Posts Tagged ‘Military’

Harold D Engdahl

June 19, 2016

We don’t know much about Harold but he must have been a US soldier here during World War Two and he lost his ‘dog tag’ which, being made of metal, has been found by Norman the detectorist.

Military dog tag for Harold D Engdahl. It dates from World War Two

Military dog tag for Harold D Engdahl. It dates from World War Two

From this we have a name, presumably a military identification and a blood group of B. His next of kin was David Engdahl who lived at 1610-29th Street, Rockford Illinois.

We can add a little more to this. David was Harold’s father and we can see a family group on the 1940 US census.


A part of the 1940 census for Rockford Illinois

Our family are the bottom three on this section of the census. We can see that Harold’s mother was called Linnea and both his parents were born in Sweden. Harold, aged 25, was born in Illinois. The census tells us that both father and son were wood workers involved in furniture making at a factory.

Harold attested for the US army in 1942 but we know nothing more about his service. Of course, we assume he must at the least have passed through Market Lavington. He must have survived for the one definite date we have is that he died, still in Illinois, in 1988.



Pond Farm Camp in 1908

May 30, 2016

We have quite a few photos of Pond Farm Camp in the years prior to World War One. Here we have a plan of the camp as it was laid out in 1908.

Plan of layout of Pond Farm Camp in 1908

Plan of layout of Pond Farm Camp in 1908


This plan was copied from The Cavalry Journal (III) for 1908. Water for the camp was pumped from the well at the bottom left which was adjacent to the farm buildings. We can see just how important the horse was then with a large area set aside for grazing and rows of troughs. We can see the Field Post Office from which the men sent postcards back home and we can work out just where the camp was.

This document also shows the programme for the soldiers enjoying their summer camp.


The activity programme for the men

This is a bit brief, but we can picture a lot of men coming down into the villages on those half holidays.

Heading up White Street

December 20, 2015

We have seen military men marching up White Street in Market Lavington more than once on this blog. Today we have a piece of military hardware.

Military hardware on White Street, Market Lavington

Military hardware on White Street, Market Lavington

This tracked vehicle has just passed Hollow Cottage as it heads up towards the military ranges. A couple of officers appear to be in charge of the vehicle, sitting and standing in a low position which would be exposed in a combat situation. A smiling soldier would, perhaps, be in charge of the gun.

I’m afraid we have no idea what this vehicle is. If we knew that it might help us to put a rough date on the photo.

Come on! Give a Christmas present to the museum and tell us about this vehicle.

Soldiers at the station

December 4, 2015

Just a couple of days ago we looked at a card of Pond Farm Camp and commented that the summer camps up on Salisbury Plain probably helped the prosperity of the area. We even mentioned the railway as a local beneficiary.

We have just been given a postcard of soldiers at Lavington Station and here it is.

Soldiers at Lavington Station in 1910

Soldiers at Lavington Station in 1910

It isn’t the sharpest postcard we ever saw and the cutter seems to have got a bit off the next image, but nonetheless, we rather like this. The caption is not at all easy to read.


But with a bit of added contrast we can see it says 6th Lancashire Fusiliers Salisbury Plain 1910.

It is the card writer who informs us this is Lavington Station.


Card message

The message reads:

Hope you arrived safely and had a good view. I am not sure if you are going back to Malvern on Sat or not. This is a photo of our buglers taken at Lavington Station. With love Roddie.

Posted from West Down Camp South

Posted from West Down Camp South

The card, we can see, was posted from West Down South Camp on 19th May 1910.

Pond Farm Camp – 1909

December 2, 2015

In the Edwardian era – the start of the 20th century – Pond Farm, on Salisbury Plain above Easterton, was a working farm but it was owned by the War Department and used by them for summer camps for a variety of different regular and territorial regiments.

Once the post card era arrived, local photographers realised they had a good source of income, making and selling cards which showed camps. There seem to be dozens of such photos and we have shown several on this blog before. Here’s another.

A Pond Farm Camp in 1909

A Pond Farm Camp in 1909

The sheer scale of the camp makes this quite a substantial township. It would have more than doubled, albeit temporarily, the population of Easterton. No doubt the authorities looked to the locality to provide some food and fuel – all cooking had to be done up there on the wild, windswept downs. Local farms may well have been able to provide fodder for large numbers of horses and of course, Lavington Station was one of the rail heads for these soldiers arriving in Wiltshire. These camps must have brought additional prosperity to the area.

This card has been sent although probably not until the soldier had returned home.

The basic message sent to Miss Jones

The basic message sent to Miss Jones

The postmark is Chester and it was sent to a Chester address (although Buckley was actually in Flintshire) by Jack who wrote it on 17th May 1909 and stated this was the Welsh Royal Mounted Brigade Camp (Shropshires).


The Smash on Lavington Hill

March 29, 2015

What do people expect under that heading? It would almost certainly not be what the postcard below shows.

The smash on Lavington Hill

The smash on Lavington Hill

It looks like a bunch of soldiers sitting around and waiting, which is probably just what they were doing. Actually, there’s quite a fearsome scene in the background, with a traction engine at a dizzy angle and trailers it was hauling all over the place with luggage scattered everywhere.

The traction engine with driver, believed to be Jimmy Oram

The traction engine with driver, believed to be Jimmy Oram

There we see the engine with a civilian engine man standing by, looking rather forlorn.

We have different stories about this card. Some say it was in 1907. Others say it was hauling Canadian officer luggage in 1914.

Somebody in the know will surely recognise if those men are Canadians?

Sitting and waiting - but who are they and when?

Sitting and waiting – but who are they and when?

Peggy Gye, who purchased a similar image, captioned it.


There’ll be no memories now, but maybe somebody could help with identification.

Long and Loyal Service

March 17, 2015

Back in Victorian times, the Loyal Volunteers were ready to serve their country as armed soldiers if need arose. They practised regularly and certainly had skills as marksmen. We have seen a couple of pictures of the men on this blog and also buttons found by a local metal detectorist.

Loyal Volunteers were able to earn long service awards and today we show one such award.

Medal 'For long service in the Volunteer Force'

Medal ‘For long service in the Volunteer Force’

Nobody is named on this medal and we do not know who it belonged to. But many local men served lengthy periods in the Volunteer Force.

The other side has an image of Queen Victoria.

Queen Victoria is on the other side

Queen Victoria is on the other side

This is a fairly elderly looking queen and that suggests the medal was awarded, perhaps in the 1880s or 1890s.

It’s a lovely item but it would be good to know more about it.

Jack Merritt – reservist soldier

January 9, 2015

We have often featured photos of soldiers from elsewhere in the UK who were on training camps at Pond Farm. Today we are looking at a card sent by a Market Lavington man from his summer training camp down in Dorset.

The picture shows some of the camp at West Lulworth.

Wiltshire volunteers at camp at West Lulworth in 1907

Wiltshire volunteers at camp at West Lulworth in 1907

We can see the year was 1907 and no doubt our writer, Jack Merritt, was amongst the men shown.

Of course the message and address are interesting to us in this case.

The message side - the card was sent to Mrs J H Merritt of the Cycle Depot in Market Lavington

The message side – the card was sent to Mrs J H Merritt of the Cycle Depot in Market Lavington

We can see the card was posted to Mrs J H Merritt of the Cycle Depot in Market Lavington

We imagine Jack was her husband although people have oft referred to him as Johnny.

The message is very much about very ordinary matters.

The message is very much about very ordinary matters.

The message is simple news about life in the camp. We can’t quite make out the salutation – Dear who? Jack’s wife was called Annie so it looks like a pet name.

We like these little personal tales at the museum. We get an insight into a man who had a long life and was best known for being the local prize band leader.


Random acts of kindness

December 24, 2014

In truth we get many acts of kindness at Market Lavington Museum. I could start with well over 7000 items, all of which have been given. But most of these gifts have not been entirely random. They have been made by people with a close interest in our parishes.

But just sometimes, things arrive from out of the blue. One, recently, was Lady Warrington’s Mothers’ Union certificate.

Sometimes, people do random acts of work for us as well and we have received information from a genealogist as a follow up to our post about Sergeant Tarrant – a Daguerreotype photograph.

John has looked up the military record of a James Tarrant of Market Lavington. The conclusion he comes to, and we come to, is that it is not the man in the photo, but nonetheless it makes for fascinating information.

James Tarrant enlistment papers - 1860

James Tarrant enlistment papers – 1860


We can see, from this enlistment paper that James Tarrant of Market Lavington was 18 when he joined up on 23rd May 1860. His bounty was two pounds and his kit.

Enlistment papers give a brief description of the person.


A description of James Tarrant of Market Lavington


So we get a little picture of James who was 5 feet 4¾ inches tall with light complexion, hazel eyes and light brown hair. The height was about average for that time.

James joined the 62nd regiment of foot and enlisted for ten years. He was clearly of good conduct and never appeared in the defaulter’s book. He remained a Private throughout his military service.

In fact he served only about nine years and was released from service in 1869. The discharge papers say he was returning to Market Lavington but in 1871 he was a shop porter in Bath. We think he died, still a young man, in 1879.

We’d like to thank John for this real act of random kindness (not his first). We do always like to learn a little more about our local people, what they did and how they lived.

And of course, James may be related to Sergeant Tarrant as seen in the Daguerreotype.

Pond Farm Camp – 1909

December 2, 2014

There are many different views of army camps at Pond Hill in about 1909. These summer camps for territorial soldiers had been a part of life for some time. But by 1909 there was an awareness that the Pond Farm area was to become part of a permanent military range. The summer camps would be over. Local photographers recorded the scenes and sold them as cards, like this one.

A 1909 photo of Pond Farm Camp in Easterton

A 1909 photo of Pond Farm Camp in Easterton

This is certainly not the best card we have ever seen, but the message on the back paints a picture which certainly adds to the feel we can get for a Pond Farm Camp.


The message on the card

We can see this card was posted in Market Lavington on 12th May 1909. The writer (W H Edwards) was not the best speller but he conveys his meaning and the address to send to for replies. The message reads (retaining Mr Edward’s spelling):

Dear May

Just a line to tel you I am all rite there is plenty of fun hear there his about 20 thousand of us hear. With love from H Edwards xx

So, there were twenty thousand men up on Salisbury Plain above Easterton and Market Lavington.  It sounds like they were enjoying themselves. No wonder they had an impact on the two parishes. And no wonder post card producers produced cards to sell to those twenty thousand temporary residents.