The Outbreak of War

Letter to Thomas Lord Farrer from his cousin on the declaration of war, dated 18 August 1914: ‘…It seems as if all one’s hopes and aims had been smashed in a moment …’ When England declared war on Germany, 4 August 1914, few could have imagined the scale of the war, the immense loss of life, nor how life on the home front would change. The outbreak of war saw a mass influx of recruits and extra recruiting offices had to be established across the county. Almost 14,000 men from the two Surrey Regiments were to lose their lives in the war, and by the end, almost 1 in 4 of the total male population had joined up, either voluntarily or through conscription. As a result, the range of opportunities that opened to women was immense, from factory and agricultural work to caring for the wounded. There was a huge increase in marriages in Surrey, peaking in 1915 with 13,000 more taking place in that year than in 1913 ,as young couples tied the knot before being parted. Large houses, such as Clandon Park, were requisitioned for the treatment of wounded soldiers and factories were commandeered to help with the war effort. After the war communities across the county erected memorials to their dead and in 1921 the Royal British Legion poppy factory was established in Richmond.

PC_59_52 Sandown edited

Postcard depicting The Grand Stand, Sandown Park, Esher, c1914. SHC REF: PC/59/52

Postcard depicting The Grand Stand, Sandown Park, Esher, c1914. The reverse reads: “Dear Nell. A view of my present digs though it’s not quite so gay just now. There are plenty of knuts here for all that. Getting plenty of stiff marching here. How are the wee ones now? Alright I hope. I’m expecting to be home soon, and will try and take a turn down your way. Hope Tom is alright and yourself too. This leaves me A1. Ta ta the noo. Yours Tom H.”

Part of the Last Summer display

Further Reading

The Last Summer: Surrey on the Eve of the Great War
Family Life 1
Family Life 2
In the News
School Life
Sport and Leisure
Women’s Suffrage

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