1914 to 1920: Relevant facts and local newspaper reports, a set of notes compiled by Frank Bond for a History Group Talk.
The small regular army with which Britain entered the 1914 war was backed by a large contingent of reservist recalled to the colours who made up 60% of the Expeditionary Force that went to France. This army was quite inadequate and appeals for volunteers by Lord Kitchener brought in another 2,250,000 volunteers.
This number was reinforced by the introduction of the conscription act in 1916 which by 1918 had brought the Army ration strength in 1914 of 164,000 to 5,363,352.
The Royal Flying Corps which in 1918 became the Royal Air Force (RAF) had a strength at the end of the war of 30,127 Officers and 263,410 other ranks.
The animal ration strength rose from 27,500 in 1914 to 895,770 in 1918.
Army/RFC fuel consumption per month in 1914 was 250,000 gallons rising to 10,500,000 gallons per month in 1918.
The railways, taken over in 1914 were the first limitations put on private companies who had to administer the government orders placed upon them. The demand for munitions forced more governmental control in the management of the economy resulting in an increased number of civil servants and government departments. County Agricultural Committees were formed in 1915 but were not very effective. Daylight Saving Time was introduced in May 1916 and met with protest from Farmers and Industrial workers.
By 1917, due to the sinking’s by German U Boats, there was only about three weeks supply of food in the country. The formation of the Women’s Land Army took place to help overcome the agriculture labour shortage. A limited system of food rationing was also introduced. Two-thirds of the industrial workforce was also subject to government regulation. License hours were introduced to curb drunkenness among munition workers and the government took over some pubs installing managers.
Initially, there was a certain amount of euphoria amongst people for the war with hotels and restaurants thronged for feasting and every girl seemed to have her man in khaki ... Many soldiers had gone to war eagerly in 1914 to the sound of cheering crowds but the reality of trench warfare soon dispelled all hints of romance.
For most of the war, there was stalemate since neither side had the necessary force to break through the opposing defences. This resulted in the eventual construction of approximately 6000 miles of trenches. The trench system enclosed a world of barbed wire and mud of which Passchendaele is best remembered where there were 144,00 casualties in 1917.
It is said that death was a matter of luck, but this was not the only sacrifice as gassed, injured and shell shock men staggered back from the war to a life that would never be the same again. Of the 8,000,000 men said to have been mobilized some 2,000,000 were wounded and by the year of 1922 approximately 900,000 war pensions were being paid.
Civilian voluntary organizations contributed to the war effort by supplying 1,742,947 mufflers, 1,574,155 pairs of mittens, 6,145,673 hospital bags, 12,258,536 bandages, 16,000,000 books, 232,599,191 cigarettes.
1917 to 1919.
The combatants were now suffering from war weariness and the revolution in Russia ended in victory for the Bolsheviks. Britain was also thinking in terms of reconstruction of a changed society. Lloyd George, the Prime Minister, said at the time "The Nation was in a molten state."
March 21st. Ludendorff opened German offensive that they called Michael to split the allied front with 192 Divisions against the Allied 173. Haig had 180,000 fewer men than in 1917 and nearly half a million men would be required to fill the wastage. The British government started on a call-up of recruits by age groups, cancelled exceptions and combed out the munition workers.
The German first attacks shattered the 5th army and in April they attacked in the Ypres area. The two great battles by 120 German divisions cost the British 300,000 casualties. These German offences broke the deadlock of trench warfare that had existed since the end of 1914.
In spite of these victories, the Germans were convinced by mid-August that to fight on was impossible. On September 29th the 4th army broke through the Hindenburg line and on the 5th October the German government asked President Wilson to arrange an armistice.
The Kaiser abdicated.
November 11th. The Armistice was signed and came in to force at 11 am on the day.
When the war ceased 8,000,000 men and 1,500,000 women were serving in the Army, Navy, Air Force and Munitions. The government had spent £6 billion, sold all overseas securities and lent £1,500 million to our allies.
Shipping losses were over six million tons and the food situation had been saved by increasing pre-war harvest by a third.
From 1914 until 1918 cost of living had risen by 125%.
February 1915 to November 1918 there were 115,000 British Officer casualties and the Empire had lost about 1,000,000 men.
ETON and ETON WICK 1918
G. Banham (husband of Mrs Banham) of 4 Shakespeare Place, Eton Wick, Private in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, dangerously ill in No. 70 General Hospital, Cairo. Suffering from gunshot wounds to the right foot.
February 15th. 1918
Joseph Springford, son of Mrs J Springford, 3 Victoria Place, Eton Wick. Private in Sherwood Foresters. Died of Kidney Disease in Rouen, France.
Thomas Wall, 17 Tangier Place Eton.Torpedoed on H.M.S. Aragon. December 30th, 1917. He was aged 35.
The Eton Central Kitchen opened in February of that year. Pea Soup 2d, Meat Stew 2d., Rice pudding and Jam ld., There was a great demand for the service run by volunteer ladies.
New ration cards were issued early in November.
The weather turned extremely cold at the end of the month. Early morning school at Eton College was discontinued for the week.
The influenza pandemic was taking a big toll of human life and there were many deaths in the district.
March 8th, 1919
Meeting at Eton Wick to discuss war memorial.
Volunteers collecting subscriptions ... Mr A. Percy, Miss Nottage, Miss Ashby, Mrs Miles, Mrs Howells and others.
Mr Ashman appointed Hon. Secretary,
Mr E. W. Howell appointed Hon. Treasurer.
Some 400 men from Eton and Eton Wick had served in the forces.
Heavy rains at this time brought the river level up and the Brocas and Eton Playing fields were flooded for a short time.
Sunday April 7th, 1919
A commemoration service was held at Eton Parish church. A request to the Bishop of Buckingham by the local territorial association to remember their fallen comrades. The sermon was given by the Dean of Windsor.
The council discussed and started on plans for a housing scheme at what is now Sommerville road area. Sommerville was the chairman of the council at that time. There was much discussion about the allotment area that was there/that had been created during the war years on the proposed site. It was not Lammas land and the lord of the manor at the time was prepared to sell The problem was identical to that of Tilston Field after World War Two, the allotments at the site had been beautifully cultivated and there was a little opposition from the allotment holders. ( I think that is correct).
Much discussion by Eton Wick churchwardens and Reverend McNally (E. W. Vicar) about burial fees. Reverend McNally drew attention to the discrepancy in burial rates between Eton Wick and Eton. The fees fixed in 1870 were Eton 4/= and Eton Wick 15/- Eton Wick charges were as follows:
Child under 14 years with bearers 2/-
Adults with Bearers and Bier 3/-
Adult with Hearse 3/-
Adult with lead coffin 5/-
Buried in Vault. £1/1/-
Brick grave 5/-
Double brick grave 5/-
Re-opening brick grave 5/-
July 19th 1919
Peace Day Celebrations (Windsor & Eton)
Demobilized Sailors, Soldiers, RAP and members on leave, Hospital Nurses, VAD Members, WRNS, WRAP, WAAC, OTC Volunteers, Cadet Corps, Special Constables, Munition workers, Boy Scouts and Girl Guides were requested to take part in the parade that would start from Batchelors Acre at 11 am. The Band of the Coldstream Guards led the parade with and Ex-serviceman band also taking part. The route was from the Acre via Sheet Street, High Street, Peascod Street, Eton College (Burning Bush). Eton College OTC lined the street of Eton from Barnes Pool Bridge to Queens School with the Eton Cadet band playing over this section. Everyone taking part in the parade received a souvenir badge.
Mr Sommerville, Council chairman, said that Eton and Eton Wick would make their own arrangements for their local children entertainments.
ETON WICK and BOVENEY
The committee of the Institute gave a supper on July 31st. to men of Eton Wick and Boveney who served overseas in the Great War. Eighty invitations were issued, owing to the limited accommodation available the committee have been unable to extend the invitation to men who joined up, but did not go overseas.
August 30th, 1919
Extract from the Windsor and Eton Express.
An old lady living in Windsor, Mrs Hannah Deadman, had passed away aged 92, having never heard of the Great War.
The fact was religiously kept from her through tout the campaign, though her relatives often found it extremely difficult. Although blind and partially deaf she had a keen sense of reasoning and followed up any casual remark passed with awkward questions.
She had twelve or more grandsons and granddaughters serving in the forces, the latter as nurses. When one grandson went away from home she was very persistent as to his whereabouts. She was told that he had gone to fresh employment at Reading, where in fact he was with the army in France. Week succeeded week and still the grandson did not come home. At the end of two years the old lady became exasperated and remarked, "Two years and no holiday, why I would not work for such a master". She also expressed great surprise at the increasing cost of food and remarked that it never used to be so.
During the campaign grandsons returned home on leave at intervals and in them the old lady displayed great affection. She never knew they were in uniform because of her failing eyesight and often when shaking hands with the lads they turned up their sleeves in order she should not discover the military buttons.
Sometimes they took their coats off when visiting in this way she was kept in total ignorance of the conflict. Curiously enough the house in which she resided with her relatives at Helena Road faces Victoria Barracks where thousands of fine troops passed through the gates on route for France, but she still never knew.