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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.  They produced a number of pieces of writing which are featured 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

 

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'.

Source:

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?

Source:

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’, this 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 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.

 

Sources:

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.

 

Sources:

Gazette, 8th August 1914, p. 5.

www.nationalarchives.gov.uk

 

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 Germans 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).

 

Sources:

Gazette, 29th August 1914, p. 8.

www.1914-1918.com/

www.maps.google.co.uk/

 

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.

 

Sources:

http://www.1914-1918.net/brothers1914.htm

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. 

Source:

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 Germany would finish them off once they were within range.  

However, the British artillery suddenly commenced, causing Germany 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 are 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”.

Source:

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.

Sources:

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.

Source:

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.”

Source:

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.

Source:

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 considered 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.

Source:

Gazette, 12th August 1916. p. 5.

By Yasmin Jayasinghe & Amy Scrivener

24th June 2016

 

Refugees

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.

Source:

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.

Sources:

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.

                  

Sources:

By Aidan Mitchell and Piyush Shrestha

24th June 2016

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