Cheltenham and the other pandemic – the Spanish ‘Flu

 

Many commentators today are likening the Covid-19 pandemic to that of the Spanish flu which hit the world in 1917-1920.  It was named as neutral Spain had no need to censor its newspapers and therefore the  first reports of the ‘flu appeared in Spanish newspapers, particularly  as the Spanish King Alfonso XIII was seriously ill with the disease.  The first wave of the ‘flu was relatively mild in the summer of 1918, peaked heavily in October 1918 with a more virulent strain of the disease,   and not fading out  until April 1920.  Eventually more died worldwide than all the civilian and military deaths of the first World War.   Death rates were highest amongst the 20-40 year olds – the age of most of the soldiers returning to their homes after the war.  There were no antibiotics or means of treating the illness. Continue reading “Cheltenham and the other pandemic – the Spanish ‘Flu”

Slippers for soldiers

THE COUNTY COBBLERS and THE BELGRAVIA WORKROOMS

From the collection of Neela Mann

No 8 Queen’s Parade, Cheltenham was home to the Gloucester County Association for Voluntary Organisations – a house lent by the Mayor William Nash Skillicorne and his sister Edith.  One of the tasks carried out here was the cutting out and construction of slippers for men at rest stations and in military hospitals, under the chief cutter, the Revd. Cuthbert W. Birley, and run by Mrs Ernest Rogers.  The voluntary workers – men and women – called themselves The County Cobblers. They paid for the material for the slippers themselves and at the start of the war were making 136 pairs of slippers a week!

“There was an old woman who lived in a shoe

With the sewing of slippers she has much to do

So kindly please help her all people who can

To make the soft slippers for some wounded man”

This poem (found in an autograph book kept by Mabel Owen) is by a soldier in Naunton Park Hospital, Cheltenham.  He obviously appreciated the slippers, which were probably a pair of those made at 8 Queen’s Parade.

Continue reading “Slippers for soldiers”

Recognition for WW1 Projection

Last Friday, Cheltenham Borough Council, along with some key partners, attended the Audio Visual awards in London.

The Cheltenham Remembers projection was nominated for public sector project of the year and we were up against some big international names! We were pipped to the post by the European Parliament.

It was a fascinating evening and we felt incredibly proud of the achievement of being a finalist. 

Ernest Davis & Alfred Moon

Following the Memorial March on 10th November 2018 and WW1 banners displayed along the railings of Montpelier Park we’ve been contacted by some of the relatives of Cheltonians who lost their lives in the First World War. Here Ian Goodridge tells the story of Ernest Davis & Alfred Moon and helps us put a face to the names to ensure they will be remembered.

Continue reading “Ernest Davis & Alfred Moon”

Arthur Inglis – The First Tank Commander


Image © IWM (HU 116182)

On September 15th 1916 Arthur McCullock Inglis became the first person in history to lead tanks into battle. He is buried in Prestbury St Mary’s churchyard, where on 12th May 2019 they will be marking the centenary of his death. This is the story of how Arthur and his family are connected to the Cheltenham area…

Continue reading “Arthur Inglis – The First Tank Commander”

Remarkable Women of Cheltenham – Part 1

Extracts from Cheltenham in the Great War by Neela Mann (2016, The History Press)

“Cheltenham’s Prisoners of War and two remarkable ladies      

The large basement at Dumfries House, in Bayshill (now County House) became the source of a life line to 197 Prisoners of War (POWs) from Cheltenham.  The house was the home of Mrs Elphinstone Shaw, wife of an Indian Army Colonel and daughter and sister in law of Indian Army Generals.  Having been married in India, Mrs Shaw returned to Cheltenham in 1895 to join her sister and family. 

Mrs Shaw and the basement at Dumfries House
Continue reading “Remarkable Women of Cheltenham – Part 1”

Making the Memorial March

On November 10th more than 1,200 people will march through Cheltenham to represent the number of people listed on Cheltenham’s War Memorial. Each marcher will be given a name (and image if available) of an individual serviceman or woman to carry.

Whilst in principal this seems like a simple idea a huge amount of research and collaboration was required to create this event. Initially each of the 1,296 men and 1 woman listed on the war memorial needed to be identified and researched. (There were 1,290 original names, 1 added after unveiling in 1921 and 6 added in 2016 during the restoration phase) Continue reading “Making the Memorial March”

VC Paving Stone

A commemorative stone was laid on Sunday 2nd September at Cheltenham War Memorial to commemorate Lt Col Richard Annesley West (VC). The ceremony was attended by members of his family (from as far afield as Australia) and representatives from the Royal Tank Regiment, North Irish Horse and the Royal British Legion. The paving stone was unveiled by the Mayor of Cheltenham (Bernard Fisher) and there was a large civic presence including the Lord-Lieutenant of Gloucestershire (Dame Janet Trotter). A summary of the event written by Cllr Paul McCloskey can be read here.