Tring in War Time, 1914-1919


Extracts from the Bucks Herald of 13th February, 1915

Edited from British Newspaper Archive

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The only "local" military casualty connected to Tring this week was the death of 2nd Lieutenant William Crabtree of the Lincolnshire Regiment in an accident on a sharp bend between Startops and Tringford Reservoirs at Tring Ford. A taxi taking two officers an an unidentified lady from London to their unit in Leighton Buzzard crashed. The detailed report of the inquest ends with the coroner, Lovel Smeathman of Hemel Hempstead, recommending "The turn in the road was a dangerous point, and a notice warning drivers should be placed there." The corner is still dangerous, with no sign, and now car are going much faster than 10 mph! Some of the early press accounts of the paper incorrectly reported that he died in a motor cycle accident.

The paper also reported in detail a route march by the Northumberland Fusiliers from Tring towards Watford as far as Hunton Bridge; Major Henry Page Croft had been put in charge of the Hertfordshire Regiment, while the architect, Mr. Skipper, was involved in the building of military hospitals, including the one at Tring. George Loosley, a stationer and post card seller from Berkhamsted reported that money had been raised for charity from the sale of a card carrying the poem "The Lads of Halton Park."

The war also affected local activities. The Tring Horticultural Society cancelled in plans for an annual shown in 1915. The Rev. George Crossland, Wesleyan officiating clergyman, 21st Division, preached at the High Street Church while the Right Rev. Bishop Taylor-Smith. Chaplain-General to the Forces was due to preach in the parish church. There was also discussion at the Council meeting about the location of extra military hospital buildings while the newly formed Tring Division of the St John Ambulance made plans for its first practice evening. It was reported that in 1914 there had been 6 cases of infectious disease among the soldiers posted in the town, while 4 of the Belgium Refugees had had diptheria.

On more routine matters the Council discussed the budget for repairing roads including the question of providing curbing on Wingrave Road and the issue of nonpayment by a frontager on Longfield Road. Two cottages in Frogmore Street were deemed unfit for habitation. The council decided to increase the wages of some of their workmen, and the vacancy on the council following the death of Dr Brown (see 19 December).  The Marchioness of Crewe visited Lord & Lady Rothschild at Tring Park while church bells were rung for Walter Rothschild's birthday. The Church of England Men's Society discussed the formation of a Diocesan Union, which had been opposed by the West Herts Federation.

Surnames mentioned this week: Asquith, Ayres, Baker, Baldwin, Barnett, Batchelor, Bell, Bennett, Bishop, Briant, Brown, Bushell, Cowes, Crabtree, Crewe, Crocker, Croft, Crowe, Crossland, Darvell, Dimmock, Emery, French, Gettings, Griffin, Griggith, Hampden, Hassell, Hedges, Heley, Hodge, Houchen, Howkins, Hutton, Icke, Jakeman, Loosley, McGonigle, Mead, Morris, O'Keeffe, Raymond-Barker, Rothschild, Seymour, Singlehurst, Skipper, Smeathman, Smith, Sparks, Taylor-Smith, Vaisey, Wilkins, Wright, Young


Tring Horticultural Society. - At meeting of the committee held on Wednesday. Feb. 3, it was decided by a small majority to abandon the show for this year.

High Street Church. - The Rev. George Crossland, Wesleyan officiating clergyman, 21st Division, was the preacher on Sunday evening.

The Hon. Walter Rothschild. - The bells of the Parish Church were rung on Monday evening in honour of Mr. Rothschild birthday. He was born on Feb. 8th, 1868.

Tring Parish Church. - Services and music, Quinquagesima Sunday, Feb. 14, S. Valentine, Bp.: - Holy Eucharist at 8 and 12. Matins - Venite and Psalms, as set {Cathedral Psalter; Te Deum, 3rd set; Benedictus, Barnby; hymns, 211, 520. Sung Eucharist serrice, Lloyd in E flat; hymns, 209, 178 (first part), 191, 537. Evensong Psalms, as set; Magnificat, Smart; Nune Dimittis, Barnby; hymns, 230. 255, 27. Voluntary after evensong, "Rhapsodie in F" (Saint-Saens). Preacher at Matins, the Right Rev. Bishop Taylor-Smith. Chaplain-General to the Forces. A. H. Baker, F.E.C.O., organist and choirmaster.

The Herts Territorials. - It is understood that Lieutenant-Colonel Viscount Hampden has been appointed to command a brigade, and the command of the 1st Battalion Hertfordshire Regiment (Territorials) falls on Major Henry Page Croft. M.P.. who is second in command. Writing to Major Croft on the subject, Brigadier-General, the Earl of Cavan, commanding the 4th Guards Brigade, observes; "I think you are much to be envied taking command of a battalion that was one of the very first battalions of the Territorial Force to selected for service abroad, and which more than justified its selection.

C.E.M.S. Feb. 2nd was Federation night. Messers Seymour and Houchen gave their reports as delegates to the conference held at St. Alban, on December 15th, at which was decided to form a Diocesan Union. The proposal has never been regarded with favour by the West Herts Federation, and the delegates were instructed to vote against it. The Bishop warmly supported the formation a Diocesan Union, and after discussion the resolution to form Union was carried with only four dissentients. After the delegates' reports, several members protested strongly against the branch being affiliated to the Union, but it was decided eventually that it would best to come into line with the other branches in the diocese. The discussion on these reports occupied some time, and it was quite late when Mr Bell commenced his promised address on "Heroism." This necessitated the speaker curtailing his remarks, and to some extent impaired the symmetry of his argument. This is a matter for regret, as Mr. Bell's paper was a very valuable and stimulating one,. and quite out of the ordinary track. It dealt with heroism war, in politics - local and imperial - in the Church; and urged absolute devotion to truth as the supreme need in all departments of life. Some of the questions raised by the speaker were considered so important that it was decided devote next Federation night, Tuesday. March 2, to their discussion.

FIRST AID. - The first practice meeting of the newly-formed Tring Division of the St. John Ambulance Association will be held at the Cattle Market, Brook-street, Tring, on Tuesday evening, February 16th, at 8.15.


The monthly meeting of the Council was held at the Market House on Tuesday evening. The Rev. C. Pearce (vice-chairman) presided, and the other Councillors present were Messrs. C. G. Batchelor, D. Bishop, C. Griffin, T. H. Hedges, and the Hon L. W. Rothschild, with Mr. Roland M. Vaisey, assistant clerk, and Mr. S. S. Gettings.

The Hospital. - The Matron reported that one patient had been discharged since the last meeting and that one patient remained in the Hospital.

An application from the staff nurse for a uniform, was referred the Hospital Committee. Mr. Walter Mead wrote that owing to the rise in prices he would have to charge 1s. 6d. per pound for butter instead of 1s. 4d.

The Clerk reported that there had been a lot of correspondence with the military authorities with regard to hospital accommodation. The architect had been down, and it was proposed to build two huts for wards and one for the accommodation of the nurses. The architect came the conclusion that there was not sufficient room on the hospital land, and suggested that the adjoining land belonging to Lord Rothschild should be used. It was felt that it would be better that one hut should be erected entirely on the hospital ground, in case, after the war. the local authority should wish to take it over. The other two could be erected partly on the Council's land and partly on that of Lord Rothschild. The Surveyor, who had been down, appeared to view this suggestion favourably.

A letter was read from Mr Bentley Asquith, who was unable to get to the meeting, advising the Council to consider carefully any arrangement for hospital accommodation entered into with the military authorities. The matter was ordered to stand over pending Lord Rothschild's decision as to the grant of the use of his land.

HIGHWAYS. Mr. Bentley Asquith's letter also referred to the County Council's offer of an increased contribution to the cost of maintenance of main roads. In face of the increase in the County Rate, the offer appeared to him to be farcical, and he advised the Council in any agreement they might enter into to keep in view the County Rate.

The Clerk reported that the Highways Committee of the County Council had agreed at their meeting on Feb. 1st to increase their contribution towards the repair and maintenance of main roads in the district to £600 instead of £375 for a period of five years from 1st April. 1915.

On the proposition of Mr. Hedges, seconded by Mr. Griffin, it was decided to accept the County Council's offer, and to enter into an agreement for the period stated.

It was decided to accept Messrs, T. Crowe and Sons' tender for tar at 3 1/2d. a gallon the Surveyor reporting that the result his enquiries was quite satisfactory.

An application from the Council's workmen for an increase of wages was received. The Finance Committee recommended that the wages of five men should be should be raised 2s. a week, and those of four men 1s. This was agreed to.

The Clerk reported that two of the frontagers in Longfield-road had paid their apportionments - one an instalment and the other the whole amount. The remaining frontager had done nothing. It was decided to take the proceedings to recover the amount authorised at a previous meeting.

An application from the Post Office sectional engineer for permission to affix a telephone wire to the chimney of the Market House to complete the communication to the Bank House was granted, subject to the Post Office paying a way-leave of 1s. a year.

Casual [sic - Council] Vacancy. - The formal notice of the vacancy caused by the death of Dr. Brown was signed by two members.

Housing. - A letter was read from Mr. G. M. Emery, to the effect that he had decided to put his houses, 11 and 12 Frogmore-street, in proper repair, and had given the tenants notice to quit while the work was being carried out.

The Clerk suggested that the Council should make an order closing the premises. When the work was finished they could inspect the cottages, and if the work was satisfactory rescind the order.

The Chairman said Mr. Emery felt very strongly that a closing order would seriously prejudice his position, and if it were made he was prepared to contest the Council's right.

 Hon. Walter Rothschild: Before we make a closing order, we ought to ascertain if Mr. Emery would decline to do the work in the event of such a order being made.

Mr. Batchelor protested against a closing order being made under the circumstances, and complained that Mr. Emery had not been told exactly what was necessary to be done.

The Clerk said the Medical Officer could say that a house was unfit for habitation, but was not bound, according to the Act, to state what repairs were made to make it habitable.

The Hon. Walter Rothschild pointed out that unless they close the premises officially, they could not house the tenants in the Council's cottages.

In reply to further remarks by Mr. Batchelor, the Surveyor said details were not given to Mr. Emery, as, in the opinion of the Medical Officer it would cost more to put the property into habitable repair than the cottages were worth.

A resolution that an order be made, proposed by Mr. Hedges, seconded by Mr. Rothschild, was carried, all voting for it except Mr. Batchelor.

Inspector's Report. The Surveyor reported that the total number of cases of notifiable infectious disease in the district during 1914 was 24. There were six military cases, and four cases of diphtheria amongst the Belgian refugees, so that there were only 14 ordinary civilian cases of infectious disease during the year.

The Surveyor asked for instructions as to the kerbing of Wingrave-road. He was anxious to get on with the metalling of the road, but the kerbing should be done first. A loan for the purpose had been sanctioned.

Mr. Batchelor proposed that the question should be deferred. It was a most inopportune time for taking up fresh burdens.

After some discussion, in the course of which it was stated that the cost of repayment of loan and interest would amount to about £80 a year, it was decided not to take up the loan at present


TO THE EDITOR OF THE BUCKS HERALD. Sir, —Several months ago a composition appeared in the Bucks Herald entitled as above. It was "made up,” I believe, by a patriotic few of Kitchener's men, who had connection with  Berkhamsted. The composition has been printed on a postcard, and Miss Rickett, confectioner, handed £3: 10 to the Red Cross fund from the sale of the cards.

Yours, etc.,


Berkhamsted, February 10, 1915.


It will interest many of our readers to know that Mr. C. F. Skipper, who has made more than a local reputation by the excellent work he has done association with Colonel Griffiths. O.C. 1st Eastern General Hospital, and the Territorial Association, and by the rare and thoroughness which he has brought to bear on the carrying out of the War Office plans for the Cherryhinton hutments, has been attached to the Headquarters’ Staff under the Chief Engineer of the Eastern Command.

The special work that has now been assigned to Mr. Skipper is the planning and superintendence, during erection, of a series of new isolation hospitals being constructed at, amongst other places, Chelmsford. Biggleswade. Chatham. Folkestone, East Grinstead, Tring, Bedford and Guildford. These hospitals, the plans for which have been approved both the War Office and the Local Government Board, are being erected specially for the accommodation of troops suffering from notifiable infectious disease:-: when they have served this purpose they are to handed over on favourable terms to the local authorities as permanent isolation hospitals.

They are exceedingly well designed, and do Mr. Skipper great credit. It is evident that his work in Cambridge has been appreciated at the War Office, and Mr. Skipper is to congratulated this further mark of confidence shown by the War Office authorities.

Cambridge Independent Press. 12 February 1915

The Marchioness of Crewe left London on Saturday to visit Lord & Lady Rothschild at Tring Park

Chester Chronicle, 13th February 1915

Gem Picture Hall, Darvell, Shirley Sparks


The sad death of 2nd Lieut. W. Crabtree, 8th Lincolnshires. as the result of a motor accident on Wednesday, is regretted throughout the Division. The inquest was held on Thursday. A report appears on Page 8.

Bishop Taylor-Smith, Chaplain-General to the Forces, is spending the week-end among the troops in the district. He will preach at Matins at Tring Parish Church on Sunday.

The soldiers in Tring are having a strenuous time. Route marches, night attacks, and other field exercises are carried side-by-side with courses of musketry instruction. Platoons are told off daily for fatigue duty, and are employed digging trenches at the various open-air ranges which are in course of construction in the vicinity of the camp at Halton.

The route march forms an important feature of the programme of Field Training laid down by the Lieutenant-General commanding for the Infantry Brigades of the 21st Division. These marches are keenly enjoyed by the men, and great interest is taken in them by the civilian population.

On Friday, Feb. 5,. "D” Company, 12th Batt. Northumberland Fusiliers started on their 25 miles march. Falling-in at their parade ground at the top of Akeman-street, they left at 8.26 a.m. in full marching order, with ambulance for the sick in attendance, as on active service. The route was through Tring, Berkhamsted, Boxmoor, King's Langley, on towards Hunton Bridge. At King's Langley on the return, a 38 minutes’ halt was made at the Rose and Crown for refreshments, which were thoughtfully provided by Capt. Icke, commanding the Company. On the return journey the men were met on the London Road by Col. W. B. Mullins, the commanding officer of the Battalion, who marched with them into Tring. The parade ground was reached at 3.28 p.m., the distance covered in marching being just over 25¼ miles. Akeman Street turned out en masse, and gave a rousing reception to the men, in whose exploits they take a particular and personal interest. The march was accomplished without a single casualty, the ambulance returning empty. It was carried out in most successful manner, the men returning in the best of spirits. The enthusiasm shown by both officers and men was a very pleasing feature of the performance. "D" Company thus established a record for the Battalion, and also for the Brigade and the 21st Division. The time worked out at 4 miles an hour, as against 3.75 miles, the time made by the "C" Company of the Yorkshires in their march reported in our last issue. The Company officers who marched with the men were Capt. Icke, 2nd Lieut. Barnett. 2nd Lieut. Dimmock, 2nd Lieut. Waight, 2nd Lieut. Raymond-Barker, 2nd Lieut. Singlehurst, and 2nd Lieut. Howkins, who acted motor scout. On February 6th Lieut.-General Sir Edward Hutton. K.C.B., K.C.M.G., commanding the Division, telegraphed: The Lieutenant-General commending sends his hearty congratulations to Capt. Icke and "D" Company on their excellent march.”


The inquest on the body of 2nd Lieut. William Crabtree, 8th Batt. Lincolnshire Regiment — who was accidentally killed whilst riding in motor car from London to Tring early the previous morning — was held by Mr. Smeathman, coroner for the district, at the New Mill Schools on afternoon. The jury, of whom Mr. John Smith was chosen foreman, were Messrs. W. N. Mead, A. Baldwin, C. Bushell, H. Jakeman. W. Wright. W. J. Bennett, T. Briant. H. H. Heley, H. Young, G. Ayres, J. R. Wilkins, and R. Morris. Supt. Hassell was present and watched the proceedings on behalf of the police. Mr. T. E. Crocker, solicitor. London, appeared for the driver of the car.

Walter R. Crabtree, Doncaster, engineer and surveyor, said: The deceased. William Crabtree, was nephew. He was 2nd Lieutenant in the 8th Battalion Lincoln Regiment, and was 17 years of age. I have seen body at Mr. French's, Tring Ford — it is that of my nephew. His father died about eight years ago. Deceased was an only son. I last saw him alive just after Christmas.

Alfred Hodge, a taxi driver, of Heyford-avenue, South Lambeth, said: On Wednesday morning early I was engaged in Oxford-street by an officer to go and pick up deceased and then to drive on to Leighton Buzzard. The gentleman said the distance was 35 miles. The gentleman who engaged me had a lady with him. I took them to Tottenham Court-road and picked up the deceased. Both officers were in khaki. We started out of London at about 4.30 a.m. went down the Edgware-road and through Watford. I had been down far as Tring before. It was very frosty in London, but when we got into the country it was very dark except in the towns. I varied my speed from 20 miles an hour to 10, according to the light. We reached Tring between 6.30 and 7. I had to frequently enquire the way. At Tring a workman directed me the way to go. We went through New Mill. We were then travelling about 10 miles an hour. I saw the bend in the road between the reservoirs and eased my car to about 10 miles an hour. The near-side front tyre burst and went down very suddenly, which caused the steering to twist round to the left. I knew something was wrong, and twisted my steering the right, which caused the car to go up the bank. I knew if I was not careful the car would go over. I could see quite plainly. I tried to run along the bank to keep the car going, when my near hind wheel collapsed. I accelerated for all the car was worth to get to the road again, but in so doing I collided with a post and the car went over on its left side. As soon as I collected myself and got out of my seat I got up on the car, opened the door, and helped one gentleman out. The officer helped the lady out. I saw the other gentleman under the cab. With a piece of wood I raised the cab and the lady and gentleman pulled deceased from under it. Deceased had been riding outside all the way beside me. I cannot say how he fell. Deceased did not at first appear to be much injured. Ho got up and said he was all right. We saw blood on his face, and the lady ran to a cottage for some help. A gentleman brought a chair. We placed deceased in a chair and took him to the cottage. I did not see the deceased again. I have been driving about 28 years, and for 3 years driving a motor car in London. I account for the accident by the bursting of the tyre. The back wheel was smashed by the entire weight of the car being thrown upon it. I am quite clear about the speed was going. I was sober at the time of the accident.

By the Foreman — Deceased was waiting outside a club in Tottenham Court-road when we picked him up. Witness agreed that the whole distance travelled was 34 miles, and that it was accomplished in a little over two hours. He stopped three times to ask the way. He was probably the dangerous corner before he saw it.

He clapped the brakes on at once, and that probably burst the tyre. In reply to Mr. W. N. Mead, witness said he did not remember telling him he was certain there were only two persons in the car.

By Mr. Crocker — Deceased was sitting on the footboard with his back to the front of the cab, and with his feet up.

By the Foreman — He knew it was contrary to the Metropolitan Police regulations to allow deceased to ride as he was doing.

Second Lieutenant Cowes, 8th Batt. Somerset Light Infantry, corroborated the evidence of the previous witness. He said: I twice asked deceased to come inside the cab, but he declined to do so. At the time of the accident I was sitting on the near side of the cab. The cab was at no time going at excessive speed. The driver stopped three times to ask the way, and two of these occasions I asked deceased to come inside, but he declined. He was quite sober at the time. I saw the car going straight for the bank, and put my feet straight out in front of me. Before the car overturned it was running along the bank parallel with the road. I felt the car jar against the post spoken of by the previous witness; it then turned over and went broadside across the road. I should think it would have been possible for deceased to have jumped from the car when got on the bank. Before we got deceased out, a portion of the roof of the car was on his head. No part of the car was on any other part of his body. He said he was all right. I did not notice he was worse until we got him into the cottage. He then complained of pains in the stomach, and I sent for the doctor. Deceased was conscious when Dr. O'Keeffe arrived. Dr. McGonigle also came. I left before Mr. Crabtree died. The lady went home from Tring to London. I do not know her name, nor her address. It was quite light when the accident occurred. I should say that the explanation given the driver as to the cause of the accident is the correct one.

By the Foreman — Both the deceased and the driver were perfectly sober.

Dr. C. E. O’Keefe, of Tring, deposed: On Wednesday morning, about 7 o'clock, I was called to Tring Ford to deceased, who had been moved to Mr. French’s cottage. There was a good deal of laceration by the side of the face, with cut at the outer angle of the right eye. On the right side was a small cut front of the ear. These were the only external injuries. Deceased appeared in great pain; his breathing was very rapid, and he experienced great difficulty in breathing. I found no injury to the head. I remained with deceased about three-quarters hour. I advised if he could be removed to hospital it would be better to refer to the military authorities. Death was, in my opinion, due to injury to the lung, probably arising from a broken rib. The cause of death was shock and hemorrhage from the injury to the lung.

Dr. G. McGonigle, R.A.M.C.. of the Military Hospital. Tring, said was with deceased when he died, at about 10.15 on Wednesday. He agreed with Dr. O'Keeffe as to the probable cause of death. Deceased was sober, so far as witness was able to judge.

The Coroner said it was a very sad occurrence, and all their sympathies would be with the relatives of the deceased. He did not think that blame was attributable to the driver. While he agreed with the foreman that the driver was wrong in allowing deceased to ride on the footboard, he did not think that his action amounted to such negligence they should take notice of in giving their verdict. The driver appeared to have used every care and discretion under difficult circumstances. The turn in the road was a dangerous point, and a notice warning drivers should be placed there. The jury returned verdict that death was due to shock and hemorrhage, the result of injuries caused by the accidental overturning motor car.


Doncaster Lieutenant Killed Whilst Motor-Cycling.

Lieutenant W. Crabtree, of Doncaster, serving in the 10th Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment, was killed this morning as a result of a motor-cycling accident.

He was proceeding from London to Leighton Buzzard where his regiment is stationed, when near Tring, Herts, he lost control of his motorcycle and crashed into the bridge at Tring ford, receiving injuries from which he died two hours later.

He was a promising young officer, and had been recommended for transference to the Flying Corps.

Sheffield Evening Telegraph, 10 February, 1915

The non-commissioned officers and men of the 15th Platoon, D Company, 8th Lincolnshire Regiment, sent a wreath to the funeral of their late officer, Lieut. Wm. Crabtree, who was killed in a taxi-cab near Tring. Lieut. Crabtree's mother and other members of has family have written from Doncaster in appreciation of the platoon’s sympathy.

Luton Times & Advertiser, 26 February 1915


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