Old Stratford at War

The Northampton Mercury July 4th 1885

1ST BUCKS RIFLE VOLUNTEER CORPS. On June 27th Col. Wetherell, commanding the corps, held his inspection at Shrub Lodge, Old Stratford. The Wolverton Company (No.6) assembled at the Armoury at 1.30 and Marched to Stony Stratford, where they were met by N0. 7 Company. The regiment was carefully inspected, and after a short drill a sham fight was organised, No. 6 attacking and No.7 acting on the defensive. The Colonel afterwards, in the course of a speech, said he was on the whole well satisfied with the work done. The armouries were subsequently inspected. The strength of the regiment was No. 6 Company, 106; No. 7, 34. In addition to the Colonel and Adjutant, Capt. Williams, Lieuts Porteous and Scrivener and Lieut. Scrivener (Cambridge University Rifle Corps) were present. At the No. 2County Rifle Association meeting, last week, Private Sandwell, of Wolverton, won the Challenge Cup, with a prize of £10, also the bronze medal. His score was 88 points.

The Northampton Mercury May 25th 1900

In common with other places, Stony Stratford people rejoiced on Saturday over the relief of Mafeking. At Old Stratford the Rev. Dr. Payne gave the inhabitants a tea, about 150 sitting down, and subsequently dancing was indulged in.

The Northampton Mercury November 9th 1900

WAR ITEMS. The death of Private John Robinson, 2nd Northamptonshire Regiment, who is reported to have succumbed to fever at Mafekin on October 27, has caused much regret in Stony Stratford, where he lived. He was the son of Mr. Hugh Robinson, of Old Stratford, and served six years with the colours in China, and completed his time in the Reserves. He then joined Section D of Reservists. The deceased was 37 years of age.

Private John Robinson would have been entitled to this medal.

The Northampton Mercury September 12th 1913



The troops who were called to engage in a strenuous engagement west of Potterspury on Wednesday did not, as on the previous day, get at very close quarters with the enemy. Consequently the fighting, such as it was, took place in the open, and gave the Artillery more scope than in the battle of Old Bradwell. Because each commander, too, was unable to locate the exact position of the other and his force, the operations had a more realistic touch about them, and each General was dependent for the success of his side more on his own initiative and resourcefulness and the information of his scouts than on the happy circumstances of the scheme—which he is cognisant of—and which might help him considerably. A delightful piece of romance, too, was woven into the scheme, which rather than otherwise taught the troops engaged what can happen in a war-infected area.

Old Stratford Crossroads

Raiding in Redland.

Whilst retiring on Northampton, which is a defended post on the frontier of Blueland and Redland. the commander of the flank  guard of a Blueland force which has been raiding in Redland (Redland is south of the river Nene) is stopped at the cross roads in Old Stratford at 10 a.m.  A dust begrimed weary looking agricultural labourer, who proves to be a Blue partisan, tells the commander in halting excited tones that he has cycled in from Paulerspury; that at 9 a.m. that morning Red troops were just commencing to enter Silverstone, which is three miles south-west of Paulerspury, from Syresham; that Red cyclists had followed him to Whittlebury, where he turned south; and that the Red troops in all likelihood went on to Paulerspury . The commander was aware that a red force was being rapidly assembled near Banbury for the purpose of cutting off the raiders, and the story of the dusty cyclist increases his alarm. He immediately orders his troops to proceed in their retirement to Northampton, which is through , Grafton Regis and Roade to the frontier town.

The commanders of the advanced guard of the Red force, whose orders were to push forward and delay the enemy at all costs, also received valuable information from a village cyclist. The latter rushed into Whittlebury at 10 a.m. with the alarming news that the head of a Blue column, consisting of about an infantry brigade with guns had passed through Upper Weald at Calverton, from which place he had cycled, and that it was passing through Calverton on the way to Stony Stratford. Cyclists had followed him to Old Stratford, where they had taken the road to Yardley Gobion. Other information indicated that the main Blue column had passed the night near Bletchley, and had moved in the morning to Bradwell. Thus with clear and precise information as to the whereabouts of the left flank guard, of the main column of the enemy, and of the distance separating the two, the commander of the Red advance guard has a very definite object in view, to keep the enemy's flank a separated force, whilst the commander of the main Red column engages the enemy's main column on the road from Bradwell to Hanslope.
The flank guard of the Blue force included the 12th infantry Brigade, with the 32nd Field Artillery Brigade and the 7th Field Company R.E., under Brigadier-General H. F. M. Wilson. The Red advance guard was represented, by the  10th Infantry Brigade, the 37th Field Artillery Brigade, and the 9th Field Company R.E., under Brigadier-General J. A. L. Haldane. Each force had a detachment of Field Ambulance in the rear.

A Happy Position.

When operations commenced at 10 a.m., the Southern commander of the force which is assembled to intercept the Northern force, who have been raiding redland, was in a happy position. His troops occupied the main road through Whittlebury, which is situated on decidedly higher ground than the road on which the Northern force are traversing in their march to Grafton Regis. Besides, this force had the misfortune to have the Grand Junction Curial and the river Tove running parallel to the road on the east , and, therefore, communication with the flank guard and its main body was not always easy.

General Haldane

General Haldane seized the key to the only road across the canal, and the holding of this key, the possession of which was never debated, forced a fight on the Northern commander. General Haldane’s  first move towards intercepting the march of the raiders was to place a small force in possession of a little crest on which the rises above the river near Grafton Regis, and which crest not only commands the road upon it, but the only canal crossing for three mile. On this crest General Haldane placed machine guns and a detachment of Dublin Fusiliers, who held in against possible attack.

General Wilson

A Subtle Trick.

Meanwhile General Wilson's troops were hurriedly marching towards Grafton Regis. The scouts ware hard at work collecting and despatching their information to the rear. But nothing tangible was gleaned until Grafton Regis itself was reached. Here General Wilson’s e4 reconnoitres quickly saw the objects of the crest occupants, and General Wilson attempted a subtle trick, which, however, had not the success it deserved. He sent a company forward up the Watling-street towards Paulerspury, who, he hoped, would distract his opponent 'a attention. General Haldane saw through the trick, but sent a small company to keep an eye on the movements of the tricksters. Then for a time each commander was endeavouring to solve the mystery of the other's actual whereabouts and intentions. The scouts could secure nothing of value, and reconnoitring parties failed to glean anything that would throw light on the mystery. After waiting some considerable time General Haldane boldly marched against Grafton to see it his opponent was holding the village in strength. But only a small handful of the enemy were really in the village.

Soon afterwards General Wilson's troops marched into the village and awaited the advance of the Southerners. The latter were not a great distance away, and General Haldane's guns soon spoke. The Fusiliers were sent at the double to the east of the main road, and thus in the first moment the Northern's right was barred from communication with the main body.
Quickly the line was run forward by the Warwicks, who occupied Grafton Lodge, and the Seaforths continued, whilst the Irish Fusiliers came into the struggle from the left. General Wilson marched out his troops in a square, with the Berkshire in the van. The Berks poured in a hot volley which only held the Seaforces back. The rest of the Southern force came on in splendid order, and in almost perfect line, until cover was reached. The Warwicks retained possession of Grafton Lodge, against which the Northerns pointed their artillery guns, but with little success, whilst General Haldane succeeded in putting a whole battalion with machine guns behind a hedge and ditch which commanded the whole of the road and the field through which the Northerns would have to pass, unless they forced the passage over the canal, which the Dublin Fusiliers were holding.

An Indecisive Finish.

General Wilson's troops were gradually driven into the open, and so far as tactical advantages were concerned the Southern Force—with a battalion under cover, a company holding the Grafton crest, and the Warwicks occupying Grafton Lodge with full view of the intervening ground were in a superior position. With the situation thus favourable for the Northerns the cease fire sounded, though what the result would have been had the issue been forced it is impossible to say.
Each commander had strong reserves behind him, and it is quite possible that the Northern artillery might have swept the Warwicks out of Grafton Lodge. This would have left a wide strength of country open for General Wilson's men, across which it would have been possible to force the cover of the hidden battalion. In any ease the Northern General would have an open rear through which to pass a hurried call for reinforcements. At three o'clock the return to camp was commenced, and after a strenuous day they reached home tired, but looking fit and well. The reveille sounded at one a.m. this (Thursday) morning, and at three o'clock the troops of the 12th and 10th Brigades were marching to their respective rendezvous in the west of the county for a two days' engagement. They will not return to camp until Friday evening.

The Northampton Mercury October 10th 1913

Part of a letter written to Uncle Dick on the children’s page of the Northampton Mercury.


The Army Manœuvres have caused great excitement, and the people from all parts visited the camps. There was a big camp at Wolverton, where the Royal Field Artillery, the King’s Own Regiment, Lancashire Regiment, South Wales Borderers, Royal Berkshire Regiment, camped in two big fields.
There was also a big camp between Old Wolverton and Stony Stratford, in seven fields, where some more Royal Artillery, Royal Warwickshire regiment, Seaforth Highlanders, Royal Irish Fusiliers, Royal Dublin Fusiliers, East Lancashire Regiment, Durham Light Infantry, Gordon Highlanders, and the Rifle Brigade all camped.

It was very exciting to see all the soldiers march from the station to the camps with different bands playing. Crowds of people visited the camps on Sunday to the church parade, and to hear the bands play. It was also very amusing to see the soldiers cooking.

I did not see any of the Manœuvres, as I was at work, but on Tuesday, September 23, the Printing Works were closed in the afternoon, and I went along the Towcester road and saw the soldiers camping in the fields by the road for the night. Crowds of people were along the road, and great excitement was caused by the aeroplanes and airships flying about. When about ten minutes to five cries were heard, “The King and Queen are coming.” All the people flocked to the cross-roads at Old Stratford, and at five minutes to five the Royal motor came by, followed by four more motors. People waved their hats and gave the King and Queen a hearty welcome in cheers. The motors were driven very slowly towards Towcester past the eager people. Altogether it had been very exciting, and lots of people are sorry the soldiers are going away. They say it is the best camp they have had, and the visit of the soldiers was greatly appreciated by the people.
MAY BEAL (15) Wharf House, Old Wolverton.

The King and Queen on the same day at Towcester

The Northampton Mercury June 9th 1916


The first outing this year for the wounded soldiers from the Northampton General Hospital took place on June 1st. Excellent arrangements were made by the Soldiers’ Summer Outings Committee, who had excepted the kind invitation of Mr. and Mrs. Dickens, of the Home Farm, Old Stratford. Leaving the Hospital at two o'clock, between 60 and 70 soldiers (including a few of the men who arrived with the convoy on Wednesday) had a delightful journey in cars kindly lent by: Mr. Rymill, Mr. C. J. Harris. Mr. W. Arnold, sen. Miss Fisher, Mrs Freer. Mr. C. W. Phipps, Mr. J. Barford, and two motor charabancs, one by Mrs. S. Yards and the other by the Outings Committee.

Tea awaited the men in the Old Trinity Schoolroom (leant by Mr. Webb), where Mr. and Mrs. Dickens and a number of willing helpers entertained about 100 guests. The Rev. Symonds was also present . Private Mead (Coldstream Guards) proposed, on behalf of his comrades, a hearty vote of thanks to Mr and Mrs. Dickens and the helpers for their hospitality, and it was accorded with three ringing cheers. Cigarettes and smokes were handed round after tea.

The soldiers and friends afterwards spent a happy time in the grounds and exploring the town. Refreshments were provided during the evening. Cheers were again given for the host and hostess on departure. The Matron (Miss Atkinson), Sister Valentine and several nurses accompanied the men.

The Northampton Mercury May 21st 1915

PITTAM PTE. S., 2nd Northamptonshire Regiment.
Writing to his mother at Old Stratford, Private Grace, of the 2nd Northants, states that Private Pittam was killed in the charge of the Northamptons on Sunday, May 9. Private Pittam’s friends, however, who live at Cosgrove, have had no intimation, official or otherwise.


REDLEY, PTE. SIDNEY, Northamptonshire Regiment.
Pte. Redley has sent a brief communication to his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Redley who live at Shrub Cottages, Old Stratford, to say that he is in hospital at Bristol. He has given no particulars of his injuries, and they know nothing of how he was wounded.

The Northampton Mercury November 5th 1915

PANTER, TROOPER REG., Royal Bucks Hussars.
Trooper Panter, whose parents live at Ivy House, Old Stratford, is reported to have been missing since August 21, when he was wounded. His parents would be glad to receive further news, concerning him.

The Northampton Mercury November 26th 1915


Appended is a list of the enrolment stations for South Northants: Middleton Cheney, King’s Sutton, Byfield, Morton Pinkney, Brackley, Old Stratford, and Towcester.

The Northampton Mercury June 9th 1916

A firm of engineers at Old Stratford applied for a turner and fitter, who had been enrolled as a munition volunteer. In answer to the Clerk, the representative said the firm was not badged. He said he had let all his apprentices go, including his own boys. Five months’ exemption.

The Northampton Mercury September 15th 1916

An Old Stratford wheelwright applied for the exemption of his son, who was 18 on January 24 last. The recommendation of the Military Representative, exemption until the end of the year (final), was adopted, and the V.T.C.

The Northampton Mercury October 13th 1916

STONY STRATFORD PETTY SESSIONS: Walter Slaymaker, farmer, Old Stratford; Malcolm Jelley, baker, Cosgrove were summoned for failing to properly screen their respective shops or dwellings. P.S. Lawrence and P.C. Robinson stated the facts. A fine of 10s.was imposed.

The Northampton Mercury December 1st 1916

FROST, PTE. PERCY, Canadians, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Frost, Old Stratford, was killed on October 8, 1916. He was 21 years old. Two sons have now been killed.

The Northampton Mercury December 8th 1916


HOLMAN, 13243, PTE. H., Oxford and Bucks L.I. Old Stratford.

The Northampton Mercury December 15th 1916


GRACE, 8954, PTE. W. Northamptonshire Regiment, Old Stratford.

Wolverton Express 13th April 1917


On Saturday, the Rev H Symonds, Rector of Passenham, dedicated a war shrine to the memory of the boys who are fighting for King and country, together with those who have fallen. Although only a small hamlet, at the crossroads in Watling Street, Old Stratford has provided nearly half a hundred gallant defenders, of whom six have fallen, viz, G Cripps, R Panter, C Whitehead, W Grace, E Frost and P Frost. The shrine, which stands inside the north east, or Furtho corner, was given by Mr and Mrs W W Dickens, who have from the beginning of the war generously extended their practical sympathy towards everything calling for support, and not long since entertained a party of wounded soldiers from Northampton. The dedication service was attended by a representative gathering of parishioners and included the hymns
“O God our help”, and “For Absent Friends”. The Rev Symonds also gave an address. The list of those serving numbers 38.

Plaque on the front of the Memorial Hall Old Stratford

For Old Stratford soldiers who were killed in the war -

see Cosgrove First World War Fallen

Old Stratford men who served in WWI and returned

  WEBSTER Albert
BUTLER Charles GREEN Charles
    GREEN William JONES Harold Clayton RATCLIFFE Jn    
    GOODMAN Walter JONES Harry William        

WWII - Home Guard: This store at the rear of the Memorial Hall was the Armoury for the Home Guard.
There was also an underground Royal Observer Corps bomb proof bunker in Black Horse field. John Marchant