Following on from the recent post tracing the military history of Louis Beard we’ve been in touch with Andrew French who is the hon. curator at the Berkshire Yeomanry Museum. He has provided more information to Louis’ family about his service and has also discovered more links between the Berkshire Yeomanry and Norfolk…
In mid November 1914, after orders to proceed to France were cancelled, the Second Mounted Division, comprising four cavalry brigades each of three yeomanry regiments was ordered to East Anglia to guard the coast against invasion especially since the bombarding of Yarmouth by German battleships on the 4th November.
The Berkshire Yeomanry was initially based in and around Melton Constable, Briningham and Briston. Regimental Headquarters was based at Briningham Hall and the regiment trained at Lord Hastings invitation at Melton Park.
The billeting was described as “tight”, and not without good reason; on arrival some were fortunate to get billeted in cottages; others were accommodated in loose boxes and a few found shelter in disused pig sties.
Here is a letter from troops AH Harry Alder:
A Sq Berks Yeo
[November 19th 1914] Thursday Norfolk
Just to let you know I am still alive. I think I told you what a long ride we had to get here. We are stopping at a farm about 13 miles from Cromer. We are sleeping in a barn with straw to lie on; it is not very warm but we are quite alright. We have been drilling today at Lord Hasting[s’] park its a lovely place and there are hundreds of deer running around.
I am writing this in the village, about a mile from our billets. I am in a grocers shop with Phil Bowyer, the people are very nice and have given us tea. It has been raining nearly all day and its a treat to get in by the warm.
I don’t know what we are brought up here for but I think they are thinking that the Germans might land. They say there are about 50 thousand soldiers round about.
How are you all getting on, it seem months since you last and I expect it will be a long time before I see you again.
I don’t know it we shall ever get over to France. I don’t think the officers think we shall. Just remember me to Jack North, tell him I will write when I get the chance. Shall be glad to hear from any of you. How is Bill getting on with the bike. I expect. I expect he does a bit of exploring on it. I don’t think there is any more news I can tell you, if we should happen to move I will send a PC. How is the bis [business] getting on; the pig cutlets went down a treat. I should like to see Jack, I expect he would no [know] me. I must now end up, give my love to Dad Winnie Stan and Willie.
I am quite well never felt better in my life, I think I can stand the rough weather as good as any of them. Must now wish you all Good Bye with love to you all
edits/notes in red made by Andrew
Many thanks to Andrew for this post, we’re looking forward to finding out more about the Berkshire Yeomanry’s time in Norfolk during the war.