Thursday, 31 July 2014

Lest We Forget

Last Sunday, in glorious sunshine I was lucky to be able to participate in the Wyle Valley 1914 project. The commemoration was very thoughtfully put together. There was enough to do if the visit was a couple of hours but it was a lovely laid back event. They managed to get a lot of information out in an engaging manner.

The Great War Society were amazing, Sunday was much cooler than Saturday and had a lovely breeze, they must have been much more comfortable in their woollen uniforms.

Tommy looked very smart.


The camp was established, clean and dry.


And the heavy artillery was efficient and loud.


The Yeomanry had great outfits and the dappled grey is named Stilton!


A large number of women at the front were involved in field hospitals and drove a lot of hospital carts and ambulances such as this lovely Model T Ford (see they aren’t always black).


However, I believe women never got as far as the trenches.


Trench communication posts were fairly comfortable - well better than the latrines.


Not to use the latrines was illegal and punishable. Of course, if you were military then it was a court marshal-able offence and the punishment was pretty severe and inhumane.

Hard tack and basic rations came down the line with shift changes, as did the rum ration which was marked "SRD" (Service Rations Depot) but known by soldiers variously as "Seldom Reaches Destination" or "Soon Runs Dry". It was concentrated and had to be diluted. It was sometimes placed under the care of members of the temperance movement. Drank un- or in-sufficiently diluted the rum ration could lead to temporary blindness and even death.

On the home front women rolled up their sleeves and helped the war effort in several ways. Of course they had to take over all farming duties, they filled munitions, worked in factories and continued the fight for voting rights.


In the UK Queen Mary’s Needlework Guild geared up to provide comforts for the troops, this was also encouraged by the Red Cross. We are members of the Wiltshire Guild of Spinners, Weavers and Dyers representing Queen Mary’s Guild.


We had music from a brass band and were serenaded by the Warminster Army Wives Choir.


There was also a drumhead service of remembrance.

As a matter of morbid interest the field dressing every Tommy carried in their right pocket had two pads, one for the entry wound and one for the exit wound. Each pad was designed to soak up a pint of blood, if both pads were soaked it meant the casualty had lost two or more pints of blood. This meant that the hospital could concentrate on other casualties who showed a higher chance of surviving. During the first war great leaps in medicine including the knowledge of blood types, the identification of types and storing of blood for transfusion without a live donor being present were made. Interesting, gruesome and awesome.


The village hall had interesting displays showing the extensive network of camps established in the Wyle Valley, together with interesting dioramas, displays of original artifacts and school projects.

The Great War had an impact on society which we still benefit from today. However, modern warfare had entered the theatre and 1914 saw the arrival of something new, horrific and international involving troops from Europe, America, Russia, Australasia.