Part 2 - Newark & the Great War

Abridged from 'The Newark Advertiser' 28th July, 1919

By Adrian Carter


 The first lot of wounded soldiers to arrive were twelve Belgians and eight British, who were met by the Mayor (Mr. J.C. Kew) and the Vicar of Newark (Canon Hindley), and the surgeons of the hospital.  They were conveyed to the hospital in motor cars lent by Messrs. C.E. Ford and Sons.  They had been in the fighting at Antwerp, Lille and Armentierres, and stories appeared in the Advertiser of October 28th. During their treatment at Newark Hospital, they made many friends, and were grateful for the kindness shown for them.  Contingents of wounded soldiers were also received by Mrs. Cogan at Muskham Grange and then began a regular stream, and many were sent to local hospitals.



 The Mayor (Mr. J.C. Kew) was indefatigable in his exertions to get troops stationed at Newark and representations were made in the proper quarters and were followed up.  Eventually the 67th and 68th Field Companies, and the 11th Signaling Company of the Royal Engineers came to Newark and did remarkably well in their training.  The river was found admirable for pontoon work and bridge building, and the anxiety of the powers-that-be to give every facility to Colonel Bland and his troops was highly appreciated, and paved the way for still larger use of Newark by the Corps.

 The old Magnus buildings made possible the giving of lectures and other halls in the town were made use of.  The Corporation eventually gave up the Sconce Hills for camps and the land adjacent to the Barracks was purchased, offered schools and hospitality to the regiment, and in many ways served to make their stay pleasant ones, and their training successful.  The benefit to the town of the stay of troops cannot be overrated.  It brought money at a time when stringency was being felt, and in all ways has been a great benefit.  A great inconvenience and some detriment to the education of the children was caused by schools being willingly given up for troop, and during the war at times there have been well over 2,000 troops quartered in the town.  It must be said they have added to the interest of life here and their behaviour throughout the long period under a succession of distinguished commanders, has been exemplary

 In November 1914, Mr. And Mrs. J.C. Kew were unanimously re-elected Mayor and Mayoress for the second term, to carry on all the war organizations initiated by them.

 In the December issues of the “Advertiser” there begins to appear records of the deaths of Newark men.



 The first contingent of National Reservists left Newark on Thursday, December 31st, to take up the duty of guarding lines of communication between Salisbury Plain and Southampton, eighty-two strong and under the command of Captain Oakden.

 The first D.C.M. of the war was awarded to Sergt. C.H. Dady of the 1st Battalion, Sherwood Foresters from India, for gallantry at Neuve Chappelle.



 Our small regular Army was early absorbed, and Lord Kitchener appealed for volunteers.  The Mayors of English boroughs were set to work to find men for the much needed armies, and at Newark vigorous action was taken.

 On Thursday, August 13th, an enthusiastic meeting was held in the Town Hall, to promote the raising of a new battalion, for the Sherwood Foresters.  The Mayor (Mr. J.C. Kew) presided and explained the proposal that this was part of Lord Kitchener’s scheme for a second army.  As a result, a recruiting committee comprising Major Milthorp, Messrs. W.A. Warwick, W.G. Branston, E. Josselyn, R.B. Cafferata, G. Foster, F.G. Vessey, H. Jennings, G.A. Lacey, Capt. Hunter, with the Mayor as chairman, appointed.

 The recruiting campaign extended from Newark to the whole of the Newark Division, and was very successful in the villages, supplying large numbers of men for the forces.

 An enthusiastic meeting was held at Collingham, for the purpose of recruiting, when on Sept. 1st speeches were delivered by Mr. C.C. Curtis, Capt. E.P. Hooley, Capt. W.A. Warwick, Capt. W. Coape Oates and others.  There was a good response.

  A patriotic meeting to aid recruiting was held at the Kinema, when the Duke of Portland, K.G. presided, and addresses were delivered by Mr. J.R. Starkey, M.P., Mr. R. Burley Wallis, J.P., Mr. H.A. Colefax, K.C., the Mayor (Mr. J.C. Kew) and Alderman W.E. Knight.

 Great recruiting meetings were held at Newark and Southwell during the week, and reported in the Advertiser, edition of October 6th, 1915.  Two thousand people assembled at a meeting in the Market Place presided over by the Mayor (Mr. J.C. Kew).  When addresses were delivered by Colonel Jerome and Mr. A. Hayday, of the Nottingham Trades and Labour Council, now an M.P. for Nottingham, and Dr. H. Stallard.  Whilst at Southwell the speakers were Mr. J.R. Starkey, M.P. and Major Elliott Smith.

 The final efforts in aid the voluntary system were launched at Newark in October, when what is known as Lord Derby’s scheme was put into operation.  Lord Derby’s letter was widely distributed, and the principal points of the scheme explained.  This was recognised as the final effort on behalf of the voluntary system.  A stirring appeal by His Majesty for young men to join the colours was issued at this moment.  A house-to-house canvass was made and many local gentlemen worked at high pressure for weeks, and Newark did exceedingly well.

 A joint committee of the City and County of Nottingham was formed for recruiting in June 1915, upon which the Mayor was appointed the Newark representative.  Efforts were successfully made to raise new battalions for the Sherwood Foresters.  A memorable day in connection with the recruiting campaign was the visit of Corporal Upton, V.C. who had a fine reception at Newark, and addressed large crowds on July 28th in the Market Square.  He was met at Devon Bridge in a car by the Mayor and escorted to a platform in the Market Place, accompanied by a fleet of 17 motors conveying wounded.  Mottoes were attached to the front of the cars, “Well done, Sherwood Foresters”.  The need for men was driven home by the legend “Join the fight for freedom, men of Newark fall in”.  At various points Boy Scouts, Church Lads’ Brigade (under Messrs. Nicholson, Newbald, Whiles and Rev. J.D. Burns) lined the route, and the British Legion of Volunteers, and St. John’s Ambulance Brigade, and the Special Constables were also on parade.  Corporal Upton was given a great reception.

 A recruiting march of the 14th Sherwood Foresters embraced Newark, which was reached on August 26th, Colonel Brittain being in charge.  They had taken Upton, Southwell and the circuit, and at each place were given an enthusiastic reception.



 Under the scheme local tribunals were set up to consider applications for exemption from Military Service.  The Military Service Acts followed.



 The Mayoress (Mrs. Kew) started a collection of eggs for wounded soldiers, and weekly lists of those who contributed appeared in the Advertiser, commencing in early 1915.  It was nothing unusual for 1,500 to 2,000 eggs to be collected in one week.  The children of the various schools took up the idea, and Mr. Taylor (Crown Street), Mrs. Geo. Pink, and others were also responsible for yeoman service in this direction, with the result that large consignments were dispatched weekly to London and other hospitals.  This work was continued by Mrs. Knight when she took over the office, and by the present Mayoress, until quite recently.  It was a great work, nobly conceived and generously carried out.  The record week was that ending June 25th, 1915, when 3,776 eggs were contributed, as compared with 3,080 the previous week.  Altogether over 500,000 eggs were provided for wounded soldiers.

 One of the results of the war was the institution of the National Register.  This great census was taken on Sunday, August 15th.  An appeal was made for voluntary helpers as numerators, and about 50 responded, and 12,000 papers were delivered in Newark.  Ald. W.F. Atter was in charge of the work, which was conducted at the Town Hall, under the direction of Mr. T. Harrison (Borough Accountant).



 The Prince of Wales Fund was closed towards the end of 1915, the magnificent sum of 2,182 Pounds, 19 Shillings and 4 Pence being contributed.  Out of that fund a grant for local distress of 20 Pounds was made, but it was only necessary to spend 8 Pounds, 18 Shillings and 6 Pence of it.  The Local Belgian Relief Fund, at the end of 1915, according to a published balance sheet, and excluding gifts in kind, amounted to 926 pounds 14 shillings 8-and-a-half pence.  The Mayoress’s Working Party Subscription List, as audited, totaled 288 pounds 18 shillings 1 penny at that date, whilst the Belgian Victims’ Fund reached 55 pounds 5 shillings and four pence.

 The Education Authority released its Headmasters who were eligible to serve in the war, under the Derby Scheme.

 One of the side shows of the war was the Institution of Girls’ Clubs, in which Lady Ada Wilmot and Mrs. MacRae, took a great part.



 On many occasions the spectre of possible starvation has been a very real terror, even in this district.  Without detailing the vast amount of work carried out by the Newark Agricultural Committee, under the chairmanship of Mr. E.J. Storm, Muskham, reference must be made to the great revival of working men’s allotments.  Although the roadside wastes and unoccupied places are usually deserts did not blossom like the rose, they did look wonderfully prosperous with good crops of vegetables.  An impetus was given to the work by two silver cups, valued at 25 pounds each, which were generously given by Mr. Japh Mason (of Messrs. Ransome & Marles).  The first was a potato show organised by Mr. J.C. Kew, with the help of Mr. E.J. Wilkes, and a committee of

 local gardeners, amateurs and professional.  The second, taken in hand by the Newark Horticultural Society, had a wider scope, and took in all kinds of war food.  Mr. Ald. Lacy was chairman of the Allotments Committee, which was helped by the Newark Board of Guardians placing ground at its disposal.

 Food Control Committees were set up to regulate the supply of foodstuffs, and subsequently there were Fuel Control Committees.  The Borough Executive Officer for the former was Mr. G.B. Burke, and the Fuel Overseer Mr. C.H. Newbald, with the Mayor (Ald. Knight) as Chairman.



 The Red Cross Hospital in Lombard Street was also generously supported, and a great work was done by the nurses of the V.A.D., under the Commandant (Mrs. Garner).  The Newark Detachment, thanks to the efforts of the late Ald. Appleby, Major Milthorp, and others, was “ready when wanted” and very shortly after the outbreak of war, the hospital was not only opened, but fully staffed and equipped.  Mrs. Garner, for her work as Commandant, was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire.

 Empire Day at the Schools assumed a new importance during the war, and celebrations were attended generally by the Mayor, and addresses were delivered on patriotism and duty.



 With the object of starting Y.M.C.A. work at Newark, and enlisting help of local people for the provision of a Y.M.C.A. tent on the Sconce Hills, for the benefit of the Royal Engineers in training.  The Mayor (Mr. J.C. Kew) convened a meeting in the Council Chamber on Tuesday, July 13th, 1915 and was supported by the Vicar (Canon Hindley), Mr. H.W. Brindley (of the Y.M.C.A.) and a large and influential attendance.  The Mayor intimated that he had called them together on the suggestion of the Vicar.  Reference was made to the provision of a recreation hut, of the concerts at the Ossington arranged by the Rev. A. Parkinson, and it was pointed out that the new camp made it necessary for a Y.M.C.A.  hut on the camp.  A subscription list was started in the room, and between 60 and 70 was subscribed.

 The following week the subscriptions appeared in the “Advertiser”.  The hut was erected, opened and handed over by the Mayor, in the presence of a large attendance.  The Vicar and Mr. H.E. Branston (treasurer) spoke, and Colonel Jerome as Acting Commandant, accepted the splendid gift, the total cost of which amounted to 250 Pounds.  This was the commencement of the great work which the Y.M.C.A. did at Newark during the war, when many devoted ladies and gentlemen contributed their time and money to serve the soldiers.  The Churchmen’s Club was taken over, and under Mrs. Eyton Branston, a rota or workers was organised, on a voluntary basis, and much good was done.  That has been greatly appreciated by the soldiers, and is still being continued.

 A great work has been done, particularly at Barnbygate and North End Wesleyan Churches, and the Baptist, in providing a canteen in adjoining schoolrooms for the troops in Newark.  Especially was this the case prior to the installation of the Y.M.C.A. in the town.

 During the war the Primrose League Ladies’ Working Party, owing to the political truce, took up the provision of comforts for soldiers, and organised garden parties, whist drives, and other efforts.  They have a splendid record of war service on behalf of the soldiers.



 During the war many flag days have been held at Newark for various societies, and one of the most gratifying was that organised by the Mayoress (Mrs. J.C. Kew) on behalf of our French Allies.  The Duchess of Newcastle was present to assist the Mayoress, and the usual arrangements were made for posting flag sellers.  Mrs. Geoffrey Ransome acted as Secretary, and a sum of 105 Pounds was realised, which constitutes a record.

 Rose Day, on behalf of Newark Hospital, originated by Queen Alexandra for local hospitals, was inaugurated at Newark by the Mayoress (Mrs. J.C. Kew) for the first time on Wednesday, July 14th, in the hope that it would be made a permanent institution.  The local ladies came to the Mayoress’s assistance, and a special word of praise was due to Mrs. Need, wife of the president, for her skill and devotion in making the first Rose Day a pronounced success.  The receipts amounted to 78 Pounds 16 Shillings 0 Pence.  These were the forerunners of the many flag days, and it was decided to regulate and control them.  The Mayor (Ald. W.E. Knight) was authorized to issue permits for flag days, and, generally speaking, the Mayoress (Mrs. Knight, and afterwards Miss Knight) took over the organisation of the same for approved objects.  Huge sums of money have been raised in the aggregate, and amongst others, the following have benefited: The wounded soldiers of Russia, Serbia, and Belgium, also British Red Cross, Wounded Horses (Blue Cross), Sailors, Mayoress’s Working Party, Lord Kitchener’s Memorial Fund, Our Day, and many philanthropic institutions.



 Among the big efforts for war funds must be mentioned the Patriotic Sales held in Newark Cattle Market.  The Newark branch of the Notts. Farmers Union, under the chairmanship of Mr. L. Harvey Stapleford, in 1915 held a most successful jumble sale of agricultural implements, stock, etc. on behalf of the Agricultural Relief of the Allies Fund, and in February , 1916, as the needs were so great, an even more comprehensive event was held in conjunction with Newark Tradesmen’s Association, and the sum of about 3,000 Pounds was realised.  Yet a third similar event was held in March, 1917, the occasion being graced by the presence of the Duke of Portland, who congratulated Newark on being the pioneers of this work in the country.  For the second time, the Mayoress (the late Mrs. W.E. Knight) acted as auctioneer and sold the first beast, which was given by Capt. W.J. Need, of Winthorpe, the total amount realised by the sale and re-sale of this particular beast being 713 Pounds, 8 shillings & 0 pence.  The Mayor (Mr. W.E. Knight) will always be remembered for the keen interest and large liberality displayed in connection with these events, and from the funds accumulated the local war organisations were kept going.



 On July 13th, 1915, a campaign on behalf of the War Loan was opened at Newark, at a meeting convened by the Mayor (Mr. J.C. Kew), under the auspices of the Parliamentary War Savings Committee.  His Worship was supported by Ald. W.E. Knight, Mr. O. Quibell, Major Milthorp, Mr. H.E. Branston, Mr. H. Simons, and Mr. F.T. Jones.  It was explained that the Parliamentary Recruiting Committee had been asked to organise a War Savings Campaign in Newark and throughout the villages of the Division.  Sub-Committees were formed, including Works’ Committee, Schools’ Committee, Womens’ Committee, Churches’ Committee, and Recruiting Committee, for the purpose of organising meetings, issuing advertisements, and starting committees in the villages of the Division.

 The Works Committee was to interview partners and directors of works, address workmen, and try and induce them to invest money in the War Loan, and the Schools Committee was appointed to advance thrift, and encourage investments and savings in the Loan among children.  The Womens’ Committee had to introduce thrift among women, and assist in regard to War Savings throughout the town and country villages.  It was decided to work on the National Register.  At the next meeting the Schools’ Committee appointed the Rev. H. Gorse, the Ladies’ Committee Mrs. W.B.B. Quibell, and the Works’ Committee Mr. W. Bradley, C.C., as chairman, and the work was launched by the Mayor at a garden party of the Mothers’ Union, and at the Girls’

  Friendly Society meeting.  Later great efforts were made locally for Tank Week, and the Mayor (Ald. W.E. Knight) was able to take to Nottingham 32,593 Pounds 4 shillings 6 pence, and Mr. J.C. Kew took from the Rural District 18,494 Pounds.  The recent Victory Loan has also been well supported, the local Secretary being Mr. H. Speight, and approximately 102,000 was realised.



 Many notable circumstances connected with the part played by the Churches of Newark in the dark and difficult ways of the war spring spontaneously to one’s recollection, but perhaps the most vivid memory is the scene on Armistice day (November 11th, 1918), of the huge congregation which flocked into Newark Parish Church to give thanks to Almighty God for the signing of the armistice and the cessation of hostilities.  The news was given to the town by the Mayor (Ald. W.E. Knight) from the balcony of the Town Hall; the buzzers sounded; and after the bells had been rung for half an hour service, which will live long in the memory of those privileged to be present, was conducted in the Parish Church by the Curate-in-charge, Rev. A. Parkinson (now Vicar of St. Leonard’s).

 Although full use was not made of the open Church for private prayer during the duration of the war, there were uniformly good attendances at the weekly intercession services held on Tuesday evenings.

 Newark took its part in the national services on the first Sunday in 1918, which was set apart by Royal Proclamation as a Day of Prayer, and it is a noteworthy fact that from this date British and Allied arms suffered not one single set-back to the end of the war.  No less historic was the memorial service to officers and men of the County Territorial Battalion (8th Sherwood Foresters), held in the Parish Church, and at which a striking address was delivered from the chancel steps by the Chaplain of the Battalion (Rev. J.P. Hales), who had come direct from the blood soaked field of Flanders to the quiet of the sacred building, and delivered a message of great hope to many bereaved persons.  On this occasion, the Regimental Colours, which had been deposited in the church for safe keeping when the Battalion went on active service, were given a place of honour.  They were afterwards handed over to a Colour Party, to be taken by the Battalion into Germany, and just recently they have been returned to their headquarters, the Drill Hall, Newark, by the cadre which came for that purpose.

 Each Mayor’s Sunday a State Service has been held in the Parish Church, as is customary, and during Ald. W.E. Knight’s Mayoralty, a service, attended in state by the Mayor and Corporation, has been held on St. George’s Day in the Barnbygate Wesleyan Chapel.  In aggregate a vast number of soldiers, owing to war conditions, worshipped in Newark Churches and Chapels during the war, and the Parish Church contains a memorial to the gallant Royal Engineers (among the first to be trained at Newark) who lost their lives in the Gallipoli Campaign.  A memorial service to forty fallen Magnusians was held a few weeks ago, when an inspiring address was given by the Bishop of Southwell.



 Boxes of food were sent regularly by an organisation, of which Mrs. G. Pink had charge, for prisoners of war.  This entailed considerable work, and as time passed a great strain on the finances, so heavy indeed, that it had to be placed eventually on an offical footing, and funds had to be provided from the Patriotic Sale and other collections.  The prisoners often expressed their undying gratitude for the food which kept them from starving.

 Mrs. Harold Thorpe appealed for comforts for the Yeomanry, and gifts towards her Christmas Fund, and there was a large response.



 Despite his years the Mayor (Ald. W.E. Knight) who courageously took over the duties of the Mayoralty in wartime, in November 1915, has wonderfully supported his onerous and honourable office through very difficult times, which was sorely accentuated by the death of his wife who, as Mayoress, had loyally supported him. He has taken the lead in all matters for the benefit of the town and has been a generous supported of all the War funds.  Coming on top of 36 years of public work, his fifth year as Mayor in Peace Year rounds off a wonderful record of civic service.  He was Mayor as long ago as 1889.  The years of war have provided him with may pleasurable opportunities to gallant Newarkers, and on each occasion he has given five pounds to the recipients.  He has not merely been the titular head of the authorities having the direction of the Food Control, War Savings, Tribunals, and other bodies now or formerly in existence, but a real worker and generous giver.  The particular scheme which is now being brought to a successful conclusion commenced with the gift by the Mayor of Northgate House to the Y.M.C.A. and Y.W.C.A., and the fitting up of the premises for their future usefulness.  The Corporation will shortly signify its appreciation of the work of Ald. Knight by conferring upon him the Freedom of the Borough, and it is the unanimous wish of the townspeople of Newark that even another honour is in store for him.


 To return to PART 1 of 'Newark in the Great War', click HERE








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