FIRST WORLD WAR (1914 – 1918)
Britain declared war on Germany on 4th August 1914. On 22nd August a report appeared in the Gazette saying that recruitment was taking place in Thornbury and District for Lord Kitchener’s Second Army. John Harrison Bond, a retired naval officer of Castle Street was the local recruitment officer. The men being enlisted at that time had to be between the age of 19 and 30, unless they were old soldiers who could be up to the age of 42. No men already serving as Territorials would be accepted. Enlisted soldiers were to serve for the duration of the War or if they chose for a period of three years and were told they could chose almost any corps they liked. During the next five years the town and surroundings paid a heavy price …….
We have collected a range of information about how the war affected people in Thornbury from a number of sources and we have sorted these details into the categories shown below.
Soldiers and Seamen – we have collected snippets of information about people from Thornbury and the surrounding areas who served in the armed forces during the First World War.
War Memorials – we have transcribed the names listing the Thornbury men killed on three of the memorials in the town. In each case, you can click on any of the underlined names to to read what we know about each person and his family.
- St Mary’s Church WWI Memorial
- United Reformed Church
- Thornbury Grammar School War Memorial
- Thornbury Baptist Church
There is a brass memorial on a wall inside the NatWest Bank. This is dedicated to the memory of the 2681 members of staff of the bank who served in the Great War and the 415 members who lost their lives.
War Memorial Fund 1919 – the various sites considered for the erection of the Town’s War Memorial and list of the local Thornbury people who contributed towards its erection. (Note this list is produced in the form of a PDF file ans we apologise for it not being suited to be viewed on smartphones and small screens) See War Memorial Fund list
Thornbury Roll of Honour 1915 – a composite list of the men and women shown as serving in the Forces as published in the Gazette on 16th January 1915 and the Bristol Times and Mercury 25th December 1915. See Roll of Honour list
Christmas Gifts to the Troops – in December 1916 the Gazette reported that nearly £50 was raised in Thornbury for the purpose of sending each soldier and sailor from the town a Christmas parcel and over 200 were sent out. Each parcel contained one tin of gingerbread biscuits, 50 cigarettes, one khaki handkerchief, and one tablet of soap provided out of the money subscribed and in addition one pair of socks made and given by the ladies knitting party in connection with the Thornbury working party. In 1917 a Christmas card was added to the parcels and the socks were displayed in Williams’ shop window prior to dispatch.
Recruitment and Exemptions – the steps taken to encourage Thornbury men to join the fighting, initially voluntarily but later by conscription, and the arrangements made for some men to delay or avoid going into battle.
Prisoner of War Camps – during the War German prisoners were held at camps at Marlwood and Tytherington Stone Quarries. See Prisoners of War
The Railway – the Thornbury branch line was used to carry fodder for the horses. We also have photos that appear to show that the station was also used for troops in the First World War. Read about the railway to Thornbury
Belgian Refugees – almost a quarter of a million Belgians fled to England after the German invasion of 1914. Some of these came to Thornbury. Read about Belgian Refugees
The War also affected those people left at home who took steps to protect themselves. Read about the 1st Volunteer Training Corps and Defence of the Realm Act. Click here to read more
Feeding Thornbury – in WWI Rationing was introduced in 1918 and the country had to take steps to increase the food grown at home. Click here to read more