Broadway History Society Meeting: The Worcesters in WW1

On Monday 12th December the Broadway History Society will be meeting at 7pm in Broadway Methodist Church Hall, High Street, Broadway. The speaker will be Dennis Plant with a talk on ‘The Worcestershire Regiment in World War One’. Non-members welcome (£3).

Several men from Broadway served with the Worcesters during the First World War: see blog post for further details.





The Lost Soldiers of the Somme: a Tolkien and Broadway Connection

On Monday 14th November 2016, Broadway History Society will be hosting a talk by Steve Williams and Debbie Williamson on ‘The Lost Soldiers of the Somme: a Tolkien and Broadway Connection’ in Broadway Community Library, Leamington Road, Broadway WR12 7DZ, starting at 7pm.


J.R.R. Tolkien CBE, FRSL, aged 24, in 1916

Steve Williams, who writes under the name of Steve Ponty, and is the author of ‘Middle-Earth in Magic Mirror Maps… Of the Wilderland in Wales… Of the Shire in England’, has researched the part played by J.R.R. Tolkien, who served with the Lancashire Fusiliers in the Battle of the Somme during 1916, including the military details, stage by stage, and will discuss the impact of Tolkien’s writing of Mordor in ‘The Lord of the Rings’. Tolkien lost all four of his best friends during the First World War and remarkably a young Adolf Hitler was in the opposing trenches on the Western Front.

The loss of young lives is echoed in the experiences of Broadway, and Debbie Williamson will talk about the lives of six men from the village who lost their lives during the Battle of the Somme.

Non-members of the Broadway History Society are welcome to attend the meeting (£3 on the door). For information about joining the Society please visit


Debbie Williamson
Broadway Remembers




Centenary of Conscription

At the beginning of January 100 years ago a bill was enacted early in 1916 deeming all able bodied men of the right ages to have joined the armed forces.

The first Military Service Act came into force 100 years ago today on 2nd March 1916 and compelled ‘eligible’ men to join the armed forces. Initially it affected single men between the ages of 18 and 41 and a second Act in May 1916 extended liability for military service to married men. Eventually a third Act in 1918 extended the upper age limit to 51.

The Act included exemptions such as those for the medically unfit, certain classes of industrial workers and clergymen and it also included an exemption for reasons of conscience. Conscientious objectors refused to fight on religious or moral grounds, although the proportion of conscientious objectors to men in uniform was very small.

A  new system of Military Service Tribunals was subsequently set up to hear the cases of men wishing to avoid service for a range of reasons and for those men who lived in Broadway their cases were held in Evesham and reports of the Tribunals were published in the Evesham Journal.











Minimum Age for War – Broadway’s Boy Soldier

The minimum age for which men were authorised for service with the colours during the First World War was 19 and no man was supposed to have been accepted unless he gave his age as 19 or over. Orders were given to the recruiting officers not to accept a recruit unless he had the physique of his declared age or they had had sight of a birth certificate.

However, if a recruit declared his age to be 19 or over but was actually under age it was not sufficient evidence for the War Office to discharge the recruit from the army. Soldiers who were below the age of 19 but had the physique of a man of 18 years and 6 months could be sent overseas. A soldier with the physique considered to be below that of 18 years and 6 months were retained for service and were trained at home until they reached the required standard. Soldiers under the age of 17 could be discharged provided that the application was made to his commanding officer whilst serving at home.

Broadway soldier, Frank Phillips was 17 years and 3 months old when he enlisted in Stratford-upon-Avon with the Royal Warwickshire Regiment at the beginning of December 1914. Frank trained on the Isle of Wight before he was posted with the 1st Battalion to the Western Front on 2nd May 1915 where he served until he was taken prisoner in May 1917. Frank was released from prison at the end of the war and he returned home to Broadway where he died, aged 96, in 1993.

Frank is one of the many soldiers whose biography has been published in ‘Broadway Remembers’ (ISBN 978-0-9929891-0-1) a not-for-profit publication raising money for the Poppy Appeal.

Debbie Williamson
August 2014

Service of Remembrance and Lights Out in Broadway

LIGHTSOUT-Bannerad_500x495At 2pm today there will be a Service of Remembrance at the Broadway War Memorial to remember all those commemorated on the memorial who lost their lives in the First World War and their comrades who fought with them.

At 10.30pm there will be a candlelit vigil at St Michael’s Church, Broadway, marking the start of the First World War 100 years ago today.

All welcome.

We will remember.