Rum in my Porridge

December 15, 20159:43 amJuly 19, 2016 11:07 am

We usually associate rum with the Navy, but soldiers in the trenches also received a rum ration. Each man was given a ‘tot’ which was about a tablespoon, though Navy rum was stronger than rum sold in pubs now, so probably the equivalent of a small glass. Rum gave the men a little warmth and […]


St George’s Memorial Church in Ypres

November 17, 201511:40 am

Soon after the Great War finished, Field Marshall French suggested the British build an Anglican church in Ypres to honour the soldiers and units of the British army who served on the Ypres Salient. He also wanted the building to act as a meeting place for visiting relatives who began coming out to see where […]


A Scrap of Paper. Un Chiffon de Papier

November 17, 20159:35 am

When Gilles Jordan Joseph Verduijn went to war it was, as the German Chancellor sneered, ‘over a scrap of paper.’ When he was demobbed in 1919, his birth, service and medals are recorded on a remarkable document “Tribute from a Grateful Nation”. His granddaughter, Chrissie Verduyn [the spelling has been anglicised] lives in Clun. She […]


Everyman’s Club at Talbot House

October 19, 201512:01 pmNovember 17, 2015 11:51 am

On their Flanders battlefield trip Wenlock U3A visited Talbot House in Poperinge, not far from Ypres in an area of Belgium the Germans never occupied. Talbot House opened in 1915 as a club for soldiers. Everyone was welcomed equally whether officer or private. ‘All rank abandon, ye who enter here’ is one of the signs […]



October 13, 201510:49 am

From the outbreak of war in August 1914 and for its duration, knitting comforts for soldiers and sailors became a national pastime. It wasn’t just women involved either, men, children, German prisoners of war and recovering combatants in war hospitals were all encouraged to pick up knitting needles and a recipe (the name often used […]


Collect conkers for victory!

October 13, 20159:44 amOctober 13, 2015 9:45 am

In October 1917, the parish of Clee St Margaret asked children to collect horse chestnuts and bring them to the School. This was in response to a national appeal from the Ministry of Munitions. The purpose of this unusual request was kept secret, but in fact the conkers were to be used to make acetone […]


“Old Bill” – The Shropshire Connection

September 8, 201511:17 amSeptember 22, 2015 2:07 pm

CRAVEN ARMS TAKES ‘OLD BILL’ TO ITS HEART A War Memorial nicknamed ‘Old Bill’ occupied a position on Shropshire’s front line, the A49, for 35 years. In 1956 he was forced to beat a retreat from the whizz bangs of the main road. His corner of the A49 and the Corvedale Road in Craven Arms […]


GRIN AND BEAR IT – The Centenary of Old Bill

September 8, 201510:47 amSeptember 8, 2015 10:49 am

To the ordinary soldier, humour was as essential an armament as his rifle or his bayonet. It was a defensive weapon, vital to staving off the despair or descent to insanity … the logical reactions to the surrounding hellishness. Patrick Bishop Historian and author A HIGH EXPLOSIVE OF MIRTH On September 15th 1915 I should […]


A German Sympathizer?

September 1, 20152:29 pmSeptember 1, 2015 2:32 pm

Suspicions of German spies abounded from the moment war was declared and many innocent people fell victim to accusations of being German sympathizers. In October 1914, Miss Lillian Tart, the headteacher at the National School in Dudleston, near Ellesmere was called to account. PC Pilsbury went to investigate gossip circulating in the village that she […]


Training at Prees Heath Camp

September 1, 20159:33 amJuly 17, 2017 9:04 am

The following extracts are from letters written by Private 22219 Bert Oakes, KSLI, No 28 Hut 4th Camp, Prees Heath. He writes to his parents Edward and Eliza Oakes of 5 Barber Street, Broseley and describes the daily routine of military training and life in the camp, in 1916. “We get up at 6 o’clock, dress […]

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