THE GREAT WAR.
The War Memorial in Berwick St James Church contains the names of those who gave their lives in the First World War, the Second World War and the Korean War.
Those men on our War Memorial for the First World War are;
Frank Cecil Blanchard. Colour Sergeant in the Royal Marines Light Infantry, died 29th April 1915 aged 40. No known grave, on the Helles Memorial, Pas de Calais France
Frank George Brice. Lance Corporal in the 2nd Battalion Wilts Regiment, died 15th June 1915 aged 26. No known grave, on the Le Touret Memorial, Pas de Calais France
William Draper. Gunner with the Royal Garrison Artillery Duke of Cornwall’s regiment, died 27th Sept 1918 aged 38. Buried in Queant Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France
Leonard Humphries. Gunner Royal Field Artillery. Died 23rd December 1918 aged 27, buried at The Mikra British Cemetery, Kalamaria, Greece
William Arthur Witchell. 9th Battalion Devonshire Regiment, died 26th October 1917 aged 33. No known grave, on the Tyne Cot Memorial, Zonnebeke, Belgium
Herbert Cyril Smith. 2nd Battalion Wilts Regiment, died 24th July 1915 aged 18. Buried at St Vaast Post Military Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France
Further information about these men will be added to the Website.
BERWICK AND THE GREAT WAR – LAKE DOWN AERODROME
In 1915 the Furness family sold the Berwick St James Estate to Sir Cecil Chubb, and by 1917 it was in the hands of the War Department.
A series of aerodromes were built on Salisbury Plain, including one at Lake Down. This was on the Salisbury/Devizes road (now A360), by Druid’s Lodge, with the aerodrome covering 160 acres including 30 acres of buildings. It had a good surface (grass) though somewhat undulating with a slope towards the east, and the general surroundings were “excellent, open down country with a few small woods”
The Officers Mess and other regimental buildings were on the west of the Devizes road in Berwick Parish (just north of Druid’s Lodge) and the aerodrome on the other side of the road. The water tower, which is still there, was built for this aerodrome. Druid’s Lodge itself was used as The Headquarters of 33rd Wing.
Lake Down Aerodrome was a Training Depot station for SW area No7 group 33rd Wing of the Royal Flying Corps, and although it was mostly completed by 1917 it was closed soon after the end of war and was demolished in 1919 or thereabouts.
Lake Down aerodrome was a station for training in day bombing, and trained 90 officers and 90 NCO at the same time, with 36 DeHavilland 4 and 9 aeroplanes, and 36 Avro’s – 72 aeroplanes in total.
There were a total of 858 people (excluding hostel staff) at the aerodrome, and 47 at the Headquarters at Druid’s Lodge. As well as regimental buildings (including the Officers Mess and separate baths and latrines for Officers, Sergeants and men), there were 6 aeroplane sheds, workshops including carpenters, sailmakers, dope, machine, engine, coppersmiths and smiths – which reminds us of how the aeroplanes were built. The instructional sheds included those for Gunnery, photographic, wireless and bombing. On the 1st August 1918 most of the buildings were completed but water supply only 65%, and lighting only 30% complete.
Larkhill Military Railway was the longest railway operated by the War Department. The length of the main line (excluding sidings) was 7.31miles. It was built in autumn of 1914 and spring 1915 by Sir John Jackson, and it ran from Ratfyn near Amesbury via Larkhill and Airman’s Cross, and it included a branch to the Stonehenge Handley Page aerodrome and finished 600 yards north of Druid’s Lodge to serve Lake Down Aerodrome. It did not reach the water tower, which was built for the aerodrome not for the railway.
This line beyond
Written and researched by
BERWICK AND THE GREAT WAR – A CANADIAN PILOT
As I explained in the article about Lake Down Aerodrome, in 1915 the Furness family sold the Berwick St James Estate to Sir Cecil Chubb, and by 1917 it was in the hands of the War Department.
Many young men trained as pilots at Lake Down Aerodrome. One of them was Gavin Gibson Baird, a young Canadian.
It took Gavin Baird about six months to get
his application for the Flying Corps approved and he finally joined up in May
1917. He was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in September 1917 in
Gavin Baird wrote….
“We were given transportation from Waterloo
The “unoccupied country home” was Berwick House, Mr Delme Awdry living in Asserton House at that time.
Having been trained on day bombers at Lake
Down Gavin Baird was surprised to be posted to Tydd St Mary near Kings Lynn
where he flew night bombers and joined 148 squadron with which he was
In spring 1918 he embarked at Southampton
on a Furness freighter (he presumably had no idea that he had spent a couple of
months living in the house that belonged to the Furness family), and after
reaching France went to Auchel aerodrome, moving in a hurry when the aerodrome
was destroyed by shelling. They made bombing raids every night the weather was
By 1927 Gavin Baird had returned to
These letters have been published on the internet by the “Canadian Letters and Images Project” www.canadianletters.ca
See also the book “The Canadian Army of Salisbury Plain” by T S Crawford
Written and researched by
“ The oozing mud and constant rain
We well remember Salisbury Plain”
Major R H Tait.
I have recently read a fascinating book
called “The Canadian Army on Salisbury Plain” by T S Crawford, which is about
the First Canadian Contingent who spent the winter from October 1914 to
February 1915 on Salisbury Plain before going to fight in
30,600 Canadians and 537 Newfoundlanders
The soldiers arrived in
As Christmas 1914 came, thousands of troops
continued to live in tents, and by the end of December the conditions were
realized to be too bad for both men and horses, and as many as possible were
billeted in nearby villages. The requisitioned billets included private
homes. The Royal Canadian Dragoons were
billeted in Tilshead, Winterbourne Stoke, Berwick St James, Rollestone and
Shrewton. The Royal Canadian Dragoons were part of
The Canadian troops started leaving for
Canadians did not train in such numbers on Salisbury Plain again.
Written by Nicky Street.
Copyright(c) 200 Berwick Saint James. All rights reserved.