Local News Stories

Various articles and stories which were featured in the local newspaper during World War 1.


Guardsman James Williams

Guardsman James Williams

James Williams was the son of Mr & Mrs F Williams and brother to Mr W Williams who was assistant steward of Swanley Junction Working Men's Club and Institute. His father had served 21 years in the British Army, for some years with the Grenadier Guards and served through the Egyptian campaign in 1882. As an Army Reservist he went to Canada between 1910-11.  He married Miss Emma Bridle, of Swanley in 1912 in Canada, where was still living. James had returned from ...
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Private Frederick Norman Ayles

Private Frederick Norman Ayles

Private Frederick Ayles was an old boy of Aylesbury Road School.  His mother (a widow) lived on Simpson Road, Bromley. He had joined the army in 1902 and later served with the South Lancashire Regiment. He went to France on 7th October 1914, and consequently must have seen some of the severest fighting. He was killed in action on the 13th November 1914. His brother Ernest Walter Ayles joined the Army Service Corps in October 1914  (two month prior to ...
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Gunner WH King_1914

Gunner W H King

Son of William Henry and Eliza King, of 17 New England Road, Brighton, King was a Bromley postman and Captain of the Bromley Postal Football Club (which was a successful team) when he signed up to the war. He was serving with the Royal Horse Artillery when he was wounded at the battle of Mons. He died of his wounds on the 12th September 1914 Source: Bromley & District Times, 27th November, 1914 (page 7) and www.cwgc.org ...
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Private T Smith_1914

Private T Smith, 1914

This is Private T. Smith who served in the First World War.  I want to link him to the correct reference in my Military Ancestors database. Can you tell from this photo which regiment he belonged to? The list of possibilities is: Queen's Royal West Surrey Regiment Royal West Kent Regiment J Battery, Royal Horse Artillery, 4th Cavalry Division Royal Engineers ...
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Private John Ludlow

Private John Ludlow

Private John Ludlow was one of three brothers serving in the First World War.  He was a member of the Army Service Corps and stationed in Ireland. Information sourced from the Bromley & District Times 1914-1920 Researched using the FREE database at www.militaryancestors.co.uk ...
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Bromley Battlefield - Footsteps to the Past

Council Sets up Battlefield Scene to Help Raise Funds for the War

FEEDING THE GUN ON BROMLEY’S BATTLEFIELD “No Man’s Land” from the Trenches £70,000 raised: How the Money Came in In an effort to raise money to pay for the war, the Government sold War Bonds. Bromley supported this in great patriotic spirit. In 1917, a tank – ‘Tank Drake’ had toured the country and came to Bromley to the Market Square. When members of the public bought war bonds they could have their bonds and certificates stamped at the tank ...
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Measles

War Naturally Affected the Birth-Rate in a Most Alarming Manner

On 4th October 1918, there was a report in the Bromley & District Times on a CHILD WELFARE EXHIBITION 'An important feature of Bromley Baby Week, which was opened at the Public Library on Wednesday afternoon of last week by the Hon Mrs Eustace Hills, with Mayoress (Mrs Fillet) in the chair. The exhibition was prepared and conducted under the Child and Welfare and Health Committee of the National Union of Women Workers, and was a most interesting and instructive character, the exhibits ...
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ladies drinking tea

Warning to take your own Tea on Holiday with you

In 1918 the Ministry of Food proved it cared about its nations love of Tea after sending a message out to the public warning them that they may not be able to obtain supplies of their beloved brew whilst visiting holiday resorts, telling them to 'take their own' with them. Take Tea With You The Ministry of Food desires to warn visitors to holiday resorts that they must not rely on being able to obtain supplies of tea while away ...
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Children picking blackberries

Children to be paid to pick Blackberries

Blackberries - Children to get 3d. A lb for picking A discussion took place on the subject of blackberries for jam. The Kent Agricultural Committee wrote asking the Food Control Committee to appoint an organising agent for the borough to arrange and superintend the picking of blackberries by children and their conveyances to recognised jam manufacturers. Children would be paid 3d per lb. (pound) for all they picked, and the organising agent would be paid £3 per ton (imperial) for ...
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Great Demonstration on the 4th Anniversary of the War, 1918

With the entry of the American troops, fresh and ready for the fight, in April, 1918 and the failure of the German Spring Offensive, the mood of the country becomes more optimistic for an end to the fighting. There was a celebration of the 4th Anniversary of the war on Martin’s Hall. These three men, The Mayor, Frederick Gillett; the Right Honourable H.W. Forster M.P.; and Sir Leonard Powell, all gave rousing speeches at the demonstration. It still needed three ...
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Wartime Weddings

Sergeant G. N, Beazlie and Miss S. Mockford An attractive wedding took place at Widmore Road Baptist Church, Bromley on Saturday (19th May 1945) when Sergeant George N. Beazlie U.S.A.A.F., second son of Mr. and Mrs Robert H. Beazlie of Florida was married to Miss Shelia Mockford, only daughter of Mr and Mrs E. E. Mockford of 158 Palace View, Bromley. The bridegroom, who has been in the Service since 1941 was in the North African campaign with the 8th ...
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They came to Britain, looking for safety…

Repatriation of Belgian Refugees A letter was read from the War Refugees Committee in reference to the Repatriation of the Belgian people to their country at the end of the war, and asking if the Bromley committee would be prepared to undertake the administration of all cases arising in this district, and the General Purposes Committee resolved to recommend the Council to constitute a Belgian Refugee Committee in accordance with the scheme already approved for the administration of the Major’s ...
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War time school dinners

National Kitchens Open During WW1

National Kitchens were opened during World War One to provide affordable nutritious meals for war workers and poorer people. The school dinner ladies and set up may have looked like this. This article was taken from the Bromley & District Times, 22nd March 2918 Communal Kitchen and School Dinners Under the able guidance of Mr A Goymer and the energetic secretaryship of Mr Foxwell, the village Food Control Committee has brought forward a scheme for a communal kitchen. Mr Goymer ...
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A little bit of butter; nice if you could get it

MARGARINE STOCKS REQUISITIONED DISTRIBUTION TO-MORROW MORNING The Bromley Food Control Committee have requisitioned a quantity of  margarine in Bromley, which is being distributed among the retailers in various parts of the borough , and instructions have been given that the whole of it is to be placed on sale simultaneously at nine o’clock to-morrow (Saturday) morning. You can be sure that queues would have been forming from early morning by housewives and children in order to get their share of ...
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Military Medal for Corp. C Brown

It will be learnt with much pleasure by residents of Farnborough that a gallant soldier, well known to many of them, has been awarded the Military Medal for devotion to duty during battle.  Corporal C Brown, of the Middlesex Regiment, was employed in the nursery and market garden of Mr W Lawrence, at Crofton Road for nine years before being called up in March, 1916.  He went out to the Front the following August, and has since seen a great ...
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Military Cross for Lieut. H D Reynolds

It will be learnt with great pleasure that another son of Mr and Mrs Reynolds, of  Morden Lodge, Shortlands, Lieutenant Herbert D Reynolds, East Lancs Regiment has been awarded the Military Cross for gallant conduct in recent operations.  Lieutenant Reynolds was personally congratulated upon the field before his regiment by his Divisional General upon his fine example.  It is officially stated that the award was made under the following circumstances: “When all his officers had become wounded, he took charge ...
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A Trench View of Air Raids & Reprisals

20th July 1917, page 5 A TRENCH VIEW OF AIR RAIDS AND REPRISALS Sergeant J Gutteridge, of Bromley, was never a pessimist, as our readers have had a number of occasions to know – the men give a lead in cheerfulness and solid confidence which could well be followed by a great many at home – and his view on the subject of air raids and reprisals which is occupying so much civilian attention is worth reading. We are sorry ...
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I came to think of him as a ‘friend’ – Letters of Gutteridge

From the beginning of 1917, letters from John Gutteridge rarely appear in the paper. Whether this was because there were more pressing matters report such as problems on the Home Front, as food prices and availability became more difficult and there was a growing number of regulations regarding food production and distribution (although rationing was not introduced, though frequently threatened, until 1918) and there was a lack of space. Or whether John Gutteridge was just not having the time or inclination ...
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The boys did justice to the food provided by the Colonel

26th January 1918, page 2 STILL CHEERY AND BRIGHT Sergeant Gutteridge, of the West Kents, writes home another of his cheerful letters , in which he says they are all merry and bright. “Had a great time yesterday. The company had a dinner and concert. The boys did justice to the food provided by the Colonel of the regiment, and the concert was a great success, the chief item being an original chorus by the sergeants of ‘B’ Company, entitled, ...
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Another Christmas out here, but we live in hopes of Frits giving in before long

20th October 1916, page 3 SERGEANT GUTTERIDGE STILL GOING STRONG ON CHEERFULNESS Look like having another Christmas out here, but we live in hopes of Frits giving in before long. Dear Sir, _  Still we live, and no complaints.  More work than worry at present. We have been having a fairly good time these last (few) weeks, football, boxing &c., being our chief items with the regiment.  We have now turned our attention to the more serious part of the ...
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Update from the Front Line

28th August 1916, page 6 Often the Bromley & District Times published short updates on the Gutteridge to inform readers of his current status on the Front. We are glad to receive a card from our cheerful friend, Sergeant J Gutteridge, advising us that he is well notwithstanding all the strenuous demands on time and energy there is at the Front ...
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Places of recreation for soldiers in 1917

A BROMLEY EFFORT We hear on all hands of the splendid work done by Army Huts at the Front, and how much they are appreciated by our men. But it is not only abroad that these huts are needed. In our own county of Kent alone are number of men, some engaged in guarding our shores, others still in training: men of the Royal Navy, men from all parts of the United Kingdom, men of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, the ...
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We Expected the D.C.M. for Our Good Work

28th June 1916, page 10 Another letter from Sergeant Gutteridge of Bromley explaining the fun the 'boy' had trying to keep the soldiers awake! Of course we expected the D.C.M. for our good work in keeping the men awake "We had some fun a few nights ago. We had to “stand to” and the boys were allowed to lay down their equipment and helmets on, but not to go to sleep. We found it difficult to keep them awake, so ...
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Award for Gallantry – Corporal Bert Taylor

AWARDS FOR GALLANTRY: CORPORAL BERT TAYLOR Corporal Bert Taylor, of the Queen’s Westminster Rifles, who has been awarded the Military Medal, is the second son of Mr & Mrs William Taylor, of 3 Highfield Cottages, Swanley Junction. He is 27 years of age and attended the Farningham Hill School, being afterwards employed at Messrs W H Smith and Sons’ bookstall at Swanley Junction for some time under Mr Struckett. He enlisted in the early part of 1916, and in July ...
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Must-have Christmas Gifts for the Family c.1917

Life may have been tough in 1917, but Christmas would soon arrive and there were presents to buy.   Below is a selection of advertisements for Christmas presents printed in the Bromley & District Times newspaper. Here are some Christmas ideas for the family from Herbert Collins Ltd, of Market Square, Bromley. Hundreds of suitable articles for Christmas Gifts are on show. FOR OUR TROOPS: Warm knitted scarfs, woollen gloves and other ‘comforts’ for present needs. FOR THE MAIDS: Smart dress ...
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What was happening in Bromley 100 years ago?

1917 was a bad year. The death toll was going up. If the casualties of the Battle of the Somme had come as a terrible shock, Passchendaele was even worse. Men were dying on the battlefield by their thousand. Food was in short supply and prices were rising. What was happening in Bromley 100 years ago? Here are some of the items occupying the columns of the District Times from the 30th November, 1917 With so many men away at ...
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We found it difficult to keep them awake

23rd June 1916, page 10 More tales from the Front Line provided by Sergeant Gutteridge of Bromley: "We had some fun a few nights ago. We had to “stand to” and the boys were allowed to lay down their equipment and helmets on, but not to go to sleep. We found it difficult to keep them awake, so a few gathered round and told them the methods used by the Huns when they gas us. This is how the tale ...
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A Good Tune Would Make All the Difference

5th May 1916, page 5 WHO WILL? Sergeant Gutteridge (long known to our readers as Corporal Gutteridge), of Bromley, and now “somewhere in France,” writes:- "Have any of your Bromley readers a gramophone they could send the boys? One is apt to get dull when all is quiet, and I have an idea a good tune would make all the difference. If someone would be so kind as to send the boys of our Battalion a gramophone I am sure ...
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A Narrow Escape

28th April 1916, pge 2 CORPORAL GUTTERIDGE HAS A NARROW ESCAPE In a recent letter home Corporal Gutteridge relates a narrow escape he had. He says: “I was conducting a sergeant of a certain regiment (who was taking over our trenches) to a listening post in front of our firing line, when the Germans opened fire on us with a machine-gun, and I, being near the parapet, at once jumped over. Being dark, I did not notice a rifle and ...
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Tribute to Captain Ross

10th March, 1916 page 10 CORPORAL GUTTERIDGE’S LETTERS: TRIBUTE TO CAPTAIN ROSS Last week we had two communications from Corporal Gutteridge, of Bromley, 1324, B Company, 8th Royal West Kent Regiment, whose cheery and optimistic letters are always welcome, although indeed they are but characteristic, as our readers know, of all the letters from the men at the Front. It is only the less hard-worked civilian at home who finds time, and thinks he has cause, for grousing. One of ...
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He died a soldier’s death

3rd March 1916 (page 5) CAPTAIN W URQUHART ROSS - an officer respected by all his men As will be seen in the following extract from John Gutteridge, He had great respect for this commander of the regiment and spoke very highly of him: Another tribute to the deceased officer came to our hand only yesterday, from Corporal Gutteridge, of B Company, 8th Royal West Kents. In a letter which he says #“We are having a busy time, but the Germans ...
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People hardly know how we appreciate such comforts here.

25th February 1916 (page 2) OUR WARMEST TIME Our genial correspondent, Corporal Gutteridge, Royal West Kent Regiment, says:- "Deart Sir, - Have been very busy. Have been relieved from the trenches after being away from the rest camp for twelve days. My word! It has been our warmest time. The Germans have done nothing else but shell us, the shells dropping right in our trenches. But we have been very lucky. They must have sent, in all, something like a ...
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Private George Bumstead

Son of Mr C H Burns, and one of one of 3 brothers on active service.  Private George Bumstead lived on Addison Road, Bromley. Member of the 3rd Dragoon Guards -  stationed in Egypt, but is now with the Expeditionary Force Sources www.militaryancestors.co.uk Bromley & District Times - 20th Nov 1914, page 3 ...
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Their work was deserving of the highest praise

28th January 1916 COMMENDATIONS FOR WEST KENTS Corporal Gutteridge, of the 8th West Kents, who has recently returned to the trenches, after a brief visit home on leave, writes: “I thought probably you would like to know that two of our fellows have been commended for special work. While the regiment were in the firing line at ___ Private Calaw and Private Watson crawled from our own lines to the enemy’s, and sketched their firing trench, and arrived back in ...
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Dinner, Concert & Football

26th January, 1916 p2 The company had a dinner and concert. Sergeant Gutteridge, of the West Kents, writes home another of his cheerful letters, in which he says they are all merry and bright. “Had a great time yesterday. The company had a dinner and concert. The boys did justice to the food provided by the colonel of the regiment, and the concert was a great success, the chief item being an original chorus by the sergeants of ‘B’ Company, ...
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William Henry Thatcher

Son of Mr & Mrs J Thatcher of Great Elms Road, Bromley, and one of 5 brothers. Member of the Nigerian Land Contingent. His military service during the war was in Nigeria employed on the Government Railway. Source: www.militaryancestors.co.uk Bromley & District, 30th October 1914, page 4 ...
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Jolly Boxing Night

7th January 1916 (page 3) A LUXURIOUS EVENING FOR THE MEN WHO DESERVED IT With the 8th West Kents Corporal Gutteridge, of Bromley, 1234, B Company, 8th Royal West Kents (the glorious West Kents) sends us an account of the Company’s concert, which took place on Boxing night, in an empty room adjoining a farm. "Decorations were supplied by the boys, who had them sent from home in their Christmas parcels; tables were provided by the owner of the farm, refreshments ...
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More tales from the Front Line

12th November, 1915 page 2 "The Germans opposite me are starving. They shouted across for food, and sometimes they got it. It all depends what regiments are occupying the line" More notes from Lance-Corporal John Gutteridge, on life in the trenches during World War one. "A few lines from our mud camp, somewhere in Belgium. Our regiment have this time occupied the reserve trenches, which means they have been doing fatigue work for the companies in the firing line, carrying ...
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Optimist in the Trenches

October 1915.More insight into life on the Front Line from Lance-Corporal John Gutteridge.  Letter printed in the Bromley & District Times.. "A few lines showing how we spent our time in the rest camp, which lays seven miles away from the firing line. We arrived back in camp at 1.30 a.m., on the 28th October. We did not march, the best part of us rolled back, as we had had a pretty rough time of it. One can just imagine ...
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The Germans have been rather saucy lately

29th October, 1915 (page 2) THE OPTIMIST Lance-Corporal Gutteridge, of the 8th Battalion wrote: "Just a few lines from a dug out, behind the firing line. We are in the reserve trenches and having a jolly good time. Spring beds to lie on of a night, made of wire, very comfortable though, no fear of your bed made pinching the bed clothes, as we have not any. The Germans have been rather saucy lately. The have been giving us a ...
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