Essex Regiment & Essex Militia History

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Chelmsford in the first week of WW1

On 6 August 1914 the Prime Minister stated that he hoped to raise half a million men to add to the strength of the army.

On 7 August 1917 The Chelmsford Chronicle reported that

 'Chelmsford is outwardly calm, but the tremendous interest in the war is shown by the large assemblies outside the newspaper offices waiting for the latest telegrams'

The County Territorial Offices are a hive of activity.

The National Reserves of all the county have been called up and all Wednesday and yesterday they were pouring into the town and presenting themselves at the Territorial Offices, where they underwent medical examination before being allocated to Regular and Territorial Units.

The men displayed a splendidly patriotic spirit, and eagerly took the change of again serving their country.

All the Territorials have been mobilised in rapid and smooth fashion and the response to the call has been splendid.

On every main road motor vehicles of all descriptions are to be met conveying troops and despatch riders are speeding through the town'.

Chelmsford cattle market was opened specifically to deal with horses which had been requisitioned for use in the army for pulling freight, guns, ambulance wagons etc.  as well of for Yeomanry cavalry.

Hoffmans, The Steam Car Company and the Arc  Works were on their annual holiday but 200 men from Hoffmans , 100 from Arc Works and 40 from the Steam Car Company were included in those reserves mobilised. This meant that management had to make plans to deliver the sudden new Government orders for war goods with many fewer men to work.

Territorial Forces

Most of the work centred on the County Territorial Association Offices at Chelmsford which were run by the Director Colonel F F Johnson CB and his staff Col M V Hilton, Hon Sec recruiting committee and Alderman J O Thompson, Hon Sec National Reserve for Witham & Chelmsford.

Other staff included Col H N Crozier VD, Major A Bennett Bamford VD, Col G H Coleman VD, Captain W G Wenley, Major Fred Taylor DL, VD of 5th Essex and Surgeon Captain Storrs.

Essex Yeomanry

The Essex Yeomanry completed their embodiment on 6 August 1914 and were ready for service.

Warley  Barracks

Guards were doubled at the Magazine Stores at Warley Barracks

Emergency Hospital

Chelmsford VAD ( Voluntary Aid Detachment) were granted the use of Chelmsford Corn Exchange as a hospital in the case of need.

Braintree Reservists

The Chelmsford Chronicle reported

Stirring scenes were witnessed at Braintree railway station on Wednesday morning when about 100 reservists made their departure to rejoin the colours.

A crowd of about a thousand people assembled to cheer the reserves and the men embraced former companion in arms when they met and danced with glee about the platforms, but there were weeping women and children in the crowd.

and possibly more in tune with what was to come

A vey pathetic scene was witnessed at Dunmow Station on Wednesday. The young wife of a reservist called up for the war first became hysterical and then fainted. As her hsuband hurried off his wife was carried insensible away.

Strike Over

Immediately war was declared the farmers agreed to agricultural workers demands for  eight pounds during harvest and 15shillings per week after the harvest and reinstatement of all men sacked during the strike. The harvest which will be important to the war effort will now be brought in.

Suffragettes

Miss Ethel Thompson from Brentwood who was the local leader of the suffragettes called of the action for the duration of the war instructing her members to consider how best they can help their community.

Marconi

Marconi promised that the seventy men who were called on to serve in the Army or Navy would have their job reserved for the duration of the war.

Health Insurance

Contributions for the National Health Insurance were halved from the normal 3 pence per week for reservists and volunteers to the Territorial Forces.

AA

The Automobile Association asked its 92 thousand members to consider placing their cars and motorcycles at the disposal of the military and arranged to pass on any offers to the War Office in London.

Food

Due to panic buying there were some shortages of food in Essex shops. Bacon, cheese and sugar all went up by 2 pence a pound, rice, butter and biscuits went up 1 pence a pound and tinned food sold out quickly.

Bread prices rose and corn merchants expressed fears for the future as supplies mainly came from Russia and Argentine.