Remembrance Day: Brentwood pays tribute to the fallen, marking the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day
PUBLISHED: 11:00 11 November 2018
Brentwood Borough Council
Historian and vice-president of the Brentwood Writers’ Circle Sylvia Kent talks about the centenary anniversary of Armistice Day and what the borough went through 100 years ago.
With First World War centenary news filling our national newspapers, film, TV and social media, there is little we have not learnt about the lives of those who, from 1914 until 1918, served during the destructive Great War.
And the borough will rightly remember and honour those who died 100 years ago, with the centenary of the signing of the Armistice passing on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918. Today, Sunday, November 11, 2018.
From 1805, when the Warley Barracks were built in Brentwood, our local military garrison played a vital part in Essex history.
In 1914, the barracks were famous for swift, efficient training and equipping the battalions of soldiers.
The population of the town doubled quickly.
Often, the soldiers were billeted in private homes all over Brentwood, Shenfield and surrounding villages as the barracks soon filled with personnel.
Massive troop movement with whole regiments arriving and leaving were viewed by locals, from Brentwood and Warley railway station and then onward to Tilbury Docks, bound for France.
I remember interviewing old veterans and family members who had turned out to wave to soldiers disembarking at the station as they marched up Warley Road (now Warley Hill) towards the barracks and the garrison church.
Among the newcomers to Warley Barracks in 1914, was one important person - the Prince of Wales - later to become King Edward VIII. He served with the Grenadier Guards and was often spotted in the town, including Warley Road where his local newsagent Race delivered his morning newspaper.
Consequently the shop was allowed to display a “by appointment” crest.
Among our Brentwood Museum artefacts, there are interesting photographs showing the white tents in which the British forces camped on Shenfield Common during the summer of the early days of the war.
The old Highwood Hospital, then sited at Ongar Road, was occupied by the military and the Poplar Schools became the temporary base for the pupils of the Duke of Yorks school evacuation from Dover.
Army mule-wagons appeared on every street and motor ambulances, some fitted with strange balloon-like containers carried on the roof.
Large houses in nearby Warley and Shenfield were commandeered and were fitted out as hospital wards to tend the war-wounded.
Between November 1914 and March 1919, more than 2,000 wounded passed through Coombe Lodge in Great Warley alone.
Local war memorials bear silent witness to a measure of sacrifice.
So many Brentwoodians lost their sons including the notable Petre family at Ingatestone Hall.
In 1915 Lionel, sixteenth Lord Petre was killed in action.
He was a Lieutenant with the Coldstream Guards and died with numerous other young men from local families.
The cemetery at Lorne Road, off Warley Hill, which is diligently tended, is full of graves of young people of all religions who were brought back to Warley to be buried.
The base of the Lorne Road Great War Memorial reads: “This Cross of Sacrifice is one in design and intention with those which have been set up in France and Belgium and other places throughout the world where our dead are laid to rest.”
Along with many other poignant dedications on numerous war memorials in Brentwood and its satellite villages, I spotted this plaque on the wall of Shenfield Station platform which gives a short background to those station staff who gave up their lives in this terrible war.
Today at 11am, the bugle will sound and the country will fall silent once again for two minutes while we contemplate and remember the sacrifice paid by millions from a whole young generation.
We will certainly remember them!