15 March 2014

Cigars, Pipes and Songs

For those of you that have read the book: The Hammers Battalion tailor, Ernie Kurtz, gave a poetic recital during a 'smoking concert' held by C Coy in February 1915 at the Brickfields Church in Stratford, the oldest 'free church' in the Borough (opened in 1662)...


As for the others who sang that night: Bill Marsh (#2) was killed during the August 1916 attack on Guillemont, his body never found. Cpl Charlie Dean (#6) was killed the same day and now lies buried in Delville Wood cemetery. Pte Turner (#8) could be either Bill or Eddie, two brothers who volunteered side by side with consecutive Service Numbers. If it was Eddie who sang, he was killed on the first trench raid by the West Ham Battalion on July 1st 1916. George Cowley (#9) sang "Sons of England". He survived, as did L/Cpl Kite who sang "England's Honour". Henry Dipple (#12) was killed during the attack on the Quadrilateral in November 1916 - his body was never found. Pte Leonard and Hawker (#14 & #15) both survived the War......

13 March 2014

An Early Recruiting Poster

This poster was issued to help recruit for the Reserve Company of the West Ham Battalion. Formed at Brentwood in September 1915 they undertook their training in Cambridge and after a few men were initially sent as replacements to those men who had been killed in December 1915, the unit became the 14th (Reserve) Battalion of the Essex Regiment under the command of the Mayor's son, Captain Leo Dyer.

They also played football at the Boleyn Ground against shopkeepers from Upton Park.

 On the 1st September 1916 they were converted into 98th Training Reserve Battalion of 23rd Reserve Brigade at Aldershot, which eventually ended up being commanded by Robert Swan who was an Original volunteer to the West Ham Battalion.

Captain SG Mullock

When there were more than five-hundred recruits to the West Ham Battalion they were appointed an Adjutant, Captain Sidney Goss Mullock, a Special Reserve officer who had seen service in the South African War. He lived in Kelveden Hatch, Brentwood and was married in 1910.

He had first entered France in 1914 before being badly wounded at the Battle of the Aisne and invalided home. On his recovery, Sidney immediately received an appointment to the West Ham Battalion for this formation period, to organise the growing mountain of official paperwork and military administration that was being generated.

He was Mentioned In Dispatches, promoted Major and eventually became Lt-Col to the 1st Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment. He was killed in action on the 4th April 1917 and today lies buried in Hervin Farm British Cemetery in St.Laurent-Blangy (about 3 kilometres north-east of Arras).