The onset of WAR: The First World War began during the summer of 1914 following the assassination of the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand when he was
visiting the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo. The assassination led to a month of diplomatic manoeuvring between Austria-Hungary, Germany, Russia, France, and Britain which was
called the July Crisis. Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia on 28 Jul 1914, Russia and Germany were at war on 1 August, and Britain declared war on Germany on 4 August.
Derbyshire Territorials stationed at The Bear: No doubt there was little effect on Hungerford during the early
weeks of the war.
The Derby Daily Telegraph reported on 7 Nov 1914 the "Pleasant Experiences" of some of its local troops when they were stationed in The Bear yard. A billard match
was arranged between the Derbyshire men and the Hungerford Club, and it was noted that the Rev WETS Gray and friends of the parish church were "untiring in their efforts to provide
recreation and amusement for the troops in the vicinity." "Among the troops are several fairly good singers and musicians, and their efforts also help the time along very agreeably". See "Derbyshire Men at Hungerford - Pleasant Experiences".
However, things were to change in Hungerford, as in so many towns right around the whole country.
Hungerford was soon to be full of troops - about 2,000 were billeted in the town, and a further 8,000 camped on the Common. Nearly 200 slept in the Town Hall.
The price paid for a bed for officers was 1s 6d, and 6d for men.
Among the regiments was the First Royal Scots.
180 Coy RASC MT in Hungerford: In January 1915, a newly-formed army unit, the 180 Company, Royal Army Service
Corps, Mechanical Transport,
arrived in Hungerford, which was to be its mobilisation station.
Initially the unit was small, with one officer and 32 men, with one car, two motor-cycles and 15 lorries! The vehicles were parked in the High Street to start with, and The Croft was used as their parade ground. As the size of the unit grew, the main camp was established on the Common.
By July the unit was complete and fully prepared for battle. There were nearly 500 men and 109 vehicles. The whole company assembled in the High Street, and, watched and cheered by the whole town, they set off on their way to Avonmouth, bound for France.
Follow this link for more on the 180 Company, RASC (MT).
Whilst in Hungerford, the the 18th Ammunition Sub-Park unit produced one edition of what was intended to be a regular monthly magazine. They entitled it "At
the Back of the Front". It includes a nice introductory letter expressing a kind thought about a creche for Hungerford, and an uncompleted poem by "Y.L.O.R.". Due to a shortage of paper,
a second edition was never printed. Follow this link to see "At the Back of the Front".
The VAD Hospital set up at the old National School: In 1914 there was no Ministry of Health and no one had overall
control of the hospitals, however the British Red Cross Society, founded in 1870 linked up with the order of St John of Jerusalem in 1909 and formed the organisation known as the
Voluntary Aid Detachment or V.A.D. for short.
During the War, the old National School building (42 High Street, now Dickins, Hopgood, Chidley, solicitors) was used as a convalescent hospital, for nursing wounded men who had been sent home from the Front. The building was refurbished for its new use, with three small wards and a kitchen. There were about twenty beds, and most patients were Australians based at Tidworth.
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The air crash at 26 High Street: In 1917 an air crash occurred in Hungerford and was
reported in the NWN on 31 May 1917 (p7). A plane piloted by a Canadian from the RFC school at Upavon crashed in the Constable's garden on Sat, 27 May at 8.30pm, killing
the pilot. The Constable (T W Alexander) presided over the inquest the following Monday.
Peace Thanksgiving Service, 6 Jun 1919: On Sunday 6 June 1919. The Constable, Mr Louis Beard (of the coal yard in
Bridge Street), arranged with the vicar, the Rev. Tom Gray, a Public Thanksgiving
Service for the Return of Peace.
Peace Celebration Dinner: A grand Peace Celebration Dinner was held later in the Corn Exchange.
War Memorial, Bridge Street: Hungerford's War Memorial was built in Bridge Street. Follow this
link for more on the War Memorial Dedication Service.