More troops in Harpenden - 1915

A source of satisfaction to the townspeople

The Notts & Derbys in August 1914
LHS collection

The Notts and Derbys (Sherwood Foresters), who arrived in August 1914, were in Harpenden for three months’ training (see August 1914).  They were part of the Territorial Force, renamed the 46th (North Midland) Division *. On 16 November they marched to Harlow in Essex, where they dug a defensive trench system, before going to France on 25 February 1915, after being inspected by King George V. They spent the first months in the Ypres salient. They were under German liquid fire attack at Hooge (30-31 July 1915) and attacked at the Hohenzollern Redoubt (13 October 1915).  Details of the rest of their engagements on the French front are listed on the Sherwood Foresters website . They began to be demobilized in January 1919. Further information at

Harpenden was without troops until in early February battalions of the North Staffordshires arrived here, providing “a source of satisfaction to the townspeople”, according to the Herts Advertiser, which said, on 5 Feburary 1915:

“Troops are again stationed in Harpenden. This is a source of satisfaction to the tradespeople and to many householders, who welcome the addition to the family income arising from the billeting money.  Some of the residents in large houses have as many as ten and twelve men billeted upon them.  The cooking of meals has to be done in all these instances. The payment for non-commissioned officers, as formerly, is 9d per night, but these invariably take their meals at mess-rooms, so the labour and inconvenience to the households is not so great.  As in the case of the “Notts” and “Derbies”, every effort will be made to secure the comfort and entertainment of the men during their stay.  The YMCA Recreation Room at the Public Hall will probably be re-opened; the Wesleyan Recreation and Reading Room has again been placed at the disposal of the troops, and also the Rector and Captain Lydekker have been busily at work preparing the Rector’s Room near the Parish Church and the Church Mission Room**, Luton Road, as reading, writing and recreation centres.  At these two latter places, refreshments will be supplied at reasonable prices, and the arrangements for this department are in the hands of a committee of ladies. … Church parade services for the battalions, some of which have bands, will re-commence at the Parish and St John’s Churches next Sunday morning.  Mr E R Billingham, organist, will again give organ recitals after Sunday evening service at the parish church; in fact, a start was made last Sunday, such favourite hymns as “Lead, Kindly Light” and “Fight the good Fight” being also sung.  The weather has not been very favourable for the drilling of the troops this week.  On Sunday Harpenden received an “invasion” of soldiers in motor cars and buses from Golder’s Green, when the “operations” included movements on the Common and luncheon in the village.

* There is a memorial to the 46th (North Midland) Division at Vermelles. There are other memorials to the Division at the site of the Hohenzollern Redoubt (near Auchy-les-Mines), Gommecourt and Riqueval.

** Harpenden Parish Magazine July 1915, p111

A large number of soldiers still continue to spend their spare time here.  A tournament of all games — namely billiards, bagatelle,draughts and quoits is being arranged for them for next week, beginning Monday, June 28.  Weekly concerts are being held on Wednesdays; Mrs. Pitt is giving one on June 23.  the following week Miss Merrett is bringing an orchestra, and a Mr. Cox (humorist) is also coming.  Early in July Mr. Campbell and Mr. Weeks are giving their sketch.  We hear the whole of the 5th North Staffords who attend the Mission Room are to have their photographs taken very shortly.  There has been lately an addition to the Room in the shape of a splendid billiard table — three quarter size — which appears to be an endless source of delight to the men.  Miss Law and her committee of ladies continue to carry on their work most indefatigably.  The services on Sunday evenings at 8.30. Held by the chaplain, appear to be well attended.  Several of the men have been purchasing testaments issued by the Y.M.C.A.  The Rector, Mr. Sutherland-Graeme, the Chaplain and the Rev. H. Curgenven have all recently addressed the men.

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  • From the Harpenden Parish Magazine for August 1915

    “By the time [this is] in print, the stay of the Staffords in Harpenden will be a thing of the past.  A free tea was given to them [in the Luton Road Mission Room] on Saturday 26th June in anticipation of them leaving.  They actually left on Sunday evening near midnight.” 

    By Diana Parrott (16/02/2015)
  • Edwin Hoskyns, the Bishop of Southwell, confirmed 116 young men of the 6th, 7th and 8th battalions of the Sherwood Foresters in St Nicholas Church on 14th October 1914. (Information passed to the Society by Michael Austin, a member of the Southwell & District Local History Society.)

    By Diana Parrott (19/06/2014)

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