Saturday 16 May 2015

Diary of a somebody - Frank Simpson's war diary part 4

Frank Simpson (1863-1942) was a prominent figure within his native city of Chester. During the First World War he was Quartermaster of the Chester Volunteers formed for home defence in 1914. One of our volunteers has begun to serialise his diaries. Our fourth instalment looks at the formation of the Civic Guard.

August, Tuesday 25, 1914

A number of gentlemen interested in the formation of a civic guard, or Civilian National Reserve, or whatever name it may eventually be known by, met at the Holborn Restaurant this evening at 8 O’clock. Dr Young, Medical Officer of Health for the county, explained that the executive committee had communicated through general Mackinnon , with the War Office and were waiting its reply. That it was in no way intended to interfere with Lord Kitchener’s plans in regard to recruiting for the Territorial’s; and that it was intended that a detachment might be formed of men who were not eligible to serve in any army Lord Kitchener now or in the future may desire to raise. It was suggested that no member be accepted for this corp, under the age of thirty five. The gentlemen present, about forty, then went through a course of drill, under the instruction of Mr Rushton.

August, Wednesday 26, 1914

A number of gentlemen who have joined the Civic guard met at Upton-sand-pits this Wednesday afternoon for target-practice, each firing five rounds. Some of the members also indulged in Pistol practice. In the evening the company met at the Holborn for military drill under Mr J. A. Bennett. There was a good number present and considerable progress was made.

August, Monday 31, 1914

Recruiting goes on apace at the Castle. This morning a batch came in from Winsford, headed by the Winsford Band and a banner attached to two poles on which was painted 150 recruits from Winsford. During the evening the recruits; 1500 strong, headed by the band of the Church-Lads-Brigade paraded the streets of the city, and many young men on the line of march were persuaded to enlist; about 800 enlisted during the day.

September, Tuesday 1, 1914

Recruits still continue to come in about 500 were enrolled today. The Civic force attended at the Holborn Restaurant; Forgate St, this evening for Physical drill. During the evening Dr. Young stated that the Mayor, John Frost, had consented to become President of the association which it had been decided at a committee meeting held this evening, should be named ‘the Chester Civilian Association’; its object being to assist the civic, or military, powers in any way they possibly could. It was also decided that no person under 35 years of age be admitted to membership. The committee are forming rules and a rifle range is in course of construction.

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