They answered the call in their thousands.

At the outbreak of war the young men of Worcestershire - just like the rest of the country - flocked to the colours to join up and 'do their bit for King and Country.'

Even afetr the slaughter started - and the running casualty count in the Daily Diary shows you it started very quickly - they still flocked to join.

Why? Pershore local historian Trudy Burge thinks some of the answers lie in this report of a recruiting meeting which appeared in the Evesham Journal of 100 years ago.


Evesham Journal 12th September 1914:




A meeting promoted by Messrs H Basil Harrison and W Wood, Chairmen respectively of St Andrew and Holy Cross Parish Councils, took place at the Music Hall on Tuesday night for the purpose of giving a stimulus to recruiting.  The meeting was remarkable for its size, its enthusiasm and its results.  The hall was packed to the doors, many being unable to find admission and the spirit of patriotic fervour animated speaker and hearers alike. 


Lord Deerhurst presided and with him on the platform were Lady Deerhurst, Hon Helena Deerhurst, Major-General Frank Davies, Admiral Cummings, Revs. H F Peile (Archdeacon  Warwick), F R Lawson (rector of Fladbury), Rev Harcourt Fowler (Vicar of Elmley Castle), Col. A H Hudson, Miss Hudson, Capt. And Mrs Derrington Bell, Miss Bell, Mr & Mrs O Wynne Marriott, Major F Checketts, Capt. J B Dowson, Der Emerson, Messrs G F Hooper, T W Parkes, J E Newman etc.  In the front row of chairs sat an old Crimean veteran – Mr Lewis of Fladbury – whose presence and bearing compelled attention. Deafening cheers broke from the audience when Lord Deerhurst invited him on the platform and introduced him. He is as fine a looking old soldier as one would meet anywhere. Tall and of massive proportions, with leonine heat and profile, his great chest being adorned with medals declaring him to have been a unit of the old 46th Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry whose exploits in the trenches before Sebastopol added much to the glory of our Army’s history.


It is due to the patriotism of Pershore and the villages immediately surrounding it to mention here a fact which was not brought out at the meeting, which is that the men who now joined up brought up the number of recruits for the past three weeks to well over a hundred (exclusive of Fladbury, 38) and that these when added to the Territorials, Yeomanry and independents already gone mawe up a splendid total of 300. Every day they come in, young fellows of brawn and muscle, hard as nails and fit as fiddles from their daily toil in the field and garden, the very chaps that should develop into the finest British Soldiers.


Lord Deerhurst commenced by saying that the war was due to the arrogance and greed of an individual who not only wanted to be Emperor of his own domain, but also the whole of Europe. The Kaiser was madly jealous of our wealth and possessions but what England had, she was going to keep and there were hundreds, thousands, aye millions, who were willing to lay down their lives for the old flag of Great Britain and to thwart the wicked designs of this military despot (Cheers).  Lord Kitchener wanted the men to make the issue of this campaign an absolute certainty and it was up to the men of England, who alone of the great powers adopted and maintained the principle of voluntary service, to now come forward in the time of their country’s great need (Applause).


In the fine speech of Admiral Cummings which followed, he spoke of England’s justification for entering on war, the heroic stand of plucky Belgium and the shameful, disgraceful behaviour of the Germans instancing the destruction of Louvaine.


Major –General Frank Davies, who had a great reception, also made a stirring speech. “History” he said “repeated itself”. Once again this country was fighting for the freedom of Europe. A hundred years ago, we were at war against one of the greatest soldiers of the world’s history; now we were out to crush the greatest military power that ever flaunted itself. But a century ago, we were not united and many took the side of the enemy.  Today, however, the Empire stood solidly as one, irrespective of creed, nationality or colour (Cheers). He knew Germany, had been there a good deal and knew its language. He had many friends there, some in the army. As soldiers, they had no quarrel with the men they had to fight. He believed the German nation at heart was kindly desirous of the pursuit of peace. It was the caste that ruled them, the caste that made war their God. They heated our wealth, they hated our freedom, they intended to put us down. France was to be crushed first and then their ports on the other side of the Channel would have been utilised against England. Anybody who wanted to know what it would be like to be ruled by Germany could read it in the blood-stained annals of Belgium. Poor little Belgium. What had she done? Simply sought to uphold her treaty rights, granted by whom? By Germany itself.  The Bully (Cheers and a voice: They will have their gruel yet”).  “Yes” concluded the speaker. “Germany hang ‘em; they were out to smash us but by God, they shan’t do it.” The blunt military manner of the General worked the audience up to a tremendous enthusiasm.


Mr Parkes who followed, describing the conflict as a fight for the freedom of civilisation and expressing the opinion it would be the last war we or our children would see.  A powerful entreaty to young men to come forward was emphasised by the recital of Nelson’s motto never more applicable, commented the speaker than now: “England expects that every man this day will do his duty”. The bright streak in the present crisis, continued Mr Parks, was the splendid co-operation of all the classes. There was no creed, no politics, no social distinction. We were all Britishers. It was therefore with a feeling of repulsion that he read in the local evening paper a letter – a small, mean, nonsensical letter trying to cause some political discussion. “Shame on the man who wrote it” cried Mr Parkes amid cheers.


No one trounced the “unscrupulous originator” of the war more than Col. Hudson in his vigorous ten minutes’ speech.   The Colonel emphasised the fact that our Government had used every possible means of conciliation to maintain peace and that war was provoked by Germany, regardless of sacred treaties and obligations, and for the sole purpose of satisfying their avaricious greed for territory. He alluded to Mr Asquith’s magnificent oration at the Guildhall as befittingly expressing the sentiments of Englishmen.


The Ven. Archdeacon of Warwick said we were at war for the sacredness of treaty obligations and for the plighted troth of the English people also. Shame upon them – of the Germans as well. Had we been fools enough to acquiesce in their innocent arrangements, they would, in all probability, have secured naval bases on the English Channel. The Archdeacon paid a splendid tribute to our magnificent Army and Navy.


Other fine speakers , each of which found great acceptance with the audience were made by the Rev F R Lawson, Mr J E Newman and Mr J Cooke, the popular recruiting Sergeant for Pershore and a splendid meeting concluded by the lusty singing of three verses of the National Anthem, led by Mr Charles Mason, the Abbey Organist.