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Remembered Today:

Chapperton Down Artillery School


ianjonesncl

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An intersting film I came across on the Imperial War Musuem collection features the Chapperton Down Artillery School. 

"Taken at the school on 9 March 1916, this film shows in detail the firing procedures for the 6-inch 26cwt howitzer, the 8-inch Mk VI howitzer and the 9.2-inch Mk I howitzer with the new Type 106 graze fuse (not shown). It shows the effects of the fall of shot, giving the distance and line of camera to the point of impact with the direction of wind for each firing. In each case the result is a surface burst."

CHAPPERTON DOWN ARTILLERY SCHOOL [Main Title] | IWM Film (iwmcollections.org.uk)

Source: © IWM IWM 108

It is always nice to see the gun detachments in operation to see how the drills that were needed to load, lay and fire the gun.

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Chapperton Down Artillery School 6 inch 26 cwt Howitzer

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Chapperton Down Artillery School 9.2 inch Mark 1 Howitzer

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Chapperton Down Artillery School 8 inch Mark VI Howitzer

Chapperton Down Artillery School 6in 26 cwt Howitzer Battery firing

Chapperton Down Artillery School 6in 26 cwt Howitzer Battery firing

Having observed many an artillery round landing on Salisbury Plain, the views of the shells exploding are timeless.

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Chapperton Down Artillery School obsering Fall of Shot - 9.2 inch Howitzer shell exploding

A little research into where Chapperton Down is located on Salisbury Plain (not near Aldershot as detailed by IWM), I found that I have been there. Head north on the A360 from Tilshead, tank cross F, turn left, through the vedette and head for Imber.

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An archelogical report militaryarchaeology2.pdf (multibriefs.com)   provides information about the Chapperton Down Artillery School.

The Overseas Artillery School (later called the Chapperton Down Artillery School) was set up west of the A360 in 1915 and in operation by 1916 with a mission to standardise methods of use, of terminology, of data acquisition, of air observation of fall of shot, and of the effects of weather on trajectory and gas dispersal (the latter likely to have been by use of visible smoke rather than by use of gas).

The Chapperton Down School had an establishment of staff and technical officers and its students were brigade artillery officers, battery commanders and battery captains, most of whom appear to have been accommodated in Salisbury and motored out daily to Chapperton Down.

The school was of minimal infrastructure, with trenches, tents, a few huts and observation towers on Chapperton Down itself. It was a technical school rather than a tactical school and in 1919 it moved to Larkhill as was collocated with the staffs of other dispersed artillery schools to be renamed in 1920 as The School of Artillery, Larkhill.

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The layout of the Chapperton Down School was linear, firing along fixed lines to facilitate the scientific monitoring by close observation and filming of impact and influence of weather and munition from towers and posts. Thus it centred on trench systems on the west (reverse) slopes of the high ground on Chapperton Down, east of the Berrill Valley, with two impact areas to its west and south of Imber Firs and Tinkers Firs (The Kite and the Diamond) and mock gun positions (Tinker’s Bottom, Well Bottom and Fore Down Batteries) with concrete features. To its east and across the A360 were seven battery positions at different ranges, using different calibres, including 18 pounder guns up to 9.2-inch howitzers etc. firing westwards over Chapperton Down (Berrill, Barrow, Rings, Peels and Field Barn Batteries).

Target features included a ‘dressing station’, two dug-outs, concrete targets and many trench systems. Especially constructed for the School was a meteorological station at Butlers Cross about 4 km east of Chapperton Down, and landing grounds for use by the Royal Flying Corps observer aircraft on any suitable flat and mown strips in the area.

 

A GWF Forum post by @Moonraker details the experience of those living near the range in the village of Imber recounted by the vicar, Charles Watling;

https://www.greatwarforum.org/topic/297325-imber-open-a-nice-day/?do=findComment&comment=3111397

"We daily, and often nightly, suffered from the effects of concussion, our walls buckled, our glass cracked, so that we present to the world a shell shocked village … our population has dwindled, one shop remains and instead of our continuing to be a self-supporting community we have become dependent upon neighbouring villages for our thrice weekly supply of food."

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Imber Village -  Charles Watling's Vicarge to left of the picture

 

 

 

Edited by ianjonesncl

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Thanks Ian. Really interesting. I've seen several references to RFA officers being sent home from France to attend courses at the Overseas Artillery School and wondered where it might be. Do you happen to know if it would have been here, or, noting that the IWM film shows heavier guns, was Chapperton Down an RGA facility and the RFA school may have been elsewhere? 

David.

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Moonraker

Posted (edited)

Minor coincidence in that I was looking at my Chapperton Down notes only this morning and also emailed an Imber historian .  Very good summary and presentation, Ian.

Forty soldiers and six batmen were housed in the attic of Imber Court, with a major and five other officers in more comfortable accommodation. Concerts were held in the Court's great barn, with Gladys Dean, the lady of the house, singing and playing the piano. Everyone was encouraged to take part, doing a turn or signing a patriotic song. The army improved the road through the village, but the track from Heytesbury came under regular fire. Shells damaged some houses, and the intensity of the training meant that at times the villagers were virtual prisoners, being allowed out only three times a week to Warminster.

Dennis Wheatley (later to become famous for his black-magic novels) was a member of the 2nd battalion, 1st City of London Royal Field Artillery, and described his experiences in the Imber area in his autobiographical Officer and Temporary Gentleman. In August 1916 he was posted to Heytesbury Camp and in October was involved in an exercise near Tilshead. The men were accommodated in "old wooden huts" on an artillery range, the officers were billeted at the Black Horse Inn. In November Wheatley moved to a tented campsite 1½ miles south of Imber. (These references would seem to refer to the Chapperton Down ranges. The allusion to "old wooden huts" is puzzling as any military buildings in the Tilshead area would have been erected recently. They may have been farm buildings. But other contemporary accounts refer to hutments as being old, when in fact they had been put up in the last year or so. Such comments may reflect how they became shabby very quickly.) Wheatley recalled:

"The days that followed were sheer purgatory. The rain increased until it was continuous. Day after day it poured in torrents while the men, protected only by their mackintosh ground-sheets, laced around their necks, toiled at digging gunpits. Our chaps had never before been called on to live in the open, so our cooks had no experience of using camp ovens. Petrol and sugar was flung on the fires in vain, time after time wind-driven rain put them out. During lulls they managed to boil up kettles for tea but nearly all our food had to be eaten cold. On that desolate plain there was not a house or barn in which anyone could shelter even for a short while. Drenched to the skin, their boots sodden, unwashed and utterly miserable, the men crouched shivering in their bivvies …

The men began to cough; so did I. Scores of them developed bronchitis, then pneumonia and had to be sent to hospital. The infantry suffered even worse than we did, for two of their men actually died out there on the Plain and their bodies were taken away in small arms wagons. Out of a total force of 498 troops and 16 officers, 170 men had to be evacuated because they were coughing their lungs out."

At the same time that Wheatley was camped near Imber, the 173rd Brigade were in the same location digging trenches for the artillery practice ranges. On the night of its arrival, many tents were blown down and the ground became muddy enough to be worthy of Flanders. "This period was regarded as being as uncomfortable as any experienced during the war," noted Colonel E G Godfrey in The Cast-Iron Sixth (F S Stapleton 1938).

See this previous thread.

"Salisbury Plain Chapperton Down Artillery Range Byelaws 1916", available online through Googling.

A Treatise by Major RH Chapman on the calibration of guns and howitzers by the direct measurement of muzzle velocity, as carried out at Shoots of Artillery in France and England (Chapperton Down) 1917 and 1918. Military Document 2021 (location unknown). Available by searching www.theogilbymuster.com.

 

 

 

 

Edited by Moonraker
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14 minutes ago, Moonraker said:

On that desolate plain there was not a house or barn in which anyone could shelter even for a short while. Drenched to the skin, their boots sodden, unwashed and utterly miserable, the men crouched shivering in their bivvies …

A timeless description of Salisbury Plain in the wet.

18 minutes ago, Moonraker said:

Shells damaged some houses, and the intensity of the training meant that at times the villagers were virtual prisoners, being allowed out only three times a week to Warminster.

It was not only during WW2 where the villagers had to put up with a great deal to support the war effort.  Range Safety seems to have been mimimal.

25 minutes ago, Moonraker said:

The men were accommodated in "old wooden huts" on an artillery range, the officers were billeted at the Black Horse Inn.

The archelogical report I refer to on the blog post outlines "The school was of minimal infrastructure, with trenches, tents, a few huts and observation towers on Chapperton Down itself". Those huts may have already looked old when Dennis Wheatley observed them.

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Thank you both - that both clears things up for me and adds much colour to what those who attended the school experienced. 

David.

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Intrigued that Dennis Wheatley may have been at Chapperton Down, I had a google and came up with the Denis Wheatley museum. A web page outlines Wheatleys time on Salisbury Plain and the fact " DW was to put the knowledge he had gained of Salisbury Plain to a rather different use - as the background for some of the most important chapters in 'The Devil Rides Out'."

The Dennis Wheatley 'Museum'

 

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20 hours ago, ianjonesncl said:

This report  from SS157, Report on the Overseas Artillery School, Salisbury Plain, May 1917 November, 1916-March, 1918"The Infantry cannot do with a gun less": Appendix 20 (gutenberg-e.org) details that it was used by both RFA and RGA officers. Experimental work included field guns, and heavy guns.

The report notes the advantage of combining both RFA and RGA officers on the course.

 

 

Thanks Ian.  That's great to know.  

David.

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The 14th and 15th Canadian Field Companies, Canadian Engineers, were in the Tilshead-Chitterne area in mid-1917, building and repairing roads and laying tramlines and railways (presumably of narrow gauge to facilitate the transport of stores and shells to Chapperton Down). In their war diaries are references to the latter being laid at Five Down Dump, Hoopers Hollow and Middle Barn, this last being on the Tilshead-Chitterne road and referred to as the "Middle Barn Artillery Training Camp".

I can see no sign of infrastructure on the 1923 OS 25in map but I suspect that there wouldn't have much, if any, revision, of maps showing the remoter parts of Salisbury Plain.

 

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Gentlemen,

A retired meteorologist, I became interested in he Chapperton Down Ranges some 15-17 years ago when I found a reference to the location in the Met Office Archives. Working from this I determined that a met office had been established on the eastern edge of the ranges to support the artillery by providing real-time information about winds and temperatures above the ranges.  Known as Butler's Cross it now lies just inside the SPTA but, having obtained permission, I visited the site and found the remains of a concrete plinth on which a theodolite would have been mounted to follow fre-flying balloons used to calculate winds aloft - information valuable to the artillery.  The story of Butler's Cross, and to some extent, the Chapperton Ranges, is at page 12 of https://www.rmets.org/sites/default/files/2019-03/hisnews0215.pdf . 

In 2009, during my early research, I advised the SPTA Land Agent of the importance (at least in a meteorological sense) of the lump of concrete I'd found and I think this must have remained on file as there is a reference to Butler's Cross in a 2017 account of Chapperton Down at https://www.multibriefs.com/briefs/rcaa/militaryarchaeology2.pdf

 

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Many thanks for the information, particularly the reference to the the activities of the Met Office. During the Tercentenary of the Royal Artillery Commemoration at Larkhill in 2016 the Metrological Office had a stand so I had an opportunity to learn about the work they did in support the Gunners.

My Regiment had a B-Mets Troop at one time and I can remember them tracking the weather balloons with theodolites. The innovations of those early metrologists of WW1 would last for over a century.

 

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FROGSMILE

Posted (edited)

15 hours ago, ianjonesncl said:

Many thanks for the information, particularly the reference to the the activities of the Met Office. During the Tercentenary of the Royal Artillery Commemoration at Larkhill in 2016 the Metrological Office had a stand so I had an opportunity to learn about the work they did in support the Gunners.

My Regiment had a B-Mets Troop at one time and I can remember them tracking the weather balloons with theodolites. The innovations of those early metrologists of WW1 would last for over a century.

 

The OP, Lyffe, has made several interesting posts in the past concerning this subject that might interest you Ian.  At the time a constant contributor on RA matters was forum member Nigelfe, who sadly hasn’t been seen here since 2017.  Also Moonraker was engaged and recounted some relevant details.  I enclose the photo of the concrete base where the theodolite was mounted that Lyffe posted over 15-years ago now if I’ve recalled that time span correctly.

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Edited by FROGSMILE
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Frogsmile

Many thanks for the information.

The Metrological aspect of Gunnery was a constant factor during my service. The supply of Met Messages every two hours and the need to update target records and firing data meant there was always activity going on. This was interspersed with Registration Point and Witness Point Missions.

I have used Nigelfe's website a lot and remember his postings on the Forum.

I had a look at the position of the Met Station on the map, and if I have the right place (North of Tilshead) I may have passed a couple of times. We used to deploy to Imber some times to undertake village occupations, but would enter the ranges south of Tilshead. We would have passed through the Chapperton Down ranges on occassions , but had no idea they had been there. 

Ian

 

 

 

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FROGSMILE

Posted (edited)

1 hour ago, ianjonesncl said:

Frogsmile

Many thanks for the information.

The Metrological aspect of Gunnery was a constant factor during my service. The supply of Met Messages every two hours and the need to update target records and firing data meant there was always activity going on. This was interspersed with Registration Point and Witness Point Missions.

I have used Nigelfe's website a lot and remember his postings on the Forum.

I had a look at the position of the Met Station on the map, and if I have the right place (North of Tilshead) I may have passed a couple of times. We used to deploy to Imber some times to undertake village occupations, but would enter the ranges south of Tilshead. We would have passed through the Chapperton Down ranges on occassions , but had no idea they had been there. 

Ian

 

 

 

I have similar memories of the Larkhill Ranges East and West, sometimes entering from the South usually via the Bustard Vedette, and sometimes the North via Lavington and Redhorn Vedettes.  Most of my firing positions were close in due to shorter ranges than you are used to.  It was only towards the end of my employment in indirect fire that we received a more advanced fire data computer (a Mark 2) in which we could enter meteorological information.  It much improved the accuracy of our silent marking and predicted fire.

The Chapperton Down Overseas Gunnery School has interested me ever since Lyffe first mentioned it here in I think 2008, especially that the school headquarters and students accommodation was in “Salisbury”.  I had seen several mentions in other contexts of a headquarters at Salisbury, but later learned that meant Salisbury Plain rather than the City of Salisbury itself.  Further investigation and refinement of my searching for information then lead to Tidworth Garrison as the location of the ‘Salisbury’ headquarters, and finally I learnt that this was actually Tedworth House where HQ Southern Command was based between 1901 and 1949.

Official lists of locations never showed this headquarters as Tidworth though, but always showed it as Salisbury and this has made me wonder if it was probably the location of the Chapperton Down School headquarters and student accommodation.  Given the range of Garrison buildings nearby it seems likely, and it also had far more direct transit routes via Bulford, Larkhill, Shrewton and Tilshead. 

Edited by FROGSMILE
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Frogsmile

Re-reading Appendix 20, the report on the first year's activities of the Chapperton Down Artillery School (http://www.gutenberg-e.org/mas01/archive/app20.html) I can see it is ambiguous if one is unaware that 'Salisbury' refers to an Army unit (not sure what word to use there) not the city of Salisbury.  This is especially confusing as elsewhere in the Appendix real town/village names are used.  This use of 'Salisbury' seems a major error of assumption considering the majority of people reading 'Salisbury' would assume it referred to the city. In the event I based my reference on an item in the Army Quarterly, Vol LXVII, covering Oct 1953 to Jan 1954.  The item, Army Schools, written by Major A J W Harvey, RA, includes the following in a reference to the Overseas Artillery School:

The School Headquarters was billeted in extreme comfort in the thirteenth-century 'Old George Inn', still to be seen in the High Street, Salisbury.  The courses used to motor out to Chapperton  Down, on the present Imber Ranges, where firing was carried out.

In your entry above you write

I had seen several mentions in other contexts of a headquarters at Salisbury, but later learned that meant Salisbury Plain rather than the City of Salisbury itself.  Further investigation and refinement of my searching for information then lead to Tidworth Garrison as the location of the ‘Salisbury’ headquarters, and finally I learnt that this was actually Tedworth House where HQ Southern Command was based between 1901 and 1949.

While I do not disbelieve you (I've been led astray too many times by using inaccurate quotes - as may be the case with Harvey's assertion - so I like to double-check if possible) it would add authority to your claim if could you provide a road-map of  how you came to your conclusion as you've not provided any references.

Brian  

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FROGSMILE

Posted (edited)

On 03/09/2023 at 21:17, Lyffe said:

Frogsmile

Re-reading Appendix 20, the report on the first year's activities of the Chapperton Down Artillery School (http://www.gutenberg-e.org/mas01/archive/app20.html) I can see it is ambiguous if one is unaware that 'Salisbury' refers to an Army unit (not sure what word to use there) not the city of Salisbury.  This is especially confusing as elsewhere in the Appendix real town/village names are used.  This use of 'Salisbury' seems a major error of assumption considering the majority of people reading 'Salisbury' would assume it referred to the city. In the event I based my reference on an item in the Army Quarterly, Vol LXVII, covering Oct 1953 to Jan 1954.  The item, Army Schools, written by Major A J W Harvey, RA, includes the following in a reference to the Overseas Artillery School:

The School Headquarters was billeted in extreme comfort in the thirteenth-century 'Old George Inn', still to be seen in the High Street, Salisbury.  The courses used to motor out to Chapperton  Down, on the present Imber Ranges, where firing was carried out.

In your entry above you write

I had seen several mentions in other contexts of a headquarters at Salisbury, but later learned that meant Salisbury Plain rather than the City of Salisbury itself.  Further investigation and refinement of my searching for information then lead to Tidworth Garrison as the location of the ‘Salisbury’ headquarters, and finally I learnt that this was actually Tedworth House where HQ Southern Command was based between 1901 and 1949.

While I do not disbelieve you (I've been led astray too many times by using inaccurate quotes - as may be the case with Harvey's assertion - so I like to double-check if possible) it would add authority to your claim if could you provide a road-map of  how you came to your conclusion as you've not provided any references.

Brian  

Hello Brian,

I’m glad that you’ve responded.  I had first become interested in the Chapperton Down Artillery School after reading about it in the forum, seeing a photograph of an ‘Overseas’ class of trainees, and then more particularly after reading your articles about the meteorological connections.  On and off over two decades I’d been based and employed around that area of Salisbury plain, as well as various other specific locations that seem to be connected with this investigation.  Having always been interested in military history and WW1, I’d always taken each opportunity to examine every local nook and cranny whenever I could.  My interest extended beyond the school though, and I became curious in connection with other historical aspects as to where the local regional command headquarters had been located during the period that it was in Wiltshire.  However, I’m not an academic and cannot pretend to have undertaken the kind of focused and in depth historical research that you have, and with moves to various parts of the world on duty, I confined my looking for information to the internet, and even then did not write anything down, trusting instead to my ability to remember things (not always successfully).

Having read your articles describing the Overseas Artillery School and accommodation as being in Salisbury it sparked my curiosity again, and I wondered whether the school might have been collocated with the Headquarters of Southern Command, which was also listed as being at Salisbury, but with no further details.  I carried out various searches over a period of time, getting distracted, and then returning to the subject only when I had the time and access to a computer.  It was in Wikipedia that I found HQ Southern Command listed as moving from Portsmouth to ‘Tidworth Camp’ , a few years after the 2nd Anglo/Boer War, but with no further details. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southern_Command_(United_Kingdom)

Then, in a military history website, I discovered mention of the headquarters as being in a location subsequently named Lucknow Barracks.  This seemed ostensibly to be nonsense to me, as Lucknow Barracks was built for an infantry battalion, as was its neighbouring Mooltan  Barracks, both of which I knew intimately having been based at the former in the early 1970s.  As far as I’ve been able to find out there have been infantry battalions based there ever since it was opened, so I couldn’t possibly see, or think of any buildings large enough to sustain a regional headquarters and a battalion simultaneously, although HQs were much smaller affairs back then when compared with today. https://www.britishmilitaryhistory.co.uk/docs-united-kingdom-1939-1940-southern-command/

It was while looking around for other possibilities that once again in Wikipedia I read mention that Tedworth House became the official residence during that same period in the early 1900s for the General Officer Commanding the “Salisbury Plain Military District”.  I immediately thought that that must be a conflation with the Southern Command  and that it was therefore probably the location of the latter’s headquarters given its size and position.  Reflecting on it now I think I’ve probably misinterpreted the situation, but it still leaves me none the wiser as to the true location of the headquarters. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tedworth_House

However, another website focusing on the history of the area states the following:

”North Tidworth was transformed after 1897, the year in which nearly all the parish, together with nearly all of South Tidworth parish, was bought by the War Department for military training. (fn. 42) Much land was built on for the garrison attached to the headquarters of the Southern Military Command based at Tidworth House in South Tidworth;”  See: https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/wilts/vol15/pp153-163   See also extract below from page 51 of book ‘Plain Soldiering’ by NDG James.

As for the revelation that the Old George Inn in Salisbury was the headquarters and accommodation for the Overseas Artillery School, I could not hold back a wry grin, as it had become the location of a large Tea Room that was a favourite of my late wife in the 1980s.  Later on the lower part, where the entrance and lower rooms had been, was developed to form the entrance of an American style shopping mall, completely isolating and sealing off, as a kind of time capsule, the upper floor where the accommodation and offices would presumably have been. https://www.bbc.co.uk/wiltshire/entertainment/days_out/old_george_inn_salisbury_2.shtml

Afternote:  so we can ascertain from all this that, although HQ Southern Command had been in Tedworth House for a time, by 1909 it had moved to Salisbury, where it remained, and during WW1 was seemingly in ‘Government House’, in Churchfields, at what is now number 26 to 29 Churchfields Road** (adjacent to the city’s railway station - see terrace below).  However, I’m still not sure if this is correct, as there seems to be much crossover regarding the HQ location between WW1 and WW2.  See: http://bmh.uk.webeasy.slightlydifferent.co.nz/wp-content/uploads/sites/124/2019/05/Southern-Command-History-Personnel-1.pdf

**sadly now derelict, decaying and the subject of controversy regarding its future.

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Edited by FROGSMILE
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Thank you for your thoughts FM, and the pictures of the Old George Inn.  I won't say I know it well but I have visited the shopping mall it leads into a number of times with my late wife - she was always the instigator!  In truth I never appreciated there had been an inn there.  I don't think I've visited for at least 10 years.  

My only concern about the report was the use of at Salisbury in the first paragraph, but elsewhere the report refers to the schools at Lydd and at Shoeburyness the important word which has been omitted is Range(s). My gut feeling is that it would be very unusual to use a single nearby town/city name to refer to a headquarters unit.  The at Salisbury in the first section refers, I am sure, to the Instructors and Staff gathering on Salisbury Plain (Ranges) to see what they had to work with, after all the Chapperton Down Range was new and unused. Early the first section of the report notes:

The range is situated 16 miles from Salisbury, the Headquarters of the School, where the Lectures took place, and where the Classes and Staff were billeted.  

I still feel this refers to the city of Salisbury as the mileage certainly fits.

In the absence of any other obvious source I've returned to the Army Quarterly article written by Major A J W Harvey.  Using the London Gazette I've identified him as being  Allan James William Harvey (219640) who was commissioned into the RA from the cadets as 2nd Lt on 29 November 1941.  He remained 2 Lt throughout the war  but held a War Substantive rank of Lt  from 15 September 1944, his promotion to Lt was on 2 June 1945.  He became Captain on 25 March 1949 and Major on 25 March 1956 - this was 2-3 years after he wrote his article so I think he must have been Temporary Major at the time.  His next promotion, to Lt-Col, was in September 1964 subsequently becoming Colonel on transfer to the Regular Army in 1968.  He retired from the Army in October 1976 .

A little digging via Google showed him to be living in Ryde I.O.W, in 2001 (https://find-and-update.company-information.service.gov.uk/officers/zzr9jfGJPdHNQ0QQfaayB7NPcV8/appointments), the same year his house was sold, so I think that was due to his death. (https://www.192.com/places/po/po33-4/po33-4ep/). He was born in 1922 which fits with him being a cadet before being commissioned (say 18 or 19).

Without his service record it is difficult to know how long or how often he served at Larkhill but his anecdotal reference to the School HQ being billeted in the Old George Inn must surely have come from documented evidence - a diary in the Larkhill archives or library perhaps - or being told about it by an old hand, I don't think he would have plucked it out of thin air.

I rest my case.

Brian

Edited by Lyffe
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FROGSMILE

Posted (edited)

On 06/09/2023 at 12:03, Lyffe said:

Thank you for your thoughts FM, and the pictures of the Old George Inn.  I won't say I know it well but I have visited the shopping mall it leads into a number of times with my late wife - she was always the instigator!  In truth I never appreciated there had been an inn there.  I don't think I've visited for at least 10 years.  

My only concern about the report was the use of at Salisbury in the first paragraph, but elsewhere the report refers to the schools at Lydd and at Shoeburyness the important word which has been omitted is Range(s). My gut feeling is that it would be very unusual to use a single nearby town/city name to refer to a headquarters unit.  The at Salisbury in the first section refers, I am sure, to the Instructors and Staff gathering on Salisbury Plain (Ranges) to see what they had to work with, after all the Chapperton Down Range was new and unused. Early the first section of the report notes:

The range is situated 16 miles from Salisbury, the Headquarters of the School, where the Lectures took place, and where the Classes and Staff were billeted.  

I still feel this refers to the city of Salisbury as the mileage certainly fits.

In the absence of any other obvious source I've returned to the Army Quarterly article written by Major A J W Harvey.  Using the London Gazette I've identified him as being  Allan James William Harvey (219640) who was commissioned into the RA from the cadets as 2nd Lt on 29 November 1941.  He remained 2 Lt throughout the war  but held a War Substantive rank of Lt  from 15 September 1944, his promotion to Lt was on 2 June 1945.  He became Captain on 25 March 1949 and Major on 25 March 1956 - this was 2-3 years after he wrote his article so I think he must have been Temporary Major at the time.  His next promotion, to Lt-Col, was in September 1964 subsequently becoming Colonel on transfer to the Regular Army in 1968.  He retired from the Army in October 1976 .

A little digging via Google showed him to be living in Ryde I.O.W, in 2001 (https://find-and-update.company-information.service.gov.uk/officers/zzr9jfGJPdHNQ0QQfaayB7NPcV8/appointments), the same year his house was sold, so I think that was due to his death. (https://www.192.com/places/po/po33-4/po33-4ep/). He was born in 1922 which fits with him being a cadet before being commissioned (say 18 or 19).

Without his service record it is difficult to know how long or how often he served at Larkhill but his anecdotal reference to the School HQ being billeted in the Old George Inn must surely have come from documented evidence - a diary in the Larkhill archives or library perhaps - or being told about it by an old hand, I don't think he would have plucked it out of thin air.

I rest my case.

Brian

Hello Brian,

Thank you for your reply.  Yes, having read through your earlier comments, plus considering them alongside the details I discovered and gave above, I’d reached the same conclusion, and your rationale regarding the syntax used to describe the location reinforces that.  I omitted to mention that the Old George Inn newspaper advert I posted specifically mentions a new ‘modern wing’ with 40 letting bedrooms complete with hot and cold water, so one can easily imagine the War Office requisitioning the entire building for accommodation, HQ offices, and a lecture room.  You can actually see the windows to these bedrooms, as they each have an awning in the photograph I posted of the rear garden that had once been the courtyard (now part of the shopping mall just through the archway entrance).

If you get the chance perhaps you could arrange to take a look at the inside of the main building’s upper floors, as they’re not open to the public, but can be seen with special permission, although sadly the accommodation wing is gone, and now subsumed by adjacent shops.  It must have been a very atmospheric place for the officers to be, steeped in history as it is and I can still remember tea and cake at tables set throughout the wood panelled rooms with ancient carvings and numerous inscriptions.  It is hugely evocative.

The matter of the Southern Command headquarters was really just an aside and I merely included the details to emphasise that the switching back and forth between Tidworth Garrison and the City of Salisbury isn’t well understood, and much confused by potted histories that conflate WW1 movement with that of WW2.  Clearly we’ve established that the Overseas Artillery School was not collocated with any Southern Command HQ infrastructure, even when both were located in the city, and they were thus entirely stand-alone.  I strongly suspect that the regional HQ moved from Tedworth House back to Salisbury’s ‘Government House’** largely because it was very close to the railway station, and an easy commute into London and the War Office buildings there.  Much easier than having to come in from Tidworth along dusty and sometimes rutted chalk roads before even getting on the train, both in time and administrative effort.

**as it was for a period described, probably to have a historical link (lineage) with the old Southern Command HQ building of the same name at Portsmouth.

 

Edited by FROGSMILE
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Gentlemen,

During September there were a couple of references to the disappearance of Nigel Evans (Nigelfe) from the forum subsequent to 2017.  I regret to tell you that Nigel developed Alzheimer's and passed away on 14 December 2021.  There is a long thread describing events on the WW2Talk forum at http://ww2talk.com/index.php?threads/some-sad-news-about-nigel-evans-and-his-ra-site.89618/ the thread also includes discussion about saving his invaluable website for posterity.

I've posted this as the lack of response to the two references about Nigel suggested the sad news was not known,  and I apologise profusely if this has already been posted elsewhere on the Great War Forum.

Brian

 

 

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FROGSMILE

Posted (edited)

12 hours ago, Lyffe said:

Gentlemen,

During September there were a couple of references to the disappearance of Nigel Evans (Nigelfe) from the forum subsequent to 2017.  I regret to tell you that Nigel developed Alzheimer's and passed away on 14 December 2021.  There is a long thread describing events on the WW2Talk forum at http://ww2talk.com/index.php?threads/some-sad-news-about-nigel-evans-and-his-ra-site.89618/ the thread also includes discussion about saving his invaluable website for posterity.

I've posted this as the lack of response to the two references about Nigel suggested the sad news was not known,  and I apologise profusely if this has already been posted elsewhere on the Great War Forum.

Brian

 

 

I’m sorry to learn of Nigel’s passing and had wondered for some time what had happened as he usually answered communication quite promptly.  Thank you for notifying us all of the situation Brian.  I have long been a great fan of Nigel’s website on artillery matters, where he brought to the attention of all who were interested the organisation and delivery of artillery fire in a very readable and informative format.  I hope that it might survive in some way as a memorial to his great knowledge and spirit of generosity.

Edited by FROGSMILE
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Brian

Thank you for posting this sad news, a loss to all who have an interest in the history of the Royal Artillery.

Nigel's knowledge which he shared on the GWF and WW2 talk was a valuable contribution. His website a tremendous source of information in which he was able to communicate his vast professional knowledge in a way that it was easy to comprehend.

Cease Firing Nigel - Rest In Peace.

Ian

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