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Remembered Today:

Local Newspaper Report of Kitchener's &, King & Queen&#39


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I Thought other members might find this piece From the Woking News & Mail of Friday (?) 2nd October 1914 of interest.




Memorable Gatherings at St. John's

The residents of Woking and neighbourhood were thrown into a state of considerable excitement on Saturday when it was announced during the morning that their Majesties the King and Queen and Lord Kitchener were to inspect the troops of Kitchener's new Army, now undergoing training at Inkerman Barracks.

The news quickly spread with the result that at about four o'clock – the time of the expected visit – a vast concourse of people had assembled on St. John's Lye where 4,000 members of the new Army paraded for inspection. A disappointment was, however, in store for the people, as the King and Queen, it subsequently transpired, had had such a busy day inspecting troops at Aldershot and the surrounding district that the proposed visit to Woking could not possibly be fitted in. No effort had been spared to accord their Majesties a hearty welcome. Bunting was hastily displayed by shopkeepers and residents of St. John's, and a force of special constables and Boy Scouts was organised to regulate the crowd. In addition to the troops from the Barracks, who occupied a huge space in the centre of the Lye, there were also present large contingents of the local Women's and Men's Voluntary Aid Detachments of the British Red Cross Society, Girl Guides and the boys of the Mayford Industrial, Shaftesbury and Bisley Farm Schools.

An Impressive Scene

Particularly noticeable in the crowd was the large number of children, who like their elders, who were very anxious to obtain a glimpse of King George. Their disappointment was very great when informed that the King had not arrived. The soldiers, the great majority of whom had probably never seen their sovereign, were also very disappointed.

One could not help admiring the appearance of the men, who comprised recruits of the Yorkshire Light Infantry and the Somerset Light Infantry. It was just about four o'clock when the first contingent marched from the Barracks to St. John's Lye. They were headed by the band of the Shaftesbury School, playing a stirring selection. Two other sections quickly followed and the troops were paraded in two large forces several rows deep, which faced each other, leaving ample space in the centre.The majority of the men were without uniform, and some had Khaki suits and cloth caps, but they carried themselves erect, and exhibited a general all-round smartness which did them the utmost credit, having regard to the few weeks that they had been in training. "what fine soldiers they will make" was a remark one heard frequently expressed, and no one could question the truth of this.

The men stood at ease for an hour and a half, and as Lord Kitchener arrived they came smartly to attention at the order. The War Minister and his staff arrived in three motor-cars, and they were loudly cheered by the crowd. Accompanied by his staff officers, Lord Kitchener at once passed right down the line of troops on one side and returned on the other side, scrutinising the men keenly and frequently stopping to chat to the officers with him. He was not on the parade ground more than ten minutes, and on reaching the end of the line again he at once drove off to Aldershot, to the accompaniment of much cheering.

The ceremony being over the crowd at once began to disperse, but many remained to see the troops march past on the way to barracks. It was here that one got some idea of the numbers, the line of troops, four deep, reaching an enormous distance. The band of the Shaftesbury School, playing a march, brought up the rear, and about the same time the Mayford Boys' Band also moved off, playing, while the remainder of the people, many of whom came from Woking, quickly made their way home.


Inspection of 5,000 Troops

Woking was honoured for the first time on Tuesday by a visit from Their Majesties the King and Queen, who came to inspect the 61st Infantry Brigade, comprising between 4,000 and 5,000 members of Lord Kitchener's new army now undergoing training at Inkerman Barracks, Knaphill. Thus His Majesty amply compensated the troops and townsfolk for the disappointment caused by his inability to attend on Saturday when he was expected.From Saturday evening till Tuesday morning reports were circulated that the King would be visiting the troops on the latter day and consequently early on Tuesday afternoon hundreds of Woking Folk were to be seen wending their way on foot, cycling and vehicles of various descriptions to St. Johns Lye, the scene of the inspection.The troops were paraded earlier than on Saturday, and by 3.30 pm the men were all in their places, marshalled in the same order as when inspected by Lord Kitchener.

Fortunately the event was again favoured with glorious weather. Passageways for the troops were kept by a strong force of local special constables, but the crowd was very orderly, and kept their enthusiasm well within bounds. By half past three o'clock the attendance must have numbered several thousands, school children again being in great force. As the minutes rolled by and the Royal party did not appear, the order was given for the troops to sit down and rest, a privilege for which they seemed very grateful. Major Witherby was in command and staff officers from Aldershot were in charge of arrangements. Just after 4 p.m the men were called to attention, and the lines redressed, but it was nearly half an hour later before signs of excitement, in that section of the crowd nearest the roadway, heralded the approach of the Royal party. Almost immediately four motor cars, three of them bearing the Royal arms, drew up on the edge of the Lye by the side of the troops. From the first car the King at once alighted, and he was followed by Queen Mary, Queen Alexandra and Princess Mary. A retinue of officers stepped from the other cars. His Majesty was in Khaki. Queen Mary was dressed in white, and carried a red sunshade, while Princess Mary, looking radiant, wore a pretty dress of pale blue. In addition to the Royal visitors, there were also present: Sir Archibald Hunter, G.O.C, (training centre), Col. Shure [maybe shute?], C.S.O., Major-General Sir E. O. F. Hamilton, commanding 20th Division 3, and Capt. Barnett, D.A.Q.M.C., 20th Division. The chief officers of the brigade on parade, were Brigadier-General O.D.C. Grattan, Major G.G. Whiffin, Brig-Maj. Lieut-Col. T. Bullock, Commanding 7th Somerset Light Infantry; Capt. F. G. Mills, adjutant (ditto); Capt. Lewin, Commanding 7th Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry; Lieut. Willyams, adjutant; Lieut.-Col. R. Witherby, commanding 7th Yorkshire Light Infantry; Lieut. Kent, adjutant; Bt.-Col. Davison, Commanding 11th Durham Light Infantry; Lieut. Hayes, adjutant. After chatting awhile with the officers, the Royal visitors at once passed down the line of troops, and back, watching the men with keen interest. His Majesty stopped occasionally to chat with the officers and men. His Majesty expressed himself in every way satisfied with the appearance of the brigade and their steadiness on parade. Having completed their tour of inspection the party remained for some minutes conversing with the officers in charge of the parade, and then on the call of Major Witherby, the troops gave hearty cheers for their Majesties, who then re-entered their car and drove off to the accompaniment of enthusiastic cheers from the crowd, and waving of hats and handkerchiefs.

Some background information

"The Story of Aldershot", by Howard Cole, mentions that at the end of September King George V & Queen Mary had spent several days at Aldershot (staying at the Royal Pavillion) carrying out, together with Lord Kitchener, inspections of troops throughout the command, with one of the 14th (Light) & 15th (Scottish) Divisions taking place on the 26th September on Queen's Parade. As with the recruits from Inkerman Barracks, the men (not, of course, the staff) of the 15th (Scottish) Division, who were parading as a formed unit for the first time, were in civilian clothing because supply of uniforms hadn't been able to keep up with the pace of mobilization. Cole makes the comment that the men were often heard making fun of themselves, and the situation they were in, by singing "We are the men of Fred Karno's Army' in the manner of the comedian Fred Karno whose got his laughs from an act featuring acts of incompetence and imbecility.

A photograph of the visit to , or a least a print of it, appeared on ebay about a year ago (outbid unfortunately); though I can't remember now whether it was of Kitchener's visit, or that of the King and Queen.

Between 1889 & 1895 Inkerman Barracks was established by the War Department when it purchased & converted two adjacent sets of prison buildings, built in 1860 and 1867, which had become surplus to requirements. The Acquisition of these buildings took place in the same time frame (1888-1902) as the purchase of large areas of local heath & commonland at Pibright, Bisley, Chobham and Frimley for use as a permanent national military training grounds, most of which is still in MOD ownership today. The area had been favoured by the Army for many years before that with manoeuvres and a review having taken place in the Bagshot area in 1792, the establishment of the Officers training college at Sandhurst in 1812, a camp at Chobham in 1852 (with excercises and a review by Queen Victoria taking place there in 1853) and, of course, the establishment of Aldershot camp, the first Large scale British garrison camp, in 1884. The main buildings of the Barracks have long since disappeared, having closed in the 1960's, but some of the former staff housing, now privately owned, remains, and the memory lives on in the names of several local roads such as Barracks Path, Raglan & Inkerman Roads. Inkerman Barracks also gets a small mention in H.G. Wells' Classis 1898 Sci-Fi story "War of the Worlds": "Several officers from the Inkerman barracks had been on the common earlier in the day,..." in their futile attempts at fighting off the Martian invaders. (Wells had been living in Woking when he penned his story)


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Just to add a little to the scene - the men (certainly of the 7th Somersets) had been on enough route marches so as to ensure that when on the parade described they had to be arranged at the front and rear 'according to the state of their trousers'.

Lt Col T. Bullock - is in fact C J Troyt-Bullock (later D.S.O.) who became one of the few men to command the same infantry battalion throughout the war - he was on leave from 1st SomLI who were in India when the war broke out.

Capt F G Mills (Frank Symons Mills) was extremely unlucky - first suffering an injury after falling from a horse and then being killed in action shortly after arriving at the front on 5th August 1917.

The men of the 61st Brigade (and 20th Divn) went on to fight many very successful battles including helping to capture Guillemont on the Somme, the capture of Langemarck in 1917 and storming la Vacquerie in the Cambrai offensive. Not bad given their humble beginnings.

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Just to add a little to the scene - the men (certainly of the 7th Somersets) had been on enough route marches so as to ensure that when on the parade described they had to be arranged at the front and rear 'according to the state of their trousers'.

This conjures up a 'Pythonesque' scene of a CSM barking out "All thems with mucky trousers one pace back"!. Did this come from somebodies memoirs, or a regimental history?

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  • 14 years later...

I have a postcard that shows the front(?) of the barracks, is identified as '46341 Inkerman Barracks' and while the building seems to be wholly in view, the foreground is taken up by bushes, shrubs and small trees with what looks to be a rough grass field that runs up to the wall at the what appears to be the entrance.

The card was sent by Fred to his sister Frances, wife of Charles Ellerington, the postmark stamped 2nd October, 1914. It reads:

‘Dear Frances – Sorry I did not send you a card last time but I can not send so many at once for know I shall give you a word in _____. so I will write to Olive & Jack next time Send my love to Charlie I will send him a card tomorrow I have ______ his address it is in my box. and tell mother I will write to her in return. From your loving brother Fred.’

A bit of detective work...the card was sent to Frances, c/o L Smith, 11 Clements Buildings, Old Goole.

Already had the medal info details for one Fred Smith 17016, stated in BW & V Roll as being in 7/KOYLI; later 9th Bn and awarded Military Medal (LG 11.03.1919). But also had the 1911 census for his family - Louisa Alice was his mother...address on the census - 11 Clements Buildings, Old Goole! Frances' full name was Emma Frances Smith, recorded as a visitor to another address on 1901 census, and living a few doors away from the rest of her family with her husband Charles and daughter in 1911. The 'Jack' on the card is Fred' youngest brother John William.

Would be interesting to know if Fred included the Royal visit in any subsequent letters home, but certainly don't recall anything from the Goole Times from Oct 1914 about a Goole man writing home about such an event.

Do like little puzzles like this but they can be a bit of a roller-coaster at times!



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