World War I, 1914-18 - Witley Camp

 

In January 1915, orders were issued for the setting up of a camp on Witley Common for training British and Canadian soldiers before they were sent to France. The camp was also used as a extension of British military facilities in Aldershot. The camp straddled the Portsmouth and Haslemere roads, extending from Mousel and Milford, to Witley Park and Bowlhead Green. The camp had its own entertainments including shops and entertainments. Part of Milford Common was used as a baseball pitch for the troops and one of baseball's most famous players, Babe Ruth, played there. One group of billets, stables and lock-up shops became known as Tin Town. After the armistice, it was used as a demobilisation camp. Between 30,000 and 50,000 troops passed through the camp during the time it operated between 1916 and 1918

Source: National Trust, Witley Centre

A more detailed account of the camp was given in an exhibition called Witley Camp - 1914-18 and 1939-45 Wars

 

This gives a view from across the Haslemere Road

image: Godalming in Old Picture Postcards, vol 4, no. 52

 

 

This shows the wagon park

image: Godalming Museum, ref B995.53.3

 

 

This is a collection of postcards, with several from Witley Camp. The collection was made by L/Col W Blackburn of the 6th Battalion, Manchester Regiment

Postcards: Godalming Museum, ref B986.2

 


Tin Town included a row of temporary shops along Portsmouth Road

image: Godalming in Old Picture Postcards, vol 4, no. 53

 

 

Special cards were printed for the Canadians to send home. This is the inside of a Christmas card for 1918

image: Godalming in Old Picture Postcards, vol 4, no. 54

 

 

Tempers frayed when the return of the Canadian soldiers was delayed.

The Garrison Theatre at Witley Camp after being set on fire during the riots of June 1919

image: Godalming Museum, ref B984.98.5

 

 

When the Canadian soldiers left, they donated one of the huts to Witley as a 'Women's Hut'

It was later used by the Brownies and Girl Guides.

Source: Witley & Milford History


See also The Poppy Trail

 

 

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