Friday, 29 August 2008

Zeppelins Over Essex (1)

Much is written elsewhere on the Internet about the Zeppelin raids during the First World War. As mentioned in ‘Bombs Over Blackmore’ (22.8.08), the first to be brought down over British soil was the L15, which was shot down on 1st April 1916 at Purfleet and ended up in the sea off Margate.

On 3rd September 1916, SL11 was brought down in flames (see postcard) at Cuffley (Hertfordshire) from machine gunfire by Lt. W Leefe Robinson, flying a B.E. 2c aeroplane from Sutton’s Farm airfield at Hornchurch. For this action he was awarded the Victoria Cross. Other Zeppelins attacking Essex that night hurriedly fled, the infamous L14 dropping her bombs on Thaxted.

“Zepp Sunday” (24th September 1916) as it became known was the occasion when two airships were brought down. L32 in flames at Snail’s Farm, South Green, Great Burstead by Lt F Sowrey, again from the No 39 Squadron RFC from Sutton’s Farm – there were no survivors. I recently spoke to someone whose ancestors lived near Blackmore. One family member was the farmer at Snail’s Farm and she told me that it was not until 1921 that the authorities gave compensation for damaged crops caused as a result of the Zeppelin crash and the many sightseers who visited the farm the following day. The second Zeppelin, L33, was damaged by gunfire from the London defences – possibly at Kelvedon Hatch – and attacked by aeroplane, came down intact at Great Wigborough. The local policeman took the crew prisoners. The account is told o a memorial plaque in Great Wigborough church.

The following Sunday (1st October), L31 was shot down in flames over Potters Bar by Lt W Tempest.

Five more Zeppelins were shot down in flames, the final one on 17th June 1917 at Theberton (Suffolk).

Zeppelin links

History of Zeppelin airships

History of Zeppelin raids from Essex Police Records. Martin Lockwood mentions the raid of L14 on 31 March 1916 when four people were killed in Braintree.

From the diaries of Reverend Andrew Clark, Rector of Great Leighs. The following is a review of ‘Echoes of the Great War’ edited by James Munson (1985).
“The effect of air raids on local communities is fully described. For instance, on 1 April 1916: "At 11pm, just as my wife had come up, there were two tremendous explosions, just to the North which shook the house, and caused her to call out, involuntarily Oh! Oh! The second call woke me, and I got up to find my daughters disturbed by the great bangs and the dog roused and barking. At 11.10pm I was dressing-gowned and out. It was a starlit night, slightly foggy. By this time the Zeppelin was roaring like a railway train somewhere nearby, apparently just over the Rectory stables. 11.50pm. Several explosions in the South, followed by lights." “
Here Andrew Clark makes reference to the bombs which fell in the parish of Blackmore.

Discussion relating to L15 which was shot down at Purfleet on 31 March 1916 and ended up, deflated, on sands near Margate.

First air raid over Southend: 1915

Memento from the Zeppelin brought down over Cuffley, 2/3 September 1916

An account of the downing of L31 at Cuffley, the damaged oak tree of Potters Bar, and those who perished (by Tom Morgan).

An account of the events of 23/24 September, when two Zeppelins were brought down over Essex. The link provides photographs of the machines.

Photograph of L33 at Great Wigborough

Account of visit to L33 Zeppelin crash site at Great Wigborough (by Colleen Morrison)
… and a follow up item relating to this post

An account of the Zeppelin coming down at Great Wigborough (posted by Chris Goddard)

More on the Great Wigborough Zeppelin

Notes on L32 shot down on the night of 23/24 September 1916 at Great Burstead, Billericay (by Fred Feather)
“The Cater museum at Billericay, the Essex police museum at Springfield, Little Wigborough church and a pub at Peldon have mementoes or exhibits.”

Little Wigborough church link

Sequence of correspondence regarding a BBC ‘Timewatch’ programme (broadcast 2 February 2007) devoted to the Zeppelin raids over Britain – predominantly Essex and Therberton in Suffolk.

Sequence of other Zeppelin correspondence including references to the Zeppelin Z15 shot down at Purfleet on 31 March / 1 April 1916 and, on the second page, an account of sightseers at the Great Burstead crash site, the funeral of the victims and, a note on the subsequent removal of the bodies to Cannock Chase in Staffordshire in 1966.

Friday, 22 August 2008

Blackmore: Bombs Over Blackmore

Memorials are a common feature in church stained glass windows. At the Priory Church of St Laurence, Blackmore, many of the windows date from the first two decades of the twentieth century.

An unusual record is on one, in what is now the kitchen: “This window is erected as a thank-offering to Almighty God for the protection in the Great Air Raid of March 31st 1916”.

Curious to find out more, I looked at local newspapers for the time and visited the Essex Record Office.

During the First World War, civilians were subjected to indiscriminate bombing from Zeppelins from large airships which flew at high altitudes and later from attack by aeroplane. In all there were 53 separate Zeppelin raids on England, twenty in Essex, which then had army and naval garrisons at Harwich, Colchester and Southend, and docks along the River Thames.

This action was deliberately designed by the enemy to strike fear and to destroy morale. The country was unprepared for air attack and redoubled efforts to defend and counter-attack. Bombing civilians was an entirely new form of warfare and received outrage from the British people.

The night of 31st March 1916 was to be one of the greatest in terms of civilian casualties. In Lincolnshire, East Suffolk, Ipswich and Essex, 223 bombs were dropped killing 48 and injuring 64 people. The L14 and L15 flew over Essex, dropping bombs in Colchester, Braintree, Stanford-le-Hope, Thameshaven and Blackmore [ERO T/Z 473/1]. Four civilians were killed in Martin’s Yard, Braintree by bombs dropped from the L14. Revd. Andrew Clark, Rector of Great Leighs, wrote in his Diary that the raiders had heard the town church clock strike eleven, “realised that they were over a town of some sort, and threw out three bombs by chance” [Munson, p121].

Reporting restrictions at the time prevented newspapers giving precise locations. The Essex Weekly News referred to “Friday’s Attack On The Eastern Counties”. No one was killed or injured in Blackmore, but there could have been a few near misses.

Revd Edward Reeve, Rector of the neighbouring village of Stondon Massey, wrote of the events in his ‘notes for a parish history’: “With the moonless nights and the still weather which has succeeded the wintry storms a succession of air-craft raids began. On March 31 five “Zeppelin” airships visited the Eastern Counties. One of them was heard over Stondon in the direction of Woolwich at 10.20pm, but we were destined to have a closer acquaintance with another of the group at a later hour. At 11.45 a Zeppelin dropped a series of bombs at the point where is the junction of Stondon with the parishes of Blackmore and Kelvedon Hatch: within easy distance of Soap House Farm. A machine-gun had been lately established at Kelvedon Hatch to watch for the raiders, and Capt. Hulton in charge claims to have hit the air-ship, causing it to drop the bombs hurriedly.”

Revd. Andrew Clark in Great Leighs, some fourteen miles north east of Blackmore, wrote, “11.50pm. several explosions in the south, followed by lights (probably searchlights)” [Munson p120].

Reeve continued, “Large numbers of persons from Brentwood and the surrounding district visited the spot next day, and the large craters caused by the bombs, some 15 feet in diameter and varying from 3 to 9 feet in depth, were the astonishment of all. The whole saucer-like cavities were left entirely clean by the explosion, and one local builder Mr J T Gann remarked there was no trace anywhere of the large body of earth which had been scooped out by the force of the bomb. Clods torn from the craters were sprinkled to a distance of 60 yards. Nine of the thirteen holes were quickly found: and fortunately no life was lost or building injured. All had fallen in open fields. Our windows at Stondon Rectory were violently shaken and considerable alarm was naturally caused. We in the close neighbourhood have much for which to be deeply grateful to an over-ruling Providence.”

Five days later (6th April 1916) Reeve added, “Further enquiry shows that the bombs dropped on March 31st fell between the Soap House and the corner of Blackmore between the Church and Miss Barrett’s house. Two were dropped in the lane near the site of the old Blackmore Mill. The remaining holes were to be found in a straight-line across the fields to Miss Barrett’s at very short intervals. Many panes of glass were broken in the house by the concussion” [ERO T/P 188/3].

In terms of location, the bombs were dropped over Hook End near Blackmore House, Mill Lane then fields not more than half a mile to the east of Blackmore village itself.

The night marked a turning point for the allies because L15 was the first Zeppelin to be shot down during the War. The Anti-Aircraft gunners of the 3rd Company, Essex and Suffolk Royal Garrison Artillery based at Purfleet were credited with the success. This was a major breakthrough, and the Lord Mayor of London gave gold watches to the members of the gun crew. (He had originally put up a reward of £500). An eyewitness recorded, “It was about 12.15am on April 1st 1916 that she came across Essex from north east at a height of about 14000 feet … shrapnel shells [were fired] at the raider” [ERO D/DS 200/7]. An aeroplane failed to hit the target. The Zeppelin “dropped into the sea [near Margate] and sunk while being towed to land. Seventeen members of the crew were rescued and are prisoners of war at Chatham Barracks” [Essex Weekly News: 7 April 1916]. The news must have travelled fast because Robert Taylor Bull, of Burnham, recorded in his diary the following day, “A Zeppelin was brought down at Thameshaven”. On 1st April he wrote: “A Zepp went over last night about 9 … with usual noise” [ERO T/S 245].

During September 1916, two Zeppelins were intercepted by members of the Royal Flying Corps at Billericay and Wigborough, marking the beginning of the end of the raids. Inside the church at Great Wigborough there is a small part of what remains of L33.


Clark, Revd Andrew (edited James Munson). Echoes of the Great War (Oxford, 1985)
Morris, Captain Joseph. The German Air Raids on Great Britain 1914 – 1918 (Nonsuch, 2007). First published 1925.

Blackmore: War Memorial

From the Blackmore Village website, this is a list of those who fell during the First World War plus those who also served King and Country.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Blackmore: Petrie Connection?

One of the stained glass windows in the Priory Church of St Laurence Blackmore commemorates a victim of the First World War. His name is Herbert John Brown, who I think might be related to the Vicar at the time, Revd. Walter Layton Petrie. I had an E mail from Keith Doree, a descendent of WLP, so thought I would ask. Unfortunately we are not much further forward. Does anyone know the answer to solve this mystery?

7 June 2008


Thanks very much for posting a picture of The Rev. W. Layton Petrie.

The Rev. W. Layton Petrie was my great-great-great uncle. He was the son of Charles Adolphus Petrie (1814-1893) and Ann Elizabeth Lea (1815-1907). My Great-great grandmother Lavinia Elizabeth Petrie was his elder sister. Lavinia married John Hunt Doree.

W. Layton Petrie and his wife Amelia "Minnie" Soames had a son, Stanley Layton Petrie, who was also a minister. He was vicar of Holy Trinity Parish Church, Stockton on Tees, having left the parish of St. Barnabas, Hendon, in 1929.

I don't know if Stanley had any descendants.

Keith Doree
Sydney, Australia

8 June 2008

Hello Keith.

Nice to hear from you. It's good to hear from a descendant of W Layton Petrie. I am a church member at the place where your gt-gt-gt-uncle was Vicar for 34 years so have found him, through reading minutes of meetings etc, to be an interesting character. He was hugely energetic in the restoration of his two churches at Blackmore (Essex) and nearby Norton Mandeville. (No doubt you have seen the more recent posting of a photograph taken at Blackmore Vicarage in 1902. Presumably his wife, Amelia, is sitting to his left).

During the period 1900-1920 nearly all the windows in St Laurence, Blackmore, were stained. One is a war memorial window specifically in memory of Herbert James Brown. The text on the window reads:

"I have not found so great faith in Israel.
"In memory of Herbert James Brown Lieut. Royal Welsh Fusiliers.
Killed in action in Palestine Nov. 6th 1917. Given by his widow".

I found out that Herbert Brown was not a Blackmore resident but husband of a Grace E Petrie (formerly Brown) of St Barnabas Vicarage, Sunderland.

I conclude that she is related to WLP. Could you solve a problem and tell me whether this is the case please?

Andrew Smith

8 June 2008

Thanks for the reply. I had not seen a photo of my ggg uncle before, so it is terrific to see his memory and works live on. Thank you!

The Petrie family was a very interesting group. W. Layton was the youngest of 9 children, my gg grandmother being the eldest (18 years older than W. Layton). One of their siblings, Edward "Ted" Petrie was a publican and their sister Ellen "Nellie" was the wife of Rev. George C. Daw, the vicar of St. Mark's, Dalston. My gg grandmother was widowed very young and was a linen draper. She 2nd married an assistant of hers, John Doree, who was 5 years younger than she. They had 5 children, one who was named after Lavinia's first husband.

I don't find a Grace E. Petrie on the tree, although I will dig a bit deeper. I will continue to check and let you know what I find.

I am not sure who Stanley Layton Petrie's wife was. I will see if it was Grace.

I am travelling to London next week and will see my cousin who has a photo album with many Petrie’s included-- I will look for your Grace.

All best wishes,
Keith Doree

9 June 2008

Keith. Many thanks. Look forward to hearing from you.

I looked at the window this morning while in church. The left hand side is as written but the right hand side has a different commemoration.

"Behold I come quickly and my reward is with me.
"To the memory of Rowland Richard and Clara Rebecca Pratt. Given by their three children."

Any relation?

10 June 2008

Another puzzle, Andrew! I will see what I can find, but no immediate connection that I can see.


15 August 2008
Further response

Hello, Andrew!
Well, it already seems a long time ago that I was in London. Had a wonderful time.

I haven't found a connection, but I can give you more information about the Pratt family.

Rowland Richard Pratt was born in Navestock, Essex, in 1848. His wife, Clara (nee Patmore) was born in Takeley, Essex about 1855.

Rowland was the son of Charles & Charlotte Pratt.

Clara was the daughter of William & Phoebe Patmore.

Rowland & Clara's three children were Clifford, Ethel & Grace.

I will let you know if I find anything else, but there doesn't seem to be a link to the Petrie family at the present time.

Hope you are well.
All best wishes,

Friday, 15 August 2008

Revd Edward Reeve. Chronicler of The Great War

Edward Henry Lisle Reeve (1858 - 1936) was Rector of Stondon Massey in Essex from 1893 until 1935. In his spare time he researched and published from 1900 what many regard as a model parish history. His last volume was published in 1914, on the eve of the First World War.

While researching for an historical event at Stondon Church (‘Through Changing Scenes’ – see earlier entries on this blog), I discovered that Reeve did not stop recording events in his parish on publication of his work but kept notes through to 1929. (His notes are held in Essex Record Office: ERO T/P 188/3). We therefore have a fascinating and unique local insight to the First World War (1914 – 18) as events unfolded.

Reeve lived with his sisters at the Rectory (now Stondon Massey House) where he penned the local history. I understand that his father, whom he succeeded as Rector, forbade him and his sisters to marry. He died, a bachelor, in 1936.

On Tuesday, 4th August 1914 at 11pm Great Britain declared War on Germany. Very quickly soldiers were called to arms. With an invasion of England anticipated Reeve wrote in October that, “Artillery and Engineer Officers have been busily surveying the district during the past three weeks with the purpose, I believe, of deciding on the best method of obstructing a possible raid on London. An outer line of defence appears to run through Ongar, Stondon and Doddinghurst: and my little field has received attention. Field guns I think would, on necessity, be brought here, and would range eastward in the direction of Chelmsford”.

In November Reeve observed that, “It would hardly be too much to say that Stondon is becoming honeycombed with trenches, and the Church, owing to its being set upon a hill, is a prominent centre. The slopes declining from the Hall to the brook contain a network of passages, giving shelter to riflemen who will give, if necessary, a stern reception to the enemy coming down the opposite hill from Paslow Common. Flanking trenches face toward the Rectory, while others are taken southward along the course of the brook to the village. In adjacent parishes the same work is observable. On the slopes of High Ongar, and on the confines of Blackmore and Doddinghurst towards Swallows Cross bodies of men are busily engaged”.

Huge numbers of men were billeted in Stondon and the neighbourhood. “Some 600 navvies arrived on the morning of November 2nd, some by railway to Ongar, and some by road in motor omnibuses. The plan being somewhat unexpectedly adopted, little or no preparation had been made in the locality for the reception of the men. Some 400 were to commence work at once in Stondon. In the event, at the cost of considerable discomfort, the first few days were successfully surmounted and then tents were erected here and there for the accommodation of the men, or they contrived to find themselves temporary billets. A canteen was put up at Brook’s and Cannons Farm, which to some degree supplied the place of shops. This was afterward moved to a centre at Hooks End, Blackmore. The appearance of a canteen was hailed with delight by the villagers, publican, and all: for it was becoming a real difficulty to know how to meet the wants of the invaders”.

December’s rains caused the trenches to become saturated and caved in. A different strategy was adopted in early 1915 due to the changed nature of warfare in France. “A Guardsman whom I met lately told me that constantly our trenches in France had been no more than 30 or 40 paces distant to those of the enemy: and it had been possible to throw hand-grenades from one to the other. My Guardsman acquaintance told me that Germany is a beaten nation; and it is recognised that an invasion in force becomes daily less likely”.

We know the War to be far more protracted than thought at the time. Men up and down the country joined. Reeve comments in July 1915, when 44 year-old Ernest Baines signs up, that “he hopes that his example may lead some of the single men who are still holding back to come forward and enlist. So far the Government have procured the services of a vast army without conscription”.

Looking in retrospect, we know that conscription was introduced in 1916 and the events of the Somme caused a tremendous loss of life: the Government deliberately understating the number killed or wounded. Reeve describes the opening day of the Somme offensive (1st July 1916) thus: “As I write, the reverberation of the great guns and explosion of mines are shaking the windows of the Rectory and of all the other houses, I suppose, in the southern and south-eastern counties of England. There is evidently a very heavy bombardment in progress”.

In his privileged position as community leader Reeve learns of letters home to families. Reading his notes one wonders whether this was a cathartic release of all he had learnt. We learn the names and professions of the men of Stondon who went to War. For example, “Mr John White, lately serving as butler and valet at Stondon Place is with the Fusiliers and writing to his wife reports that he is well so far but that a party to which he belonged were lately all but “wiped out”, two officers being killed out of four, and two wounded. This is an astonishing experience for a man not fashioned for a soldier’s life either physically or in temperament”. The gardener at the Rectory, William Penson, was “drafted from Gosfield to Wendover where he will join a class for practice in “bombing and bayoneting”! Strange work for a peaceful citizen!” In all, six Stondon men were killed in the War including three Hasler brothers. Two of the men died after the end of hostilities from the effects of gas inhalation.

The “enemy” never made an assault on England on the ground, but carried out a number of air raids, firstly by Zeppelin and later by aeroplane. Reeve describes these in some detail.

“On August 17th [1915] at 10.15pm a Zeppelin was heard overhead, making its way from the coast in the direction of London. It passed apparently over that part of Stondon which lies nearest Paslow Common, and made its way over Stanford Rivers and Leytonstone. There a number of bombs were dropped, killing five persons, and doing extensive damage to property. On the return journey, about 11.45pm, a vessel with fuse, containing petrol, was dropped in the fields lying between Hallsford and High Ongar, not far from Castle Farm at Ongar. Expert opinion inclines to think that this was not a “bomb”, but a petrol can being dropped by accident from the Zeppelin. Under the supervision of experts the liquid contained in the vessel was burned on the spot.”

Reeve also saw the craters of bombs which were dropped over Blackmore on 31st March 1916. He provides the location of the dropped bombs: “between the Soap House and the corner of Blackmore between the Church and Miss Barrett’s house” (see entry ‘Bombs Over Blackmore’).

As allies gained air supremacy there was success in defence from attacks. Reeve, on 3rd September 1916, witnessed the end of the Zeppelin shot down over Cuffley as the “whole sky for miles around was illuminated with a pink glow which grew brighter and more brilliant as the vessel neared the earth in her fall of some 2½ miles”; and the aftermath of another at Great Burstead (23rd September 1916) when “the numbers of sight-seers was so great that it was difficult, even on foot, to get within distance”.

Reeve witnessed the daylight air raid of 13th June 1917 on London which killed 162 civilians, the highest death toll from a single air raid during the whole war. “They came over Stondon from the North East at a great height, so as to be practically out of view. Some, however, saw three, and some as many as ten, like little glittering silver fish against the blue sky. They filled the air with a rumbling as a huge traction engine. About ten minutes after their passing over our heads we heard the bombs dropping in the direction of London, and the visitors shaped a more southerly course, and the droning died away in the direction of Rochford and Southend. It was possible, however, as they swerved round on their return journey, to hear the quick firing of machine guns, indicating that a struggle was proceeding at great height between the invaders and our gallant airmen.

“The accounts tell us that many lives were lost through the raid, and many terrible injuries inflicted. A Stondon woman (Mrs Skinner) and her child were travelling to London that day, and, with other passengers, brought back word of sad scenes in the Great Eastern Company’s terminus at Liverpool Street. One or two trains narrowly escaped wreckage, and in one at least several persons were killed. It is felt that every effort must be made to give timely warning of such visits in the future, and to prevent the concourse of persons in the streets”.

Reeve also saw the aid raid over London on 7th July 1917 which official reports said killed 57 and injured 193 people. “A few minutes past ten (summer time) this morning a Fleet of hostile aeroplanes was heard approaching from the East, and at 10.30 they were in our near neighbourhood. I counted 24 myself, flying compactly, and very much remembering a body of rooks flying westward towards Kelvedon Hall on an autumn evening. The German aeroplanes appeared from the Rectory to extend from ourselves towards Kelvedon Hatch and Stanford Rivers. They flew unopposed till apparently over North Weald and Epping when firing commenced, and seemed to scatter the formation. They rallied however, and then appeared to make rapidly westward, over the Loughton and Chigwell district for N London. The firing and bomb-throwing circled more and more to the south until at last the fleet was again visible over the Romford quarter, and the sound of machine guns was plainly audible. The aeroplanes were now at a much greater distance. They were lost in the haze, in little over ¾ hour from their first appearance, as they vanished in the direction of the mouth of the river Thames and Southend.”

Eventually the might of the Americans was brought to bear and the War, which seemed “a draw” in 1917, according to sportsman Capt. Fred Fane, ceased with an Armistice on 11th November 1918. In days before radio, the village learnt of events by “the hooting of sirens and the noise of maroons. Some in Stondon heard the distinct bells at Brentwood. But it was not till the afternoon that definite tidings reached the villages and then it filtered through chiefly the form of private messages. News came to Stondon that flags were being hoisted on the Military Hospital at Ongar, and that the veteran Field-Marshall Sir Evelyn Wood VC had visited the place and communicated the splendid message to the wounded men. As soon as I had this official intelligence the Stondon Church bells were chimed with all the old vigour by Ernest Baines, our sometime sexton”. In one sense the War was over.

The book, 'Revd E H L Reeve: Chronicler of the Great War' (64 pages) may be purchased, price £1.50, from the bookstall at Priory Church of St Laurence, Blackmore; St Peter & St Paul Church, Stondon Massey (on open afternoons); and, Megarry's antique shop, The Green, Blackmore. Alternatively, to purchase via the website E mail the contact address.
Andrew Smith

Principal Events of the First World War

In our three-month commemoration of the Great War, ‘Blackmore Area Local History’ is concentrating on local and social rather than military history. However, it is useful to place in context these events with a timeline of principal dates, battles, places and personnel. The information on the national and international stage comes from an unlikely source: a commemorative book celebrating the Silver Jubilee of King George V in 1935 – ‘The Story of 25 Eventful Years in Pictures’ (Odhams Press, London). Interspersed are other notes linking the overall picture with local happenings.

4th August 1914: German invasion of Belguim
4th August 1914: British Ultimatum to Germany
4th August 1914: War Declared
4th August 1914: Sir John Jellicoe assumes command of Grand Fleet in the North Sea
4th August 1914: Sir John French appointed to command Expeditionary Force
5th August 1914: Earl Kitchener of Khartoum appointed Secretary of War
8th August 1914: British Expeditionary Force lands in France
10th August 1914: Liege occupied by Germans
10th August 1914: France declares war on Austria-Hungary
12th August 1914: Defence of the Realm Act passed
12th August 1914: Britain declares war on Austria-Hungary
20th August 1914: German occupation of Brussels
24th August 1914: Fall of Namur
26th August 1914: Destruction of Louvain
6th September 1914: Battle of Marne begins
15th September 1914: Battle of Aisne begins
24th September 1914: Trench warfare begins
9th October 1914: Fall of Antwerp
29th October 1914: Turkey enters the War
29th October 1914: Lord Fisher appointed First Sea Lord
5th November 1914: Britain declares war on Turkey
14th November 1914: Death of Earl Roberts at St Omar
17th November 1914: Issue of £350,000,000 War Loan
23rd November 1914: British squadron bombarded Zeebrugge
16th December 1914: German bombardment of Hartlepool, Scarborough and Whitby
24th December 1914: Air raid on Dover
25th December 1914: Informal Christmas truce – hostilities resumed at midnight
19th January 1915: Zeppelin bombs dropped on Yarmouth
2nd February 1915: Turks defeated on the Suez Canal
11th February 1915: British aeroplanes and seaplanes bombard Bruges and Ostend
18th February 1915: German blockade of Great Britain begins
19th February 1915: Bombardment of the Dardanelles begins
21st February 1915: German aeroplane raid on Essex
10th March 1915: British take Neuve Chapelle
20th March 1915: Air raid on Deal
14th April 1915: Air raid on Tyneside
16th April 1915: Zeppelin raid on Lowestoft, Maldon, etc
18th April 1915: British take Hill 60
23rd April 1915: Rupert Brooks dies, aged 27
25th April 1915: Allied forces land in Gallipoli
30th April 1915: Zeppelin bombs on Ipswich and Bury St Edmunds
7th May 1915: Lusitania torpedoed
10th May 1915: German bombs on Southend
17th May 1915: Zeppelin raid on Ramsgate
19th May 1915: All racing suspended (except at Newmarket) for the duration of War
23rd May 1915: Italy declares war on Austria
25th May 1915: Coalition Ministry announced by Mr Asquith. Mr Lloyd George: Minister of Munitions
26th May 1915: Triumph torpedoed
27th May 1915: Zeppelin raid on Southend
31st May 1915: Zeppelin raid on London
6th June 1915: Zeppelin raid on East Coast
7th June 1915: Zeppelin destroyed by Lieut. Warneford, R.N.
9th June 1915: Ministry of Munitions established
14th July 1915: National Registration Act passed
3rd August 1915: King presents first colours to Welsh Guards
5th August 1915: Fall of Warsaw
10th August 1915: Air raid on East Coast
13th August 1915: Another raid on East Coast
15th August 1915: National Register taken throughout Great Britain
19th August 1915: White Star liner Arabic torpedoed
20th August 1915: Italy declares war on Turkey
4th September 1915: The liner Hesperian torpedoed
7th – 13th September 1915: Zeppelin raids on East Coast
8th September 1915: Air raid on London
19th September 1915: Bulgaria mobilises
25th September 1915: Beginning of Great Allied offensive on Western Front
5th October 1915: Allied forces land in Salonika
11th October 1915: Lord Derby, new Director of Recruiting
12th October 1915: Nurse Cavell executed at Ghent
13th October 1915: Zeppelin raid on London and Eastern Counties
14th October 1915: Bulgarian armies attack Serbia
15th October 1915: Great Britain declares war on Bulgaria
16th October 1915: France declares war on Bulgaria
19th October 1915: Italy declares war on Bulgaria
12th December 1915: Lt.-Gen. Sir William Robertson appointed Chief of Imperial General Staff
15th December 1915: Sir Douglas Haig succeeds Sir John French in France
19th December 1915: Withdrawal begins from Anzac and Suvla Bay
5th January 1916: Conscription Bill introduced
8th January 1916: Evacuation of Gallipoli completed
11th January 1916: Mr Herbert Samuel becomes Home Secretary
14th January 1916: Lord Chelmsford made Viceroy of India
23rd January 1916: Aeroplane raid on Kent
31st January 1916: Zeppelin raid on East Coast. Six or seven Zeppelins over Midlands
10th February 1916: Compulsory military service for single men aged 19-30
18th February 1916: Germans in Cameroons surrender
20th February 1916: Aeroplane raid on Kent
21st February 1916: Battle of Verdun begun
2nd March 1916: Military Service Act comes into operation
8th March 1916: Germany declares war on Portugal
19th March 1916: Seaplane raid. Deal, Dover, Margate and Ramsgate
27th March 1916: In Paris, first War Conference of all the Allies
“31st March 1916: Bombs dropped over Blackmore”
1st April 1916: Zeppelin brought down in Thames estuary
14th April 1916: British aeroplanes raid Constantinople
19th April 1916: Field Marshall von der Goltz dies
29th April 1916: Fall of Kut after resistance of 143 days. General Townshend surrenders with 9000 troops
21st May 1916: Summer Time Act comes into operation
25th May 1916: Royal Assent to Military Service Act No. 2
31st May 1916: Naval battle off Jutland
5th June 1916: Lord Kitchener drowned in H.M.S. Hampshire
5th June 1916: General von Moltke dies
1st July 1916: Anglo-French offensive on the Somme
6th July 1916: Mr Llord George appointed Secretary of State for War
9th July 1916: Mr E. S. Montagu appointed Minister of Munitions
26th July 1916: Capt. Chas. Fryatt of G.E.R. Steamer Brussels sentenced to death by Germans.
30th July 1916: Zeppelin raids on South-east Counties
9th August 1916: Zeppelin raid. Eastern England
27th August 1916: Rumania declares war on Austro-Hungary
28th August 1916: Germany declares war on Rumania
30th August 1916: Field Marshal von Hindenburg appointed Chief of German Staff
3rd September 1916: Schutte-Lanz Airship brought down at Cuffley
15th September 1916: First use of tanks
23rd September 1916: Two Zeppelins brought down in Essex
“One at Great Burstead, the other at Great Wigborough”
1st October 1916: Zeppelin raid; one brought down at Potters Bar
29th November 1916: Sir John Jellicoe appointed First Sea Lord and Admiral Sir D Beatty in command of the Grand Fleet
5th December 1916: Mr Asquith resigns
7th December 1916: Mr Lloyd George becomes Prime Minister
11th December 1916: M Briand forms French War Ministry
1st January 1917: Sir D Haig created a Field-Marshal
9th January 1917: Allies reply to President Wilson’s Note
16th January 1917: Death of Admiral George Dewey
3rd February 1917: U.S. breaks relations with Germany
24th February 1917: Gen Maude captures Kut-el-Amara
25th February 1917: German retreat on the Ancre
28th February 1917: British capture Gommecourt
8th March 1917: Count Zeppelin dies aged 78
11th March 1917: Gen. Maude captures Baghdad
17th March 1917: British capture Bapaume
18th March 1917: Ramsgate and Broadstairs shelled from the sea
26th March 1917: British attack Turks at Gaza
29th March 1917: General Foch takes over Command of the whole of the Allied Armies
5th April 1917: U.S.A. declares war on Germany
7th April 1917: Cuba declares war on Germany
9th April 1917: British advance and capture Vimy Ridge
16th April 1917: Food strikes in Germany
26th April 1917: German naval raid on Ramsgate
12th May 1917: Men between 41 and 50 accepted for the army
15th May 1917: General Petain appointed Commander of Northern and North Eastern French Armies on Western Front
25th May 1917: Aeroplanes raid Folkestone
7th June 1917: British capture Messines-Wytschaete Ridge
13th June 1917: Aeroplanes raid London
26th June 1917: U.S. Troops in France
29th June 1917: General Allenby appointed Commander in Palestine
7th July 1917: Aeroplanes raid London and Margate; 97 killed, 193 injured
21st July 1917: Russian retreat
28th July 1917: Tank Corps formed
11th August 1917: Rt. Hon. Arthur Henderson M.P. retires from War Cabinet
3rd September 1917: Fall of Riga to Germans
14th September 1917: German submarine shells Scarborough
17th September 1917: 9d Loaf Order in force
1st October 1917: Aeroplane raids on London
31st October 1917: General Allenby captures Beersheba
6th November 1917: Canadians capture Passchendaele
17th November 1917: General Allenby enters Jaffa
17th November 1917: Naval engagement in Heligoland Bight
18th November 1917: General Maude dies
1st December 1917: German East Africa cleared of German forces
10th December 1917: General Allenby captures Jerusalem
15th December 1917: Russo-German armistice for month’s truce signed at Brest-Litovsk
6th February 1918: Representation of the People Bill receives Royal Assent
18th February 1918: Hostilities between Germany and Russia re-commence
18th February 1918: Lord Northcliffe appointed Director of Propaganda in enemy countries
21st February 1918: British troops occupy Jericho
25th February 1918: Rationing of meat, butter and margarine comes into force in London and Home Counties
13th March 1918: Odessa occupied by Germans: Petrograd evacuated
18th March 1918: Germans repulsed on Belgian front
21st March 1918: Great German attack from Scarpe to Oise
22nd March 1918: General Allenby crosses the Jordan
23rd March 1918: Paris shelled by Big Bertha
16th April 1918: General Foch appointed Generalissimo of the Allied Armies in France
23rd April 1918: Successful Naval Raid on Zebrugge under Vice-Admiral Roger Keyes
7th May 1918: Rumania signs “Peace of Bucharest”
3rd June 1918: Postage rate raised to 1½d for letter, 1d for postcards
23rd June 1918: General Austrian defeat
10th July 1918: Mr J R Clynes appointed Food Controller
6th August 1918: General Foch created Marshal of France
15th August 1918: British troops cross the Ancre
30th August 1918: British cross the Somme
20th September 1918: General Allenby occupies Nazareth
26th September 1918: Franco-American victory on the Meuse
27th September 1918: British break the Hindenburg line at Cambrai
13th October 1918: German retreat on a 100-mile front
30th October 1918: Conference at Versailles of Allied Chiefs
31st October 1918: Government Bill making women eligible for Parliament introduced in House of Commons
11th November 1918: Armistice with Germany signed. Hostilities ceased at 11am

Friday, 8 August 2008

Ninety Years On. Remembering the First World War (4)

Extract from ‘Notes For A Parish History’ (ERO T/P 188/3) written by Revd. E. H. L Reeve of Stondon Massey (Essex).

8th August 1918

William Chantry, brother of Albert, has been at the Front in France and is home on short leave. Like many more, he is tired of the war and regrets that individuals of the Allied Nations and Central Powers must hammer at each other indefinitely. The American troops are all fresh men of from 21 to 28 years of age, in the best of health and spirits. Little wonder that they can get the advantage of the war-weary forces of the Kaiser!

Chantry was serving with the engineers attached to the Artillery, and he tells me how 47 guns out of 48 in his section were silenced and taken.

The quality of bread is improving, the crisis being over probably as regards food-stuffs.

Next entry: 9th September 1918

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Ninety Years On. Remembering the First World War (3)

Extract from ‘Notes For A Parish History’ (ERO T/P 188/3) written by Revd. E. H. L Reeve of Stondon Massey (Essex).

7th August 1918

Five Zeppelin Air-Ships came on the night of Aug 5th with the object of raiding and dropping bombs. The Navy, however, and the Naval Air Service anticipated them about 40 miles out to sea. One of the raiders was brought down in flames, and another was damaged. No bombs were dropped inland.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Ninety Years On. Remembering the First World War (2)

Extract from ‘Notes For A Parish History’ (ERO T/P 188/3) written by Revd. E. H. L Reeve of Stondon Massey (Essex).

5th August 1918

The newspapers make good reading today.

For three weeks in July we had the pleasure of entertaining Capt Waldo Littlewood and his wife, who were previously billeted at the Rectory in August 1915.

Next entry: 7th August 1918

Monday, 4 August 2008

Ninety Years On. Remembering the First World War (1)

Extract from ‘Notes For A Parish History’ (ERO T/P 188/3) written by Revd. E. H. L Reeve of Stondon Massey (Essex).

4th August 1918

This day, the fourth Anniversary of the entrance of Great Britain into the War has been marked by special Services of Prayer and Thanksgiving.

At Stondon we had a good congregation at Church in the Morning, and in the evening about 100 persons attended an Open-Air Service in a field opposite Soames’ Farm House.

Sunday, 3 August 2008

BLACKMORE HISTORY NEWS - Ninety Years On. Series Preview

Over the next three months, Blackmore Area Local History will be devoting space to the events of World War One, not from a military history perspective of battles and campaigns but giving, hopefully, a local insight to the effects of the war on the civilian population of Blackmore, Stondon Massey and the surrounding district.

The First World War began on 4th August 1914 and ended on 11th November 1918, so it seems appropriate to begin ninety years ago on its fourth anniversary and end on the date when hostilities ceased.

I will be posting a series of entries recorded in Revd. Edward Reeve’s ‘Notes For A Parish History’. Reeve was Rector of Stondon Massey from 1893 to 1935 and enthusiastic parish historian. On spare evenings, away from clergy duties, he wrote these notes in his study. (Some of this writing may be found in the book ‘Revd. E H L Reeve: Chronicler of the Great War’, currently available).

Every Friday evening, when the Reverend is not found in the study, I will post an entry. There will be notes on the Zeppelin air raids and attacks on London in Gotha aeroplanes.

Links to other sites will be given and some refreshed to give, as far as possible, comprehensive coverage. Also invited are Readers’ Comments and stories for inclusion. Contact me, either through the E mail link here or on the main website:

Above all, the site will be remembering those who served and those who gave their lives in Blackmore and Stondon Massey, whose names are carved on local war memorials.

“In the going down of the sun and in the morning: We will remember them”.

Saturday, 2 August 2008

Vaughan Williams and Essex

Fifty years ago, on 26th August 1958, the famous British composer Ralph Vaughan Williams died. Whilst he never lived in Essex we can claim that this locality had a major influence on his musical output.

Vaughan Williams was born in 1872 in Down Ampney, Gloucestershire. He studied at the Royal College of Music at a time when English music was popular in “the organ loft and the festival platform rather than the stage” [Day, p8]. His tutor Charles Stanford had failed at opera whilst Arthur Sullivan was succeeding at operetta, but then this was not considered serious music.

Looking for a musical style, Vaughan Williams became interested in folk song. The Folk Song Society had been formed in 1898 but was struggling despite Stanford being its Vice President. Cecil Sharp declared in 1904 that it was necessary to “get out into the field and listen to what the country folk had to sing” [Day, p18] rather than endlessly discuss the merits on folk song in London.

Vaughan Williams heartily agreed with Sharp’s views and had already been working separately from the Society, giving lectures on folk music across England and at the Montpelier House School for Girls (later renamed Brentwood County High School) in Brentwood (Essex). He described folk music in 1902 as “real music”. “What we need in England, is real music, even if it be only a music-hall song. Provided it possess real feeling and real life, it will be worth all the off scourings of the classics in the world” [Heffer, p22].

Vaughan Williams’ lectures at Brentwood had inspired one of the pupils, Georgina Heatley. After the final lecture she handed him a piece of paper with songs sung by one of the housemaids at her home, which was the Rectory at Ingrave. Georgina suggested that much folk song was rendered, but was unrecorded. With it came an invitation from her father to attend a Parish Tea, which he accepted. At the tea was a 75 year old labourer (a shepherd) by the name of Charles Potipher, dressed in his Sunday best, and probably not comfortable with attending such functions above his station in life at the Rectory. In any case “the old songs he knew were about young love and sex, taboo subjects in the oppressive Victorian atmosphere of the rectory” [Kent, p161]. He was reluctant to sing to Vaughan Williams at tea but promised that if the composer visited his cottage the following day he would sing for him.

So it was that on 4th December 1903 that VW collected – that is noting down the words and tunes – his first folk song, ‘Bushes and Briars’, from the voice of Charles Potipher. This visit to a humble labourer’s cottage ignited the composer’s passion for folk song. In 1904, Vaughan Williams came on a 10-day cycling tour of Ingrave, Willingale, Little Burstead, East Horndon and Billericay collecting further examples. In January 1905 he collected songs from around the Kings Lynn district of Norfolk and whilst on holiday in Sussex and Yorkshire later that year. In 1906 he visited Samuel Childs at the Bell, Willingale, noting down ‘Sweet Primroses’. Vaughan Williams earnestly believed that if these songs were not noted down they might be lost forever. Vaughan Williams became one of the greatest folk song collectors of the early twentieth century. It inspired the writing of his three ‘Norfolk Rhapsodies’ and ‘In the Fen Country’.

Ralph Vaughan Williams jotted the folk songs using pencil and paper. He later made some wax cylinder recordings. One singer was Mrs Humphries, also of Ingrave, who recorded ‘Bushes and Briars’. She had heard her father and grand-father sing this while a youngster living at Blackmore (Essex).

While this mammoth project was in its early stages, Percy Dreamer approached Vaughan Williams to edit a new hymn book. His name had been recommended by Cecil Sharp and Canon Scott Holland. Intended to be a short task it absorbed VW who spent £250 out of his own pocket and took two years. The result was the ‘English Hymnal’ published in 1906. Folk song tunes were included as musical accompaniment to sacred words: ‘Monks Gate’ was a tune Vaughan Williams had collected from a place near Horsham. He used it in the setting of the famous ‘To Be A Pilgrim’.

The English Hymnal draws on a wide range of musical styles but as he wrote in the Preface, “where there is congregational singing it is important that familiar melodies should be employed”. Tunes were written based on folk songs collected: ‘I think when I read the story of old’ was set to a tune named ‘East Horndon’; ‘There’s a friend for little children’ to the tune ‘Ingrave’ and, the most familiar of the three still sung today, ‘It is a thing most wonderful’ set to a tune ‘Herongate’.

“On 4th August 1914 war was declared on Germany, and Vaughan Williams, like the heroes in many of the folk songs he loved so much, felt his duty to enlist as a soldier” [Day, p29].

Charles Potipher died in 1909 and is buried in an unmarked grave in Ingrave churchyard. In early 2001, Brentwood Borough Council decided to commemorate him in the naming of a road on the then new Clements Park estate – Potipher Way. Other roads were named in remembrance of the Vaughan Williams connection, for example, Vaughan Williams Way, Pastoral Way (after his third symphony).

Three years before his death, in 1955, Vaughan Williams revisited Brentwood and recalled his first visit to the town which had had such a profound effect on his music.

In 2003, to mark the centenary of Vaughan Williams’ visit to Ingrave, the Essex Record Office mounted an excellent exhibition entitled ‘That precious legacy’ commemorating the composer and folk singing. The exhibition led to the publication of a book by Sue Cubbins, sound archivist, and is highly recommended for further reading.


The English Hymnal (1906)
Cubbins, Sue. That Precious Legacy. Ralph Vaughan Williams and Essex Folksong (Essex Record Office, 2006)
Day, James. Vaughan Williams (Dent & Sons, London, 1972)
Heffer, Simon. Vaughan Williams (Phoenix, 2000)
Kent, Sylvia. Folklore In Essex (Tempus, 2005)
Brentwood Gazette. 4 January 2001. 8 August 2003.

Other sources

BBC Radio 3 broadcast Twenty Minutes, a Proms Interval programme, entitled ‘Fantasia on a Theme: Bushes and Briars’ on 24 July 2008. The Promenade Concerts featured a whole day devoted to Folk Music, reflecting the musical legacy begun by Vaughan Williams, culminating in sets by Bella Hardy, Martin Simpson and 11-piece band, Bellowhead. Bella Hardy sang a Christmas carol – ‘Down In Yon Forest’ - collected in her native Derbyshire (Castleton) by RVW.

Friday, 1 August 2008


Welcome to this month’s round-up of local history and heritage in and around Blackmore.

Who Do You Think You Are?

The BBC magazine of the same name (Issue 12) tells me that ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ series 5 begins on Wednesday 13 August, 9pm, BBC One. Celebrities featured are Patsy Kensit (13 August), Boris Johnson (20 August), Jerry Springer (27 August), Esther Rantzen (3 September), David Suchet (10 September), Ainsley Harriott (17 September), Jodie Kidd (24 September) and Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen (1 October).

There are always a number of interesting articles in the magazine. This time there is a look at old post boxes. Coming soon to this blog – after our commemoration of the First World War – I will be on the look-out for Victorian pillar boxes (and lamp boxes) in the Blackmore Local Area. Incidentally, in 1512, Henry VIII appointed Sir Brian Tuke as Master of the Posts. Tuke has a local link in that he acquired land around the Blackmore (Essex) district around the time of the Dissolution.

Family History – Blackmore

Blackmore Area Local History is here to encourage folks to look further into local, family and social history so I was interested to learn from the Daily Mail how Roy Blackmore has traced his family back to medieval England and the time of William The Conqueror. He began researching his family tree in 1975, long before the days of Internet. Like some of my relatives, genealogy then was poring over old records and footslogging around churchyards.

“Once Roy had assembled what family historians call the 'bones' of the tree - names and dates of births, deaths and marriages - he set about giving them flesh. He tracked the Blackmore surname to a village in Essex of the same name.

'In the tenth century, monks spoke of the Blackmores as being yeoman farmers. They were Saxons, fair-skinned people from northern Germany, who came over in the fifth century after the Romans had left. The original spelling was Blachmer.'”

Ingatestone United Reformed Church bi-centenary

The history of an Independent Chapel in Ingatestone, which later became part of the Congregational Union and more recently Ingatestone United Reformed Church, is being researched by an amateur local historian. Chris Harvey, a former resident in the village, aims to publish a book two hundred years after the Church’s founding in 2012. Chris writes on Great Baddow online (link below): “I am particularly interested in people with memories and/or photographs of the 1970s or earlier, for example uniformed organisations such as Boys Brigade or Girls Brigade. I am already in touch with local church members and have access to church records, and also those in the Essex Records Office dating back to the 19th century, but any other information from anyone with knowledge of that church in the last century would be appreciated.”

Folklore In Essex

I have just finished reading a book entitled ‘Folklore in Essex’ by Sylvia Kent. It is a broad sweep of life and tradition in Essex and has much coverage of the local area, including the Wheat Whoppers Ball at Blackmore, our village’s link with Henry VIII and William Byrd of Stondon Massey to name but three. There is also a chapter on Essex’s musical tradition: Ralph Vaughan Williams’ visits to Ingrave, Brentwood and other places in Essex in the pursuit of folk song collecting. You can read more about RVW this month on this blog. Coincidentally the day I finished reading this interesting book, Sylvia Kent announced on her blog a reprint of the work. Sylvia Kent is a local photographer and freelance writer.

Ingatestone Hall is Wicked

A history of Ingatestone Hall, home of the Petre family for over 500 years, has appeared on Wikipedia. Follow this link:

Brentwood and District Historical Society visit Blackmore & Stondon churches

On 12 June 2008, as part of their summer programme, a local history group visited two of our local churches. Follow this link to see The Society’s web entry:

Blackmore Area Local History

Blackmore Area Local History will be launching a website very shortly – Pages on the site will include an index of Blackmore people, a transcript of the 1910 Electoral Register for Blackmore (Essex) and a copy of the booklet I wrote in 2005 entitled ‘Hatched, Matched and Despatched’, which is a brief survey of Blackmore’s Baptism, Marriage and Burial registers. This blog will not be closed and will continue alongside the main website. As mentioned, over the next three months the blog will be dedicated to local events surrounding the First World War (the Great War as it was then known), it being 90 years since the end of hostilities in 1918.