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Tidworth Camp in the Great War - The Wartime Memories Project -

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Tidworth Camp

13th Aug 1914 9th Lancers on parade  Lieutenant-Colonel D G M Campbell held a dismounted parade and recalled all the great deeds of the Regiment's history, including the Indian Mutiny where the 9th had won more VCs than any other. Also of the Boer War when Lt MacDonald and his men had defended their position to the death. "You are going forth to war," Campbell told them, "with the greatest traditions to uphold."

15th Aug 1914 9th Lancers ready to sail  9th Lancers departed Tidworth Camp, marched to Amesbury station and arrived at Southampton by train, but there was some delay before the transport ships were ready to be loaded for the crossing to Boulogne. 30 officers, 588 other ranks and 613 horses of the 9th Lancers embarked for France aboard the SS Armenian and the SS Welshman.

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Those known to have trained at

Tidworth Camp

during the Great War 1914-1918.

  • Ellison Cecil Harry. Sgt. (d.11th Sep 1915)
  • Fell Alfred James. Lt.
  • Gent Albert Edward. Pte.
  • Green Malcolm Charles Andrew. Lt.Col. (d.17th Nov 1914)
  • Hawkins Samuel Hedley Hemming. Pte.
  • Hughes Joseph Henry. W/O2
  • Mahoney D. J.. Pte.
  • Oliver Thomas. 2nd Lt.
  • Rourke Keith. Sgt.

All names on this list have been submitted by relatives, friends, neighbours and others who wish to remember them, if you have any names to add or any recollections or photos of those listed, please Add a Name to this List

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Pte. D. J. Mahoney 13th Divisional Supply Column, HQ 39th Inf. Brig. Royal Army Service Corps

J D Mahoney served with my great uncle Cecil Harry Ellison as clerk to the staff 39th Brigade HQ, RASC. He corresponded with Cecil's sister and I have a few of his letters.

Ruth Hoskins


Sgt. Cecil Harry Ellison 13th Divisional Supply Column, HQ 39th Inf. Brig. Royal Army Service Corps (d.11th Sep 1915)

My great uncle Cecil Harry Ellison enlisted in the 9th Worcesters as Pte. 13918 and was then a Sgt S4/071946 in the RASC and fought in Gallipoli, I have his letters written from there. He was evacuated to Malta with enteric fever and died there. I have two letters written by ‘Tubby’ Clayton to my grandmother,(his Sister). He is commemorated on Malvern memorial and St James’.

Sgt Cecil Ellison, was born at Malvern, the son of Mr G W Ellison, gamekeeper of Oakdale, West Malvern. He was a clerk at Messrs Lear and Son, Malvern when he enlisted in the first week of the war. He joined Kitchener's Army and was posted to the 9th Worcestershire Regiment; however in January 1915 due to his clerical skills he was transferred to the Army Service Corps as a sergeant and took up duties on the Brigade staff. He was subsequently appointed as Chief Clerk to the 39th Infantry Brigade, which went to the Dardanelles in May. He died of enteric fever at Malta on the 11th September 1915.

In 1915 Cecil was working for a solicitor, Messrs Lear & Son, in Malvern, he came home one day saying Lord Kitchener wanted a million men and he had enlisted. Auntie Joan said Maude and the family were very upset as he was under age and did not have to go (he was 16 or 17). The recruiting officers wanted educated young men for the RASC and Cecil was quickly promoted to Sergeant and worked in the brigade headquaters. It would seem he was wounded and then contracted enteric fever (cholera) which was rife on the battlefield in Gallipoli.

The Dardanelles is a 38-mile strait between the Agean and the Sea of Marmara (it used to be called The Hellespont). It was of great strategic importance as it provided a sea route to Russia. In 1915 the Allies attempted to make Turkey allow passage through. A Naval expedition in February failed. In April 1915, British, Australian and New Zealand troops landed on the Gallipoli peninsula and on the Asian mainland opposite. Turkish resistance was strong and after nine months the troops were withdrawn. 36,000 died and Winston Churchill as First Lord of the Admiralty was blamed for its failure. ANZAC day dates from The Gallipoli Landings and has been observed since 1916

Cecil's description of the peninsular in his letters matched that of other reports of the time. He was possibly at Cape Helles which is at the tip of the peninsular. Galipoli battlefields were hell for both sides the men suffering disease and poor medical care.

When Hamiliton was replaced with Monro, he and Kitchener advised evacuation. The fighting was always horrific and from 6th to 13th of August a renewed effort was made near Krithia but this also was disaster. Cecil's last letter dated 20th August says things are "deuced lively" a massive understatement I would have thought. He mentions the stench of dead Turks around our headquarters

I visited Cecil's grave at Pieta Military Cemetery on the 23rd of January 2006. It is very well maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and there are many graves from WW1 and earlier conflicts. His grave is one of three in the same plot and he shares a memorial grave stone with two New Zealanders who died at the same time. I placed a Cross of Remembrance on the tombstone and recited the Royal British Legion exhortation for all three of them. A special remembrance service is held in Pieta cemetery each year on ANZAC Day by members of the Royal British Legion in Malta and the Australian High Commissioner. They are not forgotten.

I consider it a privilege to have had the opportunity of visiting Cecil's grave and felt that I had got to know him through his thoughtful letters to his mother and sister.

Ruth Hoskins


2nd Lt. Thomas Oliver 9th Battalion, B Company Northumberland Fusiliers

Thomas Oliver joined as a private in the Medical Corp on the 25th September 1914 (aged 20). He was at Tidworth 29th September 1914, at Torquay on 1st of December 1915, Buford on 2nd of June 1916, Warminster on 21st of June 1916. He then went to France with the BEF and No 51 Field Ambulance RAMC and was later discharged on appointment to a commission.

Thomas was commissioned on 26th of September 1916 and appointed a temporary commission as 2nd Lieut posted to the 3rd (Training) Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers. He was posted to the BEF in France on 26th October 1916 and joined B Company, 9th Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers. He was wounded in the trenches to the east of Orange Hill, near Arras on 18th April 1917, being buried under German shell fire six times within an hour, with slight gas and shell shock. He was removed and evacuated to hospital in the UK. He was not discharged for over 12 months until 26th April 1918.

Thomas was reapointed on the 6th of May 1940 to serve as an officer with the RAOC until 15 March 1954 by which time he was aged 60. He passed away in Chester Le Street, County Durham in 1959.

Chris Oliver


Pte. Albert Edward Gent 1/1st Sqd. Warwickshire Yeomanry

With an unnamed friend - A E Gent on the right

Albert Edward Gent, only son of Thomas and Rosa from the hamlet of Hill, near Broadwell in Warwickshire, enlisted in the Warwickshire Yeomanry in April 1915, aged 17 years and 11 months. He gave his year of birth as 2 years before it actually was (1895 rather than 1897). His mother watched him walk away across the fields heading for Warwick, and she didn't speak a word for the next two weeks. Despite being a country boy, he had never ridden a horse before but by this time this was not an impediment to joining a mounted regiment. He trained initially in Warwick before being sent to Tidworth Camp.

In February 1917 he was posted to Egypt, arriving there at the end of the month, having travelled across France by train, then onwards by ship. By the middle of March 1917 he was in the thick of the action, along with his horse, Jess. One night when on picquet duty and very, very tired, he fell asleep and was caught by the Major. As he was told, he was lucky it hadn't been the Serjeant-Major or he might well have been shot, but the Major was a more tolerant man!

In November 1917 he had reached within 20 miles of Jerusalem before being struck down with appendicitis, and was operated on in a field hospital before being sent to the Red Cross Hospital at Giza, having developed peritonitis. Somehow he managed to survive and after being in hospital for about 2 months was sent to convalesce in a corner of the big army camp in Alexandria called Mustapha Camp. He was reclassified B3, unfit for frontline service and transferred to the Royal Warwickshire Regiment at Port Tewfik, where soldiers who had become unfit were often sent to take on guard duties on the Suez Canal. In May 1918, he was again admitted to hospital, this time in Alexandria, with a UTI, and stayed there for 10 days. He was discharged on the day his former Yeomanry friends gathered at the docks to board the ship 'Leasowe Castle', heading for the Western Front, and appears to have visited them in their camp shortly before they set off. He was still in Alexandria when the news came that their ship had been torpedoed and sunk.

He was now transferred again to the 644th (MT) ASC in Alexandria where he remained for the rest of the war. Here, he was involved in putting together the Model T Ford kits which came from the US. They tested the made-up kits for road-worthiness by driving them to a sand dune with a shallow slope on one side and a steep one on the other. They drove, foot to the boards, as fast as possible up the shallow slope, taking off at the top and landing with a 'bang' at the bottom. If the Model T still worked after this, it was classed as road-worthy. He also qualified as an electrician, 1st class during this time. At some point, after September 1918, he was based in Nazareth for a while. He remained in Egypt until June 1919, when he was sent home to be discharged. He was classed as 25% disabled and received a Silver War Badge.

His discharge medical may indicate early signs of a heart problem, possibly caused by his service. In the Second World War he joined the Home Guard, initially carrying his recently retired ex-Scotland Yard cousin's truncheon. According to him, 'Dad's Army' was remarkably accurate! He was forced to retire in 1954 due to his on-going heart problems He lived until 1972, finally succumbing to his 5th heart attack. His ashes were interred, as per his wishes, at the fairly new Oakley Woods Cemetery - where he had once exercised the Warwickshire Yeomanry horses.

Lilias Odell


Sgt. Keith Rourke 2nd Inf. Btn.

Keith Rourke was born in 1887 at Singleton, New South Wales to parents Henry and Amy Rourke. He enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on 28 August 1914, joining the 2nd Infantry Battalion. Prior to enlistment, Rourke worked as a farmer on his father's property, 'Cheshunt', near Singleton. He departed Sydney on 18 October 1914 aboard HMAT Suffolk and joined the preparations for the Gallipoli landing in Alexandria.

Rourke survived the landing only to suffer a shoulder wound in early May which was compounded by his contracting influenza whilst in hospital on Mudros Island. He was invalided to England in September and remained there until March 1916, when he re-joined his unit in France. By mid-1917, Rourke had been promoted to corporal but was suffering from a shrapnel wound to the back and trench foot.

Whilst recovering, Rourke trained in musketry at the Lewis Gun School of Instruction in Tidworth. In October 1918 Rourke was promoted to sergeant, but was returned to Australia on special leave before the end of the war. Keith Rourke also served in the Second World War, listing his date of birth as 1891 in order to serve.

S Flynn


Pte. Samuel Hedley Hemming Hawkins 15th Infantry Btn.

Samuel Hedley Hemming Hawkins was born in Brisbane, Queensland in 1897 to Hedley and Florence Hawkins. He enlisted with the Australian Imperial Force on 18th September 1914 whilst still 17 years old, joining the 15th Infantry Battalion. He had no prior military experience, other than four years with cadets, and was working as a factory hand at the time. Hawkins departed Australia for Egypt aboard HMAT Ceramic in December 1914.

After training in Egypt, Hawkins embarked for Gallipoli, landing late on 25th April 1915. He spent five months fighting on the peninsula before being transferred to hospital in Egypt, suffering from dysentery and shell shock. Hawkins was discharged from hospital in January 1916 and ordered to return to Australia to recuperate.

In October 1916 Hawkins joined the Citizen Military Forces, while also working as a clerk in the AIF pay office in Brisbane. By mid-1917 he had re-enlisted, this time as Hedley Hawkins, joining the 11th Reinforcements for the 4th Pioneer Battalion. Again, Hawkins exaggerated his age, stating that he was 21 and born in 1895, helping to avoid the need for parental consent. On 1st August 1917 he travelled aboard HMAT Medic to England.

Hawkins' second term of service was mainly spent at Kandahar Barracks at Tidworth, receiving a brief promotion to acting lance corporal in December 1917. In mid-1918 he finally saw service overseas, transferring to France with the 4th Pioneer Battalion. However, this was not to last long. Samuel Hawkins returned to England just over six months later and demobilised for return to Australia during January 1919.

Samuel Hedley Hemming Hawkins' son, 404433 Sergeant Hedley Maurice Hawkins served in the Second World War with No. 101 Squadron, Royal Air Force.

s flynn


Lt. Alfred James Fell MC. 34th Battalion

Alfred James Fell was born on 7th of May 1890 at Liverpool, England to Captain Alfred and Christina Fell. He attended Wallasey Grammar School in England and Sydney Church of England Grammar School after arriving in Australia. Fell worked as an accountant before enlisting as a sergeant in the Australian Imperial Force on 22nd August 1915. In April 1916, he was assigned to the 34th Battalion which had been formed in Maitland, New South Wales that January.

Fell departed Australia aboard HMAT Hororata with the 34th Battalion on 2nd May 1916. The battalion spent five months training in England and it was during this time that Fell attended the bombing school at Lyndhurst and Officer training school for Non-Commissioned Officers at Tidworth. He accompanied his unit to France on 21st November 1916. Fell was awarded the Military Cross on 27th November 1918 for his actions at Villers Bretonneux between 4th and 5th April 1918. In May 1918. He was reported missing and noted as a German prisoner of war on 27th May 1918. He was repatriated after the war and arrived in England on 1st December 1918. Alfred Fell returned to Australia from England aboard HMAT Orca and arrived in Sydney on 3rd April 1919.

s flynn


W/O2 Joseph Henry Hughes MM 24th Batt (2nd Sportsmen's) Royal Fusiliers

Joe Hughes, my grandfather, was one of just six men of the original 24th, or 2nd Sportsmen's, battalion, raised at the Hotel Cecil in late 1914 and early 1915, remaining with the 2nd Sportsmen at the end of the war. He was a specialist in grenades, explosives and bombing raid training and leadership from 1916 to 1918, when he was promoted to CSM, I believe in B Coy., after the final German offensive in March 1918. He had refused the offer of a commission because it would have meant leaving the battalion, and he was determined to see the war through with his friends and comrades. Apart from being awarded the MM for his part in taking a heavily defended quarry at Rumilly, Cambrai, in 1918, his other distinction was that he was probably the first man to fire a Bangalore Torpedo (an explosive charge on a long rod, designed to blast gaps in barbed wire entanglements) in action. He was an enthusiastic member of the regimental association between the wars and in the post war years, and kept a fascinating collection of documents, photographs and artefacts, which are now with the Museum of the Royal Fusiliers at the Tower of London. He also left a fascinating collection of stories, some of which I recorded for the Museum, about life in the Battalion, through training in England - when the men went on strike over the quantity and quality of their food, and were threatened with cavalry and machine guns before returning to duty - and the three years on the Western Front that followed. Cross checking his accounts with the Battalion War Diary, I found a remarkable degree of accuracy - although the strike took place at Tidworth Camp in England, before the battalion was shipped to France, and did not therefore appear in the diary (I wonder whether this type of incident would have been recorded at all!)

Colin McDonald


Lt.Col. Malcolm Charles Andrew Green 2nd Batalion South Lancashire Regiment (d.17th Nov 1914)

My Grandfather, Lt Colonel Malcolm Green, was not with his Regiment (South Lancashire) on the Western Front at beginning of war, but was in Tidworth training the first cohort of Kitchener's recruits ("K1"). However, on 31st October the senior officers of the Regiment at Ypres were mortared at Hooge Chateau, and killed or severely wounded. My grandfather was dispatched from Tidworth to take command of the 2nd Batalion. He left Tidworth on 8th November, arriving at the Front on 13th November, and was killed 2 kms east of Ypres (near Hooge) on 17th November. Although I have an accurate map of where he fell and where he was buried by his fellow soldiers, by the end of the war there was no trace and he is, therefore, commemorated on the Menin Gate.

Celia Edey

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