Comforts for the boys at the Front

The Gloucestershire Society in London held a Bohemian Concert in the Holborn Restaurant, London.  The proceeds paid for 400 Christmas parcels to be sent to the boys of the 1st Battalion of the Gloucestershire Regiment on duty at the Front.  The parcels contained a briar pipe, tobacco pouch, 2 oz tobacco, 50 cigarettes and matches.  There were also 280 one pound tins of Fry’s chocolate with 24 bars per tin and 300 tins of 6 ounces of peppermints in each tin.

Baths for Cheltenham lads in Chelmsford!

There were many Cheltenham boys in the Territorial Force’s 5th Battalion of the Gloucestershire Regiment.  In fact, their commanding officer was Frederick Tarrant, Bursar at Cheltenham Ladies College and among their officers was Cyril Winterbotham, brother of Councillor Percy Winterbotham, who himself later became an officer in the same battalion.  Their sister Clara was Cheltenham’s first woman councillor and became the first female Mayor in 1921.

The Battalion was posted to Chelmsford for training during Christmas 1914 and few of the houses in which the boys were billeted had baths.  The appeal went out from the YMCA to householders to please let the soldiers have a bath now and then.  A system whereby bath tickets were issued allowed the troops to keep clean.

Christmas is coming…

“Christmas is Coming and the Boys are at The Rotunda”

Friday 13th and Monday 16th November 1914 Cheltenham was “invaded” by over 2,000 soldiers of the 9th and 10th Battalions of the Gloucestershire Regiment, billeted in the old, empty houses, mainly in Lansdown.  Officers of the 9th Battalion were billeted at the Queen’s Hotel and 56 sergeants at 2, Queen’s Parade.

The soldiers of the 9th Battalion were fed from a field kitchen, providing useful practice for cooking at the Front.  Aldershot ovens were based in the garden of Bayshill House in Parabola Road, which is now a Cheltenham Ladies College house. 

Bayshill House as it was in 1911.

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The End? Part 2 : Armistice 1918

Monday 11th November 1918  At 10.40 a.m news reached the Echo office by telephone that The Armistice had been signed at 5 a.m. that morning and came into force at 11 a.m.  The discussion between the German delegates and those of the Allies had lasted all night.  A special edition of the newspaper was immediately printed and distributed.

Discover how Cheltenham celebrated an end to fighting.

Stop Press in the Echo “From all parts of the country reports arrive of almost indescribable enthusiasm and public rejoicing.” 

Continue reading “The End? Part 2 : Armistice 1918”

The End? The final days before Armistice 1918

“In war, truth is the first casualty”, so said Aeschylus.  It is not surprising, therefore, that the news of the impending end of the war was greeted, as Cheltenham’s Rector of the Parish Church Rev H.A. Wilson said, “…with dazzling suddenness”.  Who knew what to believe from newspaper reports in the Echo?  Local and national news was heavily censored to keep up morale on the home front of those who were heartily tired of the war and its effects.  But townspeople knew that, having heard stories from the soldiers home on leave, contradicting what they read in the papers. 

Continue reading “The End? The final days before Armistice 1918”

Volunteers needed!

Would you like to volunteer at our exciting WW1 Re-enactment event on Saturday September 1st or Sunday September 2nd? The Great War Society will be setting up a recreation WW1 hospital and training camp at the Folly, 280 Swindon Road and we’re looking for volunteers to help out with this family friendly event.

Please contact kelly.patterson@cheltenham.gov.uk if you’d like to be involved.

Will you be there for them?

On Saturday November 10th Cheltenham Rememers will be holding a WW1 Memorial March through the town. We are looking for 1,290 volunteers to each represent a name on the Cheltenham War Memorial.

Click here to sign up to take part in this moving tribute to the Cheltonians who lost their lives in WW1

Everyone taking part will be given a placard with the name (and photo if available) of a single serviceman or servicewomen who lost their life in the First World War. The group will march from Pittville Park to Montpellier Gardens  – following in the footsteps of a Peace March held in 1919 for 4,000 returning servicemen.