Jump to content
The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Two Men - One Memorial


Recommended Posts

Thanks for the link Marina, eerie as you say.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

To J.F.C. Richard

15th R.B.

Aug. 19, 1915.

Look here, I've only got five minutes, and your letter was so splendid that I hardly know which part of it to be most grateful for. I seize this moment as the only possible chance I'll get for days, probably. But I musn'y omit to say you shall have a photograph if ever I get one, and I must have one for you. And also J.M.'s 'Smoke-Stack' poem: try Mr. Whitfield with it. Yes, I agree with you; it's priceless. Lutener's society is a magnificent scheme(1); one of the best things I've heard of.

This is a rotten letter, probably the wirst and the most illegible of all I've sent from the R.B.; and that's saying a terrific big deal. You must forgive it, for the rush is rather awful. One's got a terrible lot to learn, and not long to learn it in. You're a very fine correspondent indeed, and a very excellent person, and I wish I could see you, and anyway you must write like the devil, if you will pardon the expression. Not good: please make the necessary excuses for me to yourself.

(1) 'Poetry and prose distibuting agency' started at Shrewsbury.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

To Mrs. Whitfield

Belhus Park

Aug. 26, 1915

I was very sorry to hear from Jack the news about his borther (1) in Gallipoli. It seems to be a standing order in the R.B. that no officer's mess shall contain any writing-paper when most needed except reams of the black edged variety; but somehow I cannot bring myself to feel that a letter such as this, from the meanest of your son's brother officers, should be written on that. If anything, I would have it gilt edged. I suppose when the war is over it will be known better what extraordinary things that peninsula has seen done by those very brave men. Meanwhile, even without knowing your son, I was more moved than I could ever say by Jack's beautiful suggestion that he remembered his Schools motto(2). Indeed we later comers have a terribly high standard to follow.

(1) 2nd Lieut. G.H. Whitfield, 14th Sikhs; killed in Gallipoli on August 8, 1915.

(2) 'Deo dante dedi'


To Canon Wilson September 1915

I heard from my father this morning the news which, I suppose, is sure to bring many letters from people far more worthy than I. And yet somehow I feel that being the most insignificant of his brother-officers does give me the right to ask if I may add a shoert note of sincerest sympathy. I don't know whether it is very sentimental and foolish or not; perhaps it is, but I never can rid myself, when I hear such news as that of Hugh's death in action, of the strange desire, not only to sympathise with those he leaves behind, but to get up and cheer! Was it really ill-timed, I was asking only last week-end, in my organist colleague at Shrewsbury to play no less such a thing, when Lord Roberts died, than that 'Hallelujah Chorus'? Certainly I feel myself that the thing was rightly looked at then, and I have never doubted it since. It is a terrible thing, and also a very glorious one, for later comers to see the 'momentum aere perennius' of their friends' examples grow higher and more initimable day after day: one feels one would like to button-hole them, where they watch their successors, and plead 'Don't forget the standard is a little higher since you went away'.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

To C.A. Adlington

South Camp - Seaford

Set. 22, 1915.

Well, this camp is magnificent for everybody. The men are all in huts, splendidly fed, waterproof overhead (unlike so many battalions last winter), near the sea air and the chance to bathe, near a town which ought not to be bad for them if they misbehave, and best of all near the Downs: these I hailed with tremendous delight, for I had felt rather stifled in the close country on the Essex flats after an incredible summer on the plain. Do you know Alfriston, I wonder, its church and 'clergy house' and its inns? We walked there yesterday evening and fell much in love with it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


There are a few photgraphs of 'The Men', here's one for you.



Link to comment
Share on other sites


The First Parade April 24, Saturday

Ceremonial, as usual on Saturday morning. A fairly easy job for the platoon commander, as he has practically nothing to do. Indeed I wonder whether I gave a command per hour beyond the occasional 'Make Way' when we turned about, delivered probably in the half-gruff, half deprecating voice of the new subaltern. We did not carry swords; in fact, hardly any of us possess such things; so that even that was an ordeal saved, for we have no idead yet of the salute with the sword. It resolved itself for me into a kind of painless nightmare of shouting.

I pass on now to the ceremonial of the following Saturday; for though it has no terrors, the keenest barrack-square enthusiast would hardly think it a very thrilling subject on which to stay for long. The amin points of interest were few and obvious. First, I suppose, comes the realisation which one gets, and which one would hardly believe till got in such a peaceful performance, that this sort of drill is a tremendous test of tired men. At this date the men were undoubtedly getting a bit stale, and I hope before we go out they will get a good rest: boasting little or no knowledge of soldiering, I claim a little competence in the art of recognising a tired man.

It is, however, all very well to run down the men who run these things, but there's something about them........, as William Bent Pitman would say. I agree with A.C.P.M. that the bugles immediately behind one (where I seldom get them) are apt to be rather tiresome, but they do help to pull a tired crowd together........No, I will hear nothing against the bugles; it is so easy to read them in terms of Simonides!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the photo - good to have a face for the name.

had to go and look up Siminides - coudn't remember who he was. For anyone else who doesn't know, he's the author of the e[otaph 'Go Tell The Spartans'...which is astonishinly poignant in light of coming events.

here he is again:

These men left an altar of glory on their land,

shining in all weather,

when they were enveloped by the black mists of death.

but although they died

they are not dead, for their courage raises them in glory

from the rooms of Hell.

Their tomb is an altar on which stands our bowls of remembrance

and the wine of our praise.

Neither mold nor worms, nor time

which destroys all things, will blacken their deaths.

The shrine of these brave men

has found its guardian

in the glory of Greece. Leonidas, the Spartan King,

lives in the great ornament he left behind

of unending fame and virtue.

Thought it appropraite for today.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

PERHAM Sunday, April 25. 5 a.m.

They do not tell you things in the Army. This I had (not from the prince of Phenon under the seventowers, nor even the tribesman of Vectis, as W. A.F.B. (1) said in his poem on 'Rome') from Milo M. Cudmore, the gallant artillery soldier, a month before joining, and from many other sources. This was my first real proof of it.

Bulford Ranges. The days we spent here were rather ordinary; a certain amount of monotony was inevitable, but no-one could pretend we had a hard time. Later we bacame rather mechanical about the whole thing: but the morning marches, in the early days of the dust, when its taste meant summer and the months had not tired any one of it; the various ways by which we went in and out and among the slopes of Windmill, Pickpit, and Clarendon Hills (I don't think the problem was ever to be solved); the halt under the trees past Tidworth, up the hill and before the farm: these are things I just find it worthwhile remembering. Otherwise, as I say, we were machines, either marking in the Butts, or hanging about waiting to fire our courses.

It was not really amusing, though I used to get very angry at the thought arising in anybody's head that we had struck the hard life yet!

So, I will not, I think, write of it anymore.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


Siminides poem was very poignant for future events and as you have pointed out, very appropriate for that day. Thank you for placing it here.


Link to comment
Share on other sites


I look back on the middle of this week as one of the happiest I have ever known. And I think it is only times like that one that a diary should be allowed to recall, so I must not let that week go.

Monday therefore. Parade at 8.30, Field Service Order.

It rained all day, and we marched in Burberry outside uniform and pack outside that. I found the pack very comfortable, rather suprisingly so. Not much of that march sticks out in my memory except the valley of Shalbourne, which I was sure would on a fine day be perfectly lovely, and rather definetely vowed to visit later. It lies on the right of the N. road to Hungerford, rather as the hollow below the Castle at Edinburgh follws Prince's Street (though why the two should be compared is past wondering!).

We got in about 5, and after some delay found our billts. 'C' were in a barn and got drenched to the skin. 'B' were in a school - 'The Ebenezer', it was called, a sort of chapel-school building on the R. of a road L. from main street going down. I very luckily got myself a gloriously comfortable room - double foru poster bed and all, in a little pub opposite the rest of the Company. Their feeding was rather troublesome, for they had to trek off to the hotel for their meals. But I think they slept more or less comfortably; at least they were dry.

Tuesday. This day was a blank..... The afternoon being blank again the men were allowed to stroll about, though I am glad to think some of my men got a little sleep, as I recommended. As for me, I made myself scandalously fresh for the night's march by going straight to bed and sleeping for two hours. Following that came a stroll with Fraser, and this was one of the great scenes.

Hungerford Church is right on the edge of the Kennet and Avon Canal; and its perpendicular tower rising over the green with the water beyond, and the west of that the setting sun, and an old lock or two further E., and finally the bridge, made pictures which I could hardly believe. This was one scene, and yet it was to be equalled again and again before the wonderful week was over.

11.0. The Night March. The R.B. was to go on ahead and 'B' Coy. to piquet the village of Froxfield. This we made rather a mess of, and I leave it. We then proceeded to march rather wearily for some miles, mainly uphill, towards Savernake Forest. We did not go through much of it, and there followed an attack through the Forest, which I would not pit down at all (obeying my own rule) if the miserable futility of that one hour was not rather amusing when seen through the glorious haze of the following forty eight hours.

We formed close column of platoons, I remember, and blundered along through the wood at about 3.0, when it was dark; and finally, after hearing various shots put round us with great equanimity, we were halted and lay down in a frost covered opening while the dawn came. After a long time we moved off, and it was not, I think, until this point that I began to feel intolerably well and hearty. We came quickly through the rest of the wood, and only then I realised, looking under the trees across the harebells, that Oberon had been there all night.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wilcot Vicarage. This was where I was billeted.. All this period found me with nothing but a tremendous sense of relief, partly at the end of the march and pertly at hearing I was well biileted, no doubt. And so I was feeling very well at the time. Then the food for the men was very late in arriving; and in fact this food question spoilt the week rather for the men, I fear. I procured a few biscuits for some of my men, which was all I could find in the village at the time, and those few of them seemed grateful; but it was rather maddening to feel that nothing could be done for the men for so long while my own future existence for twenty-four hours (as we then thought) was so scandalously assured of comfort. Finally, after lying about in the meadow beyond the farm for some time with some of the men, all of us being by now rather calmer, I cleared of to my vicarage and had a large breakfast. Mr. and Mrs. Hoyland were extraordinarily good to us - Mackworth, Bamford, and me - the whole time. The morning was naturally blank, but I shall not easily forget the sudden transition from the long march to the garden behind the Vicarage, where we lay about under the hedge and looked sleepily over the long, low water-meadows, and watched the consoling English mist wrapping itself round the English trees. No soldiering ever troubled the serenity of the landscape, nor the old church tower behind; for the whole of that valley has just accepted very quietly the memory of the men who died for it in year after year before we ever saw it, and every one, I felt, was another perfectly present, and therefore entirely hidded and unsuspected, guarantee of that incredible peace.

It is so hard to choose one's pictures; I have written ten poages already in this hour, which is half a dozen too many at least. Anyhow I must omit our Outpost Scheme for Officers in the afternoon, where we went and planted imaginery piquets along the canal for miles, and where I enlarged a map of our little section of the bridge.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Tea in the Vicarage garden, and then a vast letter to Maurice Brown, followed by a mild ecclesiastical talk with the Vicar. All this was good, and so was the evening........ So next day we said good-bye effusively on leaving for our rearguard action towards Manningford Bruce. And then came another great moment; when we had been gone an hour we heard that we should no bivouac that night but return to billets.... I suppose there have been more delighted men than we three for the following minutes; but I should like to have met them. The rearguard action that day was followed by a disclosure from the Brigadier, and in the calm of the Vicar's study - we returned to his arms in the garden almost with a shout of delight - I noted various lessons we were told to ponder. Nothing shall induce me to rewrite them here. But the 'Wood Bridge' over the Avon, which flies past as usual, waving its reeds like tongues of fire, was defended by No.7 platoon with remarkable placidity; and it would be rash to forget the hour or so we spent there.

It was during this evening that I walked part of the way with Leggatt towards his (D) billets at Sharlcott, and so back over the fields: and it was there that I went with opening eyes down an English lane......

The next day was what Belloc would call 'A day without salt - a trudge'. The attack done between Pewsey and Ludgershall did not find us in the fight at all, and we did not get instruction on it with maps as I would have liked (and hoped for daily, on such occasions): but none of us will soon forget the trudge up the big Pewsey hill: how the men did grow! The whole day was very hot, and the bugles finished us off by bringing us one mile into camp full tilt from the Collingbourne Road.

But it is not of these happenings that I want to write, only my pen is so cursedly obstinate. It is of those few memories that I want reminding - The Savernake wood country at dawn, the stars over the night march, the water of the Avon, the church by the canal, the five minutes in the lane, the dear Vicar and our return to his home, the bugles as we entered Pewsey from Wilcot on the last morning, the morning in the 'Ebenezer' school, - Wilcot above all, above all Wicot: those are the things which make the Wonderful Week, and which ion any future inconveniences (such as I might be excused for expecting) I hope and pray for courage to remember.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This evening I strolled into the church at Ludgershall, the little church that lies over the way from my first billet, beyond the railway bridge. On entering I was immediately confronted with a coat of arms on the north wall. I take no omens whatever in this little business, which is perhaps curious. So it was only with a certain rather numbed calmness that I read its Motto,

'Moriento Vivo'

and turned round saying to myself, 'That, no doubt, will do very well': and then opposite me on the opposite wall from another coat came out the promse,


'And that too', I said, 'will suit me admirably'.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

SIDBURY CAMP. Thursday evening, May 27.

It was another easy day, and therefore it was that I took it upon myself to walk and run to the top of Sidbury Hill. It is not easy to pass the smallest bridge, I think, in any country; but I resisted the temptation to stay on the little bridge over the Bourne, with the whitest may-blossom in all England at its side, and two long strips of the deepest green along its banks, the envy of the brown thirsty Plain for miles around......

Well, I might have known they would have been there.

Of course thay had struggled to the top,

The Roman line, the Roman order,

Of whom John Masefield sang on Malvern Hill. From nowhere else would they sooner catch sight of my ancestors panting in skins and strange dyes across the Plain; and here if anywhere they seem to have decided to do the thing well. For the ditch (it is theirs, I suppose) is very deep and regular, and I for one was glad I had not to attack over it. But I was not really thinking war that evening, for my head was full of memories of the Shropshire hills, and of those other Romans who with all their troubles

Are ashes under Uricon.

And so with reverence upon my head I clambered down into the lowest part of the fosse, and reminding myself 'This is a matter which demands a "certain precision"', I straightened my cap, put on my gloves, and found from the sun line as nearly S.E. as I could make it: and so facing Italy, our new ally, and standing strictly to attention, I saluted the Roman Soldier.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


(As seen between Apr. 23 and June 27, the first Sunday, bar two inoculation days, when I was absent.)

'The Batt. will parade for Divine Service to-morrow at 9.30 a.m. South of the lines of the 10th R. Fus.

Markers will be on the ground at 9.45 a.m. and should know about what frontage the Batt. will take up.'

The chants were foolishly changed for unknown ones, once; but otherwise we have stuck to the same chants. Here of course every man must have his own great memories: I can do no more than jot a few of mine.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

A leap from the tenor part which for some reason gives me great satisfaction in the early verses.

The benedictus has less appeal anyway, but I may as well remember its chant


Link to comment
Share on other sites


Some of the places mentioned are easily found today. The site of Perham Down Camp is in the valley on the right hand side of the road coming down the hill from Tidworth, just before entering Ludgershall. Remains of WW2 and post war military occupation can still be seen. Windmill Hill can been seen on the opposite side of the road. The camp was on the western slopes, running down to the Tidworth / Marlborough road almost opposite Tidworth Military Cemetery. Both were used for training prior to WW1. Sidbury Hill sits just behind, and dominates,Tidworth Garrison. As the author indicates, there are magnificent views across the Plain from there.

Just out of interest, the poet Ivor Gurney was stationed nearby, from January - May 1916, at Park House Camp at Shipton Bellinger

Thanks for the posts. Very interesting.

Terry Reeves

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Terry,

Many thanks for the information on what is actually left of these sites. I have to go down to Andover fairly frequently with my work so have spent a little time trying to find what remains from this time.

It was my intention to take a few longish weekends in the area this summer going over some of the areas that are mentioned in this book.


Link to comment
Share on other sites


The little poem which follws was sent to V.b through R.A.K., June 23rd. He had got them all to send me a Latin letter, and invited a reply. I little guessed that within a fortnight I should be standing actually before them once more and reading, on that Sunday afternoon, with intolerable audacity surely, some of these notes from my diary. About the versification it is not for me to guess, but God knows those lines were written con amore.

And they went, as I should say to them were I reading them out, like this:

Seu per amica traham Gallorum gramina cursum,

Sive agar optatos visere Dardanidas,

Non procul omnis ero: semper vos inter, amici,

Consita mens miro ducet amore moras.

Vera loquor: nec me ulla premunt fastidia Martis,

Sed caret aspectu mens, domus, tuo!

Cum, pueri, via dat nobis nocturna laborem,

Vestra tenet-memini-quam procul astra sopor!

Me licet hortentur comitum tria milia cantu,

Cum cadit in carmen pulverulenta dies,

At procul est facies - di! quam dilecta - moreum,

Solus et in tenebris, ei mihi, solus eo.

Dabam in castris apud Ventosae Mulae Collem, Et Supra,


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Terry,I have to go down to Andover fairly frequently with my work so have spent a little time trying to find what remains from this time.

It was my intention to take a few longish weekends in the area this summer going over some of the areas that are mentioned in this book.


The local topography mentioned in the book is all very familiar to me, as I used to do a lot of cycling there and have since explored some of the military areas (where permitted) on foot. The former Tidworth Military Railway ran from Ludgershall to Tidworth Barracks past the Windmill Hill camping site (which was never built on, unlike several other preWWI sites in Wiltshire). A stub of the line is still used by the army, and the remains of a bridge can be seen at the south western end of the camping site; thereafter the trackbed that descended into Tidworth Barracks has disappeared. Perham Down is a bit scruffy and scrubby; it, too, had been a prewar camping site, but had hutments erected on it soon after the outbreak of hostilities.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks Terry and Moonraker,

Must be pleasnt being able to tie in the pieces from this memorial book to the areas you know and have travelled over. Pretty countryside there too.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

June 29, 1915. Tuesday morning, 8.30 - 11.15

To-day is a holiday for us and several others in 'B@ Coy., by intimation of De Laessoe, while various odd jobs are being done; but I must not go right away.

So I take this glorious opportunity to go for a solitary walk and think over the memories of my Bapton week-end. Up the crunching gravel and chalk, therefore, right on the back of the swooping road to Collingbourne Ducis - 'in bounds' again to-day (after a short attack of measles or something), obviously for my most particular consolation. First to the right at the cross-roads, to the Hungerford road: a direct inspiration in itself surely, for it is the road to the Wonderful Week, and recalls the first day of the pack. Bit I stop on the railway bridge, for that line goes off, round the corner to the right, to Marlborough and another memory. A mysterious engine is puffing up the line round the corner, as they used to when I watched their dreadfully enchanting advance from Warminster to the Bapton level crossing. Ah, there over my left shoulder comes the 10th R.F., with full band. All's well; they are going straight down to Collingbourne....... They have stopped playing now, precisely at the fourth telegraph post from the cross-roads; but their voices come up the hill; they are good men the 10th.... So I go on up the hill. Here is the top; and I wish I could go on along it for miles, but this is not Shropshire, and the road dips to the right as fast as it is climbed. To my left front four two horse ploughs cross and recross the field; again this is not Shropshire, for they thread the valley instead of marking the skyline. The rain has washed the country into green and white gold; it has rained slightly for three days, for the first time since May 11th, and the piles of thick dust are quiet at last: I had thought the thing impossible.......'Remember now, I found myself singing; I do not precisely know why......

But I have reached the bottom of the valley now, and turned to the left down the road to N. Collingbourne Ducis; and I have been here before. For it was here that I came weeks ago, one great evening when I cut my dinner to walk from Collingbourne Wood to C. Ducis, when I had lain on the eastern edge of the valley and looked up towards N.W. and the Shropshire hills. That was also my first entry into C.D. church, where I hung for long, buried deep with it behind the chesnuts.....

Voices from the houses at the edge of the village, fifty yards away at the bend in the road. Just here I smelt wet hay, and like the elder blossom beyond the hill it sent me for a moment back to Lichfield. So I passed down the village from the N. and into the church again. There are no services on week-days here, for I made a scandalous inquiry in the registry in the vestry. But I stayed there a long time...... This was what I have wanted for weeks, 'an hour of peace and for forgetting', and I found it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Create New...