Herefordshire's Home Front in the First World War, by Bill Laws
Book published by Logaston in 2016, 168 pages. Paperback (N6453)
From the rear side cover: Herefordshire in 1913 was an old fashioned shire under the benevolent rule of the Church and the gentry. Its bishop was opposed to war and his successor was opposed to women’s suffrage. Many of its farmers refused to plough on a Sunday: many more regarded women as being incapable of farm work. By 1919 the shire was in mourning for over 4,000 men. It had employed over 4,000 women on munitions and another 2,500 on farms. It had put to the plough more rich, milk meadows than any other county in England or Wales. And it had deprived more children of a proper education than any other English county. Herefordshire’s Home Front in the First World War is the story of what happened in those intervening years during the conflict they called the Great War.
The author, himself a former provincial journalist, has trawled the local press and history sources for a host of stories that reveal how people coped with the conflict at home: how the king turned former chauffeur George Butcher into England’s most famous ploughman; the persecution of Socialist war protester Stanley Powell; the gaoling of plucky Welsh munitioneer Elsie Abel who saved the Rotherwas National Filling Factory from an explosion; the fate of the German mistress Mary Bernstein and her child, caught hiding in Hereford; and the Belgian baby they called the Little Refugee. From the widowed Walford clergyman who tried to keep his seven servants from the front to the wounded Orcop soldier given his family home by public subscription, this is the story of a county at war at home.