As for the details, having tried to get work at High Wycombe the man’s appeal for exemption in June 1916 had been dismissed, but he then obtained employment and temporary exemption to February this year. This was then extended to April, but another appeal in May was dismissed and he was ordered to join up. Instead, he went to work under the Road Board, from which authority he obtained another temporary exemption until December 4th. The War Office then decreed that he should join up immediately, but this he ignored and came to Bletchley without disclosing this ruling, which was only discovered ‘by degrees.’ Had the man stuck to his original trade, the wood trade, there would have been no difficulty, but since he had ‘shifted about,’ evidently to evade military service, Lieutenant Waterhouse asked that he be fined and handed over. Mr. Johnson then said that because he was technically in the Army he must join up, whereupon an application by the Wood Supply Department could be made for his release! This was the course he proposed to pursue, and in the event no fine was imposed. The Bletchley Recruiting Office finally closed its doors on Thursday, March 28th 1918, with the nearest recruiting authority for the Bletchley district then being the Assistant Director for Recruiting, at Aylesbury. In fact Lieutenant Colonel De Cordes had left Bletchley some months ago, but Mr. S. Waterhouse remained in charge, occupying the couple of rooms in Richmond House, Bletchley Road. As for the adjoining houses, they had of late been used as billets for the Royal Engineers attached to the Staple Hall Wireless Depot. At the Military Service Tribunal on Thursday, April 18th 1918 the National Service Representative was Captain Wingate, but on his application - for ‘good reasons’ - all the review cases listed for that day had to be adjourned, possibly for a week or a fortnight. It was therefore on Thursday, May 2nd 1918 that the subsequent Local Military Service Tribunal took place, where Captain Porter, the National Service Representative, said that up to the last German offensive there had not been any great demand for men in Grade 3. As for those in Grade 2, especially the older men, it had been the custom to leave their cases entirely to the Tribunals to deal with, at their discretion. However, as a result of the German offensive the demand for all men in Grades 1 & 2 was now extremely urgent, and all cases in those grades were being brought up for review. Yet for men in Grade 3, the demand was not so urgent, except for certain specifically trained men, and the cases before the Tribunal that day were all of those men in no essential employment. With reference to the new military age, in May 1918 it was proposed not to presently call up, or send for medical examination, men of various occupations to include agriculture and coal mining. This would apply to those registered as being in one of these trades as at April 18th, and education officers, teachers, policemen, and wireless school instructors were amongst the other categories. Under a new Act of Parliament, in late May 1918 the maximum period for exemption was to be three months instead of six, except in exceptional cases, and all those being granted exemption were automatically required to join the Volunteers, although the distance that a man lived from the nearest centre could be taken into account. As to whether a man was physically fit for the Volunteers, the decision lay with that medical officer, but as Captain Porter had pointed out ‘the grading adopted by medical officers of Volunteers often differs essentially from that adopted by the General Service Medical Board.’ With Mr. G. Tayler, and Mr. T. Jordan as the Agricultural Representatives, at the Bucks County Tribunal, held at Bletchley on Tuesday, May 21st 1918, Captain Porter, as the National Service Representative, explained the position regarding agricultural cases before Tribunals. The total number of men to be released from the land for service was to be arranged with the Board of Agriculture, which would then allocate numbers to each county (that for Bucks being about 350) and it was now the Bucks County War Agricultural Committee that would deal directly with exemptions ‘indispensable to the necessary food production.’ Having been postponed for unknown reasons from the previous Tuesday, there were no Bletchley cases at the Bucks County Tribunal at the Police Court on Friday, June 21st 1918, whilst at the Council Office meeting of the Local Military Service Tribunal, held on Thursday afternoon, August 8th 1918, the chairman, Mr. S.F. Jones, read a letter from Thomas Best, who, since he was leaving the district, was resigning from his appointment as the Secretary to the Tribunal. Therefore it would be Mr. Charter Wilson who acted as the replacement at the Local Military Service Tribunal at the Council Offices on Thursday afternoon, September 5th 1918. Yet soon the need for such Tribunals would come to an end with the signing of the Armistice, and in consequence the editor of a local newspaper would receive the following letter for public display from the Bucks Recruiting Office;

‘Sir Owing to the signing of the Armistice I have been unable to take leave of Tribunals personally in this County. I have accordingly sent the letter, a copy of which is attached, to the Chairman of each Tribunal, and the Secretary of each Advisory Committee.

I have also had to express by letter, instead of verbally, my thanks to all Clerks to Tribunals for their unvarying kindness and assistance and my deep gratitude to all National Service Representatives.

May I further acknowledge my indebtedness to the Press throughout the County, for the great help they have afforded.

I am Sir,
Yours faithfully,
L. Porter.

Ministry of National Service,
Silverdale,
Aylesbury.
27th November 1918’


ROWLAND BROTHERS

Born at Tadcaster on October 31st 1846, William Richard Rowland was privately educated at Pontypridd, and in 1868 married 20 year old Mary Elizabeth Lailey, the elder daughter of the late G.W. Lailey, of Hall Place, Ropley, Hampshire. The first docks in Cardiff had been constructed by William’s grandfather and father (as the then firm of Storm and Rowland) and William had been engaged on various public works, including the Thames Embankment in London. He was then offered a responsible post in connection with engineering work at Odessa, but this he declined, and on coming to the Bletchley district he went into partnership with his elder brother, Thomas Evans Rowland, as Messrs. Rowland Brothers, timber merchants, of Fenny Stratford.

In 1874 they built their ‘steam sawmills’ by the railway, and vast sheds were constructed to store the timber. Then as trade increased, so new premises and railway sidings were added, and by the end of the century even supplies of foreign timber were being received direct from the docks. Active in the local civic and social life, in 1893 William was made a county magistrate, and on two occasions was asked to stand as M.P. for a Yorkshire constituency. As for other appointments, he was a vice president of the Chamber of Commerce, and a representative of English timber merchants, and variously held many other offices to include that of a school manager, a member of the Board of Guardians, Director of the Gas Company, and President of the Musical Society. Being a keen mason he was one of the original members of the St. Martin’s Lodge, and having held the office of Senior Warden would, but for his health, have been Worshipful Master. On the Wednesday before Christmas Day, 1913 William had a narrow escape in Denbigh Road, when a motor vehicle whilst overtaking his carriage caught one of the rear wheels. He and his coachman were thrown to the ground, and since the axle of the carriage had been bent they had to be taken home in the car. Fortunately there were no serious injuries, but having been very badly shaken perhaps this was a contributory cause to William’s death, at Ropley House, July 23rd 1914.

The memorial plaque in St. Martin's Church to William Richard Rowland.

In fact he had not been in the best of health for about 9 years, but nevertheless on the Wednesday he had motored to Watford, to return around 8.30p.m. and then, after dinner, deal with some business matters with his son, William Lailey Rowland. The funeral took place at Leighton Buzzard, but with the preceding memorial service being held at St. Martin’s Church, Fenny Stratford, business was practically brought to a halt in the town since, with the blinds being drawn in many of the houses, so many local traders attended the solemn proceedings. William had eight surviving children, 6 daughters and 2 sons, and after the outbreak of war the latter - William, a sergeant in the Hon. Artillery Co., and Douglas, of the Artists Rifles - were required to join their regiments, as was also their nephew, Lieutenant Sidney Rowland. As for the female members of the family, an entertainment for the Royal Engineers billeted in the district was arranged by two of the Misses Rowlands and Miss Jervis, and in aid of local War Relief Funds this took place on the evening of Friday, March 5th 1915 in the Town Hall. In April 1915 the engagement was announced of Hubert Baker, the third son of the late Mr. Alfred Baker and Mrs. Baker, of Harlesden Lodge, Harlesden, London, to Mildred Rowland, the only daughter of Mrs. and Mrs. Thomas Rowland, of Rhondda House.

Ropley House.

This stood adjacent to Ropley House, from where Mrs. William Rowland and Miss Lillian Rowland organised an enjoyable entertainment in the Town Hall on Thursday evening, April 22nd 1915, this being especially for the entertainment of the troops stationed in the town. At about 3a.m. on Sunday morning, June 13th 1915 a fire broke out in the extensive timber yard and saw mills of Messrs. Rowland, which were situated on both sides of Simpson Road. The main portion immediately adjoined the Goods Yard Sidings and the coal wharves at Fenny Stratford station, on the branch line of the L.N.W.R., and about three years ago an entirely new set of workshops and saw mills had been built. Whilst the machinery was driven by gas engines, supplied by a gas producer plant, the lighting was by electricity, and because the plant had been overhauled and cleaned out on Saturday afternoon, it was considered that this had possibly been the cause of the blaze. The interior of the gas producer house was badly charred, but fortunately the equipment was saved. Yet this was not so fortunate for George Winterburn, who, as the gas engine operator, died from gas fumes on Wednesday, August 4th 1915. Firstly as the driver of the steam engine, and then as the operator in more recent years of the gas replacement, he had been employed for the past 37 years at the Rowland timber yards and saw mills, and as usual had gone to his home in Simpson Road for his breakfast. However, he began to stumble as he entered the house, but after being taken upstairs he said he would be alright because it was ‘only the gas.’ Yet this was not the first time that he had mentioned the gas, which had also been mentioned by several other people, and, with Hedley Clarke as the foreman, a jury subsequently returned a verdict ‘That deceased had died from asphyxiation caused by inhaling noxious gases.’ Then in another tragedy, shortly after midnight on Monday, October 18th 1915 another fire was discovered in the saw mills of Rowland Brothers. Inspector Callaway had observed the flames whilst making his rounds, and, although the Fire Brigade was swiftly summoned, the fire gutted the saw mills, and caused many thousands of pounds worth of damage. Given by Mr. & Mrs. Thomas Rowland, and Mrs. Jervis, the annual Scout supper was held at The Cleve on Wednesday evening, December 22nd 1915. Twenty five boys and the Scout master, Mr. Campbell, sat down to an excellent supper, and several officers of the Royal Engineers assisted in making it a most enjoyable event. On the morning of Wednesday, March 8th 1916 a serious accident occurred at the saw mills of Messrs. Rowland Brothers, when one of the men fell across a saw bench. An arm was cut off, and after initial treatment he was hurriedly conveyed to Bedford Infirmary. On the night of June 30th 1916 police sergeant Hill observed a bright light at Ropley House at about 11p.m. The source was found to be fixed to a tree, and when he knocked at the house Miss Lillian Rowland, looking out from an upstairs window, said that the light had been fixed there for use after the war, to illuminate the Avenue. It was supposedly alight by accident, but nevertheless she was ordered to pay 8s 6d in costs. Perhaps police sergeant Hill was therefore not on the guest list when, at St. Martin’s Church, on Monday, August 21st 1916 Lillian married Lieutenant Philip Wrigley, R.E. the only child of Mr. & Mrs. W.A. Wrigley of Todmorden. Due to the war this was a quiet ceremony, and although there were no bridesmaids about six friends were in attendance. The groom had served in the R.N. Division at Gallipoli for a year, and having been invalided home was then transferred to the Royal Engineers at Staple Hall Depot for several months. However, he was now under orders to proceed to the Front at immediate notice. Also getting married was Mildred Rowland, the only daughter of Mr. Thomas Rowland and Mrs. Rowland, of Rhondda House, whose wedding took place at St. Martin’s Church on Saturday afternoon, September 30th 1916. Being the second son of Mrs. Baker and the late Alfred J. Baker, of Harlesden Lodge, Harlesden N.W., the groom, Lieutenant Hubert S. Baker of the Royal Engineers, was home from France on a short leave, and after the ceremony the happy couple boarded a motor car, which was dragged by the Staff Sergeants and Sergeants of Staple Hall Depot to Rhondda House, where on October 4th 1917 Mildred would give birth to a daughter. In September 1915 the engagement had been announced of Thomas Rowland’s younger son, Second Lieutenant Sidney H. Rowland, 7th (Service) Battalion Oxford and Bucks. Light Infantry, and Lorna Wilton. She was the eldest daughter of the Reverend Cecil and Mrs. Wilton, of Westfield, Beverley, and the marriage took place at Holy Trinity Church, York, on November 21st 1916, with the service being performed by the bride’s uncle and cousin. After a luncheon, the couple left for a honeymoon in Devon, and on their return would reside at Fenny Lodge, with Mrs. Rowland, having quickly settled into local life, becoming in June 1917 the Parochial Secretary of the Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge. At St. George’s Church, Bloomsbury, on Saturday, January 13th 1917 the marriage was solemnised between Douglas Mayhew Rowland, 2nd Lieutenant, Royal Engineers, Signals, and Ada Gladys, the only daughter of Cuthbert Thompson, C.M.E., and the late Mrs. Thompson, of Glen Bank, Newport, Monmouthshire. Only a few intimate friends and near relatives were present, for the groom, the younger son of the late William Rowland and Mrs. Rowland, of Ropley House, was home from the Front for only a few days. With the best man being his brother, Mr. William Alfred Lailey Rowland, his sister, Miss Ivy Rowland, was the bridesmaid, and after the ceremony the wedding party returned to the Waldorf Hotel for tea. Being divided between London and the country, there would then be a short honeymoon, before the groom returned to his military duties on the Somme. In yet another wedding, on Wednesday, January 24th 1917 at the Church of St. Martin in the Fields, London, the marriage took place between William Alfred Lailey Rowland and Ethel, the only daughter of the late Peter Ibbotson and Mrs. Ibbotson of Whitehall Court, London, S.W. Again because of the war only a few intimate friends and close relatives were in attendance, and with there being no reception the couple drove straight to the station, for a honeymoon in the West of England. As for other matters, in March 1917 Thomas Evans Rowland, of Rhondda House, was summoned for the offence of a stray dog. Special constable Hartwell said that on February 10th at 9p.m. he had seen a white terrier running around loose, and having taken it to the police station it was from there claimed by Mr. Rowland’s son, Sidney, who said that the animal had ‘strayed away.’ A circular sawyer, and an assistant sawyer, both employed at Rowlands, were brought up in custody on remand on Wednesday, May 23rd 1917 at a Special Sessions, charged with an offence under the Defence of the Realm Act. This had occurred between September 30th 1916 and March 15th 1917, and with a solicitor from Stony Stratford appearing, the case had been referred to the War Office. However, no reply had yet been received, and therefore an application for a remand to the next ordinary Petty Sessions was made. At this the solicitor made an objection, but the remand was granted, with bail allowed. On Thursday, June 28th 1917 Fenny Lodge, in Simpson Road, came up for auction. With a pretty garden, and extensive stabling, the premises were let at £40p.a. to Mr. Sidney H. Rowland, and it seems that he intended to stay, since from the premises in July 1917 he could offer Irish Terriers for sale, ‘three well bred bitch puppies, two months old, pedigree.’ In December 1917, on leaving Rowland Brothers, where he had been employed for 15 years, Mr. R.H. Humphreys was presented with a fountain pen, silver mounted pipes in a case, and an attaché case. These had been subscribed for by the officials and employees of the firm, and he would now take up an appointment in London. Now being the head of Rowland Brothers, one Saturday in late February 1918 Mr. William Alfred Lailey Rowland, of the Manor House, Newton Longville, gave a lantern lecture on Ceylon and Egypt. Having moved to Newton Longville around February 1917, before the war he had been engaged as a civil engineer in The Public Works Dept. of Ceylon , and he duly gave first hand descriptions of the splendid pictures as they were projected onto the screen. Collected in the earlier days of the war, whilst serving with his regiment, the Hon. Artillery Company, a set of pictures on Egypt and Egyptian life were also shown, and also of great interest was a set of pictures of the Suez Canal. With admission free, there was a good attendance, and Mr. Rowland had a first rate projectionist in the person of Sapper Thomas, of the Staple Hall Wireless Depot. Throughout the war, with many of the employees on active service, some of whom would never return, the firm variously advertised for ‘non eligible’ staff, and in early June 1918 three heavy draught horses were also required, for which three older ones could be exchanged in part payment. In the wake of the recent fires, on Tuesday, June 11th 1918 plans for the re-erection of the carpenters’ shop and paint house for Rowland Brothers were approved at the Council meeting. However, the new facilities would not make the acquaintance of Mr. J. Ferguson, who had been the foreman for the past two and a half years, for on Friday evening, September 27th 1918 he was presented with an 8 day clock in an oak case, inscribed ‘Presented to Mr. J. Ferguson on his leaving to take up duties elsewhere, by the employees of Messrs. Rowland Bros., as a token of his unfailing good will, and of the high esteem in which he was held by them all. Sept., 1918.’ Mr. R. Farwell made the presentation, and in a complimentary speech wished him well in his ‘new sphere.’ Yet with the end of the war new employees would soon be available, and in early November 1918 two or three boys were required for ‘pulling off at the circular saw push benches, firewood cutting and wheeling out etc.’ Outside Freeman Cottages, a serious accident occurred on Tuesday, November 19th 1918 at Far Bletchley, when a four horse heavily laden timber cart, belonging to Rowland Brothers, on coming down the hill towards Fenny Stratford skidded and collided with a stationary pony and the trap. Being overturned this violently threw out Miss Wallsgrove, who fell under the timber cart and only just missed being run over by both sets of wheels. Mrs. Wallsgrove, who had left the trap to visit one of the cottages, immediately ran back and stopped he pony, which had started to bolt, and then hurriedly took her daughter home to be attended by a doctor. Fortunately, apart from bruises and a severe shaking she was found to be otherwise unharmed. On Friday, October 31st 1919 the funeral of Mrs. William Richard Rowland took place. She had died in the early hours of Monday evening, and preceding a short service at St. Martin’s Church the coffin was met at the churchyard gate by the Reverend Firminger, the Reverend J. Lawson (the Rector of Simpson) and the Reverend Louis Jones, the Vicar of Little Brickhill, who was the son in law of the deceased. Apart from family members many local and notable people were present, and the interment took place in the churchyard of St. Mary Magdalene, Little Brickhill, where five years before her husband had been laid to rest. At the age of 71 Mrs. Rowland had been one of the oldest inhabitants of the town, but she had been ill for some time. Of her many children, all were now married except a daughter, Ivy. She had been living at Ropley House when her mother died, as also had her brother Douglas and his wife, and one of her married sisters, Mrs. Wrigley and her husband. During the First World War the firm of Rowland Brothers had almost exclusively been engaged on Government contracts, and this would also be the situation during the Second World War. However, that, and the subsequent story of the Rowland family, may be read in the sequels to this book.

Employees of Rowland Brothers, seen after the First World War.

SCHOOLS

THE OLD BLETCHLEY CHURCH OF ENGLAND SCHOOL

Today the former school at Far Bletchley accommodates private housing.

In the early 19th century a school was held in Rectory Cottages until 1838, when it became united to the National Society. This provided a grant for the construction of a school in Church Green Road, and in 1864 a rebuilding took place, followed by an enlargement in 1885. During the First World War, one of the teachers would be Miss Mabel French, the second daughter of Mr. & Mrs. J. French of Glebe Farm, Far Bletchley, and at St. Mary’s Church on Saturday, September 2nd 1916 she married Sydney Herbert King, who had returned from France on leave. Having been a bell ringer at the church before joining the Army, he was now serving in the Railway Operative Corps, Royal Engineers, having previously been on the Locomotive Department Staff of Bletchley Station. The school continued throughout both the World Wars, but was converted into two houses in 1982.

WATER EATON SCHOOL

At Water Eaton, lacemaking was once of great importance, with nearly 70 women engaged in this occupation. In fact a school to instruct in the rudiments of the craft was begun in a cottage of the village, but, with the trade having fallen into decline, by 1850 the cottage had become a school for infants. Then in 1873, as lord of the manor Sir Philip Duncombe built a small school for 60 children near the canal wharf, and one of the subsequent mistresses would be Miss Minnie Troughton, the eldest daughter of the late Thomas and Sarah Troughton. During her 16 years at the school she would never be absent from her duties, until contracting an illness that lasted for nine months. Tragically, she died on Friday, June 4th 1915 at the age of 40, having not only taught in the Sunday School for many years, but also having greatly participated in the social life of the village. The funeral took place on June 9th 1915 at St. Mary’s Church, where she had been a member of the choir, and during the service the rector, the Reverend Bennitt, paid tribute to her qualities, saying that “She taught with a freedom and individuality that made lessons a pleasure.” In December 1914 Mrs. Wodhams, a teacher at the Bletchley Road Schools, had stated in a letter to the School Managers that Miss Mabel Sears, one of her assistants, had been denied the usual increase. This was due to no measures having been taken to improve her educational status, but in her letter Mrs. Wodhams praised Miss Sear’s ability, and asked that the increase should be recommended. This was agreed, and by February 1916 Miss Sears was teaching at the school at Water Eaton. Yet not for long, since in consequence of the head teacher, Miss Hartley, leaving for good, at the closure for Christmas on Thursday, December 21st 1916 the Managers issued an official announcement, which stated ‘It has been impossible to find a successor owing to shortage of teachers, so that the school will have to be closed until after the war. The closing is temporary as the education authority undertake to resume maintenance after the war.’ Excepting infants under five, the children would now be taught at the Bletchley Road Schools, but as regards a re-opening, on the grounds of cost this was forestalled in 1919 by the Education Authorities. Rented from the owner, the building then became the parish hall of the village, but was replaced during the 1930s by the present Coronation Hall, of self implied date.

THE BLETCHLEY ROAD COUNCIL SCHOOLS

In March 1914 the authorities at Aylesbury sanctioned the renting of a piece of land, adjoining the Wesleyan Chapel, for use by the Bletchley Road Schools as a school garden, and by the middle of the month ‘Already a man and a spade have been busy on the “promised land,” and it will be only a matter of a few days before the boys will be able to commence work.’ As for academic pursuits, whilst a scholar at the Bletchley Road Council Schools, Miss Edith Carey, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. T. Carey, of Fenny Stratford, had been top in every class from Standard I to Standard VII, and in July 1914 secured a teacher’s scholarship, offered by Bucks County Council. Following the outbreak of the First World War, preparations were made to billet troops in the town, and initially the Bletchley Road Schools would provide a temporary accommodation. Not surprisingly this caused a lot of extra work for the caretaker, Mr. Clarke, and not least because damage - some intentional, and some not - would be caused on the premises. In fact with Lady Leon in the chair, at the meeting of the School Managers on Monday, September 7th 1914, reports regarding this concern were made, with the incidents having occurred during two days in August, when some 200 soldiers had made the premises their headquarters. However, it was stated that the money received for their lodging would cover the cost of repairs, and also - including having to practically re-clean the girls department - the extra work carried out by the caretaker. Picture glass had been broken (as also a window frame, window fastener, and the brass catch on the entrance door) whilst as for the boys school, there had been damage caused to a window bar, the lock on a teacher’s desk, a cupboard lock, a cupboard door, and glass in a picture, quite apart from the attention needed to the front of a teacher’s desk. Not that the financial settlement proved straightforward, since in October 1914 the School Managers were told by the Aylesbury authorities that all the billeting money should have been sent to them. In fact with the rest having been spent to cover the cost of the repairs, the School Managers had only forwarded 21s, whereupon Aylesbury, demanding full payment, promptly sent it back. Perhaps in exasperation, Mr. F. Bodley, the Correspondent, then posted one of his personal cheques! Despite the Schools no longer being needed for billeting, the military still required a part of the premises for other purposes, and in February it was agreed that the School Board Room could be used for lectures for officers, although this would only continue until the following month. Whilst the presence of soldiers in the town might have added a certain excitement and glamour to school life, for the pupils of the Bletchley Road Schools the realities of the war became all too apparent in April 1915, when news arrived that two former scholars had been killed in action - Private Oliver Sedgwick, of Duncombe Street, and also Private Cyril Dickens, late of Far Bletchley, who, having served for two years in India with the King’s Own Scottish Borderers, had obtained leave to visit old friends in the district only a few weeks ago. As well as many former pupils of the Schools, many of the teachers would also join the Forces, including in April 1915 Allan Coles, of the Boys’ Department. He enlisted in the Bucks Territorials (Reserve Battalion), and since it now became necessary to fill such vacancies with women teachers, it was announced that Miss Ivy Boyes, the daughter of Mr. C. Boyes, of Westfield Road, was to join the staff of the Bletchley Roads Schools next August. Being presently in London, where she would enter for matriculation at London University, whilst a scholar at Wolverton Secondary School she had won all her events in the school sports. However, this was an achievement that could be matched by Charles Watson, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Watson, of Bletchley Road, for he proved victorious in all the eight events in which he competed at the Bletchley Road Schools annual sports day.

Winslow Parish Church. Here, on Friday, October 22nd 1915 a memorial service was held for John Gillam, who, having formerly been a teacher at the Bletchley Road Schools, had been killed in action on September 26th 1915.

The son of Mr. John Gillam, formerly stud groom at Lathbury Park, Newport Pagnell, but then the licensee of The Black Horse Inn at Winslow, John 'Jack' Gillam had been a teacher at Bletchley, but following the outbreak of war, as a prominent football and rugby player he enlisted with the corps raised by Edgar Mobbs, of Northampton. He would then leave for Shoreham on Monday, September 14th 1914, and if no supply teacher was sent from Aylesbury, then Bernard Cheshire, of Fenny Stratford, would be asked to take his class. Serving in the 7th Northants., he was soon promoted, but by maintaining his sporting prowess was selected to play in the International Rugby Military football match at Northampton on Sunday, January 31st 1915. As Lance Corporal John Gillam, in March 1915 he married Dorothy Juffs, the only child of Mr. and Mrs. Juffs, of Bury Street, Newport Pagnell. She was employed as a teacher at the Newport Pagnell Council Schools, but tragically the couple would spend little time together, for when posted to the front, now as a sergeant, John was killed in action on September 26th 1915. In a subsequent letter a comrade would write;

"Sorry to say Jack Gillam got wounded slightly, but kept on; he got hit again, and has died of wounds."

In due course Captain Edgar Mobbs would also write to Mrs. Gillam;

"7th Northants Regiment, B.E.F., France. Dear Mrs. Gillam. I am sorry to say your husband was killed in the great fight on September 26th. I am so sorry for you all. He was such a man in every sense of the word. He was wounded on the Sunday, and as he passed me in the trenches said: T shall soon be back - it is only a slight wound.' He came back shortly afterwards and started fighting again, but got killed on the following day. I managed to get his disc, which I have sent you. You must bear up and be brave; I know it would be his wish. He died a hero. Yours very truly, Edgar Mobbs."

On Friday, October 22nd 1915a memorial service for John Gillam took place in the Parish Church, Winslow, and with the lesson being read by Captain Hansell of the Norfolk Reserve, after the Blessing their buglers would sound the Last Post outside the church.

(Renowned as a sportsman, Edgar Mobbs had been captain of the Northampton Rugby team, and played in 1909-1910 for England in all the International games, including those against Australia and France. The following season he then captained England against France in Paris, and also played against Ireland. In the autumn of 1914, when calls were made for sportsmen to join the forces (specifically in their own battalions) he came forward with an offer to raise a company of athletes, and within 48 hours had recruited 250 men. In fact many were Bedford footballers who had played with and against him, and these included Jack Gillam. Whilst charging an enemy machine gun post Lieutenant Colonel Edgar Mobbs, D.S.O., would be killed at the Battle of Passchendale on Tuesday, July 1917, aged 37.)

During late July 1915, one Tuesday evening there was a poor attendance at the meeting of the Local Higher Education Committee. Nevertheless the business was still conducted, and it was stated that not only had the Bucks Education Committee eliminated the Buckinghamshire lace making class, but that the girls in the day elementary school were not being taught sewing ‘because the headmistress does not like sewing, and so won’t teach it.’ Not surprisingly, when made aware of this comment the lady in question, Miss Haring, would present a few comments of her own. In other matters, the Secretary said that his attempts to persuade girls to learn cooking, ‘in view of possible marriage,’ had met with little enthusiasm, and therefore the lady members might have more influence, since it seemed that ‘girls join the classes and then instead of attending regularly, go out courting!’ In December 1915 the school caretaker reported that in one classroom two gas globes had been broken, and on more than one occasion the room was left ‘upside down.’ With the boys left to close the room, this had occurred after the teacher left to catch a train, and in view of this it was decided that from now on the teacher should close in time to catch his train, but ensure before leaving that all was secure. In fact it transpired that one boy by throwing a basket at another pupil had damaged a gas mantle, which lead to the comment “Where is the future generation of hand grenade throwers to come from? A class in the art of the accurate propulsion of missiles should be started at once.” Under the auspices of the Bucks County Education Committee, and the Local Higher Education Committee, a course of four lectures on ‘War-time gardening’ commenced on the evening of Friday, February 11th 1916 in the Bletchley Road Schools. These were given by Mr. Philip Mann, F.R.H.S., Horticultural Instructor to the Bucks County Education Committee, and would be free to attend. With the continuing call up, it now seemed likely that Mr. Kilvington would shortly be summoned for military service, and in consequence Mrs. Edwards would be re-engaged for teaching work in the Boys’ School. In fact her employment had been terminated last November, but the need to reinstate her services soon became necessary, for by October Mr. Kilvington was at Crystal Palace, having been called up to join the Royal Naval Reserve. It had now been unofficially reported that another former member of the teaching staff, Private Allan Coles, of the Oxon and Bucks Light Infantry (Bucks Battalion) had been wounded in the arm in France. Yet civilians were also facing the perils of hostile action, and, regarding the increasing menace of the Zeppelins, in October 1916 a letter, sent from the authorities at Aylesbury, was received by the Secretary of the Higher Education Committee. This concerned the lighting of the schools during evening classes, and stated that if ‘blacking out’ the windows could not be done for £7 or less, then either the Committee would have to pay the difference, or the classes would have to be abandoned. However, since some material had been subsequently found at Aylesbury, this would help to defray the cost. Then by the suggestion of Lady Leon, who presided at the meetings of the School Managers, the blinds of the Board Room were distempered on the inside, thereby saving the cost of buying new blinds. The New Year began with some disharmony, for whilst some of the teachers had received a war bonus, the caretaker, a married man with two children, had been refused any concession. In fact on the application signed by himself and the teachers his name had been struck out, but no doubt this was because it was stated, in the war bonus scheme of the Bucks County Education Committee, that whole time caretakers whose wages, including the value of the school houses they lived in, amounted to 30s a week should not receive a war bonus. However, since he was an excellent worker, and did many minor repairs around the school, which had been previously done by tradesmen, an application would be made to Aylesbury by the School Managers for a special grant of £10p.a. In other wartime measures, the use of the Schools for drilling the Volunteers would now be granted, and in March 1917 Mr. Shardlow, the headmaster of the Boys’ School, wrote to ask if the boys and girls could dig up the school lawns and plant potatoes, as a matter of ‘national importance.’ However, due to the availability of land on the Leon Avenue Estate, and the time that it would take to get the lawns back to grass, it was decided to reply that the necessity was not understood, and that the school gardens, on the opposite side of the road to the lawns, might, with a path through the centre, be put under potato cultivation, instead of the present crop of cabbages, radishes, lettuces etc. Mr. Shardlow then wrote to point out that since no measures had been taken to supply seed potatoes, the gardens would remain, which prompted one manager to retort; “A neat way of getting out of it.”

These school photos show the typical dress of the contemporary schoolchildren.

In fact by now some of the boys of the Bletchley Road Schools were already digging plots on the Leon Avenue Estate, which had been allocated by the headmaster, who, on his own behalf, had rented the ground from the Council. Indeed, such measures were very necessary, as during the previous year disease had reduced the nation’s potato crop by a third. Thus one Tuesday evening in late June 1917, in the Bletchley Road Schools Mr. S.F. Jones, Chairman of the Council, presided at a meeting of allotment holders and potato growers, at which it was decided to spray the potato crops in the Bletchley urban district. Yet other matters were also in need of attention, since nothing had yet been down regarding the boundary wall of the Schools, which had fallen down about four months ago. Therefore in June 1917 a letter would be sent from the School Managers to Mr. Riley, the architect to the Bucks County Education Committee, asking for repairs to be carried out. By now Mr. W.H. Jones, an assistant master at the Boys’ School, had joined the R.N.A.S., and until the arrival of Miss Dorothy Daniel his position would be filled by Miss Jennings, a supply teacher. On Thursday, July 25th 1917 fifty schoolchildren from London came to Bletchley for two weeks holiday, and after their departure another 46 or so would then arrive. This was in response to the School Children’s Country Holiday Society appeal, and most of the youngsters were to be accommodated at Far Bletchley. At a meeting of the Managers of the Bletchley Road Schools, held on the afternoon of Monday, September 3rd 1917, amongst the few topics for discussion was the state of the caretaker’s wheelbarrow, which had no ‘top left,’ and ‘its wheel has been together much in the manner of a Chinese puzzle.’ Estimates for repair were then obtained, and at a subsequent meeting two prices from Mr. Manyweathers were considered; £1 being the price for repairs, and £1 10s the price for a replacement. It was decided to sell the old wheelbarrow to the highest bidder! During the relevant season, in September 1917 schoolchildren were given two half days a week to gather blackberries. With 1d per pound being paid, due to the medicinal qualities these would be made into jam for the Army, and with Bletchley as the collecting centre for the surrounding villages, Mr. J. Shardlow was the organiser, In November 1917 news reached Mr. & Mrs. E. Gascoigne, of Far Bletchley, that their eldest son, serving with the London (Queen’s) Regiment, had been wounded in Palestine, and was now in hospital. Educated at the Bletchley Road Schools, he had gained high qualifications on proceeding to college, and for awhile returned to his old school as an assistant teacher. Under the London School Board, there he obtained a position as a master, and as such was employed when the war broke out. The Coal Controller had now been repeatedly approached about obtaining 100 tons of coal for the district, but as yet there had been no reply. In fact, as reported by the caretaker, there was no coal at the Schools, and when informed of this the Correspondent had written to Mr. Bramley, only to be told that he had no stocks available. Mr. Snoxell was able to deliver half a ton, but after this the wood blocks would have to be used, although, as Miss Deyns pointed out, these were damp. Therefore when the Bletchley Road Schools opened on Tuesday, January 8th 1918 there was only half a ton of coal for the 19 fires, and although 12 truck loads would shortly be allotted by the Coal Controller to the Local Coal Committee, this would have to be allocated not only for the use of the schools in the district, but also the Charities and Coal Clubs in the villages. At a meeting of the School Managers, in March 1918 a letter was read from Mr. Peake, one of the assistant masters who was now in the Army. He had written to say that having been in hospital for some time, he felt it might be better for the national effort if he was released from the Army to continue his school work, and on being approached about this the authorities, at Aylesbury, had replied that he should write to them direct. A letter was also read from Mr. Shardlow, in which he asked for more ground for school gardens. Presently he had 33 poles, but there were applications for 59 poles, and the Correspondent was directed to write to the occupier of a field on Bletchley Road, with a view to obtaining its use. The occupier then promptly sent the letter to the Duncombe Estates, but as yet no reply had been received. At the meeting of the School Managers, in June 1918 it was announced that the caretaker, Grade 3, had received his calling up papers. In consequence the Correspondent had been authorised to communicate with the National Service Representative, and in the wake of this the notice had been cancelled. The Correspondent then reported that Mr. Claridge, whose tender for a kitchen range had been accepted, was about to retire from business, and therefore instructions were given for the work to be carried out on receipt of the range from the makers. Presently Mr. Claridge had about six bars for the school grates in stock, and since these were of an unusual kind he now offered them to the Managers at stock price. With the alternative being their sale at auction, it was decided to purchase all the quantity. At a meeting of the Bletchley Higher Education Committee, in June 1918 the question of the subjects to be proposed to Aylesbury for the 1918-1919 session was considered. However, ‘The choice of higher educational subjects of learning - in Bucks - is very much like wartime shopping. The choice is very limited and the rule in both cases is take what you can get, and be thankful for getting it.’ Provided there were sufficient scholars, French was to be included, as also (as recommended by Mrs. Douglas) book keeping, but in the event no teacher could be found. In conjunction with the Bletchley Road Schools, at the meeting of the Care Committee, held on July 1st 1918, Mrs. Wodhams, the honorary secretary, submitted the official report from Dr. Nicholson. With 48 mothers attending, during six complete morning sessions he had medically examined the 138 pupils of the Infants’ School, and found 84 cases of defective teeth, 7 of eyes, 4 tonsils requiring an operation, 4 toenails requiring an operation, 30 to be treated at home, defective speech, 5, active ringworm, 2, other cases, and minor, 14. As for promoting healthy lives for children, in August 1918 under the auspices of the Children’s Holiday Fund youngsters from crowded city areas, mostly air raid districts in London, were, or had recently been, billeted in Fenny Stratford. The first contingent numbered 52, the second 46, and the third 55, and with their length of stay being for two weeks, most thoroughly enjoyed their change of surroundings. At a meeting of the Bletchley Higher Education Committee, held in the Bletchley Road Schools in late December 1918, regarding the class in French the secretary reported that the teacher had been summoned to Cairo on Government work. Therefore he had arranged for an efficient substitute, a lady from Northampton, and she had now commenced work. Concerning the shorthand class, this was satisfactory, but unless attendance improved the woodwork class would have to be discontinued, since the lads wanted to start making articles straight away, instead of being taught proper carpentry techniques by the teacher. As for the class in hygiene and the care of babies, this had been closed due to a poor attendance and lack of interest, and the girls had gone over to the dressmaking class!


SIR HERBERT & LADY LEON

Following the outbreak of war, on Saturday, August 8th 1914 Sir Herbert Leon, the owner of Bletchley Park, addressed a meeting of his staff, and saying that all political parties were united to fight ‘a military despot,’ stated that although he would continue to pay the usual wages, economy was paramount, and “Every penny must be saved.” With Sir Herbert and Lady Leon present, with the intention of appointing a local Relief Committee of the urban district, to work in conjunction with the County Relief Committee (at Aylesbury), a meeting was held at the Town Hall on Friday, September 18th 1914, and consequent to the holding of a County Meeting, called by the Lord Lieutenant, Lord Rothschild, it was decided to divide the county into three divisions, and appoint three divisional committees. These would be North, South and Mid, and being appointed as chairman for that of the north, Sir Herbert Leon said that it was the idea of the Lord Lieutenant to start a relief fund, whereby as much money as possible could be collected for the benefit of those in the county who, due to the war, might suffer hardship. As for the other members of Sir Herbert’s family, Lady Leon had been appointed president of the Soldiers and Sailors Families Association, and, having volunteered for active service, during October her son, Reginald Leon, was appointed as a special despatch carrier at the front. In February 1915, in addition to his many responsibilities Sir Herbert Leon was elected president for the year of the Bucks Chamber of Agriculture, and at the 15th annual parish meeting of the electors of the Bletchley ward (held in the school at Far Bletchley) it was stated that he had expressed himself perfectly willing to go on for another three years as a councillor, an offer that was accepted unanimously. As mentioned elsewhere, for members of the Home Defence Force Sir Herbert had allowed a miniature rifle range, equipped with suitable rifles, to be established on a farm that he owned at Denbigh, and perhaps as an incentive for practice, in late May 1915 a card was received from a P.O.W. camp in Germany from Ernest Cooper, of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers. He was the nephew of Mr. G. Cooper, the head gardener to Sir Herbert Leon, and having been wounded in the fighting around Ypres, owed his life to the care of the Belgian nuns. When taken prisoner he said that although he was at first well treated, since recovering from his wounds the conditions had been appalling, and he and the other prisoners were practically starved. As for another nephew of Mr. Cooper, Private F. Cooper, on Monday, May 24th he was amongst some 150 troops who left Bletchley by train. Instead of the usual venue of Claydon Park, the Sunday School annual treat of the Albert Street Primitive Methodist Church was this year spent, by kind permission of Sir Herbert Leon, at Bletchley Park, the use of which had also been requested by Mr. Edgar Bland, and others, for an outing by some 50 wounded soldiers. They were presently in the Northampton General Hospital, and the Weston Home, and with permission given by Lady Leon, on Thursday, August 26th 1915 the party arrived in several motor vehicles. A very pleasant afternoon was then enjoyed, and before leaving each man was presented with a packet of cigarettes by Master Richard Leon, the grandson of Sir Herbert and Lady Leon. Also, as the head gardener Mr. Cooper had sent a choice buttonhole from the Bletchley Park gardens, and these were not only for the men, but, at their earnest request, also for their nurses at the hospital and home. Organised by Lady Leon, plus an ‘energetic committee’ of ladies, Tricolour Day was held on September 20th 1915 in aid of the French Wounded Emergency Fund in Bletchley and district. The event raised £18 8s 4d from the sale of badges and rosettes, and also deserving a rosette was ‘Bletchley Promise,’ ‘a huge stylish roan,’ which, as part of Sir Herbert Leon’s prize herd, in November 1915 beat Mr. Cazalet’s ‘Newtonian,’ the well known yearling of 1914, in the senior steer class at Norwich Show. Afterwards it then took the male championship, but a more tragic sensation was caused in the town on Friday morning, December 3rd 1915, when news arrived regarding the wife of Mr. Alfred Holmes, of Far Bletchley, ‘who has been for many years the estate carpenter at Bletchley Park to Sir Herbert Leon.’ Found by a railway worker on the L.&N.W.R. line, she had apparently fallen from Denbigh bridge, and was taken with severe injuries to Bletchley station, from where she was conveyed by special train to Bedford Hospital. Continuing the success of Sir Herbert’s prize cattle herd, in December 1915 his fine Shorthorn steer came reserve to His Majesty’s heifer ‘Windsor Gem’ at the Smithfield Show, and this was no doubt of great interest to Lady Leon, not least since she was the President of the local branch of the R.S.P.C.A. In fact before the war the R.S.P.C.A. Inspector in the town had been Mr. Upton, who as a prisoner of war in Germany sent a letter to Bletchley in early January 1916. It had been previously believed that he was killed early in the hostilities whilst serving with his old regiment, the 4th Dragoon Guards (which he had rejoined on the outbreak of war) but subsequent to his communication Sergeant Upton would begin to regularly receive parcels from Bletchley Park, as also Private Ernest Cooper, and both in their appreciative replies would state their main need to be for tea and bread. Regarding the organising of women labour for agriculture, under the auspices of the District Committee, working in conjunction with the Bucks County Committee, a meeting was held in the Town Hall on Thursday, March 9th 1916. Presiding was Sir Herbert Leon, from whose celebrated herd of Shorthorn cattle a selection of young bulls had recently been sold, and were presently destined for South America aboard the steamer ‘La Rosarina.’ They were under the charge of 17 year old Wilfred Watson, the son of James T. Watson, the manager of Sir Herbert’s farms and breeding establishment at Bletchley, and in fact he was continuing the family association, since it had been his brother, Thomas, who had secured the consignment, having been in Buenos Ayres for 9 years as the manager of ‘Cabano Retiro.’ Under the Military Service Act, on Wednesday afternoon, March 8th 1916 the first sitting of the local Appeal Tribunal took place at the Council Offices. Sir Herbert Leon was the military representative for the district, and his was the suggestion that from now on all the cases should be heard with the applicants and Press being present. At the conclusion the Tribunal would then consider their decisions, and it was indeed proved in due course that this arrangement was far more acceptable. Sir Herbert then presided at a well attended meeting at the Town Hall on Thursday afternoon, March 9th 1916. This was regarding the movement to organise war work on the land for women, and with Lady Leon as the district representative, the Bucks County Committee, as the body responsible for the arrangements, already had the work in hand. Emphasising the need for food production, Sir Herbert said that although he was mindful of the prejudices of some farmers, in his experience a woman could do a job just as well as a man, and ready to confirm this was Lady Leon, who said that she had already got her costume and hoe, and was ready to begin work. Indeed, within the next few weeks she and four women helpers could be seen toiling away hoeing beans on the Bletchley Park Home Farm, and in addition she had often milked the cows at the Bletchley Park Dairy Farm. At the Military Tribunal in April 1916 Sir Herbert Leon applied for exemption for his chauffeur, and whilst agreeing that without the man it would be impossible for Sir Herbert to continue his duties as military representative, Major Hammans stated that he would prefer him to find a replacement driver above military age. A postponement of three months was therefore allowed. As for the proceedings at a subsequent Tribunal, the following resolution was proposed by Sir Herbert Leon, and duly adopted; ‘Resolved that in future no appeal for complete or temporary exemption will be heard by this Tribunal unless the applicant has previously been medically examined and passed as fit for military service of some kind by the military authorities.’ During June 1916 Mr. G. Cooper, who for some time had been head gardener to Sir Herbert Leon, left to take up work at Maidenhead, but nevertheless no doubt the grounds of Bletchley Park were as usually immaculate when, by permission of Sir Herbert Leon, and Lady Leon, an orchestral concert was held on the lawn on Sunday afternoon, June 25th 1916. With an orchestra comprised of some 25 performers, and featuring instrumental solos, this was in aid of the Red Cross Fund, and also on a medical note, with fine and warm weather on Wednesday afternoon, July 19th 1916 an ‘effort’ was held in aid of funds for the Fenny Stratford District Nursing Association, of which Nurse Hutton was the district nurse, Lady Leon the President, and Miss Ridgway the honorary secretary. The cricket pavilion and ground at Bletchley Park had been kindly made available by Sir Herbert and Lady Leon, and for a penny (the same cost as to attend the sale) the private grounds and gardens could be visited. One Sunday afternoon in September 1916 the weather was again fine and sunny when, in the grounds of Bletchley Park, a successful orchestral concert was given. Having arranged two or three such events, this had been organised by Mr. J. Wallsgrove in aid of the local hospital fund, whilst for the funds of the Navy League and the British and Foreign Sailors’ Society a flag day, organised by Lady Leon, with the assistance of Miss Ridgway and others, was held in the town and district on Saturday, September 30th 1916. With the flags being miniature copies of the Royal Navy and Mercantile Marine Standards, a large number of sellers were out all day, and by their efforts the useful sum of £36 16s 2d was collected. Held in the Council Offices, at a meeting of the local committee of the Soldiers and Sailors Families Fund, working in conjunction with the County Committee, the principal business on Tuesday afternoon, October 10th 1916 was the election of the officers of the local committee, and the consequent appointments would be Sir Herbert Leon as chairman, Mrs. P. Lovett, as honorary secretary and treasurer, and the Reverend F. Bennitt as auditor. The chairman would be Sir Herbert Leon, and by his permission the local Company of the 3rd Battalion Buckinghamshire Volunteer Regiment held an afternoon parade at Bletchley Park on October 29th 1916. Then, also by permission of Sir Herbert Leon, and also Lady Leon, on the evening of Tuesday, November 28th 1916 a whist drive and cake guessing competition took place in the cricket pavilion at Bletchley Park, in aid of the Christmas parcels fund for those serving abroad from the Bletchley or Water Eaton parish. In December 1916 Sir Herbert Leon offered the land known as the Leon Avenue Building Estate for use as allotments. This would be at a nominal rent, whilst on the wider scene at the meeting of the Bucks County War Agricultural Committee, held at Aylesbury on Thursday, January 25th 1917, he intimated that he would have to resign from his position as chairman on medical advice, in view of his many other responsibilities. However, on being asked he then agreed to continue as chairman, but without the obligation of having to attend the Executive Committee meetings. As for the land in Leon Avenue, in February 1917 he agreed that his teams from the Bletchley Park farms should plough this free of charge, with the rent for the allotments to be 4d per pole per annum, payable in advance on March 1st. However, with the cost of fencing being prohibitive, as a temporary measure gates were to be erected leading to Leon Avenue, Lennox Avenue and Eaton Avenue, in the optimistic hope ‘that the public will not trespass on such Allotments.’ In fact having received 80 applications, by the end of the month the Allotment Committee reported that the whole of the estate had been let. As for the rates and taxes, these would be the responsibility of the Council, although the distribution amongst the allotment holders of the Council’s order for potatoes - a quantity of six tons - would be the responsibility of Aylesbury and the War Agricultural Committee. In late April 1917 a request - ‘numerously signed’ - was sent by Sir Herbert Leon to the L.&N.W.R., requesting that the train which left Euston at 3.55 should have a coach attached to be ‘slipped’ at Bletchley station. However, the reply would be that due to a manpower shortage this could not be accommodated, and in fact all slip coaches had now been withdrawn from the L.&N.W.R. system. Held on May 17th 1917 at the Council Offices, at a Thursday afternoon meeting of the Bletchley Local Military Service Tribunal a letter from Sir Herbert Leon was read, saying that he had sent a letter to the War Office resigning as military representative. The reason regarded supposed complaints that not enough men from the Bletchley district were joining the Army, and he therefore assumed that the blame attached to him. Yet the Chairman of the Tribunal, Mr. Jones, said that in no case had the decision of the Tribunal been upset by either the Area Tribunal for the County of Buckingham, or the Central Tribunal in London, commonly known as Spring Gardens, and one reason for the apparent lack was that the majority of eligible men were railway employees, over whom the Local Tribunal had no jurisdiction. Nevertheless, the insinuation had left a sour taste, which might also have been the case when the cheese making classes at the Parish Room at the Rectory, which had been started on May 21st, came to an end on Saturday, June 2nd 1917. Having six regular pupils, the classes had also seen the regular presence of Lady Leon, by whose permission all the milk had been supplied from the celebrated Bletchley Park herd of Shorthorn cattle. By the invitation of Sir Herbert and Lady Leon, 20 wounded soldiers from Tickford Abbey spent a pleasant afternoon at Bletchley Park on Tuesday, June 12th 1917. Firstly the private lawns and gardens were visited, although it was with some surprise that the men, many of whom needed the aid of crutches, found that the beds in the gardens and grounds had all been planted with vegetables! As for the famous orchid house, this was now almost exclusively staffed by girl labour. With a punt on the lake proving very popular, also enjoyed during the afternoon were visits to the conservatories, vineries, and green houses, and following a tea served in the large dining room of the mansion, Mrs. P.C. Lovett took charge of a musical and social entertainment. The much enjoyed occasion then came to an end, with Lady Leon presenting cigarettes to all the soldiers before they left. On Tuesday, June 12th 1917, at the War Agricultural Committee meeting it was proposed by Sir Herbert Leon that, for the Bletchley district, at least 10 motor or steam tractors should be requested, and in his other capacities at a meeting on Wednesday evening, June 20th 1917, held at the Council Offices, he moved that a war savings committee for Bletchley, Fenny Stratford and the surrounding district should be formed. This was carried unanimously, and, with the representatives being present, the first meeting of the newly formed ‘Central War Savings Committee for Bletchley and District’ was held at the Council Offices on Wednesday evening, June 27th 1917. Presiding, Lady Leon was elected as chairman, whilst in her other duties on Friday afternoon, July 6th 1917 she opened the ‘Health, Wealth and Labour Saving Exhibition.’ With every classroom in use, this was staged in the infants’ department of the Bletchley Road Schools, and to loud applause in her opening address Lady Leon said that “one of the objects of this exhibition is to impart the knowledge of saving in cooking and other domestic matters, to those who care to avail themselves of it.” August 1917 saw Lady Leon in need, ‘at once,’ of an ‘Odd Man’ for house duties at Bletchley Park, ‘Apply to the butler,’ but as for Sir Herbert Leon, at the Council meeting on Tuesday, January 8th 1918 he said that he had now resigned as a member of the Local Food Control Committee, since he could not come out at night, and ‘To be a member of a committee and not be able to attend the meetings simply worried him.’ Also in January 1918, Lady Leon and Miss Hird, of Bletchley Leys, accepted seats on the Bletchley District War Agricultural Committee, having been co-opted in response to the appeal by the County Women’s War Agricultural Committee. Then regarding another committee, at the Picture Palace on the evening of Friday, January 18th 1918 a public meeting had been arranged by the North Bucks War Aims Committee. This was composed of members from the two political parties (the joint honorary secretaries being the two Party Association agents) and, as president, Sir Herbert Leon spoke in favour of peace by negotiation. However, two gentlemen from the Central War Aims Organisation in London were emphatic that the war should be carried ‘to a finish,’ although all three hoped that peace would soon arrive. Arranged by Lady Leon, who was the District Representative of the Women’s War Agricultural Committee for the county, a meeting took place in the Council Offices on Saturday afternoon, February 9th 1918. This was to discuss the formation of a scheme for collecting and distributing surplus produce from gardens, allotments and small holdings in the district, and a couple of weeks later Lady Leon presided at the meeting of the local War Pensions Committee, held on Friday, February 22nd 1918. Then perhaps as a welcome respite from the burdens of officialdom, in late March 1918 came news of the engagement of the heir of Lord and Lady Iverclydes, Lieutenant the Honourable Alan Burns, Scots Guards, to Esther Mildred Leon. She was the daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Leon of Hans Place, and the granddaughter of Sir Herbert Leon. By a report of the Housing Committee, the building sites offered to the Council at Far Bletchley and Fenny Stratford had now been inspected, and it was recommended that 4½ acres on Leon Avenue should be purchased at the asking price of £1,100 - subsequent to the approval and financial assistance of the Local Government Board. The frontage was to be about 200 yards, and with each house to have sufficient land for a large garden, 2½ acres would be sufficient for 30 houses. A provisional agreement would therefore be entered into with Sir Herbert Leon, who in chairing the Petty Sessions on Thursday, November 14th 1918 said that they could not allow the court to open without reference to the Armistice, for the country had escaped from the greatest peril that had ever menaced her.

The two upper views show Bletchley Park in its days of splendour, during the ownership of Sir Herbert and Lady Leon.
Indeed, as per the wording on the reverse of one of the cards, 'Bletchley and the surrounding places are an ideal spot in which to spend a country holiday.'.

The lower left view shows the mansion as it appears today, of worldwide renown through the codebreaking activities of World War Two. As a widow, Lady Leon died a few years before the outbreak of the Second World War, but nevertheless she is perhaps aware of the present fame of her former home, for her ghost has supposedly been seen on the magnificent staircase of the mansion. However, the somewhat larger than life character seen on the staircase in this photo is Alan Russell, an Australian, one of the many visitors who now come to visit Bletchley Park from overseas. (On the site where the mansion of Bletchley Park was built once stood a farmhouse, which for many years would be the home of Mrs. Lucas. Eventually she moved from the district, but after her death her body was brought to Bletchley for burial in St. Mary's Churchyard. In the wake of her demise her estate was then passed on to either members of her family or sold off, and, with she having owned much property in Aylesbury Street, in order to wind up the estate in April 1915 Messrs. Geo. Wigley and Sons auctioned, at the Swan Hotel, the freehold of 22,24,26 and 28 Aylesbury Street.)

SPECIAL CONSTABLES & THE ‘VOLUNTEERS’

On the evening of Wednesday, August 5th, 1914, at a meeting in the Town Hall the names had been taken of those men who were willing to help fill the depleted ranks of the Territorials, or to act as special constables, or to do other special work. A few days later it was then announced that any notice of a subsequent muster would be posted on the local church and chapel doors, as well as in other public places, and in fact in order to relieve the Bucks Constabulary, during the second week in August the Chief Constable of the county, Major Otway Mayne, issued a notice asking for volunteers to act as special constables in various Buckinghamshire towns. Each would appoint its own officers, and the Commanding Officer would issue his own orders and have responsibility for his men. Volunteers with cars, motorcycles, cycles and horses were especially needed, and despite the unpaid nature of the work nearly 80 special constables were sworn in on Wednesday, August 19th 1914, before Lieutenant Colonel Finley and Mr. A. Bramley. Having previously been a duty performed by the Bletchley Volunteers, on Tuesday, August 25th, 1914 the special constables took over the guarding of public works, and the following evening their ranks were swelled by the enrolment of a second batch of special constables, who took the oath at the Police Court. They included the Reverend Firminger, Mr. W.J. Claridge, Mr. F. Holyoak and Mr. C. Pacey, and they were followed on Thursday, September 17th, 1914 by Mr. Francis Bond, of Wavendon Towers. Thus there now seemed to be a satisfactory number of recruits, although one of those enrolled would express his dissatisfaction at there having been no officer present at the proposed drill on Wednesday afternoon, November 18th, 1914. In fact as more suitable for the tradesmen members this weekday had been especially chosen, and as the disgruntled member would write; ‘May I point out that the British officers at the front lead their men into action. In this part of North Bucks they fail to reach the drill ground.’ Yet this sentiment would soon be followed by an ironic post script, since although there should have been two subsequent drills - on a Saturday and the following Wednesday - because of the poor attendance the few members who turned up were dismissed by the drill sergeant - without even having been formed into a line! By the end of November 1914 the reservoir at Little Brickhill was no longer being guarded by the Bletchley special constables, but their training remained of great importance, and by order of their Captain, Mr. P. Lovett, J.P., of Stoke Lodge, in fine weather at 2p.m. on Sunday, December 27th, 1914 a parade took place in the grounds of the Bletchley Road Schools.

This was followed by a route march to Stoke Hammond, where, before marching home, the contingent was provided with refreshments by their Captain. As for the Bucks Volunteer Defence Corps, on Friday, January 29th 1915, they attended a meeting at Aylesbury, where Mr. C. Bourne and Mr. W. Watson, of Bletchley, were appointed as Company Commandants. The Corps had been formed following the decision of the Lord Lieutenant of Bucks to raise a County Regiment of three battalions, each one thousand strong, for Home Defence. The political area of North Bucks would provide one Battalion, of which Lieutenant Colonel W. Bowyer, D.L., was to be Commandant, and only able bodied men could join, who for reasons of age or other circumstance were unable to enlist in the regular Forces. It was hoped that from 12 to 20 men would be raised in most parishes, and they would be taught ‘to move about in military formation and to shoot straight,’ to therefore become ‘a valuable asset for the defence of the country, in the absence of better men who are at the Front.’ ‘In case of invasion, which is always a possibility, these Volunteers, from their intimate knowledge of the locality in which they live, and their ability to dig and to shoot, ought to be able to check raiding parties and effectively harass the enemy.’ In good order, on Sunday, February 28th 1915 the local company of the special constables turned out for a march to Bow Brickhill. There they were joined by the Woburn Sands contingent, and with both being put through ‘a series of revolutions,’ this was in preparation for an inspection of the North Bucks Battalion of special constables by the Marquis of Lincolnshire, the Chief Commandant for the county. This duly took place at Wolverton on Sunday, March 14th, 1915, and each of the 1,000 or so men on parade sported their armlet, whistle and badge, and carried a stick to the shoulder on the march. Having assembled at the Bletchley Road Schools, the Bletchley contingent had been conveyed to the occasion in motor lorries and wagonettes, and were suitably complimented on their smart appearance by Captain P. Lovett, who was in command. In April 1915 Lady Leon, the wife of Sir Herbert Leon, of Bletchley Park, sanctioned the use of a cupboard in the Bletchley Road Schools for storing the rifles of the local company of the Bucks Volunteer Defence Corps, and also during the month the special constables and the regular police, under Inspector Callaway, helped to ease the second batch of Royal Engineers into their local billets. The contingent had arrived on Saturday evening, April 24th, 1915, and even the Town Hall had to be commandeered for the purpose. Yet the special constables were also tasked to deal with less hospitable situations, as when a number of panes of glass were found to have been broken at the nursery premises of Paul Klameth, in Bletchley Road. In consequence, on the night of Saturday, May 15th, 1915, Inspector Callaway, police sergeant Snelling and four special constables mounted a surveillance, and shortly after 11p.m. noticed some men and youths arrive. Two were arrested upon entering the grounds, but with the rest of the bunch having dispersed, on Sunday morning it was discovered that more panes of glass had been broken. As Mr. Klameth was of foreign birth - with his name having been removed from the list of voters at the last Revision Court - this had no doubt been the reason for the mindless attacks. Since the enrolment of the local section of the Bucks County Home Defence Force, their number had continued to grow, and ex Colour Sergeant T. Brace was now providing instruction in how to load and handle their recently received rifles. As for Mr. Hedley Clarke, who in ordinary employment was in charge of the local Labour Exchange, he, apart from being Orderly Sergeant of the special constables, was also a member of the Bletchley Company Volunteer Training Corps, for which in May 1915 Sir Herbert Leon, as the Honorary Commandant, allowed a miniature rifle range to be established on land at ‘Gibbs Farm,’ which he had recently purchased. For many years this had been occupied by Robert Gibbs (whose widow, Elizabeth Ann, would die at Waddesdon on March 14th 1917, being buried in Bletchley churchyard) and was situated at Denbigh - ‘a most convenient centre for both ends of Bletchley and Fenny Stratford, being easily accessible, either by road or by field footpath, and at no inconvenient distance from the old or the new parts of town.’ Whilst most of the structures of the farm had been demolished, certain portions had been retained for use in the construction of the range, and Sir Herbert said that if the Volunteers attended drill regularly, and proved themselves efficient, he would provide them with uniforms. Then as a further motivation, in the Bletchley Road Schools on Tuesday evening, June 22nd, 1915 the Bletchley platoon of the Bucks Volunteer Defence Corps, with Colonel Bowyer in attendance, received ‘a stirring address’ from Mr William Trevor, of Lathbury, in which he explained the duties which might befall them, and how to deal with such responsibilities. As part of the necessary practice it was therefore just as well that the miniature rifle range, promised by Sir Herbert Leon, was now almost ready. Yet locally Sir Herbert also fulfilled many other roles, including sitting in judgement at the local court, to where, having pleaded not guilty to riding a motorcycle at a dangerous speed in the High Street, a Corporal of the Royal Engineers was summoned. Giving evidence, Inspector Callaway said that on June 15th, 1915, whilst on duty at the crossroads corner he, together with special constables Clarke and Claridge, had seen the accused approaching from the direction of Staple Hall Depot at an estimated 18m.p.h. This speed he then allegedly maintained after passing the 5m.p.h. speed limit post, and although at that moment a horse and cart was about to cross from Aylesbury Street into Simpson Road, special constable Clarke fortunately managed to prevent a collision. Inspector Callaway then stopped the motorcyclist, who on being apprehended not only failed to produce his driver’s licence, but retorted “Report what you like, it will make no difference to me.” In his defence he then said that being new the machine could not travel above 12m.p.h., and in fact on passing the speed limit sign he had cut off the engine, and stopped when signalled to do so. Nevertheless, at the hearing Colonel Giles said that “When riding on duty you must have a warrant to that effect, signed by an officer not under the rank of Major. We do not want to be hard on you chaps, but the public must be protected, and if this sort of thing goes on we shall have to approach the military authorities.” With two weeks to pay, the Corporal was fined 20s, although Sir Herbert Leon remarked that had he pleaded guilty, then the amount would have been much less. In late June 1915 Mr. W. Tarbox was sworn in as a member of the special constables, who on taking the oath were issued with their badges of office, armlets, whistles and ‘night sticks.’ On Sunday evening, July 4th, 1915 the miniature rifle range provided by Sir Herbert Leon was formally opened, and here facilities were provided for firing at 25 yards - equivalent to 500 yards on a full range - and at proportionate distances equivalent to, and up to, 2,000 yards and intermediate distances. As the Honorary Commandant of the platoon, in handing over the range and two miniature rifles (one with the Martini breech action, and one with the Lee Metford action) Sir Herbert Leon said that the range would be open at all times, and it was his earnest hope that all the members would become good marksmen. After being thanked by Captain Lovett, Sir Herbert, who was accompanied by Lady Leon and a number of friends, then fired the first two rounds, which achieved a close inner and a bull’s eye. With this potential to improve their shooting skills, armed with their rifles on Tuesday evening, July 27th 1915 the ‘Bletchley Platoon of the Bucks County Volunteer Defence Force’ - some 40 men dressed in civilian clothes - marched a few minutes before 8p.m. down the School Avenue and on to Bletchley Road, then proceeding by way of Water Eaton and Drayton Parslow (with halts for exercise drills in the open country) to Stoke Lodge, Stoke Hammond, the home of their commandant, Captain Lovett. Here they were rested and refreshed before then returning, in the charge of Captain Lovett, Sergeant T. Brace, as Drill Instructor, and Sergeant H. Clarke, via the more direct route of Stoke Hammond, Water Eaton, and Bletchley. On the following evening, about 150 special constables from the town and district assembled in the Bletchley Road Schools for an address by Superintendent Pearce, of the Northern Division of the Bucks County Constabulary. He was introduced by Colonel Bowyer, and with his talk covering all aspects of the duties they were to perform, those present were told that they had the powers of regular constables, and could act whether they were on duty wearing their armlets, or off duty if the need arose. In fact should their powers be disputed, then all they had to do was produce their constable’s warrant. In detail, the Defence of the Realm Act was also explained by Superintendent Pearce, who said that any aircraft should be reported at once, and having listened attentively, at the end of the talk the special constables assembled for inspection by Colonel Bowyer in the school playground. On the evening of Wednesday, August 4th, 1915 there was a large gathering of residents from Bletchley and Fenny Stratford in St. Martin’s churchyard. As throughout the Empire, this was for the war anniversary service, and with the occasion having been organised by the Council, a full muster of troops and special constables attended. Indeed, in the Recreation Ground an open air service had also been held the previous year on August 9th, immediately after the formation of the local corps of Volunteers. In early August 1915 Mr. P. Lovett, who since the enrolment of the local company of special constables had acted as Captain, took a holiday at Droitwich for the sake of his health, and during his absence Mr. W.J. Watson assumed command. Suitably refreshed, by August 24th 1915 he had returned to his home, Stoke Lodge, Stoke Hammond, and then resumed command of the special constables, who, apart from maintaining their training, had to deal with any issues that arose in the town. In fact for special constable Thomas Marchant, one incident concerned Frederick Spiers, a furniture dealer of Linslade, who also had a business as Messrs. Gibbs and Co. in Bletchley Road.

Appointed to the Post Office in 1871, Thomas Marchant retired after 25 years of service, but, as with several other retired members, following the outbreak of the First World War he resumed employment, to fill the positions of the young male clerks who were joining the Army. In addition he became a special constable, and it was in this capacity that he was on duty on Saturday, March 6th 1915, when the funeral took place at Fenny Stratford Cemetery of 21 year old Private Thomas Tooth, who had died of 'spotted fever' at Chelmsford, where he had been stationed with the Bucks Territorials. Brought back to Bletchley, where he had lived at Railway Terrace, the body of Private Tooth was then conveyed from the station to the cemetery, but as the funeral cortege approached the Bletchley Road Schools one of the horses pulling the carriage became, perhaps startled by the music, restive, and when special constable Marchant attempted to hold the bridle the animal reared up. Mr. Marchant was thrown to the ground, but was fortunately not injured, and the procession continued. In another incident, whilst on duty on the afternoon of August 26th 1915 he signalled for a motorist to stop at Church Corner, since the vehicle had been travelling at the 'excessive speed' of 20mp.h. along Aylesbury Street. However, the driver carried on, and, by 'rushing across' the High Street to reach Simpson Road, nearly collided with a military lorry. After the war, Thomas continued to be a special constable, and at the age of 89 in 1939 was believed to be the oldest in Britain when World War Two broke out. As part of his duties, every Tuesday and Friday he would escort the schoolchildren across Bletchley Road, and in this photograph he is seen patrolling Bedford Street in 1940. His home was at 18, Oxford Street, and he died in May 1940. The other photo, with the children standing in the road, is of Oxford Street around the time of the First World War.

His offence was for having driven his car at excessive speed on the afternoon of August 26th, and in evidence special constable Marchant, who had been on duty at Church Corner, said that he had seen the defendant travelling along Aylesbury Street at about 20m.p.h. He signalled for him to stop, but the accused carried on, and, by rushing across the High Street to reach Simpson Road, nearly collided with a military lorry. Yet there was even greater excitement in the town during the early hours of Wednesday morning, September 8th 1915, when news arrived of a Zeppelin raid. Measures to keep watch, and guard the roads, in case any motor cars were guiding the airships, were swiftly taken, but since nothing happened the police, special constables and military guards resumed their normal duties after dawn. Yet all were called out again on Thursday morning, although with the same result. On Wednesday evening, September 29th 1915 Mr. P. Lovett attended the local court and ‘attested’ for new members of the special constables, namely Thomas Fry, Reuben Brett, George Gales, Charles Duffield, George Manyweathers, Charles Fountaine and the Reverend J. Barmby, (Bow Brickhill). Then on Wednesday evening, October 6th 1915 there was a large muster of special constables at the Bletchley Road Schools, for the purpose of electing certain officers, and to hear an address on the provisions of the Defence of the Realm Act Regulations (1914). Supported by amongst others Mr. W.J. Watson, (Lieutenant), Mr. H.J. Clarke, (Orderly Sergeant), and Mr. T. Brace, (Sergeant Instructor), the Captain of the Company, Mr. P. Lovett, presided, with the first business being to elect a Section Leader and a Sergeant. special constable J. Chapman was duly appointed to the former position, and Section Leader W.J. Claridge to the latter, but this lead to another vacancy for a Section Leader, which, after a vote, was filled by special constable Bennett. Inspector Callaway then explained the provisions of the Defence of the Realm Act Regulations, which were put into force in the district by the competent Naval or Military Authority. They thereby became empowered to deal with practically all offences, although an exception would be lights on vehicles, which were to remain the province of the civil courts. Despite the recent Zeppelin scares, at present there was still no order in the district regarding lights in shops, houses and streets, but Inspector Callaway explained that should this come into force, then a special constable would have the power to enter any shop or premises, and order compliance in the event of any contravention. If this was refused, ‘he could do whatever was necessary.’ Other matters dealt with by Inspector Callaway included the requirement for residents to remain indoors when necessary, fireworks being set off, the lighting of fires (which might be used as signals), trespass on the railways, the power to stop any suspicious vehicle, and various other additional concerns which were covered by the regulations. Then in conclusion he reminded those present that they had exactly the same powers as the regular police, and as their real authority their warrant card should be carried at all times. Whilst as yet there was no imminent threat of an enemy invasion, there was an invasion of Bletchley Station on Saturday, October 16th, 1915 by a number of young ladies, said to be from Wolverton, who descended onto the platforms to sell flags in aid of the Buckinghamshire Volunteer Defence Corps. White in colour, bearing the green wording ‘Bucks V.D.C.’, their wares carried the Buckinghamshire crest of a swan with a scroll underneath, and also in the quest for finance, acting in conjunction with a small committee of the enrolled members, Mr. P. Lovett, as the Captain commanding the Bletchley Detachment of the Bucks Volunteer Defence Corps would shortly issue an appeal for funds to provide uniforms. The sum needed was around £100, and with the members already having rifles (the ammunition for which they paid for themselves) subscriptions to the equipment fund of the Corps had presently included £20 from Sir Herbert Leon, £10 from Mrs. Jervis, and £1 1s from Mr. James Berwick. In fact the importance of the Volunteers was now emphasised when news arrived that Captain Cyril Oliver, of the 12th West Yorkshires, who had taken part in the last advance in France, was in hospital in London suffering from gas poisoning. Being the eldest son of the Reverend Oliver, who for some time had been the Vicar of Fenny Stratford, he had some years ago been a Second Lieutenant in the Bletchley Company of the Bucks Volunteers, and having soon after the outbreak of war received a commission in the 12th West Yorks, was gazetted Captain last May. Around the beginning of November 1915, the Chief Constable of Buckinghamshire issued a timely reminder that, under No. 26 of the Consolidated Regulations of the Defence of the Realm Act, ‘No person shall, without the written permission of the competent naval or military authority, or some persons authorised by him, display any light, or ignite, or otherwise make use of any firework or other similar device, or any fire, in such a manner as could serve as a signal guide or landmark, and if he does so he shall be guilty of offence against these regulations.’ This was directed to the public, police and also the special constables, several original members of which had now joined the Army. Nevertheless, the company still numbered around 90 men, and some thirty of these attended a parade at the Bletchley Road Schools on Sunday afternoon, December 19th 1915. After a drill by Sergeant Instructor T. Brace, Mr. Lovett explained their duties in the event of air raids, and the dropping of incendiary bombs, and invasion, and in fact should an invasion take place, then their shooting skills would be an obvious necessity. Therefore, taking the place during the winter months of the range at Denbigh, by December 21st, 1915 a miniature rifle range had been constructed at the Bull Hotel, to be informally opened on Friday evening, December 17th for use by the Bletchley Company of the Bucks Volunteer Training Corps. Laid out in what was known as the ‘old Malting’ - a long structure with a concrete floor - it was here that the range had once been located for a miniature Rifle Club, which held competitions with neighbouring clubs. Not, however, that all those who participated seemed particularly competent, since many years ago a youthful member had thrown one of the rifle cartridges against a wall in Bletchley Road, and suffered a nasty flesh wound to his arm in consequence. Yet even before then, at about the time that they first came into use a Bletchley boy obtained a used ‘sparklet’ cartridge and converted it into a miniature cannon - the first test firing of which blew off one of his fingers. Then on Wednesday afternoon, January 6th, 1916 another tragic incident occurred in the town, when the body of an old Fenny Stratford resident, Mrs. Shackleton, the widow of Francis Shackleton, was found in the canal about 250 yards east of the Watling Street bridge. Aged 78, she had lately been living with one of her daughters, Mrs. G. Campbell, of Brooklands Road, but because of the serious illness of Mrs. Campbell she had then gone to live, on the previous Monday, with another daughter, Mrs. Kate Golding. She was the wife of Richard Golding, of 5, Tavistock Street, and this was despite the fact that a soldier, Sergeant Gray, of the Royal Engineers, was billeted there. Unseen by anyone, it seemed that early on Wednesday morning Mrs. Shackleton had let herself out of the house, and at the inquest, held on Friday morning at the Police Court, it was revealed that she had been worried not only about her health, but also the fact that her boys were away at the war. Giving evidence, Inspector Callaway said that at 11.15a.m. on Wednesday he had gone to the canal tow path, east of the Watling Street bridge, with Captain Lovett of the Special Constabulary, and on the canal bank they found a hat. Obtaining a boat, they then began to drag the canal until they found the body, and by the evidence of Dr. Maynard Varey (who was acting for Lieutenant Colonel Deyns), when he attended the deceased in Brooklands Road he found her to be distinctly senile. On Tuesday evening, January 11th 1916, after the drill at the Bletchley Road Schools the commandant of the Bletchley Company Volunteer Defence Corps, Captain W.J. Watson, presented on behalf of the officers, N.C.O.s, and men, a handsome smoker’s cabinet to Sergeant Instructor T. Brace. He had a long and honourable connection with the old ‘I’ Company of the Bucks Volunteers, and since the beginning of the war had given valuable service in the drilling and training of the Volunteer Defence Force, and the Bletchley Company of the Bucks Special Constabulary. In fact effective training was indeed necessary, for around the beginning of February 1916 members of the regular police and special constables were kept busy in consequence of the Zeppelin raids on the country, and the possibility that motor car or bicycle guides might be travelling through the district and town. However, the only incident of any excitement seemed to be when at one of the barriers, erected on these occasions to stop all traffic, a woman was arrested for being drunk. After spending a night in the police cells she was charged and fined. One night in early February, since the ‘lights out order’ was now in force a special constable used a torch while trying to get home in the dark. However, after a few yards it suddenly went out, with the result that he collided with the Royal Engineer night picket on its rounds in Bletchley Road. Both parties had chosen to use the road because of the high kerbs of the footpaths, and hurried apologies were exchanged by both sides, neither of which could glimpse each other in the dark! With the Lighting Order now in force throughout the county, in due course Mr. Tonman Mosley, as Chairman of the Bucks Standing Joint Committee, issued a statement which informed that on March 2nd an emergency meeting of the Standing Joint Committee for the county had been held, at which the Chief Constable and all the Superintendents of the police were present. This was to consider those measures necessary in the event of an air raid, and it had been decided that the warning to the public by hooters etc., as arranged in the earlier days of the war, was now unnecessary, and the notice issued by the Chief Constable on January 26th 1915 had therefore been cancelled. Under a carefully devised scheme, warnings were now to instead be issued to those in authority throughout the county, and this would include the police and special constables, who had specific duties allotted to them. In the event of an air raid the public were asked to;

a) not congregate in the streets,

b) remain quietly in their homes,

c) to immediately extinguish all inside lights that might be seen outside,

d) in the event of the gas being turned off at the main, users are to turn off their own gas jets, to avoid accidents when the supply is turned back on.

The need for such measures was then emphasised during the early hours of Monday, March 6th 1916, when a Zeppelin alert was received. With all the services being prepared, all lights were extinguished, all traffic on the railway stopped, and cars held up, and with all the arrangements working smoothly, and since no hooter was sounded, the general public remained unaware of the danger. On that occasion there had been no immediate threat, but, with the possibility of air raids now an increasing menace, a large assembly of the Bletchley Company of the Bucks Special Constabulary gathered in the Concert Hall at the Park Hotel on Wednesday evening, March 8th 1916, to hear Superintendent Pearce, who was in charge of the Northern Division of the Bucks Regular Police, explain their duties in the event of a raid by enemy aircraft. With a number of local notables also present, Mr. P. Lovett, Commanding the Bletchley Company, presided, and it was revealed that arrangements had now been made by which private firms engaged on Government or munitions work were informed as soon as an air raid was expected, or when enemy aircraft had crossed the coast. All the control and direction of dealing with such raids was now in the hands of the military authority, and very complete precautions had been taken not only in North Bucks but all over the country. The special constables were to carry out these precautions, and one of their first duties was to protect the civilian population, and, where any damage had been caused, to assist in the rescue work. Casualty centres had been designated to treat the injured, and with local arrangements made with Mr. W. Brown for stretcher parties to be available, Dr. Nicholson, who for many years had acted as medical officer to the police, promised to help in any way that he could. However, it was a more down to earth hazard that special constable Hedley Clarke had to face one night towards the end of the month, when a Royal Engineers motorcycle despatch rider, who was stationed at Bletchley, and billeted in Tavistock Street, failed to stop when signalled to do so with a red lamp. Giving evidence, Mr. Clarke, who had been on duty at the Church Corner barrier, said that on the night of March 11th he heard a motorcycle coming from the direction of Bow Brickhill, and although the rider was signalled to stop, when special constable Clarke put down his lamp the rider sped off along the High Street. Nevertheless, the special constable managed to note a part of the registration number, and a few days later the rider was traced. At the subsequent court appearance he explained that he had not wanted to delay his despatch, and did not have his licence with him. In view of this no conviction was recorded, but only on condition that he paid 8s 6d costs. There was then more excitement at Church Corner on Saturday morning, March 18th 1916, when on the way home to Ramsbotham’s Nurseries a runaway pony, galloping along Simpson Road, tried to flee across the High Street. Fortunately it was stopped by the Reverend Townley, who was the special constable detailed for duty that day. The continuing need for special constables became starkly evident on the night of Friday, March 31st 1916, when a Zeppelin scare brought all the contingent onto the streets to look for infringements of the Lighting Order. Despite being hampered by a recent blizzard, which had brought down many of the lines, telephone messages were being received from all directions, and because of the serious situation the several residents who had contravened the lighting restrictions were dealt with by the courts. Fanny Best, of Aylesbury Street, was fined 10s, and regarding her offence special constable W. Bramley said that at 10p.m. he had asked for the lights in the house to be put out. However, when he and special constable Wallis returned at 11p.m. they found a bright light shining from an upstairs window, and in explanation Mrs. Best said this was only on whilst the people in the house were going to bed. A 10s fine was also imposed on John Blunt, a butcher of Aylesbury Street, and a lesser amount was imposed on John Kermick, a Corporal of the Royal Engineers, resident in Osborne Street. Unaware of the regulations, he was just home from the Front, but nevertheless, the military authorities had asked for a prosecution in the civil courts, and (with no conviction to be recorded) a fine of 5s was imposed. As for two showmen, they were summoned for showing a light in a caravan on Bletchley Road on April 3rd. A fine of 20s was the result, although the maximum could have been £100. Being far inland, Bucks had only been lately subject to the Lighting Order, but the fines emphasised the importance of compliance. In early April 1916 Dr. William Bradbrook was sworn in as a special constable, whilst as for the Bletchley Company of the Bucks Volunteer Training and Defence Corps, without formalities on Bank Holiday they travelled by early train to Chicheley. There they would be under the command of Captain W.J. Watson, and this was their first turn out in their new uniforms. On Thursday, May 18th 1916, at the Local Military Tribunal the proceedings opened at 2.30p.m. with the reading of a letter, which, from the Central Recruiting Office, Aylesbury, suggested that since the Volunteer Defence Corps had been re-organised by the War Office, the Chairman might point out the advantage of temporary exempted men joining the nearest Corps. However, there had also been suggestions that they could join the special constables, and that this seemed equally necessary was emphasised one morning during the first week of July, when just after 10a.m. some 100 motor cycle despatch riders approached the town from Little Brickhill. At this critical time there was no special constable on duty at Church Corner, but fortunately an off duty member happened to be at the location by chance, and donning his armlet he took charge for the 20 minutes or so that it took for the main body to clear the crossroads, with a few stragglers coming through later. In early July 1916 it was announced that the Volunteer Defence, or Training Corps, had ceased to exist in the county. It had now been replaced by the Buckinghamshire Volunteer Regiment, divided into four battalions, and a notice to this effect was displayed on the regimental notice board outside the house of Sergeant Instructor T. Brace. At the Newport Sessions on Wednesday, July 26th 1916, a farmer of Whaddon Road was summoned for driving a motor cycle which had ‘a lamp capable of movement.’ He pleaded guilty, and in evidence police constable Harding said that although the lamp was capable of moving, an attempt had been made to solder it. Unfortunately the person who had attempted the repair, about two months ago, had soldered the lamp in the wrong place, but in defence of the man Superintendent Pearce said that he was one of their special constables, and a very good one. A fine of 10s was imposed. As told in the chapter on Belgian refugees, towards the end of July 1916 Lambert Giebels, aged 26, a Belgian, was brought up in custody due not least to the efforts of the special constabulary, into which Mr. A.W. James and Mr. C.W. Bowler were enrolled in August 1916. As one of their duties, the special constables had been tasked to go from house to house to inform residents that permits were needed to carry homing pigeons on the highway. However, for having on July 7th contravened this, in the first case of its kind in North Bucks two men would find themselves summoned and fined. Being a Bletchley man, one of the pair had a permit to keep 12 birds at Bow Brickhill, and with an agreement reached to sell these to the other man, the two had set off together to fetch them, with the seller carrying the birds back on his cycle. Then on the following day one of the men applied for the necessary permit, but nevertheless the two were fined; 5s for the seller, and 2s 6d for the buyer. They were then given back the pigeons! By now the ranks of the special constables were being depleted by members leaving for the Forces, and one of this number had been Sidney Irons, who had enlisted as a private in the Oxon and Bucks Light Infantry. Then in late August 1916 his parents, of Park Street, heard that having been gassed he was now in hospital in Liverpool, but by making favourable progress was able to get out for a few hours a day. In early September 1916 Mark Dickinson was sworn in as a special constable. Having joined their ranks at the outbreak of war, he had been called up shortly afterwards to rejoin his old force, the Metropolitan Police, but now back in Bletchley he was perhaps one of the special constables kept busy on two nights around the beginning of October 1916, when an air raid alert was raised. On Sunday afternoon, October 29th 1916 the local Company of the 3rd Battalion Buckinghamshire Volunteer Regiment were also kept busy, when, by permission of Sir Herbert Leon, a parade was held at Bletchley Park. There they were met by the Newton Longville members, with the event being probably a prelude to the anticipated visit to the town of Field Marshall Viscount French, (as told in the chapter regarding Staple Hall Depot.) As witnessed on the afternoon of Friday, November 3rd 1916, one of the more poignant of duties for the special constables was helping to marshal the roads when, having arrived by train at Bletchley station, contingents of wounded soldiers were conveyed to a waiting fleet of motor cars and Red Cross ambulances, one of which had a gas bag carried on a trailer drawn behind. Often having directly arrived from field dressing stations in France and Belgium, the patients were driven rapidly through the town en route to Woburn Abbey Hospital. At the meeting of the School Managers on Monday, November 6th 1916, the use of the Bletchley Road Schools for the Volunteers drill was granted. Then on the evening of Friday, November 17th 1916 a handicap shooting contest between men of the 3rd Battalion Buckinghamshire Volunteers (of which Lieutenant W. J. Watson was the C.O.) took place at the indoor miniature rifle range at the Bull Hotel. Two prizes were offered - the first being won by Private W. Bramley, and the second by Private R. Sinfield - and such prowess would be needed for several nights in early January 1917, when members of the Company were tasked with guarding and taking charge of a newly established observation post, ‘somewhere’ within the confines of their district. On Monday, January 22nd 1917 a number of special constables were called out to join Inspector Callaway and the regular police at Bletchley station, in view of the expected arrival of a contingent of wounded soldiers being brought from France. Running straight from Southampton via Oxford, the train had been due to arrive at 2.30p.m. but when it actually arrived at 4.55p.m. it proved to be overlong and heavily loaded, and with half the number being stretcher cases, under the personal supervision of the Duchess of Bedford the 60 or so casualties were swiftly transferred to a waiting fleet of Woburn Abbey ambulances, and motor cars, attended by a numerous staff of nurses and ambulance men. With the remaining occupants, the train then left for Northampton, but due to the number of vehicles, and the care needed to load the wounded, it would not be until half an hour after its departure that the last of the ambulances left Bletchley. A meeting of the Bletchley special constables was held in the Police Court on the evening of Friday, February 9th 1917, and despite the weather the attendance proved excellent. Supported amongst others by Lieutenant W. Watson, Mr. P. Lovett presided, and the meeting had been called firstly as an opportunity to meet Superintendent Dibben, the new Police Superintendent of their division, and secondly with regard to the need for a re-organisation of the Special Constable Force, brought about by the new conditions of service - and status of - the Volunteer Defence Corps. As explained by Superintendent Dibben, this had lately been reorganised practically on the basis of the old Volunteers, and would be called up for military service should any crisis arise. In fact if this occurred the officers who presently held rank in both forces would lose that rank in the specials, and take it up in the V.D.C. Already the Bletchley Company of the special constables had lost Lieutenant Watson, who now commanded the local Company of Volunteers, and he understood that this position would be filled by the promotion of Mr. Hedley Clarke. Next, Superintendent Dibben spoke of the role of the special constables both on and off duty, and also the regulations of the Defence of the Realm Act, especially the Lighting Order. Electric torches and hand lamps carried by pedestrians were permissible, as long as they were not used for signalling purposes, and a watch should be kept for stray dogs. In fact only the other day a small Pomeranian had been on the loose and caused serious damage to a flock of sheep. On the afternoon of Wednesday, February 14th 1917 the funeral took place of Mr. H. Lee, who, with the first part of the service having been held in the Spurgeon Memorial Baptist Chapel, was laid to rest in Fenny Stratford Cemetery. He had been a member of the Bletchley company of special constables, a large contingent of which had lead the cortege from his house. During February, 1917 the following promotions would be made in the Bletchley Company of special constables by Mr. P. Lovett, the commanding officer. Sergeant Hedley J. Clarke now became a Lieutenant, Section Leader Wallace A. Foll became Sergeant, and Constables A.J. Holmes, T. Rumbelow and G. Faulkner were elevated to Section Leaders. As for the Reverend J. Townley (the Reverend Firminger’s able curate for the past few years) having served since at least 1916 as a special constable he had now enrolled for national service, and was consequently awaiting instructions. Thus in due course it would be learned that he was to leave on April 9th, Easter Monday, to commence duties the next day at the Head Offices in London of Barclay’s Bank. A special ambulance train arrived at Bletchley station on Monday afternoon, April 16th 1917, bringing wounded soldiers from France. With the Duchess of Bedford taking personal charge of all the arrangements, they were then conveyed to the waiting ambulances, which, with the police and special constables marshalling the traffic, would take them to the hospital at Woburn. Wearing hospital caps, and with their uniforms smothered in mud, of the 45 casualties some 25 were stretcher cases, and after they had been offloaded the rest of the wounded were then taken on by the same train to Northampton. At about 10a.m. on the morning of Wednesday, May 2nd 1917, on discovering an attempted burglary a special constable raised the alarm at the Aylesbury Street premises of Mr. Baker, a photographer. With another business at Leighton Buzzard, where he lived, Mr. Baker used the premises as a lock up shop, but on investigation although it was found that panels of the door entering the premises from the yard had been staved in, since nothing was missing it was presumed that the damage had been caused by a disgruntled customer. Together with the regular police and a number of special constables, on Sunday, May 13th 1917 Inspector Callaway was on duty at and near Bletchley station when - carrying the King and Queen on their tour in the north west of England - the Royal Train passed through. Then on the afternoon of the following Sunday there was an almost complete muster of the local special constables (now more correctly known as the ‘Bletchley Company of the Second Police Reserve for the County of Bucks’) at an assembly at the police station. This was regarding the first official general inspection of the Company since its formation, shortly after the outbreak of war, and including the Woburn Sands platoon some 100 constables were present, with 7 sergeants and 12 section leaders. With Mr. P. Lovett in overall command, also present were Mr. Hedley Clarke, as instructor, Mr. T. Brace, police sergeant Hill, Inspector Callaway, several of the regular police, a batch of Boy Scouts, the Company’s two motorcycle despatch riders, and, for use as emergency transport, a number of motorcycles with sidecars. On the open ground inside the gates of the L.&N.W.R. station, just opposite the police station, the assembly fell in to await the arrival of the inspecting officer, but although this should have been Sir Leonard Dunning, H.M. Inspector of Constabulary for England and Wales, due to his being unexpectedly called away, for duties in the West of England, Major Otway Mayne, the Chief Constable of the county, came instead. Accompanying him were Mr. Walter Carlile, D.L., the Assistant Chief Constable, and also Superintendent Dibben, who was in charge of the police in the northern division of the county, and walking down the ranks Major Mayne praised the turn out of the men, and ascertained from the sergeants the duties assigned to them, and their sections in case of ‘emergency.’ In a brief address to the Company he then thanked them all for coming, and said, since many had no doubt missed their dinners, that he would have liked to entertain them. Unfortunately the Food Controller had said no, and he therefore expressed his parting hope that he would have this honour after the war. On Thursday, June 14th the Reverend F. Wilfred Booth, of Holmbury, Bletchley, was sworn in as a member of the ‘Bletchley Company of the Second Police Reserve’ (ie the special constables) who were now taking a three and a half hour period of fixed point duty at Church Corner. However, the duties of Lieutenant W.J. Watson and Sergeant Ash, of the Bletchley Buckinghamshire Volunteers, now lay rather more distant, for around the beginning of July 1917 they were sent to the school of musketry at Hythe, to undergo a course of instruction in the use of the Hotchkiss machine gun. On Tuesday afternoon, July 17th 1917, a convoy of 50 wounded soldiers arrived at Bletchley station from France. They had been directly conveyed by special ambulance train from Southampton, and, as always, the special constables were in attendance to assist the police in marshalling the road traffic. Having passed with honours his course of instruction in the use of the Hotchkiss machine gun, by mid August 1917 Lieutenant W.J. Watson, as commander of the Bletchley Platoon, 3rd Battalion Bucks Volunteers, was now instructing his men in the use of an example at Bletchley, whilst as for the special constables, they had their own excitement on Sunday, September 9th 1917, when at about 1.30p.m. an urgent call was received to report for duty at 2p.m. Thus at the appointed hour they arrived at Mr. Hedley Clarke’s premises in Bletchley Road in cars, on motorcycles, push bikes, in traps and on foot, and were told that a wanted man - supposed to be ‘somewhere’ in North Bucks - was their quarry. A consequent move was made along Buckingham Road, through Far Bletchley to Tattenhoe, and then through the wood to the Mursley road, but since this drew a blank an advance towards Swanbourne was made. There, down a muddy lane, close by the railway line, the man, with a woman and two children, was found seated, and although the man tried to bolt through a gap in the hedge, on seeing the approach of other pursuers he began to go back, and was promptly arrested. In fact he was the man who had fled from the police on Friday at Woolstone, and on Monday morning he duly appeared before the magistrates at the Bletchley Police Court. Then at the Petty Sessions at Bletchley on September 24th he was brought up in custody in the name of Jack Fletcher, a gipsy, aged 28, for having failed to report to the military authorities under the Military Service Act. Mr. P. Lovett said that shortly after 3p.m. on the afternoon of Sunday, September 9th he, in the company of special constables Holland and Moss, had chanced upon the prisoner, together with a woman and two children, in Swanbourne Lane, and when asked what he was doing, the man said they had slept the previous night on the Common. Being unable to produce any papers he was taken under the charge of Inspector Callaway to Bletchley Police Station, and enquiries later showed him to be a deserter, named John Green, from the Bedfordshire Regiment. At the Petty Sessions he was then charged under this name as being a deserter, and handed over to a military escort in consequence. In late September 1917 Lieutenant W.J. Watson, commanding the Bletchley Platoon of the 3rd Battalion Bucks Volunteers, was presented with a handsome testimonial from the N.C.O.s and men of the platoon. This took the form of a silver mounted walking cane, inscribed; ‘Presented to Lieut. W.J. Watson by the N.C.O.s and men of the Bletchley Platoon, 3rd Battalion Buckinghamshire Volunteers,’ and in addition he was also given a silver pocket fruit knife. On Tuesday evening, November 13th 1917 it was reported at the Council meeting that the Associated Furniture Warehousing and Removals Society had asked for a guaranteed supply of water, this being necessary for its traction engines passing through the Bletchley district. The Clerk had suggested using the canal, but since the legality of this might be in doubt, as an alternative Hedley Clarke, as Lieutenant of the special constables, said that whilst on duty he had directed the drivers to the horse trough in Aylesbury Street! For traffic marshalling duties, Hedley Clarke was also often on duty when consignments of wounded soldiers arrived at Bletchley station, such as on the afternoon of Wednesday, December 6th 1917. Having arrived by special train the casualties were rapidly transferred to the waiting Woburn Abbey motor ambulances, to then be conveyed to the Woburn Abbey and other hospitals.

As a respected member of the local community, no doubt Captain Lovett would have been none too pleased by accusations of food hoarding, which, via this newspaper announcement, the perpetrator has had the sense to renounce.

On Sunday, January 6th 1918, at 3.30p.m. at St. Martin’s Church the intercession service took place, for which the full company of Bletchley special constables turned out, under Captain P. Lovett, Lieutenants Hedley J. Clarke and E. Badger, and Sergeant Instructor T. Brace. Falling in at the Bletchley Road Schools, they had been joined by the fire brigade and regular police, under Inspector Callaway, and headed by the Fenny Stratford Town Band had marched to the church to the strains of ‘Onward Christian Soldiers,’ the route being via Denmark Street and Aylesbury Street. Throughout the day the collections were in aid of the Red Cross Funds, and having reformed after the service the parade then marched back to the schools. By special train, some forty wounded soldiers arrived at Bletchley on Sunday evening, January 27th 1918, and - with the police and special constables on duty - they were swiftly transferred to the Woburn Abbey motor ambulances. On Saturday, January 26th, Mr. P. Lovett, of Stoke Lodge, was elected President of the Bucks Chamber of Agriculture at the annual meeting. Meanwhile, his wife was acting as honorary secretary to the Fenny Stratford Sub Committee of the Buckinghamshire War Pensions Committee, at a meeting of which on Friday, February 22nd 1918, with Lady Leon, the vice chairman, presiding, grants varying from £18p.a. downwards were sanctioned. A number of new cases were discussed, and Mrs. Lovett said that when she had received a letter from the Aylesbury Central Secretary, stating that a vacancy was available for one of their cases at the Bath Mineral Water Hospital, she had immediately communicated with the man, who was consequently now at the Hospital receiving treatment. On Sunday afternoon, April 8th 1918 the Bletchley Company of the Bucks Special Constabulary assembled in the playground of the Bletchley Road Schools for a special parade. With special constable lieutenants Hedley J. Clarke and E. Badger, and sergeant instructor T. Brace, there were now over 40 members, and the occasion was to have been to distribute badges for three years complete service. However, the ceremony had to be postponed to a later date since their commander, Captain P. Lovett, was unable to be present. In fact he had sent a letter of apology, which, when read out by Lieutenant Clarke, revealed that his nine year old only child had suddenly developed a dangerous illness. Therefore he had taken the boy for an urgent operation in London, and with this distressing news imparted, after a short drill the parade was dismissed. Tragically the child, the grandson of the late Phillips Cosby Lovett, of Liscombe Park, Soulbury, died on Wednesday, April 10th 1918, and therefore at the Bletchley Road Schools it was in a subdued mood that the members of the Bletchley company of special constables paraded on Sunday afternoon, May 6th 1918 for the postponed ceremony. With other local detachments also present, after a short drill the assembly awaited the arrival of Major Otway Mayne, the Chief Constable of Buckinghamshire, who, being accompanied by the Assistant Chief Constable, Mr. Walter Carlile, distributed the chevrons, and, thanking them for their work, complimented the company on their turnout. He then addressed a few congratulatory words to Captain Lovett, but gave a reminder that there would be a probable depletion of the ranks under the new Military Service Act, which would entail even more work for those who were left. On Sunday, May 26th 1918, on their way to the hospitals at Woburn, and Woburn Sands, a contingent of wounded soldiers arrived at Bletchley station by special ambulance train. As usual a number of special constables were on duty, and there was also a good attendance by their members at an ‘instructional’ meeting at the Police Court on Thursday evening, May 30th 1918, where, due to the indisposition of Captain Lovett, special constable lieutenant Hedley J. Clarke presided. Then on Sunday afternoon, June 30th 1918 there was a parade of the Bletchley company of the special constables at the Bletchley Road Schools. The muster, however, was small, and although special constable lieutenants Hedley J. Clarke and E. Badger, with sergeant instructor T. Brace were present, Captain P. Lovett, commanding the company, was unavoidably absent, being presently at Droitwich undergoing a ‘cure’ for rheumatism. As for Volunteer J. Busler, of the Bletchley Platoon of the Buckinghamshire Volunteer Regiment, around the beginning of July he went with the battalion for three months’ training. This being the fourth anniversary of the outbreak of the war, on Remembrance Day, Sunday, August 4th 1918, a special afternoon service was held in St. Martin’s Church, to where, having fallen in at the Bletchley Road Schools, some 52 members of the Bletchley Company of special constables had marched. Members of the Council were also present at the well attended service, during which a collection was taken in aid of the War Prisoners’ Fund. Two pleasant evenings were spent on Tuesday and Wednesday, August 13th and 14th 1918, when cricket matches were played between teams representing the Bletchley Company special constables and, with several of their players hailing from the Colonies and Dominions, the B Company, Royal Engineers, Staple Hall Signal Depot. This had been arranged by special constable lieutenant E. Badger, as also Second Lieutenant H. Payne, R.E. who had placed the Royal Engineers’ practice nets on the Park Hotel Field, where, by permission of Mr. E. Bland, the match was played. In fact for three evenings a week the facility had been placed at the disposal of the special constables, who nevertheless may have needed a little more practice, since they lost the match by 132 runs to 91. At the Military Service Tribunal for the Bletchley Urban District, held at the Council Offices on Thursday afternoon, August 5th 1918, Charles Berwick, aged 39, applied for a further exemption from military service. Graded G2, he was in business as a draper and outfitter in the High Street, and, with a solicitor appearing on his behalf, it was stated that he had a wife and one child at home dependent on the business, whilst his brother - a partner in the practice - was a prisoner of war in Germany. Not least from the affliction of memory loss, the father, aged 74, had handed over the business to the sons, and, as confirmed by a medical certificate, was unable to do any hard work. Being one of eight from the Bletchley Company specially selected for important duties, the appellant since the beginning of the war had been a special constable, and, with no questions being put forward by the National Service Representative, three months was granted. This was no doubt partly due to a letter urging the need to retain his services from the commander of the Bletchley special constables, Captain P. Lovett, from whom a letter was read at a meeting of the Bletchley, Fenny Stratford and District War Savings Association, held at the Council Offices on Thursday evening, September 12th 1918. In this he apologised for his absence, and stating the reason to be that he was transferring his residence from Stoke Hammond to Soulbury, in consequence he then continued that he would be unable to attend any further meetings, and so felt he ought to resign. This was accepted with regret, and in response to an invitation from the officers, he would also write to apologise for not being able to attend a smoking concert for the local company of the special constables, of which he was captain, being held on Wednesday evening, October 23rd 1918. Nevertheless, staged in the concert room at the Park Hotel a ‘capital programme’ was much enjoyed, with Mr. C. Berwick at the piano. Lieutenant Hedley Clarke presided, and he was also present at the Military Service Tribunal held at the Council Offices on Thursday afternoon, November 7th 1918, where, with Mr. S.F. Jones as chairman, and Lieutenant Little as National Service Representative, he applied for further exemption from military service. Now aged 39, and classed as Grade 3, he said that in addition to his work as postmaster at the Bletchley Road Sub Post Office he was in charge of the Bletchley Labour Exchange and the Wolverton Labour Exchange, where due to the numbers of discharged soldiers the work was increasing daily. Six months was granted. Other exemptions were then also granted to Walter Wallis and Alfred Benford, subject to them continuing as special constables. However there was sad news when it was learned that a former special constable, Lance Corporal Herbert Staniford, had died whilst on active service on November 6th, having only the day before been admitted to the General Hospital, Salonika, suffering from pneumonia. Before joining up he was well known in Leighton Buzzard and Fenny Stratford, and had been a brother of the St. Martin’s Lodge of Freemasons. Even after the end of the war, the need for the special constables continued, and on the evening of Monday, June 30th 1919 the Bletchley Company of special constables, which included those ‘Specials’ living and stationed in the neighbouring villages, and Woburn Sands, turned up in force at the Park Hotel, in response to an invitation by their popular Captain, Mr. P. Lovett, to dinner. In fact an hour’s extension had been granted, and during the proceedings Superintendent Dibben said that for those special constables at Church Corner, who were stationed on fixed point duty, it was not only a dangerous situation but also very windy. However, not for much longer, for at the Bucks Standing Joint Committee on Thursday, July 3rd the Chief Constable, Major Otway Mayne, said that he proposed disbanding the Special Constabulary on September 1st. Thus the nominal demobilisation took place on that date, but it would be on the evening of Friday, September 26th that in the Police Court the formal proceedings took place for the final and definite demobilisation of the Bletchley Company of special constables, officially known as the ‘Bletchley Company of the Bucks Second Police Reserve.’ Supported by Major Otway Mayne, Captain P. Lovett, Lieutenant E. Badger, Superintendent Dibben and Inspector Callaway, Lieutenant Colonel Finlay presided, and with each man handing in his warrant card, each ‘special’ received a ‘certificate of thanks,’ which bore the County emblem (a swan in gold) at the top, with the rest being all black and white. In fact Inspector Callaway had artistically embossed most of the certificates with the name and rank of the recipient, whilst two of the four signatures - those of the Captain of the Company, and the Chief Constable of the County - were personally signed in ink. As for those of the Marquess of Lincolnshire and Lieutenant Colonel Finlay, who came in his capacity as chairman of the Standing Joint Committee of the County, which was responsible for the police, these were lithographed. All the members were allowed to keep their equipment as souvenirs, but they would not be allowed to wear their badges unless they chose to join the new Second Reserve Constabulary. This was about to be formed, and with regard to the subject Major Otway Mayne said that of the 500 men needed for the county, 45 would come from Bletchley - 40 constables, plus a Captain, a Lieutenant, and three Sergeants. No member would have to serve away from home, and he had been told by Inspector Callaway that 34 names had already been received. In the years after the First World War both Inspector Callaway and Major Otway Mayne would continue their distinguished police careers, and details regarding the former are given in the book ‘Bletchley and District at War.’ Regarding Major Otway Mayne, he was the only son of the late Major H.O. Mayne, of Mayne’s Horse, and had previously held a commissioned rank in the Norfolk Regiment, with which he served in the Jowaki Alfreedi Expedition in 1877, the Afghan War of 1879-80, and the Chin Lushai Expedition of 1889. Stating that he had 41 years’ continuous service - 22 with the army, and 19 with the police - around June 1915 he applied to the Standing Joint Committee for permission to offer his services to the War Office for military duty, but it was decided that he would best serve the country by remaining in his present position, to which he had been appointed on August 1st 1896. In fact for his services during the war he would be awarded the O.B.E., and continued as Chief Constable until 1928, when aged 71.


STAPLE HALL DEPOT

1914

With the storm clouds yet to gather on the international scene, many people enjoyed the summery weather at the fete held in the grounds of Staple Hall on Wednesday, June 24th, 1914. By kind permission of Mr. A. Mare, this had been arranged by the Primrose League (Duncombe Habitation), and between 2p.m. and 9.30p.m. the festivities would include a tennis tournament and whist drive. However, with the outbreak of war Staple Hall would shortly witness less tranquil scenes, for, as with several other locations in the town, the premises would be taken over by the military. In fact having left Swindon early on the morning of Sunday, August 16th, nearly 2,000 Territorials after arriving by train at Leighton Buzzard marched to Fenny Stratford, where billets had been arranged in almost every house. Additionally, many public buildings had been requisitioned, whilst as for Staple Hall, apart from being the headquarters for the officers, this would accommodate almost 200 men, with stabling for 100 horses. However, as a proposed drill ground the Vicarage Paddock had proved insufficiently large, and so the companies began to also use the Recreation Ground, and the fields adjoining Staple Hall, the buildings of which the War Office had first call on requisitioning. As for Staple Hall Lodge, Mr. T. Carey had lent and arranged the plants which, on Wednesday, October 28th, were used to decorate the Temperance Hall, where a grand concert was performed for the benefit of the Belgian refugees housed at the three storied ‘Maison Belge,’ in Church Street.

1915

On Friday afternoon, January 22nd, between 2p.m. and 3p.m. Bletchley railway goods station bustled with the detraining of the first batch of Royal Engineers (Postal Section), who arrived with their horses and transports. The 250 men and 40 horses immediately proceeded to their billets at the top end of the town, which the following day could then expect the second batch of 200 men and 80 horses. The men had previously been billeted at Tunbridge Wells, and with more of the contingent arriving on Friday, January 29th, also during the last week of the month the advance guard of the Southern Division of the Royal Engineers (Signal Section) arrived in the town, followed the next day by another batch, which steamed into Bletchley station. Then on the Sunday a London, Brighton and South Coast train brought a third contingent, which thereby increased the total to around 800 men who were now billeted in the town. About 600 of these were from the Royal Engineers, who, the majority being from Birmingham, had been previously stationed at Tunbridge Wells. Therefore, not surprisingly all Sunday afternoon Bletchley Road was busy not only with the large number of soldiers in the vicinity, but also the constant passage of motor lorries and horse transport, taking various equipment to the general headquarters at Staple Hall. Another headquarters had been established at Deacon’s Stables, at Bletchley, and with the men comprised of two companies, the commanding officer was Lieutenant Colonel J.F. Lister.

Dating from 1881, the arched portico of Bletchley station would become a familiar sight to the hundreds of troops stationed at Staple Hall Depot. Dating from 1881, in an act of architectural vandalism it was demolished in the 1960s, to be replaced by a modernistic blandness, as shown.

Including the office workers, on the outbreak of World War One 312 staff were employed at Bletchley, but, unless given permission by the management, railwaymen were not allowed to enlist, due to the increased use of the railways. However, from employment in the telegraph office Joseph Fennell, having been a member of the Beds and Bucks Volunteers, would serve in the 'National Guard,' whilst as for Bill King, the Locomotive Shed blacksmith, he was destined to breed pigeons for the Government. However, Fred Healey was one of the railwaymen who would see action at the Front, for, having been taught to drive the petrol electric locomotives (forerunners of the diesel electrics), he served with a light railway company of the army in France, working from the normal railheads to the trenches. Born in Salden, he had come to Bletchley with his parents, and on leaving school at the age of 13 worked as a blacksmith's striker. Eventually he found work as a labourer, unloading coal at Bletchley station, and before joining the army held a number of cleaning jobs at various locations. Born at Fenny Stratford, Bernard Brown joined the railway on leaving school at the age of 14, and after working for a while at Wolverton, and then Bletchley, after a few months was released by the railway to serve in the later part of World War One as an officer, in charge of bombs and ammunition. (After the war he resumed his railway employment, and was posted to Watford and Willesden as a goods guard, before returning to Bletchley in 1925.) Yet for those men who remained in railway service, life could still prove hazardous. In 1915, on suffering an accident in the Locomotive Shed Charles Matthews had to have his left leg amputated, and also whilst working in the Locomotive Shed, George Hankins, a fitter, lost his right thumb and two fingers, when his hand became trapped between an engine wheel and axle box. The inset photo, left, shows

Bernard Brown performing some of his magic tricks, for he was a talented amateur magician. In fact during World War Two as a lieutenant in the railway company of the Home Guard he would often entertain the company with his magical expertise, and apart from at various times being President of the Northern Magic Circle and Vice President of the Northern Magic Circle, he also became a member of the British Ring of the International Brotherhood of Magicians.
Bill King engaged in his daily
occupation in the Locomotive Shed.

Under him, Major Bowker commanded the company at Fenny Stratford, and Major Dickinson that of the men at Bletchley. For much of the time the Royal Engineers would be occupied on exercise in the local countryside, laying cables and air lines, whilst for the more mundane part of their training the Leon Avenue Estate, on the Bletchley Road, would be used as a drill ground. During the evening the men were free until 10p.m., although by that time they had to be at their billets. An unexpected arrival in Fenny Stratford was a number of the 5th Battalion of the Seaforth Regiment, who had marched from Bedford on Tuesday, January 26th. They were also billeted in the town, but with their stay not expected to be for very long, they were engaged in patrolling the roads at night. Hailing from Canterbury, on Thursday afternoon, January 28th, 45 men of the Royal Engineers, with one officer and eight horses, arrived in Bletchley, and on Sunday, January 31st, a second Church Parade took place. Together with the band, around 150 men of the Royal Engineers assembled for a service at St. Mary’s Church, and on the same morning another company paraded for divine service at St. Martin’s Church.

Royal Engineers at the Staple Hall Depot. The two officers stand by the entrance, and on the back of this postcard was written; 'The Camp is behind Staple Hall and the Hall is used as an office but we go in lower down the road.'

Then on Friday, February 5th a fresh draft of about 30 men arrived, and, since a number of these wore civilian clothes, a badge was displayed on the lapel of their coats as a distinguishing mark. During the first week of February the Royal Engineers would be engaged in laying over-head cables, with one line being established from the headquarters at Bletchley to Little Brickhill, and a second connecting up Staple Hall. As for their recreational pursuits, on Saturday afternoon, February 20th 1915 on the Vicarage Paddock a football match, refereed by Sapper Woods, took place between men of the Royal Engineers and the local eleven of the Fenny Stratford Stars. With the proceeds being for the Belgian Relief Fund, Lieutenant Couzens set the ball rolling. As for a different kind of match, at St. Martin’s Church on Sunday, February 21st the Reverend Firminger conducted the wedding of Miss Florence Celia Terry, of Margate, and Sapper Arthur Albert Godridge, of Birmingham, who had been presented with a handsome oak clock by his comrades. He was presently billeted with Mr. and Mrs. Walduck, of Windsor Street, and his ‘chum,’ Sapper King, acted as the best man. The motor car conveying the bridal party was surrounded by a guard of honour, complete with rifles, and with there being a large attendance of civilians and soldiers, which included a good number of the Royal Engineers, the happy couple came in ‘for a considerable good natured chaff.’ After a rousing chorus of ‘For he’s a jolly good fellow,’ the bride and bridegroom then left the church to the strains of ‘the Retreat,’ sounded by the bugler, and on the return journey the soldiers, having congregated around the slow moving car, sang the appropriate music hall song, ‘I do love my wife.’ One adventurous Tommy even managed to climb on the vehicle’s roof! On Wednesday, February 24th two sections of the Royal Engineers left Bletchley for overseas, although for Private Kitchin there might be a delay, for, whilst exercising his horse on the morning of the previous Saturday, he suffered an unfortunate accident in Bletchley Road when, becoming restive, after making a number of plunges the horse reared up. However, by hanging on to the reins Private Kitchin managed to pull the animal over, but unfortunately it fell on top of him. Yet apart from being severely shaken, he escaped without injury. Soldiers in the near vicinity quickly assisted him to the home of Mr. Arscot, opposite, and afterwards he was conveyed to his billet for medical attention. On the last Saturday of February, the annual session of the Bucks District International Order of Good Templars was held in the Town Hall. Here many local representatives were present, as also Brother P.B. Greedy, the Past District Chief Templar for West Surrey, who was now stationed in the town as a Corporal with the Royal Engineers. The Fenny Stratford Lodge was the largest in the district, with Mr. Thomas Kirby, of Fenny Stratford, being appointed as Chief Templar for the Bucks district. In fact his family had lived in the locality for some 200 years, and until relinquishing the business some years ago he was formerly a grocer and baker in the town. ( He would retire to Brighton in 1925.) Wearing full kit, on the evening of Wednesday, March 3rd, a section of the Royal Engineers entrained for ‘foreign parts,’ and their issue of pith helmets suggested that Egypt might be the intended destination. Meanwhile, for those Royal Engineers who remained in the town, on the same evening several held a social and musical evening in the well attended schoolroom of the Spurgeon Memorial Baptist Church. In fact, including those by Corporals Stone, Wickens and Silver, Sappers Rabone, Claydon, Jones, Taylor, Young and Hall, and Driver Gates, all the contributions were by soldiers, and Corporal Greedy acted as chairman for the evening. The £8 raised would then be given to the Trustees of the Church, as recognition for their permission to use the premises. Elsewhere, other Royal Engineers had congregated at the Park Hotel, where, solely for the benefit of the soldiers, the final rounds of a ‘flying billiard handicap’ were in progress. In the Town Hall, which had been lent by Barclay and Co., an entertainment for the Royal Engineers billeted in the district took place on the evening of Friday, March 5th. This was in aid of the local War Relief Funds, although, due to having to attend a lecture, not many from the Royal Engineers could be present, including Lieutenant Watkins, who was to have made one of the vocal contributions. However, despite having colds two of the lady soloists acquitted themselves well, and Lance Corporal Wickens gave an enthusiastically received rendition of ‘Gunga Din.’ Captain Back, of the National Reserves, presided at the event, and afterwards the soldiers were provided with coffee. The event had been arranged by Miss Jervis and two of the Misses Rowlands, and the occasion raised about £5. Between the Royal Engineers and the Bletchley players, the return football match took place on Saturday, March 6th on the Park Hotel ground, which had been lent for the occasion by Mr. E. Bland. Escorted to the centre of the field by a guard of the Royal Engineers, Colonel Broome Giles performed the kick off, and during the interval the crowd were entertained by musical selections from the band of the Royal Engineers, conducted by Sergeant Taylor. The Royal Engineers won the match, and, by visiting the field with collecting boxes, Mrs. Bland, Mrs. Wilson and Mrs. T. Gale augmented the money raised from the sale of tickets by £4. On Tuesday, March 9th a whist drive and dance took place at the Co-operative Hall. This had been arranged by the Women’s Co-operative Guild, but the pleasant evening was slightly marred by the arrival of a military picket, which had been sent to enforce an order that all the men of the Royal Engineers should be in their billets by 10p.m. Miss Harmsworth and Sapper Vickers proved to be the prize winners, and by the sale in Fenny Stratford of ‘woolly’ Belgian mascots, the organisers were able to buy a third football, which during the month was sent to the Royal Engineers headquarters at Staple Hall, from where Major Danielson duly sent a letter of thanks. At the Far Bletchley schools, which had been especially lent by the rector, on the evening of Tuesday, March 23rd a successful whist drive and smoking concert was held. For the benefit of Belgian refugees, this had been arranged by the Southern Army Troops Signal Company, Royal Engineers (Territorials) and nearly 100 players sat down to the tables. Afterwards a concert was enjoyed, with Lance Corporal Wickins as M.C. During the last week in March, on several mornings a Zeppelin scare was raised in the town, until it was realised that the noise had been caused by a newly installed hooter at the military depot at Staple Hall. This sounded at about 6a.m. each morning, but was temporarily of no concern for one contingent of the garrison, for early in the last week of the month they had left for Bedfordshire on training manoeuvres, in the neighbourhood of Flitwick and Lidlington.They then returned on Wednesday, March 31st, and perhaps participated during the Easter holidays in two football matches which, staged on the Park Hotel ground, took place on Saturday April 3rd between the Royal Engineers and a team from Stony Stratford. The Royal Engineers proved victorious, as also on Easter Monday, when, by four goals to nil, they played the Territorials on the Recreation Ground. As for other activities, on Monday evening, April 5th the Royal Engineers held a concert in the Town Hall. With the audience consisting mainly of soldiers, Lieutenant Colonel Lister, supported by other officers, presided, and amongst the various contributions were selections by the band of the Royal Engineers. However, facing a different kind of music would be a Royal Engineer from Staple Hall Depot, who, for having ridden a motorcycle at a dangerous speed, was fined 2s 6d, including costs. One Monday in mid April the military were well represented at a social and dance, held at the Town Hall, where the excellent musical programme included many contributions from soldiers. The proceeds would buy sandbags for the troops, although the monies raised by the sale of ‘Belgian favours’ during the evening, by Miss Harris and Master Donald Cowan, would be used to purchase football badges for the Royal Engineers. Arranged by members of the Royal Engineers, and the 2/4 Battalion of the Norfolk regiment, who were stationed in the town, a couple of days later an excellent concert then took place in the Temperance Hall. Proceeds were for the military, and, with support from other officers, Lieutenant Colonel Lister presided. It was now anticipated that during mid April there would be a noticeable movement of the troops in Bletchley, for, according to their orders, the main body of the Royal Engineers were shortly to move under canvas. However, Staple Hall would still remain as the central headquarters, although when on Saturday evening, April 20th, the second batch of the newly arrived Royal Engineers came, they, together with the first and more numerous arrivals, were housed in billets, arranged by Inspector Callaway, and the regular and special constables working under him. Even the Town Hall had been ‘commandeered’ for billeting purposes, but during the last few days of April a ‘white city’ sprang up on the Park Hotel football and cricket ground, which became occupied by rows of military ‘Bell’ tents. In fact Blunt’s Field, immediately on the Fenny Stratford side, at the back of the L.&N.W. Railway goods shed - as well as the adjoining field, which had an entrance from Victoria Road - had been surveyed and laid out for occupation by more tents, and the intention of this was to form rest camps for soldiers invalided from the Front. They would thus be accommodated whilst passing through to the base centres of their Army units. The Park Hotel field was enclosed on three sides by the gardens, and garden walls, of houses and cottages, and although the fourth side was separated from Oliver Road by an ‘unclimable’ railing fence (reinforced at the top by a barbed wire entanglement) children simply removed some of the palings to creep through and play in the tents! Despite the presence of the tents, on Saturday, May 1st the Park Hotel ground was still the venue for a football match, played between the Cable Section and the Airline Section of the Signal Section of the Royal Engineers, billeted in the town. With Sergeant Major Goodwin as the referee, at half time the Cable Section were winning by three goals to nil, and this would remain as the final score. In early May innumerable changes began to take place regarding the troops in the town. Daily - and sometimes more often - new arrivals would appear, as others departed, and soon practically every billet in the town had been taken. Therefore it was perhaps a wise decision by Lieutenant Colonel Lister, the Commanding Officer of the Fenny Stratford Signal Depot, at Staple Hall, that none of the N.C.O. s and men under his command were to be on licensed premises before 12.30p.m., and all N.C.O.s under the rank of sergeant could not be served after 9.45p.m., and were to be at their billets by 10p.m. Then some weeks later a supplemental notice would be issued, stating that no man must be served except between 12.45p.m. and 1.45p.m., and again between 5.30p.m. and 9.45p.m. During the second week in May, with the onset of fine weather a large movement of troops took place, when, moving out of their billets, 200 to 300 were transferred to a life under canvas in a camp. At the back of the garden and grounds, this was situated in a field at the rear of Staple Hall, which, to quote the official designation, still remained as the headquarters, training centre and signal depot of ‘Southern Division Signal Section Royal Engineers (T.F.)’ However, at Staple Hall a notice simply stated that it was the Fenny Stratford Signals Depot, which, had it not been for the prompt response of the Fire Brigade, could have been the scene of a disaster on the morning of Sunday, May 9th when, between 8a.m and 9a.m., a fire broke out at the premises.

Royal Engineers at Staple Hall Depot. Posted from Bletchley on January 7th, 1917, this postcard was addressed to Miss Doris Henwood, Pempwell Farm, Stokeclimsland, Callington, Cornwall, and the message from the sender, 'C.Q.M.S. Jackson C, Fenny Stratford Signal Depot, Fenny Stratford,' reads; 'Dear Doris,

Very many thanks for your card and good wishes. This is a view of the place I am now working at. My love and kisses to you dear.
Ever yours, Chas Jackson xxxx'

The blaze had begun in a building built mostly of wood, but also partially of brick, which, during his ownership and occupation of Staple Hall, had been erected at a cost of some £600 by Mr. J.G. Mosenthal. This was in connection with his horse breeding enterprise, and, containing stables for about ten horses, the building also comprised an open shed for carts, farm implements etc. In fact it was located about 20 yards from, and at one end of, an extensive range of stables built on three sides of a large stable yard, and being in use at the time as a store, contained not only several hundred pairs of boots, hundreds of blankets, clothing, equipment etc., but also a large number of petrol tins. As for the shed, this also contained combustibles in the form of quantities of bed planks etc. However under the Captain, Thomas Best junior, the Lieutenant, Mr. F. Howard, and the Engineer, Mr. W. Clarke, the Fire Brigade was soon on the scene, and from the fire hydrant at the top of the High Street, at the corner of Victoria Road (where the large calibre water mains ended) a plentiful supply of water was obtained, this being a preferred source to the run across Stag Bridge, and down the Denbigh Road, which was of a much smaller capacity. A pond in the grounds of Staple Hall was used to augment the available supply, and when located next to this the steam fire engine could project three continuous strong jets of water onto the blaze which, despite the roof of the main stables having caught alight, was extinguished before much damage could be caused. Nevertheless the stores had been completely burnt out, plus all the contents, and matters had been dangerously compounded by the possibility of cans of petrol exploding. Assisting the Fire Brigade had been personnel of the Royal Engineers, but despite their combined endeavours the damage totalled nearly £1,500. In fact the equipment had only just reached the headquarters of the Southern Division, with much of it destined to kit out for field service a considerable number of men who were under ‘marching orders’ for Monday morning. Yet the military routine had to carry on as best as possible, and in one exercise the Royal Engineers laid one of their airlines along Bletchley Road. Being partly on one side, and partly on the other, this was carried mainly on their own poles, although here and there the line was attached to the Post Office telephone wire posts. As for the Bletchley Road Schools, even their flag staff was used as a support. Affecting some of the soldiers and the adult residents of the town, there had been many recent cases of measles, and in consequence the medical authorities had closed the Infants’ department of the Bletchley Road Schools until June 1st. Yet apart from these medical worries, a sapper of the Royal Engineers stationed at Bletchley had been admitted to Wing Isolation Hospital with Scarlet Fever, this being under an arrangement with the military authorities whereby Wing Council took into the Hospital any cases within their district. This was at a weekly charge of £1 7s 6d, although they had now asked the Council at Bletchley to pay the weekly difference from £1 15s 6d, this being the actual cost of the patient. However, since the Local Medical Officer had not been consulted, the Council declined to pay. On the afternoon of Friday, May 14th a large contingent of troops arrived at Fenny Stratford station, from where they marched along Bletchley Road to the Bletchley end headquarters, for the allocation of their billets. Yet with so many military personnel and vehicles now in the town, the potential for accidents inevitably increased, and on Saturday morning, May 15th a military motorcycle and a military car collided in Bletchley Road. Fortunately no one was hurt, but the car sustained slight damage, and the motorcycle had a buckled front wheel. Hopefully this caused no delay for the ‘‘B.B.’ Cable Section, R.E., Southern Command,’ who, having been quartered for several weeks at the Manor House stables, Great Brickhill, were entraining the same morning at Bletchley for France, via Southampton. As for the ‘men who had been in Bletchley for some months,’ on the following day after Church Parade (held at St. Mary’s Church) they marched down Duncombe Street, along Osborn Street and Oliver Road to Bletchley Road, to finally form up on the open space opposite Park Street. Here the band played firstly a march, and then the National Anthem, and perhaps this was in connection with the soldiers of the ‘Southern Army Troops Signal Company, Royal Engineers (T.F.),’ who, having been billeted at the Bletchley end of town, would the same day ‘march away,’ supposedly to Sandy. As for the soldiers who still remained in the town, during the following morning they showed remarkable restraint when a number of Germans, who had been captured in the fighting on Hill 60, passed through Bletchley by train. Waiting at a nearby railway crossing were soldiers of the Royal Engineers, and although the Germans spat at them they remained unmoved as the train passed, and, standing at attention, completely ignored them. As with all the other sporting fixtures, the cricket season at Bletchley Park had been cancelled at the outbreak of war. However, there was an exception one Saturday afternoon during the month when, being open to the public, a cricket match took place between the Regular Royal Engineers, stationed at Woburn Sands, and the Southern Army troops, (Signal Company.) This had been allowed by the kind permission of Sir Herbert Leon, and apart from civilians large numbers of the military were amongst the spectators. Since the arrival of the troops in the town, there had been a constant stream of traffic to and from Staple Hall Depot to the Bletchley end centre, known as Deacon’s Stables. With this including motorcycle despatch riders, and motor and horse drawn baggage and supply lorries, it was hardly surprising that the surface of Victoria Road had been ‘kicked up,’ and therefore - albeit for only one day - it was arranged for the tar painting equipment to be borrowed from the County Council on Saturday, May 15th. In view of the horse and human activity at Staple Hall Depot, from the stables and other drains a field on the Simpson Road had now become polluted. Thus at the cost of the War Office the drains were now promptly diverted and carried into the town main sewer in Denbigh Road, and also due to the activities of the troops by mid May the ‘Bathing Place,’ at the request of the military authorities, had been thoroughly cleaned out. By June, with the continuing departure of batches of soldiers, and the formation of an extensive camp in the fields at Staple Hall, the billeting in the town had greatly diminished, and only a few soldiers were left at the Bletchley end. However, the military traffic to and from Staple Hall Depot continued as heavy as ever, and with the tar painting equipment having arrived at Victoria Road on the morning of Saturday, May 29th, somewhat later than planned, the surface became subsequently much more suited to withstand the constant flow. At a Court Martial held at Staple Hall Depot on Wednesday, June 9th, a sapper of the Royal Engineers was charged with desertion, it being alleged that when under orders for embarkation for active service, he was absent from 8.15a.m. on Saturday, May 29th until 2p.m. on June 1st. He thereby missed the scheduled draft, but the defence stated that he had applied for special leave to get married, but was told this could not be granted. He had therefore made arrangements to be at Newport Pagnell on May 30th, this being the earliest date that the ceremony could take place, and had not absented himself deliberately. In fact from August 19th 1914 until March of this year he had been on active service in France, and during that period had not only been wounded, but had also been awarded the D.C.M. Indeed, excepting four days on arrival in England he had received no leave, and therefore made the marriage arrangements in the anticipation of not being sent abroad again so soon. Wearing his uniform, and correctly describing his name and Regiment, he had been married by special licence, and on returning on Tuesday, June 1st had immediately asked for permission to leave with the next draft. Therefore in view of this the defence argued that “It was not likely that a soldier who had received the D.C.M. at the hands of the King would commit the crime of desertion at this time.” By now Mr. Percy Horton had joined the Royal Engineers as a telegraphist, and, having been employed for a number of years in the electric and signal department of the L.&N.W.R., he was indeed well qualified. Born the son of the late James Horton, who for many years prior to his retirement had been Relieving Officer under the Board of Guardians for Fenny Stratford and district, Percy was educated in his home town of Fenny Stratford, and to here, at Staple Hall, he would now return! Drawn from the personnel at Staple Hall Depot, on Saturday, June 19th a cricket team played a team assembled by Mr. Edgar Bland, of the Park Hotel, although Mr. Bland did not take part himself. Held by kind permission of Sir Herbert Leon, the match was staged on the Bletchley Park ground, and, although the soldiers went in first, it was only due to the efforts of Sergeant Fysh and Lance Corporal Levi (the latter scoring 30 not out) that their performance was not rather dismal. During mid June the military authorities, who would provide the finance, asked the Council to have the latrines at Staple Hall Depot regularly cleaned, and since by the end of the month there were would be 1,500 troops in the town, either in camp at Staple Hall, or in billets, this was not surprisingly an urgent need. In fact troops arriving at Staple Hall Depot now either had to go to billets vacated by other soldiers, or go under canvas, and during the end of the month most brought their rifles with them. In early July a corporal of the Royal Engineers pleaded not guilty to having on June 15th ridden a motorcycle along the High Street at a dangerous speed. Giving evidence, Inspector Callaway said that he, and special constables Clarke and Claridge, had been at the crossroads corner of the High Street when, coming from the direction of Staple Hall, they saw the accused travelling at an estimated speed of 18m.p.h.

Sent to a Mrs. Veal, of 9, Park Road, South Norwood, this postcard is franked August 30th 1911, and in a few years time the scene would become very familiar to locally stationed troops, marching from Staple Hall Depot to attend lectures at the old Town Hall and other centres.

This he allegedly maintained after passing the 5m.p.h. speed limit post, and just at that moment special constable Clarke managed to halt a horse and cart about to cross from Aylesbury Street into Simpson Road. Inspector Callaway then stopped the motorcyclist who, on being apprehended, not only failed to produce his driver’s licence, but retorted; “Report what you like, it will make no difference to me.” In defence, he said that the machine was new and could not travel at more than 12m.p.h., and in fact on passing the speed limit sign he had cut off the engine, and stopped when signalled to. However, Colonel Broome Giles remarked that “When riding on duty you must have a warrant to that effect, signed by an officer not under the rank of Major. We do not want to be hard on you chaps, but the public must be protected, and if this sort of thing goes on we shall have to approach the military authorities.” Needing to be paid within two weeks, the corporal was fined 20s, although Sir Herbert Leon said that if a plea of guilty had been entered, then the amount would have been much less. Towards mid July it was announced that the ‘Signal Company, Southern Division Troops R.E. (T.F.),’ who for some months had been billeted in Bletchley, but were now at Sandy, had announced their intention of ‘once more invading the town.’ This would be on Saturday, July 17th, and in fact when the whole of the Signal Company had been quartered at Bletchley they proved most popular, with their departure met with much regret. Yet since being at Sandy at least they had travelled to Bletchley on one occasion, to play a Saturday cricket match against a town eleven. This was held on Sir Herbert Leon’s private ground at Bletchley Park, and, by kind permission of Major Dickenson, their Commanding Officer, their latest appearance in the town would be accompanied by the Company band. Perhaps for catering needs, Mr. T. Carey, of Staple Hall, now required one hundred month old chickens, with ‘Mixed sorts not objected to,’ and also in July a pioneer of the Royal Engineers was charged with stealing, while in a position of trust, a motor cycle valued at £27. This belonged to a sapper of the Royal Engineers at the Staple Hall Depot, who said that on June 6th he had gone with the accused to the garage where the vehicle was kept. After a trial ride, the accused then said that a landlord in Leighton Buzzard might want to buy the bike, and giving evidence the landlord of the Cross Keys Hotel, Leighton Buzzard, said that on June 6th a man in soldier’s uniform had called at his house, and, on behalf of a friend, offered to sell him the machine for £27. The landlord then offered £12, whereupon the accused said that he would go back and ask the lowest price acceptable to the owner. In the evening he duly came back and quoted a price of £18, but, no doubt because en route the soldier had a ‘side slip’ and ‘gone against a car,’ which not only damaged the bike but caused grazes to his face, head and knee, the landlord offered £15. With a receipt written out, this was then duly accepted. Giving evidence, Inspector Callaway said that on July 9th he had received a warrant for the arrest of the accused, who, when questioned at Staple Hall Depot, said in his defence that having ‘got smashed up’ he could not have returned that night, and neither did he have the soldier’s address. Nevertheless, he was committed for trial at the next Assizes at Aylesbury, but the Bench agreed to his request for bail if two sureties of £50 each were obtained, with £100 imposed on himself. Nearly opposite to the New Inn, on the evening of Saturday, July 20th an accident occurred in Bletchley Road, when a cycle being ridden by a soldier of the Royal Engineers collided with the rear of Staniford and Sons’ motor lorry. Driven by Mr. Staniford junior, this was returning to the firm’s wine and spirit stores in Bletchley Road, and being thrown off his machine the cyclist sustained a bad cut to the head. Fortunately Sergeant Chilvers, of the Norfolk Reserve, was nearby, and at once administered first aid, after which the soldier was taken to Staple Hall Depot in the Staniford’s lorry. In spite of unfavourable weather, to the music of a military band from Bedford a sports, organised by Lieutenant Colonel Lister, and the officers and N.C.O.s at Staple Hall Depot, took place, admission free, one Saturday afternoon in July, but although the rain had ceased by about 3p.m., the rest of the day was dull and cold. The racing track in the Recreation Ground (which for many years was used and maintained by the old Fenny Stratford Amateur Athletic Club) had been marked out, mown and well rolled, and, as well as being flagged on the inside, the course was railed off from the public by a barricade of single poles. With a reserve enclosure screened off for the officers and their friends, many soldiers and civilians watched the events, which included obstacle and hurdle races, and competitions in erecting and laying telephone and telegraph air lines etc. By the end of July the Bletchley and Fenny Stratford Co-operative Industrial Society had obtained the contract for baking bread for the troops at Staple Hall Depot, where a successful concert was given in the tent of the Y.M.C.A., the leader of which was Mr. Kenneth Bruce. One of the organisers was Mr. H. Humphreys, Honorary Secretary of the local branch of the Church of England Men’s Society (which was working in conjunction with the Y.M.C.A.) and amongst a varied programme Sapper E. Scragg performed a piano solo, and Sapper F. Pennington entertained with ventriloquist sketches. At a parade of his troops, at Staple Hall Depot on Thursday morning, August 5th, Lieutenant Colonel Lister presented Lance Corporal Butler, Royal Engineers, with the Distinguished Conduct Medal.

This was for his actions on January 25th when, as a bombardier with the Royal Garrison Artillery, under constant heavy rifle and shell fire he voluntarily went out at Cuinchy for over a mile to repair a telephone line, which, linking the battery to the forward observer post, had been cut by shell fire. He also repaired other lines, and later brought in a wounded officer, and not surprisingly since returning from the Front on March 6th he had been promoted, being transferred to the Royal Engineers. Having been arranged by Mrs. T. Gale, a successful concert took place in the Picture Palace on Thursday evening, August 12th. Being for the benefit of the soldiers at Staple Hall Depot, and for those who were billeted in the town, this was under the patronage of Lieutenant Colonel Lister, and with entry to the main body of the building free of charge, the balcony was reserved for those who had booked tickets in advance. The event commenced at 7p.m., and under the direction of Mr. G. Hedges, A.R.C.M., the excellent orchestra played the National Anthem, and then a selection of popular airs. Also successful was a concert held in the tent of the Y.M.C.A. at Staple Hall Depot, where amongst the various songs ‘I know a lovely garden’ was performed by Mr. Hedley Clarke. At 4p.m. at the Swan Hotel on Thursday, August 19th the ‘valuable freehold and tithe free estate known as Staple Hall, comprising ‘a delightful residence,’ and about 76 acres of rich accommodation, pasture or building land,’ came up for auction by Holloway, Price and Co., of Market Harborough. This was in conjunction with Edwin Davidson and Co., land agents, of 50, Curzon Street, Mayfair, and the catalogue stated that ‘the property affords an excellent site for a flying school and testing ground, the character of the land adapting itself to form an ideal natural aerodrome.’ However, for the meanwhile the Hall remained as the officers’ quarters, mess house and general offices of the Royal Engineers Depot, whilst in the adjoining fields lay the extensive military camp, comprised of tents occupied by N.C.O.s and men of the Royal Engineers, as well as by others who were attached for training. If possible the interest was to be sold as a whole, and at the commencement of the sale the auctioneer announced that the present gross rental amounted to £500, out of which the military authorities paid £364. Bidding began at £4,000 and although this rose to £7,500, the entirety was then withdrawn. Therefore, being freehold and tithe free Lot 1 was submitted, this being Staple Hall, to include the stable, gardens, grounds and land (in total 17a 3r 18p). The bidding reached £3,000, but, as before, was withdrawn. Of the other lots, a freehold enclosure with a cow house was sold to Mr. J. Tooth for £175, a freehold enclosure for £250 to Mr. T. Rowland, and, for £550, a small holding with a cottage, poultry house and farm buildings to Mr. A. Bramley. In fact regarding the lots that were sold the value totalled £2,375, with Lots 1,5,6 and 11 remaining available for sale by private treaty. Yet it would not be until mid September that the Staple Hall estate would be finally disposed of, excepting Lot 1 (the residence) and Lot 11, which was to be retained pending the sale of the house. The Fenny Stratford Branch of the Church of England’s Men’s Society was continuing to give voluntary help in the Y.M.C.A. tent at Staple Hall Depot, and two or three members had attended every evening since the opening of the facility. Being for use in the tent, an appeal for books, magazines etc. had produced a fair supply, and were deposited with Mr. John Hornett, of the High Street Schools, who had been asked to arrange the weekly concerts. Through the kindness of both the vicar of Fenny Stratford, the Reverend Firminger, and Miss Firminger, a bagatelle table had been installed, and, accommodating a platform and a piano, the tent could hold about 250 people. Yet even so there had been little room on Sunday evening, August 5th, when an excellent concert was given to the soldiers by the Good Templar Choir. After singing the hymn ‘O God, our Help in Ages past,’ the choir then sang the National Anthems of Russia, France, Belgium and England, with the audience taking up the last ‘with great heartiness.’ Especially popular was Handel’s ‘Hallelujah Chorus,’ but due to the limited time the encore demanded by the soldiers could not be given. Also applauded for more was Mr. H. Riley, who had won the first prize in the tenor solo contests in 1914. He now performed ‘Because’ in excellent style, and was enthusiastically encored on singing ‘The Rosary.’ On Saturday, August 25th, on the Park Hotel field a football match was played between teams drawn from the Royal Engineer Signal Depot at Haynes Park, Bedford, and the similar Depot at Staple Hall. The visitors won by five goals to nil, and afterwards a smoking concert was held at the Park Hotel. By permission of Sir Herbert Leon, a cricket match was played at Bletchley Park on Saturday afternoon, August 28th, between a team of Royal Engineers from Staple Hall Depot, and a Bletchley eleven, organised by Mr. E. Bland of the Park Hotel. The winners would prove to be the Bletchley eleven, who scored 101 against 50. Then on Monday, August 30th a concert was held in the Y.M.C.A. tent at Staple Hall Depot, where within a few weeks many men and officers of corps apart from the Royal Engineers would be attached. During September, at the Police Court a corporal of the Royal Engineers at Fenny Stratford was charged with having unlawfully fired a pistol on the public highway on August 6th. Hearing the shot, a man working in a field at Little Brickhill then felt the bullet hit his hand, and when ridiculed by the other workmen he retorted, “Look at my hand, where does all the blood come from?” With the wound thus confirmed, he was urgently taken to Woburn, where a doctor dressed the injury. Speaking in court, an officer of the Royal Engineers said that the pistol was not Government issue, whilst for his part Inspector Callaway stated that when he found the defendant, at Staple Hall Depot, the man admitted shooting at telegraph poles, but did not realise that he had hit anyone. Aged 17½ he was a despatch rider, and - as with all those who served in that occupation - a corporal. The case had been brought under instructions from the Military Authorities, and, although no conviction was to be recorded, a fine of 6s 6d costs was imposed. Towards the end of September, one Tuesday evening a whist drive took place at the Co-op Hall, where more than 100 players sat down to the game. Principally organised by Mrs. Hartwell, the proceeds were primarily to start a fund for continuing the work of the local branch of the Church of England’s Men’s Society at the Y.M.C.A. tent, at Staple Hall Depot, and activities would include weekly concerts, literature, games etc. The event raised £1 17s, which was duly handed to Mr. John Hornett. A start was now to be made on replacing the tents at the Staple Hall Depot with huts, but there were more urgent considerations on Thursday, October 7th, when at about 9p.m. a fire broke out at the premises. Under their Captain, Thomas Best junior, the Fire Brigade was on the scene without seven minutes, but nevertheless the flames had been extinguished before their arrival. However, not before the canvas of the canteen tent had been burnt by the blaze, which had been caused by a short circuit in the wire of the illumination. Before Luton magistrates, a Second Lieutenant of the Royal Engineers, stationed at Fenny Stratford, appeared one Monday for, on September 22nd, having driven a motor cycle without a licence at Houghton Regis. When stopped he said he did not have a licence because he had just returned from the trenches, and, having come from abroad to join the Army, he had only returned to England from France on August 30th. A fine of 10s was imposed. Towards mid October, many recruits - some young, and some more mature - arrived to join the Royal Engineers Depot at Staple Hall, where the Y.M.C.A. tent was now being moved to an adjoining field. This was to make room for the erection of the winter quarters for the troops, but nevertheless the tent would soon be in full working order under the leadership of Mr. Kenneth Bruce. In fact the headquarters had now decided to put up a hut to replace the tent, as confirmed to Mr. Bruce by the Association’s Organising Secretary, Mr. A. Johnson. However, after the tents were taken down the allocated hut was transferred to Luton where, with there being a far larger number of troops, the need was more urgent, since the existing hut had been destroyed in recent gales. (A photo of the transferred hut may be seen in the book ‘Luton Scene Again,’ by Ken Cooper.) Nevertheless, Lieutenant Colonel Lister was anxious that the work of the Association should carry on, and he therefore placed at their disposal the Town Hall, which, although continuing to be used as a lecture hall during the afternoon, would, as soon as the troops had left, be available in the late afternoon and evening for the Y.M.C.A. Mr. Kenneth Bruce continued to be in charge, and for the recreation of the men there was now a need for books and magazines. On Saturday afternoon, October 16th a football match was played on the Park Hotel ground between a team from Leighton Buzzard, and a team selected from members of the Royal Engineers stationed at Bletchley and Fenny Stratford. The soldiers won by nine goals to two, and afterwards a smoking concert was held in the Concert Hall at the Park Hotel. In early October the Staple Hall tented camp had been moved into a different field on the estate from that first used for the purpose, and with parts of military huts having been arriving in considerable numbers, carpenters and labourers were consequently needed to erect the buildings. Interested persons were to apply on site to G. Powdrill and Sons, contractors, the head of which firm was George Powdrill, of 7, Crescent Road, Luton, where his business as carting contractors etc. was one of the most successful in that town. (Tragically he would die aged 66 in September 1918, with there being no flowers at the funeral, since he had made it known that the money should be spent on the Bute Hospital.) At Staple Hall Depot work was also proceeding in laying out a good road from Denbigh Road to Simpson Road. The Gas Company had been contracted for a supply of gas to the huts, and the installation of a complete gas illumination outfit was also being made to the Town Hall, Ivy Dene and the General Post Office Stores (immediately opposite to it at the lower end of High Street) which had all been in use for many months as signal schools. Then during the last week in October the men under canvas at Staple Hall Depot were put back in billets, although this was only for sleeping purposes, with their rations still being served at the ‘camp.’ On Monday morning November 1st, for the first time since the outbreak of the war Fenny Stratford witnessed a regiment of cavalry passing along the main street. Not that they were destined for the Staple Hall Depot, however, where the Royal Engineers would in early November acquire the use of the Park Hotel football ground for the season, with practice games being played almost daily. By the middle of November the building of huts at Staple Hall Depot was continuing apace, and similar progress was being made by Bucks County Council in constructing the new road leading from the Denbigh Road to Simpson Road. Regarding the celebration of St. Martin’s Day, a notice was now made public which stated that ‘The Churchwardens will not be able this year to ask Church officers and friends in the parish to meet them at dinner, for the plain reason that there are no funds.’ However, ‘the Poppers will be heard as usual,’ albeit ‘right away down Simpson Road, in foreign, and at times hostile, territory.’ In fact this was in a field on the Simpson Road owned by Mr. T.E. Rowland, quite close to the Staple Hall camp, and indeed for this year the Poppers ceremony came under the charge of Captain Stevens of the Royal Artillery. He was attached to the Staple Hall Depot, and at 12.30p.m. and 4.30p.m. fired one of the poppers, as did the vicar of Fenny Stratford and several Royal Engineer officers. In the evening a dinner was held, but, as had been stated in the public notice, this was only for the Vicar, the curate, the Vicar’s Warden and the Parishioner’s Warden. Again on the matter of food, whilst fishing in the River Ouse, on Sunday, November 21st Corporal W. Dix, stationed with the Royal Engineers at Fenny Stratford, caught two fine chub. One weighed 2lb 5ozs, and the other 4lb 8ozs, and the latter was thought to be probably the largest ever caught locally by rod and line. On Wednesday afternoon, December 1st at about one o’clock a man, in soldier’s uniform, was found at the Bletchley Road Schools, lying against the iron fence which separated the girls’ playground from the Recreation Ground. The discovery had been made by 11 year old Gladys Eastaff, and after telling her teacher the school caretaker was fetched. He pronounced that the man was dead, and the soldier was later identified as Sapper Bernard McDermott, who had been in the Royal Engineers for 14 months. It appeared that whilst sitting on a nearby seat he had suffered heart failure and fallen backwards, and with the body taken to one of the new huts at the Staple Hall Depot, in due course the inquest took place at the Police Station, where Lieutenant George Weston, Royal Engineers Special Reserve, the adjutant to the Staple Hall Depot, said that the deceased had been a telegraphist, and was a native of Bentwick, Newcastle on Tyne. Invalided home from the Front, he had spent three months in hospital before being attached last May to the Staple Hall Depot, although his billet was in Oxford Street, where it was alleged he had lived somewhat unhappily. Whilst the military documents officially gave his age as 38, evidence showed that he was actually at least 47, whilst as for his state of health, Lieutenant Brickwell, R.A.M.C., who was in charge of that aspect at the Depot, said that he had attended the deceased in September regarding his knees, but the man was passed fit for duty on November 3rd. A verdict of death from natural causes was recorded. Whilst awaiting the completion of the huts at Staple Hall Depot, at the beginning of December the soldiers were put into billets for ‘sleeping’ only. However, this only lasted until Friday, December 3rd when the old system of billeting was again put in force, under the new scale of 2s 6d a day for the first soldier, and 2s 3d for any others. Also on December 3rd, in the evening the Picture Palace was crowded for a concert arranged by permission of Lieutenant Colonel Lister, the commanding officer at Staple Hall Depot. With the proceeds destined for military charities, the Royal Engineers had organised an excellent musical programme, and this was assisted by many local persons of suitable talent. As for Sapper Jezzard, ‘he scored well’ with his musical sketch, “Water Scenes,” and he also scored well by his reputation in the regiment’s football team. With full military honours, the remains of Sapper McDermott were laid to rest in Fenny Stratford Cemetery on Saturday morning, December 4th, and despite the bad weather many people had turned out to witness the procession. This, organised by Inspector Callaway, assisted by police sergeant W. Hill and several special constables, was headed by the Royal Engineers band from Haynes Park Camp, Bedford, and progressed from Staple Hall Depot via the High Street and Aylesbury Street. Under Second Lieutenant T. Haines, Second Lieutenant A. Terry, Regimental Sergeant Major W. Solly, Quartermaster Sergeant T. Silvester, and Company Sergeant Major G. Shaw, the cortege was composed of ‘B’ Company, Royal Engineers, Fenny Stratford Depot (to which the deceased had belonged), and, draped with a Union Jack, the coffin lay on a cable cart, which had been converted for the occasion into a gun carriage. This was followed by a firing party of a corporal and 12 men, under the charge of Sergeant Eley, and at the Cemetery the cortege was met by Father Walker of Wolverton, since the deceased had been a Roman Catholic.

The grave in Fenny Stratford Cemetery of
Sapper Bernard McDermott.

At the conclusion of the graveside service the firing party then fired three volleys, which were followed by the sounding of the Last Post by the buglers. Whilst returning on his motorcycle from Wolverton, where, as at Bletchley, he had charge of the Labour Exchange, on Tuesday, December 7th Mr. Hedley J. Clarke suffered an accident in Bletchley Road (now Queensway) just opposite Barclay’s Bank, when, just as he was about to pass, Lieutenant Rason, of the Royal Engineers, pulled out in the same direction on his motorcycle, to which was attached a sidecar. Forced across the road, after running against the kerb of the footpath Mr. Clarke collided with the fence in front of the Bletchley Road Schools, and, although the motorcycles were undamaged, sustained injuries to his head and face. Towards the end of December 1915, at Staple Hall Depot the work of the Y.M.C.A. with the troops seemed in jeopardy, since the tent, as with all the others, had been removed to make way for the huts. However, the Association had leased a vacant shop and house in Aylesbury Street, which, having formerly accommodated the International Stores, had been used by the Military Authorities for some months earlier in the year. Yet more recently the empty premises had accommodated the auction by Foll and Bawden of 20,000 English grown bulbs on Wednesday, October 12th at 3p.m. This was on the instructions of Christopher Bourne, F.R.H.S., a bulb specialist of Bletchley, and the quantity was the surplus stocks of daffodils, narcissi, tulips etc. which had all been grown in his bulb gardens at Bletchley and Simpson.

The premises were now being fitted up for recreational purposes, whilst in leased premises almost opposite would soon be the caterers who had the canteen contract at Staple Hall Depot. Thus at this new location, no. 64, which until the beginning of the war had been occupied by a branch of the London Central Meat Company (which also had a branch in Bletchley Road) they would shortly open for business, the building having at one time been used chiefly as the headquarters for the Motor Cycle Corps, when they were stationed in the town. For some while, for the recreation of the troops weekly dances had been organised on Monday evenings in the Co-op Hall, whilst in athletic pursuits the Park Hotel football and cricket ground had now become the Royal Engineer’s ground, although a football match which should have been played on Saturday, December 18th, against the Royal Garrison Artillery team from Bedford, had to be cancelled. Therefore instead a match was played between the Royal Engineer’s Signal Depot at Staple Hall, and a team from there comprised of some of the South African troops who were attached for training. The Royal Engineers proved victorious by 11 goals to 2, and afterwards a tea was held at the Wilberforce Hotel, in Bletchley Road. Around mid December, one whole Company, about 300 men, left Staple Hall Depot and their billets for Newport Pagnell. However, for those troops who remained, on the evening of Christmas Day a free tea and concert was given for 150 at the Spurgeon Memorial Baptist Church, with the premises having been kindly made available by the officers and congregation. During the tea, both Lieutenant Colonel Lister and the Reverend B. Williams addressed a few words to the assembly, and refreshments were served during the interval of the following concert. In fact refreshments had been served for the troops since January 1915 on the premises, which now continued to be used as a reading and recreation room for soldiers.

1916

Probably with regard to the building of the huts, at the beginning of 1916 a horse driver, at a wage of 30s a week, was needed at the Staple Hall Depot, where hopefuls were to contact the foreman on site. Also regarding Staple Hall Depot, the Aylesbury Street premises were opened in early January as a canteen for the men of the Royal Engineers, who on the evening of December 31st 1915 had been entertained to a dance in the Town Hall. For this, Lieutenant Colonel Lister had allowed a considerable extension of hours, and thereby everyone present was able to suitably welcome in the New Year. At 7a.m. on Sunday, January 2nd a 51 year old pioneer of the Royal Engineers, William McGivern, of the regimental police, was found to be missing from the Staple Hall Depot. He was then officially reported as being absent at 7a.m on January 3rd, and following a search his body was found on the following Friday afternoon in the canal, halfway between the canal bridge and his billet, Rose Cottage, on the Simpson Road. A resident of Birkenhead, he had been a sailor before enlisting in the Royal Engineers at Liverpool on February 17th 1915, and being detailed for home service had been engaged in fatigue work. The inquest took place at the Police Court on Saturday afternoon, January 8th, and in evidence Sapper George Mogford, of the Royal Engineers, who had been billeted with the deceased, said that at 2p.m. on Sunday, January 2nd he had seen the man come into the Mess, and, although not drunk, he appeared to have had plenty to drink. In fact his drinking had been of some concern to his landlady, and therefore when George asked him if he was returning to the billet, he said he would remain in the Mess until he was a little more sober. However, to reach his billet he would have to walk along the private path at the side of the canal, and in view of this the jury returned a verdict of accidental death, it being assumed that he had stumbled into the canal and drowned. He had three sons serving in the Army, and with large crowds lining the route he was laid to rest on Monday morning in Fenny Stratford Cemetery, the body, in a coffin draped with a Union Jack, having been conveyed on a gun carriage drawn by four horses. In a closed carriage travelled his widow and a daughter, and also in the procession was a firing party of 12 men, as well as the band of the Royal Engineer Depot, Haynes Park, Bedford, and 130 men of ‘C’ Company, to which he had been attached. The first part of the service was conducted in the Mortuary Chapel by the Reverend Firminger, and at the graveside three volleys were fired, followed by the sounding of the ‘Last Post.’ On the evening of Friday, January 7th a successful concert was held at the Temperance Hall, in George Street. Including Sapper Lamb, of the South African Force, who played in a piano duet, many soldiers took part, and amounting to about £7 the proceeds would be devoted to the Y.M.C.A. funds. In fact Major Whitney, presiding, said that the Y.M.C.A. would shortly open a building at Staple Hall Depot, where by mid January the Military Authorities had applied for a 2 inch water main service with a meter. This was approved, and since there were two other one inch supply mains to the Staple Hall Depot, it was recommended that meters should also be fixed to these, with the Council being reimbursed for the work. From Birmingham, but now stationed with his regiment at Fenny Stratford, during January a 44 year old pioneer of the Royal Engineers was charged with having, on May 29th, stolen a 1915 Triumph Army motorcycle, valued at £70. This had been found in the cellar at 38, Walnut Street, Birmingham, by the widow with whom he was living, and she duly informed the police. In fact they had already received information about the stolen machine from the police at Bletchley, and after making various enquiries arrested the man at his Birmingham home. From Moseley Street police station in Birmingham, the motorcycle was then transferred to the Royal Engineers Depot in Brook Street, Birmingham, from where on June 11th it was received by Lieutenant W. Murray, the Quartermaster at Staple Hall Depot. He, in the company of the soldier who had been using the motorcycle, duly identified the machine, but this soldier, Lieutenant Harris, was now in France, and the court therefore asked if he could be present at the next Bucks Assizes. Being charged and cautioned, the prisoner then said that on the day that he took the machine there had been ‘some bother’ at the Staple Hall Depot, since a good many of the men had received no pay due to a dispute about clothing. Several therefore went away and ‘got a little beer,’ whilst as for himself, he had decided to go home to the woman he had been living with because, due to not being able to get any separation allowance from the War Office, she had been continually writing to him. At the Bucks Assizes on Thursday, January 13th he pleaded guilty, and was sentenced to three months hard labour. Including 150 fruit trees, at Staple Hall the gardens, orchards and greenhouses were now to be let, and interested persons were to apply to Mr. G. King, the gardener, at Rhondda House. However, on the national scene persons were also taking an interest in Staple Hall Depot, for in consequence of its mention in the House of Commons, in a short paragraph the Times of January 20th reported that ‘In a Parliamentary answer on the subject of Bletchley camp, Mr. Tennant says: If there is mud I think that Bletchley merely shares this depressing inconvenience with other places in the United Kingdom and elsewhere.’ As for the local recruits, it seemed that ‘A great many of the men were too well fed and had too little exercise.’ For the scavenging of the night soil at Staple Hall Depot, the Council had received £170 16s 3d (with the actual cost being £133 16s 3d) for the period June 8th 1915 to Thursday, February 3rd, but on this latter date the need then ceased, with the sewage now being accepted into the new drain. In perfect weather, on the afternoon of Saturday, February 12th a football match was played on the Royal Engineers’ Sports Ground (the Park Hotel field) Duncombe Street, between a team from the Bletchley Royal Engineers, and one from the Postal Section, Royal Engineers, (London). The Bletchley team won by eight goals to nil, although any further matches would soon have to be postponed, for lasting into Friday, and being the severest seen in the district that century, there was a snowstorm at Fenny Stratford and Bletchley on Wednesday and Thursday, February 23rd and 24th. Yet this provided the opportunity for two members of the Royal Engineers to display their creative talents, by building in the garden of a house in Duncombe Street a snowman that featured in the hollowed out head a lighted candle, which shone through the eyes, mouth and nostrils! With a varied programme, a successful entertainment was given in the Co-op Hall, Albert Street, on the evening of Wednesday, February 23rd. This was in aid of the funds of the St. Martin’s Soldiers’ Institute, in Aylesbury Street, which, having been opened a short while ago, had become very popular with the military garrison, being in daily use from 10.30a.m. until 9.30p.m. As for other entertainments, by permission of Lieutenant Colonel Lister a grand evening concert was given in the Picture Palace on Friday, February 25th. Despite the snow and the slush, and the darkened streets, a large audience attended the ‘very excellent’ musical programme, and with performances by the Royal Engineers Depot Band, the proceeds would be applied to their funds. In fact several soldiers contributed their talents to the event, including Lieutenant Yates, of the Royal Engineers, with his ventriloquist act with ‘Ern.’ Under the charge of Corporal Frank Oldham, in late February a driver in the Royal Engineers, attached to the Staple Hall Depot, was brought up in custody on remand, accused of having stolen a lady’s gold watch, which, valued at £4, was the property of a parlour maid employed at Shenley Park House. The alleged theft had occurred on February 8th, when, at about 8p.m., she was on the road near Staple Hall Depot, walking towards Shenley. Walking in the same direction the accused had crossed the road and said “You look lonely, Miss,” but this she refuted, saying “No, I am not,” “but if you mean that I am on my own I am.” They walked along the road together, and having crossed ‘No Man’s Land’ then stood at a gate, with the soldier having one arm around her neck, and the other around her waist. However, after about 15 minutes she said that she wanted to go home, and a few minutes later she duly left, having shown him the time on her watch. This she usually wore in her waist band, attached to a chain round her neck, but with her belt being somewhat tight, she had left the watch loose, and on her way back to Shenley she suddenly realised that it was missing. Returning to the gate, although not knowing his name she called after the soldier but he made no reply, and the next occasion when she saw the watch was on February 17th, when it was shown to her by Inspector Callaway. Giving evidence, Corporal Oldham said that whilst in the stables on February 17th he had seen the accused looking at a watch in a wristband on his arm. He asked if he wanted to sell it, to which the man replied, “Yes, how much will you give me for it, it cost me 2d at the fair,” A price of 3s was agreed, with the accused to bring the watch to the corporal after breakfast. The price was then lowered to 2s 6d, but noting that it seemed far more valuable the corporal took it to the Orderly Room, where he saw Sergeant Major Solly. Inspector Callaway was then called, and the watch was handed to him. Giving evidence, Inspector Callaway said that on February 8th he had received a report of a missing watch, and on February 17th the maid confirmed that it was hers. The same day he then questioned the accused, who in reply said that he acquired it at the hoop la board at the fair by the New Inn. However, in later questioning he said that the maid had allegedly called him a bastard, and so he had ‘clipped’ it. As the Acting Adjutant, Lieutenant Weston said that the accused had been at Staple Hall Depot for about a year, having in November 1914 been invalided from France, where he had been serving since August 1914. Presently he was acting as a driver for general home service through being unfit, but, having pleaded guilty, he was nevertheless sentenced to three months hard labour. Performing round a part of the town, the Staple Hall Depot Band, which had been in existence for some time, made its first appearance on Thursday, March 9th. Then at Church Parade on the following Sunday the band made its first official appearance and played the detachment down to St. Martin’s Church, which for the past 12 months had served as the ‘Cantonment Church’ of Staple Hall Depot. During April, at the Local Military Service Tribunal a married man, who was a hairdresser and perfumer of Aylesbury Street, applied for total exemption from military service, the reason being that there was no one else available to carry on his business. He said that he only had a 17 year old apprentice, and in support Sir Herbert Leon said it was his understanding that the man would give up his business if appointed as the military hairdresser at Staple Hall Depot. In fact the Staple Hall authorities had repeated the offer to the applicant on the previous day, and although Major Hammans, the Recruiting Officer, stated that he had no authority to allow anyone to do anything after his report had gone in, a postponement of two months was granted. Around mid April the huts at the Staple Hall Depot were complete and in use, and although billeting was still in force, most of the men were only in billets for sleeping, with their meals being taken at Staple Hall Depot. By the beginning of May the military no longer occupied the Town Hall. This they had used for a year or so as a school, and the premises were now available for private functions, although, being draughty and cold, not perhaps as a first choice. The first week of May saw a considerable number of recruits arrive at Staple Hall Depot, whilst on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, May 18th, 19th, 20th, fairly numerous contingents left, with the band from the Depot playing them to the station. In fact this was a new occurrence, and usually meant that the men were destined for the Front. During the first week of June, joining up both at the Staple Hall Depot, and also the Recruiting Office in Bletchley Road, civilian recruits were very much in evidence, and during the third week of the month large drafts of troops would leave the Staple Hall Depot for the various fighting fronts, each being played to the station by the Staple Hall Depot band. From being continuously rolled and mown, the ‘Royal Engineers Recreation Ground,’ formerly known as the Park Hotel field, had now been rescued from its previous neglect of many years, and apart from a bowling green also featured lawn tennis courts and quoits beds, the latter having been there for several years All the facilities were extensively used by members of the military each evening, and on Saturday, June 17th a cricket match was played between the Royal Engineers and the Leighton Buzzard Wesley Guild. The Royal Engineers scored 249 for 5 wickets, with Second Lieutenant O.C. Bristowe, late of Oxford University and Essex County, making 183 in 1 hour 20 minutes - including 13 sixes and 14 fours. As for Sapper Lane, he took 8 wickets for 34 runs, and on the same afternoon a team from the Royal Engineers at Staple Hall Depot played a team from the Bletchley Social Club at quoits. Two matches were staged, at 18 yards and 21 yards, with a win by each team. By permission of Lieutenant Colonel Lister, on the evening of Monday, June 19th a concert was given in the newly erected Recreation Room at the Staple Hall Depot. The Depot band gave several performances, and contributions were also made by several soldiers, as well as by Mrs. T. Gale, the Reverend Father Walker, and Mr. Ben Lawes, with the object being to raise funds for the forthcoming Royal Engineer athletic sports. These - in two sets - had the previous year been held on the Recreation Ground, but this year the venue would be the Royal Engineers Ground at the Park Hotel, where, following a gale and heavy rain, the weather fortunately became sunny. Under Sapper Gripton, the Staple Hall Depot band played an excellent programme of music, and the prizes were distributed by Lady Dalmeny and Lady Leon. The Staple Hall Depot band was again in evidence on the afternoon of Saturday, July 8th, when, playing the regimental march, they followed a batch of soldiers marching along Bletchley Road. Of the impression that the men were going to the Front, many residents had turned out to cheer, but it was later revealed that they were only going to the Wolverton Sports. A return match at quoits was played on the ground of the Bletchley Social Club on Saturday afternoon, July 15th. This was between a team representing the club, and a team from the local Royal Engineers, and four days later there was fine and warm weather for an event held in aid of funds for the Fenny Stratford District Nursing Association. For this, Sir Herbert and Lady Leon had kindly made the cricket pavilion and ground at Bletchley Park available, and, with this being the same price to attend the sale, the private grounds and gardens could be visited on payment of 1d. In front of the pavilion, a surprise attraction was the presence of the Staple Hall Depot band, which, attending by permission of Lieutenant Colonel Lister, had volunteered their service free of charge. An excellent selection was played throughout the afternoon, although a slight disruption was caused when, whilst being lead across the cricket ground, a horse drawing a hay rake broke loose from the handler when startled by the music. It then bolted around the field, before making for an opening in the iron fence, through which it duly escaped. As for the hay rake, on colliding with the fence it became well entangled with an iron hurdle. During the afternoon, a batch of 20 Serbian lads, aged between 13 and 16, were brought onto the ground by the lady in charge of them. As refugees, they were apparently on their way to Oxford, but at Bletchley the interval between their trains had provided an opportunity to enjoy some fresh air, and the delay coincided fortuitously with the fete being held at Bletchley Park. The boys seemed very well behaved, and at the command of their lady superintendent they fell in, and, after a roll call, marched off in good order, with many lifting their caps or saluting as they left the ground. Of the several stalls at the event, one, which was furnished with fairly new articles, suitable for sending to soldiers at the Front, was in the charge of Lady Leon, whilst Mrs. T. Holdom had a ‘Pound’ stall, where everything on sale was either in one pound parcels or packets. Tea was provided at tables on the pavilion veranda, and beneath a clump of horse chestnut trees various competitions took place. On Saturday, July 29th a hurriedly arranged quoits match took place on the Royal Engineers sports ground, between a team from the Royal Engineers and a team from Bletchley Social Club. The Royal Engineers were victorious, and during the same week, and also the first week in August, a considerable number of the O.T.C. men attached to the Staple Hall Depot left to take up commissions in the fighting units. Thereby the military garrison of Bletchley and Fenny Stratford was short of the usual strength, but recruiting still continued in the town, and amongst the cases at the Local Military Tribunal, held on Thursday, August 10th, was that of a plumber and house decorator of Bletchley, who, also being the proprietor of a commercial hotel in Bletchley Road, appealed for further exemption. Apart from doing all the plumbing work at Staple Hall Depot, he was also engaged on Government work in the neighbourhood, and six months was granted. At about 11.30a.m. on Friday morning, August 11th, on arriving at Bletchley the 10.25a.m. non stop express crashed into a train of empty coaches opposite No. 1 Signal Box, about 100 yards south of Bletchley station. Killing both 41 year old Private Alfred Brown, of the 3/4th Norfolk Regiment, and the horse of which he had charge, the engine on smashing right through an attached horse box was derailed by the impact, together with two empty coaches, the express tender, and the guard’s brake van, but despite being totally wrecked it had not overturned. It was then lifted back onto the rails by powerful cranes which had arrived from Rugby, and was later towed away. The taking of photographs was forbidden, but nevertheless several persons, including several young Royal Engineer officers from Staple Hall Depot, who had sneaked in their Kodaks, managed to get pictures not only of the engine, ‘Woodcock,’ but also the general scene. At St. Martin’s Church on Monday, August 28th the marriage was solemnised of Lieutenant Philip Wrigley, of the Royal Engineers, and Lillie Rowland, of Ropley House. However, due to the wartime conditions this was a quiet affair, with only some six friends present, and no bridesmaids. Being the only child of Mr. & Mrs. W.A. Wrigley of Todmorden, after serving in the R.N. Division at Gallipoli for a year the groom had been invalided home, and although for some while he had been attached to the Staple Hall Depot, he was now under orders to proceed to the Front at a moments notice. Stationed at Staple Hall Depot, Lance Corporal Jesse Mead, aged 30, of the Signal Corps, Royal Engineers, died at 10 p.m. on August 31st from tetanus. Their home being at 83, Spencer Road, Luton, his wife had gone to see him at Bletchley on August 25th, and he told her that while working in the butchering department he had accidentally cut his finger. However, although this was immediately dressed he said that it was still painful, and made him feel sick. She then saw him again on the following Wednesday, and since he complained that his shoulder was stiff, and that he had difficulty in opening his mouth, she accompanied him to Staple Hall Depot, where he told her that he would see a doctor. Yet when she saw him on Thursday in the Military Hospital he was unconscious, and subsequently succumbed to the condition. With the funeral being held at Luton, three volleys were fired at the graveside, followed by the sounding of The Last Post. During the last week in August, and the first week in September, two large drafts of soldiers, one being composed of Colonials, arrived at Bletchley and marched to Staple Hall Depot. Then also during the first week in September, at the Local Military Tribunal, held on Thursday 7th, a letter was read from the Chief Organiser of Recruiting for Bucks, stating that in future all appellants must have been previously medically examined. Additionally, it was stated that men born in 1897 were about to be called up, but Thomas Best, the Clerk to the Tribunal, appealed for total exemption due to his public offices and other work, as a certified accountant. In fact being the only public auditor in North Bucks, he was at present auditing the accounts at Staple Hall Depot, and six months exemption was granted. With regard to the fire service at Staple Hall Depot, in mid September the Surveyor received a letter from the Chief Officer of the Council’s Fire Brigade, asking if the Council would agree to the military fire picket turning on the water immediately, should there be a fire at Staple Hall. This was agreed, as long as the Council was safeguarded against the water being used for any other purpose. At the Local Military Tribunal on Thursday, September 21st, a Fenny Stratford builder applied for his apprentice, aged 18, to be temporarily exempted. He had been passed for general service by the military medical authorities, but the four months requested would bring him to the age of 19. The builder had only one other man, aged 26 (who had been passed for garrison duty abroad), and asked for one man to be left with him, since he was continually being called upon to carry out work at Staple Hall Depot. Indeed, he had an order in his pocket for two men to be there the next day, and when, as the military representative, Sir Herbert Leon asked what these duties were, on being told they were for painting and decorating he retorted; “The military can wait. The inconsistency of the military is deplorable. They want men, and they want work done.” A decision of to be ‘Held for service’ was given. On Friday afternoon, September 22nd a large draft of men left Staple Hall Depot destined for one of the fighting fronts, and as such were played to the station by the Depot band. A similar draft then left on the following Thursday, and by now a considerable number of the Australians lately attached to the Staple Hall Depot had also left. At Saint Martin’s Church there was a large assembly of Royal Engineers of all ranks when, on Saturday afternoon, September 30th, the marriage was solemnised between Mildred Rowland, the only daughter of Mr. Thomas Rowland and Mrs. Rowland, of Rhondda House, and Lieutenant Hubert S. Baker of the Royal Engineers. Being the second son of Mrs. Baker and the late Alfred J. Baker, of Harlesden Lodge, Harlesden N.W., he was home from France for a few days, and after leaving the Church the happy couple boarded a motor car, which was dragged to Rhondda House by the Staff Sergeants and Sergeants of the Staple Hall Depot. Attended by a large assembly, a reception was held by the bride’s parents in a marquee on the lawn at Rhondda House, and, including some rare china from the bride’s father, the numerous wedding presents were greatly admired in the billiards room. The couple then left for a short honeymoon in Brighton, since the bridegroom had to return to his military duties at the Front on Wednesday. Being played to the station by the Staple Hall Depot band, a contingent of trained men left on Monday afternoon, October 9th for the fighting fronts, whilst for civilian recruits, they continued to arrive at the Depot, and then march away in batches of 40 or 50, to be equipped at some other centre. Yet at the end of the month one of the contingents carried rifles, which suggested that they were now being at least partly equipped at Staple Hall Depot. Also at the end of the month the rest camp at the Staple Hall Depot was broken up, and the men who were under canvas would now be placed in billets. However, the special constables and police, who were trying to arrange billets for the men, had allegedly met with considerable trouble, and even opposition. It had been just over 14 years since Field Marshall Viscount (then General Sir John French) came to visit Bletchley to carry out a military inspection. That was at the end of the South African War, when he inspected a force comprised of the Bletchley Company of the old Bucks Volunteers, and some details of Imperial Yeomanry and time expired soldiers, but now, immediately outside Bletchley railway station, on the morning of Sunday, November 5th he would inspect the 3rd Battalion Bucks Volunteer Regiment and the 4/5th Battalion Norfolk Regiment (National Defence), the latter having for the past week or so been assembled as a whole at Bletchley and the neighbourhood in preparation. The parade was to have been held at Bletchley Park, since Sir Herbert Leon was the honorary commandant of the 3rd Bucks Volunteers, but due to the weather the venue was changed to Bletchley station, where the inspection could take place under cover. With the Bletchley Company (under the command of Lieutenant W.J. Watson) being on parade at the station to receive the arrivals, from an early hour special trains had begun to steam to a halt, bringing contingents of the Volunteers from all parts of Buckinghamshire. Soon the Norfolks, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Buck, had also turned up, and by the time the special train bringing the Field Marshall from London arrived at 9.55p.m., all the five platforms at Bletchley station were completely occupied by troops.


The Elmers, seen during an era which was still very much 'upstairs, downstairs,' with many women employed in domestic service. Not, however, that all accepted this yoke with total compliance, and at the Petty Sessions on Thursday, July 25th 1918 a 38 year old Irish woman, from Dublin, was charged with having stolen between April 18th and July 15th a silver diary case with the initials 'R.S.L.,' a silver pepper box, nightdress, handkerchief, three skeins of wool, wine glass, tin of salmon, tin of Glasso, bottle of chutney, packet of candles, six tablets of soap, cheese, bacon, butter, tea, sugar, six eggs, a loaf of bread, and glace cherries. Of a combined value of around £5, the items were the property of Mrs. Gertrude Selby Lowndes, who had employed the woman on April 18th 1918 as a cook, housekeeper at The Elmers. However, giving evidence Inspector Callaway said that he had arrested her at The Elmers on July 15th (the date on which she had been given notice to leave) on another charge, namely for having sent a false character reference to a lady in Scotland, who had replied to the woman's advert for another situation, whilst still in service at The Elmers. The glowing report had apparently been signed by a 'M. Beaumont,' but on comparing the writing the lady became suspicious, and contacted the police. In consequence Inspector Callaway, accompanied by Superintendent Dibben, then saw the woman at The Elmers, where, having admitted her guilt, she was arrested and formally charged. On being asked if she could pack her boxes, Inspector Callaway gave permission for her to go to her bedroom, and there she unlocked and sorted the items in a large trunk. Yet when this was later searched at the police station numerous articles were found which belonged to Mrs. Gertrude Selby Lowndes. Having responsibility for ordering the household stores, the woman had arrived from Ireland with miscellaneous provisions, and when Mrs. Selby Lowndes went away on holiday she had charge of the keys to the storeroom. After her arrest the woman elected to be tried by a jury, but with Inspector Callaway opposing bail she, being charged with having offered herself as a domestic servant, with a false certificate of character, pleaded guilty, and was sentenced to a fine of £5, or a month of hard labour. However, when she declined to pay the fine Superintendent Dibben said that they had £20 of her money, from which they could deduct the amount. At this she then protested loudly, and repeating that she would not pay a fine was formally charged and removed in custody. As for the charge of theft, she was brought before the Bucks Quarter Sessions in October 1918, but pleaded not guilty to having stolen the items from Mrs. Gertrude Selby Lowndes, who, having sent a doctor's certificate, was unable to attend through being too ill to travel. Insisting that the goods were hers, the prisoner said that she had already spent three months in prison awaiting trial, an experience which had damaged her health, but nevertheless she was bound over in the sum of £5 to appear at the next Quarter Sessions.

Perhaps this young lady, attracting a great deal of male attention, was one of the 'eight belles' of The Elmers.
As for the other end of the social scale, 'Florrie' is seen in the typical dress of a domestic servant.

On No. 1 platform the Royal Engineer Band from the Staple Hall Depot was present, and on arrival Viscount French was greeted with loud cheers and a general salute. With his staff, he then walked round from platform to platform, and during his inspection presented the Distinguished Conduct Medal to Sergeant A. Corbett, South Wales Borderers, and the Military Medal to Lance Corporal Hogan, Royal Welsh Fusiliers. Then in addressing the Volunteer officers he said; “I have seen a great deal of the Volunteers during the last few months. Many of them have been without arms and without proper equipment and clothing. No doubt some have thought because they have not possessed those requirements the Government was neglecting them. It is not so. You must remember the tremendous strain which has been put on this country. We have had to provide arms, equipment, and guns, not only for ourselves, but for our Allies. Things are much better now, however, and I can assure you that the Government is prepared to do a great deal towards finding all you require. But the engagement of the Volunteer is at present limited to fourteen days - that is to say, any man can, in fourteen days, give up his position. Of course, if I were to ask any Volunteer now whether he would do so he would naturally repudiate the idea with scorn; but we must look at the position as men of the world. Suppose an invasion happens - and great emergencies are constantly arising in war - the patriotism in some men is stronger than in others, and it is quite certain that some Volunteers might claim the privilege of leaving within fourteen days. It is only reasonable, therefore, that if the Government provide arms, equipment and clothing, the Volunteers should be asked to take on their present engagement for the period of the war. I am quite sure that when such a proposal is put before the Volunteers, and they are asked for their decision, they will unanimously decide to give their services until the end of the war. If they do so, and obtain what they require from the Government, they will become what they want to be - a really strong, valuable, and necessary force for the defence of their country. I want you to remember that you now represent the old Volunteers, and to remind your men continually of the services which the Bucks Volunteers have performed across the water - both the infantry battalions in the Territorial Force and the Yeomanry. They have done splendid service throughout this war, and it remains for your men to keep up the great record which they have created.” Including Inspector Callaway, Sergeant Hill, and as many regular police constables as could be spared from other duties, the police were under the charge of Superintendent Pearce, and, with practically all the Bletchley Company having turned out, there was also a large force of special constables, commanded by Mr. P. Lovett. When the Field Marshall then left for Oxford, the special constables fell in outside the station, where they were addressed by Superintendent Pearce. That Viscount French was pleased at the inspection is then confirmed by this letter, written the following day at the G.W.R. Hotel, Paddington Station, by Lt. Col. Hood, Defence Commander, No. 2 Line of Communications. Addressed to the County Commandant, Buckinghamshire Volunteer Regiment, it reads;

“Will you please, on my behalf, thank all ranks of the Buckinghamshire Volunteer Regiment for the way they turned out for the Field Marshall’s inspection on Sunday in spite of the weather.
Some of them, I know, had a very long day in the wet. The Field Marshall expressed his pleasure at seeing them to those on parade. Before leaving he also expressed to me his satisfaction at the way the men on the line were carrying out their duties. These men had a very uninteresting task.
Please let them know that they were not unnoticed.”

The County Commandant, Lt. Col. The Marquis of Lincolnshire, also gave praise to the men on parade, and was “pleased to notice that neither the early hour at which the men had to leave their homes, nor the inclemency of the weather, had any perceptible influence on the attendance, a fact which shows the interest of all ranks in the work they have voluntarily undertaken. It is not an easy matter to handle large numbers in a confined space, and the manner in which both Battalions were brought into the required formation in the narrow limits of the platforms at Bletchley Station was highly creditable to the officers, whilst the soldierly bearing and excellent discipline of the men in the ranks was a proof alike of the efficiency of their instructors and of their own keenness. …”

These soldiers are standing in the High Street, Fenny Stratford. Adjoining the Swan Hotel may be seen the old Town Hall, in use as a centre for lectures for the troops, and adjoining this is the shop of Mr. J.D. Bushell (now New City Heating.) At the canal bridge, seen in the middle distance, barriers would be erected where motor vehicles were checked by the police and special constables, at a time when it was thought that subversives might be travelling the country to signal Zeppelins onto their targets.
This postcard, dated '29.8.16,' carried the wording; 'Round the corner to left of photo is Simpson Rd. The school is 6th house from corner.'

A concert simply entitled ‘Some’ was held in the Picture Palace on Wednesday evening, November 15th. With the Staple Hall Depot band in attendance, this was under the patronage of the Commanding Officer and officers of the Staple Hall Depot, and the object was to provide comforts for those men of Bletchley and Fenny Stratford who were now serving in the Army. In fact at the end of November batches of recruits were still continuing to depart almost daily from Staple Hall Depot, from where the cable carts were being regularly employed on exercise with the squads of Royal Engineers and others in training. Raising the sum of £14 5s, in aid of the Bletchley and Fenny Stratford United Friendly Societies Hospital Fund, a charity football match was played on the Royal Engineers ground, at the Park Hotel, on Saturday, November 18th. The Royal Engineers played a local Bletchley team, although, due to the rough weather, only a few spectators were present to witness the soldiers win by six goals to nil. The Staple Hall Depot band was in attendance throughout the day, and afterwards Mr. E. Bland, of the Park Hotel, entertained the teams and committee to tea. Then on the evening of Wednesday, November 22nd, a concert, again with the Staple Hall Depot band in attendance, was given at Staple Hall Depot in the men’s hut of B Company, Royal Engineers, with this being the first in a series of such events. The second then took place in the mess hut of B Company on Wednesday evening, December 6th, and as well as the Royal Engineers string orchestra, conducted by Corporal G. Gripton, amongst the performances was included the song ‘I’ve tried to be good, but the girls won’t let me,’ sung by Sapper W. Faulkner. On Tuesday, December 19th a large draft left Staple Hall Depot for active service. All weekend leave had been stopped, and indeed the realities of war were brought home when, from shrapnel wounds to the head, received in action on the Western Front, Lance Corporal William Rowland Ash, of the Royal Engineers, died on December 15th in Lord Derby’s War Hospital, Warrington. On Wednesday afternoon, December 20th, with the traffic controlled by Inspector Callaway, and the available number of police and special constables, large numbers of people lined the route as the coffin, covered by a Union Jack, and a number of beautiful wreaths, was drawn on a gun carriage by four horses to Fenny Stratford Cemetery. Lead by a firing party under Sergeant Love, and followed by a full Company of the regiment under Sergeant Streets, and the Staple Hall Depot band, under Corporal Gripton, there the cortege was met by the Reverend Firminger, who conducted the service both in the Church of England Chapel, and also at the graveside, with Lance Corporal Ash being laid to rest with full military honours. An Australian, Lance Corporal Ash had been by profession an electrical engineer, and when his work on the Gold Coast had been completed he came to England. This was just prior to the outbreak of war, and when hostilities were declared he at once joined the Royal Engineers, and, being attached to the Staple Hall Depot, was billeted with Mr. and Mrs. G. Clifton, of St. Martin’s Street. In fact Mrs. Clifton had received a letter of sympathy from the King, and as per the wish of the deceased his body had been brought from the hospital to their address, since Bletchley and Fenny Stratford were the only places in England that he knew as home. Sent with one of the earliest drafts from Staple Hall Depot, he had firstly served in Egypt, before being later transferred to France. Under the leadership of the Reverend B. Williams, on Christmas Day a tea and social gathering, arranged for the members of the Royal Engineers and Women’s Legion by the Spurgeon Memorial Baptist Church, proved a huge success, and late comers, since every seat had been occupied long before the start, were accommodated in ‘odd corners.’ ‘A general cheeriness was apparent at every turn,’ and the 250 members or so of the Forces - from all parts of Britain, as well as the Colonies - not only enjoyed the tea, but also the instrumental and vocal items, which were rendered amongst others by Mrs. Brooks, the Misses and Mr. Daniel, and Mrs. Brandon. As for topical and Welsh items, these were the realm of the Reverend & Mrs. Williams, aided by a Welsh soldier who, accompanied by Mrs. Williams on the harp, sang two verses in his native language. On the evening of Christmas Day, conducted by Corporal Gripton the Royal Engineers String Orchestra was in attendance at a concert at the Picture Palace. The premises had been kindly lent by Mrs. A. Stevenson, and the event, given by the Royal Engineers of Staple Hall Depot, was one of a series of similar entertainments arranged by the Recreation Committee of B Hut, Staple Hall Depot, of which Corporal F.H. Fysh was the Secretary. Aged 71, Mr. Henry Rolls, a beerhouse keeper at Sheep Lane, Beds., and said to be employed on the Duke of Bedford’s estate, was killed on Tuesday night, December 26th 1916 in the parish of Little Brickhill. On the afternoon of Boxing Day he had left his home to walk to Little Brickhill, and whilst in the village he appeared to be in good health, despite for some years having suffered from a hernia, for which he sometimes wore a truss. However, on his return journey it seems that he was seized with pain, and being subject to a sudden fainting attack collapsed on the road. Since the night was very dark and foggy, whilst lying in the roadway he was probably run over by a passing car, and was subsequently found by Miss Millicent Gazeley of Fenny Stratford, who, from the High Street Motor Garage, had been to St. Albans in her father’s car to fetch two officers of the Royal Engineers from their Christmas stay. Stationed at Fenny Stratford, they were Lt. W. Dowse and Lt. Owen and with the former in the front, calling at the Saracen’s Head, the trio had reached Dunstable at 8.15p.m. Continuing their journey, some time after Battlesden Lodge they then ran into fog, and about two miles from Little Brickhill, Miss Gazeley, looking over the side of the car to peer through the fog, saw something lying in the road. Having stopped and backed up the car it was then discovered that the object was a man’s body, which, lifted into the car by the officers, was taken to Fenny Stratford police station and examined by Dr. Nicholson, who found it had been subject to terrible injuries. With Mr. E. Worley as coroner, and Mr. T.G. Kirby as foreman, the inquest was held at Fenny Stratford Police Station on Thursday afternoon December 28th, with the first witness being the son of the deceased. Resident at Heath and Reach, he said that he had seen his father in good health on Christmas night in Sheep Lane, and had last seen him on Boxing Day, on the morning of which he had even been ringing pigs. The landlord of the Green Man Inn at Little Brickhill, James Viccars, said that on Boxing Day at about 4p.m. he had treated Mr. Rolls to 3d of whisky at the George and Dragon. The deceased had no other drink and left about 4.30p.m. Richard Collier, a poultry farmer of the village, said that he had seen the deceased near the George and Dragon about 4.40p.m., and heard him wish a man good night, and then walk along the main road in the direction of Sheep Lane. The jury subsequently returned a verdict of death due to being struck by a motor vehicle.

1917

As read a contemporary report at the beginning of the year; ‘In Bletchley and Fenny Stratford the effect of the war has been to increase the prosperity of the town, especially the trade. The Staple Hall Royal Engineers’ Signal Depot with its huts and rest camp, its large permanent staff of all ranks and its constant, though migratory, population of, say, from 1,500 to 2,000 soldiers, still remains a fixture, and its presence in the town is as much felt today as it was when first the troops arrived. The town and district has, of course, also suffered during the past year, as have practically all other places in England from war’s casualties; especially has this been so during the later months of last year, the regiments to which a very large number of local men belonged, having been in the thick of the fighting on the Somme.’

Many men attached to local regiments would see action at the infamous Battle of the Somme, and, courtesy of www.reynardcards.co.uk, for persons making a modern day pilgrimage this postcard pictorially depicts some of the main events.

A concert at the Spurgeon Memorial Baptist Church had been announced for New Year’s Day, but since several of the artistes had been otherwise engaged it was held instead on Tuesday, January 2nd, being well attended by members of the Women’s Legion and the Royal Engineers, who greatly enjoyed the varied programme. Most of the billets in the town were now at the Bletchley end - ‘just round about Cambridge Street’ - but during the first week of the New Year a considerable draft left the Staple Hall Depot for service at home or abroad, whilst, perhaps due to a lack of accommodation, about 150 others were moved to quarters at Newport Pagnell. Continuing the series from the previous year, on Wednesday evening, January 10th another successful concert was given in B Company’s mess hut, Staple Hall Depot. This had been organised by the Royal Engineers, and in other entertainments on Tuesday and Wednesday evening, January 16th and 17th, the Picture Palace was packed for two military ‘all star’ concerts. Held by permission of Lieutenant Colonel Lister, and the officers of the Staple Hall Depot, this was in aid of the Friendly Society’s Local Hospital Fund, and, in conjunction with the Royal Engineers at the Staple Hall Depot, had been arranged by Edgar Bland. Mrs. J. Stevenson had kindly lent the premises, and, with the string orchestra of the Royal Engineers in attendance, amongst the several acts were those of Lieutenant L. Primrose, conjuror and ‘card manipulator,’ and, ‘from the London halls,’ Frank Hudson, who performed humorous sketches and a display of living marionettes. The two events raised £15 4s, and on the evening of Saturday, January 27th the Picture Palace was again made available by Mrs. J. Stevenson for another grand concert. As before this was held by permission of Lieutenant Colonel Lister and the officers of the Staple Hall Depot, the Signal School of which at the end of the month was still being held daily in the Town Hall and other buildings. In aid of the funds for the ‘Bletchley Road Institute and Recreation Room,’ which had been recently opened at the Mission Room, in Bletchley Road, a grand military concert took place in the Picture Palace on Wednesday, February 7th. The event had been arranged by those members of the Royal Engineers who frequented the premises, and at intervals during the programme, which included the showing of lantern slides of local scenes and personages, the Staple Hall Depot orchestra played musical selections, conducted by Corporal G. Gripton. Both aged 18, towards the end of February a watchmaker, who was now a Royal Engineer recruit, and a girl, were charged with having falsely obtained food and lodging to the value of 7s from Mrs. S.A. Chambers, the wife of Mr. W. Chambers, of Victoria Road. The fraud had taken place between February 19th and the 24th, and with the details having been reported to the police by Mrs. Chambers, Inspector Callaway duly made an arrest in Simpson Road, with the case to be heard at a future date. In early March it was announced that Cadet A.H. Holmes (Royal Engineers, Field Section) the son of Mr. A.J. Holmes, of Bletchley, and the son -in- law of Mr. J. Fennell, Oxford Street, had been gazetted Second Lieutenant, and indeed had come top of his section. He had originally been apprenticed to the late Mr. Lawrence, Architect and Surveyor, Leighton Buzzard, and then went to the Bucks County Surveyor Office at Aylesbury, where he was employed at the outbreak of war. Being attached to the construction department of the War Office, when stationed at Bedford his duties would include handling the plans for the huts at the Signal Depot, Staple Hall, Haynes Park and Dunstable, and it was perhaps therefore appropriate that he later enlisted in the Royal Engineers. He joined the Cadet Corps when stationed at Newark, and passed out with the rank of Second Lieutenant. At the Special Sessions on Tuesday, April 29th the details were heard of the case regarding the two 18 year olds, who had falsely obtained food and lodging from Mrs. S. Chambers. Being in the habit of taking in lodgers, at about 10.30p.m. on February 17th she had returned home to find the accused waiting for her. Saying that they had come to see ‘the wife’s’ wounded brother, they asked for lodgings, and elaborating on the circumstance the girl said that her brother, a private named Skinner, had been wounded, and, having a wife and two children, was now living at an address in Bletchley Road. Finding the story plausible, Mrs. Chambers allowed them to stay, and saying that they were man and wife the couple went to bed. The following day after dinner they then paid 2s, and said that if they could not find the brother they would go back by the next train. However, declaring that they had not been able to find the man they returned to the house at about 7p.m., and, since their train did not allegedly leave until 11.20p.m., asked to be put up for the night. Explaining that they would wire the father for the Bletchley Road address, they then went out, and on their return said they were now expecting a letter which would give the address. Indeed, on February 22nd a letter did arrive, and they stopped at the house until the 23rd, on which date however they did not return, after supposedly going down the street to get a paper. Having prepared their dinner, when the pair did not return Mrs. Chambers went in search, and subsequently at about 11.30 on Saturday morning she took them to police sergeant Hill at Church Corner, explaining that they owed her 10s for food and lodgings. Taken to the police station, the man then said that he had been rejected for the military on medical grounds, whilst as for the situation with the girl, “I am not married to her.” He then produced a Royal Engineers recruitment pass from Mill Hill to Fenny Stratford, but this was dated February 13th, and he should have joined on arrival. When charged, the man said that he and the girl had ‘cleared out’ because they were unable to pay, and in consequence he was subsequently committed for a month, being further charged with having given false information under the Aliens’ Registration Act. For this he received another seven days, after which he would be handed over to the military authorities. As for the girl, saying that her brother had been ‘down here’ for about a month, she was fined 20s, which was paid by her aunt. On the evening of Friday, March 4th a well organised concert was given in the Picture Palace, this being an appreciation for the past services afforded - both in the town and in the district - to the various institutions and charities by the Royal Engineer band from Staple Hall Depot. Soldiers performed many of the items, and the Reverend Father Walker sang ‘Come into the Garden Maud,’ and ‘Mountain Lovers.’ For the benefit of the troops, a concert was given on the evening of Wednesday, March 28th in B Company Mess Hut, at Staple Hall, Depot, whilst on the evening of Easter Monday a successful social gathering and dance took place under the patronage of Colonel P. Broome Giles, C.B., Mrs. Broome Giles, and also Lieutenant Colonel Lister, who had given permission for the event to be held in the Town Hall. The proceeds would be applied to the local branch of the N.S.P.C.C., of which Mrs. Broome Giles was the President. With Lieutenant Colonel Levi in the chair, at the Petty Sessions on Thursday, April 19th, Frank de Saulles, Quartermaster Sergeant, Royal Engineers, Fenny Stratford, was summoned for not having control of a dangerous dog on March 30th. Giving evidence, Thomas Hill of Simpson, who was the shepherd for Charles Janes, said that about 5.15p.m. on March 30th he saw two sheep penned up in a corner by dogs, although the lambs had got away. On going to rescue the sheep he was attacked by the larger dog, but managed to get the sheep to safety. He then reported the matter to the police, and together with Inspector Callaway went to Staple Hall Depot, where he identified the two dogs. The ewes were much distressed, and it was found that one of the lambs had been badly bitten. When seen on Sunday, the defendant said that the bigger dog had been given to him as a puppy, and had since become a sort of family pet. If it was not destroyed he would take out a licence in his own name, take the animal home, and keep it there, and offering his apologies the defendant said that the dog was not dangerous. The matter was then concluded on payment of 11s 6d costs, plus, with a licence taken out, an understanding that the dog must be kept under proper control. Featuring contributions from soldiers of all ranks, an ‘All Star’ Concert was given in the Picture Palace on Wednesday evening, April 25th. This was in aid of the Royal Engineers’ Widow and Orphan Fund, and, with Sergeant Gripton as the conductor, the Staple Hall Depot band was in attendance, with R.S.M. G. Adams acting as stage manager. In response to an application from the War Agricultural Committee, Lieutenant Colonel Lister, the officer commanding Staple Hall Depot, had recently offered to supply two pairs of horses to work on the land, and in consequence during the last week of April horses from the Staple Hall Depot were engaged, under a military escort, in ploughing up ground on the Leon Avenue Estate. This was the area not already cultivated by some of the allotment holders, and also during the week, on Sunday evening, April 29th a concert was given in the Picture Palace, which had kindly been lent by Mrs. Stevenson. In Bletchley Road, ‘Richmond,’ the house which had once been the residence of Major and Mrs. Chadwick, had more lately seen use as billets by the military authorities at Staple Hall Depot, but at the end of May there was no longer a need for billeting in private houses. As for the Rest Camp, this was again under canvas at Staple Hall Depot, but, although the tents would apparently remain, the staff would soon be moved to Bedford. In early June the numbers at Staple Hall Depot would be swelled by the need for female clerks, typists and shorthand typists aged 18 and above, and with the salary being 19s a week, with overtime of over 42 hours per week paid at 6d to 9d an hour, applicants were to apply by letter to the ‘Officer Commanding, Fenny Stratford Signal Depot.’ They were to give details of their relevant experience, and also at the Depot in due course the Deputy Administrator of the Q.M.A.A.C. would be very grateful for any gift of books towards her Girls’ Library. In mid June the Surveyor reported that, as also to the fences of the neighbouring field, damage had been caused to the shed at the Bathing Place, but there was a much more serious matter at the water filled clay pit at Read and Andrews brickyard, Newton Longville, where on the evening of Friday, June 15th, while bathing with two other lads a 14 year old boy drowned. Close to the side of the pit the water was about four feet deep, but it then dropped suddenly to about 14 feet, and the boys had been repeatedly warned about the dangers. In fact these became manifest when the boy got into difficulties, and although the others immediately tried to help, they could not reach him. Even when the local schoolmaster arrived little could be done, since he was a non swimmer. The pit was duly dragged, but it would not be until Saturday evening when Corporal Chinn, of the Royal Engineers at Staple Hall Depot, repeatedly dived into the depths that the body was found, trapped under a ledge at the bottom. Stationed at Staple Hall Depot, in June a sapper of the Royal Engineers was charged with stealing eight packets of cigarettes from Ada Vaughan, the wife of the landlord of the Red Lion. She said that on June 11th he had drunk some beer and then proceeded from the passage into the kitchen, but at this she promptly turned him out. He then went into the tap room, and there she left him while she went to the bake house. However, whilst there she heard the bar window being opened, and when he made no answer she ordered him out of the house. Eight packets of cigarettes were then found to be missing, and in consequence of her report Corporal Hill, of the regimental police, Staple Hall Depot, brought the man to the house. When charged, he denied having taken the cigarettes, but three packets of Gold Flake, similar to those stolen, were found in his tunic pocket. Saying that the attendant could vouch for this, he said he had bought these at the canteen, but although the Magistrate’s Clerk said that the attendant should have been here as a witness, the case was dismissed. In mid July a request from the military authorities had been received by the Council. With three or four special supplies tapped off the mains, this asked that the cost of the water provided to Staple Hall Depot should be reduced, but it was decided that no alteration should be made. However, there was now an alteration to the recruiting at Staple Hall Depot, for those who used to arrive almost daily were now joining up at Bedford, from where they were drafted to other centres as required. In brilliant summer weather, on the afternoon of Saturday, July 21st the athletic sports of the Royal Engineers took place on their ground at the back of the Park Hotel (between Oliver Road and Duncombe Street.) Usually the public were allowed to attend, but this year, and by invitation only, it was a purely military affair. Decorated marquees and a display of overhead bunting added to the festive atmosphere, and of those who were sufficiently able wounded soldiers from Newport Pagnell and other centres took part in a short race. Amongst the events was a gymnastic display by the boys from the Newport Pagnell Military Training School, and from an improvised platform the prizes were handed out by Lady Leon, for whom from the platform three hearty cheers were called for by Lieutenant Colonel Lister. Under Sergeant G. Gripton, the Staple Hall Depot band had played throughout the afternoon, and in the evening a concert was given, with the old cricket pavilion having been altered to provide a platform for the orchestra. At the same venue, the next day the first of the Sunday cricket matches was played, whilst on the Bull Hotel ground in the evening a cricket match was staged between the Royal Engineers of Staple Hall Depot, and the Fenny Stratford and District Club, who gained an easy win. Near the Gas Works, on Sunday evening, August 6th dragging of the river commenced, after the hat and coat of 43 year old Private James McDonald had been found on the riverbank. In charge of the party was 2nd Lieutenant Reginald Baker, in whose company the man had served, and with the search having continued until late into the night, the dragging re-commenced the next morning. Then in the afternoon, with a brick tied around the neck the body was recovered from the water at about 5p.m.. Serving in the South Africa Expeditionary Force, the man had been stationed with the Royal Engineers at Staple Hall Depot, and Second Lieutenant Baker had last seen him after Church Parade on Sunday. The inquest was held on Tuesday afternoon, and being almost completely a military affair took place at the Staple Hall Depot, and not the Police Court. In fact this was the first inquest held in the town under the ‘New Order,’ which reduced the number of jurors to seven, with Mr. W.C. Ruffle appointed as foreman. The deceased had been a saddler in Middlesburgh, South Africa, and, having volunteered for Army service, arrived in England in December 1916. Giving evidence, Thomas Thompson, a driver in the Royal Engineers, said that on Sunday at the Staple Hall Depot he had last seen the deceased who, intending to go for a walk, had curiously said “Good-bye Tom, this may be a lesson to you young men.” Being somewhat strange in his manner, he had also said good bye to others, and had previously gone missing only a short while ago. Captain John Brown, R.A.M.C., the Medical Officer at Staple Hall Depot, said that the man had been brought to him on two occasions regarding his mental condition - the first being about a month ago, and the second around a week ago - and although he found him to be suffering from ‘acute melancholia,’ his speech was quite rational. However, following the last occasion the Captain had felt compelled to write to the officer commanding the Military Hospital at Aylesbury, and yesterday morning a reply had been received referring him to the Military Medical Authorities at St. Albans. This was with regard to the man being examined by a Medical Board, and at the inquest the jury returned a verdict of suicide while temporarily insane. Destined for the place of interment - thought to be Scotland - on Wednesday evening the coffin was borne from Staple Hall Depot to Bletchley station, with the gun carriage drawn by six horses and accompanied by a bearer party of Royal Engineers. Another tragic incident regarding Staple Hall Depot occurred on Monday, August 27th, when, lying on his back, and with a bullet hole in the left breast, a South African soldier was found dead in a field on Galley Lane Farm, Great Brickhill, about 300 yards from the farm house. With this being reported to the police, it was duly discovered that the man was Corporal John Charles Jackson, Royal Engineers, and the body was removed to Staple Hall Depot. At the Police Court, the inquest took place on Tuesday afternoon, and with Dr. Cecil Powell as the Deputy Coroner, and Thomas Best as the foreman of the jury, Lieutenant George Edward Weston, the Adjutant at Staple Hall Depot, identified the man as having belonged to B Company, Royal Engineers. Married, with four or five children, he had been very popular with his comrades, and, having charge of the mess hut, had proved to be a very good N.C.O., with an exemplary character. Having joined the Army in 1891, he left in 1902 but had been awarded the Punjab Medal, two Egyptian Medals and the South African Medal with clasps. In fact he seemed to have originally been in the Army for 11 years, and then for another four years, and at the outbreak of war re-enlisted in August, 1914 at Bury, Lancashire. He was transferred to the Royal Engineers in December of that year, and served in France from February 1915 to July 1915, when he was invalided home due to debility. Then from June 1916 to July 1916 he served in Salonika, but was again invalided with debility, and also dysentery. From January to March of this year he had been firstly at Seaford Convalescent Depot, and then from May to July at Newport Pagnell (where at that time all the Royal Engineers had apparently been under canvas), and then at Staple Hall Depot. Giving evidence, Sapper Albert Ernest Ansell, of the South African Royal Engineers, attached to the Staple Hall Depot, said that on Monday afternoon he was walking across the fields at Galley Lane Farm when he saw a dead soldier lying close to the hedge. A pistol, a Colt single barrel breech loader, lay near by, and he at once returned to Staple Hall Depot and reported the matter. James Hill, a corporal in the Royal Engineers Regimental Police, said that he had seen the man on Monday at about 1.30p.m. in the camp, and when he asked how he liked the job, the man replied “Not so bad.” For his part, Inspector Callaway said that about 7p.m. on Monday evening he had received information about the matter, and going immediately to the place with Lieutenant Weston and Captain Brown, duly found the body, on which were discovered letters to the man’s wife, his children, and one to a Mrs. Mapley, of Newport Pagnell. The content of the letters seemed to suggest that he intended to take his own life, and Captain Brown, R.A.M.C., the Medical Officer in charge at Staple Hall Depot, said that having seen the man about three times during the past four months, he had treated him for rheumatism. On the first occasion he sent him to Aylesbury Hospital, although on the other instances he had retained him for treatment at the camp, although marking the case ‘Public billet or hut,’ since the man was not well enough to live in the camp. Saying that her husband was presently serving at Salonika, as a corporal with the Railway Works Battalion, giving evidence Mrs. Emily Mapley, aged 32, said that she had first met Corporal Jackson when he was sweeping the road outside her house, Priory Street Lodge, in Newport Pagnell. They spoke, and having asked if he could be billeted in her house, he came to live there in May. However, shortly afterwards although she struggled and fainted one night he took advantage of her, but knowing that he was married, with four children, she decided not to say anything. In fact when ‘her condition’ became evident she went with him to Bedford intending to see a doctor, but this intention they did not fulfil. Then on a second journey, on August 24th she took out a gun licence in the name of Emily Smith at Bedford Post Office, and purchased a revolver from the shop of Henry Adkins, a gunsmith of 57, High Street, Bedford. They then cycled back to Newport Pagnell, and with Jackson having test fired the pistol on the way, she knew that he intended to commit suicide. Nevertheless, he seemed cheerful when she last saw him on Sunday night, but, having often talked about committing suicide, he said he would shoot her first, and then himself. The inquest recorded a verdict of ‘Suicide whilst in a perfectly sound state of mind.’ Featuring the Royal Engineers Costume Concert Party, in aid of the Y.M.C.A. War Huts Fund a successful concert was held in the Picture Palace on Friday evening, September 7th. The Staple Hall Depot band was in attendance, and then on Sunday evening, September 9th, again at the Picture Palace another concert was given, arranged by the Entertainment Committee of the Royal Engineers, Staple Hall Depot, of which Captain C. French was the chairman, and Corporal H. Sperry, the secretary. On Friday, September 12th yet another concert was given in the same venue. Under the patronage, amongst others, of Lieutenant Colonel Lister, and officers of the Staple Hall Depot, this, through the Christmas Parcel Central Fund was to provide presents for local men serving in the Forces, and had been organised by Mr. & Mrs. T. Gale. During the evening several selections were rendered by the Royal Engineers String Band, conducted by Sergeant G. Gripton, and amongst the array of talented artists was Miss Sybil Keymer, the celebrated violinist, and Mrs. Gale, who, in fine voice, ‘gave two capital songs in fine style.’ At the Local Military Service Tribunal in September, before the members retired to consider their decisions Lieutenant Porter read a long list, giving details of the various categories of men required, referring to the B and C classes. Mr. Kirby then remarked that some of the A class men in the Royal Engineers at Staple Hall Depot had been there for over two years, and he asked why this was so. In reply, Lieutenant Porter said that he was not a military expert, but if Tribunals were entirely dissatisfied with the medical category of an applicant they could, under exceptional circumstances, procure the attendance of the President and Medical Board for a special examination. Under the name of the ‘Cheques Concert Party,’ a combination of Northampton singers, instrumentalists, and variety entertainers gave a successful performance in the Picture Palace on the evening of Friday, September 21st. The programme included mandolin solos and a Yiddish song, and under the patronage of the Royal Engineers was, as had also been the concert the previous evening, in aid of the Benefit Fund for the widow and children of the late Corporal J. Jackson. The collections and concerts would raise a total of around £200. In the St. Mary’s Schools, on Friday evening, September 28th a successful concert was held, the object being to raise money for the Bletchley parish fund, for sending Christmas parcels to local men serving in the Forces. The programme was mainly provided by the Royal Engineers from Staple Hall Depot, where the Reverend G.G. Hickman had now been appointed as Chaplain to the Forces. At Murthly Hospital, Perthshire, the death took place on Monday, October 8th of Corporal Alfred Lunn, Royal Engineers. Aged 29 he had been stationed at Staple Hall Depot for 12 months, and in July 1916 married the youngest daughter of Mrs. B. Souster, of High Street, who had visited him on Saturday week. Having seen 13 years service with the Royal Engineers, during action in France in the early days of the war he had been severely wounded in the head, and was eventually transferred to Staple Hall Depot. After a while he again volunteered for service in France, but in April 1917 he was taken ill, and, despite treatment in various French hospitals, and at Netley, and then eventually Murthly, his condition gradually worsened. With full military honours the funeral took place on the Thursday afternoon, with the coffin, covered with a Union Jack, having been borne to Fenny Stratford Cemetery on a gun carriage. The wreaths included one from the W.O.s and N.C.O.s of Staple Hall Depot, one from the drivers and blacksmiths, Royal Engineers, and one from members of the Staple Hall Depot band. Subsequent to the recent inquest regarding Corporal Jackson, on Wednesday, October 17th Emily Mapley pleaded not guilty at the Bucks Assizes to a charge of aiding and abetting his suicide at Great Brickhill. Speaking of his enquiries, Superintendent Dibben said that when he asked if she knew the Corporal she replied, “Yes, has anything happened to him?” Yet in response to Superintendent Dibben’s reply of “Yes, he is dead,” she said “When did he do it,” to which Superintendent Dibben swiftly replied, “I did not say he had done anything. What do you know about it?” After asking “Did he shoot himself with a pistol,” she then broke down, but when recovered began to tell the whole story. By this version, she had first met him on May 30th, 1917, when he said he had been in Salonika, and had suffered from dysentery. He further told her that he was married with four children - another being on the way - and since he was on a special diet he needed a billet. For a period of two weeks and four days he subsequently came to live with her, but having on the first or second day said that he loved her, some time afterwards - when she and the children had gone to bed - he called for a candle. However, when she complied he grabbed her and took advantage. She fainted, but on coming round said that she would tell the officer, whereupon he begged her not to, since he would get seven years. From a letter that she addressed to Jackson at Staple Hall Depot it seemed that her attitude would indeed mellow, for it began; ‘My dear Charlie,’ and contained the words ‘I do hope you did not get wet last night, and I am looking forward to seeing you tomorrow. I do hope your love for me won’t change.’ In fact in her dressing table, ten letters from Jackson bearing the Bletchley postmark were discovered. The first, dated August 3rd, 1917, had been sent from the N.C.O.s Mess, Fenny Stratford, and began; ‘Dear Emily,’ and concluded with ‘Your loving and faithful boy, Charlie.’ In another letter he then wrote; ‘The sorrow which fills me to think what unhappiness my folly must bring to you is great ...’ As for another; ‘I shall go to my death with your sweet name on my lips, and your sweet image in my soul.’ In yet another he talked of obtaining a revolver ‘and after seeing you once more I should like to take the final plunge - that is, blow my head off.’ When he came and saw her one Sunday afternoon they talked about the situation, and when they met on Tuesday night she said she would drown herself and the three children. However, he said he was going to get a pistol, and knowing he was about to commit suicide she, on seeing no alternative, provided the money and gave him encouragement, thinking he would do it on Sunday, September 2nd. A verdict of not guilty was returned. During the time that the Staple Hall Depot had been established, South African, Australian and New Zealand cadets had all arrived for training for commissions, and also for the greater part of that period there had been a ‘Rest Camp’ at Staple Hall Depot.

Amongst the Royal Engineers to be stationed at Staple Hall Depot were many from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, as witnessed by this postcard, which shows a contemporary view of Aylesbury Street. Marked from the 'South African Signal Depot, Fenny Stratford,' it was sent from Bletchley on 14/8/17 to 19, Queen Annes Gate, Westminster, London, S.W., and the sender writes; 'Continuing my military tour I have fetched up here after passing a week each at Bedford and Dunstable. 11 weeks at Eastbourne and am now Al. Hope you are well and not working too hard. Regards F.D. Strong.'

This was for newly joined up civilians, but during the year would be transferred to Bedford. Almost constantly the number of troops in the town remained between 1,000 and 2,000, and additional to this was a detachment of several hundred who were quartered at Newport Pagnell. On land immediately adjoining the private grounds and gardens at Staple Hall, being able to house about 500 officers, N.C.O.s and men, a complete ‘colony’ of huts had now grown up to include officers’ quarters, mess, guard room, N.C.O.s quarters, medical quarters, etc., and through this area ran well made roads. During the winter the remainder of the ‘garrison’ of the town had been accommodated in billets, but during the summer tents had been used, pitched in a large field adjoining the huts. Chiefly during the last week in October the main body of the Royal Engineers (Signal Section) Signal Depot, Staple Hall, was bodily transferred to ‘somewhere’ in Bedfordshire. Some 600 to 700 officers and men left Fenny Stratford station by special train on Friday, October 26th, and the headquarters staff followed at the end of the week. Then comprising some 1,400 personnel (with 500 or 600 on detachment at Newport Pagnell) the main body of the Royal Engineers (Wireless) Depot arrived at Staple Hall from ‘somewhere’ in England on Friday, November 2nd, with the only troops left in the town during the interim having been ‘Details,’ left behind by the Signallers, or sent in advance by the wireless operators. Thus perhaps to welcome the new arrivals, on Sunday, November 4th the St. Martin’s sermon was preached by the Reverend M. Roxby, Chaplain to the Forces at Staple Hall Depot. On Friday, November 9th news reached Mr. & Mrs. E. Gascoigne, of Far Bletchley, that their eldest son, serving with the London (Queen’s) Regiment, had been wounded in Palestine. He was now in hospital, but no details regarding the nature of his wound had been forthcoming. From an education at the Bletchley Road Council Schools, he had progressed to college, and, having gained high qualifications, then returned for a while to his old school, where he obtained a position as master under the London School Board, an appointment that he was holding when the war broke out. As for his father, he had a long and successful career on the staff of Bletchley Post Office, and his second son was serving in France with the Royal Engineers (Wireless). Entitled ‘Antarctic Adventure,’ to a crowded audience at 8p.m. on Thursday evening, December 13th, a lecture at the Picture Palace was given by Captain Priestley, Royal Engineers. He had been the geologist on the Shackleton Antarctic Expedition, 1907/9, and the Scott Antarctic Expedition of 1910/13, and wrote of his experiences in the book ‘Antarctic Adventure, the story of the northern party of the Scott Expedition.’ Tickets, priced at 2s, 1s, unreserved, and 3s reserved and numbered, had been available from Captain H. Maude Roxby, Chaplain, and C.Q.M.S. Langley, at the Staple Hall Depot, or from Mr. H.J. Clarke, Bletchley Post Office, and Mr. E. Bland, Park Hotel, with the proceeds to be applied to the Depot Benevolent Fund. Preceded by selections from the Staple Hall Depot orchestra, Lieutenant Colonel De Cordes introduced the lecturer and apologised for the absence of Sir Herbert Leon, who, having been scheduled to preside, was unfortunately detained in London due to indisposition. Featuring some 100 slides, the lecture kept the whole audience entertained, and at the close the band played the National Anthem.

1918

On the evening of Wednesday, February 6th the Picture Palace was crowded for an entertainment by ‘The Giggles’ Camp Concert Party,’ which, being a military combination of vocalists and musicians, appeared by permission of Lieutenant Colonel P. Bald, D.S.O., Commanding Officer of the Wireless Depot at Staple Hall. With music by the Royal Engineers band, the members, in their stage costumes, gave a performance that ‘went with a swing’ from start to finish, and delighted the audience. At the Council meeting on Tuesday, February 12th the Clerk reported that a letter had been received from the Military Authorities regarding the rating of Staple Hall Depot, and their offer of £50p.a., in lieu of rates (whilst in the occupation of the military) was duly accepted. The funeral of May, the young daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Thomas Constable, of 74, Aylesbury Street, took place on Tuesday afternoon, March 12th. She had been killed in the Silvertown explosion, and large numbers of people had lined the route from the house to Fenny Stratford Cemetery, with the coffin, draped with a Union Jack, and covered with a large number of wreaths, drawn by four horses on a gun carriage supplied by the Royal Engineer Depot, Staple Hall, which also provided a bearer party. Wearing their factory uniforms, a contingent of some 65 of the deceased’s fellow factory workers lead the cortege, and Mrs. Thomas Best, senior, of Oxford House, was now foremost in a movement to have a permanent memorial placed over the grave. Pleading not guilty, at the Petty Sessions on Thursday, March 21st, Arthur Woodford, a sergeant from the Royal Engineers at Staple Hall Depot, was summoned for not keeping a dog under control. Giving evidence, an office boy said that on March 4th he went to Holne Chase and saw an Airedale terrier jumping on some lambs and chasing sheep. He went to speak to a group of soldiers working a wireless apparatus in the field, but they said that the animal was not theirs. However, one of the soldiers later asked the boy what the dog had been doing, and, when told, whistled for the dog to come to him. It was then handed over to the police, and from the police station was claimed the following day by Sergeant Woodford, who said that he kept it tied up at Messrs. Bramley’s stables. However, it had gone missing on March 3rd, and he couldn’t explain how it managed to get to Bletchley. Being six months old, the dog had never bothered the chickens or cats in the yard, and an old hen even slept in its kennel. An order to control the animal and pay costs was made. At the Special Sessions on Thursday, March 28th, a 16 year old trumpeter of the Royal Engineer’s Depot, Staple Hall, was charged with having on May 22nd stolen a purse and money from the house at which he was billeted, 9, Tavistock Street. Sarah Sear, the wife of George Sear, said that on Friday before going to feed the chickens she had hung her coat on the kitchen door, leaving her purse in the pocket. The defendant came in shortly afterwards, and on her return she found that the purse was missing. At about 2p.m., when the soldier returned to the house she told him that she had lost her purse, and he began to help search for it. Yet later in the day when she again enquired about the purse he burst out crying, and asked to be forgiven. He then placed 8s 5d on the table, and would have left his bank book and a watch, except that she refused to take them. Later he brought back the empty purse, whereupon the police became involved. Inspector Callaway said that on being called to the Staple Hall Depot he was handed the watch and bank book by the Regimental Sergeant Major, and when the defendant was asked to account for the money he said that he had taken it out of the bank. However, he then burst out crying, and said that he would have given back the watch, which had been purchased with some of the stolen money, but his landlady told him to keep it, and pay back what he could. He was then taken to the police station, but on the way said “Don’t put me in prison and don’t tell my mother.” She now lived in Aldershot, and since his father, who had been a sergeant in the Royal Engineers, was now dead, in view of this the Reverend M. Roxby, Chaplain to the Forces, said that the boy had not had much of a chance in the past. The Assistant Adjutant of the Staple Hall Depot also asked for leniency, and because of this Sir Herbert Leon, after speaking earnestly to the lad, accepted his promise for good behaviour, and placed him under the care of the Chaplain for 12 months. In other cases, a forty year old corporal of the Royal Engineers was charged with having stolen from Staple Hall Depot seven blankets, candles, paper, and other items, which were all the property of the Army Council. The value amounted to £5 1s 6d, and the man was also accused of stealing three parcel post bags, the property of the Postmaster General. Charged with having received the stolen property was a 30 year old woman of 30, Aylesbury Street, where on March 21st Inspector Callaway found in a room at the top of the stairs two mail bags, one of which had been cut down the sides. On a bed in an adjoining room was a new mail bag, and in a box close to the window a registered letter bag, which contained part of the man’s kit. A third bag had been made into a blind, and a fourth lay in the coal hole. After his arrest, the man said that the bags had been lent to him by the corporal in charge of the Camp Post Office, where, before he was employed there, the cut bags had been used as a blind. Giving evidence, Corporal Henry Tomlinson, Royal Engineers, said that on March 18th he had assisted the prisoner, who was at that time in charge of the Post Office, to pack two blankets into a post office bag, whilst Private Charles Warboys said that although he was employed at the Camp Post Office, he had never seen cut bags used as blinds, or bags being cut for that purpose. As for Sapper Robinson, who had also been employed in the Camp Post Office, he said that before the things were removed he saw the accused go to the door and scratch the articles off the inventory, saying “If anyone asks where they have gone say into the camp, and they won’t know.” On March 18th the accused then asked him ‘to lend him a hand’ with the van, in which under his orders he took a bag to 30, Aylesbury Street. Speaking on oath, the defendant said that he was married, and, having been wounded in the retreat from Mons, had served in France for two years. On being transferred to Staple Hall Depot, for a while he was in charge of the Camp Post Office, and his successor, knowing that he was going into the billet in Aylesbury Street, had helped him to put the bags in the van, which was then driven straight to the Aylesbury Street address. Regarding the mail bag, when Inspector Callaway called at the house the woman handed over one bag, and when asked if there were any more, produced one of the cut bags, saying that the corporal had brought them a fortnight ago to hang up at the window. When asked if there was anything else, she replied that there were some blankets, and then on going into the next room Inspector Callaway found the new bag folded up on the side of the bed. This she said the corporal had brought, but just as the Inspector went towards a box in the room she confessed “I may as well tell you the truth; there is a kit bag of his in the box.” However, she denied that there was anything else, until on searching the room Inspector Callaway found the bag which had been converted into a blind, hidden behind a chest of drawers. Again she said that there was nothing else, but downstairs he found another bag in the coal hole, partly covered by coal. Later, he called with Lieutenant T. Sylvester, Royal Engineers, Quartermaster at the Staple Hall Depot, whereupon she asked “Do you think I shall be wanted for this? I tried to shield him as he was a friend. I put the bag in the box.” Lieutenant Sylvester said that when the man left the Camp Post Office there should have been four blankets left, which he had no right to take, and on the inventory on the door the articles crossed off were missing. At the conclusion of the trial the charges against the woman were dismissed, whilst as for the corporal, he was committed to two months hard labour in prison. In aid of the funds for the Bletchley Branch of the N.S.P.C.C., a whist drive and dance took place on Monday evening, April 1st. The venue should have been the Bletchley Road Schools, but instead was the men’s recreation room at Staple Hall Depot. On Monday, April 29th, with Lieutenant B. Haddy Smith, the assistant adjutant at the Staple Hall Depot, being present, an inquest was held at Aylesbury into the circumstances surrounding the death of Sapper Eric Bartlett, Royal Engineers. On the day in question, Corporal F. Swann, acting lance corporal of the Staple Hall Depot, had been in charge of the ammunition guard at the railway goods yard at Bletchley, and posted Sapper Bartlett on sentry duty at 6.30a.m., with orders to patrol up and down the six foot way between two sidings, keep watch on a wagon containing explosives, and keep a watch on another wagon that was being shunted into a yard. However, a while later Sapper Bartlett lost sight of the truck for a few minutes, but on trying to discover its whereabouts when he squeezed through a gap between two disconnected trucks they suddenly came together, and the buffers caught him in the chest and back. Standing up, although “he did not know how,” he was hurriedly taken to the guard hut, to where Captain J. Brown, R.A.M.C., attached to the Royal Engineers, Staple Hall Depot, was called. Finding the casualty to be suffering from severe shock and internal injuries, he swiftly arranged for an emergency transfer to the Military Hospital at Aylesbury, but there the man died on Saturday evening. The mother of the deceased, she being the wife of James Bartlett, of Riverton Road, Balham, said that her 19 year old son had enlisted as a pioneer in the Royal Engineers in April, 1917, and was made a sapper the next day. In the early hours of Thursday morning, May 2nd, a serious fire broke out at Staple Hall Depot. The Fire Brigade, commanded by Thomas Best, had received a call about 3.15a.m., probably about an hour after the fire began, but since as usual the town water supply had been turned off for the night, none was available from the fire hydrants. Therefore the steam fire engine took up a position on the bank of the canal at the wharf of Messrs. A. Bramley and Son, and, with water beginning to be applied at 3.50a.m., from here the hose was taken up through the Staple Hall Depot to the scene of the fire, this being in a portion of the huts in the permanent camp. However, due to the ferocity of the blaze very little was left of the officers’ mess hut, recreation room, kitchen and stores, and also destroyed were the mess kitchen fittings, some of the furniture and fittings in the recreation room, and all of those in the dining room. The cause of the blaze remained a mystery, and in the event of any further fires, at the meeting of the Council on Tuesday, May 14th a letter from Major Hanley, Royal Engineers, was read regarding the lack of a water supply from the fire hydrants at Staple Hall Depot. He therefore asked that an adequate supply should be made available, and Thomas Best, Captain of the Fire Brigade, had written much the same. However, in their reply to Major Hanley the Council stated that in their opinion there had been an adequate supply, and suggested that patent fire extinguishing appliances should be installed at the Depot. At the Petty Sessions in May, a cadet attached to the Staple Hall Depot was summoned on two cycling offences, which had been noted at 12.10a.m. in Aylesbury Street on May 6th. One was with regard to having not displayed a white lamp in front, and the other for not having a red lamp at the rear. Pleading guilty, the man said that the front lamp had ‘jerked off’ coming down the hill from Brickhill, whilst as for the rear lamp, having only been tied on with string this had broken off. Being on a pass, he had leave until the first parade the next morning, and, since they had only a short way to go, he had been riding close behind a friend whose cycle had the proper illumination. Costs of 5s on each count were imposed. As for another case, a married woman of Fenny Stratford pleaded not guilty to having on May 8th obstructed the Military Police in the course of their duties. At 8p.m. on that date a detachment of the Military Police were taking a prisoner, serving in the Canadian Forestry Corps, to the guard room at Staple Hall Depot, and the charge was for being absent, drunk and very violent. However, on the way the Military Police had been jeered by some of the hostile onlookers gathered on Stag Bridge, and the accused, having broken through, said several times “Let the man go.

Stag Bridge, Fenny Stratford. This was the scene of a near riot in May 1918, when hostile onlookers jeered the Military Police
as they tried to take a prisoner, serving in the Canadian Forestry Corps, to Staple Hall Depot, for being 'absent, drunk and very violent.'

” The onlookers numbered about 200, and turning to them she said “That’s what they do for you when you are in the Army.” Perhaps inspired by her behaviour, at this the prisoner then became more violent, and the crowd more hostile. Interviewed the next day by Inspector Callaway the woman said “I was coming from the allotments and saw the police bringing this man along, and all I said was ‘That’s what your poor boys have to join the Army for. The police said ‘You shut up’, and my husband said ‘You come on home and keep your mouth shut.’ I did jaw my husband.” Being the first incident of this kind, a fine of 10s was imposed, although any further occurrence would be dealt with much more severely. As Chaplain to the Forces at the Staple Hall Depot, Captain the Reverend Tatham, who had just succeeded Captain the Reverend H. Maude Roxby, conducted the service in St. Martin’s Church on Sunday, June 9th, and he also presided at the military church parade in the morning. He would also be the preacher at Evensong, and perhaps in need of a little spiritual guidance was a sapper from the Staple Hall Depot who, at the Police Court on Saturday, June 22nd, was brought up in custody charged with stealing, ‘and converting to his own use,’ a bicycle, two lamps, a pump and a tool bag. On draft for Hitchin, before leaving Staple Hall Depot on Friday, June 14th the owner had handed the cycle to another sapper, who was to send it to the owner’s address in Dewsbury. However, this sapper did not have an opportunity to send the cycle, and so when he had to leave Fenny Stratford on June 18th he asked another sapper to take the bike to the railway station, and, giving the address to which it was to be sent, gave him 2s 6d for the carriage. However, the man took the cycle instead to Harry Sewell, a bicycle repairer in Church Street, who in evidence said that on June 21st at about 10.30p.m. the man had called at his house, and asked if he wanted to buy a gent’s bicycle. Saying that it was his own, he explained that he was going on draft either tomorrow or Monday, and wrote down a name and address in Leeds. Mr. Sewell duly paid him 30s, but later when he was unable to contact the address, which proved to be false, his suspicions were aroused, and he went to the police. Following inquiries, a man fitting the description was then interviewed at Staple Hall Depot, where, admitting the charge, he asked for the matter to go no further. Being in serious need of money he had written home for the amount, and intended to buy the bike back in a day or two. In court, an officer said that the man’s character was ‘quite all right,’ but he was nevertheless fined £3, and ordered to be kept in charge for a day or two until the money arrived. Authority was then given to refund 30s to Mr. Sewell, and return the bike to its owner. Under the auspices of the National War Aims Committee, a meeting was held on the evening of Tuesday, July 23rd in Fenny Stratford Market Place. Deputising in the unavoidable absence of the chairman was the vice chairman Hedley J. Clarke, who in his opening remarks said that the one aim for which they all hoped was the end of the war. With the platform being a wagonette, and the audience comprised mainly of soldiers from the Staple Hall Depot, both Miss Mabel Smith, and Mr. C.H. Lindsay gave speeches, with the former saying that the war aims of England and the Allies were justice and right, a peace, permanent and lasting amongst the nations of the world. As for Mr. Lindsay, he thought that “… The whole course of the war had shown the character of the Kaiser and his people - tricky, cunning and crooked, who did not know what it was to, as Englishmen said, ‘play the game.’” On the afternoon of Tuesday, August 6th, in fine weather the grounds of Holne Chase were opened for a popular garden fete by Colonel P. Broome Giles, C.B., and Mrs. Broome Giles. This was in aid of the Soldiers’ Comforts Fund, and with the orchestral band of the Staple Hall Depot in attendance, the event included a whist drive, a dance, and side shows. Arranged by the Royal Engineers of the Staple Hall Depot, a sports was held on August Bank Holiday at the ground behind the Park Hotel.

For the many events there was a good attendance, and with many of the ladies who were employed by the regiment taking part, in the women’s tug of war ‘No. 1 Mobile W.A.A.C.’ came first. From the headquarters at Chatham, one of the main attractions was the Royal Engineers full regimental band, which ranked amongst the very best in the British Army, and at the end of the sports in the company of amongst others Mrs. Haliday, an administrator, W.A.A.C., the prizes were distributed from the concert platform by Mrs. Bald, the wife of the commanding officer of the Staple Hall Depot. In the evening an al fresco concert was given, and pleasant evenings were also spent on Tuesday and Wednesday, August 13th and 14th, when teams representing the Bletchley Company Special Constables and B Company, Royal Engineers, Staple Hall Depot, played a friendly cricket match. This had been arranged by both special constable lieutenant E. Badger and Second Lieutenant H. Payne, the latter having especially for the match placed the Royal Engineers’ practice nets on the Park Hotel Field, where, by permission of Mr. E. Bland, the competition was played. The Royal Engineers - whose team included several players from the Colonies and Dominions - won by 132 runs to 91. However, since the field had now been placed at their disposal for three evenings a week, the special constables had plenty of opportunity for further practice. On Thursday, August 22nd, at the Petty Sessions a private in the Labour Company was charged with having on August 19th stolen a quantity of bacon and tea, the property of H.M. Army Council, from the Staple Hall Depot, and also charged, for having received these goods, and for being in possession of an Army blanket, was a woman of Newport Pagnell. Gving evidence, James Ransom, of the Labour Corps, said that he was employed as sergeant cook at Staple Hall Depot, and on the day in question a quantity of bacon was drawn from the stores by the accused, who worked in the cook house. After the bacon had been boned, the man left at about 5.45p.m., but also gone was some tea in a tin caddy, which the sergeant cook had placed ready for use the next morning. Acting on information from Newport Pagnell, on August 19th Inspector Callaway and police constable Hedges then kept watch on a house in Aylesbury Street, and at 6.50p.m. saw the two prisoners leave the premises and, with the man carrying a dress basket, walk into Vicarage Lane (sic). When stopped, the woman, whose lawful husband was serving in France with the Army Veterinary Corps, said that she was the wife of her companion, and while both were being taken back to the house the bacon and tea were found in the basket. The house belonged to a widow, Hannah Diddams, and when they arrived she was told by the woman that “The police want to see the lodger form.” As for the man, he duly admitted taking the goods from Staple Hall Depot, and at the police station a further search of the basket revealed several letters relating to the prisoners. However, in evidence an officer of the Labour Corps spoke of the excellent military character of the man, and perhaps in view of this although a sentence of six weeks in prison was imposed, this would be without hard labour. Lieutenant Thomas Sylvester, quartermaster at Staple Hall Depot, then identified the blanket as Army Council property. This had been found in the woman’s house at Newport Pagnell, and in explanation she said that it came from South Africa, having been brought to her by a man billeted in her house about a year ago. In fact she had made a statement to that effect, and pleaded not guilty. Nevertheless, other items had also been found in her house, and it was duly discovered that these had been taken over a period of time from a house in Newport Pagnell, where she had assisted the domestic servants. It was further revealed that one of her children was being looked after by her parents at Newport Pagnell, and the other by friends, and as the supposed wife of the male prisoner she had come to Fenny Stratford to live with him in a house in Aylesbury Street. In concluding the case, the charge regarding the blanket was dismissed, but for receiving the bacon and tea the woman was sentenced to six weeks hard labour in prison. As for the other charges, these would warrant a further three weeks. Organised by the officers and N.C.O.s of Staple Hall Depot, a boxing tournament took place on Saturday afternoon, August 31st at the Royal Engineers’ Athletic Ground at the Park Hotel. The ring had been erected in the centre of the ground, and, with a large crowd gathered around, and prizes to the value of £20 being offered, the various weights were open to men of Royal Engineer Training Centres, except for a novices competition which was confined to the men attached to the Staple Hall Depot. However, Ted Mortimer, a lightweight champion, had been unable to attend his scheduled exhibition bout with the ex heavy weight champion of the Navy and Army, Gunner Jimmy Deacon, who instead gave a short exhibition of boxing with one of the Royal Engineers, as well as acting as referee during the competitions. During the afternoon the boys from the Newport Pagnell Royal Engineers Training School gave an impressive gymnastic display, and at the end of the event Lieutenant Colonel Bald presented a cup to Corporal Middleton, who was deemed as having put up the pluckiest fight of the afternoon. For those who had been present at the boxing tournament a dance was held in the evening in the grounds of the Staple Hall Depot, with music by the Royal Engineers Orchestra. With the local forestry work now nearly complete, in connection with the Canadian Forestry Corps there was also a dance on Monday, August 26th in the Y.M.C.A. hut at Woburn Sands, where at a well attended farewell celebration the Royal Engineers String Band provided the music, with Mr. W. Griggs as pianist. At St. Mary’s Church, at 7.30p.m. on Sunday, September 22nd, the Harvest Festival service was taken by the Reverend E.E. Farquharson, Chaplain to the Forces attached to the Staple Hall Depot. A collection was made for Home Missions, and also on home matters a meeting of the Bletchley District War Agricultural Committee took place on Thursday afternoon, September 26th in the Council Offices. This was regarding the winter quarters for the prisoners of war now encamped at Bletchley, and in consequence a strong recommendation would be sent to the Executive Committee at Aylesbury, urging them to lose no time in securing the suitable premises which had been offered at Fenny Stratford, since these would not encroach on, or near, any of the ‘apparatus or machinery’ of the Royal Engineers at Staple Hall Depot. At the Petty Sessions on Thursday, October 3rd two Australian sappers, attached to the Staple Hall Depot, were charged with stealing growing apples, valued at 2s 6d, from a garden on September 18th. These were the property of Richard Daniel, and in evidence a lady of Oliver Road said that from her window she had seen the two men cross the Park Hotel field, and then climb over the garden wall of her mother’s house. When they came back she asked for their names, but was told that these could be obtained from the camp. Police sergeant Adams then said that on hearing of the theft he saw the two defendants, who were the only two Australians on fatigue duty in the Park Hotel field, and with one admitting having taken five ‘very nice apples,’ the other also confessed. Both were fined 21s 3d each. A successful concert took place on Wednesday evening, October 9th in the Picture Palace. Organised by the Bletchley Branch of the N.U.R., this was in aid of two of the members who for some while had been incapacitated by illness, and, with there having been a great demand for tickets, the venue was crowded. Arranged by Mr. Edgar Bland, principally contributing to the excellent musical programme were members of ‘The Star’ Concert Party, from Northampton, and other items were performed by Sapper Gibson, of the Royal Engineers, (Biggleswade), and, also acting as stage manager and director, Sergeant Smith, of the Royal Engineers, Staple Hall Depot. Having been organised for the winter months, the second of a series of concerts was held at the Spurgeon Memorial Baptist Church on Tuesday, October 8th. From amongst the men stationed at the Staple Hall Depot, Corporal Hankinson had assembled a wealth of talent, and in fact nearly all of the items were rendered by soldiers. Soldiers also comprised the appreciative audience, which not least enjoyed the several solo items, accompanied on the violin by Corporal S. Ellingham. He also gave a solo, and before the war as a member of the Fenny Stratford Musical Society had often featured in local concerts. During the event the opportunity was taken to collect contributions for the New Organ Fund. At the Bucks Assizes, on Wednesday, October 16th a 20 year old soldier pleaded guilty to ‘forging and uttering’ a receipt for £1 from a Post Office Savings Bank account at Bletchley. Further, he was accused of stealing a bicycle, the property of Grafton Cycle Company, Wolverton, and also had to answer several other charges, including trying to fraudulently obtain money from the accounts of local persons. In January 1917, as an orderly the prisoner was stationed at Staple Hall Depot, where he had access to the Army Post Office, and the bank books in question seemed to have disappeared somewhere between Staple Hall Depot and London. Born and brought up in the Army (his father had been a warrant officer in the Royal Engineers), he had gone into the regiment as a boy, and until 1917 his conduct had been quite satisfactory. In fact in giving evidence Captain Weston said that he had known the prisoner since he came to the Depot, and apart from being mischievous, there was nothing against him. A sentence of six months in prison was imposed. At Water Eaton, during the first week in November a concert was held in aid of the N.S.P.C.C. The local secretary, Miss Mary Lamb, had been responsible for the arrangements, and with instrumental items, recitals and vocal contributions all being featured, most of the artists came from the Staple Hall Depot. In fact on top form was Sergeant J. Hustler Smith, who gave an ‘elocutionary treat.’ As for Mrs. Thomas, the wife of Sapper Thomas, she sang sweetly, and Miss Ellingham, a ‘rich contralto,’ not only sang, but also played the piano, accompanied by her brother, Corporal S. Ellingham, on the violin. Sergeant Major Stevenson and Sergeant Horrabin were in splendid voice, Sapper Wale played beautiful harp solos, and at the end of the concert the two lady artists were presented with bouquets. A brief speech was then given by Mrs. Broome Giles, the local president, and a total of £5 would be raised. Also during the first week in November, at her home in Bletchley Road the mother of the vicar of Fenny Stratford, the Reverend J. Firminger, died, the coffin being removed on Friday evening to St. Martin’s Church. There on the following morning the first part of the service was held, with the vicar officiating, assisted by the Reverend G. Richards, Chaplain to the Forces, Staple Hall Depot, who read the lessons. The interment then took place in the Cemetery, where the elder brother of the vicar read the Committal Service. At the East Suffolk Hospital, Ipswich, on Saturday, November 9th, 20 year old Gunner William Henry Munday, Royal Field Artillery, died from wounds received in France on September 22nd. Formerly employed by Rowland Brothers, he was the second son of Mr. & Mrs. E. Munday, formerly of Western Road, but now of Rogate, near Petersfield, and the grandson of Mr. & Mrs. H. Nash, of Simpson Road.

The grave in Fenny Stratford Cemetery of Gunner William Henry Munday, Military Medal.

Joining the Army in January 1917, he had been in France since November of that year, and on August 27th was awarded the Military Medal for bravery. Attended by a firing party from Staple Hall Depot, the coffin was carried on a gun carriage covered with a Union Jack, and with full military honours the funeral took place at the Fenny Stratford Cemetery, a short service being held both at the graveside and at the Spurgeon Memorial Baptist Church. Having obtained leave from the West Surrey’s Camp at Cromer, Private Bernard Munday, the brother of the deceased, was amongst the mourners, but as for the elder brother, Clifford, since he was serving with the Marine Artillery in France he was unable to be present. Amongst the many floral tributes were flowers sent from the staff and patients of the East Suffolk Hospital, and from the firm of Rowlands. By licence, on November 18th Corporal S. Kershaw, Royal Engineers, the eldest son of Mr. & Mrs. Kershaw, of Oldham, married Miss Lydia Bowler, the youngest daughter of Mr. Charles and the late Mrs. Bowler, of the Bull & Butcher, Fenny Stratford. This was at St. Mary’s Church, Oldham, Lancs., but only a few friends were present for, although recently stationed at Staple Hall Depot, Corporal Kershaw was now based at Bedford. At the Petty Sessions on Thursday, November 28th a member of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, attached to the Staple Hall Depot, was summoned for having on November 2nd ridden a bicycle on the main road at Fenny Stratford without lights. He had now left the Depot on draft, and so did not appear in person, but previously he had said that having only recently arrived in England, he did not know that lights were necessary. However, he had given a false name and address to the police constable, who purely by chance met up with him later! A fine of 15s was imposed. Towards the end of November, at the meeting of the school managers an application from the officers of Staple Hall Depot was considered, to use the asphalt lawn tennis court in a playground of the Bletchley Road Schools on Saturday afternoons and Sundays. However, it was decided to grant the use for Saturdays only, although there were no objections, subject to the usual conditions, to the additional request to use the Schools for a dance. At the Petty Sessions on Thursday, December 12th, with Mr. A. Bramley in the chair a 21 year old lance corporal was charged on two counts with having between July 1st and November 30th stolen, from Staple Hall Depot, where he was stationed, one Marconi practice buzzer, one air condenser and one amplifier, to the value of £24 15s. These were the property of H.M. Army Council, and the man was also charged with stealing, at a place and date unknown, a quantity of wireless instruments and appliances to the value of £18 5s 10d. This was also the property of H.M. Army Council, and Lieutenant Brocklebank, Royal Engineers, Fenny Stratford, gave evidence as the officer in charge of the technical stores at the Staple Hall Depot. He said that on December 6th at the Police Station he identified several articles which had been under his charge, most of which bore the ‘broad arrow’ Government mark, and the missing amplifier was similar to the one produced. Captain Bertram Hardy-Smith, Royal Engineers, adjutant, Staple Hall Depot, stated that having around November 21st been Corporal of the guard, the accused would have had access to the offices in the course of relieving the sentries, whilst Captain Bulkey, Officer Commanding C Company, Royal Engineers, said that the condenser produced was the one missing from company headquarters, and as Second Corporal the defendant would have had access to the stores and offices. Yet in the man’s defence it was stated that he had served four years in Egypt, the Dardanelles etc., had been wounded twice, and wore the Mons Medal. Also, his character had always been excellent, and he was very keen in his work, for which he displayed a definite aptitude. Relating his involvement in the case, Inspector Callaway said that on December 2nd he had received information regarding the loss of a box of valves from Staple Hall Depot, and having made consequent inquiries he saw the defendant on December 4th with the Sergeant Major. He told the man that a quantity of wireless telegraphy appliances etc. had been found by the Bath police at his home, Devonshire House, Wells Way, Bath, and he would therefore be charged with the theft. However, the defendant said; “The stuff I have there came from France, the majority of it. The amplifier and valves came from here. That is all I am going to say,” although as he was being put into the cells he added; “I did not take anything from Cheshire’s shop. The amplifier and three valves complete came from Staple Hall. They were outside the orderly room door for two days previous to my taking them. I did not take anything from Cheshire’s shop.” From the Bath police, on December 6th Inspector Callaway then recovered the whole of the property which was duly produced in court, and when charged with the theft the defendant said; “The amplifier came from Staple Hall. The condenser from C Company’s Office, High Street, Fenny Stratford. I took them. The whole of the remainder I brought from France. I brought every bit myself except the clock. That was given to me by Corpl. Cross, now on the Murman Coast Expedition. I did not ask him where he got it.” On being charged the defendant pleaded not guilty, and said that he had no intention of stealing the articles. He was a sub instructor in wireless telegraphy, and having for some time been conducting experiments both privately and officially, he had taken the items in order to continue his work at Bath, and in time he believed that he could have made an important discovery. In fact it was his intention to bring the equipment back after the Christmas holidays, and the reason he had not asked permission was that “some one else might have reaped the benefit.” Indeed, in order to further his experiments he thought he was quite justified in taking the items, but, although the defence reiterated the man’s impeccable record, the Bench decided to find him guilty. However, they deferred sentence until the other charges had been heard, and these included having about November 22nd stolen from Staple Hall Depot a pair of gloves valued at 5s. These were the property of the adjutant to the Depot, Captain Hardy-Smith, who said that on November 21st he had left the gloves in his office at Staple Hall Depot, but the following morning found they were missing. Being sure he hadn’t dropped them, he had the fatigue party searched, but the next time he saw them was on December 7th amongst the defendant‘s personal property at the police station. In explanation, the defendant said that at the time that he took the amplifier the gloves were lying on it, and in mitigation the defence laid emphasis on the defendant’s young age, and his four years’ service, first in the Navy and then the Army. They then asked for treatment under the First Offenders Act, and in consequence a fine of £5 was imposed, to cover both charges, in default one month. The fine was paid. In another case of wireless theft, at the Petty Sessions on Thursday, December 18th a sergeant of the Royal Engineers, stationed at Staple Hall Depot, surrendered to his bail on charges of stealing on November 11th three wireless valves, the property of the Army Council, and also at some date unknown two watches and a quantity of wireless telegraphy appliances. Lieutenant Brocklebank, the officer in charge of the technical stores at Staple Hall Depot, identified the valves as Government property, and a lance corporal of the Royal Engineers said that on November 29th he drew three valves in a case from the stores and went to Cheshire’s shop, laying them on a table before going into an inner room. However, on coming back about five minutes later he found that they had gone. Inspector Callaway said that on December 6th, intending to make enquiries about a quantity of missing wireless appliances he went with Captain Hardy-Smith, and another Captain, to the defendant’s house in Windsor Street, where the man denied that there was anything there. However, when told that the house would be searched he went to a cupboard and brought out two articles of Government property, and when pressed further fetched a case of valves, saying that he had found it outside Cheshire’s shop, and should have handed it in to the stores. The defence entered a plea of not guilty, and said that the man, of 16 years service, had made the Army his profession, and he had a clean record. He had been due to go on draft to France, when a telegram arrived saying that his brother was dead. In consequence he obtained an extension of leave for the funeral, and just before going, when walking in Fenny Stratford he ‘kicked against’ the box of valves, which he then took home and told his wife that he must report. However, before he had time to do so the Inspector arrived. As for the watches, Lieutenant Brocklebank identified these as Government property. They were found hanging on the dresser, and the man said that he had “signed for them in France,” some of them for repair. As for the wireless appliances, he said that with these he intended to conduct experiments, and the equipment had mostly been obtained in the British retreat in France. In fact the equipment was being left behind, and unless completed and repaired would be of no use to anyone. Some of the experiments he performed before the General Staff in France, and there he believed some of his work was now being used. Regarding the second charge, he claimed that all the articles were ‘in his charge, and to be returned,’ and in conclusion the Bench gave him the benefit of the doubt on the first offence, the valves, and dismissed it, but fined him £3 on the second charge.

1919/1920

At Northampton Hospital, tragically Arthur Lampitt died as a result of an accident at the N.C.O.’s ball, which had been held at Staple Hall Depot on New Year’s Eve. Employed as a foreman coach painter at Wolverton Carriage Works, he was a talented musician, and giving evidence Lieutenant Thomas Sylvester said that on leaving the Recreation Hut the man, who had been playing the piano, tripped over the wire which had been placed to keep people off the grass. The Lieutenant had made a superficial examination of the leg, but finding nothing wrong allowed the man to walk with assistance to a car, for the return journey to Wolverton. However, Miss Sherwood, the House Surgeon at Northampton Hospital, said that the leg had been much damaged by walking after a fracture, and the cause of death was septic poisoning. In early February there was the risk of more trips and broken bones following a heavy fall of snow in early February. Gangs of soldiers from Staple Hall Depot were drafted in to clear the footpaths in Bletchley Road, and on the south side they erected temporary replacements from the remnants of the old poles, which had been brought down by the snow. On the morning of Saturday, February 8th 1919 Fred Evans, a 19 year old signaller in the Royal Engineers, was killed at Fenny Stratford. Being billeted in Bletchley, after breakfast he had left to go to Staple Hall Depot for the usual morning parade, held at about 8 o’clock, and shortly after leaving the house called out for a lift to the driver of a military motor lorry, which, laden with meat, was travelling to the Depot from Bletchley station. However, with the prevailing frost and snow, when he alighted at the gates of Staple Hall Depot he slipped, and the lorry ran over his head and killed him instantly. His body was then taken to the Staple Hall Depot Hospital, where the person in medical charge, Captain Allen Holthusen, R.A.M.C., made an official report of the injuries. By permission of Major T. S. Coles, a whist drive and dance was held at Staple Hall Depot on Thursday, June 5th 1919. Amongst others, the prizes had been contributed by Mrs. Broome Giles, but due to her unavoidable absence these were presented by Mrs. Jervis, with the winners including three soldiers from the Depot. At a weekly young people’s meeting in July 1919, held at the Spurgeon Memorial Baptist Church, the speaker was Captain the Reverend Vizard, the Church of England Chaplain to the troops at Staple Hall Depot, and he was supported as chairman by Lieutenant Iron, Royal Engineers, who on previous occasions had greatly entertained the class with the story of Gallipoli. On Thursday, July 17th 1919 the marriage took place at St. Martin’s Church of Lieutenant J. Pocock, Royal Engineers, and Helen Monfries, D.A., of Queen Mary’s W.A.A.C.s. The bride wore her uniform, and being given away by her brother, Major Monfries, she was attended by two bridesmaids, Miss James (Nottingham) and Miss Jervis. Officers and W.A.A.C.s of Staple Hall Depot formed a guard of honour outside the church, and a reception was held at The Cleve, the home of Mrs. Jervis. Bletchley and Fenny Stratford held their formal peace celebrations on Saturday, July 19th.


The Cleve stood on the triangle of land formed by the junction of the Watling Street and the Bedford branch of the railway. Being originally a farmhouse, it probably dated in part from the 17th century, and in fact following the destruction in 1706 of Willow Hall (the constable's house) it would long remain as the only building on that side of the road between Fenny Stratford and Denbigh Hall. With the arrival of the railway, the immediate land of some 9 acres was then divided, and the earliest known occupant seems to have been a Mr. Croft from Stony Stratford. He was recorded as a labourer in 1814, but as a gentleman in 1851. Later during that decade a part was let to Joseph Ager, a solicitor and Coroner, and probably beginning from the 1860s the house was then associated - firstly as tenant, and then as owner - with Matthew Stubbs, a coal and salt agent. Sometime before 1877 he named the property 'The Cleve,' or 'Cleve,' and converted the outbuildings into an adjoining house. Aged 73, Matthew died in 1892, and was commemorated by a stain glass window in St. Martin's Church. Around 1905 Joseph Roads, a bachelor, then came to live at The Cleve from Thornborough, where, with his brother, he had in earlier years farmed the Grange land. From The Cleve he later moved to Waddesdon House, Bletchley Road, and by 1914 the house (probably since 1911) was in the occupation of Mrs. Jervis, who, as the owner of considerable property in Goole, rented much of this accommodation to the poorer classes of the town. However, following the outbreak of the First World War she announced, through her local agents, that whilst the conflict lasted she would accept no rent from those families who were dependent on a husband, or other member, who was in military service. As for the remaining tenants, again for the same period only half the usual rent would be required. Yet apart from property, with Goole being a small port on the Humber she also had interests in the boat trade, dealing principally with ports on the Continent. On December 22nd 1915 the annual Scout supper was given at The Cleve by Mrs. Jervis and Mr.& Mrs. Thomas Rowland, and the 25 boys and their Scout master, Mr. Campbell, were entertained to an excellent supper, with the event being made especially enjoyable through the assistance of several officers of the Royal Engineers. In June 1917 it was announced that the daughter of Mrs. Jervis, of 'The Cleve,' was to be Ruri-decanal Secretary, but in July 1919 she then had another important role, by acting as one of the bridesmaids when, at St. Martin's Church, the marriage took place of Lieutenant J. Pocock, R.E., and Helen Monfries, D.A., of Queen Mary's W.A.A.C.s. Outside the church, officers and W.A.A.C.s of the Royal Engineers, of Staple Hall Depot, formed a guard of honour, and afterwards the reception was held at The Cleve. One of the guests would be Captain Ernest Deyns, of the Royal Bucks Hussars, the brother of a local doctor, and his presence seemed quite fitting, for at St. Martin's Church on October 28th 1919, he married Miss Jervis - Constance Ethel - at a service performed by the Reverend Firminger, assisted by the Reverend A. Vizard, C.F. Constance would then begin married life at Rectory Farm, Bow Brickhill, whilst as for The Cleve, this was demolished in 1961, to make way for industrial development.

The proceedings began with a procession marshalled at the Railway Bridge by Mr. T. Brace, and not surprisingly included a squad of Royal Engineers from Staple Hall Depot. Even by mid August 1919 the Staple Hall Depot had not been fully dismantled, and at a meeting of the Bletchley Branch of the National Federation of Discharged and Demobilised Soldiers and Sailors (the forerunner of the British Legion) on the evening of Thursday, November 6th 1919 it was reported that, since the scheme to purchase the ‘Belgian House,’ in Church Street, had fallen through, the new plan was to purchase one of the dining hall huts from the Staple Hall Depot, which were being sold by the Military Authorities. In fact an offer had already been made, and acceptance was now awaited. In February 1920 Messrs. Foll and Bawden sold by treaty the premises of the Bletchley Sanitary Laundry in Osborne Street. This had been started many years ago, and during the occupation of Staple Hall by the Royal Engineers did a great deal of work for the Military Authorities. However, after the departure of the military the laundry did not reopen for private customers, and closed. Also in February, the hut which, at Staple Hall Depot, had been the ante room to the