A commemoration and Tribute to the people of Campsea Ashe in WWI


Embed or link this publication


WWI commemoration

Popular Pages

p. 1

World War I A Commemoration and Tribute to the People of Campsea Ashe Lest We Forget


p. 2


p. 3

Introduction The Great War of 1914 to 1918 had a major impact on every city, town and village throughout the country. Campsea Ashe was no different and there is little doubt that every villager had fears about bombs being dropped from Zeppelins, invasion at any time and, of course, fears about what was happening to their loved ones or their neighbour’s loved ones who were serving overseas. Would they come home safely? Would they be wounded? How would they adapt to civilian life once again? What would life be like after the war? One hundred years on and it is fitting that we remember and pay tribute to the people who were living here at the time, especially, of course, the 84 men who served in the war. Eighteen of the men did not return. The Parish Council is delighted to support the Heritage Group in the publication of this commemorative book as a tribute to Campsea Ashe villagers who lived here during the Great War. They have researched the lives of those who served and discovered what they can about life in the village during this period. Many sources have been used in the research including the 1911 census, the Rev Lucas war diary, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and the Red Cross website, amongst others. The book is available online (www.campseaashechurch.org.uk) as well as copies being available in the Church and at the Station House. We hope every household will take the time to read these stories and pay tribute to all who were living in the village during the Great War. Richard Fernley Chair Campsea Ashe Parish Council September 2018 
 !1 !


p. 4

Did you know? They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old: Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning We will remember them. This verse, used at most remembrance services, is the fourth verse of a seven verse poem, called “For the Fallen” written by Robert Laurence Binyon. The poem was published in The Times newspaper on 21st September 1914. Robert Laurence Binyon 1869 - 1943 2! !


p. 5

Contents Introduction 1 Contents 3 Life in the village 5 National life in Britain 1914 -18 9 The Great War and the village fallen 11 Rev Lucas war diary 15 Those who served and returned 23 Red Cross volunteers 52 Appendices 1 Those who fell 58 II Those who served and returned 59 III Red Cross volunteers 60 IV Special Constables serving the village 61 Index of key people 62 Campsea Ashe Heritage Group 64 Heritage Group This commemorative book has been written and published by the Campsea Ashe Heritage Group. The Group is grateful to the Campsea Ashe Parish Council for generously sponsoring the cost of publication. It is hoped that the book will serve as a fitting tribute to the people of the village who lived through the war, especially the 84 men who served. Photographs Most photographs in this book were taken by Rev Lucas in 1914/15. Cover image by Bee Holmes Photography Copyright This book is copyright © Campsea Ashe Heritage Group 2018. All photographs included in this book of the memorials for the men who died are © The War Graves Photographic Project (www.twgpp.org) and the Heritage Group is grateful to the Project for permission to use them.
 !3 !


p. 6

Did you know? The youngest British soldier was just 12 years old Sidney Lewis (right) was just 12 years old when he lied about his age and joined the army during World War I. He was one of thousands of eager underage boys who enlisted and ended up fighting alongside their adult counterparts on the Front. Some were motivated by patriotism, but for others it was an escape from their dreary lives. Essex Yeomanry near the Church 4! !


p. 7

Life in the village The children at the village school started their Harvest Holiday on 28th July 1914. One week later, on 4th August, Britain was at war with Germany. Life in the village was going to be very different over the next 4 years and beyond. Outbreak of war At the outbreak of war, four young men from the village were already serving in the regular army and were the first to be sent to France with the British Expeditionary Force. Four more men were serving in the Royal Navy and were immediately ready for war. In September 1914, the government called for young single men over the age of 18 to volunteer to serve their King and Country. Several young men from Campsea Ashe were the first to answer the call including Allen Pipe and brothers Arthur and Russell Hall. The majority of the families living in the village relied on the farmers for employment. The large majority of the men were farm labourers, gardeners and domestic servants. Wickham Market Station, which was located in Campsea Ashe, employed about 16 men in 1914. Volunteer recruits Troops in the village near the Church Between September 1914 and January 1916, more young men volunteered and left the village to fight in the war. As there was little mechanisation, heavy horses were used to plough the fields, for harvesting and for many other important jobs essential for a successful farming year. The army needed more horses and took most of them for war work in Flanders. Only 1 or 2 were left on each farm and the farm labourers now had to do much of the work by hand. The older men, young boys between 13 and 18, and some of the women of the village were needed to continue the vital work on the land. The work was very hard. Within weeks of the outbreak of the war, James Lowther, Speaker of the House of Commons, who resided at the High House, Campsea Ashe, established a small hospital within its grounds. The squash court, some of the stables and garage were converted into suitable accommodation for up to 20 men recovering from their wounds. The Iron Room, next to the Rectory, was also converted into a ward for eight patients, and they were both in use for the next four years. Zeppelins There was a possibility of a German invasion on the Suffolk coast and soon Zeppelins (left) attacked the eastern side of Britain, followed by German planes later. They dropped their bombs and they slowly moved through the sky. It must have been a fearsome sight as aircraft of any kind had not been seen by most people in the village. Blackouts were enforced to minimise the danger of the bombs being dropped on towns and villages. On 12th August 1915, James Lowther recalled that three violent explosions shook the house, caused by a Zeppelin dropping bombs on Woodbridge where great damage was done and 8 people were killed and 15 or more injured. 5! !


p. 8

An entry in the School Log Book recorded on 13th September 1915 stated: “several children are unfit for work this morning. It appears that several of them were awake during the night due to a Zeppelin raid. They were sent home.” Railway The railway station was vital for communications and transporting people and produce. It was also used by the army for transporting troops. Grain and other harvested crops, livestock and milk were taken by rail to the market and distribution centres. The station was much bigger than it is today with a double track, goods and cattle trains, large sheds and two platforms. Conscription In January 1916, conscription came into force for all single men between the ages of 18 and 41. By June, conscription was extended to include married men. Many more men left the village and were sent to the Front. It is not known how many men were conscripted from the village, many having volunteered before conscription was introduced. Family life and rationing Suffolk Yeomanary leaving for the Front from Wickham Market station The responsibility for looking after the family, helping maintain food production and helping feed the nation fell on wives and mothers. News from the Front would gradually filter through to the village reporting the number of those killed and injured. When the wind blew from the east, the sound of the guns on the Front line could be heard. Relatives of the menfolk in the field of battle must have lived in constant worry and fear. As the shortage of food began to bite, the nation was asked to undertake voluntary rationing. These shortages led to an increase in prices as the war progressed. In 1914 a loaf of bread cost 1d, but by 1916 the price had risen to 10d. Much of the wheat needed for bread was imported from America but because of the blockade in the Atlantic, where hundreds of British merchant ships were sunk by the German Navy before reaching our shores, all available land had to be used to provide food. Coal was also in short supply, and was restricted and expensive, but fortunately the villagers were able to collect wood locally, often by the children, which supplemented the coal ration. Food rationing came into force at the start of 1918, which included meat, butter, margarine, sugar, tea and bread. However, potatoes were not rationed and could be eaten freely. The villagers did all they could to provide food for themselves. Most homes had small gardens which were used to grow vegetables and fruit. Some were able to keep a few hens as eggs were in short supply. Shooting a rabbit or two was customary in the village and provided welcome meat for the pot. The population of the village in 1914 was about 323 (taken from 1911 census). It was a close community and they would all know the men fighting in the war either as family and relations, friends and neighbours. They supported and helped each other during the difficult times. The Andrews family, for example, saw four sons leave to fight in France but the youngest son, Alec, was killed in July 1918. Also five Mays brothers left the village to serve their country, but only four returned. The two Sharpe brothers were killed within months of each other in 1916. Frank Culpeck enlisted when he was only 15. It is said that he was a big lad for his age. !6 !


p. 9

The Church Church services continued as normal and were well attended. The young men who were fighting left significant gaps in the congregation and every Sunday the names of these men were read out and prayers were said for their safekeeping. As the blackout came into force evensong had to be brought forward to the afternoon. Rev Lucas records that soldiers based at Rendlesham Park held their Sunday Parade at the Church and over 200 men attended. Some of the soldiers came to other services and some even joined the Choir. Village School The village school (right) continued to educate children from the ages of 5 to 13. Over the course of the war, average attendance was about 50. Apart from some closures when the weather was bad, attendance was very good. An attendance officer would visit the school about once a week. In April 1915, the School Log Book recorded an outbreak of measles in the village and a number of children were absent. In April 1918, the infant classes were suspended as there was an outbreak of whooping cough. As the numbers of children contracting the disease increased, the school had to be closed for a month. Later in the autumn of the same year, the school was closed for five weeks due to the influenza epidemic. In 1914 several of the boys from the village joined the local scout troop and played their part in the war effort. Rev Lucas records that they were used to patrol the roads to guard the telegraph wires, bridges from German spies. Campsea Ashe Scouts camping at Marlesford Hall In 1917, to help with food production, the older boys used the school garden to grow vegetables. They were also given a small piece of land next to the school. In spite of the lack of garden tools the boys were successful. In September, the boys harvested 2 stone of potatoes which were sent to a distribution centre. The end of the war In August 1918, the allied forces broke through the German lines and gradually pushed the enemy back towards Germany. This was to be the beginning of the end. Only those that were in the theatre of war knew what horrors were endured. Words cannot possibly describe what these brave men lived through. On 11th November 1918, the guns fell silent and the war was over. The whole country celebrated and we were at peace. Eighty four men who lived, worked or were associated with Campsea Ashe served their country, eighteen of these did not return. Those that survived slowly returned to the village and their families. A memorial was erected on the edge of the churchyard in about 1922. It bears the names of our young men who paid the ultimate sacrifice and who are remembered every year by the present residents of Campsea Ashe. 7! !


p. 10

Did you know? Blood banks were developed during WW1 The British Army began the routine use of blood transfusion in treating wounded soldiers. Blood was transferred directly from one person to another. A US Army doctor, Captain Oswald Robertson, established the first blood bank on the Western Front in 1917, using sodium citrate to prevent the blood from coagulating and becoming unusable. Blood was kept on ice for up to 28 days and then transported to casualty clearing stations for use in life-saving surgery where it was needed most. 8! !


p. 11

National Life in Britain 1914 - 1918 Monarchy George V (right) was on the throne throughout the war, supported by his wife, Queen Mary. The Royal Family had a serious problem during the war due to the King’s family connections to Germany, his first cousin being the German Kaiser Wilhelm II. At the start of the war the Royal Family was known as the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, but in 1917 the King issued an Order in Council that changed the name to the House of Windsor and he and his relatives relinquished any German titles they held and they adopted English surnames. Government H H Asquith was the Liberal Prime Minister at the outbreak of war and he and his party remained in power until May 1915 when a Coalition Government was formed. The Coalition consisted of Liberals, Unionists (Conservatives) and a few Labour MPs and was again led by Asquith. A year later, in 1916, Asquith was replaced and eventually David Lloyd George became Prime Minister. The war was the major issue that the Government had to deal with. However, there were other pressing matters such as the rise of the suffragette movement, Home Rule for Ireland and, of course, the problem of financing the war. Throughout the war the Speaker of the House of Commons was James Lowther, (left) who was a prominent resident of Campsea Ashe living at the High House in Ashe Park. No doubt local people were justifiably proud of his position. On his death in 1949 a commemorative memorial was erected in the Church. Industry Inevitably, industrial production during the war was focussed on supporting the war effort. By April 1915, just two million rounds of shells had been sent to France but by the end of the war the figure had reached 187 million, and a year's worth of pre-war production of light munitions could be completed in just four days by 1918. Aircraft production in 1914 provided employment for 60,000 men and women; by 1918 British firms employed over 347,000 (figures according to Wikipedia). War casualties Exact figures for numbers of casualties are difficult to prove, but various bodies have determined the numbers. The War Office, in 1922, lists 908,371 soldiers as being either killed in action, dying of wounds, dying as prisoners of war or missing in action in the World War. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission gives a total of 888,246 war dead from the UK and its colonies. The 1922 War Office report detailed the deaths of 1,260 civilians and 310 military personnel due to air and sea bombardment. A further 908 civilians and 63 fisherman were killed by U-boat attacks. !9 !


p. 12

A few facts about everyday life in 1914 • In 1914 life expectancy was 53 years for women and 49 years for men. • Old age pensions had been introduced in 1909 - for 70 year olds and over. • Motor cars were becoming popular - James Lowther drove one! • The average weekly wage for an agricultural labourer was about 16s 9d (about 84p today) Pint of milk 6 medium sized eggs 1/4 pound loose tea Loaf of bread 1d 3d 2d 1d It has been estimated that inflation from 1914 to 1918 was 103%, so prices roughly doubled during the course of the war. Rev Lucas commented on rationing: Lord Devonport our Food Chancellor, has now, (February 3rd 1917), put the nation 'on its honour' to voluntarily restrict its consumption of food and to observe the following scale:- Bread 4lbs (or 3lbs of flour for breadmaking) per person per week Meat 2.5lbs per person per week Sugar 3/4lb per person per week If the appeal is not satisfactorily responded to, ration tickets will be instituted. The above scale, though it may appear small, is really quite sufficient. February 17th 1917 It is now stated that the foregone Food Allowances are to include 1. Meat - as weighed and uncooked, including the bone. 2. Flour - to include what is used for other cooking purposes besides bread making. (In many places, sugar is not obtainable). The allowances of meat and bread are hardly satisfying to a healthy outdoor appetite! January 6th 1918 We are now on sugar rations, by tickets - 1/2 lb per head per week if you can get it. Meat getting very scarce; tea, bacon, milk, matches, paraffin etc etc. often unobtainable for weeks together or only very small quantity in stock. Prices of nearly everything about double pre war prices; consequently a good deal of unrest amongst working classes in spite of their repeated increases of wages. April 7th 1918 The rationing of meat and butter and margarine is now extended to all parts of the country. At present the meat ration is 1s/3d worth of butchers meat and 5d worth of bacon or poultry, tinned meat etc. per head per week, 1/4 lb of butter or margarine. For some time past we have been sugar rations - 1/2 lb per head per week. Meat prices fixed by the Government, vary from about 1/6 to 2/6 per lb according to the cut and this a weeks allowance - about 1oz a day! Butter is 2/6 per lb. Eggs during winter were 6d each.
 1! 0 !


p. 13

The Great War and the village fallen At the start of the 20th century competitive rivalries and suspicions amongst the main powers in Europe led to uneasy, and highly militaristic, alliances being formed: on one side were Germany, Austria / Hungary and Italy, and on the other France, Russia and Great Britain. Europe was becoming a “powder keg”, and war was practically inevitable. The situation was particularly sensitive in the Balkans, where Slav nationalism was on the rise, encouraged by Russia which wanted to gain influence in Constantinople (present day Istanbul) and control the Dardenelles for its maritime route to the Mediterranean. These Russian ambitions, however, would destabilise Turkey (the old Ottoman Empire) and potentially undermine Germany’s own plans for Constantinople, which it wanted to exploit as part of its trade route into the oil-fields of the Persian Gulf. Assassination When, on 28 June 1914, the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in Sarajevo the powder keg erupted in the form of a cascade of initiatives: Austria sought reprisals against Serbia, Serbia turned to Russia for help, and Germany (fearful of being squeezed between east and west) in the first week of August pre-emptively declared war on both Russia and France, opportunistically beginning its ‘Schlieffen Plan’ to attack the latter through Belgium. But this cynical move contravened an existing treaty to guarantee Belgian neutrality so, on the 4 August 1914, Britain upheld the treaty by in turn declaring war on Germany. Thus the Great War started, and in spite of the participants expecting a ceasefire within weeks, the conflict ground on bitterly for over four years, leaving a death-toll of millions and an aftermath of unimaginable suffering and hardship throughout the world. A second front in the East The initial German attack through Belgium was weakened from the outset because they were forced to open a second front in the east to counter much stronger Russian forces than they had expected. This weakening allowed the French and British to halt the German advance at the River Marne in northern France and, in spite of sporadic fighting, an almost inert stalemate gradually set in along a 300 mile front from the Belgian coast near Dunkirk, south-eastwards though the border towns of Ypres, Arras, Rheims and Verdun, practically to Switzerland. !11 !


p. 14

The Western Front For the duration of the war this notorious Western Front was characterised by waves of infantry attack and counter-attack between deeply dug-in and fortified trenches defended by barbed wire, and through deadly machine-gun fire once troops went ‘over the top’ and began to advance into ‘No Man’s Land’. Later in the war, poison gas, tanks and aeroplanes were also thrown into the struggle to break the deadlock, to limited effect except to increase the death toll. Throughout these operations, on both sides, support for these killing fields was continually provided from the rear by heavy artillery which shelled the enemy positions, devastating the terrain with shrapnel, and churning the ground into a quagmire. Where the Campsea Ashe men fell It was as this trench war was being fought and stagnating to the south of Flanders that the first of Campsea Ashe’s young men lost his life [╬ Louis Jarvis, Rue de Bois, 16th May 1915], and we know that seventeen more were to make the ultimate sacrifice serving their country [marked thus ╬]. Later in the spring of 1915 landings were made by British and Empire troops at Gallipoli in an attempt to gain control of the Dardenelles, isolate the Turks, and open the sea-route for Russia. However, the campaign was a prolonged failure and resulted in heavy losses [╬ Charles Cory, Gallipoli, 12th Aug. 1915]. Further east towards the Persian Gulf, British troops were also in action attacking the oil fields in Mesopotamia (present day Iraq) [╬ Robert May, Mesopotamia, 4th Dec 1915]. Throughout 1916 desperate, but ultimately futile, attempts were made by both sides to break through each other’s lines, with the infamous Battle of the Somme and its aftermath running into the spring of 1917 being one of the lengthiest and most bitterly fought campaigns [╬ Ernest Sharpe, Thiepval, 3rd July 1916; George Mowson, The Somme, 7th October 1916; Walter Sharpe, Courcelles-au-Bois, 13th November 1916; Frederick Benham, Barlin, 19th March 1917]. The battlefield of Arras was another region in which many British lives were lost during 1917 [╬ Frederick Radcliffe, Arras, 10th April 1917; William Smith, Arras, 11th April 1917; George Glanfield, Pas de Calais, 26th July 1917], with Canadian troops establishing their base at Etaples prior to their attack on Vimy Ridge [╬ Frederick Culling, Etaples, 14th January 1917]. In the summer and autumn of 1917 yet more costly engagements took place at Ypres and Passchendaele [╬ Ellis Gray, Ypres, 16th Aug. 1917], as did follow-up operations further south against German garrisons in Cambrai in December [╬ William Sawyer, Cambrai, 2nd December 1917]. The war at sea is most vividly brought to mind by the Battle of Jutland fought in July 1916, when the opposing surface fleets clashed, but as the war progressed into its fourth year the submarine had developed to deadly effect as a weapon against shipping in the North Sea as Britain and Germany blockaded one another [╬ Alfred Ling, Chatham Naval Memorial, 19th January 1918]. Meanwhile the battle front straddling the French / Belgian border continued to claim lives as skirmishes still raged, the Germans making last-ditch pushes westwards, but with the Americans now opposing them as well as the British and French. Eventually strong Allied counter-attacks prevailed, inland from Dunkirk, through Amiens and Ypres again, and thence to Arras, Valenciennes and St Quentin, the carnage continuing into the closing weeks of the war [╬ Bertie Baldry, Haringhe, 23rd April 1918; Alec Andrews, Pas de Calais 5th July 1918; Thomas Rogers, Pas de Calais, 11th October 1918]. The Armistice to cease hostilities between the main protagonists was signed on 11th November 1918, but a tragic and equally catastrophic horror was the influenza pandemic that began as the war ended, and persisted for some months afterwards, adding still-mobilised servicemen to the list of the fallen [╬ Arthur Collings, Charleroi, 18th December 1918]. So ended The Great War, in which nearly 60 million troops were mobilised worldwide, and which took a total human toll of at least 10 million. Britain alone mobilised over 6 million men, of whom considerably more than 700,000 were killed or died subsequently of injury and disease, with nearly 80% of these on the Western Front alone. The average age of Campsea Ashe’s fallen servicemen was just over 26 years old. !12 !


p. 15

We will remember them 
 1! 3 !



no comments yet