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Kempshott in WW1


A brief overview

Jane Hussey & Margaret Clarke 2014

Kempshott – World War One

By the time the Great War broke out there were 40 families living peacefully in Kempshott if we include Kempshott Park and its farms.  Not only had chicken / egg farming begun but there was a dairy, market garden, the mixed farms of Down Grange and Buckskin which occupied the locals, as well as tradesmen, such as carpenters and builders and people working in the large firms of Basingstoke.


As the call to arms came, and as all over the land, Kempshott’s men left their posts to fight for King and Country.  Most families were affected. Some returned, some did not. Some were invalided out. Their war histories have been reconstructed from those whose names are on the Basingstoke War Memorial in Memorial Park, their forces records, now in the public domain, newspaper reports at the time and the electoral registers amongst others.

From the outset of the war recruits could volunteer to enlist.  This they did at the Drill Hall in Basingstoke before it moved on 22nd August 1914 to Crane’s Stores.  Many were sent to Winchester for their medical examinations where it was often found that men were not fit enough to fight, so they were nourishingly “fed” at the Army Training Camps to which they were then sent, in order to strengthen them up.  They had to be at least 5 ft. 3in tall and have a chest measurement of 34”.  Their eyesight also had to be good, otherwise they were not sent abroad initially.  Only 3 Kempshott men enlisted at the outset of the war, although there were Kempshott residents already employed in the Forces:


Charles Henry Bell was a full time soldier who re-enlisted during WW1.  He had moved to Kempshott Lane by 1912.  (Records partially burnt).

George Jesse Ernest Brazier was in the Royal Navy at least from 1890.  He lived at the Moorings in Pack Lane with his family.  We think his son George Ernest Brazier also followed in his footsteps during the war.

Arthur Faulkner, one of the sons of Richard Faulkner, a retired police officer was in the Navy too as an Engine Room Artificer.  This family lived at Elgin in Pack Lane. His 2 brothers also eventually enlisted, leaving their parents on their own at home.

James Arthur Alexander had enlisted at the back end of the Boer War and re-enlisted.  More of him later.


The following table shows a list of those who served and returned - some to Kempshott, though not immediately.  Some would have been re-recruited to a post-war territorial force to act in case of emergencies, or were sent to Ireland for a tour of duty before being finally demobbed.  It was only after the war in 1918 that all returning men were given the right to vote as a thank you for their war efforts, so from this time on we have a fuller picture from the registers of the village’s inhabitants.  Pre-war when the last list of voters was published, only those men owning property would have been eligible.


As approximately 70% of all soldiers’ WW1 War Records were burned in WW2 in a fire at their storage place in Hayes, it is sadly not always possible to construct an individual’s personal war history.  However, the following examples have shown that Kempshott’s residents served the war effort in numerous ways – not only at the Front, at sea and in the air, but also through Basingstoke’s varied industries.  It must also be said that our searches only revealed the fates of the menfolk, women being not so readily documented.


Kempshott men who served

                                                Data from the Kempshott Electoral Registers



Charles Henry Bell from Stone, Staffs, lived in Kempshott Lane and had been a professional soldier since 1890 with the Staffordshire Regiment serving mostly in India and Ireland and in which 2 places most of his children were born, but he had been discharged in 1911.  He re-enlisted in September 1914 at Winchester and joined the Hampshire Regiment.  He was aged 44 at the time and was posted to France the following year.  By 1918 he was hospitalized and on his demob in 1919 he received a pension, due to his 70% disability and suffering acute rheumatism, of 21/- and allowance for his last dependent child.  This was to be reviewed after 6 months. Two of his sons also served.


William Albert Love Musson of Kennel Farm, Kempshott enlisted in 1914 as he was by then 18 years of age.  He had been working as a gardener on the Kempshott House Estate and his attestation papers tell us that he was 5 ft. 7 ½ in. tall with good vision and fair physical development, so he was declared fit for overseas service.   He joined the 4th Battalion of the Hampshire Territorial Force but was then transferred to the Wiltshire Regiment.

Sidney Leonard White also of Kennel Farm entered the Western European Theatre of War in 1914.  And he was unfortunately killed in action 4 months later.  He was Lance Corporal in the Household Cavalry and Cavalry of the Line.  His medals were received posthumously.

At that time farm lads who with a spirit of adventure would have gladly enlisted to see the wider world.  The government was relying on the “Pals Battalions”, i.e. pals from firms, or football teams or villages joining up and serving together for continued companionship, but this scheme failed in as much as it wiped out whole sections of the population en bloc.  So by 1915 other methods such as wider poster advertising were being used to prick mens’ consciences into joining up.  The Hampshire Chronicle of 1st March 1915 carried an ad. for the 4th Battalion of the Hampshire Regiment “Imperial Service Men are wanted at once to complete the establishment, aged 19-38 (old soldiers up to 43).  They were to contact The Secretary, Voluntary Recruiting Committee, or Capt. Hoare 4th Battalion, Hants. Regt., Winchester, recruiting officer. 

Also in 1915 registration was introduced so that the Government had a better idea of who could be eligible for war service.

29-year old Albert George Gale, was living at Shirley, Pack Lane in 1911 and he was called up in December 1915 and allocated to the Devonshire Regiment by which time he had a young wife and 2 small sons.  He was sent to France in March 1917 and as a bricklayer he served in the Artizan Company of the Devon Regiment in the Labour Corps.  He was half an hour late for duty one day and this deprived him of 7 days’ pay.  He wasn’t demobbed until October 1919.

Albert George Gale’s WW1 Attestation on joining up

Part of the burnt records which have survived the fire.

 When Albert Edward Abraham, a farm carter on Kennel Farm enlisted in December 1915 he was found to have defective eyesight but nonetheless was sent to France in June 1916 with the Labour Battalion of the Devon Regiment.  His medal card says he served in the German theatre of war, so what he did and where we don’t know.

By 1916 rules for enlistment had been relaxed, such was the need for men to replace those fallen at the Front and it was in March of this year that conscription was introduced for the first time in Britain after the Military Service Act was passed, something which had been fought against by the government up until this time. This imposed conscription on all single men aged between 18 and 41, but exempted the medically unfit, clergymen, teachers and certain classes of industrial worker.  

James Arthur Alexander was also called up in 1915 and as he was a Motor Driver by trade he was sent straight to France and although at first attached to the Royal Garrison Artillery served with several companies including two Australian ones but always in the motor transport section.  He was confined to barracks for 6 days as he went absent without leave for one day.

Lemon John Barnes, son of Lemon Barnes, publican of the Stag & Hounds on the Winchester Road, enlisted in the Navy in 1915 stating he was 18 years of age when in fact he was only 16 at best.  He served in Russia on the Cricket, a river gunboat.  He remained in the Navy as an AB until May 1922 and did not return to Kempshott. 

His older brother Walter William Barnes enlisted in the 1st Battalion of the Hampshire Regiment and was sent to the Dardanelles, where he was wounded on May 4th 1915.  The next we hear of him is that he was found to be missing on July 1st 1916, and then reported killed, although not necessarily on that day.  He is commemorated on the Memorial in the Somme, so we know he was transferred to France for the battle of the Somme.

Charles Hedderley the builder, moved to Ferndale, Kempshott Village from Basingstoke and enlisted in 1915 into the Royal Engineers as a sapper.  As such he was sent to France in the BEF (British Expeditionary Force) on 14.12.1916 where he was wounded in the chest, arm, buttock and left thigh, and was classed as having 70% injuries, so he was repatriated on the 30th and discharged in 1919 as an electrical engineer.  His records state he was a non-conformist which is interesting as many of some of these faiths became conscientious objectors and refused to have anything to do with the forces.

Archibald Victor Maslen of Kennel Farm joined the Royal Navy and served on HMS Conquest as an Engine Room Artificer but was killed by enemy action in June 1917 whilst his ship was in the throes of conquering 12 German steamers.  He has no official death certificate.  He had only been married a few months but his will left everything to his father, so presumably had not been changed after going to sea.

All war personnel were required to make a will before entering a theatre of war.

William Herbert Taylor, son of Sidney Herbert Taylor of Stanley Lodge, Pack Lane enlisted into the Hampshire Regiment in 1915 and served in the Balkans and then in France where he was killed in action in July 1917 aged 22.  He is buried in Chester Farm Cemetery, Ypres.

Arthur Henry Philip Vandervell of Leslie Lodge, Homesteads Road, was 19 and joined the army in August 1916.   He was a private in the RASC Motor Transport and he had a better war than most.  He received no medals, because he did not serve in an overseas theatre of war

Maurice Sylvester Beaver was the only future Kempshott resident to have served in the Royal Air Force during WW1 as the recitation from the supplement to the London Gazette and cited in Flight Magazine 8.4.1920.  He did not move to Kempshott from Kingsclere until after the war however as he served until 1919 assisting in quelling the Russian Revolution.

These are just some of the examples we found.  More to the point is the overall picture in Kempshott.  Not only did the farms lose their labour but families lost multiple sons to the war, and young wives their husbands.

All 3 of Richard Faulkner’s sons went to war.  They only had these 3 children.  Luckily all three returned.  2 Abraham brothers joined up, leaving 2 younger children at home.  In the Bell family, father and 2 sons went to war.

2 White brothers, of Kennel Farm enlisted.

Charles Hedderley left a wife and 3 children behind.

So how did those left behind cope without the income of their husbands and sons?  And without their help on the farms etc.?

Life back at home

It is well known that women took over many of the men’s former jobs.  The Women’s Land Army existed in both wars.  We know that many women worked in munitions factories and one such was Wallis & Steevens near Basingstoke station who instead of manufacturing tractors etc. made cast iron mortar bomb casings and engines during the war. This was women’s work too. 

Thorneycrofts, Basingstoke’s largest employer, manufactured 5000 J Class trucks for the War effort and over 3,000 depth charge throwers for use against the German submarines.  Maybe some of their early employees were in reserved occupations, although many did join up.   Of their 1,550 employees, 35% of the workforce during this period were women during WW1.  

Many people in reserved occupations felt they had nonetheless to enlist and this created gaps in all sorts of professions.  Joices coach and motor body builders also expanded during WW1 as a result of contracts to repair horse-drawn vehicles for the army.

Men and women also worked for Burberry’s who won the government contract to produce the Officers’ trench coats.   In 1901, having designed the gabardine Tielocken coat, the forerunner of the trench coat, Burberry was commissioned by the war office to design a new uniform for the British officers, hence the name "trench coat".                  Likewise with the employees of John Mares and Gerrish Ames and Simpkins had a hand in producing clothing for the war.   Surprisingly so, as Burberry was a Baptist and the other two were Congregationalists, most of whom would have had nothing to do with the war if they had stuck to their pacifist beliefs.  Perhaps income had a lot to do with it.

Charles Bell’s daughter Ellen was apprentice at John Mares in 1911 and would probably have served it out during the war.   Likewise 2 of Job Starr’s daughters.  Henry Hall was a tailor manager in one of the firms and one of his daughters was a tailoress.  Frederick James Hart was a tailor but he left his work and enlisted.  4 of Philip Uren’s daughters were in tailoring and he himself was not only one of the original smallholders but also a tailor.  It is not known if they were part of the war effort.

So all these had an income based on work near home.  But what of the soldiers and their families? 

The soldiers would receive 3/6d. per week out of which they had to pay a small contribution for the upkeep of their dependants in addition to what the government was paying and the balance of their pay would be put by for their demobilization to give them a start back in civilian life.  They obviously didn’t need quite so much as they were provided for in terms of meals and overnight accommodation even if it were in the trenches or tents.

As a comparison:

As the war progressed, the quality of food diminished due to lack of ingredients.  The turnip soup became almost uneatable as did the bread where the flour was substituted with sawdust to make it go further.  This unappetizing fare could not have done our soldiers much good.


Basingstoke did have auxiliary military hospitals commandeered from large houses viz.

Danes Hill, Basingstoke, West Ham House Hospital, Basingstoke, Sherfield Manor and Annexes, Basingstoke.  Interestingly Kempshott House was not used as such.

The soldiers’ return

Military personnel were not demobilized until 1919 or 1920 even.  Some had to apply for a war pension if they had been injured sufficiently during the war and it was not always granted, or it was granted for a certain number of months and then a re-examination was required. Some able-bodied men were put on the reserve list for call up again should any further hostilities arise.  This was the Z category.  Some were immediately on their return sent to serve a term in Ireland which was flaring up again at the time.

Other men returned seeking work and this was not always forthcoming.  We looked at the electoral rolls for the immediate post-war years to try to ascertain how many of our war veterans returned to Kempshott and 18 men were still away in the services.  By 1919, 19 men were classified as still serving.  [This could be because a further young man had become of age in the meantime or a family had moved into the area.]

Arthur Henry Bell returned to Kempshott to his family

George Ernest Brazier – no further records have been found for him except perhaps a death in Croydon in 1985 but being a sailor anyway would have probably remained at sea.  He had retired by 1930 and was back living in Kempshott with his family.

George Deeks returned to work on the Old Down Farm, in 1923, his brother did not return but went back to Ipswich from whence the two had come originally.

Arthur and Oliver Faulkner did not return to Kempshott, nor did their brother Vincent who became a fitter, married in 1926 and the couple left for Gibraltar, China & Hong Kong. 

Albert George Gale did eventually return home to his family and died in Basingstoke Hospital in 1962.

Wilfred Robert Cann of the Dorset regiment sailed for Quebec on the Ausonia of the Cunard Line on 10.8.1923 on his own.  Perhaps he sought a better future.  After the War the government were giving men free passage to Canada etc. provided they stayed for a minimum of 5 years. If they came back within that time they had to pay back their fare.

Frederick Goodyear died of meningitis in 1917 in Lucknow hospital, Tidworth Training camp.  Meningitis seems to have been prevalent among the training camps, probably because of the ages of the young men training, and their having to sleep in tents at close quarters with one another.  He is buried in Basingstoke Old cemetery.

Louis Alfred Hailstone (a Basingstoke family) had married a German lady from Hamburg called Friederike Emeline Sachs.  On the 1911 census she had given her birthplace as Hamburg and her nationality as German.  Germans have always been able to retain dual nationality and she would not have been interned as an alien because her husband had enlisted in 1914 in the British Army.  He was injured and demobbed before the end of the war and was therefore given the silver war badge – given to those who had been injured and were not fit for further service to avoid them being given the white feather by other civilians.  They came to live in Kempshott in 1918.

Henry William Hall returned to civilian life in Kempshott in 1920.

Charles Hedderley returned in 1919, disabled.  His sons eventually carried on the building business.

Curiously none of our men who died or were killed in action are on either the Basingstoke War Memorial or the Worting Memorial.  However Dummer war memorial situated on the sides of the lych-gate does record two of the fallen from Kennel Farm.

Even more poignant is an entry on the Basingstoke memorial for Brinsley Richard Boyer, son of Frederick Boyer formerly a draper in London Street but then of Down Grange, Kempshott.  This son had emigrated to Australia in 1913, enlisted into the Australian Army and was killed 11th August 1915 in Gallipoli where he is buried in the Lone Pine Cemetery.  He is also commemorated in the commemorative Area at the Australian War Memorial according to the Red Cross website.

The Basingstoke War Memorial and Brinsley Richard Boyer:

All building of new houses had been stopped during the war years and it was only afterwards that it resumed in Kempshott.  Several war veterans from other parts of the country thereafter retired to Kempshott taking up the land offered for Homesteading.

We hope with this exposé to have recognized the work and effort of the Kempshott inhabitants in their First World War contributions.


                                                                                                     Jane Hussey