Remembrance Service 2018

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This evening we’ll be joining thousands of people around the country in lighting a beacon in remembrance of the end of WW1 and of the millions who were killed or came home dreadfully wounded. The event also commemorates the huge army of men and women on the Home Front who underpinned the war effort in many ways, including by bringing home the harvests. The beacons will symbolise the light of hope that emerged from the darkness of war.

We have come here today to remember our young men who fell in the Great War and WW2 and I hope you noticed our “Tommy” as you came in, a lasting memorial inside our Church of those who are “here but not here”. We now know a little about those who died and we are yet to learn of the 38 men who returned safely to Carlton but this evening, in order to honour those men and women on the Home Front, I’d like to help us to learn a little bit more about the part played by those they left behind.

It cannot have been easy with the constant worry and bad news coming from France and we know that tragedy struck at least 8 of our families. The Hullyer family were one of the larger families in the village and many of their descendants still live in this area, in fact, we’re delighted to welcome some of them here to be with us this evening. They sent all five of their young men under 30 to war. They would go on to lose two of them, Edwin and Ernest in 1917. Reginald, Bert and Arthur would return safely. At the very beginning of the War the family lost their youngest - Daisy May, born to Reginald and Eva. Reginald, also known by his second name, Frank, went to fight. Without access to his records, I have yet to find whether Eva had to face the death of her daughter without him. Daisy-May died aged only 9 months in January of 1915.

Despite this, life continued apace in the village during the years of WW1. There were 12 baptisms, 6 marriages and 11 burials. Home for our young men was often very crowded with ten or more people living in one farm cottage. Sadly, perhaps, many of their cottages no longer exist, although Littlelow, where the Trundleys lived is still occupied today.

By 1915 Germany’s best hope of victory over Britain was by starving the country into surrender through a naval blockade. At this time we produced only a third of the food we ate in Britain and so an increase in production was vital, in fact Prime Minister Lloyd George said “The food question ultimately decided the issue of this war”. While there was starvation and rioting in much of Europe, production in England and Wales was higher at the end of the war than it was at the beginning. The effect of this both on keeping the nation fed and on maintaining morale cannot be underestimated.

At this time, the main crops produced in Carlton were wheat, barley, oats and beans. Farmers employed two labourers for about every 50 acres of land, and we had at least four landowners farming between 230 and 500 acres each plus various smallholdings. If we estimate this totals about 1500 acres, there would have been work for about 60 labourers. A massive void was created by the war - we know that, including those lost, 48 young men, nearly all of those required labourers, were on active service. Men were also required for livestock and we had cattlemen and shepherds in the village. too. Farmers were encouraged to plough under as much land as possible to create more space for crops so this would have meant even more work for those left behind. It is worth noting that The Women’s Land Army, although remembered mainly for their work in WW2, were established in 1917 and the women of Carlton would certainly have played a vital part in the increased work of the village.

Work fell into two camps - skilled and unskilled labour. The, so called,“unskilled” labourers actually had an impressive range of farming skills from sowing and harvesting to building, and repairing machinery. They also tended to work independently at various tasks, unlike perhaps, our image of a modern day labourer. The fathers of Arch Taylor, Frank and Hugh Heath, John Smith, William Mansfield and Harry Trundley were among the unskilled labourers working on the land in Carlton.

The “aristocrats” of the farm were the horsemen. The fathers of Thomas Thompson and Edwin and Ernest Hullyer are both recorded as horsemen in the village. These men worked the longest hours and received the highest pay. One man and his pair of horses was required per 30 to 40 acres of arable land. In ploughing months, they would be up at 4am to feed, water and harness their animals and then walk them up to the field to begin ploughing at 6am. Field work would usually stop at around 3 to 4 pm when the horses would be returned to their stables. After supper, evening work would commence when the animals would be fed and prepared for the night. They would also be responsible for the care of young livestock. We have a strong tradition of horsemen in Carlton and if you’d like to hear Robin’s stories about Harry Sparrow, one of the men of his youth, just ask!

There would have been many other jobs to do in the village. Some occupations listed on the census are: domestic servant, cook, clergyman, dressmaker, roadway labourer, agricultural engine driver, postmaster, carrier, baker’s assistant, farm bailiff, schoolteacher and so on. And people had to be flexible - Harry Clements’ father was both a blacksmith and a carpenter and Richard Carter at the Rose and Crown was both a publican and shoemaker - my sort of chap!

In closing, let’s remember the millions of men and women who did their duty for their country during the dark days of war and as we light our beacon tonight, let’s remember particularly our own people of Carlton.

Tracey Murphy 11th November 2018.