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Service of Commemoration for 29th Division

On Sunday March 10th 2019 from 10.30am to 12 noon there will be a service of commemoration at All Saints Church, Stretton upon Dunsmore, for the 1915 march past of the 29th Division before they travelled to Gallipoli. Bishop Christopher will be attending the service which is in partnership with the Gallipoli association.

When the First World War broke out in 1914, Britain had a large Empire. Much of the British regular army was overseas and was hurriedly brought back. A number of battalions were brought back and gathered in South Warwickshire and North Oxfordshire.

The 29th Division became one of the premier British infantry divisions of World War One. It was the only division to take part in both the first day of the Gallipoli campaign and the first day of the battle of the Somme. Consequently it suffered over 94,000 casualties. Soldiers from the Division won 27 Victoria Crosses.

It was made up of battalions from the Lancashire Fusiliers, the Royal Fusiliers, the Border Regiment, the Essex Regiment, the Worcester Regiment, the Hampshire Regiment (all from England), the South Wales Borderers (from Wales), the Dublin Fusiliers, the Royal Munster Fusiliers and the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers (from Ireland) and the Royal Scots and the King’s Own Scottish Borderers (from Scotland). It also contained a number of batteries of Royal Horse Artillery and Royal Field Artillery.

When the soldiers began arriving many were billeted with local people as there were simply not enough barracks to house all the soldiers. They stayed with civilian families in Coventry, Leamington, Kenilworth, Stratford, Rugby, Southam and Banbury. Wagons and horses had to be kept in stables.

The soldiers were given a warm welcome when they arrived and relationships between soldiers and civilians were good. Many friendships were made and some soldiers even married local girls. When news of the terrible casualties filtered back to the area, local people were horrified. 

Before the Division left for Gallipoli it was inspected by King George V. A formal march past took place on what is now the A45 on 12th March 1915. Such was the relationship between the Division, the civic authorities and local people that a monument, paid for by public subscription, was raised to commemorate this event. It was dedicated on 24th May 1921.

Everyone is welcome to come to the service to commemorate 104 years since the march past.