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Reminiscences from the Great War

Henry Farrar has kindly allowed the inclusion of the following reminiscences from villagers about the First World War. They are taken from the Book of Hurst which is an invaluable resource for those who want to learn more about the village and its history.

"Mr. Cooper was a member of the Hurst Boy Scouts and when the First World War was declared in 1914 he was camping with the troop at Bexhill in Sussex. The scout master, Mr. Heath, who was also a school master, was well liked by all the boys. He told the boys that because of the war they may have to walk home. Mr Cooper remembered saying that he rather fancied the idea, marching home behind the bugle, but it did not come to that. In the end they were all brought home by train. He was too young to join the army but many lads from the village did and some even made false statements about their age in order to join. For many of them it was the first time they had been away from home, and the first money they had earned. Each lad on joining had to see Captain Godsal at Haines Hill, and he gave them a pound each, 'a lot of money in those days'.

Mr. Cooper joined the Royal Engineers in 1917 with a letter of recommendation from Captain Godsal. He remembers Captain Thomas Godsal's kindness after the war:

"When I came out of the Army Captain Godsal had put by a small farm, Wards Cross Farm, for a deserving soldier coming out of the army, and I applied for it and got it, if ever I blessed a man!"

Salter Chalker recalled his experiences of enlistment:

"I was the first volunteer from Hurst to join the army, half a dozen joined directly after, I went to Reading market, and they asked for volunteers who could ride and shoot for the army. It was August, at the beginning of August 1914. I went to see Col. Weebly at Earley, because he was doing this exercises, he pulled me in to tea, I was a bit nervous. He took me to Reading barracks after tea and he said to the doctor, I want you to pass this boy for the army. The doctor passed me quite fit, I had to put my uniform on and cycle back on Sunday afternoon and there was Ernest Lloyd, Wally Marlum [Mileham] and a bunch of boys standing at the corner when I came down, they saw me and I got off and spoke to them and they went the next day. I joined the Royal Horse Artillery."


They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old.
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun, and in morning
We will remember them.
Lawrence Binyon