From the ar­chives, 1914-1918

The Field was pub­lished through­out the First World War, chron­i­cling the im­pact of the con­flict on coun­try life and sport

The Field - - Contents - COM­PILED BY SARAH PRAT­LEY ♦ IM­AGES FROM THE FIELD AR­CHIVES

Com­piled by Sarah Prat­ley

THE WAR

1914 It has been dif­fi­cult to re­alise that life in Eng­land must, af­ter all, in its broad lines, go on much the same, in spite of the storm that is be­ing piti­lessly sown across the Chan­nel and the North Sea. In­stead of har­vests, Prus­sia has de­creed that she shall reap the whirl­wind. Af­ter sin­cere and con­tin­u­ous ef­forts for peace, which were con­tin­u­ously mis­un­der­stood, Eng­land has found her­self in­evitably drawn into the vor­tex.

We have not sought this war. We had no quar­rel with Prus­sia. We never, in one sin­gle point, in this fi­nal cri­sis have acted ag­gres­sively to­wards her or Aus­tri­ahun­gary. Yet she has forced us into it, and we fight with a clear con­science and with all our might. For there can be no peace now till Prus­sia is de­stroyed.

Taken from The Field, 8 Au­gust, 1914

HUNT­ING NOTES

1914 Though war and ru­mours of war have nec­es­sar­ily had a de­ter­rent ef­fect upon the size of the hunt­ing fields, and good hunters are few and far be­tween, it must not be thought that the sport is by any means dead, in­deed, all things con­sid­ered, it is show­ing re­mark­able vi­tal­ity, so the hope of the hunt­ing men who have gone to the front that when peace once more reigns they may come back and find hunt­ing tra­di­tions have been up­held dur­ing their ab­sence is likely to be ful­filled. The num­ber of hunt­ing men at the front, it is es­ti­mated, is 10,000 or more.

Taken from The Field, 21 Novem­ber, 1914

WEAPONS OF WAR

1915 To­day, as each suc­ces­sive war is waged, a new weapon or an improve­ment on an old pat­tern is tried, with more or less suc­cess, and in the present cam­paign sev­eral ‘nov­el­ties’ if the word may be per­mit­ted here, are be­ing closely watched by neu­trals and com­bat­ants alike. Aerial craft, sub­marines, ar­moured mo­tor­cars, to men­tion but a few weapons, are be­ing ex­per­i­mented with for the first time on a large scale in ac­tual war­fare, and such old friends as the ar­moured train have been im­proved upon to such an ex­tent as to have be­come prac­ti­cally a new arm. In fact, war has be­come a more sci­en­tific art than ever. Taken from The Field, 23 Jan­uary, 1915

FIELD­SPORTS AND WAR

1915 That in­ti­mate con­nec­tion which might nat­u­rally be sup­posed to ex­ist be­tween a cam­paign against

hu­man en­e­mies and one waged against wild an­i­mals has been es­tab­lished in fact ever since the world be­gan. It is true that for about 400 years, un­til the end of the last cen­tury, al­most ev­ery change made in the art and prac­tice of war­fare less­ened the ad­van­tages which bod­ily strength and agility had given pre-em­i­nently to sports­men. It is only since the cy­clist and the mo­tor-driver and, later still, the air­man have be­come so con­spic­u­ously use­ful as ad­juncts to a mil­i­tary force that the wellde­vel­oped mus­cles, the quick eye and ear, the steady nerve and pres­ence of mind, which char­ac­terise the true sports­man have again made him a more ob­vi­ously de­sir­able re­cruit and a greater ter­ror to the foe than a man who has never won a race or caught a sal­mon or rid­den to hounds. Taken from The Field, 12 June, 1915

A GROUSE DRIVE IN WAR TIME

1915 Then came the last drive of the day, a drive which will live long in my mem­ory. We had a longish wait, as most of the beat­ers were old men and boys, the able-bod­ied be­ing en­gaged in sterner work. Sud­denly we were roused by the keeper’s whis­tle, and, jump­ing to my feet, I saw a long line of dark forms in the dis­tance at the far end of the hill. The drive had be­gun. The pack came straight along the top on their way home to the cor­rie, pass­ing on both sides of me, and giv­ing sev­eral butts a good chance. Pack fol­lowed pack till our guns were hot and the birds streamed home­wards. It was a glo­ri­ous half-hour, such as one re­mem­bers in hap­pier times, be­fore the war-cloud burst upon the world. We could en­joy it with a clear con­science, for few are shoot­ing this year ex­cept the aged, the in­firm, and those on leave. Yet it is not the same to any of us, though for a brief space we may for­get.

Taken from The Field, 25 Septem­ber, 1915

MIS­UN­DER­STOOD

1915 “In Ger­many,” wails the wire­less from Ber­lin, “no­body un­der­stands why our en­e­mies, af­ter their diplo­matic de­feats in the Balkans and their mil­i­tary fail­ures, have not yet be­gun peace ne­go­ti­a­tions.” We are de­lighted to give a few rea­sons; though we can­not hope that The Field, which has been pro­hib­ited in the Father­land since we pub­lished some of her atroc­i­ties and forg­eries, will be per­mit­ted to re­veal the facts to Ger­man cit­i­zens at large.

Taken from The Field, 11 De­cem­ber, 1915

A WAR-TIME GAME BOOK

1916 The sea­son was re­mark­able in that it was the first one to feel the full ef­fects of a 12 months or more of war. It was in many ways for­tu­nate for shoot­ing that war was de­clared in the month of Au­gust; three or four months ear­lier and things would have been very dif­fer­ent. As it was, a large head of game had been reared and birds were plen­ti­ful at the out­break of war; few were killed and a very use­ful nat­u­ral breed­ing stock was left. A dec­la­ra­tion of war in the spring af­ter a nor­mal shoot­ing sea­son would have left us with a small stock of birds, and our means of pro­tect­ing and rear­ing would have be­come re­duced at a very crit­i­cal time.

Taken from The Field, 1 April, 1916

THE NAVAL SIDE OF THE WAR: ONCE MORE THE SUB­MARINES

1916 The scanty naval news of the last few days is at least a re­minder that cer­tain old adages touch­ing the pru­dence of not hal­loo­ing till you are out of the wood, and not boast­ing till you take your ar­mour off, still hold good. The Ger­man sub­ma­rine we have al­ways with us, and for the last fort­night he has been more with us than he had been for a good while be­fore.

Our en­emy, as mere com­mon sense must com­pel us to see, does not lack in­ge­nu­ity, nor the ca­pac­ity nor the will to make use of it. We may, and if we do not want to be silly we must recog­nise that so long as there is a Ger­man navy it will make it­self felt. Taken from The Field, 15 April, 1916

RAC­ING IN WAR-TIME

1916 The ques­tion of mo­tor­ing to races was re­ferred to in last week’s is­sue of The Field, and it was made ev­i­dent that a strong at­tack is still be­ing made upon what is a most im­por­tant na­tional in­dus­try.

It may be pointed out that a very large part of the at­ten­dances have been made up of sol­diers on leave from the front and of con­va­les­cents from the var­i­ous mil­i­tary hospi­tals. In this con­nec­tion we may re­fer to a let­ter pub­lished in The Times of 4 May from “At Mons, the re­cip­i­ent of two wounds and a Mil­i­tary Cross for his trou­ble.” This hero de­scribed the race meet­ings “as as­sist­ing to re­store to health and keep up the spir­its of many sol­diers and sailors who have risked their all in the pro­tec­tion of the homes of those who are ‘sad and dis­gusted’”.

Taken from The Field, 20 May, 1916

LIB­ERTY AND BROTH­ER­HOOD

1916 The more we hear of the steady ad­vance of our troops upon the Somme, the more grat­i­tude we should feel for the French hero­ism at Ver­dun which gave us time to pre­pare and to equip our ar­mies; and not in Ver­dun alone. From the mo­ment of the vic­tory of the Marne and of the First Bat­tle of Ypres un­til the be­gin­ning of this month, France had borne the brunt of the fight­ing on her soil. And while France fought, we worked and wrought, we toiled and or­gan­ised, un­til many an im­pa­tient spirit won­dered whether we were ever go­ing to make a move. The fight­ing of our new troops on the road from Al­bert to Ba­paume is the sin­cer­est form of flat­tery they could of­fer to the de­fend­ers of Ver­dun.

It is as the age-long bea­con-light of free­dom and of beauty that we saluted France last week; “Eter­nal France”. Not for noth­ing is Paris called the Ville Lu­mière, that Paris which saw the united troops of France, Eng­land, Rus­sia, Bel­gium and Italy in her streets the other day. The night of Prus­sia’s despo­tism is slowly end­ing.

Taken from The Field, 22 July, 1916

A PEO­PLE’S WAR

1916 It was a tiny lit­tle church tucked away with its at­ten­dant ham­let in a fold of the western up­lands, as peace­ful a nook as you shall find in the whole of God’s fair coun­try. But there was some­thing just a lit­tle strange about that evening ser­vice, and it was not till later that the ex­pla­na­tion was forth­com­ing. It was ush­ered in with the words, “Your prayers are asked for…” and there fol­lowed a list of names, good West­coun­try names, of those whom the ham­let had sent out of its im­memo­rial peace into the tu­mult of the Euro­pean war. Then, in­deed, it was at once plain wherein lay the dif­fer­ence. What with the noble roll of hon­our and the list of those for whom the church’s prayers were of­fered, there could be hardly a house in that scat­tered lit­tle com­mu­nity which had not ex­pe­ri­enced one at least of the trou­bles of war, and given its hostage to for­tune, or, maybe, paid its trib­ute to Death, the lord of the bat­tle­field. From the farm­house, the smithy, the inn, the bak­ery, from the creeper-clad cot­tage in the coverts where the lit­tle pheasants used to need

so much care, from the other cot­tage down by the wa­ter­side where the spot­ted trout lie un­der the alder roots, from the rec­tory and the hall, the younger men had been gone this long while, and not a few of the older men had fol­lowed, or were soon to fol­low, af­ter them. For all its quiet re­mote­ness the ham­let is just as much at war as is the city.

Now that the war is well into its third year we are able to re­alise much more fully than we could at first what it means to us. In the ear­lier stages of con­flict, it seemed as it were some­thing ex­ter­nal. But that is long over. The war now is the life of the na­tion. In the re­motest ham­let on the finest, sleepi­est Sun­day af­ter­noon it can now be un­der­stood that noth­ing mat­ters for the present but the war.

Taken from The Field, 30 Septem­ber, 1916

DOG FOOD IN WAR TIME

1917 Sir, I find that by giv­ing my dogs ex­actly the same food as I should in peace time that they do re­mark­ably well. Dogs are not wor­ry­ing about the war, and do not re­quire any change of diet to cheer them or en­liven their quiet hours.

Taken from The Field, 24 Feb­ru­ary, 1917

THE CAMEL IN WAR

1917 In the Bad­minton Mag­a­zine, Oliver Hogue writes about the pe­cu­liar­i­ties and qual­i­ties, good and bad, of the camel as a beast of bur­den in war. He says that the camelry rush in where cav­alry fear to tread – on the wa­ter­less wastes of the desert. The name for these fron­tiers­men is “Im­pe­rial Camel Corps”. When we got our first batch of camels from the Soudan they bel­lowed and roared and howled. When the Aus­tralian Light Horse ar­rived in Egypt their charg­ers reared and bucked and bolted in all di­rec­tions at the sight or even the smell of the camels. But now horse­men and came­liers work side by side. Mr Hogue states that at Ro­mani a camel had 16 bul­lets scat­tered about his car­cass, but went his way with ap­par­ent un­con­cern.

Taken from The Field, 12 May, 1917

A CHEERY LET­TER

1918 We con­stantly re­ceive let­ters from read­ers – who are also, we are glad to say, friends – at the front. A few lines from a pri­vate in the BEF we re­pro­duce as some en­cour­age­ment to grum­blers at home – and re­mem­ber that it was writ­ten the day be­fore the great Ger­man at­tack:

“We are very thank­ful for your kind wishes for our speedy re­turn to dear old Blighty. By the way, sir, we are hav­ing very good weather here just now, and wait­ing pa­tiently for Fritz to move. It is his move next and then ours, and we hope to clear the board, and this year if pos­si­ble. Sir, as we go about our work and see what was once beau­ti­ful or­chards and the fields, the work of a life­time, we feel thank­ful that it is not our own, but our hearts go out to those who have lost their all.”

Taken from The Field, 15 June, 1918

ALL FIR­ING CEASED

1918 At 11 o’clock on Mon­day morn­ing all fir­ing ceased upon the Western Front, and there fol­lowed a si­lence that re­mained for some time un­bro­ken. Sol­diers, in whose ears the roar of ar­tillery had sounded for so long, stood speech­less. It is much the same with us at home, when sud­denly, af­ter more than four years of stress and strain, the world is re­lieved from the im­me­di­ate men­ace of con­tin­u­ing war. To­day, the one out­stand­ing fact that Ger­many is beaten dom­i­nates all else; and we have beaten that great and pow­er­ful mil­i­tary state be­cause for more than four long, dread­ful years we con­cen­trated ev­ery en­ergy upon that one vi­tal duty. From one end of the Bri­tish Empire to the other we have never wa­vered in that res­o­lu­tion, nor did we need the sev­eral grim re­minders of what fail­ure meant – still the Bri­tish Navy would have held the Seven Seas, still the Bri­tish Army, the great­est armed force in ex­is­tence, would have held its last trench to its last man, and Ger­many would in the end have failed. Taken from The Field, 16 Novem­ber, 1918

A re­cruit­ing poster, is­sued by the Par­lia­men­tary Re­cruit­ing Com­mit­tee Taken from The Field, 12 De­cem­ber, 1914

A se­ries of Field cov­ers from 1915, show­ing sports­men now at the front

The Lon­don Ter­ri­to­ri­als at Poz­ières, the Bat­tle of the Somme, from the paint­ing by WB Wollen. Taken from The Field, 4 Au­gust, 1917

Hast­ings Roll of Hon­our card: the next of kin of ev­ery man en­listed re­ceived one of these cards. Taken from The Field, 31 July, 1915

Peace and war: a shell dump amongst wheat fields in France. Taken from The Field, 23 Septem­ber, 1916

Pic­ture from a Christ­mas ap­peal for Field Mar­shal Earl Haig’s Bri­tish Le­gion Fund.Taken from The Field, 24 De­cem­ber 1925

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