Fringe Box



Effingham Holds World War One Exhibition

Published on: 10 Dec, 2016
Updated on: 10 Dec, 2016
Some of the 200 visitors enjoying the exhibition of Effingham in the First World War

Some of the 200 visitors enjoying the exhibition of Effingham in the First World War

By Liz Hogger

Over 200 visitors attended an exhibition held last Saturday (December 3) on the subject of Effingham during World War One. The exhibition covered the activities of Effingham people on the Home Front as well as in the trenches and across the globe.

It was the Effingham Local History Group’s (ELHG) third major exhibition and presented the lives of civilians, those who survived military service and those who fell, with many rare images from contemporary family albums, some, owing to their rarity, of national significance.

A talk form the history group chairman was one of the activitioes on offer

History group chairman, Chris Hogger, gave an illustrated talk about Reginald Wells, who was born in Effingham in 1893. He served as a stoker on several ships during the war and was killed by wounds sustained during the catastrophic explosion on HMS Glatton in Dover harbour on September 16 1918.

Chairman of the history group, Chris Hogger, said: “Seventeen young men from Effingham lost their lives in WWI, and many of the those who survived had their lives changed forever by injury or trauma.

“Those who stayed at home, the women, and older people, also served, by nursing wounded servicemen at the military hospital set up at Clandon Park, by welcoming and caring for Belgian refugees and by helping to run the famous Waterloo Buffet, greeting returning troops and wounded men with hot drinks and meals at Waterloo Station throughout the war.

“Even children were involved, helping in the fields at harvest. We wanted to pay tribute to all the people of Effingham whose lives were affected by that terrible war.”

Group secretary, Sue Morris, said: “People were very generous with their time and with their precious possessions handed down through the generations.

“We were able to display a ‘widow’s penny’, the memorial plaque given to the families of those who died, which had been issued to the family of Walter William Wells who was killed in action on November 7 1918, just four days before the Armistice.

“Another prize exhibit was an engraved silver-banded walking stick, one of 69 presented by the parish council to Effingham servicemen who survived the war.”


Joseph Stewart Adams who served in Salonika, pictured with his wife Florence who ran the village school.

Display panels told the stories of many men who served abroad. One of them was the village school-master, Joseph Stewart Adams, who served in the bitter Salonika campaign on the Balkan front, where he contracted malaria and suffered ill-health for the rest of his life.

He wrote on a postcard in 1918, “Salonika took a fearful lot of getting over”. Meanwhile his wife Florence was left to run the village school of 65 to 80 pupils almost on her own.

Another panel told the story of Ellen Maria Whittington, a widow who ran the laundry at Old Westmoor Cottage on Orestan Lane. All four of her sons served in the armed forces and the youngest son, Bob, was a war hero.

As a stretcher bearer, Bob was ‘mentioned in dispatches’ in October 1914 and awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal, “For gallant conduct and devotion to duty at Spanbroek Molen on March 12 1915, when he crawled through a gateway which was under very heavy machine gun fire, and bandaged the wounded who were lying only 30 yards from the enemy trenches.” Bob was killed in action on August 26 1916 at the age of twenty one.

The exhibition was enhanced by contemporary music, from music hall to classical works, free refreshments, and a help desk for anyone wanting to research their own family history.

ELHG also launched its new publication at the Exhibition: Edwardian Effingham: The Book of the Exhibition which brings together the display panels from the Exhibition of April 2013. It is hoped that book based on this latest World War One exhibition will soon follow.

Share This Post

Leave a Comment

Please see our comments policy. All comments are moderated and may take time to appear.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *