The 17th Middlesex at Holmbury Camp
The 17th Middlesex, known as the ‘Footballers’ Battalion’, was a ‘Pals’ battalion raised by William Joynson Hicks in December 1914. Joynson Hicks made the grounds of his home, Holmbury House, available for a training camp in April 1915. Various events were planned for the troop's entertainment. The Surrey Advertiser reported that on Thursday 15th July “about 150 soldiers from the Holmbury Park Camp were entertained to an enjoyable tea in the church room by the villagers, who have subscribed to a fund for the purpose. The tables were presided over by Miss Topham assisted by several ladies. In the evening a programme of music was provided for the men.” Another concert took place on 29th July, also organised by Miss Topham.
Fund raising was an important part of supporting the troops and gave a sense of purpose to those at home. The Surrey Advertiser reported that “As a result of Empire Day celebrations the children of the school subscribed 13s. 6d. towards the fund organised by the Overseas Committee for comforts for soldiers.” and on 31st July the report of the St John’s and Red Cross Penny Fund for Sick and Wounded showed that collections in Ewhurst had raised £9 2s. 4d.
The Prime Minister, Herbert Asquith, made an urgent plea for national thrift as an aid to victory. The Surrey Advertiser reported that a meeting was held in the church hall on Wednesday 21st July at which “Mr Pandelli Ralli gave an address on ‘Thrift’ following the lines of the circular recently issued by the government.”
The threat of air attacksIn 1915, England suffered the first Zeppelin bombing raids. The Surrey Advertiser reported that in Cranleigh “The hooter in the gas works [on Cranleigh Common] is being tested with a view to warning the inhabitants in case of the approach of hos