100 Days Centenary Countdown: Case study-Events
Events of the First World War Home Front are one of the most ephemeral aspects of the war. Some of the places where interesting and large scale events took place have been recorded through Home Front Legacy.
Such events could be recorded when the location where they took place could be identified.
Here are just a couple of the fascinating events recorded by our volunteers and champions.
On 8 April 1916, following the introduction of the Military Service Act 1916 on 2 March 1916, a anti-conscription demonstration took place in Trafalgar Square. Over 200,000 people joined the demonstration to show their opposition to compulsory conscription.
October 1918- As part of London’s ‘Feed the Guns week’, Trafalgar Square was transformed into a mock battlefield, known as the ‘War bonds village’. The ‘War bonds village’ was based on a battle scarred Belgian village, and featured a windmill, bomb damaged buildings, tree stumps, captured German guns, and replica trenches. This event raised £31million for the war effort.
The announcement of the Armistice on 11 November 1918 saw celebrations start throughout the country. A notable celebration started in Trafalgar Square on 12 Novemeber 1918, signs of which can still be found today. Revellers created a bonfire from the War Bond posters, wooden paving slabs, and another flammable material they could find. The resulting fire cracked the stone plinth at the base of Nelson’s Column; the damage still visible today.
Oakwell football ground, Barnsley
A recruitment event was held at Oakwell on 19 September 1914 to raise men for the Barnsley Pals Battalion.
During the half-time of a football match between Barnsley and Grimsby Town, Colonel Hewitt and Councillor Plumpton addressed the crowd, urging them to join the colours. Anyone who would like to join up would have to enrol at the nearby Harvey Institute & Public Hall after the match.
The article in the Barnsley Chronicle states ‘many desirable young men went to the Public Hall and were enrolled in the local ‘Pals’ battalion’.
The George Hotel, Wombwell
One of the biggest prosecutions for ‘Treating’ in the Barnsley area occurred at the George Hotel in April 1916.
The landlord, and eleven other men, were charged with the offence after being caught by plain-clothes police officers. The landlord was fined £10 while the other defendants were fined £1 each, quite a sum of money at the time! The pub still stands today.
Treaty Lodge, Hounslow
Recruitment continued throughout the war as more men were required by the armed forces.
One example of late war recruitment was documented by Horace Nicholls in September 1917. A series of photographs, taken by Nicholls, can be found within the IWM Collection, showing the journey of new recruits enlisting for service. The image captions identify the recruitment office as Treaty Lodge, Hounslow, which was the Headquarters of the 8th Battalion, Middlesex Regiment.
Home Front Legacy Champion John was able to trace Treaty Lodge and record if via our online recording app.
Over To You
There are still many First World War Home Front events to be recorded. These events can often be found in newspapers from the period. Remember that you can record any local events you discover through your local Historic Environment Record.