"On the Home Front"


The Bednall Archive

Zeppelins over Tunbridge

German Zeppelins brought war to the Home Front in January 1915 when Britain experienced its first air raid and in 1916, almost 300 people were killed and 700 injured in 23 airship raids.  During the next 3 years a total of 51 raids were made covering targeting towns such as  King's Lynn, Great Yarmouth, Liverpool, Tipton, Hull, and London.  The attacks caused considerable public reaction even though the risk of injury from them was very low but people began to take out insurance to cover their homes and property for war damage.  One was Mrs Dora J. B. Wild of Birkdale near Southport who wrote to her Macclesfield solicitor about it in January 1916, mentioning, in the course of it, an air raid on Tunbridge Wells.  On or near the real front, however, the risks to civilians were very real and much more serious than the photo of a French church damaged by shells suggests.

More? Zeppelins over Tipton  Airship attack on Hartlepool  Dark Autumn  

ombs on Tunbridge Wells. Letter from Mrs Dora J B Wild of Birkdale, Southport to A. W. Bullock, solicitor, Macclesfield, 29 January 1916.
War damage-church 14-18.jpg (118242 bytes)

Mr MacGregor's Brother

Conscription of all men aged between 16 and 41 began in 1916 and affected the lives of millions including farmers whose work was definitely in the "national interest". John MacGregor was a farmer living at Oskamull Farm, Ulva Ferry, Mull and relying on the help of his brother to run the farm. When, despite the war being over, his brother was again called- up, he faced great difficulty as his letter relates.  Of course, he wasn't the only one, and the tribunals which considered appeals against call-up were kept very busy and not primarily by conscientious objectors.

More? Where the wild things are

MacGregor's call-up Letter from John MacGregor of Oskamull Farm, Mull to  unkown, 1 May 1919?

The Blacksmith's Dilemma

On 6th of November 1916 ..?.. Bayley, a married blacksmith with four children, was granted exemption from military service by the Rural District Tribunal,  on condition that he joined the local volunteers.  Unfortunately he lived two miles from where the drills were carried out and in addition to his work as a blacksmith, he had cattle, a horse and pigs to look after, carrying out the farm work at night and often working 14 hours a day. To make matters worse, the War Agricultural Committee had required him to plough an additional 1.75 acres for potatoes, making a total of 2.75 acres that he had to plough.  On 27 November 1917, he wrote to Frederick May of Macclesfield, his solicitor, asking him to ask the Local Tribunal to remove the condition attached to his deferment. Whether Mr Bayley's wish was granted is not known.

Blacksmiths dilemma.jpg (81579 bytes)


War with Germany ended on 28 June 1919 with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles and with Austria the other countries in a subsequent series of treaties.  Relief, celebration and demobilisation followed. For some, like "Writer to the Signet"  C. F. M. Maclachlan, it was simply a matter of picking up where he left off (see letter dated April 1919) but for others the return to normal civilian life was to be more problematical -in many cases impossible.

[To be continued]

C. F. M. Maclachlan's letter April 1999