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High Street, Godalming: Local Soldiers - Wednesday 5 August 1914
soliers


"Enthusiastic scenes marked the departure on Wednesday morning of the Godalming and district detachment of the Territorials[1]".

Although this postcard, taken from the first floor window of the Pepperpot, is undated it is believed that it records this event. The background to the story is as follows:

The men, "looking remarkably fit and tanned", had hurriedly returned to Godalming the previous evening, entering the town between 9 and 10p.m.. They had been attending a camp on Salisbury Plain, arriving at the camp there after a four-day march from Bordon; the men had covered around 95 miles to get there[1]. They were under the command of Captain F. E. Bray[2].

Bray had sent a telegram to Godalming's Mayor, Mr. H. Colpus, earlier in the day of the 4th asking him to find accommodation for the detachment. A special Town Council meeting was hurriedly convened to discuss food and coal supplies and the Police Superintendent was asked to make arrangements for the men to be billeted at the borough's licensed premises[1]. The men were to go to Guildford the following morning but it was not known where they would be sent after that. Chatham was a possibility.

The news of their impending departure spread quickly. The men had previously been ordered to parade at the Bridge Street Armoury. "Despite the heavy downpours of rain, a large crowd assembled in Bridge Street to witness the men's departure. ... Headed by a Union Jack and the Godalming Town Band, the Territorials marched from the Arrmoury to the Godalming Railway Station, where they entrained, the band meanwhile playing popular airs as marches".

"As the men proceeded through the town they were enthusiastically cheered by the large crowd". They then had to wait for half an hour before a train arrived so the band continued to play and the men and women who were seeing them off joined in. There were ringing cheers as the train steamed out.

Around a dozen had enlisted on Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning. Between the soldiers' departure and the newspaper's publication, others had enlisted and a notice was posted at the Armoury stating that anyone else wishing to join up could do so at the company's Guildford headquarters. Godalming's Post Office staff lost six men as they had either been called up as Reservists or Territorials. A further seven from the district's sub-Post Offices followed suit[1].

There are plenty of tanned faces amongst the departing soldiers and many of them were smiling and waving, whilst the watching crowds were both enthusiastic and curious despite the weather. Beside and behind the soldiers are well wishers, umbrellas aloft, accompanying them to the station. An enlargement of the picture also reveals the word "Queen" stencilled on one or two of the kitbags.

Annie Jury, partly obscured by someone's umbrella, is standing in the doorway of her tobacconists. William Frederick Paine tailor and hosier is sheltering in his doorway a little further along (next to the bus/car) and it is quite possible that the milliners Adeline and Estelle are peering out from underneath the canopy of their shop.

One rather amusing result of so many volunteering for military service at this time was that on 10 August summonses against 83 motorists were withdrawn at Godalming, allegedly for offences committed during Goodwood week. Most of the defendants had joined up or been called on active service[3].

There was a message on the card - "Do you recognise anyone on the other side. My Brother - is in the first car as you see". If you know whose brother this was please contact the web mistress.


[Untitled] [No publisher] Posted on 19 May 1915 at Godalming and sent to an address in Croft Rd.
Postcard in the collection of, provided by and © Ann Andrews.
Researched, written by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.

References:

[1] "Surrey Advertiser", Saturday, 8 August 1914. Godalming. Farewell to Territorials.

[2] "Kelly's Directory" 1913 listed a Territorial Force in Godalming. They were the 5th Battalion The Queen's (Royal West Surrey Regiment (F. Co) and were based at Drill Hall, Public hall, Bridge street. In charge were Capt. F. E. Bray and Color-Sergt. Arthur Keats, instructor.

[2] "Heywood Advertiser", Friday 14 August 1914.




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Godalming High Street, 1914