HAMP­SHIRE DUR­ING THE WAR

Hampshire Life - - Ww1 -

in Me­sopotamia, Pales­tine, Salonika and Aden, as well as pro­vid­ing gar­ri­son troops in In­dia.

One of the more ex­tra­or­di­nary post­ings was that of the 1/9th (Cyclist) Bat­tal­ion Ter­ri­to­rial Force, which was packed off to Siberia in Oc­to­ber 1918, shortly be­fore WW1 came to an end. The Rus­sian Revo­lu­tion of the pre­vi­ous year had seen the Rus­sian army stop fight­ing. The 1/9th now found it­self sup­port­ing the anti-Com­mu­nist ‘White Army’ against the Bol­she­vik ‘Red Army’: it would be Novem­ber 1919 be­fore it sailed for home.

When WW1 com­menced, Alder­shot was the largest army camp in the coun­try, with 20% of the home Bri­tish Army based here. When war was de­clared, the 1st Corps of the BEF (Bri­tish Ex­pe­di­tionary Force) was made up of Alder­shot units, so it was men based in Hamp­shire who spear­headed the Bri­tish ef­fort to try and halt the Ger­man jug­ger­naut that had ex­ploded through Bel­gium and France in the au­tumn of 1914. As the sea­soned veter­ans headed out, thou­sands of new re­cruits swarmed into the huge train­ing cen­tre at Alder­shot to re­place them. The im­pact on the town was ex­treme. An ac­com­mo­da­tion cri­sis was ex­ac­er­bated as the Army com­man­deered houses and schools to bil­let troops dur­ing train­ing. The Army’s needs may have in­con­ve­nienced the lo­cals, but there was no deny­ing that Alder­shot’s role was vi­tal in the win­ning of the war: not only did it pro­vide the nu­cleus of the 1914 BEF, it also guar­an­teed a ready sup­ply of freshly trained re­cruits and treated the wounded as they limped back from the front.

The Cam­bridge Mil­i­tary Hos­pi­tal (CMH) at Alder­shot was the fifth mil­i­tary hos­pi­tal es­tab­lished there but was the first to open a plas­tic surgery unit, which was quickly op­er­at­ing on sol­diers who’d been wounded dur­ing the Bat­tle of the Somme, some of them hav­ing suf­fered hor­rific fa­cial gun­shot and shrap­nel in­juries (the hos­pi­tal closed in 1996). Dur­ing

WW1, aux­il­iary hos­pi­tals and con­va­les­cent homes were cre­ated to treat the wounded, with large pri­vate es­tates trans­formed into hos­pi­tals, in­clud­ing Al­res­ford Place. In Hamp­shire alone, there Ger­man POWs were seen in Hamp­shire dur­ing WW1, e.g. build­ing roads in Alder­shot.

Alder­shot’s cav­alry trained at Long Val­ley, which is to­day a pro­tected Hamp­shire wildlife site.

The De­fence of the Realm Act pre­vented com­mu­ni­ca­tion about Alder­shot dur­ing the con­flict.

Wounded In­dian sol­diers were treated at Net­ley plus the likes of Brock­en­hurst and New - Milton.

Rom­sey Re­mount De­pot, at Paunce­foot Hill, pre­pared over 120,000 horses for the war. A bat­tle­ground where men trained for trenches was found at an MOD site in Gosport in 2014.

Winch­ester be­came a ma­jor tran­sit lo­ca­tion for troops des­tined for the Western Front.

Heavy rain saw 12,000 men evac­u­ated from Morn Hill Camp, Winch­ester (win­ter 1914/15).

Winch­ester Prison held con­sci­en­tious ob­jec­tors, de­sert­ers and mu­ti­neers dur­ing the war.

Southamp­ton was the Bri­tish Army’s chief em­barka­tion port dur­ing WW1.

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