Lest We Forget
Cutting (Newmarket Journal) Saturday, August 8, 1914
The proclamation calling out the Army Reserves, and ordering the embodiment of the Territorials were posted at the Newmarket Post Office on Tuesday evening. The notice boards were eagerly besieged by a large crowd, and continued to be a centre of attraction throughout the evening. Later, instructions were given to the H. Company of the 5th (Territorial) Battalion of the Suffolk Regiment to parade on Wednesday morning, ready for service in marching order, with full kit, for medical inspection. This order caused great excitement in the town, the suddenness of the order, and the short time allowed, coming as a great surprise to the majority of the townsfolk, and also to the men themselves. All through Tuesday evening the High Street was filled with folk, eager to get the latest news; while the proclamations at the Post Office had a peculiar attraction, for a crowd was always in front of them.
On Wednesday morning the vicinity of the Drill Hall had a fascination for a large number of folk, and as the men kept coming up in twos and threes they met with sympathetic cheers and good wishes from their friends, and the general public as well. By twelve o'clock the whole of the Company had arrived, with the exception of one who was on sick leave, and another who was away from home, and had consequently not received the notice. The men were in excellent spirits, and with the exception of comparatively few, were cool and collected. Of course there were exuberant spirits among them, who were perforce compelled to let off steam. Dr. Woollett was in attendance as medical examiner, and he got through his work expeditiously and well, considering that he had about 100 men to put through his mill. The examination was concluded early in the afternoon, and not a man was rejected. All were pronounced fit and well, the fortnight under canvas at camp having a great deal to do with this, the tan not having disappeared from their faces.
An interested spectator of this part of the work was Mr Ernest Tanner. The examination of the men's kits took place simultaneously with the medical inspection, so that no time was lost. The officers present were Captain S.J. Ennion and Lieut. G.S. Parker, whilst Major O.E. Griffiths who has retired from active duties in the Company, rendered yeoman service, in getting the men's papers ready, and in a variety of other ways, showing that his interest in the Company he commanded so long was as keen, if not keener, than ever. His practical experience and knowledge was most helpful to the officers. The expression was often heard during the day to Major Griffiths "I wish you were coming with us, sir," and the response, given in a real tone of sincerity, "I wish I was," left little doubt in the minds of his hearers, that he deeply regretted his inability to accompany the men. During the afternoon quite a number of the inhabitants of the town visited the drill hall, and the men were regaled with refreshments, cigars and cigarettes, among the donors of these being Mrs J. Ryan, Mr W.A. Jarvis, etc. Shortly before four o'clock there was a mild sensation in the drill hall when it became known that Sergt. E.J. Porter and Corporal C.W. Brown, two of the smartest non-coms in the Company, had received orders that they were to stay at home. The former is in the Post Office and the latter a telephone operator. The reason for this order was that so many officials in Government departments are serving with the colours that there was danger of the Postal and Telephone systems being disorganised because of the shortage of employees. Both men were considerably upset at the orders, and could scarcely stand the sympathetic remarks of their comrades. Shortly before the Company left the Drill Hall Sergt. Mont Cole brought in and exhibited a placard, on which was printed the words "Repulse of 80,000 German troops." The news was received with ringing cheers by the men.
As the hour of departure drew near, 6.55 p.m., the crowd outside the drill hall had increased in numbers, and became so dense that it was with some amount of difficulty a way could be made for the men to form up. Eventually the men emerged from the hall, fully equipped, and they presented a smart and workmanlike appearance. Their coming out was greeted with ringing cheers, which were repeated again and yet again. The Newmarket Town Band, under Bandmaster W.H. Squires, came to play them to the Railway Station. To lively airs the march began, between surging crowds on either side, which grew denser and denser as the Company proceeded, via High Street, Sun Lane and All Saints' Road to the old Station. Here the sight beggared description, for it looked as if the whole of the town of Newmarket, with a fair contingent from the neighbouring villages (which had contributed their quota to the Company), had assembled to bid "goodbye to the boys." Certainly never in the history of the town has such an assemblage been seen gathered together. Nor was it one class alone, but all classes had come, borne by the spirit of a great patriotism, to show their appreciation of and sympathy with those who were going to represent them in the gigantic struggle that is now going on. The platform was packed, and it was a trying time for the men, the taking of farewells of those who were near and dear to them. There are some people in this world who are so callous that they find a joy in sneering at any form of sentiment shown. Such scenes as were witnessed on the Newmarket platform did credit to the men and those they were leaving behind. There were tears, genuine tears, from wives, mothers and friends, and the grip of the hand showed the restrained emotions, but there was nothing of an hysterical character. Each felt that the call had come, and that where duty called, there it was right to be. Through it all was the spirit of hopefulness and trust. The Band did splendid service, playing a number of patriotic and popular airs, which helped to pass the somewhat long wait. At 6.55 punctually, the last good-bye having been said, and amid the strains of "The National Anthem," the train slowly moved out of the station. The cheering was loud and hearty on the part of the spectators, and was returned with hearty goodwill by the men themselves. Thus ended one of the most memorable send-offs ever witnessed in Newmarket; indeed it would be difficult to beat it anywhere.
The Company numbered 94 rank and file, with Captain Ennion, Lieut. J.S. Parker, and Sergt.-Instructor E. Seal. Lieut. T. Catchpole joined the Company at Bury. Of the members of the H. Company 31 have joined the Imperial Service League, for service abroad if required. The Company also numbered 20 married men. Their destination was Felixstowe. They will be employed in outpost duty and patrol work.
In addition to the H. Company the following Newmarket men have also been called up: - P.c. Percy Ripon, who has gone to Norwich; Mr J. Snowden (Army Service Corps); Mr G. Bowler and Mr W. Carberry. Other reservists are expected to be called.
Mr G. Lindsay, who is a naval pensioner, reported himself at Harwich on Monday, but as the Navy is fully manned, his services are not required at present, and he has returned to Newmarket.'