Part 1

Photo:George Harper - author

George Harper - author

Farndon in the Great War

By George Harper


Some years ago I carried out a research project into Farndon Village War Memorials which resulted in the correction of a number of inaccuracies and the addition of some names which had been omitted. The consequence was that the Parish Council kindly used the corrections to have a new updated version of the War Memorial placed in the entrance hall of the Village Memorial Hall.

I relied heavily on the information to be found in past issues of the ‘Newark Advertiser’ and the ‘Newark Herald’, and all sorts of interesting details came to light. Since next year [2014] will see the centenary of the outbreak of the Great War, the so-called ‘war to end all wars’, and no doubt there will be a lot of general curiosity in the subject, I thought residents might be interested to get some idea of how people in the village were affected.

The outbreak of war and mobilisation.

The first to be caught up in the unfolding of events were the group of Farndon men who were serving as part-time soldiers in the 8th Battalion of the Sherwood Foresters –a Territorial Battalion who had been taking part in a summer training camp up in Yorkshire. 

When war was declared on August 4th mobilisation orders were issued by the government and from Tuesday August 7th the battalion began to assemble in Newark under their Commanding Officer, Colonel C.J. Huskinson, a Solicitor in Larken’s practice in town and a resident at Farndon Lodge off Church Street. 

Those from distant parts of Nottinghamshire were billeted in local schools and the Town Hall; local men, which would no doubt include the Farndon contingent, were allowed to sleep at home but had to report for duty in Newark each morning.

The centre of Newark, particularly the Market Place, was a hive of activity as the Battalion was made ready to march off on the first stage of preparing for battle. Horses were compulsorily purchased and wagons of local firms commandeered to carry baggage. The scene was one of general excitement and hubbub the like of which had probably not been seen since the Civil War in the 1640s.

Needless to say it was an occasion which everybody wanted to witness and it must have attracted any Farndon residents who could spare the time to watch events which would form the memories of a lifetime.

The Battalion’s first task was to march from Newark to Derby to link up with the other Regiments in the North Midland Division and to be transported by troop trains to encampments where they would receive training to fit them for battle. So after a drumhead service in the Market Square on Sunday, there was a civic send off on Monday August 13th before the Foresters set out on their march to Derby in their thick serge battle dress on a blazing hot day, wearing kit for full marching order and carrying their rifles. 

Their route took them along Carter Gate and Victoria Street out to the Fosse Road to their overnight stop at Radcliffe-on-Trent. 

We can only imagine the feelings of the Farndon men as they passed Farndon crossroads and marched past the end of School Lane. Did they peer down School Lane towards the old school where they had been taught as children? At that stage, did they wonder when they would be seeing the Village and their loved ones again? It would be highly likely that there would be a cluster of schoolchildren and villagers standing and waving them goodbye. And at the head of the column rode Colonel Huskinson and his senior officers passing the village where he had been such a distinguished resident.


The proud and patriotic display was the first stage in fitting the 8th Battalion for action against the German army by submitting them to intensive training in camp at Harpenden north of London.

Remember the extreme optimism of the time. “It will all be over by Christmas” was the ‘in’ phrase, and volunteers were anxious to enlist in case they missed all the action. 

For the Foresters it didn’t work out like that. By September 9th Colonel Huskinson was back in Newark with 270 of his battalion. One hundred and thirty five of them had been pronounced medically unfit for service overseas – a comment on the general standards of health at the time. The rest had exercised the right which Territorials had at that time to serve in the U.K. rather than overseas. 

Colonel Huskinson had been posted back to base prior to taking charge of a large base depot at Etaples in France where his talent for  administration would be more valuable.

With a big hole created in the strength of the battalion the emphasis now switched to recruiting. 

Conscription didn’t come until 1916. In addition, already there was a need for another battalion and a drive began to attract over 1000 new recruits, with advertisements appearing in the local papers. A Roll of Honour was put up in the porch of St. Peter’s Church [Farndon] with the names of the men from the village who had enlisted. 

Within six weeks of the outbreak of war 33 Farndon men were serving in the army and 6 in the Royal Navy. Their names were being read out at services on Tuesday and Friday evenings. In one of the issues of the ‘Newark Advertiser’ in 1915, 66 names of Farndon men are mentioned, with familiar names of long established local families figuring in the list: Doleman, Edlin, Hall, Mayfield, Rushby, Sharpe, Scrutton and Tow. 

You have to balance that number against a total village population of about 700. It constituted big proportion of the able bodied adult males. There was also the hardship to families to consider with the chief breadwinners now existing on army pay, so a new fund called the Prince of Wales fund was created to provide allowances in cases of poverty.

To read the Second Part of George Harper's account click HERE

This article first appeared in the September 2013 edition of 'Farndon Focus', and is reproduced here by kind permission of the author and the magazine's editor.















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