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Year 9 Research

On 1 July 2015 Year 9 students at The Hemel Hempstead School spent a morning carrying our First World War research using artefacts and newspaper stories from the Gazette.  The work adopts 'Military History from the Street' methods developed by Professor Richard Grayson, who has supported 'Hemel at War' since it was initiated.  The students' historical writing is available using the links below:

Territorials at Hemel Hempstead by George McCormack  

Troops at Hemel Hempstead by Ethan George

Christmas 1914 in the Trenches by Ailsa Goff and Grace Lockyer 

Great Britain at War by Sophie Murphy and Steph Adu 

Home from Belgium by Tom Deering, Joe Metcalfe and Jack Noonan

Mr & Mrs Smeathman’s Sad Loss by Nathan Withers and Joshua Cartwright

On 24 June 2016 a further group of Year 9 students produced these pieces of writing:

Air Raids by Simi Parekh, Aneesa Siddique and Snega Aravinathan

WT Smith’s Lucky Escape by Annie Martell

Herts Footballers Save the Day by Ed Grayson, Eashan Panchal and Joe Hutchings

The Battle with the Turks by Robbie Tripp and Aman Vyas

WT Smith by Emily Rojewska

The County Tribunal by Mitchell Rees and Roxy Wittrick

Prisoner from Hemel Escapes the Germans by Yasmin Jayasinghe & Amy Scrivener

Refugees by Hollie Partridge

Letters from the Front by Josh Coveney and Kyle Patel

The Battle of Jutland by Aidan Mitchell and Piyush Shrestha

On 27 June 2017, Year 9s wrote these pieces:

Goodbye to the Troops by Charlie Cottrell

Discharged and Disabled Soldiers by Poppy Nixon and Emma Sharpling

World War One in Hemel Hempstead by Munro Manners

Letters from the Front, 1915: stirring stories from the trenches by Will Ashton, Sam Hancock and Scott Bowman

The war’s effect on health by Harvey Taylor and Xander West

Farmers and Prisoners of War by Anya Mistry, Ella Norman and Zara Rafiq-Craske

Wounded Soldier’s Experience in Egypt by Megan Sullivan and Shajida Rahman

Work from 10th July 2018 was:

The Gazette Advertisements, 6th July 1918 by Arabella Norris and Maizie Edwards

Twins in the Army by Karthik Ramanathan

Disabled Heroes by Holly Prosser and Liana Statie

Pte. Harold George Dyer by Rishi Hindocha and James Allen

The Death of Mr Lorel by Dom Burger and Ben Smith

Local curate’s death still has a big impact on the community by Hannah Adu and Mel Parana-Thanthirige

Hemel Hempstead's Jubilation by Derin Su and Nicholas Durer

National Kitchens in Hemel Hempstead by Katrina McDowall and Gracie Maskell

On 25th June 2019, students again wrote pieces about local news stories, while some chose to write poems inspired by those pieces:

Effects of war on politics by Teddy Smart and Ollie Sharpling

World War 1 poem about the football clubs folding by Tom White and Jack Ballard

French Welcome by Shaani Patel, Lauren Rance and Olivia Maskell

Haven by Stanley Kaleniuk

How Girls can help their Country by Ella Deacon and Ruby Reeve

Maternity and the War by Leah van Vastenhoven and Saira Babu Vinod

Private Westfield’s Escape by Joshua Lee and Thomas Albone

The Death of Christopher Godman by Hrishi Panikkasseri and Finley Crouch

Three brave Hempsteadians in the 2nd Beds Regiment by Fraser Dyer, Archy Bertrand and Alexa Corrigan

To enlist or not to enlist - that is the question by Ella Bradley, Lauren Collis and Aayla Haq

The project resumed in 2024, with some of the break due to the effects of the pandemic, and on 4th July 2024 Year 9 students wrote the following:

Advertising in the First World War by Wanda Ripper

Honours for local soldiers by Marie Ellis and Isabelle Galvin

National Service by Eden Crawley, Lauren Duvall, Sophia Munns


Territorials at Hemel Hempstead


In August 1914 The London Territorial Field Artillery also known as the 8th London Howitzer Brigade arrived in Apsley, along with the Royal London Rifle Brigade, and made base in Shendish. 
The local Hemel Hempstead residents were less than pleased about the 'invasion'.  The Gazette told us that all schools and public buildings were requisitioned to house the soldiers and many private properties were asked to make room in the house for 'the khaki boys', which many people objected to.  The Gazette tells us 'the presence of the military has lent animation to the streets' and 'scenes such as only witnessed in a Garrison Town' which shows the extent of the control and the effect the territorial army had on the town. The two brigades which stayed in Hemel Hempstead left for France in March 1915. There is a book written about these events called 'The London Gunners Come To Town'.


Gazette, 15th August 1914, p. 4.

By George McCormack 

1 July 2015


Troops at Hemel Hempstead

When we think of World War One, images of muddy trenches, colossal explosions and rotting piles of dead soldiers come to mind. An idyllic, picturesque, rural village of Hemel Hempstead probably isn’t what we expect, but Boxmoor (in 1914) accommodated troops from the Territorial Army. As you can imagine, it was somewhat of a predicament, as calm town folk were suddenly being bombarded with loud, young soldiers. However, to my surprise, a Gazette article expresses how “the doings of the soldiers have naturally created a great amount of excitement among inhabitants”. So what actually was it like when the soldiers came to Hemel?

The Territorial Army was made up of volunteers and reserves, who were willing to join any war when their country called upon them. A group of them were sent to Hemel Hempstead, as there was an army headquarters nearby. Ordinary people from the town, were expected to look after these men and let them live in their homes for the duration of their stay. The Gazette describes how, “many inconveniences have been caused to the residents”. These included men getting lost and going to the wrong houses; locals being woken up at five thirty by the army bugle and issues with food arrangements. Despite this, the report presents the idea that there will be “nothing but happy memories of their visit”.

These kind of statements - combined with the friendly, colloquial writing style - create a positive outlook on the visit. Yet I cannot help but somehow be sceptical of the source. There’s no first hand interviews from locals so we can expect that the opinions in this article are based on rumours and small town gossip. Maybe this is just another piece of optimistic propaganda, made to show that everybody supported the war.

Overall, I believe that the ideas expressed in the Gazette are true. Although it says that everybody was happy to host the soldiers, it also describes the expected issues that come with young army men adapting to rural life. This balance shows that this was not a government censored piece of propaganda but a genuine account of events from a genuine person.

What I have learnt from the article is that everybody (even small rural areas like Hemel Hempstead) were called upon to perform their duty for King and Country. However, more importantly, most people in 1914 were honoured to do so. That poses the question: would we still have the same level of patriotism today?


Gazette, 22nd August 1915, p. 5.

By Ethan George

1 July 2015


Christmas 1914 in the Trenches


The first article (2nd January 1915 page 5) relays a letter from Private A. Summerfield that was sent to his wife explaining what Christmas was like in the trenches. The conditions were cold and ‘raining nearly all the time’, which made staying in the trenches quite an uncomfortable time. This is seen in one particular quote: ‘my feet get so cold and you can't run about in the trenches to keep warm’.


In this first article talk of how they spent Christmas is quite brief and really there are more questions asked about life at home for example: ‘the mills, are they very busy?’. This suggests that home sickness took away some of the Christmas spirit from the soldiers as Christmas has a lot to do with spending time with family and loved ones that unfortunately, most couldn't do.


There is no talk of any carol singing or football matches that have been typically associated with the Christmas of 1914. In the trenches they received King and Queen Christmas cards and a Princess Mary's tobacco box. In the quote ‘I want you to take good care of them until I get home’ shows how Private Summerfield sent his gifts home, treasuring the Christmas gift he had received displaying there was however some Christmas spirit.


Gazette article dated 16th January 1915, page 7.

It appears that the purpose of the article was to share with the public Christmas experiences in the trenches to lift the spirits of citizens and keep morale high in a time of need.


We know that postcard and letters home were often checked and censored before being posted so the conditions may have been worse ‘we are up to our knees in mud and water’. This shows the bad conditions due to the weather without going in to too much detail. Private Leslie Roberts writes at the end of his letter ‘Snipers around here but our heavy guns are much superior to the enemy's and have done enormous damage’ it is unclear weather he was told to write this but he probably did to give some hope to people back home.


Private V. Batchelor writes ‘went again into the trenches on Christmas Eve and spent a week there’ he also says that singing could be herd from both the German and British trenches showing the Christmas spirit was still with them despite the fact that the war had already gone on longer that anticipated.


These primary sources are reliable in that they mostly give true vent to fact as well as a first hand opinion but they can be questioned after going through censors. Further more, parts of the letters home may have been cut out of the newspaper report.



Gazette, 2nd January 1915, p. 5 & 16th January 1915 p. 7.


By Ailsa Goff and Grace Lockyer

1 July 2015



Great Britain at War


Hemel Hempstead developed after the Second World War as a new town, however, during the First World War, it existed as a mere settlement. The Hemel Gazette during 1914 portrayed the war negatively. The journalists were not biased as such, instead they provided the public with facts and figures to support their claims. Food rationing was not a major problem in Britain initially. The national archives claim that there was a lot of panic buying when war started which caused food shortages.  This is a very reliable source because the information on the archives are the original source so we believe the evidence to be true.  The shortages did occur, but this didn’t last long. A bigger problem was rising prices.


The article we studied was based solely on the local effects of war and informs the public on what they could do to help. The opening line of the article was ‘The one and only topic of conversation is the war’ this immediately informs the reader about the extent and impact of the war on those on the home front, Not only were the soldiers affected by the war but friends and family back home had their lives transformed.



Gazette, 8th August 1914, p. 5.



By Sophie Murphy and Steph Adu

1 July 2015



Home from Belgium


Mr Levasseur, a Hemel man, has his story told in the Gazette, 29th August 1914. In my opinion, I think certainly the purpose of this article is to inject opinions and ideas into the public that the German occupation is bringing devastation and they need to be stopped. The article tells that his business in Malines (now known as Mechelen) prospers well until the German troops - described to come ‘in countless men’ – start to sweep through Belgium. The man describes the Germans' actions to be vastly destructive as he says in the article ‘one woman I saw carried a dead child in her arm’. Mr Levasseur, eventually, was forced into the decision of leaving Malines as the soon after the King of Belgium had arrived there, the beautiful cathedral (only 1km from his house) was ‘bombarded’ with shells.


From this article, we can tell that the public were told stories that stimulate emotions towards people who have their life in danger. The Germans, in the article, are presented as villains as they are described to bring destruction with them as they come into Belgium. This propaganda used to build hate towards the Germans is disguised well in the words of a story in a newspaper. Also, if the article fails to do this, it certainly succeeds in trying to get the public to help the war effort and to encourage people to stop people close to them being hurt (in this case Mr Levasseur as a resident of Hemel, targeting the Hemel community).



Gazette, 29th August 1914, p. 8.




By Tom Deering, Joe Metcalfe and Jack Noonan

1 July 2015



Mr & Mrs Smeathman’s Sad Loss


On 24th October 1914 Hemel Hempstead was shocked to find that two of its beloved citizens were struck down during WWI. Julian, aged 26, and Cecil, aged 24, Smeathman were brothers who both attended Lockers Park School for a short time before transferring to other public schools. They both did different jobs as Cecil fought as an infantryman, whilst Julian was an engineer. Not only did their death affect their parents, Julian left Gladys Monia Browne a widow after marrying on 1st October 1914. The news was given when Cecil died in hospital. 30 minutes after the telegram arrived another telegram arrived detailing that Julian had died.


The Hemel Gazette produced an article on the story on 31st October and they called their deaths an ‘Irreparable loss’ however this article can be seen as biased from the quote ‘This war is bringing such misery to so many families in the world’ this implies that the gazette was against the war. Cecil is buried in Bailleul Communal cemetery while Julian has no known grave and is commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing, Ypres.




Gazette, 31st October 1914, p. 5.


By Nathan Withers and Joshua Cartwright

1 July 2015


Air Raids

At the start of the war, Britain was not prepared to deal with the threat from enemy airships and aircraft. Traditionally its home defence focused on defending the coastline rather than its airspace and with most of the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) operating overseas, few aircraft remained to defend Britain! 

The Germans launched their first attack using airships named Zeppelins. When the airship flew 11,000 feet above ground it was able to switch off its engine. This enabled the airship to carry out surprise attacks due to the fact of it being able to drift silently to the designated area. 

Due to the air raids several civilians had to move out of London and into Hemel Hempstead in order to restore the country back to its original position. The accommodations of the public has been horrific to the extent of many not being provided with any form of shelter and were left to be homeless. Also there was a major lack of supplies to provide to the public on a Monday night in September 1917. Leading to Tuesday night many were found spending the night on the moor due to the air raids which is what was causing a large number of people to flock from London city to Hemel Hempstead moving northwest in the country. A majority of the people who were moving were women and children. 

Moving on to Wednesday night the situation was discussed and referred to a special meeting that took place in the Hemel Hempstead town hall ran by councillor Higgins, who explained “For the people in Hemel Hempstead to the terror which the raid were creating in the minds of the children.” 

If anything was done it should be done quickly, but councillor Higgins realised that there would be difficulties on the way. He spoke about getting accommodation on his own place and thought about the little children, considering their well being and providing them shelter for the night. 

Councillor Flint agreed with Councillor Higgins on the idea of opening Boxmoor Hall. Councillor Day had a tremendous amount of inquiries for the accommodation and if it could be prepared then he was quite sure there was no need for anyone to sleep on the moor. The Mayor said the difficulty was the machinery and did not think it was a matter for the Town Clerk or the Council since there was no police force in the place. 

Councillor Craft suggested a list of places where accommodation could be obtained and handed to the stationmaster at Boxmoor. Councillor Stratford pointed out that the matter concerned the women and children, and he thought if the ladies of the different religious organisations were asked to deal with it, they should. On the other hand Councillor Gold said something should be done immediately as he saw women and children not knowing where to go late at night, which made him feel bad. Eventually it was decided to give authority for the opening of Boxmoor Hall and Town Hall as temporary shelter. Necessary arrangements were made to enable anyone to secure accommodation, this was requested to the police. 


Gazette, 29th September 1917, p. 8.

By Simi Parekh, Aneesa Siddique and Snega Aravinathan

24th June 2016   


WT Smith’s Lucky Escape

Mr. Mont Smith, who lived in Apsley, received a letter from his brother, Lance Corporal W. T. Smith, describing a somewhat lucky escape from German shells. 

According to WT Smith, the British troops had taken over a German trench on Sunday 15th March 1915, and the next day (at around 11am) they received an attack targeting their own trench, landing in three different areas. The shells did some damage (although “no damage worth mentioning”), so the British soldiers feared that the Germans would finish them off once they were within range.  

However, the British artillery suddenly commenced, causing the Germans to cease attack. Smith therefore assumed that the artillery had blown up the German battery. “Things during the afternoon seemed to be a little quiet until about 5p.m.”, when the German troops were given the signal to advance towards a point on Smith’s left, causing a “terribly rapid” fire. The attack continued for hours, resulting in about 1,000 British casualties. 

The next morning, the British soldiers launched a counter-attack which pushed back the “Huns”, as they were often referred to. This resulted in more heavy losses, and fighting continued along a large part of the line. During the night, the shelling was “extremely heavy”, but by the morning “everything seemed in its normal state again”. Nevertheless, the Germans continued shelling the trenches. During this time, Smith narrowly escaped a shell falling on a room that he had only just left. He described the room as closing in, “just as if it had been a pack of cards”. All his equipment was buried, but he had survived, which he was very thankful for; he considers himself “extremely lucky”.


Gazette, 27th March 1915, p. 8.

By Annie Martell

24th June 2016 


Herts Footballers save the Day 

All clubs have folded in the Hertfordshire Mid-Week league and the County League due to the lack of players, as the Great War is upon us. On January 6th 1915 the Hon. Secretary and other important figures in the community discussed issues surrounding the beginning of the war.

Altogether, the combined Herts leagues have supplied 2,254 men to the forces contributing on the Western Front. Each club has given an average of 14 players to the army, which speaks volumes about the Hertfordshire spirit and patriotism. We need football players to conquer the barbarous enemies.

The brave Herts soldiers have taken upon the duty of fighting against vile dishonourable countries. They have given the country hope, and have set a perfect example to hope every man and woman should act throughout this dark time. This is an urge for the public to support the war effort, and show the enemy that we are not alone and that we fight together and united.   

The Herts Mid-Week and County League draws have been postponed. The final between Barnet and Alston and St. Albans City in the charity shield presented by the great and well-respected Lord Howick should also be put back to a later date.  

There were in fact 51 teams that wished to play throughout the war, but weren’t permitted to, but would have been unable to do so, as they did not have a suitable amount of players to raise a team. 

To conclude, the Herts players have brought pride to man and country, by their formidable decision to decide to go to war in Germany and Austro-Hungary. They are risking their lives for us, and we should be eternally grateful.


Gazette, 15th January 1915, p.7.

By Ed Grayson, Eashan Panchal and Joe Hutchings.

24th June 2016


The Battle with the Turks 

Even though the attention of the war went to Europe, many British soldiers fought in Mesopotamia specifically in Turkey. Christians believed that in Mesopotamia the Biblical Gardens of Eden were situated. One brave man from Hemel Hempstead went to fight in this particular war in Turkey. 

“We marched out of camp on the 17th of November at 5:20am and marched another 10 miles and then waited for a command.” This quote from the brave and honourable Hemel Hempstead man shows that the Brits put a lot of effort into coming in to the war in Turkey, and that it was very well planned. 

They were then 1600 yards from the Turks who had no idea that the Brits were so close. When they were around 1000 from the Turks they fired their first shots with their rifles.  “There were so many dead and wounded soldiers lying on the ground near us,” recounted the man. The conditions of fighting were as bad as even the biggest battles during the war.  Meanwhile they were advancing and dominating this battle against the Turks. The loss of men on the British side was nowhere near the loss of lives by the Turks and finally on December 8th an officer appeared on the Turkish side waving a white flag. They had surrendered and it was a great feeling.

This brave Hemel Hempstead soldier gave all his time to fight for king and country. He has really made this town proud and we are lucky to have him as an inspirational character for the people of Hemel Hempstead.


Gazette, 24th April 1915, p. 7. 

By Robbie Tripp and Aman Vyas

24th June 2016


WT Smith

On Sunday 15th March, 1915, Lance Corporal W.T. Smith and his fellow companions were put under attack by the German opposition, or the “Huns” as they were commonly called. Smith was part of the British Expeditionary Force and wrote the letter to his brother, Mr. Mont Smith, who lived in Apsley, a few days after the attack. The Lance Corporal told his brother of his lucky avoidance from a German artillery attack and how the relentless bombardment from the Huns lasted for hours on end.

The evening before, the British Expeditionary Force had taken over some trenches and the Lance Corporal had thought that “Everything seemed in its normal state.” However, the next morning at around 11am, W.T Smith and the rest of the battalion found themselves under attack. “The Germans started using [their] trench for a target with some heavy shells” and, as far as Smith was concerned, they were successful due to the fact that “they landed three [shells] in different parts of the trench” although Smith states that they did no damage worth mentioning. However, it still frightened the soldiers and they seemed to be convinced that “once they got the range, they would finish [them] off.” This being said, Lance Corporal W.T. Smith was surprised when the artillery “suddenly commenced”. Triumphantly, Smith realised that the “British Artillery must have located and smashed up the German Battery.” Which means that the retaliation of the allied forces must have been successful. During the afternoon, the BEF fell into a mild deception of safety as “the afternoon seemed to be a little quiet” but this was soon broken as at around 5pm, the Germans were given a signal to attack, a little to the left of where Smith was posted. It is said that “a terribly rapid fire was put into [them]” and that the attack lasted well over an hour. Soon after, the forces learned that the Germans had taken advantage of key points. This resulted in thousands of casualties on both sides. “The extent of the killed and wounded [was] thought to be about 2,000 Germans, which is twice the amount of the British lost or injured.

In the early morning following the event, the British counter-attacked. This counter attack led to the Germans being “driven back from the positions they had taken with more heavy losses.” During the whole night, the shelling was extremely heavy and, again, when daylight came, everything seemed to be in its normal state. Despite that, the trenches were still being shelled during the morning. This is when Smith has his lucky escape. “[Smith] had only just vacated one place for another, when a shot came and closed it in, just as if it had been a pack of cards.” W.T. Smith still believed himself to be extremely lucky, regardless of the fact that his kit was henceforth buried in the room.

Smith states in the letter that one of the soldiers involved at that present attack said that “it reminded him of a crowd returning from a football match.”


Gazette, 27th March 1915, page 8.

By Emily Rojewska

24th June 2016


The County Tribunal

'The local conscientious objectors have their appeals dismissed.'

Many local conscientious objectors and other cases came before the County Tribunals at St Albans, heard by Mr E. B. Bernard, Lady Ebury, Rt. Hon. T. F. Halsey, Messrs W. Reynolds, H. Slade E. A. Mitchell Innes, K.C., F. S. Judd and W. Gooding. 

Mr P. V. Procter, Boxted Farm, on behalf of his mother, appealed for Hugh Vernon Procter due to the occupation of 450 acres of land and 70 head of cattle. They had to milk the cows. Due to the shortage of labour, H.V. Procter, a cowman and stockman, was indispensable, and if he joined the army they would be compelled to give up the milking business. Six men had already left them for the army, including two cowmen and they were now working their two farms with half the amount of people, only five.  He also has 13 horses, 8 colts and 14 milking cows. Conditional exemption was granted as the man in question, had to work on the farm.

Frederick Wakefield, Cuckoo Farm, Berkhamsted, appealed for Arthur George Wakefield, on the grounds that one man could not work the farm of 110 acres. The case had been adjourned for corroborative evidence.

The military appealed against Joseph Burch aged 32 who was a milker and a stockman. Mr W. Mead, the employer, was a farmer, butcher and dairyman who lived in Tring. He appealed for two men as stockmen, but the  local tribunal had found that the only other men besides these two men couldn’t do the work required as they were unable to do the work provided as they are either too old (aged) or crippled. In the article, it says that General Fenton was ‘prepared to assent to a temporary exemption’ which meant that the men weren’t required to fight in the war for at most six months. He also felt that Mr Mead owned many more cows that he could care for and look after but, there were more men working on the farm as well. He would not object to six months exemption. But in the end, the tribunal took the General’s advice and a temporary exemption for six months was given said by the chairman. 

In a second source studied named the ‘Tring case’ a man employed by Mr Frank Brown of Tring Urban named A.W Blackley was appealed by the military as well. It was claimed that it was a temporary case of exemption, but not conditional. This case says that the man, Mr Frank Brown has a step-mother was prone to having fits and an invalid and unable step-sister looking after his step-mother. But the tribunal said that it could be possible to arrange other agreements for both if their care. In the article it says that ‘the mother was undoubtedly dependent upon him’. It also says that if the man went into the army it would only be a shilling two or less so it wouldn’t make a big difference. But the result was that the general said that it could be possible to take a cottage nearer the other two and temporary exemption was given for three months.


Gazette, 25th March 1916, page 8.


By Mitchell Rees and Roxy Wittrick

24th June 2016


Prisoner from Hemel Escapes the Germans

Private Lovell was 21 at the time and from Hemel Hempstead. He emigrated to Canada in August 1914, and joined the overseas contingent and after his training in England he went to France with the 2nd Brigade. In April 1915 he was captured by the Germans who took him to Giessen. It was a large camp where the conditions were very bad. Many prisoners were too weak to walk, however all the prisoners were made to do hard work which consisted of digging ground for potato planting. 

Lovell and some other prisoners were sent to Schaneburg on April 24th 1916, where he now had a companion to endeavour to escape. They avoided their guards and after travelling for 30 miles they came across a German patrol where they gave themselves up. As a result they were sent to Papenburge and were treated very badly. The prisoners were kept in a confined cell for seven days before being sentenced of fourteen days of confinement with only bread and water for food and no exercise was allowed. The prisoners had to sleep on bare boards and got no sleep 3 out of the 4 nights and where then worked from 6am to 7pm. Lovell said “what you read in the papers does not half describe the cruelty”.

On 13th July 1916 they had an escape plan to leave the cruel place they were at by using disguises of tramps, the removal of boards and the cutting of wire entanglements. Their escape was done while the guard had gone into his hut for a short time. They travelled in the night and slept in hiding places during the day. They saved and ate food from the parcels they were sent from home to keep them alive until they reached safety.  However their supplies only lasted for six days and they had no food for three days. They ate things they found in the hedges and were fired at by soldiers.

They were resting in a hay field and discovered men were cutting their crops, so they hid in the grass and slowly and quietly made their way to the centre of the field from the sides. When the men went in for a break that was their time to escape. They were spotted trying to get away so the group was separated and they had to swim a stream for 100 yards.

On July 23rd they reached England and instead of seeking discharge he refused to do so and returned to France. Without being sent the parcels he received from home none of his escape plan would have been achievable and he was very grateful for them.


Gazette, 12th August 1916. p. 5.

By Yasmin Jayasinghe & Amy Scrivener

24th June 2016



By October 1914, thousands of unfortunate men, women and children had fled their homes in Belgium, desperately seeking asylum in Britain after the devastation of trench warfare in their country. Migrants landed all over Britain. Those that reached the borders were transported to London and then homed all across the country with generous British families, offering them hospitality. In November 1914 refugee numbers in Berkhamsted spiked to 63 with many more living in Hemel Hempstead and Tring.

Since October, the Hemel Hempstead committee had formed a relief fund, providing help and support to the Belgian migrants. On the 24th October the Mayor announced that the fund had received £10,015 18s 60d which went towards housing the refugees. A special thanks was given to ‘the Hemel Hempstead district swimming and lifesaving society’ and ‘the Princess Theatre’ for their contributions to the fund.

By the end of October, other neighbouring towns had also helped out the cause:

  • In Chipperfield 15 or 20 refugees were already living in people’s cottages.
  • In Albury a large cottage had already been filled up with 12 refugees.
  • In Bushey, a large 20 room house made accommodation for 30 migrants.

However, many residents of Hemel Hempstead were concerned in how the increase in refugees would affect their employment. Many people considered Hemel as ‘very full’ and were reluctant to take in any more. The Hemel Hempstead committee put in place rules and regulations regarding how the refugees could work and function within the country. A meeting at the Hemel Hempstead Belgian refugees relief committee was held at the town hall to discuss these matters. It was decided that the earnings of the refugees should go partly to the families who were housing them, but mainly in aid of getting them back quickly and safely to their own country. A law was also put in place that no work must be given to Belgians if it interfered with earnings of British citizens.


Gazette, 24th October 1914, p. 2.

Gazette, 7th November 1914, p. 8.

By Hollie Partridge

24th June 2016


Letters from the Front

Lance Corporal Westfield (from Hemel Hempstead) wrote a series of letters home from the trenches in 1914. These were published in the Hemel Gazette. Despite him writing all of these letters, he does not show where abouts he is on the western front. Westfield was part of the 3rd Worcestershires, 3rd Division, British Expeditionary Force. From arriving in late 1914 he continues writing letters from the front line until his injury in March 1915.

In another letter he talks about his Christmas Day. He had a ‘splendid’ two course meal and got a present from the royal family including ‘fine tobacco box and pipe’. He sent these gifts home to keep for when he returned home. He wrote his letter, injured, from a hospital in Dublin.

He was shot through the left cheek under his eye. He was lucky as the bullet had missed his eye but passed through his nose. He managed to get away from the situation with just a broken nose and a large scar in his cheek.

On the last day of the year, 1914, him and his regiment were treated to a concert followed by chocolate, cigarettes and wine. This was given to them by Herts Terriers. Westfield was unsure how long these would go on for but presumed until the weather got better and the morale would improve.


Gazette, 26th September 1914, p. 3.

Gazette, 21st November 1914 p. 8.

Gazette, 16th January 1915 p. 8.

Gazette, 27th March 1915 p. 8.

By Josh Coveney and Kyle Patel

24th June 2016


The Battle of Jutland

Wednesday, 31st May 1916, Stoker F. Pearce, who was well-known in Hemel Hempstead, was a sailor who fought in the great Naval Battle of Jutland, a battle between the Imperial German Navy's High Seas Fleet and the Royal Navy's High Fleet.

Stoker F. Pearce fought on H.M.S Warspite and was there on 31st May when the German fleet was spotted. He recalls that he spotted them at 5:30 pm on Wednesday, and mentioned “suddenly we heard one of our big guns go off and followed by others, and we then heard that we had caught the enemy’s fleet out”. When he saw them, he shot fifteen inch shells into to enemy fleet, but by that time, the allies had already lost three battle cruisers. On the positive side, we sunk about half of the enemy’s fleet.

After a while, the allies sighted their fleet with Admiral Jellicoe, so they went off. When they came back, they had a nice welcome home. However, they came back, they were extremely disappointed, because they had been robbed of their complete victory and lost their sister ship the Invincible. Despite the way they were feeling, they had congratulations from the king telling them how proud he was of them.



By Aidan Mitchell and Piyush Shrestha

24th June 2016


Goodbye to the Troops

World War One. Mud, gunfire, explosions, shouting. For the country, for the people, for the world. And even in a place such as Hemel Hempstead these conflicts were going on. But it wasn’t all those things you expect from a big battle of two opposing forces.

A Territorial group of English soldiers were sent into Apsley in August 1914. The local residents and workers were not positive about the quick entrance of the group, changing the level of volume of the usually quiet town. The soldiers transformed the place from an ancient market town to an army camp. They had to evacuate buildings including houses and schools, and their visit was longer than they anticipated. Even areas as close as Gadebridge Park were part of great military activity.

After a while the residents living in Hemel Hempstead got used to the soldiers and begun to be thankful for the defence of their country and local areas. Later there were concerns about the health and safety of the soldiers, and so the YMCA organisation came along, patched up the men and entertained them.

The Brigades then finally started to leave after Christmas. The 5th stopped at Berkhamsted, but the rest got out, and the locals only knew they were going to be “Somewhere” in the continent, of to war again, supported by the people living in Hemel Hempstead, now that their market town has greatly benefitted from their services!

Surprisingly out of all the brigades sent to these areas only 2 people died - one being in Bovingdon, and the other in Hemel Hempstead as result of a fatal accident before departure.

This article written by the Gazette is very positive - especially the fact that only two people died. It may just be more lies and propaganda to boost the positivity of war, and there are no accounts of residents there at the time - but the description of detail makes it seem vivid and legitimate.

It is still good to know that in a place such as Hemel Hempstead soldiers still fight for their country in honour, and other places are not prioritized over us.


Gazette: 20th March 1915, p. 8.

By Charlie Cottrell

27th June 2017


Discharged and Disabled Soldiers

In September 1917, the counties, Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Huntingdonshire created a disablement committee in the interests of helping discharged soldiers and sailors in London. The organising secretary, Mr E.A.B. Barnard, visited local committees in Bedfordshire, Huntingdonshire and a few in Hertfordshire to ask the following questions.

1)’The approximate number of discharged disabled soldiers in the area.’

2)’The number who required training.’

3)’The number suffering for tuberculosis and requiring treatment.’

All of the following committees replied well, meaning that the secretary obtained the information that he required. In Bedfordshire, there were 440 men for the first, 4 for the second and 32 for the third. And in Hertfordshire, there were 637 men for the first, 10 for the second and 20 for the third, where as in Huntingdonshire there were 220 men for the first, 15 for the second and 16 for the third. This then totals to a number of 2,056 disabled men in three counties, with 50 who required treatment. However, it was thought that at least half of the 2,056 men would have needed some kind of training to ‘enable them to look to the future in confidence.’

The secretary said that the discharged men who were suffering for tuberculosis formed a greater portion of the men than any other class of men discharged from the army. Lady Salisbury, stated that she had a small sanitorium at Hatfield formerly used by the county council and that it would be available for anyone's use if needed. The sanitorium was quite small with only 12 beds, however she was glad to help in any way possible.

The local Government later refused to let Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Huntingdonshire use the sanitorium in Cambridge because Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambs would be affected. The local Government wanted to force Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Huntingdonshire to start a scheme of their own instead of using Cambridge’s. Mr Coote thought the committee should set to work quickly to find an appropriate building that could accommodate cases from all three counties as there was a lot of people all around. It was very important that they were able to get it done quickly. Hatfield was agreed to be a good suggestion to be a sanitorium, however there was a disagreement as it was thought that the area was ‘too swagger a place for this purpose.’ They kept being refused grants and no one would support them, also they did have a scheme in mind but they could not follow it through without the appropriate amount of money. So, they thought they might take up Lady Salisbury’s offer to use her sanitorium and start a sanitorium as an experiment. The secretary said all sorts of things had been suggested, however all of them had been terminated because of the Government. Mr Coote said that they would do whatever was needed, even if they had to take it to the council. The Hertfordshire County Council had a scheme for building a large sanitorium and purchased a site, but the war put the project on hold.

The county insurance committee had a proposal that the tuberculosis cases would be dealt with through the funds that already existed in connection with the army and the navy, but the difficulty arose that they could not provide accommodation for the cases. They could not get the materials to build the sanitorium but they claimed that if they only had more freedom they would be able to hire a large house and then start talking about building in a more realistic context.

Lady Salisbury and Mr Coote then helped the discharged and disabled soldiers and sailors find jobs and start training. This ended well as they provided many people with jobs that they really needed.


Gazette, 29th September 1917, p. 2.

By Poppy Nixon and Emma Sharpling

27th June 2017


World War One in Hemel Hempstead

Since news of the war started in Hemel, the town’s atmosphere changed as the newfound soldiers appeared for their training for 7 months, making it feel a bit more crowded than before. According to the Gazette, the soldier’s ‘temporary stay’ was ‘a lot longer than anyone expected.’ The soldiers sent were apart of the County of London Royal Field Artillery, they came in the peak of summer, and the small town was transformed into a military camp. There were guns, horses and wagons everywhere, everywhere from gadebridge park to the moor was filled with military objects. However most people (especially the shopkeepers) had warmed up to the soldiers at this point, and the comfort of the soldiers became an issue of the men and women of the town, and with some help of the YMCA, they set up tents for the soldiers entertainment. But sadly, when it got colder the YMCA tents had to be put away and the horses were put into stables. They anticipated to stay about 3 months, however they stayed right past Christmas and then some. It was assumed that the soldiers would leave after Christmas, but their leave was cancelled, and those who had left returned. And it was then assumed they would stay until the end of the war, however this was dismissed when they were told their departure was set for February.


Gazette: 20th March 1915, p. 8.

By Munro Manners

27th June 2017


Letters from the Front, 1915: stirring stories from the trenches


During the First World War, letter writing was the predominant communication method between soldiers and their loved ones. The British Army Postal Services delivered around 2 billion letters during the war.

Soldiers often wrote letters in spare moments either from the front line or in safer, less advanced positions. They would also receive letters from family and friends, boosting morale and keeping connected to the homes they left.

In the trenches, many details in letters were considered censored; this included:

  • Where you were stationed

  • How many soldiers there were

  • Names of soldiers of officers

  • What weapons you had

  • Details of planned attacks

  • Soldiers who were injured

  • Soldiers who were dead

  • Bad conditions


Most letters were checked by an officer to ensure that the content was acceptable before being sent off.

On Saturday, the 15th of June, 1915, The Gazette brought out a report on ranging experiences and memories from the front line soldiers in WWI. Many of these included traumatic occurrences and unspeakable, fatal events.

One letter tells of being gassed and the horror experienced by a foot soldier. It came coming towards them like a “thick green cloud” and he later says that nobody could live in such horrendous conditions. Also, he explained he had to “crawl” away from the scene of the attack due to the fatality of the encounter.

One report is about how a letter was recovered by a fellow comrade after the bag that was carrying it got blown off a man's back. It speaks of how a shell hit the bag off Corporal W. Barbers back leaving him with devastating back injuries but he survived, a lucky escape. A comrade later discovered the letter and had it sent to Miss Barber.

A letter (titled “Violent Cannonading”) describes how shells were “whistling” overhead and that four officers were badly wounded. He goes on to say that bits of shrapnel came through their roof and went through his cap cover. He expresses his trepidation and clearly describes his experiences including his “urgent messages for more stretcher bearers.” His commanding officer was shot in the lung and he reports that many escaped. Next, he tried to reach the Menin road, leading to Ypres, walking past lots of dead men or ruined stretchers. The letter ends here.


Gazette, 15th June 1915, p. 5.

By Will Ashton, Sam Hancock and Scott Bowman

27th June 2017


The war’s effect on health

This report from The Gazette was published on July 22nd 1916, and was an analysis of the 1915 public health report for Hertfordshire.

The 1915 annual health report for Hertfordshire was different, to say the least, in comparison to other years. The report was filed by Dr. Hyslop Thomson, who said that an ‘adverse influence’ had stemmed from the war in terms of public health in Hertfordshire. It documents such factors as the county’s population dropping, in 1915, to an estimated 305,122, when it had previously been at around 325,000 in 1914. Also, there was a decrease in birth rate. Illegitimate births (meaning a child is born when its parents are not married) were documented at 229 in that year, out of the total birth rate of around 6,000. The approximate 4,800,000 men away fighting would’ve certainly had an impact on this decline in birth rate and population.

On top of this, the death rate had risen, and was expected to continue to rise as the war continued, and the thousands of men dying per day would continue. However, there were threats back home increasing the death rate too, such as infant mortality: in other words, out the little amount of children being born, many were dying before the age of 1. Also, diarrhoea was becoming a huge problem, with the hot and dry summer having an impact too.

Another notorious killer was tuberculosis, a horrible lung disorder. On a side note, many people in mainland Britain were sent to hospitals built on some of the islands such as, possibly most notably, the Royal National Hospital Ventnor, on the Isle of Wight.

Unfortunately, tuberculosis was not the only terrible illness which plagued Britain through the war, with many cases of smallpox, measles, scarlet fever, whooping cough diphtheria and croup, being reported to doctors throughout 1914 and the following years leading up to the end of the war, and even beyond that. These became known as the ‘six epidemic diseases’ in the early 1900s.

To add to the medical worries, only straying towards the mental aspect of it, many soldiers fell under the effect of shellshock in the trenches. They were traumatised by the continuous bombardment from enemy artillery fire. This bombardment would supposedly cripple the enemy severely, however the enemy would simply take shelter in one of the many trench dugouts/artillery shelters. Thousands of soldiers were discharged from service back home to recover from ‘shellshock’, which is now known as PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). The effects of PTSD had both short term and long term effects, from the continuous tinnitus from the sheer noise the bombardment gave off, to the non-stop nightmares/flashbacks they would have, years after the war, of the memories of seeing their friends dying right before their eyes, and the violence and torment they would have endured throughout their years of service in the trenches. However, sometimes, they didn’t wait to get home - the trauma they faced caused many to take their own lives, rather than continue fighting.

Back in Britain, there was a huge worry over the common house fly. There were many calls from doctors, namely Dr. Hyslop Thomson, which talked about how they carry lots of bacteria and lay eggs, which hatch into maggots within a number of hours, before eventually becoming the fly’s direct spawn after a matter of weeks.

The report concluded with saying that more measures need to be taken nationwide to cure these diseases, and subsequently improve the life expectancy in Britain, to try to put things back together after this dreadful war.


Gazette, 22nd July 1916, p. 2.



By Harvey Taylor and Xander West

27th  June 2017


Farmers and Prisoners of War

The newspaper report portrays the argument about farming development and the prisoners of war.

Prisoners of war           

A meeting had been held in London deciding that more prisoners of war were to be located in Hemel Hempstead and protests against the rise in pay for prisoners were made.


Farming and tractors    

Later on in the report the issue of farming and scarce amount of land were discussed. It was felt that more acres of land were needed for arable cultivation for the harvest. A scheme was put in place to sort out the issue to insure that more land was given. As well as the lack of land, it had also been noted that many of the farmers were inexperienced when it came to the farming so supervisors were put in place. In addition the shortage of tractors was a topic that was outlined in the argument as it was brought to attention that with the lack of tractors, farming and harvest couldn't commence. Furthermore it was stated by Mr Turner who reminded them that there was a neither sufficient horses nor men to help with the farming expansion.                                                                                                       

Agricultural returns

After the complete “Agricultural Returns” for 1917 had been received, it was shown that the acres of land for crops had increased a mass amount in the last year.


Soldier labour

The war office made a scheme to introduce soldiers to have the opportunity to work- jobs including  tractor drivers, steam plough or horse plough men were offered and training was provided. Men were given a proficiency test and only those who passed were eligible to be selected by commissioners from the department and the executive committee to have a job.


Gazette, 13th October 1917, p. 3

By Anya Mistry, Ella Norman and Zara Rafiq-Craske

27th June 2017

Wounded Soldier’s Experience in Egypt


Private George Lee comments on his experiences from a Red Cross train on May 9th 1917.

The brave soldier, of 100 High Street, Hemel Hempstead, had been treated by the humanitarian organisation after being “put out of action” by a machine gun injury.

In a letter home, mentioning his poor conditions in France, he continues to describe his current situation in the 15th General Hospital receiving medical attention and “plenty of good food”.

On April 11th, during his final “dash” away from the Turkish line, Private Lee obtained a wound to the foot inflicted by two bullets from an enemy machine gun. He deemed himself to be “jolly lucky to come off so light” after observing worse injuries that had come to those he was surrounded by.

After being shot,  Lee attempted to make his way to a safe place. He was eventually identified and taken to the dressing station by camel, a place at which he stayed the night. Private George Lee then describes the following journeys to new stations as “rough”, from the constant lurching of the trucks used for transportation. However, throughout the struggle of war, everybody tried to remain in “good spirits and laughter”. They soon arrived at El-Arish where their next night was spent before travelling to Kantarrah.


He then ends the letter by expressing his gratitude towards the Red Cross for their kindness, hospitality and cocoa.


Gazette, 23rd June 1917, p. 7.

By Megan Sullivan and Shajida Rahman

27th June 2017


The Gazette Advertisements, 6th July 1918


When you think of England in the First World War, you would most likely think of London. But Hemel Hempstead had been affected immensely too.

We were given a picture of the Hemel Hempstead Gazette from Saturday July 6th 1918. On this page there were many advertisements such as piano tuning, car motors, and suitings, these companies thrived off of the community. Many of these businesses were located in The Old Town, a marketplace that still flourishes to this day. It was the only place where locals could shop freely unlike now, where we have Marlowes (a large shopping centre). The Old Town was also open on a Sunday with stalls as a market, this sadly does not happen in Hemel Hempstead any longer.


One of the advertisements was for The Marchmont Dairy. It was a shop that stored, sold and delivered dairy products. Currently it is stationed in The Old Town, between a pub and a dress shop. However, it is no longer a dairy store, it is simply an alley separating the two outlets. The farm that produced the stock is positioned on the Link Road in Piccotts End and is called Marchmont Farm. It was turned into a stable years after the war, but has recently been sold to developers and is being built on due to the large amount of land. 30 Crescent Road was a piano tuning and repair store, whereas now it is a home along a street of houses.

We have also found a chain of Tea Rooms, all placed relatively close together in distance. One of these was situated in a place called ‘Cheapside’. Cheapside was a  midway point from Marlowes and The Old Town. It is currently in the place of the shop Herb Zhao. This business was affected by the war especially because they were a bakery. They had limited rations given to them and to control the amount of ingredients they used. They would have had a drop in customers and may have earned less money, most likely going out of business eventually. This sadly was the case for many stores after the war.

Many of these pre-war built stores are/have already been knocked down and turned into other establishments such as housing, supermarkets and hospitals.


Gazette, 6th July 1918, p. 1.

By Arabella Norris and Maizie Edwards

10th July 2018


Twins in the Army

On Monday, 3rd June 1918, Mr and Mrs Narborough of Bury Road received a saddening letter from John J Wallace ( the Chaplain of the Church Of England). It summarised that one of their twin sons (Will) had been killed by an enemy shell. Additionally their other son (Jack) had been seriously injured by the same shell, but on a lighter note he was recovering.

The twins were well known in their community of Hemel Hempstead , both serving in the North Staffordshire regiment. They had only been on the front line for a short time but this was inevitably brought to an end. Jack was sent to hospital for recovery, believing that his brother had been “deeply stunned” from the blast and was not aware of his demise. Jack who had been severely injured and had fractured his bone in the calf of his leg. According to the Chaplain who wrote the letter, Jack was on the road to recovery and would be out of the hospital shortly. Additionally, the Chaplain said about Will "The only comfort i can offer you about the manner of his death is that it was instantaneous- he could not have suffered, and that is something to be thankful for”. This was a common response used in letters, as even if the soldiers had suffered the parents would be consoled by the fact that there was no suffering.

In our opinion this is an unbelievable response as the majority of soldiers ended up in constant pain for hours before death finally came. As a parent the first response( dying instantly with no suffering) is better to hear, than to hear your son suffered for hours with no comfort before finally passing away. The response of passing away with agony may have caused agony to their parents, to think that their own son, died a painful, and horrible death.

To see more about Will Narborough, click the link https://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/611421/narborough,-/


Gazette, 22nd June 1918, p. 7.

By Karthik Ramanathan

10th July 2018


Disabled Heroes

A meeting in London was held about the training of disabled ex-soldiers for jobs after discharging.

Many applications for motor work were sent in, but the problem with this training was that the cost of training 50 soldiers costed over £600 so there wasa meeting with the Board of Education by Mr. Baines to get the problem sorted out. Other jobs that ex-soldiers were trained in were things like basket making which the secretary said had a secure premises, after renovation for this to take place in. also there was surgical boot making, where the workers would first be trained in regular boot making then later moving onto the surgical making. An instructor for this work had been hired for £5 a week, and each man would require tools costing £5 in total, per person.

Other jobs were clock-making, a scheme where 20 men would be trained to create and repair clocks, and it was not confirmed if there would be a forestry scheme, seeing as the local committee would have to see whether training would be possible.

On the matter of training men with only one arm, as it had been lost in the fighting, the secretary said he had interviewed two ex-soldiers who had just an arm, in Bedford, one of which was on old man who had never worked anything other than in the war, and the other was in employment. The ministry offered to get them some training for electrical equipment, which could get the into jobs such as switchboard operators. Also, Lady Salisbury said she had seen some one-armed men in remarkable examples of training, and and Colonel Gripper said that he knew one man with one arm earning £5 a week, which in those days was a reasonable amount.

Although all these efforts for training of disabled soldiers were being made by the Ministry of Pensions, several complaints were made about the delays of the pension issue office, so soon after they reached a resolution of urging local war pensions to be their own pension issuing office for their areas.

The majority of this information from the newspaper, is coming from the secretary to the Ministry of Pensions, which is a primary source, so it was more reliable and more likely to be true, although she could possibly lie to make the Ministry look better, and say they were doing more than they truly were.

We know that this article was written on the 19th of January 1918, which makes the end of the war about 10 months away, so these men who were left disabled by the war, being offered training for different jobs, could feel safe relatively soon, but many soldiers suffered from severe trauma after the war ended.


Gazette, 19th January 1918, p. 7.

By Holly Prosser and Liana Statie

10th July 2018


Pte. Harold George Dyer

The article is dated October 26th 1918 (page 8).  Dyer was a soldier and the only son of his two parents, who joined the Lincolnshire Regiment in October 1916 and went to the French Western Front in February 1917. He was taken prisoner on the 21st of March 2018 and was wounded and unwell. His friends knew about his illness but his death, from a lung disease, was sudden and a shock. He wrote a very cheerful letter dated October 11th, a few days before his death, showing that he didn’t know that he was a few days away from his death. His family only found out about his death on October 16th.  The letter mentioned how nice his funeral was and included a picture of his grave with the words “To our dear comrade from Munster 2 camp with deep sympathy of all the British there.”


Gazette, 26th October 1918, p. 7.

By Rishi Hindocha and James Allen

10th July 2018


The Death of Mr Lorel

In West Herts Hospital laid Mr Lorel at the young age of 19 deceased in his hospital bed for eight months. His injuries were caused as a result of the severe aeroplane accident which occured the previous day. The crash which was caused by an intense battle with the Germans over France consequently led to the death of a young man.

Both men flew similar aircraft however, the German fighter did not shoot down the aircraft which Mr Lorel flew, nonetheless he was renowned for being a very good pilot, and impressing those around him with his flying skills, he began to lose control causing the aeroplane to crash which cost Mr Lorels life.

Mr Lorel at the age of 19 did not die instantly and was left wounded after the crash in a critical condition. However he was taken to the West Herts Hospital not only because the hospitals around safe areas of France were full but it was close to his home where he later went on to pass away to the disappointment and anger of those around him.


Gazette, 6th April, p. 8.

By Dom Burger and Ben Smith

10th July 2018


Local curate’s death still has a big impact on the community

Rev. J .H. R. Lendrum, a former curate of the Apsley Church in 1917, sadly died in 1918. This death had a large impact locally, especially in Apsley, where he was well known. He wanted to help look after the spiritual needs of the large parish. When the call to register for the National Service arose, as said in the article, “proved irresistible to him”.

He left Apsley to become an Army Chaplain which was a position were he would have ministered to soldiers and their families in times of war and peace. Chaplains were honoured to provide spiritual support, pastoral care, and moral guidance to all, irrespective of religion or belief. This happened in May 1917. He was based in England, but then in November left for France. The local Hemel Hempstead and Apsley residents  were immensely devastated because Rev. J. H. R. Lendrum had played a big role in the community and “took the deepest interest in Apsley”. Mr Hollowman wrote in the Parish magazine that he “made a name for himself”. He was a good role-model to not only his 3 children, but the community as a whole, he ultimately put his country before himself.

In our opinion, we believe that Rev. J. H. R. Lendrum plays a big part in the history in Hemel Hempstead, especially in Apsley, because of how he, not only, rose to the call of his country, but also had the need to fulfill other people’s spiritual needs.


Gazette, 31st August 1918, p.8.

By Hannah Adu and Mel Parana-Thanthirige

10th July 2018


Hemel Hempstead's Jubilation

News that the war had ended reached Hemel at 10 am, on the 11th of November 1918, however, this was not certified until some point between 11 and 12 o'clock.  

According to the Gazette, "A great shout of relief and joy went up", this shows that the residents of Hemel Hempstead were ecstatic when they heard the good news. Residents celebrated all throughout the town, from Apsley Mills to the Market Square.

Apsley Church bells were the first to ring in the town, sending out the good news to surrounding residents. Later on, the Dickinson's Silver Band took the streets, filling the air with the sound of patriotic songs. Flags of the allied nations flew across the borough and were put where ever they could be hung, from flagpoles to windows to lampposts. Everyone took to the streets, sporting red, white and blue in support of their country. People even started decorating motors, cars, and dogs with patriotic emblems, to celebrate the good news. Traders made the most of this celebration, selling ribbons and flags generating a massive income.

Across the town in Boxmoor, St. John's church held a special Thanksgiving service at 8 p.m. The service included hymns, a short lesson, Psalm 139 and a short Litany of Thanksgiving. There was a "very good" congregation that day, who ended the service by singing the nation's national anthem.

After the church service, a large crowd gathered at Market Square in the town centre. A motor belonging to the Fire Brigade had drawn up, and as well as that, the town's Mayor got up and made a few remarks expressing the general feeling of rejoice. Then, the Fire Brigade organised a large bonfire in the centre of the square. "It was a beautiful dark night, but still, and the rain rested", reported the Gazette. The fire was kept alight with all kinds of rubbish, and when it reached its largest point, a "grotesque" effigy of the ex-Kaiser was thrown on, much to the delight of the crowd.

On Tuesday night, further rejoicings were held throughout the town, and firework displays too. Despite the vast number of celebrations, the Gazette claimed that they had all seemingly been orderly.



Gazette, 16th November 1918, p. 8.


By Derin Su and Nicholas Durer

10th July 2018


National Kitchens in Hemel Hempstead

National Kitchens were started in WW1 due to the fact that 60 percent of our total food was imported and considering the circumstances of  war ,many ships carrying produce were bombed meaning produce and traded goods were lost, the majority of the imported food didn’t actually reach the mainland meaning there was not enough food to feed the people of Britain.

Closer to home, two National Kitchens were in fact set up in Hemel Hempstead. One located in Apsley and one located in the borough of Hemel Hempstead however- one was much more successful than the other! The Hemel Hempstead borough food economy communion held a meeting to discuss the results of the National Kitchens in the borough, as discovered in the Saturday Gazette published in February 1918, and found that the results showed that the Hemel Hempstead kitchens brought in a good profit in comparison to the Apsley kitchens that went into debt.

It was discussed in the meeting that there would be a possibility of having one central kitchen located in Hemel Hempstead which would cook all of the meals and then deliver them to various distributing depots (due to the fact that the one in Hemel Hempstead was so successful). It was also discussed what would happen to the Apsley kitchen in the future (discussed thoroughly by the chairman and other governing opinions). After a major discussion about whether the kitchen should have another trial however he chairman said that he did not think that the kitchen would “be a success” however later, after changing arrangements in the kitchen, he decided to give it a further trial to determine its fate.


Gazette, 2nd February 1918, p. 8 .

By Katrina McDowall and Gracie Maskell

10th July 2018


Effects of war on politics


According to the Gazette, published 18th December 1915, prior to the First World War, Hemel Hempstead’s political parties were involved in arguments. However in 1915-12-18 the First World War caused the parties to bury the hatchet and finally agree.

When Mr. Arnold Ward was welcomed into the working men's club and institute in the Cotterells, rival parties joined together and were in perfect accord. In these peaceful times the Mayor was prevented from taking place in this gathering; however councillor  G. A. Talbot was in his right place in the chair at this gathering which changed politics and therefore should be remembered. 

Lieutenant Armitage represented the Navy at the gathering as it was fitting for him to do so. Armitage made a speech where he was appealing for recruits to join the Royal Navy Division. Mr. N. Micklem and Mr. Percy Christopherson, and Liberals and Tories supporting the members and the speaker also agreed. 

When they buried the hatchet, Mr Ward was accorded musical honours with the people attending singing ‘for he's a jolly good fellow’ The evening finished with music and the night was joyful.  


Gazette, 18th December 1915, p. 5.

By Teddy Smart and Ollie Sharpling

25th June 2019


World War 1 poem about the football clubs folding

The football clubs have folded ,

The war is upon us,

All the shelters have been bolted,

Fight on we must,

2000 men to the western front ,

Side by side they stand,

English tunes they start to chant ,

Taking German spies by hand ,

They speak the hertfordshire spirit,

Giving the country hope,

They roam and never fear it,

Grabbing the Allies by the ropes,

The Herts players are calling,

To the vile dishonourable countries,

The Herts league is stalling,

No more games coming monthly,

Risking their lives for England,

Taking the duty of killing,

Never sleeping nor never blinking,

Passing news that's very chilling,

Herts footballers save the day,

Deciding to go to war,

The allies us Herts slay,

Footballers fighting with Allies they saw.

The Herts players are calling,

To the vile dishonourable countries,

The Herts league is stalling,

No more games monthly


By Tom White and Jack Ballard

25th June 2019


French Welcome

This article about Lance-Corporal E. C. Day, of the King’s Royal Rifle Corps, explain the situations and problems surrounding the postal system during the First World War.

Lance-Corporal E. C. Day was a loyal member of the Hemel Hempstead postal staff.  He continues to describe the numerous issues that the Hempstead postal staff had to face. On August 13th, Lance wrote a letter explaining that he was in good health despite the immense amount of hard work he had to do. He also wrote about the various restrictions he had to obey when writing these letters home. There were serious incidents for soldiers wanting to write to family due to the fact that they are unable to disclose too much information on their whereabouts.

In the extract from August 13th, he describes the hostility of their French welcome, making him feel at home. They were kindly greeted with goods, such as wine and flowers which they shared between each other. This displays how the allies formed friendships during the First World War.

He goes on to state that “all letters, etc, are read and signed by an officer before they are sealed.”

Consequently this meant that soldiers were often prevented from informing loved ones on the perilous situation they were in. In another letter he wrote (dated August 25th)  he educated his family about his health but was unfortunately unable to state what he was doing or where he was. This was to ensure he was safe if the mail got captured by the Central Powers.

In conclusion, this article published on 9th December 1914, informs us about  the dangers of revealing too much information in innocent letters home and how the allies treated their fellow British troops.


Gazette, 12th September 1914, p. 7.

By Shaani Patel, Lauren Rance and Olivia Maskell

25th June 2019



       He struggled through the farmland,

          The rumble of death after every step,

          Fiery hell rained upon them,

          Without mercy, taking life without thought.


          The devils doors are wide open,      

          For those whose souls he reaps

          He cares not what he takes,

          But cares that he takes at all.


          There is no thought spared for the destination,

          Only for the journey he must take to escape death.

          But death is sleek and slick,

          And likes to trick his victims.


          At last what seems like haven,

          Two towering trees sheltering the men like a haven,

          But it is not to be, as death has other plans,

          And the safe-haven is destroyed in front of their very eyes.


          Although the dire situation has come to hand,

          It was secretly a blessing in disguise

          Too early, they would have been blown to hell

          Too late and they wouldn’t have escaped death


          So he walks away, wounded, yes,

          But he needn’t worry about death,

          Because he knows he’s now in secure hands,

          And has finally found his haven.

By Stanley Kaleniuk

25th June 2019


How Girls can help their Country

World War One was a time of desperation and compromise that required all people to work and input efforts to aid those fighting on the front lines. It began to unfold the true horrors of which our country can behold and unfortunately left many families devastated, drowning in the depths of grief.

In this article “How Girls can help their Country” (published on the 6th September 1914) , it is clear that the motif represents a recurring theme of  requirement of women in the workplace. The situation of working in World War One was one teetering dangerously into anguish and despair, many men had to abandon their working jobs, to fight for their country on the frontlines. Jobs such as firemen, police, shop owners, farmers and munitions factory workers, initially vacated by men had to be filled by the female working force.

In reference to the article studied it can be seen how in Hemel Hempstead nursing jobs in hospitals were unfilled, meaning many previously unemployed women wore thrust into a role that required their full knowledge, skill and mental capacity. A taxing but rewarding task that meant that many felt fulfilled in a position that they knew was helpful  many loved ones who were fighting the allied forces, allowing those at home to join the fight, despite the lack of artillery fire and trench warfare involved.

As many men charged into the War blinded by the immense feeling of pride for their country, the Government scrambled to find equipped women, willing to commit and offer their services. Searching for women from the age of 21 to 30 and applauded the knowledge of nursing and past experience yet still employed those without it. The government provided uniform, a minimum wage and also training, to guide them through the work a nurse experiences.

In the article the author, Mary Secretan, describes the struggle as a fight for their existence she was sure that would be answered with the cries of women asking “ what can I do to help?” . This devout belief and expectation of patriotism within the Hemel Hempstead community is both empowering and inspiring and truly displays the strong teamwork and willingness and enthusiasm to help those needing it, whether it be from behind the front lines, or behind a nurses desk.


Gazette, 12th September 1914, p. 7.

By Ella Deacon and Ruby Reeve

25th June 2019


Maternity and the War

“A few thoughtful people have been for years trying to direct publication, to the terrible conditions under which thousands of women are compelled to bring children to the world.”

We all know the noble stories of the brave men, who sacrificed their lives for their country, but we don’t know the stories of the ones left behind. The wives and children of the soldiers.

Many women, had to give birth and endure child-birth, in devastating conditions. With the war taking place, money was short leading to high prices, short-time and unemployment, leading to the burden of this distress, to fall on the women and their children and even more pressure for them. 

It is extremely encouraging to say that the government has taken into account this and has taken a real step towards supporting the women in these hard times, and it is an interesting sign of the times, to see that the step has been taken largely at the instance of the working women of the country.

“Mr Samuel, M.P, as President of the Local Government Board has received a deputation on behalf of the 40,000 working women. This is a good improvement for the country, enabling women to become more independent. The deputation was organised by the Women’s Cooperative Guild, which was accompanied by other self-governing institutions of working women, and supported by medical men and women.” 

The government  has put forward a scheme for the care of maternity during the wartime, providing for expecting women and nursing mothers. The duty of taking further action, and putting the plan into action revolves around The Public Health Authorities and the local representatives Committees. The scheme recognizes  that  maternity is not a charity case, but the duty of the country to the women, who is to become a mother, and maternity and welfare work is to become recognised of the nation’s work.

With this view Public Health Authorities are  urged assure that to start Municipal Maternity Centers at once, the Local  Government Board to defray 50 per cent, of all costs connected with maternity and infant welfare work.

Overall, we think that with the help of the government, women have been empowered and helped by the government through charities and non-governmental organisations and received medical care in their time of need.


Gazette, 12th December 1914, p. 7.

By Leah van Vastenhoven and Saira Babu Vinod

25th June 2019


Private Westfield’s Escape


Private Westfield's account of his experiences during the First World War, as shown by his final letter to Mr Anderson, present to us an intriguing perspective on the soldiers time at the front line. During Westfield’s time, people were not aware of the many dangers of smoking tobacco. Therefore it was considered socially acceptable for members of most societies to smoke, either cigarettes or tobacco. As a result of this when the soldiers were sent to war, many of them longed for tobacco.

This longing is made apparent in the letter published by the Hemel Hempstead gazette. Westfield talks of the fact that ‘ The smoke makes the fighting go down much better’. For these young men, smoking was an escape from the horrific reality they found themselves trapped in. Many of us owe our lives to these brave soldiers who fought for us so that our country could live to fight another day and it brings me great sadness to know that we as a nation encouraged them to smoke, which in effect amounts to nothing more than a prolonged method of suicide.

These men survived through so much for many to die through ill health, often as a result of the smoking. For example Private Westfield talks in his letter of having his hat shot off on multiple occasions. He also recounts a tale of a close escape from a great peril. Similarly to his hat, his overcoat was ruined due to the gunfire. It was found to have 12 holes in it from bullets having passed through it. Westfield was very lucky to have these bullets lodged into his coat as opposed to his skin.

Not all of the soldiers were as fortunate as Westfield and didn't survive similar encounters, and thus many paid for our countries survival with their life and we shall forever be grateful to them for this.


Gazette, 30th October 1914, p. 8.

By Joshua Lee and Thomas Albone

25th June 2019


The Death of Christopher Godman


Christopher Godman was a 25 year-old man who sadly passed away on 3rd October, due to a grenade exploding. He was ranked as a rifleman. Christopher was the sixth and youngest child of Mr and Mrs Godman, who lived in Ruckler’s Green which is located near the Apsley End area. Christopher died quickly and ‘suffered no pain’. Christopher’s officer informed Mr and Mrs Godman that Christopher was a fine soldier when he served in the 3rd Battalion. He was ‘not afraid to do his duty’.

Christopher was a, ‘brave boy and a good soldier, and he was very much liked by his comrades, who all mourned his death’. He died due to the fact that, ‘ a German who had fired a rifle grenade’, which ‘ dropped right between four soldiers who were having tea in the trenches’ and one of them happened to be Christopher. It’s another case of being at the wrong place at the wrong time.  His comrade and him only lived for two minutes after the explosion

Mr and Mrs Godman an also have one other son in the army and one in the navy, they’re all a family of military experience. Christopher Godman was employed at Apsley Mills from the time of enlistment. One of Christopher’s greatest friends, George Parr, was also severely injured in this incident. He suffered a large injury to the cranium.


Gazette, 16th October 1915, p. 5.

By Hrishi Panikkasseri and Finley Crouch

25th June 2019


Three brave Hempsteadians in the 2nd Beds Regiment

Lance- Corporal G. Scrivener, H.Hutton and L.Walker are known as the Three Brave Hempstead soldiers. Their great work in the field did not go unnoticed by their commanding officer. They were each presented with a commendation card setting forth their acts of bravery which will always be treasured.

H.Hutton joined the Second Beds regiment in September 1912 and in 1913  it was drafted out to South Africa. When the war broke out, he returned to England. When he got to England he paid a short visit to his brother Mr William Hutton at Apsley End. After the visit he returned to service.


His card given to him  says how he is a noticeable character to the Officers for his good work on the field. He would convey messages under heavy rifle and machine guns.

Lance-Corporal Scrivener sent a letter to his parents addressed to number 2 Puller Road, Boxmoor. In his letter he says  ‘I could not write before as I have not had the time, it’s been hard enough getting time to shave’. This suggests that in the army they were very busy and had little time to do what they want. However, he doesn’t tell his parents about anything negative about the war he only jokingly says about having no time to do what he would do in his spare time which implies he doesn’t want his parents to worry.


His card says he was also noticed by the officers because of his good work on the field at night in September. He was cut off from the rest of the company with four other men. They all fought their way back to the trench which prevented the enemy from working along their trench.


Private Walker wrote several interesting letters, describing the Great Battle round Loos which were received by his parents. His parents lived on Alma Road in Hemel Hempstead. His letters show that ‘bullets and shells [were] flying in all different directions, but we still kept on’. Unlike Lance he told his parents about the negative sides of the war but also talks about the atmosphere and went into more detail.

His card says he also has good skills on the field by carrying messages under heavy rifle. He was also under machine gun fire throughout the operations.



Gazette, 23rd October 1915, p. 5 & 30th October 1915, p. 5.

By Fraser Dyer, Archy Bertrand and Alexa Corrigan

25th June 2019


To enlist or not to enlist - that is the question

When one thinks of enlisting for the war, the first thought that will flood their mind is the consequences of not voluntarily joining His Majesty's Forces. A local company in Hemel Hempstead, John Dickinson and Co. LTD, published their arrangements on the 17th August, 1914 as being their “chief duty to endeavour to keep their works going; subject to this they desire to urge their men in their employment to enlist“. The company acquires raw materials to produce stationary products for the public.

John Dickinson’s company is known to be described as “generous towards his employees” and to support those who chose to enlist throughout the war. His ideas to encourage employees to join the forces, were one of financial complications. Lewis Evans, chairman of the company at the time, signed a public agreement document stating how “half wages will be given to all who are married or who have dependants and one quarter wages to all unmarried men”. The impact of this concluded to persuade many to enlist in His Majesty’s Forces and aid those already at war. “A bonus of one months wages or salary will be given to all those who return to the company at the end of the war” - I strongly believe that this quote highlights how Lewis, and many others, concluded that the First World War would only occur for a short period of time . Additionally, it represents to all those enlisting, that there was a glimmer of hope that war would supposedly end in victory. Not only was Dickinson concerned for the number of soldiers being recruited, but they were also looking for the interests of their company: “places will be kept open for all who leave with the consent of the company”. The company also insisted that those whose absence would be of a major impact of others and “stop the work of others” to rather stay at home than join the effort to victory.  

Alongside the public statement, false rumours also circulated that Dickinson was obstructing their workers to enlist within the war, but instead to stay and help his company thrive within others misfortune. These rumors were proven false and are thought to be exaggerated for viewers privilege to sell more copies as this topic was of current interest.



Gazette, 5th September 1914, p. 8.

By Ella Bradley, Lauren Collis and Aayla Haq

25th June 2019


Advertising in the First World War

On the 6th of January 1917, the front page of the Hemel Hempstead Gazette displayed many advertisements for things that although are not as common now, were normal at the time.

For example, there is an advert for piano tuning and repairing which would have been immensely popular in 1917, as entertainment back then was largely based on music (particularly classical). In fact, there is another advert for buying a piano on the same page titled ‘music in the home’ proving just how popular they were. Tailoring also makes an appearance on the page, which would have been more common in that time, as clothing items were more commonly made by hand. This means that the sizing was different, so you were less likely to find something in your size, therefore a tailor was needed. The advert states that they do ‘liveries and uniforms,’ which of course is aimed at soldiers in the war. As there was a war going on the number of people enrolling in the army was increasing rapidly, so tailoring businesses who offered the same services as this one would have thrived during this time. Another business that was advertised towards soldiers was baking. There is an advert for a bakery which at the bottom describes their services as ‘wedding cakes, christening cakes, and birthday cakes’. However, the main service at that time seemed to be ‘a large new assortment of chocolate for the troops.

Through the examples on that front page, you can tell how even if the fighting was not going on in England, it still affected the people back home and life was adjusted to the circumstances of the war.


Gazette, 6th January 1917, p. 1.

By Wanda Ripper

4th July 2024


Honours for local soldiers

The Gazette newspaper covered stories of local soldiers receiving awards and honors for their services to the military. In an issue published on 13th January 1917, many soldiers from Hertfordshire were recognized for their accomplishments.           

A soldier from Berkhamsted, Sergeant F. Hawkins was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal, otherwise known as a DCM. According to the local newspaper, the Hemel Hempstead Gazette, he received this award for bombing an enemy trench, clearing 30 yards.

Private H. Rodwell was awarded the Military Medal for gallantry in action on November 11th, 1916. His brother, Lance Corporal T. B. Rodwell was killed in action the year before.

Lieutenant Nevill Christopherson of the R.F.A, the only son of Mr. and Mrs. Percy Christopherson of Lockers Park, Hemel Hempstead, appeared among those mentioned in dispatches not long before the paper was published.


Gazette, 13th January 1917, p. 5.

By Marie Ellis and Isabelle Galvin

4th July 2024


National Service

On the 17th of March 1917, there was a meeting in the Hemel Hempstead Town Hall with the Mayor and the National Service campaign. ‘There was a small attendance’ and ‘The Mayor emphasised the importance of the matter before the meeting’. The men of Hemel Hempstead that had the ability and age to fight were to join up if they had not already volunteered. Mr. J.G. Butcher K.C. M.P said, 'It was a difficult subject because the Borough had supplied so many men for the army, but it was up to them to decide the plan.’.

Mr. Butcher was insistent on the fact that the world was in crisis due to the war and needed all the men it could get for the army. He said this, ‘We are in the throne of the greatest crisis the world had known it, avid is the struggle for civilisation against barbarism and decision must be reached more long.’ This was clear that England was on its knees and needed more soldiers to defend the country and its honor.

‘The Germans had ruthlessly and permanently prepared for OUR DESTRUCTION.’ This meant that the Army needed every man from every corner of the country to join up and fight for victory even in our small town of 19,000 at the time. ‘We were face to face not only with a most powerful enemy, but an enemy shaped in the most barbarous savagery.’

Soldiers from Hertfordshire

By Eden Crawley, Lauren Duvall, Sophia Munns

4th July 2024


Gazette, 17th March 1917, p. 7.

Hertfordshire Genealogy




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