Book Cover

Colchester in the Great War

Andrew Phillips

At the outbreak of war in 1914 Colchester was the Eastern Region Army HQ and thousands of new recruits reported to the Garrison for training. While exercising on Abbey Fields the guns of the Western Front could often be heard.

This expert account of the war years covers the role of Colchester as provider of soldiers, manufacturer of arms and equipment and later, as a vast hospital looking after the war wounded. It was here in Colchester that much of the early research was done into shell shock or post-traumatic stress disorder as it was eventually to become known.

Pictured are the cheeky postcards sold to the recruits – which led to a boom for the town’s post office. As winter approached women and children were busy knitting socks, gloves and scarves for the soldiers. In February 1915 a bomb fell in the tiny back garden of number 41 Butt Road. The damage was extensive but the only casualty found amongst the debris was a dead thrush.

The facts are brought to life with personal recollections and photographs giving a wonderfully rounded picture of life in Colchester during those difficult years.