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Harrow in wartime – A look at our 1914 military camp

As with the rest of the country, last weekend people in Harrow took the time to remember those lost to war. Our borough is, of course, no stranger to military activities with the Army Reserves Centre on Honeypot Lane and the RAF station in Northolt but, in this article, we’ll be looking at Harrow’s contribution to the Great War.

The start of the Great War

Following the assassination of the Austrian Archduke, Franz Ferdinand on the 28th of June 1914, Austria declared war on Serbia – a war which would soon escalate to include over 30 nations, including the UK. The war, which began in 1914 and ended in 1918 would become known as ‘The Great War’ due to the sheer scale of the operation but is also known as the First World War.

From playing field to killing field

To assist with the war effort, a military camp was established on Harrow on The Hill in 1914 and this camp would be a pivotal part of the UK’s operation. In August 1914, troops from the 1st East Lancs battalion arrived in Harrow to be trained before then making their way to Southampton.

Harrow in wartime - A look at our 1914 military camp Harrow Online

The military camp in Harrow was established on one of Harrow School’s playing fields and, to this day, visitors to the school can observe the WW1 Shrine including a plaque which was erected on the 3rd of June 1926, under the watchful eye of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Like other parts of the country, Harrow came under fire during the Great War and, in 2018, an unexploded bomb from WW1 was discovered in Stanmore – and was safely deactivated and removed by specialist teams.

Caring for the wounded

Harrow in wartime - A look at our 1914 military camp Harrow Online

As well as a training base for soldiers, Harrow also provided a convalescent facility for the injured. On the 31st of March 1915, a large house in College Road, known as Homeleigh was repurposed as an auxiliary hospital. The hospital provided beds and medical care to wounded soldiers as well as a recreation room which could accommodate up to 50 soldiers.

Peace and PE on the Hill

Thankfully, in 2022, Harrow School’s playing fields see nothing more violent than the odd game of rugby, although the WW1 shrine in the school remains a testament to those who made the ultimate sacrifice during the Great War.

Harrow in wartime - A look at our 1914 military camp Harrow Online