One Parish at War – Lydbury North in the Great War

In Lydbury North’s parish church, there is an amazing publication titled ‘War Record’, produced by the parish after the Great War that sets out the military service of parishioners and the ‘war work’ local patriotic villagers undertook to support the war effort.

After the First World War, the Shropshire parish of Lydbury North compiled a book outlining their ‘War Record’. This document is a fascinating account (a copy pdf of photographs can be found here – Lydbury North and the Great War – NOTE: it is of low quality) of a small rural community’s story during that war. 

 

In August 1914, Lydbury North had a population of 806 (compared to around 695 today[1]). People in the village had limited horizons; the War Record opens with the admission that ‘our knowledge of geography was not great; Britain to most of us meant little more than “Lydbury North” or at that “Shropshire”…we were content to be like this’.

 

All the Parish knew of the ‘Army’ was that it was an “unseen body of men” as only eight men had chosen military service as their profession; five in the regulars and three in the Territorials. Then, the Record continued, the ‘war burst upon us…and…we were transformed, our vision lengthened…and we began to think in terms of Britain and Empire’.[2]

 

The War Record sets out the names and service of local men. One hundred and thirty eight men served (17% of the parish’s 806 population) in 46 army regiments, which included the Royal Navy.[3] Of these:

  • 46 (33.3% of those who served) were in the two local formations, the Royal Welsh Fusiliers (15 men) and King’s Shropshire Light Infantry (31 men).
  • 46 were wounded (33.3% of those who served) of which seven men (5% of those who fought) were injured twice.[4]
  • 3 became POWs.[5]
  • 25 were killed (18% of those who served).[6]
  • 96 had ‘joined the colours before the Empire’s danger made Conscription imperative’ (69% of all those who served).

 

The account also gives efforts of the local community to support the war effort:

  • 1,474 garments were made for ‘hospitals and elsewhere’ including 13 pairs of mitts and 30 walking sticks.[7]
  • 347 Christmas presents sent to local men on active service.[8]
  • £1, 414, 18 shillings and 10 pence was raised 20 causes including Belgian Refugees, British Red Cross Society, Children’s Sewing Guild, Church Army and the local war memorial.[9]
  • £1,897 was saved via the War Savings’ Association.[10]
  • 8,052 eggs were collected for ‘naval and military hospitals’.[11]

 

The contribution made by children of the parish was also noted as that they ‘contributed to the ideals, the hopes and endeavours of the Nation fighting for its life, and so it is impossible to enumerate all they have done for us’. They contributed £21 to charities and causes and made 191 ‘garments’.

 

An auxiliary military hospital was opened at Walcot Hall through the ‘generosity of the Earl of Powis’ [sic]. It cared for 114 patients between 24th August and 20th April 1918. During the patients stay there ‘the Parishioners did all they could to give the men as good a time as possible’.

 

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lydbury_North.

[2] Parish of Lydbury North, Shropshire, 4th August 1914-11th November 1918, War Record, p.4.

[3] Ibid., p.12.

[4] Ibid., p.14.

[5] Ibid., p.15.

[6] Ibid., p.16.

[7] Ibid., p.22.

[8] Ibid., p.17.

[9] Ibid., pp.17-20.

[10] Ibid., p.21.

[11] Ibid., p.22.