Hardly a fam­ily in county left un­touched by con­flict

Gloucestershire Echo - - NOSTALGIA -

» THE jin­go­is­tic eu­pho­ria that swept the coun­try at the start of the First World War had been wiped away, along with mil­lions of young lives, when peace came.

Within a week of the war’s out­break, the 1st Bat­tal­ion, The Glouces­ter­shire Reg­i­ment had crossed to France as an in­te­gral part of the Bri­tish Ex­pe­di­tionary Force.

Tak­ing part in the re­treat from Mons, they distin­guished them­selves in what later be­came known as 1st Ypres at Lange­marck and again at Gheluevelt, be­fore the bat­tle front sta­bilised into the stale­mate of trench war­fare.

The Glosters fought on many fronts. They dis­played great hero­ism at the abortive Gal­lipoli cam­paign and in all 72 bat­tle hon­ours were won and five Vic­to­ria Crosses were awarded.

More than 5, 000 men of the county reg­i­ment gave their lives to the cause of vic­tory.

Week by week the roll of hon­our pub­lished in the Cit­i­zen, Glouces­ter Jour­nal, Glouces­ter­shire Echo and the Chel­tenham Chron­i­cle put names and faces to the lo­cal men who were lost.

In their book Leav­ing All That Was Dear, au­thors Joe Dev­ereux and Gra­ham Sacker state that one in four lo­cal men who went off to war didn’t re­turn.

By the end of the con­flict, there was hardly a fam­ily in the county who hadn’t lost a son, fa­ther, nephew, un­cle or brother.

The short­age of labour led to the clo­sure of many ven­tures, in­clud­ing the Great West­ern rail­way’s High Street sta­tion in Chel­tenham. Opened in 1904, the halt spanned the rail­way bridge that crosses the road to this day, now car­ry­ing the Honey­bourne cy­cle track. Leck­hamp­ton Golf Club, which was lo­cated off Crip­pets Lane, also closed due to lack of labour Ivor Gur­ney, the poet and com­poser, was born on 28 Au­gust 1890, the son of Mr and Mrs David Gur­ney who lived at 3, Queen Street, Glouces­ter. At the age of eight Ivor Gur­ney joined the choir of All Saints and be­came a cathe­dral cho­ris­ter two years later. In 1906 he was en­gaged as the cathe­dral’s as­sis­tant or­gan­ist to Sir Her­bert Brewer and when 21 won a schol­ar­ship to the Royal Col­lege of Mu­sic. When the Great War came, Gur­ney vol­un­teered for the 2/5th Glosters and fought at the Somme, Ar­ras and Ypres. His first book of poem,s Sev­ern And Somme, was pub­lished in 1917 to con­sid­er­able ac­claim. But it was as a song­writer that the lo­cal man truly ex­celled. In his short life­time Ivor Gur­ney penned over 200 songs and noted mu­si­cal crit­ics de­clared him the great­est ex­po­nent of the song­writer’s art since mschu­bert. Like other tal­ented men of his gen­er­a­tion, Gur­ney died pre­ma­turely at the age of 47. The of­fi­cial cause of death was TB, the re­sult of be­ing gassed in the trenches. The pic­ture is taken from Stars In A Dark Night by An­thony Bo­den, pub­lished in 1986 by Alan Sut­ton.

War aided the eman­ci­pa­tion of women. In the gung-ho spirit that pre­vailed, hordes of lo­cal men signed up for the forces, which sud­denly plunged labour into short sup­ply. Women took their places. A Glouces­trian woman named Daisy Pard­ing­ton had the dis­tinc­tion of be­ing the first fe­male con­duc­tor to work on city trams and her pho­to­graph ap­peared in the Glouces­ter Jour­nal to cel­e­brate the fact. Hun­dreds more women went to lo­cal fac­to­ries. The ma­jor­ity of the work­force at the Qued­gle­ley mu­ni­tions fac­tory were women

Arthur Inglis was a pupil of Chel­tenham Col­lege and joined the Glouces­ter­shire Reg­i­ment when war was de­clared. The Great War was rid­dled with ab­sur­di­ties, one of which was that when tanks went into ac­tion they were pre­ceded by a com­mand­ing of­fi­cer on foot. Ma­jor Arthur Inglis was the first man in his­tory to lead tanks into ac­tion. He did so in 1916 at the Bat­tle of Flers Cour­celles in the Somme sec­tor. Re­mark­ably, Inglis sur­vived this or­deal, but was in­jured in 1918 and died a year later on March12 from his wounds. He’s buried in Prest­bury church­yard

How the Glouces­ter­shire Echo re­ported the end of the war

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