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High Beech Camp in the Great War - The Wartime Memories Project -

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High Beech Camp

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Those known to have trained at

High Beech Camp

during the Great War 1914-1918.

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Feb 2018

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Did you know? We also have a section on World War Two. and a Timecapsule to preserve stories from other conflicts for future generations.


Fus. Ernest John Powell 26th Btn. Royal Fusiliers

31st May 1915 Boys of Tent 7, High Beech Camp

Fusilier Powell was my father. In 1953, he gave a short talk about his career to his Rotary Club (West Wickham, Kent). In this talk he referred to his Service in WW1, as follows: "I volunteered for the Army in 1914, but Head Office said we could not be released until sufficient women had been trained to replace us…. In September 1915 I volunteered at Ammanford, Carmarthenshire (being the nearest recruiting centre to Llandeilo where I was a Junior Clerk in the London and Provincial Bank). I was assigned to the 26th (Service) Battalion, Royal Fusiliers (Bankers) raised by Col. Pitt of the London and South Western Bank, and we were 80% Bank chaps. We went to France in May 1916, supposed to be tough infantry men, which I rather doubt. I transferred to the Tank Corps in France". The first photo shows Fusilier Powell as one of "The Boys of Tent No 7, High Beech, 1915". He is 2nd from right in back row, as you look at the photo.

The second photo is the All Ranks photo, 26th (Service) Battalion, Royal Fusiliers (Bankers). Aldershot, 1915. Fusilier Powell is 2nd from the left in the fourth row of the photo. It was taken (presumably) before the Battalion embarked for France.

The third photo is of the 1936 Reunion of the Banker’s Battalion. My father attended these Reunions in London – at least until the mid 1950’s (excluding years of World War 2). He was then Manager, Barclays Bank, West Wickham, Kent, a London suburb. These reunions were always preceded by a Church Service at the Royal Fusiliers Church in the City. The cost of the Reunions (always at the Connaught Rooms) were reportedly heavily subsidized, so my father said, by a Maj. Clutterbuck, a Board Director of Martin’s (or was it District?) Bank. My father is the nearest person at the nearest side of the 2nd table from the right (looking over left shoulder and in a lighter colored jacket - probably as befits a suburban Manager, compared with all the "City types"!).

Graham Powell


Pte. Alfred Henry Wilkinson 12th Btn. Middlesex Regiment (d.26th Sep 1916)

Alfred Wilkinson was my uncle, born in 1896 he was a Bank Clerk. He joined the Army on 31st March 1916 at High Beech Camp, Loughton Essex.

He met his death on 26th September 1916 in the storming of Thiepval at the Somme. A letter from a comrade in action to Alfred's father reads as follows: I was with Alfred when he was hit. I'm afraid I cannot tell you much, but will give you what I saw of him. We were advancing in file with Alfred on my right hand. we got over about 300yds, when the boches being driven out of their trenches, we took cover behind a fallen tree log to fire. All rising up to rush the trench, Alfred was hit by a shrapnel in his right thigh and sank behind the tree again. As we had to rush the trench we couldn't stop to reach him. We last saw him reclining on his left side holding his hand over the wound which we did not think at all serious. Being where he was he was well protected from snipers and certainly he could never have been taken prisoner there, being left 100 yds behind. The only thing that must have happened was that, as the enemy shelled all the ground gained in hopes of stopping reinforcements, he was caught by one of their shells. In that case anything could have happened, for no one would be able to get him until the shelling had ceased; a shell would throw up enough earth to bury one from sight, which would account for his identification disc not being brought in. If he was able to proceed down to the dressing station,he would have to go over the enemy fire showing that anything may have happened to him. I am afraid that is all I know with regard to Alfred whom I have known for about six months and we all render you our deepest sympathy in your undoubtable loss. yours sincerely, J H Wilson.

David Allen

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