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Bridgnorth in the Great War

Bridgnorth in the Great War

by Christopher W A Owen


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World-famous Bridgnorth town is situated on the river Severn near Kidderminster and is a very popular anglers' haunt and tourist destination. Within the shadow of its very own Civil War-ravaged castle lies a unique funicular rail system and the north-western terminus of the famous Severn Valley heritage railway line.

Although steeped in military history, much of its Great War social history has remained obscure until now. This enthralling account explores many surprising and unknown facts about Bridgnorth and its wartime Home Front, drawing on a wealth of material from diverse primary sources, including official news reports that disclose the fullest picture of the terrible sacrifices the serving men, their relatives and also their townsfolk made to Britain's war effort.

Misled by government propaganda, which implied that the men were enlisting for a short-term adventurous romp, this little town patriotically sacrificed the flower of a generation to the largely trench-bound bloody morass the Great War became. Their commitment and fortitude gives testament to the incredible bravery of the people of Bridgnorth, and their losses are evidenced in the various commemorative monuments erected throughout the town and in surrounding hamlets.

Utilizing contemporary documents and wartime servicemen's poignant letters, some of which are disclosed for the first time, Bridgnorth in the Great War reveals how this once prosperous and industrious West Midlands' town endured the greatest sacrifice of its manhood to this cataclysmic event, which was fancifully dubbed 'the war to end all wars'.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781783831173
Publisher: Pen and Sword
Publication date: 12/27/2019
Series: Your Towns & Cities in the Great War Series
Pages: 144
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.25(h) x (d)

About the Author

Chris Owen is a freelance writer and IT graduate who lives with his wife and son in Shropshire. He is a local historian whose specialty is the Second World War and has therefore written a logical prequel to this later cataclysmic event which stemmed from the mistakes of its bloody predecessor. Intrigued by this rural farming county's wartime history he is also commissioned to write about some of its other towns and their sacrifices during the Great War, which are to be featured in this fascinating Pen & Sword series.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements xi

List of Abbreviations xii

A Brief History of the Great War (1914 - 1918) xiii

Chapter 1 1914 - Distant Rumblings Further Down the Line 1

A Brief Introduction to Bridgnorth 1

How news of the outbreak of war reached Bridgnorth 11

Bridgnorth Drill Hall: KSLI Enlistment: (1914-1918) 11

War Casualties 1914 12

Chapter 2 1915 - Getting Up a Head of Steam 16

The War's Progress: Western Front 16

The Mayor's response to forming a Pals Battalion in Bridgnorth 18

Keeping a watching brief on Bridgnorth's casualties 23

A brief history of the Bridgnorth connection with the KSLI 24

Gallipoli: (April - Dec 1915): The second front that never was 26

The Battle of Loos: (Sept 25 - 28) The first great slaughter on the Western Front 34

Bridgnorth men who served in the Battle of Loos 35

Bridgnorth War Casualties 41

Chapter 3 1916: The Iron Horse: Momentous and Decisive Times 44

The War at Sea: The Battle of Jutland (31 May 1916) 45

Bridgnorth Naval Casualties 49

The Western Front: A year of tragedy in the making 50

A hero of the Somme: Lieutenant Thomas Orde Lawder Wilkinson VC (1894-1916) 53

26 Sept. 1916, Sup. 29765 p. 9418 54

Somme fatalities reported in the Journal 55

Chapter 4 1917 Off the Rails - Deadlocked Trench Warfare 61

The Nivelle Offensive (16 April - 9 May 1917) 62

Passchendaele - The Needless Rush to Victory (31 July - 10 November 1917) 62

A Bridgnorth casualty of Passchendaele 64

Casualties for 1917 64

Bridgnorth Tribunals - Dubious Patriotism 69

Women at War - The New Industrial and Agricultural Workforce 72

Lloyd George's Creed: Total Warfare 73

Chapter 5 1918 Terminal Destination - Endgame 75

Ludendorff's last gamble (21 March - August 8) 76

The Battle of the Aisne (27 May 1918) 77

A Bridgnorth area casualty of the Battle of the Aisne 78

British Army Cyclist Corps (1888 - 1922) 79

The 1/4th Battalion KSLI and the Battle of Bligny (6 June 1918) 81

A casualty of Bligny - Lance Corporal 18288 Enoch Davies, 1/4th Battalion KSLI 81

Local hero remembered - Lieutenant Colonel H.E. Welch 82

Letters from Bridgnorth men at the Front 84

The War in the Air 87

Operational use and development of aerial reconnaissance 90

The Emergence of Fighter Aces 93

Final recognition: The birth of the RAF (1 April 1918) 95

Battle of Amiens (8-10 August 1918) - The turning of the tide 95

Armistice - 11 Nov 1918 96

Chapter 6 1918 - 1922 Platform to Victory: Winning the Peace 98

Aftermath: Post November 1918 98

The Cenotaph and The Tomb of the Unknown Warrior 98

Bridgnorth area casualties - the tragedy of the Cartway 100

Prisoners of War (PoWs) 110

Reported Missing: Invisible Casualties of the Great War 115

Claverley: The village that gave too much 117

A brief selection of profiles from the Claverley / Chyknell Memorial 120

A brief selection of profiles of those listed on the memorial 125

Bridgnorth Remembers: 2016 Remembrance Sunday Commemorations 133

Index 138

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