Report November 2015

Report on monthly talk on Friday 20th November 2015
In a well attended meeting of the Kineton and District Local History Group, local resident David Fisher paid tribute to the 26 men, and one woman, from Bridge Street who served in World War 1. In a talk entitled “Kineton’s Soldiers from Bridge Street, during and after the First World War” David progressed down one side of the road and up the other detailing the military careers of all the men (and sometimes boys) who volunteered, were conscripted, or, in one case, were repeatedly exempted. David was strict in his focus, dismissing the brother of one Bridge Street sailor who had the misfortune to live in Southam Street, all of 100m away.
We heard the stories of characters, some of whom had rarely left the village, who found themselves in Europe, the middle-east and Asia, often in ghastly conditions. The story of Methodist teacher Arthur Gedens was particularly eventful. He joined the Navy and in the eastern Mediterranean he was hospitalised with diarrhea and vomiting, then later with scabies, and later again with an ulcerated leg, and finally he arrived back in Britain with para-typhoid. Recovered, he was sent out to France and was captured in a failed raid at Garvelle in which all but 4 of his regiment were killed or seriously wounded. He was also wounded, earning the MC, and at the end of the war he was hospitalised again. Undeterred he trained in the airforce at Radford Semele, returning to civilian life as an auctioneer living in Bournemouth in a house called Garvelle. David also traced Gedens’ sister Edith, a military nurse who served at a hospital in Rouen. He asked why she was not mentioned on the Roll of Honour – because she was a women?
The Trenfield family from the Red Lion sent 3 sons to the wars. Ernest was part of the rescue party which saved 760 horses and mules when the “Wayfarer” troopship was torpedoed; for this he was awarded the MSM. He survived to take over running the Red Lion. Following a traumatic tour of duty another son, R N Trenfield, emigrated to South Africa, where, in a polically incorrect incident, he shot a world record 6 lions in one encounter. The third son earned the MM and was a noted swordsman and horseman. He was one of several cases where hunting had equipped men with skills which were then still relevant on the battlefield.
Members of David’s own extensive family also served, with tragic results. Two brothers were killed, one in the Balkans where his skills as a linguist had been particularly valuable, and another, Percy, died on the Somme after a distinguished career in the Sino-Japanese War. Part of the title of David’s talk was “ … during and after the First World War” and it was a surprise to hear how many combatants returned and resumed normal occupations, although it is difficult to understand how “normal” life could be after their wartime experiences.
David graciously acknowledged the help of Gill Ashley-Smith and David and Elizabeth Beaumont in the preparation of his talk, and Gill then gave the vote of thanks, emphasising the value of David’s meticulous and detailed research to discover the facts about these local servicemen. The meeting then adjourned for tea, biscuits and gossip in the traditional fashion.
Elizabeth and Richard York are presenting “Drive the Cold Winter Away” in a programme of seasonal music and stories at our Christmas meeting on Friday 11th December. Mulled wine and mince pies will enhance the occasion. Members and visitors are welcome at the Village Hall at 7.30.
DF 21.11.2015