A Cheery Letter Home with News from France

Corporal William Horne, Royal Field Artillery (1889-1953)

William Horne was born in Broadway in 1889 when his parents, Francis and Elizabeth Horne were living in Bell Yard just off the High Street (Main Street) in the village. By 1901 he had moved with his widowed mother and younger brother, Percy, to the Silk Mill thatched cottages along the Snowshill Road. William later found work locally as a Railway Platelayer and at the time of the 1911 Census he had married Agnes Maud Turner (from Snowshill) and had one daughter, Eva, who was a week old.

William’s Cheery Letter Home with News from France

William enlisted with the Royal Field Artillery during the First World War. Whilst in France he wrote the following letter home to Agnes in June 1916:

Just a few lines to let you know that I am still in the land of the living. How is Tom getting on? I wonder if he can speak French yet? I can manage it all right till it comes to the words and then I have finished. I expect David2 has had a few tongue twisters by now. I was in a house one day, and a mate of mine came in and wanted some bread. In the phrase book it is ‘Ler Pang’ and would you believe it for the life of him he could not mouth it, but he said ‘Japan’ and it did just as well, for he got the bread. We are going on very well: get a few Taubes1 over now and then, but we soon get over small troubles like that. We just wait till one gets over us, and then make a noise like an anti-aircraft gun and its soon out of the way.

Last Autumn we were bothered a bit by mice; now it’s cats. Mother sent me a nice cake yesterday, and they must have got wind of it, for after I had been asleep half an hour something woke me up I saw two cats dragging the cake box towards the door. As luck would have it I had put the remains of the cake in my haversack, and only left a biscuit in the cake box. I just spoke, and they went out to try the next villa, we have now got a nice little place to live in; it’s not what you would call a palace, but it’s all right. It was all right anyway until last night some of us played a game on our next door neighbours. For a roof we had a wagon sheet, and after our game was up they let us get in bed and put the light out, and then cut the sheet just over where one chap was sleeping, and poured half a pail of water over his face. We all went into spasms laughing. He jumped up but could not find any matches. He knows a good bit of English and he didn’t slip it out, for he’s got a pretty good flow of language at any time.

It’s nice out here now. I mean the weather of course. I was up at a ‘certain place’ the other night, and got into conversation with two infantry chaps. One asked the other what he enlisted for, and he replied twelve years. The other said ‘Lucky chap; I’m in for the duration of the war!’ So he evidently did not think it was going to be a short one.

I must now draw to a conclusion or I shall be too late for the pictures.

William returned home to Broadway at the end of the war and died, aged 63 in 1953. At the time of his death he was living at 1 Mill Avenue in the village.


Debbie Williamson
Broadway Remembers


  1. A taube was a German monoplane aircraft.
  2. David Francis Horne (1875-1935), William’s older brother.

Mary Anderson de Navarro Performance to Raise Money for First World War Relief Funds


Mary Anderson as Galatea, 1883

On 6th June 1917, Mary Anderson de Navarro gave a matinee performance of Galatea in W.S. Gilbert’s satire Pygmalion and Galatea at the Grand Theatre, Birmingham, to raise money for the War Relief Funds and her private hospital for wounded soldiers at her home, Court Farm, High Street, Broadway.



Farncombe Red Cross Hospital, Broadway

IMG_0050In October 1917, Farncombe House opened as a Red Cross Convalescent Hospital. At the time the house was under the tenancy of Sir George Hingley (a Black Country Ironmaster). Mary Anderson de Navarro of Court Farm, Broadway, donated £1,000 towards the hospital which accommodated 50 patients (who wore blue hospital uniforms). The hospital commandant was Mrs Walsh and one of the Sisters, Charlotte E.W. McNair who moved to Broadway from Croydon, Surrey.


Kidderminster Arts Festival – Kidderminster’s WW1 Soldier Henry Harold Edwards (1886-1917)

Photo copyright Kidderminster Arts Festival

Photo copyright Kidderminster Arts Festival

The 2014 Kidderminster Arts Festival (www.kidderminsterartsfestival.org.uk) runs from 9th to 24th August 2014. This year’s Festival has a First World War theme and includes a temporary memorial to each of the 661 men from Kidderminster who lost their lives during WWI. Chalk outlines of each of the men have been drawn on the ground along Vicar Street in the town, each with a poppy representing his heart.

Henry Harold Edwards, known as Harry, was born in Kidderminster in 1886, the eldest son of Thomas, a carpet weaver, and Annie Edwards. After leaving school Harry joined the army and served for seven years before transferring to the reserve. Harry married Caroline Cropper in Cropthorne in 1913 and after their marriage, Harry and Caroline moved to Broadway where Harry worked as the village postman. Harry was an army reservist when war broke out in August 1914 and he joined the Worcestershire Regiment before later transferring to the Royal Engineers. Harry initially served on the Western Front but was posted to Mesopotamia with the Royal Engineers (3rd Indian Divisional Signal Company) and died, aged 30, on 25th March 1917. Harry is commemorated on the Basra Memorial in Iraq. He is also commemorated on the Kidderminster War Memorial and on the Broadway War Memorial.

Harry is one of 48 men commemorated on the Broadway War Memorial. Further information about Harry and his fellow men from Broadway commemorated on the memorial can be found in ‘Broadway Remembers’ (ISBN 978-0-9929891-0-1), a not-for-profit publication published to coincide with the global First World War Centenary commemorations led by IWM. Proceeds to the Poppy Appeal. Broadway Remembers is also available to purchase from various shops in Broadway or from Broadway Tourist Information Centre (tel. 01386 852937).

Service of Remembrance to mark the Centenary of the beginning of the First World War at Laverton, Gloucestershire


12 candles, one for each of the men from the Gloucestershire village of Laverton, who lost their lives in the First World War.

At 4pm this afternoon I attended a Service of Remembrance at Laverton Village Hall to mark the centenary of the beginning of the First World War and I was invited to light a candle in remembrance of Pte M/340163 Arthur W. Box, Spare Parts Depot, Royal Army Service Corps. During the service 12 candles were lit, one for each of the men from the village who died during the war.

Arthur, who was known by his middle name William, grew up in Broadway but at the time of his enlistment was working as a chauffeur in Laverton. William died of nephritis on 14th January 1918 in Tanganyika, German East Africa (now Tanzania) and he is buried in Dar Es Salaam War Cemetery.

William is commemorated on the memorial inside Laverton Village Hall and on the stone memorial tablet inside St Michael’s Church, Buckland, and on the Broadway War Memorial.

Debbie Williamson


Pte Arthur W. Box is one of the men remembered in ‘Broadway Remembers’

Broadway Remembers – raising money for the Poppy Appeal


Raising money for the Poppy Appeal, a history of the Broadway War Memorial and the 48 men commemorated on the war memorial who lost their lives in the First World War has now been published.

Proceeds to the Poppy Appeal

Proceeds to the Poppy Appeal


In the spring of 1911, the population of Broadway, measured by the 1911 census was 1,793. Three years later, on 4th August 1914, Great Britain declared war on Germany and by the end of September 1914, 13 men from Broadway had enlisted to fight for their country. By 1918 over 300 men from the village were serving across Europe, Africa and the Middle East.
Broadway Remembers is a not-for-profit publication to coincide with the global First World War Centenary commemorations led by IWM. Proceeds to The Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal.

For more information email: warmem-@-broadwaymanor.co.uk.