Sedbergh and District 1914-1918, edited by Diane Elphick

Sedbergh and District 1914-1918, edited by Diane Elphick
Book published by the Sedbergh and District History Society in 2016, 355 pages. Paperback (N7761)

From the rear side cover: The war had a profound impact on the nation. In the rural communities of the Dales change may have seemed less obvious but it could not be ignored. There was no turning back. Men returned expecting to find the improved conditions that they had fought for, "Homes for Heroes". Women and children had taken on new responsibilities and experienced changes in their lives and expectations. They had organised concerts and events to support the troops, their families, and refugees; collected eggs for the wounded; knitted and sewed to send parcels to troops and hospitals; sent hand-crafted Dent walking sticks to help the wounded.

From the introduction: The Great War, as it was called at the time, owing to the scale and worldwide nature of the conflict involved many nations, devastated people and places and squandered the industrial output of nations.

This book aims to commemorate the sacrifices that the Sedbergh and District communities made in the war. It is important, however, to respect the context in which emotions and actions were determined and not to attempt to judge them with the benefit hindsight or modern ideals. The language used at then does not always conform with modern standards. It seems understandable that once war was declared people needed justification for the sacrifices, deaths, woundings, suffering and hardships. The action was world-wide; people died in places far from home; men, women and children were affected. Episodes in the Sedbergh area provide a snapshot of the era showing different viewpoints and responses to events. Scrapbooks and memorabilia kept by families illustrate the kinship links that extended throughout Britain and with the dominions and colonies of the British Empire.

The local area, Sedbergh, Garsdale, Dent and Howgill, now in South Lakeland, Cumbria, was then in the West Riding of Yorkshire, Craven District and Skipton Parliamentary constituency. There was an allegiance to Yorkshire and the Duke of Wellington's West Riding Regiment. In daily life people moved and had strong links across administrative boundaries. In the west and north­east with Westmorland, the Sedbergh Militia and later the Territorials were part of the Kirkby Lonsdale Company of the Border Regiment and children who 'passed the scholarship' went to Queen Elizabeth Grammar School in Kirkby Lonsdale. In the east, Upper Garsdale and Upper Dentdale had close links with Hawes and the North Riding of Yorkshire. Garsdale Station was called Hawes Junction until the name was changed after a dreadful railway disaster. The railway follows the county boundary and while the railway cottages at the station were in the West Riding the others, Moorcock Cottages, were in the North Riding and just a little way along the line the cottages were in Westmorland. The railway community had links along the Settle Carlisle line and similarly Sedbergh railway workers linked with the West Coast line and moved into and out of Westmorland as employment demanded.

In daily lives the boundaries were of little concern and events and societies in Sedbergh or Hawes were supported by people throughout the area, but with the distances involved and uncertain weather conditions smaller groups congregated nearer to home. From Garsdale station and Grisedale children attended Lunds School, religious needs were catered for at Lunds chapel, Grisedale Methodist Chapel or Junction Chapel. The LMS tank house, near the station, was a social venue for wedding parties and dances that attracted people from a wide area.
Contents include:

Prelude - The Approach to War
1914 Expectation
1915 Reality
1916 Conscription
1917 Attrition
1918 Total War
1919 Demobilisation

The condition of the book is generally very good. The covers have several minor scuffs, and light bumping and wear along the edges and corners, but the spine is intact, and all pages are clean, intact, unblemished and tightly bound.