Posts Tagged ‘Military’

A World War II saw

October 23, 2014


Recently we were given a saw which we find interesting. It came from Vicarage Farm in Easterton but clearly has a military origin.

The saw comes in what looks like a small kit bag – a canvas pouch.


Military saw pouch

Inside the lid of the pouch it is marked with the war department arrow symbol. It is very faded.

The War Department arrow head can just be made out

The War Department arrow head can just be made out

Inside the pouch there are the makings of a substantial two man saw, capable of sawing down quite substantial trees.

Military saw pouch

The contents of this saw pouch

Here we have the rolled up saw blade, two double handles and a saw set for getting the angles of the teeth correct. That should have a wooden handle as well and there should also be a file for sharpening the teeth.

With the items out of the pouch we can see it is purpose built for this saw.

pockets in the pouch

Pockets in the pouch

Here we can see the pockets for the four handles and the two maintenance tools. The blade fits neatly in the middle.

Assembled, the saw looks like this.


The blade has a cutting length of 42 inches – that’s well over a metre.

The teeth are big, bold and sharp.


We believe this item to be of World War 2 age but seek advice from any expert in the field of military saws.

Before World War One

October 20, 2014

This year, and quite rightly, there has been much talk about World War One – and we’ve done our share of that. But of course, parts of our area were militarised before the Great War – that war which was supposed to end all wars – began. In an attempt to keep body and soul comfortably together, our Manorial Lord had sold his lands on Salisbury Plain to the War Department. Tenant farmers continued to user the land for several years but at Pond Farm, now in Easterton parish, an annual summer camp for reservists took place.

In the Edwardian era the whole area was closed and it became a permanent military training area. Local photographers made sure the last of the fairly open summer camps were well recorded. And here we have one such photo.

Soldiers at Pond Farm Camp in 1909

Soldiers at Pond Farm Camp in 1909

This card shows signs of its past life as a piece of pub décor. It has been in the museum for some years but had an earlier home at The Drummer Boy which has now closed.

The card gives a real sense of the vast openness of Salisbury Plain. If it wasn’t for the soldiers, the area would really look empty. Somehow that distant horse and rider on the horizon adds to the sense of huge space.

The year is clearly given on the card. It is 1909. The regiment here are obviously ‘of horse’. Regular summer campers were a regiment known as the London Rough Riders. Here the troops look anything but rough as they maintain a neat formation led by their officers.

The vast open space of Salisbury Plain

The vast open space of Salisbury Plain

What a lovely image and it can remind us that when the war started, just five years later, the horse was still the mainstay for haulage and transport. Sad to say horses suffered very badly in the war, just as the men did.

Haymaking in 1915

October 6, 2014

1915 was not an easy time anywhere in the UK. Men had volunteered to fight in the war – and they hadn’t got home by Christmas – unless severely injured. The men were not around when it came to agriculture in 1915 – and this was still a time when farming was very labour intensive.

But in Market Lavington, help was at hand for soldiers from the empire were trained on Salisbury Plain. Haymaking was as good a way of keeping fit as any other. And here we see soldiers, taking a quick breather whilst they posed for a photo which is captioned ‘Haymaking on Salisbury Plain – 1915’


Haymaking in 1915

There’s a mix of men, most in unidentified (by us) military uniform but some being local civilians.

Soldiers and civilians are at work

Soldiers and civilians are at work

Local lads have walked up the hill to see the work in progress.

Local youngsters look on

Local youngsters look on

This picture has suffered some of the ravages of time, and having been hung in a smoke filled pub and these images are enhanced to give us a better view.

The card was posted from Market Lavington on August 20th 1915.

The card has a Market Lavington post mark

The card has a Market Lavington post mark

The message suggests that the writer was not much affected by the war.

Nice weather!

Nice weather!

We think the sender may have been a nun, based on another card we have sent from Mona Cottage.

There’s no comment on the war – just the weather!

The Army Temperance Association

September 12, 2014

With the 100th anniversary of the First World War, one rather imagines that many a soldier felt in need of a stiff drink, to relieve all sorts of symptoms – fear, pain, utter discomfort and, at times, a goodly dose of boredom.

However at some time in the past there was an Army Temperance Association and this medallion, found by local metal detectorist, Norman, is for that organisation.

Army Temperence Association medallion found in Market Lavington

Army Temperance Association medallion found in Market Lavington

We know very little about this organisation, beyond the obvious. Presumably members of the army could join. And the association was anti-alcohol. The Fusilier Museum, London has more information which you can see by clicking here.

We believe this item was a 6 month medal and we guess this was given to members who stayed dry for 6 months. 1889 was, presumably, the year in which it was issued and that may have been about the high water mark for association membership.

As ever, we’d love more information on this item which was, of course, found in Market Lavington.

Edward Cook

June 17, 2014

Edward Cook was essentially an Eastcott lad although he was actually born in North Bradley, near Trowbridge. However, his dad and grandfather were Eastcott folk and so it is no surprise to find that Edward also lived there.

Edward was a child of the twentieth century for he was born in 1902. As yet we have found no certain details of his birth. He may be the Albert Edward Cook whose birth was registered in the Westbury district in June 1902. What we do know is that he was aged 9 for the 1911 census which says he was the only child born to William and Lottie – born at North Bradley. The family lived at Eastcott in 1911.

This photo shows Edward, said to be aged 17.

Edward Cook of Eastcott in about 1919

Edward Cook of Eastcott in about 1919

Edward certainly looks a very fresh faced young man in his military uniform in this picture.

Maybe a reader would recognise the cap badge??

Can you identify Edward's cap badge?

Can you identify Edward’s cap badge?

We assume Edward just missed serving in World War One.

As ever we’d like to know more. Do get in touch if you can help.

A tank on Church Street

May 11, 2014

Amongst some photos recently sent to the curator was this slightly blurred image of a military tank travelling along Church Street.

A tank on Church Street in the 1930s

A tank on Church Street in the 1930s

The sender of this image wasn’t sure when it was taken and suggested that the tracked vehicle was a Bren gun carrier.

Our curator sent a copy of the photo to the tank museum in Bovington who responded with the following.

The tank in question is a Vickers Light Tank probably a Mark VI – it’s difficult with the quality of the image to be specific on the exact mark of Light Tank though. The Light Tank Mark VI entered service in 1936 so mid-late 1930s would be the right time frame.

The tank is just rounding the corner onto White Street. The shop window on the left is now that of Saint Arbuck’s, the locally run coffee shop.

It looks as though it was, or had recently been, a part of Mr Walton’s empire when the photo was taken.

It looks as though the house on the corner of Church Street and Parsonage Lane (on the right) had already been demolished. The first building we see, with its rectangular sign looking to be suspended in mid-air in this photo, is the old Volunteer Arms.

It’s a delightful snap of how life was in the village and reminds us of the military presence – not just during war-time.


The Home Guard

March 31, 2014

Since the TV programme of the name, the 2nd World War home guard often gets called ‘Dad’s Army’. That was not without some reason, for many of the members of our last line of defence were veterans from World War One.

This picture of the Market Lavington platoon was taken outside the Vicarage which is now the nursing home.


Market Lavington Home Guard outside the Vicarage in 1941

We can see this was a Burgess Brothers photo and it dates from 1941. Sadly, this photo is not well captioned so it is over to you folks to help us out. There are a couple of enlarged sections below.




Sergeant’s Mess

February 1, 2014

This post is really about Market Lavington photographer, Alf Burgess. Alf was not only a photographer, he was very much a business man and he always had thoughts on what would make money.

The summer camps that territorial regiments held, up on Salisbury Plain, were clearly a chance to make some money for Alf. These camps were like holidays with training for the men. They had left parents, wives and sweethearts back home for a week or a fortnight. They needed to write home and what better than a postcard which showed them or maybe their camp.

Many of Alf’s photos are of Pond Farm Camp which is above Easterton. Today’s photo may not be taken within our parish for it bears a postmark of West Down North. This camp was within spitting distance of the Drummer Boy Post which is in the parish of Market Lavington but the camp itself was just outside.

Let’s look first at the back of the card.

Card sent from West Down North Camp in August 1911

Card sent from West Down North Camp in August 1911

It says very little, but we can see the postmark. The card was sent on August 5th 1911.

We can also see that the publisher has credited himself on the card.


The card was published by A Burgess and Sons of Market Lavington

The card was published by A Burgess and Sons of Market Lavington

It is interesting to note that even by 1911 Alf was crediting his sons as part of the business.

And now to the picture which shows a collection of sergeants relaxing on the bleak downland which is Salisbury Plain.

The front of the card shows a group of sergeants

The front of the card shows a group of sergeants

Apart from the chef they all have a cross on their arms, above the stripes. Presumably these could be medical NCOs.


They appear to belong to the Royal Army Medical Corps

They appear to belong to the Royal Army Medical Corps

The cap badges certainly look like those off the Royal Army Medical Corps.

But now let’s think of Alf Burgess, or his sons. Transport for them was the bike. To take the photo the hefty equipment of the day would need to have been lugged up Lavington Hill and then taken some three miles across the rough, rutted tracks to the far reaches of the parish, and then just that bit further. With pictures exposed the whole set of clobber would need to get back down to the Burgess premises on High Street in Market Lavington for the dark room work – developing the exposures into negatives and then printing off each image as a postcard. Perhaps these were then hauled back up to the army camp to effect actual sales. Or, maybe, soldiers were able to escape to purchase their images at the shop and also sample the bright lights of Market Lavington.

It’s a far cry from life 100 years on. These days photos like the one above would have been taken on somebody’s smart phone and almost instantly posted so that friends, family or, indeed, anybody could see it, all over the world.

A Canadian Dragoon Cap Badge

December 2, 2013

We are less than a month away from 2014 – the year when we mark the centenary of the start of the First World War – the war to end all wars which would be all over by Christmas. Perhaps our political masters of the day never said which Christmas because it was over by Christmas 1918 – just four years late – and many men continued to die from injuries and illness after that date.

And, of course, the men who took part on our side were not just British. Soldiers from the old Empire fought as well and for many of them, an early taste of Europe was Market Lavington and the wild, wet lands of Salisbury Plain.

It is no surprise that we have odd bits of memorabilia, at Market Lavington Museum that belonged to soldiers from overseas. Today we look at a Canadian Dragoon cap badge.

Broken Royal Canadia Dragoons cap badge found in Market Lavington

Broken Royal Canadian Dragoons cap badge found in Market Lavington

This is clearly incomplete – the animal has lost its head. The other day our curator (who is not a military expert) discussed with a museum colleague just what animal it was. Was it a bull, or was it a horse, they mused. And they were both wrong. Military badge traders at have a badge for sale and they gave permission for us to use their picture of a complete badge on this blog.

A complete Royal Canadian Dragoons cap badge

A complete Royal Canadian Dragoons cap badge

This is actually a springbok – the animal we associate with South Africa. The Canadians wear this because of service in South Africa during the Boer War.

Our badge was dug up in the garden of Primrose House on White Street in Market Lavington – home of the Gye family. Perhaps the badge belonged to Edward Bliss Taylor, a Canadian serviceman who married Mrs Gye’s sister in 1919.

Alternatively, a Canadian called Harry Ryder stayed with the Gyes at Christmas 1916. And, of course, there were many other Canadians in the area.

Any further information about Canadian or other overseas servicemen who visited Market Lavington would be very much appreciated.


November 30, 2013

It’s the last day of November. It’s time to batten down the hatches as we prepare for winter. Politicians seem to be predicting an ‘Arctic’ season – but then, why should they know. But if it is a long, cold winter, then maybe we should hold on to thoughts of better climes – those far from lazy hay days back in late spring and early summer.

Maybe, in the 21st century, many of us do like to enjoy the summer weather without putting too much strain on the muscles. But 100 years ago it really was a case of all hands to the farm work at haymaking time. Producing the winter feed for animals was such a crucial part of the farmer’s year. Without a good hay crop he’d have to cull animals and lose income for the following year.

So it really was all hands out in the field to ensure that the hay days were a success.

This photo dates from 1915 and shows haymakers at Knapp Farm which is sited at the bottom of Lavington Hill, near Broadwell.

Haymakers at Knapp farm, Market Lavington in 1915

Haymakers at Knapp Farm, Market Lavington in 1915

We have a team of something like 26 men, women and children here although we doubt if the youngest child shown did much work.

Light duties for this one, perhaps?

Light duties for this one, perhaps?

It is interesting to note that whilst many local men would have been away fighting the war in 1915, there were soldiers being trained locally and clearly at least one has been spared to help get the hay in.

Help from the military

Help from the military

This is Mrs Baker - but just which Mrs Baker?

This is Mrs Baker – but just which Mrs Baker?

This lady is captioned as Mrs Baker. There were several branches of the Baker family in the village.

We guess, from his rather superior dress, that this chap was Mr Watts, the farmer.


Mr Watts, the farmer, we think

As ever, any further information would be much appreciated.