Tuesday, 27 October 2020


In 1914, the Henley Standard was known as 'The Henley and South Oxfordshire Standard'. Here we bring you excerpts from our extensive archive of news, views, anecdotes and much-needed humour published during World War One.
Publication date: 7th August 1914

With what rapidity great events are thrust upon us in these days! Who would have believed, ten days ago, that practically the whole of Europe was so soon to be involved in a great and terrible war, and yet that is what has happened, and Henley, in common with all other parts of the country is in the throes of excitement. It was only on Saturday last that people began to realise the possibility of the impending crisis, and from then until Wednesday morning the feeling of suspense was almost unbearable. Papers were quickly snapped up by people eager to gather the latest news. It was reported that the special editions of “The Times” and “Daily Mail” were coming into town on Sunday and large crowds assembled at the Railway station to wait their arrival. So many anxious people were waiting there that the authorities put rails across the entrances and only allowed those going away by train to enter the station. Great was the disappointment when, as each train arrived the same tale was told – “No papers, all snapped up in London.”

On Bank Holiday the tension became worse and considerably spoilt the holiday, and it came almost as a relief on Wednesday morning when it was learned that Germany not having sent a satisfactory reply to England’s note, the English Government had declared herself in a state of war with Germany. Not that anyone could rejoice at the country being involved in a great war, but it was a relief for the suspense to be at an end and to know the worst. What the consequences will be no one can foretell, but it is very gratifying to know that, notwithstanding recent differences, all sections of the British race are facing this trouble which has been thrust upon us with an united front.


On Sunday, all the Naval Reserve men in Henley and district received their mobilization orders, and this was followed on Monday by the Army Reserves all receiving notices to report themselves at their Regimental headquarters and in a very short time they had all left in ready obedience to the call to duty. In addition to these are:


who received their mobilization order on Tuesday evening. The Henley Territorials (“D” Company 4th battalion Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry) paraded at the Drill Hall on Sunday morning and headed by the Henley Town Band marched to Camp at Marlow for their annual fortnightly training. They were not, however, destined to remain long under canvas for training purposes, for on Monday they received instructions, consequent on the imminent declaration of war, to return to their headquarters at Henley where they arrived in the afternoon. They were dismissed in the evening and warned to be in readiness for mobilization at any moment.

On Tuesday it became known that general mobilization of His Majesty’s forces was proceeding and in the evening on the receipt of the official notices directing the embodiment of the Territorial service, the Company, with conspicuous smartness, assembled at the Drill Hall in readiness for orders. The news quickly spread about the town and when at half-past ten o’clock, after having been entertained at supper, the Company, headed by the Town Band marched to the Town Hall where they spent the night, the streets were crowded with people. Before they left the Drill Hall, the Company were visited by the Revs. A. H. Otway and J.G. Cowper who conducted a brief devotional service which included the recital of prayers especially appropriate to the occasion.

The men, who were quartered in the Assembly Room, spent a very sleepless night. They appeared however, to very cheerful and most of the night was spent singing. They were astir early the following morning, and about half-past four o’clock justice having previously been done to a substantial breakfast, the Company, headed by the Town Band, which played “Rule Britannia” en route, marched to Henley Station and entrained for Oxford where they are at present quartered at New College awaiting further orders. As the train steamed out of the station a number of detonators were fired and the Band played “God be with us till we meet again.” Sergt. Ranson had charge of the Company, Major Ovey, the commanding officer, and Regt. Quarter-Master Hobbs (the Mayor of Henley) having preceded the men to Oxford by motor car. Notwithstanding the early hour and a steady rain a large number of townspeople were at the station to bid au revoir to the departing Territorials, among the number being the Mayoress (Mrs. W. A. Hobbs) Alderman Simmons, Alderman Pither, Councillors Wilson, Turton Green and Luker.

The Wargrave contingent of the company received orders at 8 o’clock on Tuesday to mobilise at once at Henley. With great celerity they were got together and paraded in full equipment in the High Street at 8.45. Accompanied by a large crowd cheering and singing patriotic songs, they proceeded to the station. Here they were met by another large crowd, who cheered them heartily. They were addressed on the station by the Vicar (Rev. B.S. Batty) who said that the village was proud of her lads who were going forth to fight for their King and country, and that their names would be handed down as examples of patriotism and duty. The whole parish would follow them with their goof wishes and prayers, and he felt sure that in all they were called upon to do they would prove a credit to Wargrave. Mr. W. Ryder then, on behalf of a few subscribers, presented every man with a box of cigarettes. As the train moved out more cheers were given, and the large crowd with bared heads sang the National Anthem.


Shortly after the departure of the Territorials the Yeomanry (Queen’s Own Oxfordshire Hussars) began to arrive, they having received orders to mobilize at the Headquarters in Henley at 7a.m., on Wednesday morning. The whole of the Henley Squadron (including Henley, Thame, Watlington and Goring Troops) have assembled at Henley and they have been joined by the Woodstock Squadron of the Regiment, the Oxford and Banbury Squadrons assembling at Oxford. The members of the Henley Squadron in the town last night numbered 80 non-commissioned officers and men, and the officers were Major C.R.I. Nicholl (in command), Lieut. Valentine Fleming, M.P., Lieut. P. Fleming, and Lieut. G. Palmer, who ably assisted by S.S.M.Collier, have been busy in giving out kits and making preparations for the order to move off. It is expected that the Henley and Woodstock Squadrons will remain in Henley until Monday at lest, but on receipt of orders they will immediately move off to join the remainder of the Regiment at Oxford. Whilst here they are billeted in the various hotels, and even the men whose homes are in town are not allowed to go home to sleep.

Both the Salisbury and Liberal Clubs have made the men honourary members during their stay in the town.


Sir Paul Makins, Bart., is appointed to purchase horses in the district for the Army and he has been very busy all week in the town and district securing saddle and draught horses. Many tradesmen and farmers will be greatly inconvenienced by having to sell their horses, but they all realise that good horse-flesh is an indispensible asset to our Army and cheerfully put up with the inconvenience, whilst Sir Paul Makins, in the discharge of this somewhat unpleasant duty, has used every possible consideration. Amongst the horses it is expected that will have to go are some of those of the Henley Town Council.


The members of the Henley detachment of the National reserve are requested to attend a parade to be held at the Drill Hall, Northfield End, on Saturday Next, August 8th, at 6p.m. Members are requested to invite any of their friends who are not members of the National Reserve but who are eligible for service to attend.

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