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Alnwick in the Great War: Stories From the Home Front in Alnwick and District

ISBN 978-0-9927324-2-4

This book was developed in conjunction with the Northumberland branch of the Western Front Association and the Alnwick District WW1 Centenary Commemoration Group. It records four inter-related stories from the area around Alnwick:

The Outbreak of War describes the events that took place in the first few weeks after the declaration of war, on 4th August 1914. As well as the call for recruits, the whole town became involved in supporting the war effort. Even the Duke of Northumberland’s daughter gave french language lessons to the soldiers billeted in the town. Local names that we encounter include Reavell, Wade, Middlemas, Archbold and Percy.

The Spectre of Invasion draws on some recently discovered, and rare, papers that describe the precautions that were put in place to deal with the feared enemy invasion. Following national guidelines, a Local Emergency Committee was established in the town, and with the help of Special Constables, a whole plan was developed. People, stock, vehicles, food and fuel were all to be moved rapidly inland. While many towns have official records of these events, this book uses unique copies of letters and reports that were written at the time, by the people involved on the ground. These include Meech, Skelly, Robinson, Sordy, Purvis, Fairbairn, Hudson, Hare, Wallace, Brown, Young, Bell, Armstrong, Thompson, Forster, Gray, Castles, Cunningham, Holt, Croudace and Smith.

The Army in Alnwick tells the story of the Army camp that was built on the Pastures near Alnwick Castle. This became home to a number of Northumberland Fusilier battalions, including the 16th Newcastle Commercials and the Tyneside Scottish and Irish. As well as the camp, soldiers from the 7th Battalion were billeted in the town and camped on Alnwick Moor. All of the soldiers used rifle ranges, some of which can still be seen on the ground today.

Attacks from the Air is about the Zeppelin raids in the area and the Royal Flying Corps that arrived in order to provide air defence. There were a number of flying fields around Alnwick in use during the last two years of the Great War, at Rennington, Stamford and Snipe House..

Some of these tales have never proper been told before, and the invasion precautions especially provide a new insight into this period our our nation’s history.

The book has 40 pages, including 17 images (4 in colour) and one map and is priced at £4.50. Post and packing is free in the UK.

Some useful links to websites:

Western Front Association

Alnwick District WW1 Centenary Commemoration Group

Royal British Legion

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