Saturday, 4 August 2018

Making progress with my latest book ... and on a very appropriate day as well!

I began work on writing my latest book last Tuesday ... and already I have completed about a third of the entries.

The book is about the members of the Hertfordshire Masters' Lodge (No.4090) who served in the military in the period up to 1920, and as I have been reading the notes and then writing each individual entry I have been struck by the variety of experiences that they underwent.

The entries so far cover the following:
  • A silversmith who was born in 1851, and who became a stalwart member of one of the earliest Volunteer Rifle Corps. He was too old to serve during the Great War.
  • A doctor who was born in 1860 and who was a pre-war volunteer. He served with a Territorial battalion as medical officer until the end of the Great War.
  • A second doctor who was born in 1862 and who joined the Royal Navy as a surgeon. Although he had retired in 1907, he re-enlisted in 1914 and worked as a naval doctor at HMS Excellent (the Royal Navy's School of Gunnery) until he was invalided out in late 1916.
  • A teacher who was born in 1864 and who set up and ran one of the earliest school Cadet Corps in the UK. He continued to help train prospective officers until the end of the Great War.
  • A naval officer who was born in 1872, served with the Naval Brigade at the Siege of Ladysmith during the Second Boer War and commanded one of the earliest battle cruisers at the Battles of Heligoland and Dogger Bank. He then served as Jellicoe's 'Captain of the Fleet' at the Battle of Jutland before taking up a post at the Admiralty as one of the junior Sea Lords. He later commanded a Battle Cruiser Squadron and the Australian Fleet.
  • A musical instrument maker who was born in 1878 and volunteered to join the British Army in 1915. He was commissioned as a Lieutenant in a Pioneer Battalion and served in France until he was invalided out in 1917 when his health broke down.
  • A civil engineer who was born in 1880 and who joined the Royal Engineers as an officer in 1916. He was Mentioned in Despatches in 1917 and was made a Chevalier of the Legion d’Honneur for his services.
  • A nurseryman who was born in 1883, and who was a senior NCO in a Territorial unit when war broke out in 1914. He served during the fighting in Belgium and France, and was made an officer in the Army Service Corps when the army was expanded by Lord Kitchener. He took part in the fighting to stem the German Offensive in 1918 and was Mentioned in Despatches.
  • A dentist who was born in 1884, and who was not called up until the last weeks of the war. He then served for just over a year in the newly-formed Royal Air Force.
  • A minister of religion who was born in 1885 and who served as an Army Chaplain for two years on the Western Front.
  • An advertising executive who was born in 1887 and who served as an officer with the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve from 1915 onwards. He became an expert in anti-submarine warfare and during the Second World War he helped trained the crews of the Royal Navy's rapidly expanded anti-submarine force.
  • An accountant who was born in 1888 and who volunteered to join the Royal Navy Reserve in 1914. He became a Paymaster, and after service during the Dardanelles Campaign he devised a special movement system for ship sailing across the Irish Sea that reduced the number of accidental collisions and ships sunk by U-Boats. After the war he was awarded an OBE for his work.
  • A bank manager who was born in 1891 and who was already serving as an officer in a Territorial unit when was was declared. He and his unit formed part of the Tyne Garrison until 1918, when he went to France just before the German Offensive of 1918. He remained in the British Army after the war had ended and took part in the Afghan War before being demobilised in 1921.
I still have quite a few more entries to write, and I'm sure that they will tell stories of equally interesting and diverse military service.

It is rather appropriate that I have written this blog entry today as it is the 104th anniversary of Britain's declaration of war on German.

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