Buriton and the First World War: Through Local Eyes

A new publication from the Buriton Heritage Bank 

For the last four years or more the parish of Buriton has reflected upon the experiences of those who were living and working locally a hundred years ago: through the horrors of the First World War.

Local research has tried to find out about the impacts of the war on life at home in the parish – and to find out what happened to those who took part in the conflict, drawing upon the poignant Roll of Honour which hangs in the village hall and lists almost 200 names.

Summaries of the findings have been published in each edition of the Parish Magazine and on the Buriton Heritage website. As hoped, this approach led to yet more information being found and thanks are given for all the comments and extra material subsequently received. The assistance and cooperation from many descendants of those who were living in the parish a hundred years ago has been particularly helpful.

Thanks to generous donations and grants, the Buriton Village Association has been able to bring the findings of the small team of researchers together in this special publication and a copy is now available, free of charge, to every household in the parish.

The book tries to tell the story of the war, chronologically, ‘through local eyes’: from the early periods of enthusiasm in 1914, through some of the most trying and appalling conditions, to the relief of the armistice. Findings suggest that men from Buriton were involved in virtually all the significant moments and actions of the war – and there were people suffering at home, too. The book is dedicated to them all so that they may never be forgotten.

Contents include:

  • There were men from Buriton in the battles of the Somme, Passchendaele and Gallipoli as well as at the siege of Kut-el-Amara and the subsequent ‘death march’ of men captured by the Turkish forces.
  • Other Buriton men were involved in the major sea battles at Coronel (off the coast of Chile), at Jutland and in the daring Zeebrugge Raid
  • One Buriton man was a young pilot in the Royal Flying Corps who kept a diary of his flights over the Battle of the Somme and elsewhere
  • And there are accounts of encounters with Zeppelins, a tense escape from behind enemy lines and about local men who were held as Prisoners of War in Germany
  • Other Buriton men were in the ‘forgotten army’ which served out in India and then in Russia before eventually returning home at the end of 1919
  • At home (at a time long before electricity, gas, telephones, running water or toilets) there are details of food shortages and pressures on farming because of the shortages of men and horses
  • There is also information about nursing the wounded and about one Buriton man who is described as a particularly “unsung hero of the war” whose knowledge and advice may have helped to win the war for the Allies – and there is even a mention of Lawrence of Arabia!

The publication is the latest product of the Buriton Heritage Bank – an initiative designed to collect together information about the rich local heritage of the parish and to publish findings so that they are shared and recorded for all time. More details about this local history initiative can be found via the website: www.buriton.org.uk

Anyone with any comments about the publication, or with any further information about the First World War, is encouraged to contact the project team via heritage@buriton.org.uk.