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Remembered Today:

Army Surplus for sale in 1919


Max Poilu
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QUOTE (Phil_B @ Sep 28 2007, 05:42 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Anyone know anything about the seaplane assembly plant at Lytham?

Summaries of the sales were advertised in The Times, but I could find no reference to Lytham in ads for 1919-20.

Moonraker

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Fascinating stuff. A shame that copies of "Surplus" don't seem to have found their way to Oxford University Libraries nor the IWM. :angry: I would have enjoyed a browse through all the issues.

Moonraker

PS: 758 hits for "surplus" on the National Archives catalogue for Ministry of Munitions files, though, for the years immediately after the war. Bet there's some interesting material there. Just spotted that issues 2 and 7 of "Surplus" are on MUN 5/141/1020/5.

PPS: just spent 30 minutes working my way through the catalogued references to MUN files; there's nine that look promising, so that confirms the visit to Kew that I was contemplating. Thanks, Max, for a fascinating thread.

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Gwyn, will have a look through - re' the ordnance, it does say "will be rendered innocuous before sale" - should imagine a lot escaped though!

Can you be a bit more specific on "contents or parts thereof"

Hi

I meant interior fitments or equipment, in the way that some hospitals' furniture and equipment is catalogued for disposal. I was just curious; it would have been an interesting piece of drill hall history, especially where we know a DH was demolished or recycled fairly soon after the war. Thanks for the listing at Cardiff.

Re. the ordnance: at a distance of eighty years, no-one had a clue whether the stuff had been rendered safe or not and no-one felt like finding out. The old man who owned it certainly had the notion that it would explode quite entertainingly at Bonfire Night parties and save on buying fireworks. :o

Bomb Disposal were over to the house like a pack of greased ferrets.....!

Gwyn

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Max - this is a serious question. Are there any drill halls or contents or parts thereof listed in this intriguing catalogue?

Gwyn

Weren't drill halls a constant - there before and after the war, whereas a lot of war surplus came from camps and airfields built during it. Which leads me to ask you, Max: what role did the halls have during the war; I guess that some would provide a base for the Volunteer Training Corps and the like.

Moonraker

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Page 34 - "Large Purchases will be placed free on rail"........

I would like to purchase Ford Aerodrome. Please transport all 167 acres to Esher railway station.

Can any kind pals now help me with collecting my bargain?

Andy

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Nothing changes in reality, visit Whitham Specialist Vechicles to see what is being sold off now. Defence Estates website and a quick search shows more MOD assets being sold off. The way of the world now, Storing or holding kit not needed is expensive, and Just in time (buy it if when you need it)seems to be the way we are now heading. How much of that sold off WW1 equiment is still doing sterling service I wonder.

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As the administration of drill halls and their contents was placed very deliberately outside the direct grasp of the War Office and was given over to the local (and essentially civilian) Territorial Force Associations (in a similar way that it is with their successors today, which are administered by the Reserve Forces and Cadets Associations), would we expect to find drill halls and their contents coming up in a sale of government surplus? If I remember, this separation of responsibilities was done at the time of the Haldane reforms to protect the local civilian interests that had raised funds for drill halls (many coming from the pre-1908 volunteer era) and to ensure that the Territorial Force funding was not squeezed by regular army staff officers. I would presume that many of the drill halls were then in the private ownership of committees and trustees of the Territorial units whose Volunteer predecessors had funded and built them. I was OC of a Territorial infantry company that received a modest cheque for its private welfare funds thirteen years after the 1967 sale of the original 1904 drill hall. I think that following development in the area 40 years on, the cheque would be a thousand times greater!

On a different tack, the Surplus publication must be a treasure trove for anybody wishing to research the range of factories built to support the 'total' war.

Ian

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In fact the Ministry of Munitions Files contain histories of quite a number of factories that contributed to the war effort, including some interesting photographs. The files also contain the tables for the amount fetched at some of these auctions. Nothing was missed, from miscellaneous nuts bolts and washers to broken trench boards, all had a price.

TR

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As the administration of drill halls and their contents was placed very deliberately outside the direct grasp of the War Office and was given over to the local (and essentially civilian) Territorial Force Associations (in a similar way that it is with their successors today, which are administered by the Reserve Forces and Cadets Associations), would we expect to find drill halls and their contents coming up in a sale of government surplus? If I remember, this separation of responsibilities was done at the time of the Haldane reforms to protect the local civilian interests that had raised funds for drill halls (many coming from the pre-1908 volunteer era) and to ensure that the Territorial Force funding was not squeezed by regular army staff officers. I would presume that many of the drill halls were then in the private ownership of committees and trustees of the Territorial units whose Volunteer predecessors had funded and built them. I was OC of a Territorial infantry company that received a modest cheque for its private welfare funds thirteen years after the 1967 sale of the original 1904 drill hall. I think that following development in the area 40 years on, the cheque would be a thousand times greater!

On a different tack, the Surplus publication must be a treasure trove for anybody wishing to research the range of factories built to support the 'total' war.

Ian

I think it's curious that drill halls and their treatment in later years is a subject that the press hasn't picked up on. Premises built by public subscription, managed by TF Associtions latterly, originally by limited companies formed by the officers and local worthies who provided the funding, adopted by the War Office andin the sixties and seventies demolished for new Government buildings (mostly GPO exchanges and sorting offices) or sold more recently by Government departments for private development. This wholesale redevelopment was one of the reasons for starting the Drill Hall Project at drillhalls.org.

I wonder what the legal position is if you held shares in the original company that built the local drill hall, which stood up to the might of the Luftwaffe but succumbed to Blair's Brownfield Building Blitz?

Answers on a postcard....

Graeme

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Has anyone made any record of the sale of horses at war's end?

I seem to remember reading more about the fate of horses somewhere - may have been Richard Holmes 'Riding the Retreat'? The vast majority that went to F&F stayed there (or died there of course). I guess at home in the early 20th century there must have been such a huge trade in horses anyway at that time that they would have been dealt with through the normal channels?

There is only a small section on horses in the surplus book as follows:

sr17.jpg

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would we expect to find drill halls and their contents coming up in a sale of government surplus?

Perhaps my original question was misleading. I was asking about references to drill halls and their contents, not specifically the sale of the actual building.

I believe my question is valid, though. Firstly, some drill halls were not specifically military premises; some were always called 'the Drill Hall' by common use and practice, though they had no original connection with Volunteers or Territorials except that the voluntary soldiers used the building (along with the rest of the community). I visited one of those last week in the East Midlands. Therefore, anything that was put in there for the war effort would probably be disposed of afterwards.

Secondly, many drill halls were taken into use as military hospitals. Again, I can cite quite a few which I have visited personally. The equipment provided for medical purposes was removed afterwards and possibly sold in the way that other government material was sold.

What I had in mind was that if Max's fascinating catalogue included, say, a reference to the hospital beds and medical equipment in Grantham's drill hall being sold off, it would enhance our project if we could add that part of the premises' history to our knowledge. Some of our information has come from the most unexpected sources and we're constantly on the lookout for references. Sometimes a published reference provides a missing address or location, or proves that the building actually existed on a particular date.

Some drill halls were sold off and demolished after the war, sometimes because new premises were required, sometimes because of the appeal of redevelopment. This happened in Victorian times, continues today and as Graeme says, local communities and councils have been known to pay no attention to the proper title of the land. However, this isn't a drill halls thread and I don't want to deviate from Max's topic. I'm happy to discuss drill halls elsewhere.

(Thank you, Max, for the positive comments on the drillhalls.org website. :) )

Gwyn

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Gwyn, my pleasure - constantly amazed by the breadth of the web and the fact that someone somewhere has taken the trouble to research and illustrate even seemingly ordinary and overlooked aspects of the Great War such as drill halls etc. :)

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Perhaps my original question was misleading. I was asking about references to drill halls and their contents, not specifically the sale of the actual building. ... I believe my question is valid, though. ... Secondly, many drill halls were taken into use as military hospitals.

(Thank you, Max, for the positive comments on the drillhalls.org website. :) )

Gwyn,

I didn't see myself as questioning 'the validity of your question'; I am far too self-effacing for that! The question of what actually happened inside the wartime drill hall is very valid. I see where you are coming from in relation to the catalogue as a source and now see that there could be 'Drill Hall' references in such a catalogue to government property in commandeered or loaned premises eg "100 bedsteads presently lying at the Drill Hall, Volunteer Street, Anytown" that would add significantly to the knowledge of the history of the building.

I totally agree with the comments made about drillhalls.org and its rôle in protecting the heritage.

Ian

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Thanks, Ian and Max for your endorsement of the project. I didn't have the original concept or collect the base data: Graeme did. I haven't got the patience.

Ian, I think I contributed to a misunderstanding which is now resolved.

Drill halls or not, I am deeply envious of Max's catalogue! Every page is a haunting reminder of a lost world.

Gwyn

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I visited TNA yesterday and consulted MUN 5/141/1020/5 - the two copies of Surplus that I mentioned above. That for June 16, 1919 ran to 96 pages, that for September 1 a bumper 160 pages. The contents were much as those in Max's copy, the sites mentioned being very varied, and many quite minor. I didn't see that much for Wiltshire, apart from airfields, but then many of the camps housed Australian troops, with the equipment being sold off by the AIF Disposal Board. I noted several wood distillation factories being offered, including one at Longparish in west Hampshire.

There was a lot of supplementary information of interest - for instance, details of horses to be auctioned at various sites, regional contacts and so on.

Other MUN 4 and 5 files relating to "Surplus" yielded some interesting snippets. The Government wanted to dispose of 43 million yards of areoplane linen, originally bought for 2/6 a yard, but prompting offers of only 1s a yard from Irish manufacturers. There was also debate about how warlike equipment (grenade,rifles, etc) should be sold.

MUN 4/5898 gave details of material being offered by the AIF Disposal Board, with correspondence from the British Government expressing concern that some was being at auction without reserve. There was the case of 20,000 pairs of boots that had cost an average of 5/6 each to repair being sold at 5/9 to 6s, then changing hands in the auction room for 9s - a "ring" was operating.

All in all, some good stuff, so I repeat my thanks to Max for starting this thread off.

Moonraker

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Any armoured cars included in the sales?

I didn't notice any, but with 256 pages there could have been. I glanced through them looking for anything pertaining to Wiltshire, and inevitably my eye was caught by references to localities elsewhere that I knew, such as Longparish. My overall impression was that a lot of the stuff on offer was buildings and equipment and materials that was not exclusively military - ie, could be used in civilian applications.

I would guess that armoured cars, guns etc would have been offered to other countries' armed services rather than to dealers. (I do appreciate that there were - and still are - dealers in military hardware.)

Moonraker

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