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Alan24

170th Heavy Bty RGA at Avington Park??

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Alan24

I assume that this photo is taken at Avington Park,near Winchester.

From searching other threads here, the date of May 1916 would make it No.7 TF Artillery Training School I think.

170 HB moved overseas on 31 Aug 1916 and I understand No.7 ATS moved to Bordon in November 1916.

I don't think Avington Park hosted the 2nd Reserve Brigade RGA (for regular & TF) Heavy Batteries until 1917, after this photo. 

Photo features a Captain flanked by 2/Lts, WO class 2 and Bty.SM or CSM?

 

Any info on 170 HB or Avington Park greatly appreciated. 

 

Regards

 

Alan.

170 hb.JPG

170 hb s.JPG

Edited by Alan24

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kevinrowlinson

Alan,

 

I would have thought it unlikely that they were posted to No.7 TF Artillery Training Park.

 

The Heavy Artillery Training Centre was prepared at Winchester East ( or west depending on what one reads, and confirmed by an ACI creating 170 HBs formation with effect from 20th April 1916 ) on the 5th April 1916. It was the Heavy Artillery Depot that didn't arrive at Winchester until February 1917, and was closed in March. It was from that time on that the 1st Reserve Brigade, Heavy Artillery, existed.

The BSM is seated far left in lower photo, and the BQMS far right in lower photo.

 

Kevin

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Alan24

Thanks Kevin,

 

Looks like I need to look at the location again. I'm aware of several references to the artillery being at Winchester not not entirely sure where exactly.

 

There is a place 3.8 miles East of Winchester called Chilcomb, which today has firing ranges used by Army & Navy, which is a possibility.

Flowerdown is another possible but this is a couple of miles North of Winchester and is today site of the purpose built Army Training Regiment from the mid 1980s when they left the Rifle Depot. 

 

Hazeley Down also had RGA men as one of my relatives trained there as a signaler according to his surviving record.

 

Regards

 

Alan.

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Moonraker

It could be that the 170th was not based at (or near Winchester) but that the  sports - of which the tug-of-war was part - were, with participating units travelling from some distance away.

 

Moonraker

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kevinrowlinson
5 hours ago, Moonraker said:

It could be that the 170th was not based at (or near Winchester) but that the  sports - of which the tug-of-war was part - were, with participating units travelling from some distance away.

 

Moonraker

 

 

I don't think one has to speculate. As I said the battery was raised at Winchester, under ACI 929 of 4th May 1916. How long they stayed there just requires research, which may, or may not, take time. Obviously the tug of war was very soon after formation.

Personally I would be going through the records of men who were posted to the battery on formation and look for those that may show the various postings of the battery before going overseas.

 

Kevin

 

594edad8c1d8e_170HBformation451916ACI929.jpg.857a5a3652db48dfff7e277648c36229.jpg

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Alan24

Right, think I've got it!

 

Could be Pitt Hill Camp, West edge of Winchester. 

 

The map attached (rotated so North is pointing right) dates from 1915 and the small area top right of the image shows HQ and RAMC Field Ambulance.

The area to the left of the image shows 5 distinct blocks. Three areas shown as "Brigade RFA" and the other two shown as "Divisional Ammunition Column" and "Horseyard"

 

I assume that this became home to the Heavy Artillery at some point after the original RFA Division moved overseas.

 

The 5 blocks to the left are now the site of a housing area known as Oliver's Battery which dates from the Civil War and destruction of Winchester Castle in 1645 although the range of Cromwell's guns would probably not have reached the castle from this spot.

 

Regards

 

Alan.

pitt hill.JPG

Edited by Alan24
right & left mixed up!

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Moonraker

See also

 

this website

 

to which Alan has recently contributed.

 

Moonraker

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kevinrowlinson

The only named locations I have seen west of Winchester are Avington Park, for 1st Reserve Brigade, and Morn Hill and Winnal Down camps, so later establishments, but does not rule out there use for 1916 for the Heavy Artillery Training Centre.  It is rare to see the actual camp name in mens records just Winchester. Unless you can positively identify Pitt Hill Camp being used by the RGA I think it is just speculation at the moment. I suspect that those RFA gunners who were transferred from the 7th TF Artillery Training School at Avington Park stayed in the same location on the formation of these batteries. Viz. Avington Park was the home for both the 7th (TF) ATS and the HATC.

 

Kevin

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Alan24
1 hour ago, Moonraker said:

See also

 

this website

 

to which Alan has recently contributed.

 

Moonraker

 

Well spotted Moonraker...

There is some nice pictures on there but you have to join to view, then you have to post or you will be deleted.

Some of the info is from David Key who posts on here too.

 

Regards

 

Alan.

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Moonraker
1 hour ago, kevinrowlinson said:

The only named locations I have seen west of Winchester are ...

Kevin

East. I have only a casual interest in camps in the Winchester area and knew of those mentioned by Kevin. I hadn't come across Pitt Hill before.

 

I wonder what sort of actual firing, if any,  was done in the area. Rifle ranges there may have been, but I can't think of  any terrain suitable for artillery practice. Perhaps artillerymen in the Winchester area trained locally in theory and fieldwork, doing the actual firing on Salisbury Plain?

 

This thread

 

tells of artillery training maps for many localities which had no camps in them, suggesting that this may have been the case.

 

Note (post 8) there are maps for Winchester itself, and the nearby localities of Preston Candover and Ropley.

 

Moonraker

 

 

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Alan24
1 hour ago, kevinrowlinson said:

The only named locations I have seen west of Winchester are Avington Park, for 1st Reserve Brigade, and Morn Hill and Winnal Down camps, so later establishments, but does not rule out there use for 1916 for the Heavy Artillery Training Centre.  It is rare to see the actual camp name in mens records just Winchester. Unless you can positively identify Pitt Hill Camp being used by the RGA I think it is just speculation at the moment. I suspect that those RFA gunners who were transferred from the 7th TF Artillery Training School at Avington Park stayed in the same location on the formation of these batteries. Viz. Avington Park was the home for both the 7th (TF) ATS and the HATC.

 

Kevin

 

Kevin,

 

I must admit, I knew very little of Pitt Hill until this weekend.

Avington Park, Winnall Down and Morn Hill are all to the East of Winchester.

Hursley Park & Pitt Hill are to the South-West and linked by road. 

 

I've gone away from the idea of Avington as you have pointed out that Avington was a TF facility and being East doesn't fit the details in ACI 929.

 

David Key who posts on this site, and has done far more research than I on the Winchester camps, says on the South East History forum spotted by Moonraker that Avington Park was known as Winchester East and that Hursley Park & Pitt Hill were collectively known as Winchester West.

 

It's still possible that Pitt Hill was 'Winchester West' and occupied by various RFA/RGA units at different times.

 

It has to be noted that the LLT shows 166 to 171 Heavy Batteries going overseas on 30/31 August 1916, all having been formed together on 20 April, as you point out, which suggests that the camp may have completely change occupancy every six months or so, rather than be a transit camp for providing drafts of men.

 

What we do know is that Pitt Hill was originally built to house a complete RFA Division as, evidenced by the plans in post 6, and there seems excellent facilities (water troughs & horse yard) for the horses which would be wasted on infantry once the RFA Division moved out, assuming it vacated the camp as a whole division.

 

As you say, this is speculation at present, we need evidence of RGA presence which hopefully will show up in local sources. 

 

Regards

 

Alan.

 

 

 

 

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DaveKey

Hi Alan,

Just seen this post and your post on the South East History Board http://sussexhistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=5875.new;topicseen#new and it is a very interesting question.

 

On the Plans for both Hursley Park and Pitt Corner is marked "Winchester West", I think more to do with the teams involved in their construction than any more specific organisational structure as many units appear in one camp for maybe a week or two before moving to another ,,, for example the early regiments that later formed the 27th Division started in Hursley but rapidly (because of the conditions) moved to Morn Hill, later some regiments appear in Hursley one week and Hazeley Down the next and trying to work out when the Field Ambulances of the Welsh Division were in Avington Park and when they were at Flower Down is like trying to catch smoke!


Between 1914 and 1915 there is a steady stream of Divisions being assembled, and spread out across the many camps surrounding Winchester. Only the 8th (Hursley) and 27th (Morn Hill) were encamped together ... probably because of the disasterous conditions that resulted all of the divisions from the 28th onwards were divided amongst the camps, Pitt Corner taking the Cavalry and Cyclists of the 28th. During this period the camps as planned were constructed (Pitt Corner was I seem to recall the first finished).

 

1916 I have found to be the most difficult for the camps like Hursley Park and Pitt Corner, so  and this is all great information! 

 

I say 1916 gets a little less precise but to be fair I've been focused elsewhere for a while so my research hasn't progressed rather than there not necessarily being the evidence as your finds appear to prove! What I have is in Hursley the references are to the Wessex Reserve Division between April and October, infantry and Field Ambulances ... matching the 1915 plans ... so your supposition about Pitt Corner, married with the "Winchester West" reference would certainly suggest that was where your Artillery men were from. 

 

By 1917 Pitt Corner was described as "the largest veterinary hospital in the world" reflecting major shifts in the use of the camps, for example Hursley in 1917 is turned over to the RFC.

 

So all great stuff ... keep the research going!!

 

Cheers
Dave

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kevinrowlinson

I have identified two batteries so far who were formed at "Winchester West". During May/June 1916 they were at Flower Down Camp.

 

Kevin

 

Edit; 3 batteries there, 162 HB, 166HB, 169HB.

Edited by kevinrowlinson

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Alan24

Thanks Kevin,

 

Seems to get more complicated...maybe they were dispersed between Hursley Park, Pitt Hill & Flowerdown.

 

To complicate further, the 'To Honour a Promise' project http://www.tohonourapromise.co.uk/  has a couple of items showing that 194 Heavy Battery were at Avington Park in Nov/Dec 1916. A couple of screen shots below. I don't think these pics are the same card, but the back seems to confirm their presence. Also, the web site caption is not really correct in its reference, however, the front view clearly shows "D Sub 194 HB".

 

Regards

 

Alan.

d sub 2.JPG

D Sub 194.JPG

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DaveKey

I think the back of the postcard belongs to this card, also in the "To Honour A Promise" gallery :

1916 11 06 - 194th Cleaning up after a ride.png

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Alan24

Thanks David,

That looks like the matching front.

Will reply to your pm later.

 

regards

 

Alan

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Ron Clifton

Just one observation on the original photo. The WO II on the left is probably the BSM and the staff-sergeant on the right would be the BQMS.

 

Ron

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kevinrowlinson
16 hours ago, Alan24 said:

Seems to get more complicated...maybe they were dispersed between Hursley Park, Pitt Hill & Flowerdown.

 

 

 

They may well have been, but from contemporary records (gunners records) I have only seen Flowerdown Camp mentioned for those batteries I gave above (and now includes 183 HB) who were formed at "Winchester West" for the time scale in question. The set of records include  a few pages of Part II Orders for 169 HB and one shows when they later moved to Bordon, and given they went out with 170 HB I suspect they stayed together from formation to embarkation. I haven't as yet seen, unless I've missed something, any evidence that these newly formed batteries were at Hursley Park or Pitt Hill, so if you or Dave have perhaps you could post them. It would all add to the history of these batteries, although nearly all, and certainly those going to the Western Front, were broken up on arrival overseas.

194 HB was not formed at "Winchester West", so being at Avington Park in Nov. 1916 would require separate research.

 

Kevin

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Alan24

Kevin,

 

Thanks for the clarification. 

The only certainty in this, as far as I can see, is your research indicating Flowerdown, site of the current Sir John Moore Barracks. Everything else is proposition at the moment.

Therefore, I think I'm right in saying Flowerdown looks most likely the location of the original picture at the moment?

 

Of all the Winchester camps, Flowerdown looks to be the least researched on the web, but I did find this.

 

From the web site: http://www.winchester-garrison.co.uk/Winchester-Garrison/Military-Units-Winchester-Garrison-04022015.htm 

The Hampshire Chronicle records the 1841 summer manoeuvres of the Hampshire Yeomanry taking place across the Flowerdown, the site of the new Sir John Moore Barracks. However, it was not until 1914 that the site was purchased by the War Office from the Deane family of Littleton Farm. It was first used as a military camp by the Royal Flying Corps. The earliest recorded Light Division connection is May 1915 when 7th Battalion The King’s Shropshire Light Infantry staged through Flowerdown on its way via Southampton to the battlefields of France.

After the First World War the site became a Royal Air Force Apprentices’ Training College. In 1930 the Royal Navy took it over as a radio station and named it HMS

Flowerdown. It remained a Naval radio station until the early 1960s when the Home Office, supported by the Royal Corps of Signals, changed it to a communications and monitoring station. It continued in this role until 1976, and in 1982 it was designated as the site of the new Depot for The Light Division.

 

Regards

 

Alan.

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DaveKey

Interesting extract, Seems odd to list the RFC as the first to use the camp. Indeed technically I'm not sure the Royal Flying Corps ever used the Flower Down Camp, RAF yes, RFC not so sure.

The plan in 1917 was to move the Wireless Observers School from Brooklands to the new Worthy Down camp, and at the same time to move the Wireless operators to Flower Down so they were close together. However, although the Wireless Observers moved in October 1917 to Worthy Down (or at least they moved to Hursley Park for accommodation and classroom training and were driven to Worthy Down for flying) it wasn't until May 1918 that the Wireless Observers (earlier renamed the Artillery and Infantry Co-operation School or AICS) finally moved to Worthy Down properly, even though it wasn't completely finished but Hursley was being handed over to the Americans.

 

The Wireless Operators had refused to move in 1917 until the rebuild of the camps (including Flower Down) was complete ... and I don't think that was until 1918 or 1919 they finally moved as the RAF rather than RFC.

 

The Hampshire Chronicle in April 1915 described the Flower Down camps as the first of the Winchester Camps to be "fully occupied", despite being the last started and having taken just 9 weeks to construct. An odd reference since both Hursley Park, Pitt Corner and the Morn Hill camps had all been in use since 1914, I suppose the reference is to the newly built hutments rather than the previous tented camps.  

 

What is interesting is that the Hampshire Chronicle article mentions that the Government Contractors Agent was responsible for Flower Down, Hursley and Romsey camps. The Construction and management of Pitt Corner appears to have been separate.

 

Re checking the contractors pictures for references to "Winchester West" and "Winchester East" these only appear on the wide 2-page+ panoramic photographs of Hursley Park (Winchester West), Pitt Corner (Winchester West) and Avington Park (Winchester East). The other camps don't have any mention of East or West, nor do they have panoramic pictures so only one heading .. the camp name.

 

The sequence of Camps as listed is ... 
 

Hursley Park, Pitt Corner (Hill), Flower Down, Avington Park, Magdalen Hill, Hazeley Down, Romsey Remount, Romsey Infantry, Swaythling Remount, Southampton Rest.

 

Flower Down doesn't have any allowance for artillery in the 1914-15 plans, but clearly that didn't mean they couldn't use the camp. Kevin appears to have the only definitive records either way and that says they did and i love to see what they actually say.

 

In very simplified form the 1914-1915 Hutted camps looked (or planned to look) something like this:

 

Hursley Park: 1 Infantry brigade, Div HQ, 2 Field Ambulances

Pitt Corner: 3 Brigades RFA, 1 Howitzer brigade 1 Divisional Ammunition Column i field Ambulance & 1 Cyclist company

Flower Down: 1 Infantry Brigade,  1 Field ambulance

 

Romsey - 1 Infantry Brigade, 1 Field Ambulance

 

Avington Park: 3 brigades RFA, HQ Divisional Artillery 3 field Companies RE

Magdalen Hill: 2 Infantry brigades  1 Cyclist company.

Hazeley Down - 1 Infantry brigade. 1 Howitzer Brigade, HQ Howitzer brigade, Divisional Ammunition Column

 

Which, in a crude way would allow capacity for 2 Divisions, 1 in Winchester West (assuming Hursley Park, Pitt Corner, Flower Down and Romsey Infantry) and 1 in Winchester East (assuming Avington Park, Magdalen Hill and Hazeley Down). That would make sense in 1915 when many new Divisions were being formed and brought together in Winchester. Maybe less so as 1916 wore on and the need for full divisions was replaced with "feeder" units and then the more specialist units in 1917

 

In 1915 the Field Ambulances for the 38th Welsh Division appear to have moved between Avington Park and Flower Down. And in Hursley I have records for units arriving and disappearing very quickly for a variety of reasons. 

 

So without more information it's all a bit of a guess whether units stayed together or moved around without the precise records of diaries etc. It gets worse in so far as in 1917 many of the camps changed their use and in 1918 many are expanded.

Sorry I can't really be more definitive. It's both frustrating and fascinating and I'm definitely learning as we go!

 

Dave

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kevinrowlinson

Here's a good stamp used on one mans records who was serving with 161 HB.

5956a6d97ed19_HeavyArtilleryFlowerdown.jpg.568fb73283db76c4d2ba8ef2b9da7f1a.jpg

 

Kevin

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Alan24

Kevin,

 

That's a wonderful find.

Thanks for sharing that image.

 

Regards

 

Alan.

 

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Brian Middleton

In this forum, there is interesting discussion among Royal Artillery experts who suggest that the referenced ‘postal cancellation stamp’ is that of the 161 Howitzer Battalion although this unit is not listed in https://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/regiments-and-corps/the-royal-artillery-in-the-first-world-war/batteries-and-brigades-of-the-royal-field-artillery/but if Royal Artillery troops were posted to Flowerdown camp near Winchester in May 1916 then what was their role? Perhaps this unit were testing techniques in support of aerial targeting guidance of ground artillery by RFC planes equipped with radios? (see 6.2).  Flowerdown is very close to an RFC aerodrome called Worthy Down. In 1918, the RFC Wireless School was moved to Flowerdown and worked in partnership with Worthy Down in the development of Wireless Telegraphy (Morse Code signals) with planes based at Worthy Down

 

 

 

 

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Alan24

Hi Brian

 

Welcome to the forum.

 

You contacted me earlier today via the South East History Board. I've replied to your email.

 

The  station at Worthy Down was RNAS rather than RFC/RAF. I believe RNAS Worthy Down was known as HMS Kestral as was a Naval establishment right through WW2.

 

161 Heavy Battery was a Royal Garrison Artillery unit, and one of several that passed through Flowerdown. This is not to be confused with 161 (Howitzer) Brigade, Royal Field Artillery who were a different unit altogether. 

 

I don't believe the Heavy Artillery had anything to do with the RAF Wireless School, they just happened to occupy the site prior to the Wireless School. 

 

Flowerdown was in a group of Camps also known as 'Winchester West'. Nearby Crawley Common, I believe, was also used as a training area by troops based at Flowerdown.

 

Regards 

 

Alan

Edited by Alan24

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