Welcome to the first ‘Norfolk in World War One’ post – we wanted to start by telling you why we chose the image that heads our web pages. Although it was taken just after the end of the War in Cambridge (at an Army Service Corps Headquarters) it shows both men and women, military personnel and civilians united together – all of whom had important roles to play. In the next few years we are aiming to explore as many people’s different stories and experiences of the War as possible, not just those who served at the front line.
Norfolk Forage Corps members are pictured in the group, including some staff from Cantley Chaffing Store. Mrs Cecily Fathers is also present; she was an officer in the Forage Corps based at Dereham, who was very active in recruitment for the organization throughout Norfolk. The Women’s Forage Corps was established by the Government in 1915; the British Army at this time was reliant chiefly on horse power and the demand for forage (horse food) was massive.
The Forage Corps came under the auspices of the Army Service Corps (ASC) which was the unit responsible for keeping the British Army supplied with all its provisions except for weaponry and military equipment. Becoming the ‘Royal Army Service Corps’ in 1918 in recognition of its huge achievements during the conflict, it was also known informally as ‘Ally Sloper’s Cavalry’. Ally Sloper was a character from a popular British comic strip of the time, all about a crafty rent-dodging schemer. The ‘cavalry’ bit may have been a sarcastic reference to the large numbers of work draught horses and mules that the ASC deployed in their work.
If you have any Norfolk in World War 1 stories or information that we could include on this page please email firstname.lastname@example.org