Thursday, November 13, 2014
Born and growing up in Bishops Stortford our newest volunteer Russell King has a keen interest in family and local history so we set him the task of researching our police incident books during the First World War to try to uncover some fascinating stories about the town. Here is his first report.
After working through the records, a police report caught my eye; Hadham Hall and two soldiers going AWOL from there in June 1915. As a past pupil when it was a school I took up the story and decided to research the incident and see what other information I could reveal about the military presence here during WWI.
The only details I had within the report were that the Officer reporting the incident was from the Royal Field Artillery and that they were based at Hadham Hall. I followed this up by examining records held within Bishop’s Stortford Museum’s archives. Unfortunately there was no relevant information, only that during both wars Hadham Hall was used as a training ground. The internet was the next stop, where I found a forum about WWI with a listing entered saying that Hadham Hall as well as Stansted were used as training grounds for the 300th Brigade RFA and that both places were mentioned in the brigade’s WWI war diaries.
The National Archives Online website has a vast amount of information about WW1, and by searching the WW1 War Diaries I found that the 300th Brigade RFA (part of the 60th Division which later became the 2/2nd London Division) was broken up and renamed the 2/5 London Brigade RFA.
The 2/5 London Brigade RFA arrived at their War Station on 9thJune 1915 with 24 officers, 626 other ranks, 51 horses and 11 guns and limbers billeted at Hadham Hall, Albury Hall, Patmore Heath and Little Hadham.
The war diaries, which cover their stay in the area, are a fascinating research tool telling you every aspect of daily life. Entries include, horses been destroyed due to septic pneumonia and broken legs, troops playing sports, and records of the morale of the men. There was even a mention of 3 horses that had been sold to the brigade by Messrs Sworders in Bishops Stortford. The brigade was billeted at Hadham hall and the surrounding area, for approximately 2 months before it had been moved to a new encampment at Burton End, Stansted.
Sadly there is no further information at present about the missing soldiers, but the story of the brigade’s presence in the area is an interesting one in itself. There is likely more to come from this story in a further blog.