HORRABRIDGE AT WAR – MEMORIES WANTED

Local military historian Ian Mulholland is calling for exhibits and information for a Horrabridge At War exhibition to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of fighting in World War 1.

The war officially ended at 11am on the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918, after Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany abdicated, with his forces on the edge of mutiny, and cleared the way for his government to sign a peace agreement drawn up by Britain and France, with the USA standing behind them.

The Horrabridge memorial lists 16 local lost, over four years and four months of fighting, from a village which then amounted to no more than a couple of hundred houses.

It was still an important crossroads, however, on the shortest route across the moors from Plymouth to Exeter, with a busy railway station and goods distribution network.

As dramatised in the book and film War Horse, Dartmoor was a major source of horses, horse handlers and saddlery, for the military. Timber and sphagnum moss (for the treatment of wounds) were also important local contributions to the war effort.

Plasterdown became established as a training and transit camp, supplied through the village. Dartmoor Prison became the Princetown Work Centre, where a thousand conscientious objectors were forced into hard labour. And young farm lads and miners and millers queued up, even before compulsory conscription began, in 1916, to go soldiering for a shilling a day.

“Dutchy” Mulholland, a Colour Sergeant in the Royal Marines, is lead organiser of the Horrabridge Combined Services Group and publishes regular reminders of historic events in military history on their website – including, this week, the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Amiens, which was a disaster for Germany and the turning point of WW1 –

https://www.cwgc.org/history-and-archives/first-world-war/campaigns/western-front/amiens-to-armistice/amiens-to-armistice-1

He is planning an exhibition in the parish hall over the weekend of November 3-4, prior to Remembrance Sunday, which this year falls exactly on November 11.

In a circular appealing for support on local Facebook pages this week, he said: Families will have tucked away their family medals, service certificates, pay books, photographs and more memorabilia.

“I have been shown some really interesting information already. With the depth of military people who live in the local area I am sure that we can spread this to the Boer Wars, and all conflicts right up to date, such as Aden, Falklands, Iraq & Afghanistan. Items will be catalogued and returned after the exhibition.”

He can be contacted on 0776 498 3441 or at dut_mulholland@hotmail.com/

The late Jack Maddock, who lived in the village from 1907 to 1990, recalled the start of the war in 1914 in his memoirs.

He said: “On the hoarding at Black Arch (the railway bridge which used to cross the A386) was a big poster of Earl Kitchener pointing his finger with these words: Your King and Country Need You. Many answered that call, not knowing or thinking of the hardships of trench warfare or bombardment with big guns.”

The Devonshire Regiment was plunged straight into the thick of the fighting in France and stayed there. Horrabridge lost at least two Navy men at the Battle of Jutland in 1916. And one of the names on the village memorial, Sergeant Alfred Barnett Baldwin, was the first casualty at Gallipoli from the Royal Naval Division, a specialist landing force which was the beginning of the Royal Marines as a service distinct from both Army and Navy, with a distinctive uniform jacket which got them nicknamed Leathernecks.

Picture below, of troops crossing the village bridge on their way to Plasterdown, was probably taken in 1916.

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Editor of The Horrabridge Times.