Saturday, 3 January 2015

News from the Villages

Strawplaiting at Barton-le-Clay, 1917 [Z1306/7/13/1]

Sunday 3rd January 1915

The roll of honour of men from the village who have joined the Forces has increased by ten, making a total of about 50. These include five of the bell ringers. Five Bartonians have already returned wounded, but all are making satisfactory progress on the whole. At the Ringers and Church Officials' Christmas Supper Private Bradshaw gave a graphic description of the Battle of Mons, during which he had lain wounded for five hours under the dead horse he had been driving in the artillery service. Mrs Sturgess has received a letter from her son in the 1st Bedfords who has been promoted to Lance-Corporal.[1] He says “We haven’t much to grumble at, for we have plenty to eat and plenty of warm clothing, but what we don’t like is the wet weather; it makes everybody so miserable, but we grin and bear it … We stayed for a day or two in a Church where there was a nice organ. Someone started playing a few old hymns, and you ought to have heard us sing. It made us think more of home than ever … You ought to see us now, we look like a lot of bears, as we have had some fur coats given us.”

A house and furniture have been arranged and weekly subscriptions promised sufficient to maintain eight Belgian refugees, so it is disappointing that none have arrived. The matter is being kept in hand for a time in case any wish to avail themselves of the village’s hospitality later on.

Percy Parrish has written on behalf of himself and his brother Cyril to their parents: “We have joined the army … You must not worry for you know it was our duty to go. We are not going to have a German to rule over us”. The Rector urges every unmarried man of military age and strength to join the army, and every non-combatant unfit for the front to join in prayer, to contribute by self-denial, and to do some work for those suffering from the war.

Flitton and Greenfield
The series of lantern views and war slides concluded in December and a grand total of £3 14s 4d was sent to Lady Eleonora French requesting that it be spent on warm clothing for men at the front, but not on socks. She has suggested that vests and pants are most needed right now. Efforts are being made to establish a Boy Scout Troop and eleven lads are already in training. Funds are being raised to purchase uniforms and other equipment.

The children in the Junior Classes in the Mixed School have contributed 5s 5d and the Infants 1s 3d to the fund for the maintenance of a Belgian family in the village. Nothing more has been heard about their arrival, but the village is ready to give them a cordial welcome.

A total of £7 12s 2d has been handed over to the Belgian Distress Fund following the concert held in the New Schools.

There is great excitement in the village at the news that over 200 soldiers are to be billeted at Clophill. The Parish Room is to be turned into a Recreation Room with a refreshment stall. Only men in uniform will be allowed but members of all branches of the Services will be welcomed. It is hoped that the visitors will be made most comfortable, but also that there will be no “unseemly foolishness or rowdyism”.

A branch of the newly formed League of Honour for Women and Girls is also to be started in the village. The League aims at uniting all women and girls over 14 in Prayer, Purity and Temperance during the war, offering them the highest scope for true patriotism.

Source: Monthly Magazine for the parishes of Barton-le-Cley, Clophill, Flitton and Greenfield, Gravenhurst, Silsoe, Westoning, January 1915 [P21/30/17]

[1] Leonard Sturgess of Barton joined the Bedfordshire Regiment in 1903 aged 19 and was transferred to the Reserve in 1905. He rejoined the Regiment at the beginning of the War and was discharged in January 1916 at the termination of his first period of engagement. He served in France between 30th August 1914 and 28th January 1915. His pension record describes him as “a cheerful and industrious worker”. 

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