Hardly a family in county left untouched by conflict
» 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