THORPE-LE-SOKEN: Thorpe-le-Soken Auxiliary Hospital

THORPE-LE-SOKEN AUXILIARY HOSPITAL

Also referred to as ‘Thorpe Hall Hospital’ and ‘Lady Byng’s V.A. Hospital’

Thorpe Hall, Thorpe-le-Soken, Essex

Thorpe Hall, Thorpe-le-Soken, Essex. Courtesy of Heather Anne Johnson.

Thorpe Hall, Thorpe-le-Soken, Essex. Courtesy of Heather Anne Johnson.

The Thorpe Manor estate belonged to the Dean and Chapter of St Paul’s until the Dissolution of the Monasteries.   In 1723, the estate was purchased by one Stephen Martin – who assumed the name (and Arms) of ‘Leake’ upon inheriting an estate from Admiral Sir John Leake.    It remained in the Leake family until 1913 – when it was bought by Julian Byng. The estate included a manor house which was built 1822-1825 – called Thorpe Hall [Wikipedia].

Julian Byng’s wife, Evelyn, was a popular novelist – she laid out the gardens, with advice received from Robert Wallace, a landscape gardener from Colchester.   The gardens are still something that can be boasted about by the present owners.

Julian Hedworth George Byng was born at Wrotham Park, Hertfordshire on 11 September 1862.   Wrotham Park was designed by Isaac Ware in 1754 for Julian’s ancestor Admiral John Byng.   The Hon. Sir Julian Byng died in 1935, at Thorpe Hall.

At the outbreak of the First World War, the owner of Thorpe Hall at the time, Major-General Byng had been serving in Egypt, he returned and quickly proceeded to the French and Flanders’ Fronts:

Chelmsford Chronicle – Friday 25 September 1914 [sic]:

“Major-General Byng, of Thorpe Hall, now in command of the British Forces in Egypt, is expected home, and it is believed he will proceed to the front.”

His wife Evelyn placed Thorpe Hall at the disposal of the British Red Cross Society and it operated as an Auxiliary Hospital.   Julian Byng became the 1st Viscount Byng of Vimy and unveiled many War Memorials after WW1.   From Red Cross Service Cards, it may be that the Hospital was only operational from October 1914 up until (and including) August 1915.

In a 1915 War Office List, under ‘ESSEX. EASTERN CONTROL’, the entry under ‘V.A.D. HOSPITALS’ is:  “Thorpe Hall, Thorpe-le-Soken (The Hon. Lady Byng, Commandant)” … with the number of “occupied” beds being quoted as “33-40”.

See more information about Julian Byng within some of the following articles and in his profile at the end of this ‘chapter’.

An interesting fact to note is that Miss Ethel Low of Thorpe Park and Miss Marion Osmond of Hanford House are noted (on Service Cards) as working at “own hospital” and “worked at the Hospital at her own house” respectively  – are they taking in convalescing servicemen?

There was also a Hospital Supply Depot in the village, which would have probably been affiliated to the Thorpe Hall Hospital.  From ‘LIST OF WAR HOSPITAL SUPPLY DEPOTS ORGANISED BY PRIVATE INDIVIDUALS THROUGHOUT THE UNITED KINGDOM AND ABROAD’ … … “4057 THORPELESOKEN MRS A. R. WOOD, THE VICARAGE”  (http://www.scarletfinders.co.uk/187.html)

At the outbreak of WW2, the Thorpe Hall estate was acquired by the Ministry of Defence; in 1951, it became the ‘Lady Nelson Convalescent Home’ for employees of English Electric; in 1988, it was sold to the Ryan Group; and, in 2000, it was sold to Tangram Leisure.  Tangram Leisure demolished Thorpe Hall and replaced it with a residential spa, which was completed in December 2010.   Today, ‘Lifehouse Spa Hotel’ operates from the site.


Thorpe Hall, Thorpe-le-Soken, Essex. Courtesy/© of Lifehouse Hotel & Spa.

Thorpe Hall, Thorpe-le-Soken, Essex. Courtesy/© of Lifehouse Hotel & Spa.


Friday, 14 August 1914, Essex County Chronicle [sic]:

THE CRY FOR HELP.  The County Organising.   Numerous Patriotic Offers.  Care of the Wounded. “A Willing Helper Does Not Wait To Be Called.”

Essex is always to the fore to answer the cry for help, and she is at one with the nation in the intention to do everything that is necessary for the suffering and distress which the war must unfortunately incur. … … …

RED CROSS WORK.  SPLENDID RESPONSE IN ESSEX.  2,000 MEMBERS: ACCOMMODATION FOR 2,000 PATIENTS.

The voluntary Aid (Red Cross) Detachments in Essex have responded nobly to the call of their country, and the Essex Branch of the British Red Cross Society now consists of 73 Voluntary Aid Detachments with a personnel of about 2,000 of whom some three-fourths are women.   Three of the detachments are formed from the St. John Ambulance Brigade.  For organising purposes the county is divided into divisions corresponding generally with the police divisions of the county.  The Countess of Warwick is president of the branch, and Col. R. B. Colvin, C.B., is the county director.  Each division is controlled by a vice-president and assistant managing director.  The offices of the Branch are now at 74 Duke Street, Chelmsford, with Col. G. H. Coleman, V.D., as hon. Secretary, it being felt that Chelmsford is a more convenient centre than Colchester.

The Voluntary Aid Detachments are officially inspected annually by an officer from the R.A.M.C., who reports to the War Office.  Most of the inspections for this year have taken place, and the reports in all cases have been very good, testifying to the zeal and energy which have been so conspicuous in all ranks of the organisation.

Since the commencement of the war many generous offers of private houses, institutions, and other buildings for use either as hospitals or convalescent homes have been made, and in many instances steps have been take to equip some of these buildings at short notice.  Among the private houses that have been offered are the following:- … …

Thorpe Hall … …

The following have also been placed at the disposal of the branch:- … …

Severalls Asylum, Colchester, accommodation from 270. … …

Middlesex Hospital, Clacton, 90.

Messrs. Cooper, Tabor, and Co., a large building at Witham, with three floors, to hold 200 beds.

The hall of the Essex and Suffolk Fire Office at Colchester. … …

As already mentioned, the G.E.R. Hotel at Harwich has been requisitioned as a hospital, and the Essex No, 33 Detachment (men), under Mr. Etherden, late of the Essex Yeomanry, and the Essex 84 (women), under Mrs. Brooks, are now employed, 120 beds having been prepared.

At Wivenhoe a 12-bedded rest-station has been prepared, and the local detachment, under Miss Dewhurst, has been mobilised. … …

A depot will shortly be formed at Chelmsford, where voluntary contributions, in the shape of stores and clothes will be collected.  Contributions should be addressed to the Secretary, Essex Branch, B.R.C.S., 74 Duke Street, Chelmsford.”     (Full transcription available)


Friday 06 November 1914, Chelmsford Chronicle [sic]:

WOUNDED AT THORPE.  On Saturday a large crowd assembled at Thorpe-le-Soken railway station to greet the first batch of wounded Belgian soldiers—about 24 in number.  They were received by the Matron (the Hon. Mrs. Byng), and were conducted to waiting motor cars, which conveyed them to Thorpe Hall, which has been placed at the disposal of the Red Cross Society by the Hon. Mrs. Byng, and has been fitted up as a hospital.  Hearty cheers were given for the men as the cars left the station.”


 Friday 04 December 1914, Chelmsford Chronicle [sic]:

“The Hon. Mrs. Julian Byng, of Thorpe Hall, formerly of Newton Hall, Dunmow, has returned from a visit to her husband, Gen. Julian Byng, who is commanding a cavalry division in France.”


Friday 18 June 1915, Chelmsford Chronicle [sic]:

LADY BYNG AT CLACTON. A bazaar in aid of the building fund of the Baptist Church, Clacton, was opened on Wednesday by Lady Julian Byng, of Thorpe Hall.  In introducing her ladyship, the Rev. H. Bennett referred to the good work she had done in ministering to the wounded and dying.—Lady Byng said things seemed to be going on satisfactorily in France, whence she only returned the day before.  She had had a rough crossing, but felt they ought not to abuse the sea when they remembered what it had saved them from.  She had been informed how well the mothers in Claction had behaved in these trying times, as indeed they had throughout England.—Among the attractions were entertainments by girls of John Groom’s Orphanage.”

John Groom’s Orphanage girls at ‘The Flower Village in Clacton-on-Sea, Essex. Courtesy of Heather Anne Johnson.

John Groom’s Orphanage girls at ‘The Flower Village’ in Clacton-on-Sea, Essex.
Courtesy of Heather Anne Johnson.

N.B. The John Groom’s Crippleage and Flower Girls’ Mission, of Clerkenwell, had an ‘Orphanage Village’ in Clacton-on-Sea.  This webpage holds many images of the Orphanage  http://www.childrenshomes.org.uk/ClactonGroom/    The John Groom Mission girls were famous for making beautiful artificial flowers e.g. they made the artificial dog-roses for Queen Alexandra’s ‘Alexandra Rose Days’.

Queen Alexandra created ‘Queen Alexandra Rose Day in 1912. Courtesy of Heather Anne Johnson.

Queen Alexandra created ‘Queen Alexandra Rose Day in 1912.
Courtesy of Heather Anne Johnson.

The annual ‘Queen Alexandra Rose Day’ began in 1912, when the Danish-born Queen wanted to commemorate her arrival in Great Britain 50 years earlier.  Thus, the tradition began whereby artificial wild roses were distributed for donations which would benefit various charities.

A ‘Queen Alexandra Rose Day’ Rose. Courtesy of Heather Anne Johnson.

A ‘Queen Alexandra Rose Day’ Rose. Courtesy of Heather Anne Johnson.

‘Crippleage & Flower Girls’ Mission’ ‘Alexander Day’ roses. Courtesy of Heather Anne Johnson.

‘Crippleage & Flower Girls’ Mission’ ‘Alexander Day’ roses. Courtesy of Heather Anne Johnson.


Saturday 27 November 1915Essex Newsman [sic]:

THORPE-LE-SOKEN.

A SUCCESSFUL BRIDGE DRIVE was given on Tuesday by Mrs. G. Low at Rose Cottage in aid of funds to provide Christmas puddings and cakes for prisoners of war in Germany.  The prizes were won by Mrs. Pearson and Mrs. F. King (Frinton), and Mr. G. Hempson.  The proceeds amounted to over £4.

A SOCIAL EVENING was given in the Vicarage Room at Thorpe-le-Soken on Friday for the soldiers who are billeted in the place, by the kind hospitality of the Vicar and Mrs. Wood.  Refreshments were provided.  Songs were given by Mr. H. L. Digby; glees, etc., were rendered by Messrs. Laurence, Henley, and Woodard; and humorous reading by the Vicar.”


Thorpe Hall, Thorpe-le-Soken, Essex. Courtesy of Heather Anne Johnson.

Thorpe Hall, Thorpe-le-Soken, Essex. Courtesy of Heather Anne Johnson.



LIST OF PEOPLE KNOWN TO HAVE WORKED AT THORPE-LE-SOKEN AUXILIARY HOSPITAL:  There is no doubt that many people who assisted in the running of this establishment will never be discovered within records and, thus, they remain un-named. If a British Red Cross-held Service Card exists for a person, a link is displayed at an individual’s profile [dates in () refer to length of service at Thorpe-le-Soken Auxiliary Hospital]:

BAKER, Mrs. Maude Maurice (10.1914-8.1915. Casual Hospital Worker)

BAXTER, Miss Elizabeth (11.1914-8.1915. V.A.D. Nurse)

BYNG, Hon. Lady Evelyn (1914-1915. Donor; Commandant;  and Matron of Thorpe Hall Hospital)

CARTER, Miss Violet May (? Nursing. Also worked at The Rock Hospital, Frinton-on-Sea)

DAKING, Miss Adelaide M. (10.1914-8.1915. V.A.D. Nurse)

DAVIES, Miss Lottie Sister (24.4.1915-4.6.1915. Lady Superintendent. Thorpe-leSoken [and Earls Colne])

FOSTER, Miss Gladys now Mrs. Lindley (10.1914-8.1915. V.A.D. Nurse)

FULLER, Miss Susan (10.1914-8.1915. V.A.D. Nurse)

GASCOIGNE, Mrs. Katharine (10.1914-8.1915. General Service V.A.D. Casual)

HEMPSON, Miss May (10.1914-8.1915. Cook)

JARRARD, Mrs. Louisa (10.1914-8.1915. Cook)

LEECH, Mrs. Margaret (10.1914-8.1915. V.A.D. Nurse)

LINDLEY, Mrs. Gladys – See FOSTER.

LOW, Miss Ethel (10.1914-8.1915? Probationer Nurse)

MACEY, Miss Marjorie (10.1914-8.1915. Cook)

MATHEWS, Miss Daisy (10.1914. V.A.D. Nurse. Also worked at Frinton Voluntary Hospital (The Recess); Great Oakley Hall Work Party member. 910 days total) [N.B. spelt Matthews for Frinton]

OSMOND, Miss Marion (10.1914-8.1915. V.A.D. Commandant. Probationer Nurse.  Also worked at ‘Gostwycke’ in Colchester [April-Oct. 1916] and a Working Party)

SORRELL, Miss Ivy (3.9.1914 for 6 or 8 weeks. Also Member of a Working Party)

WOOD, Mrs. Edith Mabel (1914-1915. Trained Nurse/Sister in Charge)

N.B. The Red Cross facility is not infallible, it is worth searching for any person on more than one occasion because, sometimes, a person is there but they do not show up.



PROFILES

BAKER, Mrs. Maude Maurice (10.1914-8.1915. Casual Hospital Worker)

http://www.redcross.org.uk/About-us/Who-we-are/History-and-origin/First-World-War/Card?hosp=thorpe+hall+essex&id=9512&first=true

ADDRESS: The Meers, Kirby le Soken, Kirby Cross; COUNTY: Essex; DATE OF ENGAGEMENT: 10/1914; DATE OF TERMINATION: 08/1915; PARTICULARS OF DUTIES: Casual Hospital worker; ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Thorpe Hall Hospital; COMMISSION: Essex.


BAXTER, Miss Elizabeth (11.1914-8.1915. V.A.D. Nurse)

http://www.redcross.org.uk/About-us/Who-we-are/History-and-origin/First-World-War/Card?hosp=thorpe+hall+essex&id=14036

ADDRESS: Beaumont Rectory, Weeley, R.S.O; RANK AT ENGAGEMENT: V.A.D; DATE OF ENGAGEMENT: 11/1914; DATE OF TERMINATION: 08/1915; PARTICULARS OF DUTIES: Nursing; WHOLE OR PART TIME: Part time. Query unanswered; ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Thorpe Hall Hospital; COMMISSION: Essex.


BYNG, Hon. Lady Evelyn (1914-1915. Donor; Commandant;  and Matron of Thorpe Hall Hospital)

http://www.redcross.org.uk/About-us/Who-we-are/History-and-origin/First-World-War/Card?hosp=thorpe-le-soken&id=34528&forwards=true

ADDRESS: The Hall, Thorpe-le-Soken; DATE OF ENGAGEMENT: 1914; DATE OF TERMINATION: 1915; PARTICULARS OF DUTIES: Matron of her own Hospital at Thorpe Hall; COMMISSION: Essex.

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Saturday 01 January 1916, Essex Newsman [sic]:

A RETROSPECT. COUNTY EVENTS FOR 1915.  … MARCH.  … Gen. the Hon. Julian H. G. Byng, C.B., Lieut.-Col. Lord Brooke, and Gen. E. H. H. Allenby receive war honours.”

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Friday 14 January 1916, Chelmsford Chronicle [sic]:

The Hon. Lady Byng has removed from Thorpe Hall, Thorpe-le-Soken, to 14 Clarges Street, Piccadilly, W., where she intends remaining for the next five or six months, the Hall meanwhile being closed.  Lady Byng has gone to town for the purpose of undertaking work in connection with Mr. Parker, sister to Lord Kitchener, for the Women’s Patriotic Club.”

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Friday 14 September 1917, Chelmsford Chronicle [sic]:

“Lt.-Gen. the Hon. Sir Julian H. G. Byng, K.C.B., K.C.M.G., M.V.O., of Thorpe-le-Soken was 55 on Tuesday, having been born on Sept. 11, 1862.” …

Quoth the Raven, Never More. –Sidney Abbs, blacksmith’s apprentice, Geo. Herbert, munition worker, and Geo. Rose, labourer, were charged with maliciously killing a tame raven on the 2nd inst.—The Hon. Lady Marie Evelyn Byng, of Thorpe Hall, wife of General Byng, stated that last spring she bought a raven, had one of its wings clipped, and kept it in the garden as a pet.  On Sunday, Sept. 2, in consequence of what her gardener said, she went with him to a field behind Thorpe Hall and saw the raven hung up on a signpost, quite dead.— Raymond Moore, gardener at Thorpe Hall, having also given evidence, defendants said they mistook it for a crow, and hit it with a stick.—Each defendant was fined 5s., with a proportion of the bird’s value (£2) and costs, making a total of 19s. 2d. each.”

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Friday 23 November 1917, Chelmsford Chronicle [sic]:

THORPE RED CROSS SALE.

A sale was held in Mr. Bernard Cordy’s yard at Thorpe-le-Soken on Monday for the benefit of the British Farmers’ Red Cross Fund.   A generous response to the appeal for gifts had

been made, and Mr. Cordy undertook the sale free of charge, so that all the income would be for the fund.  Nearly £48 was realized, against £22 odd last year.  The opening ceremony was performed by Lady Byng, who submitted the first two lots, the second of which, a box of four eggs and a quantity of fresh butter, she bought at 17s.  Several of the lost were put up again and resold.”

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Friday 23 November 1917, Chelmsford Chronicle [sic]:

After Dinner TalkThe Hon. Sir Julian Byng.

Essex again figures well in the splendid news of victory which reached this country from France on Wednesday.  General the Hon. Sir Julian Byng, commanding the Third Army, which on Tuesday morning definitely broke through the famous Hindenburg line, is an Essex man by residence, having for some years resided at Newton Hall, Dunmow, and subsequently at Thorpe.  It will ne recalled that the gallant General occupied a prominent place in the dispatch of Sir John French relating to the fateful days of December, 1914, when Sir Julian so successfully led the 3rd Cavalry Division in the neighbourhood of Ghent. General the Hon. Sir Julian Byng is the youngest son of the second Earl of Strafford, and half-brother to the fifth and present Earl.  Before the present war he commanded the East Anglian Division of Territorials.  Formerly he commanded the 1st Cavalry Brigade, and served through the South African War, during which he was thrice mentioned in dispatches.  He is a keen soldier and a very energetic officer.  While at Dunmow the gallant officer took a great interest in the Boy Scouts, being Chief Commissioner of the Northern District;  and in 1912 he entertained Prince and Princess Alexander of Teck for the inspection of a Scout parade at Newton Hall.  Sir Julian Byng has hitherto been best known for his year of command of the Canadian Expeditionary Force in France, which he relinquished only late June with “deepest feelings of regret.”  He commanded the Canadians at Vimy Ridge, and before that was in command of a cavalry division which fought with Haig in the first Battle of Ypres.  In 1912 he was Commander-in-Chief in Egypt.  Lady Byng is a popular novelist.  Sir Julian and Lady Byng’s many friends in the county will rejoice at the General’s great success.  Only on Monday last did Lady Byng perform the opening ceremony of the British Farmers’ Red Cross sale at Thorpe-le-Soken.”

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Friday 22 March 1918, Chelmsford Chronicle [sic]:

LADY BYNG’S MAID FOUND DROWNED.

Mrs. McMahon, a lady’s maid, in the employ of the Hon. Lady Byng, wife of General Sir Julian Byng, at The Hall, Thorpe-le-Soken, was found drowned in a pond in the grounds at the back of the house.  Lady Byng, walking home from the station by the private path, which led near the pond, saw something dark in the water, and, on being informed that Mrs. McMahon was missing, returned to the pond, and found the lifeless body in the water.  The deceased’s husband is a corporal in the Irish Guards.  Deceased was 26.—At the inquest on Saturday the husband said he had been home on sick leave, and his wife was quite happy and bright and in no way depressed.—Lady Byng said deceased had been her maid about five years, and was always very happy—she was more a friend than a maid.  There had been nothing to trouble her, and she was very popular with everybody in the place.—Dr. T. C. Beatty said this seemed to be a case in which the patient had a sudden attack of syncope or fainting near the water, in which case suffocation might occur without any screaming or struggle.  The facts were quite against suicide.—Lady Byng: She most likely was searching the edge of the pond for wild ducks’ eggs.—The jury returned a verdict of Found drowned, and expressed sympathy with the husband and Lady Byng.”

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Friday 26 July 1918, Chelmsford Chronicle [sic]:

The Hon. Lady Byng, wife of Gen. Sir Julian Byng, has been ordered rest by her doctor, and will remain at Thorpe-le-Soken, for some time.”

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Friday 23 August 1918, Chelmsford Chronicle [sic]:

Signs of the Times.

General Sir Julian Byng, who struck Wednesday’s blow at the Germans, played a different but equally valuable role during the great German offensive in March.  It was Byng’s Third Army holding the northern portion of the great battlefield which stood firm and refused to yield ground in spite of overwhelming odds, and although the line further south was being pushed back hourly.  General Byng, whose association with Essex is well-known, and whose home is in Thorpe-le-Soken, has been prominent in many of the big fights of the war.  In Egypt when the war broke out, he was in France in time to command the 3rd Cavalry Division at Ypres, and received the command of a corps.  He was in Gallipoli early in 1915, and afterwards, when the Canadian Army Corps wanted a new commander, the Canadian Government suggested Byng, and got him.  A few months later the Canadian Army called itself “The Byng Boys,” out of compliment to the new commander.  It was while under his command that the Canadians captured Vimy Ridge.  Byng was made a full general late November as a reward for his successful attack before Cambrai, when the Hindenburg line was temporarily overrun by the Third Army, to which he had been promoted.”

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Friday 20 September 1918, Chelmsford Chronicle [sic]:

Lady Byng, wife of General Sir Julian Byng, who has taken a leading part in the movement for utilizing waste ground for vegetable culture in and about Thorpe-le-Soken, where her home is, tells an amusing story concerning a little boy of six, the one of one of the villagers.  The youngster, imbued by the war spirit, asked his father to buy him an air-gun.  “What for?” asked Pa.  “Well, if I had one I would be able to shoot all these beastly German sparrows that are flying around.”  “German sparrows!” replied the boy’s father.  “They are just ordinary English sparrows.  So far as I know there is no such thing as a German sparrow.”  “These are German,” insisted the boy.  “Didn’t I see them eating all the peas in our allotment, and if they were English they wouldn’t do that?”

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Friday 08 November 1918, Chelmsford Chronicle [sic]:

“To the Editor of the Essex County Chronicle.  Dear Sir, LORD ROBERTS’ MEMORIAL WORKSHOPS FOR DISABLED SOLDIERS AND SAILORS

May we draw the attention of your readers to the APPEAL that is now being made throughout the Country to raise funds for LORD ROBERTS’ MEMORIAL WORKSHOPS for DISABLED SOLDIERS and SAILORS?  The Central Directorate anticipate that these Workshops, which are established in various centres, will, after the initial expenses have been met, become self-supporting.  The EASTERN COUNTIES BRANCH includes the Counties of Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk, and Cambridgeshire, with a centre at Colchester where the Workshops are already established, but need further development.  It is estimated that the sum of £17,000 will be required to enable the necessary extension of these premises and their equipment to be carried out on a site which has been acquired adjoining the existing Workshops.                             

These Workshops are recognized by the WAR PENSIONS MINISTRY as Training Centres for Disabled Men, but at the present time, owing to lack of accommodation, there is a long waiting list.  This national undertaking, while perpetuating in a suitable manner the name and wishes of one of England’s greatest and most distinguished soldiers, also enables our disables brave defenders to obtain independent and remunerative employment in the Workshops after passing through a course of training there, during which they receive full Government allowances. 

A COMMITTEE has been formed for ESSEX to raise £5,000, which is considered would be its proper proportion of the £17,000, and the Committee appeal with confidence to ESSEX men and women for assistance in their endeavours to obtain this amount.  Cheques and postal orders should be made payable to the LORD ROBERTS’ MEMORIAL FUND, 170/3 Magdalen Street, Colchester.

Yours faithfully, N. de H. TUFNELL, Chairman of Committee and Hon. Director of Workshops.  HARRY KEMBLE Hon. Managing Director; P. A. SANDERS Hon. Director; E. A. BALL for Epping District; ISABEL BROOKLE-BANK for Saffron Walden District; ANNIE E. BROOKS for Grays District; EVELYN BYNG for Thorpe District; R. B. COLVIN for Loughton and Waltham Abbey District; S. A. COURTAULD for Halstead District; WM. DALTON for Brentwood District; CRYSTAL FFINCH for Maldon District; F. GREEN for Romford District; FRANCES FULLER-MAITLAND for Stansted District; FRANCIS R. ROUND for Witham District; E. R. SHEPPARD for Chelmsford; JAMES TABOR for Rochford District; E. R. M.  WARD for Harwich District; FRANCES EVELYN WARWICK for Dunmow District.

First List of Donations received. … … The Hon. Lady Byne £5  0s.  0d. …”.  [Complete transcription available]

N.B. The Eastern Counties’ branch of the ‘LORD ROBERTS’ MEMORIAL WORKSHOPS FOR DISABLED SOLDIERS AND SAILORS’ workshops opened in Colchester on Thursday, 17 May 1917.  The Workshops stood in 170-172 Magdalen Street.  The men were paid a minimum of £1 per week to start with, whilst training; 22s. 6d. in a month; and 25s. after three months, when they became more efficient at their work.

It appears that the work within the Colchester branch concentrated on household necessities and porcelain toy bricks.  See more about what these national Workshops made, by viewing pages of a brochure here: http://www.dollshousespastandpresent.com/ (search words “Lord Roberts”)

Advertisement for 6 July 1917: Lord Roberts Workshops ‘Silent Tribute Day’. Courtesy of Heather Anne Johnson.

Advertisement for 6 July 1917: Lord Roberts Workshops ‘Silent Tribute Day’.  Courtesy of Heather Anne Johnson.

Transcription of a national advertisement, from an unknown publication, promoting ‘Silent Tribute Day’ being held on 6 & 7 July 1917 [sic]:

THE NATIONAL WAY and the only practical way of finding permanent employment for the men broken in the War is at the Lord Roberts Memorial Workshops THROUGHOUT THE COUNTRY.

Try as one will to find a better way of securing permanent employment for our totally disabled Soldiers and Sailors it resolves itself finally to this—that the man must work in the company of men similarly afflicted and he must work at a machine.  We have tried every other plan and failed.  We have tried the best machinery and found it the only way.  We are buying more as fast as our Capital Fund increases.  Just as modern machinery has solved the munition supply problem so has machinery solved the problem of what to do for our broken men.  Come and see the men at work.  You will never help any other method afterwards.  Ask the men themselves.  They know.  They work at our shops in comfort, sympathy and comradeship.  They made good articles that sell at commercial prices and they earn good wages by doing so.  They have helped to break the German Army—now they are helping to break the German trade grip.  The products of Lord Roberts Memorial Workshops are sold by leading retailers everywhere, and these merchants will tell you that the goods are capturing the trade heretofore held by the Germans.  So by helping out Capital Fund you do many good things.  Send a Cheque to-day.  Insist on our products.  Help to perpetuate—THE NATIONAL TRIBUTE TO LORD ROBERTS.

Make Cheques or Money Orders payable to the Chairman, Lord Cheylesmore, K.C.V.O., The Lord Roberts Memorial Headquarters, 122, Brompton Road, London, S.W.1.

LOOK AT THE PICTURES.  These men earn good wages and keep their pensions, and they are happy.

JULY 6th is ‘SILENT TRIBUTE DAY’ IN LONDON.  JULY 7th THROUGHOUT THE COUNTRY.  No flags.  The Tokens which will be offered for sale will have been made by totally disabled Soldiers and Sailors.”

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Friday 20 December 1918, Chelmsford Chronicle [sic]:

Signs of the Times.

Sir Douglas Haig and his Army commanders had a triumphant reception in London yesterday.  In the third carriage rode General the Hon. Sir Julian Byng, K.C.B., K.C.M.G., M.V.O., commanding the 3rd Army, and in the fourth carriage Major-General H. G. Ruffles-Brise, C.B., M.V.O., Military Secretary, General Headquarters.  Sir Julian Byng, whose Army broke through the famous Hindenburg line and smashed the enemy day after day, is an Essex man by residence, having for some years lived at Newton Hall, Dunmow, and now residing at Thorpe Hall, near Clacton.  General Ruggles-Brise is an Essex man by birth, son of the late Col. Sir Samuel Ruggles-Brise, and a member of a very well-known county family who have been seated for generations at Spains Hall, Finchingfield, where his brother, Mr. A. W. Ruggles-Brise, J.P., C.C., resides.  The military experience of both these offices has been complete and varied, and they have a large share of the tribute we pay to the invaluable service they and their distinguished leader and their no les distinguished men have rendered to the Empire and the cause of freedom and humanity.  Sir Julian and Lady Byng left London last night for Thorpe-le-Soken for Chris2tmas.  They will remain there until General Byng returns to France about the first week of January.”

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Friday 18 April 1919, Chelmsford Chronicle [sic]:

GENERAL BYNG’S FUTURE.  MAKING MANLY BOYS?

General Sir Julian Byng says that if he should ultimately retire from the Army he may take up a movement which will be “a further development of the Boy scouts’ organisation.” 

The General, who resides at Thorpe Hall, was just before the war Chief Commissioner of Scouts in the Northern District of Essex, a work in which he was actively assisted by Mrs. Byng.  On leaving to take over the command of the British Army in Egypt in October, 1912, he was presented with an inscribed silver ink-stand, subscribed for by 350 Scouts, Lady Byng being presented with a silver fountain pen and illuminated address.  For several years he has been a great supporter of the movement.  He is whole-heartedly in favour of scouting as a means of making manly English boys. 

On Bank Holiday in 1912 he entertained Prince and Princess Alexander of Teck at Newton Hall on the occasion of their inspection of a Boy Scout parade, the previous year, in April, the late Lord Kitchener paid a visit to Newton Hall, and on that day the Dunmow troop of Boy Scouts, with representatives from other places in the district, formed a guard of honour for the famous Field-Marshal.

General Byng stated a day or two ago that his future rests with the War Office; at present he is serving on a War Office Committee which has work to do for some months.  He is therefore—contrary to reports—not yet retiring from the Army. 

A son of the Earl of Strafford, General Byng is 55 years old of age, and entered the Army 34 years ago.  As everyone knows, he has done brilliant work during the war, in the Dardanelles and in France, where he commanded the Third Army.

Sir Julian is said to be the original of Colonel Rendezvous in Mr. Well’s “Mr. Britling Sees It Through.”  Colonel Rendezvous, it may be remembered, is the apostle of efficiency and national service.  During his stay in Dunmow Sir Julian and Lady Byng formed the acquaintance of the literary and journalistic colony there, which includes Mr. H. G. Wells.  Lady Byng has a high reputation as a novelist and writer, her books, “Barriers” (1912) and “Annie of the Marshland” (1913), having been very successful.  She is daughter of the Hon. Sir Henry Moreton, K.C.V.O. 

It is not generally known that Sir Julian is a descendant of the unfortunate Admiral who is immortalised in Voltaire’s epigram that from time to time the English shoot one of their admirals “pour encourager les autres.”


CARTER, Miss Violet May (? Nursing. Also worked at The Rock Hospital, Frinton-on-Sea)

http://www.redcross.org.uk/About-us/Who-we-are/History-and-origin/First-World-War/Card?hosp=frinton&id=37699&forwards=true

ADDRESS: Killarney, Kirby Cross; COUNTY: Essex; HOSPITAL: Thorpe Le Soken Auxiliary Hospital; Highbury, Moseley, Birmingham; PREVIOUS ENGAGEMENT: Nil. See over; DATE OF ENGAGEMENT: 04/10/1915; PAY AT ENGAGEMENT: nil; DATE OF TERMINATION: 17/06/1918; PAY AT TERMINATION: nil; PARTICULARS OF DUTIES: Nursing; WHOLE OR PART TIME: Whole time; ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: The Rock Hospital, Frinton-on-Sea. Thorpe Hall Hospital, Thorpe-le-Soken, Essex. Cornelia Hospital, Poole. Dorset. Highbury Auxiliary Hospital, Birmingham; COMMISSION: Essex / 126.


DAKING, Miss Adelaide M. (10.1914-8.1915. V.A.D. Nurse)

http://www.redcross.org.uk/About-us/Who-we-are/History-and-origin/First-World-War/Card?hosp=thorpe+hall+essex&id=54931

ADDRESS: Beaumont Weeley R.S.O; RANK AT ENGAGEMENT: V.A.D; DATE OF ENGAGEMENT: 10/1914; DATE OF TERMINATION: 08/1915; PARTICULARS OF DUTIES: Nursing; WHOLE OR PART TIME: Part time (Query unanswered); ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Thorpe Hall Hospital; COMMISSION: Essex.

 


DAVIES, Miss Lottie (24.4.1915-4.6.1915. Lady Superintendent. Day Sister. Thorpe-leSoken [and Earls Colne])

http://www.redcross.org.uk/About-us/Who-we-are/History-and-origin/First-World-War/Card?hosp=thorpe-le-soken&id=57145&forwards=true

ADDRESS: Institute of Nursing Sisters 4 Devonshire Square Bishopsgate London; HOSPITAL: Village Hall, Biddenden; PREVIOUS ENGAGEMENT: April 24. 1914 to June 4 – 1915 – Earls Colne & Thorpe -le -Soken, Essex till II Biddenden V.A.D. Hospital; RANK AT ENGAGEMENT: Lady Suprintendant; DATE OF ENGAGEMENT: 20/09/1915; PAY AT ENGAGEMENT: 1½ Guineas weekly; DATE OF TERMINATION: 31/10/1916; PAY AT TERMINATION: 1½ Guineas weekly; PARTICULARS OF DUTIES: Day Sister in Charge & Lady Superintendent; WHOLE OR PART TIME: Whole; ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Biddenden Hospital. Kent; COMMISSION: Kent 102.


FOSTER, Miss Gladys now Mrs. Lindley (10.1914-8.1915. V.A.D. Nurse)

http://www.redcross.org.uk/About-us/Who-we-are/History-and-origin/First-World-War/Card?hosp=thorpe-le-soken&id=77621&forwards=true

ADDRESS: The Abbey, Thorpe-le-Soken; HOSPITAL: Thorpe Le Soken Auxiliary Hospital; RANK AT ENGAGEMENT: V.A.D; DATE OF ENGAGEMENT: 10/1914; DATE OF TERMINATION: 08/1915; PARTICULARS OF DUTIES: Nursing; WHOLE OR PART TIME: Part time; ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Thorpe Hall Hospital {Address – Walton on Naze crossed out}; COMMISSION: Essex.

http://www.redcross.org.uk/About-us/Who-we-are/History-and-origin/First-World-War/Card?hosp=thorpe-le-soken&id=134755&forwards=true

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: See Foster, Miss Gladys. The Abbey, Thorpe-le-Soken.


FULLER, Miss Susan (10.1914-8.1915. V.A.D. Nurse)

http://www.redcross.org.uk/About-us/Who-we-are/History-and-origin/First-World-War/Card?hosp=thorpe-le-soken&id=80301&forwards=true

ADDRESS: Thorpe-le-Soken; HOSPITAL: Thorpe Le Soken Auxiliary Hospital; RANK AT ENGAGEMENT: V.A.D; DATE OF ENGAGEMENT: 10/1914; DATE OF TERMINATION: 08/1915; PARTICULARS OF DUTIES: Nursing; WHOLE OR PART TIME: Part time; ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Thorpe Hall Hospital; COMMISSION: Essex.


GASCOIGNE, Mrs. Katharine (10.1914-8.1915. General Service V.A.D. Casual)

http://www.redcross.org.uk/About-us/Who-we-are/History-and-origin/First-World-War/Card?hosp=thorpe+hall+essex&id=82062

ADDRESS: “Blue House”, Kirby; COUNTY: Essex; PREVIOUS ENGAGEMENT: Over; RANK AT ENGAGEMENT: V.A.D; DATE OF ENGAGEMENT: 10/1914; DATE OF TERMINATION: 08/1915; PARTICULARS OF DUTIES: General service, Casual; ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Thorpe Hall Hospital [Part of address erased] Le Soken; COMMISSION: Essex.


HEMPSON, Miss May (10.1914-8.1915. Cook)

http://www.redcross.org.uk/About-us/Who-we-are/History-and-origin/First-World-War/Card?hosp=thorpe-le-soken&id=102428&forwards=true

ADDRESS: Great Clacton Hall; COUNTY: Essex; HOSPITAL: Thorpe Le Soken Auxiliary Hospital; RANK AT ENGAGEMENT: Cook; DATE OF ENGAGEMENT: 10/1914; DATE OF TERMINATION: 08/1915; WHOLE OR PART TIME: Part time Query unanswered; ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Thorpe Hall Hospital; COMMISSION: Essex.


JARRARD, Mrs. Louisa (10.1914-8.1915. Cook)

http://www.redcross.org.uk/About-us/Who-we-are/History-and-origin/First-World-War/Card?hosp=thorpe-le-soken&id=117927&forwards=true

ADDRESS: Thorpe le Soken nr Walton On The Naze; COUNTY: Essex; HOSPITAL: Thorpe Le Soken Auxiliary Hospital; RANK AT ENGAGEMENT: Cook; DATE OF ENGAGEMENT: 10/1914; DATE OF TERMINATION: 08/1915; PARTICULARS OF DUTIES: Cooking; WHOLE OR PART TIME: part time; ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Thorpe Hall Hospital; COMMISSION: Essex.


LEECH, Mrs. Margaret (10.1914-8.1915. V.A.D. Nurse)

http://www.redcross.org.uk/About-us/Who-we-are/History-and-origin/First-World-War/Card?hosp=thorpe-le-soken&id=132186&forwards=true

ADDRESS: Thorpe-le-Soken; RANK AT ENGAGEMENT: V.A.D; DATE OF ENGAGEMENT: 10/1914; DATE OF TERMINATION: 08/1915; PARTICULARS OF DUTIES: Nursing; WHOLE OR PART TIME: Part Time; ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Thorpe Hall Hospital; COMMISSION: Essex.


LOW, Miss Ethel (10.1914-8.1915? Probationer Nurse)

http://www.redcross.org.uk/About-us/Who-we-are/History-and-origin/First-World-War/Card?hosp=thorpe-le-soken&id=137763&forwards=true

ADDRESS: Thorpe Park, Thorpe-le-Soken; COUNTY: Essex; SERVICE FROM: 29/10/1915; SERVICE TO: 08/05/1917; HOSPITAL: Farnborough Court Auxiliary Hospital, Farnborough (Aldershot Command); Thorpe Le Soken Auxiliary Hospital; PREVIOUS ENGAGEMENT: Worked at own Hospital at Thorpe for a year before coming to Farnborough; RANK AT ENGAGEMENT: Probat – nurse; DATE OF ENGAGEMENT: 29/10/1915; PAY AT ENGAGEMENT: Voluntary; RANK AT TERMINATION: Probationer; DATE OF TERMINATION: 08/05/1917; PAY AT TERMINATION: Voluntary; PARTICULARS OF DUTIES: Did nursing duties only; WHOLE OR PART TIME: Did 12 months full time; ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Farnborough Court Auxiliary Hospital {Two Periods of Service} Oct 29th 1915 – April 30 1916 & Nov. 2 1916 – May 8th 1917; COMMISSION: Hants Essex B.R.C.S.


MACEY, Miss Marjorie (10.1914-8.1915. Cook)

http://www.redcross.org.uk/About-us/Who-we-are/History-and-origin/First-World-War/Card?hosp=thorpe-le-soken&id=140707&forwards=true

ADDRESS: 308 South Lambeth Road London S.W. 8; HOSPITAL: Thorpe Le Soken Auxiliary Hospital; RANK AT ENGAGEMENT: Cook; DATE OF ENGAGEMENT: 10/1914; DATE OF TERMINATION: 08/1915; WHOLE OR PART TIME: Part time Query unanswered; ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: 308 South Lambeth Rd London SW.8. Thorpe Hall Hospital; COMMISSION: Essex


MATHEWS, Miss Daisy (10.1914. V.A.D. Nurse. Also worked at Frinton Voluntary Hospital (The Recess); Great Oakley Hall Work Party member. 910 days total). [N.B. spelt Matthews for Frinton]

http://www.redcross.org.uk/About-us/Who-we-are/History-and-origin/First-World-War/Card?hosp=thorpe-le-soken&id=147413&forwards=true

ADDRESS: The Rectory Beaumont Thorpe le Soken; DATE OF ENGAGEMENT: 1914; DATE OF TERMINATION: 1916; PARTICULARS OF DUTIES: Member of Working party & V.A.D; WHOLE OR PART TIME: Part time; ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Great Oakley Hall Work Party, October 1914. 910 days nursing & 182 work party hours; COMMISSION: Essex.

http://www.redcross.org.uk/About-us/Who-we-are/History-and-origin/First-World-War/Card?hosp=thorpe+hall+essex&page=2&id=147414

ADDRESS: Beaumont Rectory Weeley; RANK AT ENGAGEMENT: V.A.D; DATE OF ENGAGEMENT: 10/1914; DATE OF TERMINATION: 01/1919; PARTICULARS OF DUTIES: Nursing; WHOLE OR PART TIME: Part time; ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Thorpe Hall Hospital, Frinton Voluntary Hospital, Hylands Hospital, Chelmsford. (served 910 days approx); COMMISSION: Essex.


OSMOND, Miss Marion (10.1914-8.1915. V.A.D. Commandant. Probationer Nurse.  Also worked at ‘Gostwycke’ in Colchester [April-Oct. 1916] and a Working Party)

http://www.redcross.org.uk/About-us/Who-we-are/History-and-origin/First-World-War/Card?hosp=thorpe-le-soken&id=164569&forwards=true

ADDRESS: Hanford House, Thorpe-le-Soken; HOSPITAL: Thorpe Le Soken Auxiliary Hospital; Farnborough Court Auxiliary Hospital, Farnborough (Aldershot Command); PREVIOUS ENGAGEMENT: Over; RANK AT ENGAGEMENT: V.A.D. Commandant; DATE OF ENGAGEMENT: 08/1914; DATE OF TERMINATION: 10/1916; PARTICULARS OF DUTIES: Ward work. Day; ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Oct 1914 – Aug 1915 Thorpe Hall Hospital Oct 1915 – Feb 1916 Farborough Court Apl 1916 – Oct 1916 Gostwycke Colchester; COMMISSION: Essex.

http://www.redcross.org.uk/About-us/Who-we-are/History-and-origin/First-World-War/Card?hosp=thorpe-le-soken&id=164567&forwards=true

ADDRESS: Hanford House, Thorpe-le-Soken; COUNTY: Essex; SERVICE FROM: 29/10/1915; SERVICE TO: 03/02/1916; HOSPITAL: Farnborough Court Auxiliary Hospital, Farnborough (Aldershot Command); PREVIOUS ENGAGEMENT: Had worked at the Hospital at her own house till it closed; RANK AT ENGAGEMENT: Probation Nurse; DATE OF ENGAGEMENT: 29/10/1915; PAY AT ENGAGEMENT: Voluntary; RANK AT TERMINATION: Probation Nurse DATE OF TERMINATION: 03/02/1916; PAY AT TERMINATION: Voluntary; PARTICULARS OF DUTIES: Nursing; WHOLE OR PART TIME: Whole; ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Farnborough Court Auxiliary Hospital; COMMISSION: Hants. Essex.

http://www.redcross.org.uk/About-us/Who-we-are/History-and-origin/First-World-War/Card?hosp=thorpe-le-soken&id=164568&forwards=true

ADDRESS: Hanford House, Thorpe-le-Soken; DATE OF ENGAGEMENT: 1914; PARTICULARS OF DUTIES: Member of working party off and on; ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Service from Oct: 1914 to Aug; 1915; Oct: 1915 to Feb; 1916; Aprl. 1916 to Oct; 1916. Member of V.A.D. Essex 84. {Date of Engagement} V.A.D. Hospital Engagement; COMMISSION: Essex/84


SORRELL, Miss Ivy (3.9.1914 for 6 or 8 weeks. Also Member of a Working Party)

http://www.redcross.org.uk/About-us/Who-we-are/History-and-origin/First-World-War/Card?hosp=thorpe+hall+essex&page=2&id=195193

ADDRESS: Great Oakley, Harwich (c/o Mrs. Kuble); DATE OF ENGAGEMENT: 1914; DATE OF TERMINATION: 1916; PARTICULARS OF DUTIES: Member of Working Party; WHOLE OR PART TIME: part time; ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Lady Byng’s Hospital, Thorpe Hall Began 03.09.1914 and went on for 6 or 8 weeks. (10-12 hours duty day or night) (Alternate weeks); COMMISSION: Essex.


WOOD, Mrs. Edith Mabel (1914-1915. Trained Nurse/Sister in Charge)

http://www.redcross.org.uk/About-us/Who-we-are/History-and-origin/First-World-War/Card?hosp=thorpe-le-soken&id=231666&forwards=true

ADDRESS: The Vicarage, Thorpe le Soken; COUNTY: Essex; HOSPITAL: Thorpe Le Soken Auxiliary Hospital; PREVIOUS ENGAGEMENT: Over; RANK AT ENGAGEMENT: Trained Nurse; DATE OF ENGAGEMENT: 1914; PAY AT ENGAGEMENT: None; DATE OF TERMINATION: 1915; PARTICULARS OF DUTIES: Sister in charge Lady Byngs V.A. Hospital; WHOLE OR PART TIME: Day service; ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Thorpe Hall Hospital; COMMISSION: Essex.



A THORPE-LE-SOKEN RESIDENT FOUND WORKING ELSEWHERE:

ANNESLEY, Mrs. Winifred Mabel (14.9.1916-2.7.1918. J.W. V.A.D. Nurse. Aldershot & Croxley Green)

http://www.redcross.org.uk/About-us/Who-we-are/History-and-origin/First-World-War/Card?hosp=thorpe-le-soken&id=4557&first=true

ADDRESS: Hill House, Thorpe.le.Soken; AGE WHEN ENGAGED: 26; SERVICE FROM: 14/09/1916; SERVICE TO: 02/07/1918; PREVIOUS ENGAGEMENT: P.T.O; RANK AT ENGAGEMENT: Nurse; DATE OF ENGAGEMENT: 14/09/1916; DATE OF TERMINATION: 02/07/1918; ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: 14.9.16 – 16.11.16 Aldershot (Cambridge) Mil. Hosp 26.9.17 – 2.7.18 Croxley Green Aux. Hosp. Herts; DEPARTMENT: J.W.V.A.D; COMMISSION: Berks 58.



Thorpe Hall, Thorpe-le-Soken, Essex. Courtesy/© of Heather Anne Johnson.

Thorpe Hall, Thorpe-le-Soken, Essex. Courtesy of Heather Anne Johnson.



Julian Hedworth George Byng of Thorpe Hall, Thorpe-le-Soken, Essex

Julian H. G. Bing Courtesy of Heather A. Johnson.

Julian H. G. Bing. Courtesy of Heather A. Johnson.

Governor General of Canada – Lord Byng 1921-1926

Chosen by the Sovereign

Lord Byng was well-known to Canadians before his appointment as Governor General. In 1916, during the First World War, he took command of the Canadian Army Corps on the western front. He gained his greatest glory with the Canadian victory at Vimy Ridge in April 1917, an historic military victory for Canada that inspired nationalism at home. During his travels across the country throughout his term of office, he was enthusiastically greeted by the men he had led.

Lord Byng’s appointment was less controversial than that of his predecessor, the Duke of Devonshire. This was partly due to his popularity but also because he was appointed following direct consultation with the Canadian government. Lord Byng took to his office enthusiastically, further entrenching many of the traditions established by his predecessors. He also broke with tradition and was the first Governor General to appoint Canadian aides-de-camp — one of them was Georges Vanier, who later served as Governor General from 1959 – 1967.

He was always passionate about sport, and both he and his wife particularly loved ice hockey – Lord Byng rarely missed a game played by the Ottawa Senators. In 1925, Lady Byng presented a trophy to the National Hockey League, which, to this day, recognizes sportsmanship and excellence in play.   Lord and Lady Byng also travelled more than any of their predecessors, making extended trips to western Canada and the North, taking the opportunity to meet with many Canadians. Lord Byng established the Governor General’s Cup at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, and Lady Byng created a rock garden at Rideau Hall, which still delights visitors today.

The most notable issue during Lord Byng’s term of office was the “King-Byng Affair” – a political crisis that arose between the Governor General and Prime Minister Mackenzie King. It was watched closely by both the Canadian and British governments, and came to redefine the role of Governor General.

Traditionally, the position of Governor General had represented both the Sovereign (the King or Queen of Canada) and the British government, a situation that had evolved with Lord Byng’s predecessors and the Canadian government as well as the Canadian people into a tradition of non-interference in Canadian political affairs.

In September 1924, Prime Minister Mackenzie King requested a dissolution of Parliament to call an election, which Lord Byng granted. In the 1925 election, the Conservative party won the most seats, but not a majority. Counting on the support of the Progressive Party to overcome the Conservative minority, Mackenzie King, the Liberal Party leader, did not resign as Prime Minister and remained in power in the House of Commons until 1926.

Then, a political scandal in the Ministry of Customs and Excise became public, and in Parliament the Conservative Party alleged that the corruption extended to the highest levels of government, including the Prime Minister. Mackenzie King fired the Minister of Customs and promptly named him to the Senate, creating even more dismay among the members of the Progressive Party, who had already been withdrawing their support for the Liberal government.

Facing a third vote on the question of government corruption, and having already lost two previous votes on questions of procedure, Mr. King went to the Governor General seeking a dissolution of Parliament. Lord Byng refused the request and the crisis began. Prime Minister King requested that before any decision was made, Lord Byng consult the British government which he represented. Governor General Byng again refused, citing non-interference in Canadian affairs.

The next day, Mr. King presented Lord Byng with an Order-in-Council seeking the dissolution of Parliament, which Lord Byng refused to sign. As a result, Canada was left temporarily without a Prime Minister and government until the Governor General invited Arthur Meighen to form a government. Mr. Meighen did so, but within a week lost a non-confidence vote in the House of Commons. Prime Minister Meighen requested a dissolution of Parliament, which was granted by Governor General Byng, and a new election was called.

Politically, much was made of the ‘Byng-King Crisis’ during the election campaign. The Liberals were returned to power with a clear majority and Mackenzie King as Prime Minister. Once in power, Mackenzie King’s government sought to redefine the role of Governor General as a representative of the Sovereign and not the British government, and this was soon put into effect.

On leaving Canada on September 30, 1926, the Byng’s returned to England with many close friendships they had established while serving Canada. Lord Byng had worked to represent the interest of Canadians as much as possible, and despite the political crisis, did leave a much-respected man.

Life Before and After Rideau Hall**

Lord Byng had studied at Eton, and then began a military career in which he saw service in India and in South Africa during the war of 1899 – 1900. During this campaign, he asked Marie Evelyn Moreton, the only daughter of Sir Richard Charles Moreton, comptroller at Rideau Hall during the term of office of the Marquess of Lorne, to marry him. He was so anxious to receive an answer that he asked her to send her reply by cable. Lord Byng framed her answer, “Yes, please return immediately”, and kept it on his desk for the rest of his life. They were married on April 30, 1902, and had no children.

When the First World War came, Lord Byng first campaigned in France with the British Expeditionary Force as commander of the Cavalry Corps. Later, he commanded the 9th Army Corps in the ill-fated Dardanelles Campaign and supervised the withdrawal from the Straits.      By 1916, he was given the command of the Canadian Army Corps.   Following the victory at Vimy Ridge, Lord Byng took command of the 3rd British Army where he conducted the first surprise attack using tanks at Cambrai, considered a turning point in the war. For these services he was promoted to the rank of general, and after the war was raised to the peerage as 1st Baron Byng of Vimy of Thorpe-le-Soken, in Essex, on October 7, 1919.

Following his term as Governor General, Lord and Lady Byng returned to England – where he was raised in the peerage as Viscount. He served as Commissioner of the London Metropolitan Police and was promoted to the rank of Field Marshal, finally retiring with his wife to Essex, England.     Lord Byng died in 1935** and Lady Byng returned to Canada during World War II to live with friends.    She died in 1949.”

Julian H. G. Byng. (Vimy Memorial Park Visitor Centre, 2014) Courtesy of Heather A. Johnson.

Julian H. G. Byng. (Vimy Memorial Park Visitor Centre, 2014) Courtesy of Heather A. Johnson.

N.B. The aforeshown text was transcribed from http://www.gg.ca/document.aspx?id=15416 in 2013, as part of research.  The page no longer exists, however, but it is felt appropriate to reproduce it.

*    This is the official residence in Ottawa of both the Canadian monarch and the Governor General of Canada.

**  Lord Byng died at Thorpe Hall on 6 June 1935.


Thorpe Hall, Thorpe-le-Soken, Essex. Courtesy/© of Lifehouse Hotel & Spa.

Thorpe Hall, Thorpe-le-Soken, Essex. Courtesy/© of Lifehouse Hotel & Spa.


NEXT: TOLLESHUNT D’ARCY:  Guisnes Court V.A.D. Hospital

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