This booklet is a collection of townsfolk from Ilkley and Ben Rhydding who had interesting eyewitness accounts, from the First World War, published by the Ilkley Gazette. The contents page has lists all the people by surname and details such as their age, rank, regiment, awards for gallantry, pre-war occupations, cemetery, cause of death, theatre of war and any accounts which were taken from letters from loved ones or other sources given. Lieutenant Mawson and an account of Wool Camp in Dorset are used as examples below:
“Our homes are dugouts. Dardanelles (Turkey) looks like Wharfedale. Climate very fine – hot by day very cold by night. There is ceaseless booming of the guns and a constant whistle of the shells. You can tell when shrapnel is going to burst. Stray bullets a bugbear as you can hear them but cannot tell where they are from. Started new road 10 ft wide to top 400ft hill and got two 18 pounder guns up. Food limited in variety excellent in quality. Water boiled first so we can use it in tea. Lime juice and rum, tobacco and cigars are in prodigious quantities and helps take away the stench of the Turkish dead.
The Turks are big chaps, determined and uniform. Their munitions are German & their officers are mainly German. Thousands and thousands of explosive Turkish shells lying around.
Road making consists of disinterring or reburying Turks a gruesome business. My section has lost rather heavily. Am myself a bearded and unwashed savage & cave dweller.”
Mixture of work, food, fun, excitement, road making, trench digging and barbed wire erecting.
IG 9/10/14, 20/11/14, 16/10/14 – Wool Camp Dorset, General news about life in camp by unamed service personnel:
Beautiful summer like weather outdoor life pleasant. Rifles drill purposes + handling and position of gun when firing. Frequent route marches. Rumours re winter in Bournemouth but camp moved 500 yards and timber down for erection of huts.
8 hours drill and scouting by night. Sleeping 16 to a tent – no room to turn over – tired enough to feel no discomfort. Pleasant feature camp life: service and concerts in YMCA tent which everybody appreciates immensely.
Changed camp 500 yards to east old camping ground. 4 regimental huts here. Moors cleared for huts to be built. New top coats but no army coats. Living on stewed meat and cheese and jam. Food change yesterday marmalade this morning and boiled bacon.
Some now housed in council schools 16 miles from Wimbourne and people provide recreation and amusements.
IG 13/11/14 – Wool Camp Institute
Scheme to erect a large building for recreation and instructional purposes at Bovington Camp, Wool, where over 200 men from Ilkley and district are amongst those in training.
Men complain about cooking – get no butter or sweet cake, Sleep 15 to 16 to a tent. Reveille 06:30 and fall in 19:30. Total 4,500 men in camp from WR Regiment Manchester, Lancashire Fusiliers and Northumberland Fusiliers.