A rare find from the Great War in Surrey

November 29, 20183:46 pmLeave a Comment

The Portable Antiquities Scheme doesn’t often record items from the last century, except when they turn out to be something quite special, or have considerable historic interest. One such item from Surrey which was recorded recently, is a rare example of an object which tells a story of the patriotic fervour and intense social pressures experienced on the home front during the early days of World War One.

Strachey Badge PAS Record ID:SUR-07E25F
Copyright Portable Antiquities Scheme

This object, a copper alloy badge known as a “Willing” badge, was found by a metal detectorist at Send, near Woking. It was commissioned as part of a scheme set up by John St Loe Strachey, High Sheriff of Surrey in 1914, in order to support and encourage local men who wanted to join up, but who were turned down on the grounds of poor health or for not making the grade in terms of height or physical fitness. The badge was intended to be worn by those individuals to publically mark their desire to serve and to encourage them to continue to train and to ultimately try to enlist again at a later date. The need for this badge becomes particularly apparent when the social pressures and public shame heaped upon men not in uniform on the home front at the time is remembered.

As part of Surrey Heritage’s recent event on the occasion of the armistice centenary organised by the Great War in Surrey project, the badge was presented to Strachey’s current successor, Mr Jim Glover, by Andrew Jones, a representative from the metal detectorists club who has generously agreed to deposit the badge at the History Centre on a long term loan. This event was made possible thanks to the work of the Finds Liaison Officer, Heritage Conservation Team and Surrey Heritage who helped organise the event and secure the loan.

Presentation of Badge to High Sheriff of Surrey.From Left to right Mr Mike Page, Mrs Glover, High Sheriff of Surrey Mr J Glover, Dr Simon Maslin, Mr Tony Howe, Mr Andrew Jones, Dr Kirsty Bennett

Written by HER Assistant

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