Posts Tagged ‘WW1’

Australians in Market Lavington – also the Mullings family

May 9, 2016

For some time we have tried to link our local Mullings family – the basket makers – with other Mullings in the south of England. A lead in this task comes with a postcard of Australian troops in Market Lavington in 1916 – 100 years ago.

Australian soldiers in Market Lavington in 1916

Australian soldiers in Market Lavington in 1916


It has to be said that the soldiers look a bit ragged in style. They are not marching in step. In fact they have seen the photographer (Mr Burgess) and are stopped and posing – all except the head tossing white horse at the back.

On the extreme right we see Mr Elisha’s tailoring shop. A young Elisha has the family dog jumping up at her. A close look reveals people in many doorways. Maybe it is Mr and Mrs Phillips at the former hardware shop. A sign on the arched entrance to what we now call Woodland Yard advertises a car for hire near the Market House. It’s a fascinating glimpse of times 100 years ago in Market Lavington. But the back has a story to tell as well.

Card to Mrs Mullings of Kentish Town

Card to Mrs Mullings of Kentish Town

First of all, as often happened, a stamp collector has removed the stamp and with it the post mark. But the recipient is clearly Mrs Mullings with an address in Kentish Town, London and the salutation is Dear Emily.

Emily Mullings was born in 1872 as Emily Ford. She was born in Easterton where her dad was an agricultural labourer. In 1895 she married Henry Mullings. Henry was a dozen or so years older than Emily. He had been born in Devizes but by 1891 he and his parents were on High Street in Market Lavington. His father, William, was a basket maker.

So we can happily link our basket makers with this family.

But let’s read the message,


Message from Ada – possibly Mrs Hopkins

It is clearly from Ada who sounds to have a daughter called Doris.

This was sent by Ada Hopkins who was actually Henry Mullings’s sister. She did, indeed, have a daughter called Doris.

Jack Welch’s luggage label

May 7, 2016

Market Lavington man Jack Welch was a volunteer or reservist soldier before the outbreak of World War One. He served in the 1st/4th Wilts regiment.

On the outbreak of war this regiment was sent to India to replace regular soldiers, fully trained, who could come back to Europe to engage in the fighting in France and Belgium.

Jack spent several years in India and you can read the letters he sent home on

In amongst a collection of items recently given to us we came across a luggage label which we imagine Jack made. It takes the form of a piece of sheet metal into which a destination or identity card can be slotted. It has a ring for allowing it to be tied to luggage.

Jack Welch's luggage label has probably went from Market Lavington to India and back during World War One

Jack Welch’s luggage label has probably went from Market Lavington to India and back during World War One

In this case the card gave his name, regimental number and rank and also said he was in C Company. Jack has also embossed his name into the metal – readable from the back.

The back of the frame with embossed information

The back of the frame with embossed information

That’s clear to read – number 1267 Welch of the ¼ Wilts Regiment.

We can imagine this label has been to India and back – a well-travelled item.

April 1916

April 30, 2016

100 Years Ago

By Lyn Dyson

 At the beginning of the month the 1st Battalion of the Wiltshire regiment were in Ternas, continuing their training. They managed to set fire to one of the barns they were billeted in, and only through their energetic action did they manage to save the farmhouse. They had a tug of war competition and a football match. On 12th April they moved to La Targette where they were engaged in mining fatigues. They suffered a lot of enemy artillery action and mortar fire. After eight days they went to Mont St Eloy where they spent four nights in huts. They did some training in crater consolidation. When they returned to the trenches on 24th April they were tasked with baling them out, as heavy rain had put them in a very bad state. They then repaired the the duckwalks. They suffered from enemy sniper fire.

At the end of the month they were at Acq, engaged in training and parades, and some working parties laying cables under Royal Engineers supervision.

The 2nd Battalion had a quiet month, passed mostly at Picquigny. Two horses pulling a Small Arms Ammunition cart got out of hand and ran into a pump. One of the horses was killed and the cart was lost. They lost another horse a few days later.

The 5th Battalion was at Falahiyeh where they mounted an attack on the Turkish trenches, taking 12 prisoners. The next day they took over the Turkish trenches and converted them.

On 9th April they mounted another attack as they advanced at 4.20am. It was dark, and many of the men lost their bearings. 21 men were killed; 161 were wounded and 37 were reported missing.

On the 18th April they were at Bait Isa where the Turks mounted a counter attack during which 11 men were killed. The battalion remained there for the rest of the month, digging and repairing trenches.

The 6th Battalion spent the month of April in and out of the trenches, adopting the usual procedure with four days in the trenches and four days out. At the end of the month they were at Quernes undergoing training in machine guns, signalling and bombing.

The 7th battalion finally left Salonika at 6pm on 20th April. The weather by this time was very hot, and they marched around for a few nights before returning to Salonika on 25th April. This appears to have been an exercise as nothing is noted in the war diary to show any other purpose for it. So at the end of the month the men were back where they started, digging trenches in Salonika.

There was one local casualty during April. Although he died at home from pneumonia, he counts as a war casualty because he was a serving soldier when he was taken ill.

Trooper Jasper Stephen Chapman 1673 Died 5th April 1916

Jasper was born in 1894 in Market Lavington. His father was William Chapman, a market gardener born in West Lavington, but the family lived at Fiddington Clay in 1891. Sadly, Jasper’s father died when Jasper was only four years of age. His mother, Ann Kyte moved to Lavington Lane, where she brought up her seven children and earned her living as a tailoress.

In 1911 the family had moved to the High Street in Market Lavington, and Ann was working as a general servant. At this time Jasper was working as an outfitter’s assistant.

At the outbreak of war, Jasper joined the Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry. Most of this Territorial brigade remained in the United Kingdom until later in 1916 and as Jasper does not appear on the medal roll, it seems likely that he died without serving abroad. He died at home in Easterton on 5th April 1916, having suffered from pneumonia for two weeks. He was 22 years of age.

March 1916

March 31, 2016

By Lyn Dyson

There were no local casualties in March 1916.

The 1st Battalion of the Wiltshire Regiment started the month training at Outtersteene, near Bailleul, with emphasis on bayonet practice. On 10th March they began a march south to Ternas, and continued their training in bombing. They also organized some sporting events and a ploughing match, using army horses and French ploughs.

It was a quiet month for the 2nd Battalion. The men were split up with companies in separate billets for much of the time. Time was spent in cleaning billets, refitting and training when they were not involved in working parties. On 26th March they were given a demonstration of a captured German Flammenwerfer.

The 5th Battalion arrived in Basra on 1st March, but there were heavy floods and their camp was under water, so they had to remain on board the SS Ellora until 4th March. The next ten days there were heavy storms and more flooding. They sailed upstream to Sheikh Saad. From 24th to 30th March they were at Gomorrah where they spent most of the time repairing a dyke. There was a case of smallpox within the battalion.

At the beginning of March the 6th Battalion was in the trenches near Bethune. They were relieved on 4th March and went into billets from where they formed working parties for trench work, had baths at La Gorgue, did drill and training in bomb throwing, and set up working parties to carry materials through the trenches for the Royal Engineers.

There was some snow early in the month, but the weather improved in the middle of the month, only to get cold and snowy again later. The men had new boots fitted. During their trench work they suffered intermittent bombardment and sniper fire.

Meanwhile the 7th Battalion remained in Salonika. The weather was fine and the men were engaged in digging trenches. On 27th March there was an air raid on the camps at 5am. Four German planes were observed but no damage was done.

A message from King and Queen

March 20, 2016

Christmas 1914 was supposed to have seen the war over. When it clearly wasn’t the ‘Royals’ thought they should send something to all servicemen. The King and Queen (George and Mary) sent a simple message with slight variations.

One of these cards was in the collection recently shared with us. It must have been sent to a member of the Coleman family but we are not sure which one.

Card Front

Card Front

The front carries an image of King and Queen.

The King is dressed in his army uniform which means this card was sent to a soldier and not a sailor.

The message on the back is signed by King and Queen. It may look handwritten but this is, of course, a print.

Card back

Card back

The message ‘May you soon be restored to health’ indicates that the recipient was sick or had been injured at the time the card was sent.

Of course, we’d love to know just which Coleman received this card, but we do know it definitely came to a Market Lavington man.

February 1916

February 29, 2016

100 Years Ago by Lyn Dyson

The Wiltshire Regiments

1st Battalion

The 1st Battalion spent the whole month in Outterstene, training and exercising and playing some football. On 25th February they were given a demonstration from a German Flammenwerfer, (flame thrower). The purpose was to show how harmless the liquid fire was.

2nd Battalion

The 2nd battalion spent most of the month at Carnoy. One of the men went missing while out on patrol on11th February. He turned up a week later in a very weak state from exposure and starvation. Apparently he had been captured by the Germans but had managed to escape and he had great difficulty trying to get back to his own lines. Sadly he died in hospital two days later.

On 13th February they were warned of an expected attack by the Germans. They stood in readiness on a very wet and stormy night, and expressed disappointment when nothing happened. They returned to their former positions after a quiet morning, and were given free buns and coffee. The fact that this is mentioned in the war diary seems to indicate that the men had to pay for their buns and coffee in the normal course of events.

The battalion suffered regular bombardment. The weather was described as very bad on most days, but from 23rd February to 26th February there were heavy snow falls. The snow had to be quickly cleared from the trenches, because they knew when it thawed there would be trouble with mud. This happened on 27th February.

5th Battalion

The 5th Battalion was in Port Said where they remained until 14th February when they boarded the HMT Oriana to sail for Mesopotamia, stopping off at Kuwait for three days. During their time in Port Said there was a competition between company teams from throughout the brigade. Prizes were given by the Brigadier General for an endurance and musketry test. They had to cover two miles of a course over sand in full marching order with additional points for time and style. They then had 1.5 minutes on reaching the butts, to open fire. The Wiltshires carried off all four prizes.

6th Battalion

The 6th Battalion was at Le Sart at the beginning of the month. They spent a lot of time in drill practice, and bombing and signalling instruction. On 11th February they were inspected by Lord Kitchener, accompanied by General Munro and Prince Arthur of Connaught.

They moved to the trenches on 18th February where they remained until 25th February. At that time they went to La Gorgue where they did some training, had baths, and formed some working parties.

7th Battalion

The 7th Battalion was still sitting it out in Salonika.


There were no casualties from our villages in February 1916.

January 1916

January 31, 2016

100 Years Ago by Lyn Dyson

1st Battalion

The 1st battalion of the Wiltshire Regiment spent most of January either in the trenches at Ploegsteert Wood in Belgium, or resting at The Piggeries. Whilst resting they had to do a lot of physical exercise to keep fit, and also training with bombs and musketry, and rifle inspections. This month they all had to experience being gassed. They were trained in the use of the tubular helmets, which were found to be most satisfactory, and they suffered no casualties. They also were able to have baths and they played football.

At the end of the month they were billeted in barns attached to farm houses in Outtersteene in France.

2nd Battalion

The 2nd Battalion started the month at Autheux in France but later, on 11th June, they moved to Carnoy where they stayed for the rest of the month. They suffered a lot of shelling, and on one occasion a German presented himself on the wire immediately in front of them. He was shot by the sentry. When they brought him in that night he was found to have two bombs in his possession.

5th Battalion

The 5th Battallion started the month at Cape Helles, Gallipoli. On 2nd January at 8am they had to execute one of their men who had been tried by court martial for “wilful disobedience of order given by his superior officer in execution of his duty.

On 7th January the battalion prepared to leave Gallipoli and on 8th January they started to arrive in Mudros, on the island of Lemnos. On 22nd January they were aboard the HMT Ausomia on their way to Port Said. They arrived there on 27th January. During this time they received some replacements, mainly men who had been injured and just returning to the field.

6th Battalion

The 6th Battalion started the month in trenches in France, near Bethune. Their rest days were spent in billets at Emperor’s Road, Le Touret. They practised grenade and bomb throwing and had baths. At the end of the month they were in new billets at Le Sart.

7th Battalion

The 7th battalion spent the month in Salonika seeing no action at all. After two months of sitting around in camp, it wouldn’t be surprising if boredom was beginning to set in.

January 1916

Lance Sergeant Walter Stephen Chapman 18782 died 2nd January 1916

Walter was born in 1896, the son of James Chapman and Emma Giddings. James was a market gardener, living at Dauntsey Cottages in the High Street. His family had been market gardeners for several generations and by this time they were farming 22 acres of land. This provided a comfortable income, as the family were able to afford a live in domestic servant. Market gardening was a major activity in Littleton Panell, but most of the holdings were only a few acres.

Walter had an older brother and sister, but sadly they both died in April 1892, within two weeks of each other. So Walter grew up as an only child.

He started his working life helping his father in his market garden, but he enlisted into the army as soon as war broke out. He was only just 18 years of age. He joined the 8th battalion Wiltshire regiment. This was a reserve battalion formed in 1914 and was eventually absorbed into the Training Reserve Battalions.

Walter was a 1st Class Musketry Instructor at Bovington Camp in Dorset in December 1915, when he went down with diphtheria. He died on 2nd January 1916, and is buried in West Lavington.

Private Henry James Smith PO/8968 Died 12th January 1916

Henry was born in Market Lavington on 13th December 1878. the son of Thomas Smith, a brick maker, and his wife Amelia. Henry was the eldest of six children, and the family lived in the Market Place at Market Lavington.

At the age of 18 Henry joined the Royal Marines on 15th February 1897. He served until 1909 when he went onto the Royal Fleet Reserve.

He married Alice Louisa Hooles in 1910 at which time he gave his occupation as musketry instructor. He and Alice were working as school caretakers in Willesden in 1911.

In August 1914 he was called up and assigned to the Portsmouth Division of the Royal Marines. His records show he served in the Victory Brigade, and was sent to Ostend in August 1914, from where he went to Antwerp with Drinkwater to defend the city. He was involved in the Dardanelles from 28th April 1915, and was injured at Gallipoli, when he received a bullet wound to his jaw.

Henry died from disease on 12th January 1916 and was buried at Willesden New Cemetery. He and Alice had two daughters, Edith born in 1912 and Winifred born in 1914.

Private Joseph Henry Bolter 10501 Died 16th January 1916

Joseph was born in 1895 in Little Cheverell, the son of farm labourer Isaac Bolter and his wife Mary. They lived at Meadow View, Little Cheverell. Joseph was the youngest of six children. He was living with his grandfather Alfred Bolter in Little Cheverell in 1911, and working as an agricultural labourer.

At the outbreak of war he joined the 2nd battalion of the Wiltshire regiment, and arrived in France on 24th March 1915.

He died in Le Havre of typhoid fever on 16th January 1916. This was a serious problem for the army during the war. The disease was spread by ingestion of faecally contaminated food or water and caused many deaths and much debility as trench life was necessarily associated with poor hygiene and lack of sanitation. The vermin and flies that were part of trench life also ensured that typhoid fever remained a common condition. In the days before antibiotics it was difficult to keep body temperature down during a very high fever. Vaccination against typhoid was still in its infancy in 1915, and was not in general use.

A First World War romance

January 5, 2016

At the end of 1914 and into 1915 Canadian soldiers were training on Salisbury Plain. It was to be expected that romances would spring up between the Canadian men and local girls. One local girl who fell for a Canadian was Dorothy Merritt of Church Street in Market Lavington. Dorothy was born in 1896 and was the daughter of John who led the Market Lavington band for 60 years. Dorothy would have been 18 in 1914, no doubt just the age to fall for the charms of a young Canadian soldier.

We have a copy of this card sent to Dorothy.

Card sent to Dorothy Merritt of Market Lavington by a Canadian soldier

Card sent to Dorothy Merritt of Market Lavington by a Canadian soldier

Clearly this was posted in the UK for it has a British stamp but the postmark is partly unreadable. Interesting that the address is just name, village, county.

"I can't get away this week'

“I can’t get away this week’

It sounds as though romance will need to be deferred for a while. Actually, the tone is hardly romantic and nor was the card which showed a personage at the embarkation camp of Valcartier in Canada.

The card front

The card front

We think this romance was to end very sadly. The same collection of Merritt memorabilia had this photo.


The back has a caption on it.


Tim my Canadian
Died of wounds Netley Hospital

It is all so poignant.

What happened to Dorothy? We’d love to know.

100 Years Ago

December 31, 2015

Christmas 1915 by Lyn Dyson

1st Battalion

The weather was mild on Christmas day 1915 in Belgium. The 1st Battalion were in trenches Ploegsteert Wood. The Germans put up a white flag above their parapet, but the Wiltshires fired upon it, and it was withdrawn.

A German shouted out a question as to the attitude the Wiltshires intended to adopt, but they gave no reply.

This all seems rather sad, but perhaps the British officers felt that it would be difficult for the men to shoot at the enemy if they fraternised with them on Christmas day, and it was best not to get to know them too well.

The battalion worked on as usual, repairing the trenches. They had to wait until New Years Day to celebrate their Christmas. On that day they had a dinner of roast pork and Christmas pudding and beer, and at 5pm a pierrot party consisting of six officers and one man entertained a crowded house at the Romarin recreation room. The officers dined together at 8pm.

2nd Battalion

The 2nd battalion had a better Christmas. They were at rest at Autheux in France. The day began with Holy Communion and a church parade. The parade was in the billets as the weather was too inclement to hold it outdoors.

After a brief speech from the Commanding Officer, the whole battalion sat down to a sumptuous feast of chicken, pork and beef, etc. This was greatly appreciated by all the men. In the evening there was a regimental concert. This was brought to a successful conclusion by “The King” at 10.30pm. Three cheers were given for the Commanding Officer.

5th Battalion

Christmas passed unremarked for the 5th battalion in Gallipoli. They did manage to receive some parcels and mail on Christmas Eve, the first for a month, so no doubt that was greatly appreciated.

6th Battalion

The 6th battalion was working in the trenches as usual with no celebrations recorded.

7th Battalion

The 7th battalion was in camp in Salonika, Greece and there is no indication in the diary that it was anything other than a normal day.


Reginald Hillier

December 25, 2015

Perhaps we shouldn’t really have this photo in Market Lavington Museum for Reg was born in Devizes and moved to West Lavington with his family when he was less than ten years old. His father was postmaster and grocer at Littleton Panell. Reg followed in father’s footsteps, and no doubt took plenty of his own for he became a postman.

However, it looks as though Reg signed up for military service during World War One for here we have him in a typical posed picture.

Reg Hillier - Christmas 1915

Reg Hillier – Christmas 1915

And it looks as though Reg used this as his Christmas Card 100 years ago in 1915.

We don’t actually know much about Reg, but as we celebrate Christmas 2015, we might remember that 100 years ago things were very different.