Military

“Dear Miss Baker…”

on Tuesday, 17 September 2013. Posted in Archives, Military

As an MA student from Bath Spa University, on placement here at the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre, my first task has been to search the archive for First World War documents and photographs.

The opportunity to spend hours in the midst of archive documents is, for a history graduate like me, a complete joy. I’ve been impressed at the speed with which the production team retrieve items from the store rooms, and the helpfulness and expertise of the staff. The Centre is a wonderful facility.

Amongst many other papers, I came across a box of hundreds of letters, sent to a Miss Frances Baker, in her capacity as Honorary Secretary of the Salisbury branch of Queen Mary’s Needlework Guild, and dated from 1914 to 1919. The Guild was part of a national charity of ladies who raised money and used this to make and supply garments for the needy of their area. During the First World War, their focus shifted to service personnel of the British Army, Navy and Air Force, and in all theatres of war. Wiltshire people served in many different places, as far flung as the North Sea, France, Salonika, Mesopotamia, Egypt, India and Palestine. Later in the war, the Guild also took responsibility for sending parcels to Salisbury men who were prisoners of war in Germany.

 

The Wiltshire Yeomanry in Action: El Alamein

on Friday, 13 September 2013. Posted in Military

The Battle of El Alamein has been seen one of the major turning points of the Second World War and although it has been viewed more critically in recent years, it cannot be denied that it was a major boost to British morale. Churchill declared "Before Alamein we never had a victory. After Alamein, we never had a defeat."
The first battle took place in July 1942 with the decisive second battle being fought over a period of 13 days from 23rd October.

An article from The Times, November 6, 1942 reported


“Victory in Egypt
No doubt remains that a major victory in North Africa, for which the country has waited so many months, has been achieved at last.”

The Civil War in Chippenham

on Friday, 05 July 2013. Posted in Military

A re-enactment of events is being staged in Monkton Park on the first weekend in July. With this in mind, I have delved into the Local Studies Library to arm you with further information regarding exactly what occurred in Chippenham during the Civil War period.

Tony MacLachlan has written an excellent account in his book ‘The Civil War in Wiltshire’, which is well worth looking at, and is the basis for the information provided here.

I will give a run down of the events for Chippenham as they occurred:

Sir Edward Bayntun and Sir Edward Hungerford sided with Parliament…

Beginning of 1643
The war had not touched Chippenham as yet…

20th March, 1643
The Parliamentarian Sir William Waller heard that a small number of Royalist forces were attacking Rowden House, the home of Sir Edward Hungerford. He intercepted them at Sherston. At the same time, the small Royalist army camped out in Chippenham was driven out.

8th July, 1643
Royalists headed towards Chippenham as ‘fugitives’, pushing east through Wraxall and Guideahall. Outside Chippenham, scouts reported that Waller’s cavalry were threatening their rear from Pickwick. The Royalist commanders halted the Cornish regiments and sent messengers to Waller, ‘offering to contest the issue afresh’ between Biddestone and Chippenham. Waller declined and each force spent the night within talking distance of each other! Cannon could be heard in the countryside surrounding the town.

9th July, 1643 (early hours)
Detachments of Parliamentary Cavalry raced through Chippenham. There were dog fights between the cavalry and infantry of both sides. A ‘ferocious’ cavalry charge took place near the northern edge of Pewsham Forest. A withdrawal was made southward towards Bromham.

17th July, 1643
Having been defeated at Roundway Down a few days before, a large number of Roundheads took refuge in Chippenham, ‘cruelly killing a townsman, William Isles, who unwisely crossed their path’…

1914-18 Centenary

on Tuesday, 14 May 2013. Posted in Art, Military

The Centenary years of the First World War offer a unique opportunity for communities to work with artists to explore their heritage. Communities hold within their collective memories the most fascinating glimpses into the real lives of people during the First World War and the History Centre is keen to develop a vibrant network of community lead projects that research and explore these fragments of our county and nation’s story.

For more information about what the History Centre is doing to support both artists and communities to commemorate the Centenary years and to develop creative projects please follow the links below.

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