Hertfordshire Genealogy



The Terriers in West Herts in World War 1

A talk by Chris Reynolds


War is Declared

Having travelled all night, the 2nd Hertfordshire Battery arrived at their training camp, 12 miles from the Scottish border, at 11 a.m. on Sunday, 2nd August. Six hours later they had instructions to pack up and return to Hertfordshire. At 8 p.m. on Tuesday they were back in Watford in time to receive the telegram telling them to mobilise.


At 5 o'clock on Monday morning the Hertfordshire Regiment had the order to strike camp, which order was very swiftly executed. All thoughts of the tattoo planned for the evening, the boxing finals the next day, and the Brigade football cup match scheduled for Friday were forgotten. A quarter of a ton of cake not consumed at the camp was later distributed in Berkhamsted . The "F" Company soldiers returned to their homes to await further orders. 

They had not long to wait, as on Tuesday, 4th August, notices ordering them to report to the Company Headquarters in Bury Road were posted on the Post Office and other prominent places. Mr R. Evans was the first to arrive at the Drill hall and others quickly followed. A huge crowd gathered in Lower Kings Road, Berkhamsted, to see their men onto the 9.08 p.m. train to Boxmoor. From there they marched to the Drill Hall where they were greeted by another large crowd. Many stayed overnight, and soon after 11 o'clock on Wednesday morning the Company marched away, under Lieutenant Smeathman, to catch a train to Hertford. In addition to the departure of the Territorials, all regular army reservists in Hemel Hempstead left for their regimental headquarters.


It was not only the soldiers who disappeared in the first few days of the war. Almost immediately the Army started to commandeer horses and wagons. Favourite hunters and hacks were taken, and their owners were apprehensive of the rough and ready provisions their "pets" could expect under war conditions. The Gazette does not report individual incidents in Hemel Hempstead, but papers from adjacent areas show what was happening. For instance, it was reported that two cartloads of hay belonging to Mr Birchmore, of Flamstead, were stopped in St Albans, the hay unloaded, and the horses and carts taken. A milkman making deliveries in Verulam Road, St Albans, is said to have had the horse removed from the milk float, leaving him to complete his rounds on foot. In Luton an undertaker was stopped in the street, and was only allowed to keep his horse after persuading the officer that the dead must be buried. Ruth Keen reports that Grandfather Sims, of Moors Farm, Ashley Green, had his best riding horse taken . Lord Cavan, master of the Hertfordshire Hounds, wrote to The Gazette to assure farmers that their fox destruction service would continue although 17 of their horses had joined the regular army cavalry . Two veterinary surgeons were responsible for purchasing horses in the Aylesbury area at prices between 35 and 65 guineas.

Extract from The London Gunners come to Town


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