Desmond Trevor Wootton – 1924 to 1941

My thoughts have been directed today towards the WWII names on the Memorial Hall and in St Michael’s Church.

From a certificate downloaded from the HMS Hood Association website in May 2021

On the anniversary of the sinking of HMS Hood, the cheerful face of Desmond Wootton always comes to mind. 17 years old and one of 1415 lives lost on 24 May 1941.

I often pause and read the names on the Aldbourne War Memorial Hall, and am gradually learning more about each of the names thanks to friends, archives and the shared memories in our village. Today’s research has been to help sort out information for the 100th anniversary of the Memorial Hall, and the exhibition planned for this coming July. It has been interesting to delve into the Hall Minutes and find that the British Legion sought permission to install a third memorial tablet on the Hall in July 1947. At a later Committee Meeting the design was accepted, leading to the unveiling and dedication of the plaque we see today on the Hall. A service took place on 20 June 1948.

Memorial Hall Minutes 1947
Memorial Hall Minutes 1948
Aldbourne War Memorial Hall
St Michael’s Church, Aldbourne

Fundraising for the Aldbourne War Memorial Hall – Past, Present & Future

Aldbourne War Memorial Hall Account Book

Aldbourne’s aim from 1917 onwards was to build a hall in remembrance of the lives lost in the Great War, and also ‘fitted in every way for public meetings, with arrangements for concerts and theatricals – a building which all hoped would be a real and lasting centre for community life and interest in the village’ (North Wilts Herald 2 May 1919/British Newspaper Archive).

I think those long ago fundraisers would have enjoyed the idea of a Duck Race.

The present-day Memorial Hall Committee invites everyone to enjoy the very welcome return of the Easter Extravaganza on Saturday 16 April 2022.  On the Green if fine, in the Hall if not. The Ducks will race again!

 Our Memorial Hall is still ‘fitted in every way’ to cater for public meetings, concerts, theatricals, Yoga, Lunch Club, hire for parties and wedding receptions – the list is seemingly endless. 

My focus for this month is fundraising; both by the groups who book the hall and for and on behalf of the Hall itself.  A quick study of the history surrounding the early days of the campaign in 1917 and how funds were raised, shows the great ingenuity of the population of Aldbourne.  Bearing in mind that this was during a time when the countryside was still recovering from the effects of the Great War, and many families were suffering great hardship; their menfolk being dead, injured or enduring incapacitating illnesses of the body or mind.

One report from March 1919 relates that on one day concerts were held in the afternoon and evening at the schoolroom; followed at the weekend by a dinner for the Aldbourne lads who had been on active service.  At the same time as raising funds to create a memorial for the fallen, our village was also looking after those who had returned.  It is also interesting to see that Aldbourne Band “resuscitated after four years .. received a cordial welcome”.  Speeches were made, bravery was acknowledged and by the close of proceedings the sum of £15 was handed over to the scheme for which Aldbourne people were working so heartily.

Jumping forward to 1928, a kitchen was added to the Hall and declared open by Miss Evelyn Fox from the Old Rectory.  The newspaper of the day lists all the festivities arranged to celebrate the opening, with generous prizes awarded for a ‘Knock-out Whist Tournament”, parcel tying and a balloon race.  More music, this time from piano, banjo and violin.  At the end of the day another £13 5s was raised for the kitchen fund.

Whist Evenings seem to have been a real attraction and have raised considerable funds over the decades, both for the Hall itself and for village organisations.  In December 1932 no less than 42 tables were occupied for an evening aimed at reducing the debt on the Hall.  A fine turkey was won by the highest scorer, Mr R Hutchins.

So successful was the fundraising that by October 1935 after a year of hard work and several particularly generous donations, the treasurer Major Ingpen was able to announce that the Hall was, for the first time, free of debt.

With thanks to Alison Delorie for helping to collate the information for this article. Also thanks to Alan Heasman and the Aldbourne Community Heritage Group for sharing their encyclopaedic collection of newspaper articles and Parish Magazines.

Originally published in the April 2022 Dabchick Magazine

Aldbourne War Memorial Hall 1922 – 2022

Photo: Catherine Hutchings #AldbourneRemembers November 2018

Over 100 years ago the village worked together to honour the memory of those lost in the Great War, and those who died following injury or illness. 

At the same time, the aim was very much to provide a room ‘fitted in every way for public meetings, with arrangements for concerts and theatricals – a building which all hoped would be a real and lasting centre for community life and interest in the village’ (North Wilts Herald 2 May 1919/British Newspaper Archive).  After due deliberation and a review of the money raised, the Memorial Hall Committee accepted the tender of Messrs Moulding Bros.  The sum of £1,000 was in hand from the fundraising that began in 1917; the cost of building had fallen, and the successful tender was for £1,200.  The contract was signed on 13th December 1921.

By 9th January 1922 it was decided that the names should be outside the Hall and suitable stones were on order.  Miss Todd of Hampstead Cottage proposed that the list of names in Church (unveiled in March 1920) should be inscribed and ‘those who had died since’ also included.  The building committee were authorised to arrange for a foundation laying ceremony when the right time arrived.  It must have been such a relief that the long years of loss and huge efforts for raising funds were finally moving towards that common aim: community remembrance and a venue for people to gather.

With the festive season just over, is it too soon to write about food?

The Senior Citizen’s Christmas Dinner (then known as ‘The Old People’s Tea) moved into the Memorial Hall during the 1920s, has endured since, and took place again in 2022, with great success.  Well done to all concerned!

When war came again, the Hall was requisitioned for use by the troops billeted in the village from October 1939.  There was a Canteen Manager, Chef, Barman and Vegetable Cook; it certainly seems that the troops were very well fed and watered!

American veterans returned in June 1974, and by their special request sat down to lunch with Fish & Chips in the Memorial Hall.  In 1994 the Parish Council hosted the Troop Carrier Veterans’ Association with tea and scones for the presentation of a commemorative plaque to the 436th that operated from Membury.  In 2015 villagers and visitors alike dined on roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, organised by the Aldbourne Community Heritage Group and a tour group from the World War II Museum in New Orleans. Photos can be found on the Aldbourne Village Gallery

How many of us in the present day have attended community events in the Hall, or hope to in the future?  There have been a full range of refreshments, from comfortable chats with tea and biscuits to themed concerts with three course meals.  Luncheon Club, Soup & Puddings, Barn Dances and Quiz Night Suppers, Scouts and Guides pop-up cafés and that great favourite, Big Breakfasts.  The Memorial Hall is now fully open for all activities – for more information or to book, please visit

Originally published in the February 2022 Dabchick Magazine

Senior Citizens Christmas Dinner 2022

If anyone has memories (or photos) to share from past events, please get in touch.  We are looking forward to writing more articles, and plans are afoot for events and exhibitions to mark this anniversary year (with tea and cake of course!).

Aldbourne War Memorial Hall on 6 December 1921

6 December 1921 was an important day in Aldbourne history; it was the day on which the Management Committee for the proposed War Memorial Hall met and a resolution to start the build was carried.

We know from the War Memorial Hall Minutes that the people of Aldbourne began in 1917 to consider what form the War Memorial should take, and that it was ultimately decided that a Parish Hall should be built. From 1917 money was being collected from many endeavours.

At meetings through 1921, alongside such important matters as pianos, billiard tables and smoking concerts for the veterans, the minutes show an underlying concern for the cost of building and by the 27 June 1921 it was proposed by Mr Mallinson (Old Rectory) and seconded by Lady Currie (Upham) “that we do not start building until we can get an estimate within £200 of the money we have.”

At a meeting on 12 July 1921, Lady Currie had written to the General Committee suggesting that ‘tenders should be asked for on a sliding basis, ie cost of all building materials, should be reduced allowing to the fall which undoubtedly will, and is actually taking place. Labour should be on the same basis, that is, as the price of labour falls, so should the estimate be reduced.”

Meetings continued through the summer and autumn; fundraising and the administration of the temporary hut in Whitley Meadow were the topics of several meetings: including the opening of a Boys Club. “It was decided that no boy under 14 should be allowed to come to the club without he was at work”.

By 21 November 1921, the fundraising target was in reach and it was proposed “that fresh tenders be asked for inside and outside the village to build the Hall local labour be employed as much as possible and the lowest tender be accepted in or out of the village provided the sum is what we can pay.”

It was further proposed by Miss Todd [one of my favourite Aldbourne ladies] and seconded by Mr Waite, that the Building Committee should see Mr Moulding on the position as regards his tender with a view to the continuing fall in prices and the money we have at our disposal”.

And so we arrive at 6 December 1921 – one hundred years ago exactly – with a balance of £1,000 in hand. Mr T H Chandler read out Mr Mouldings revised tender for £1,200 and the following resolution was carried:

That we recommend Mr Mouldings revised tender be accepted and that he be asked to proceed with the work as soon as possible. Proposed by Mr Shephard Seconded by Miss Todd that the secretary write and ask for the promised subscriptions.

There is so much more of this story to be told and chapters along the way will illustrate how the village worked together to support a project that honoured the fallen, and also created a facility that would endure to play an important role in Aldbourne’s social life. I’ll leave the final word today to Honor Liddiard (nee Orchard), who was present at the opening of the hall in charge of Aldbourne Guides.

When war was declared in August 1914, the village boys volunteered at once, and within months were fighting overseas. In the main, only old folk, girls and women were left. The few men were either over age for service, or small farmers in reserved occupations.

When the war was over and the boys who had survived the slaughter came home, everyone was determined that a place other than the school must be built for all our activities. We had weekly dancing classes in the school, admission sixpence, where we all learned the new dances, but still enjoyed the Lancers, Waltz and Polka. Then we acquired an old Army Hut, which was put up just below Colonel Milton’s house. We held our meetings, whist drives, weekly dances and concerts there, until we had raised sufficient money to build the Memorial Hall in memory of the boys who did not return to us. There were no grants in those days and it was built by the determination, love and enthusiasm of young and old.

Honor Liddiard writing in the Parish Magazine 1967

Albert, Henry and Oscar Cook

The Whitton Team have “All Souls” services today (7 November 2021), the first Sunday after All Souls’ Day itself, which is on the 2 November each year. I visited St Michael’s Churchyard this morning, and paused to reflect on the past year, the deaths of those we hold dear and the memory of those gone before. November is a month for Remembrance. My thoughts turned to the fallen commemorated on the First and Second War Memorials in the village and the many other names that have come to mind since the memorials were created.

Back in 2018 for ‘Aldbourne Remembers’, Phil Comley shared his extensive research into the village fallen, in particular the group of families where brothers died during, or as a result of, the conflict. The parents who suffered these losses included Annette Cook (nee Bathe) and Charles Thomas Cook, who were living with their family on The Green, Aldbourne at the time of the 1911 Census. We know that they were resident in Castle Street by 1918 because that address appears on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission records for the death of Albert Cook.

It was a search for the Cook family grave that took me to the very top of the churchyard at St Michael’s on a bright autumn morning.

St Michael’s Churchyard: grave of Charles Thomas and Annette Cook, together with their daughter Hilda who died in 1936
Aldbourne Digital Record
Sarsen dedicated to the memory of Albert, Henry and Oscar Cook in situ during 2018 (thanks to Phil Comley/Aldbourne War Memorial Hall)

7625 Serjeant Albert Cook – 2nd Wiltshire Regiment. Born Eastbury and enlisted in Hungerford. Killed in action aged 28 – 8/5/1918 at La Paradis, France. No known grave and remembered on panels 119-120 at Tyne Cot Memorial. Son of Charles and Annette Cook of Castle Street, Aldbourne and the husband of Annie Stanley Cook of 32 Chickerell Road, Weymouth.

On the night of 8th May 1918, a party from the 2nd Wiltshire’s were attached to the 2nd Bedfordshire Regiment. In the resulting action, 2nd Lieutenant’s EW Plummer and ER Hatton were wounded, 7 other ranks killed (Albert was 1) 18 wounded and 37 reported missing. It was a costly night for 2/Wilts as a support regiment!

Henry Bathe Cook was a Ship’s Steward on SS Aquitania. Born 1883 Newbury. He died of a diabetic coma 10th/11th January 1916 aged 33 in the Royal South Hants Hospital, Southampton while living at Hill View, Broadlands Road, Swaythling, Southampton.

2361 Pte Oscar Cook 28th Australian Infantry, AIF (5th Reinforcements). Born Great Bedwyn 1893. Killed in action aged 23 on 29/7/1916. No known grave and remembered on the Villers-Brettoneux Memorial. Oscar had previously served for 7.5 months in the Wiltshire Regiment but bought himself out to emigrate to Australia. Arrived in Fremantle March 1912 on RMS Orama. Enlisted 28/7/1915 in Perth, a Farm Hand stating his address as Duke of York Restaurant, Perth. Embarked for WW1 in Fremantle WA on board HMAT A32 ‘Themistocles’ 13/10/15.

Phil Comley

Private H Cook (Aquitania) appears on the memorial in St Michael’s Church, Aldbourne, unveiled at the end of March 1920.

St Michael’s Church, Aldbourne – memorial unveiled March 1921

On ANZAC Day 2021, I received the following message: 2361 Private Oscar Cook unit was the 28th Australian Infantry Battalion. Oscar owned Location Ninghan 711 (1000 acres of farm land) in the then Kununoppin Ward in the Ninghan Road Board in Western Australia. This block is approximately four kilometres north of the town of Bencubbin. Oscar was featured in the address by the Deputy Shire President (Deputy Mayor) Cr Nick Gillett at today’s ANZAC Service (25th April 2021) at the New War Memorial at Bencubbin. Len Cargeeg, President Bencubbin Sub Branch, Returned and Services League.

Anzac Day 2021

Charles Edward Westall ( 1886-1917)

Aldbourne War Memorial Hall

Following a 4-year project funded by a LIBOR grant from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Army Museums Ogilby Trust (AMOT) is excited to launch The Ogilby Muster (TOM). TOM is an online platform which gives users access to First World War archives held in Regimental Museums across the UK.

With over 75 participating collections, and more set to join in 2022, TOM will eventually hold over 2 million items including some never-before-seen material. Covering the period 1900 to 1929, the platform contains documents, photographs, letters, diaries and more, all related to the British Army and the men and women who served. Launching during Remembrance month, TOM has preserved the experiences and memories of those who served in the First World War for future generations.

Army Museums, Ogilby Trust

The first thing I tend to do when something like this appears is search for ‘Aldbourne’. Three records pop up, including an entry relating to Aldbourne Road in Coventry. (One day I will research why that road carries the village name!).

Westall, Charles Edward b. Aldbourne, Wilts e. Bradford-on-Avon, Wilts 198546 Gnr. k. in a. F. & F., 22/10/17

CASUALTY LISTS. Official roll of RHA, RFA, Regulars and Territorial Force (including HAC Batteries) killed during the Great War entitled “Soldiers Died in the Great War 1914-19”
This media belongs to: Royal Artillery Museum
Wiltshire Times 1917 – POR4605 Wiltshire Museum (photo January 2019)

See also: Another Aldbourne connection found in The Ogilby Muster (TOM).

The Revival of Aldbourne Feast in 1919

Aldbourne War Memorial Hall Opening 7 July 1922

The Aldbourne Feast, one of the oldest and best known of Wiltshire village festivals, allowed to lapse during the war, was this year revived with much success … Even in the days immediately preceding the war, Aldbourne Feast was sometimes little more than a date in the calendar … For some years a flower show was held annually, but at no time in the memory of the present inhabitants has a programme of such an ambitious character been arranged as that which was carried out with great success during the early part of the present week.

North Wilts Herald 1 August 1919

‘The roundabouts, swings and sideshows arrived in the village on Saturday, and did a roaring trade on Monday’. The newspaper report went on to list the activities arranged for the purpose of raising funds to build a new Village Hall, in memory of the men of Aldbourne who gave their lives in the war. About £750 had been raised for this purpose prior to Feast in 1919.

In July 1919 there were sports in ‘Mr Wilson’s meadow’ (which did not include ‘backswording’) but did feature ‘many items of an exciting character, in which the representatives of the various hamlets within a six mile radius strove to excel each other in the performances, and displayed a real sporting spirit in the doing of it’. Tug-of-War, a hurdle race and obstacle bicycle race are listed. Plus ‘Bowling for a Pig’.

Mr A W Pembroke gets a couple of mentions in the article. Arthur Pembroke lived at Yew Tree House and as well as being in charge of Bowling for a Pig at the Feast celebrations in 1919, Arthur is listed as a member of the ‘special sports sub-committee’.

Arthur and his mother Annie (nee Penny, born Winterbourne Bassett) later gave the land upon which the Memorial Hall was built.

By the time Feast rolled round again in 1920 the village fund stood at over £1,000. In 1920 the North Wilts Herald listed a huge variety of sporting events, a baby show (judged by Dr Dill of Ramsbury – brave man!) and dancing in the evening accompanied by Aldbourne Prize Band. This time the bowling endeavours were directed to win a ‘pair of ducks’.

Feast in 1921 was ‘a much smaller affair than in previous years’ (North Wilts Herald 29 July 1921) however ‘in accordance with custom’ nearly every household had friends from a distance to visit or absent relatives home for the occasion. ‘Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the “fun of the fair”.’

In December 1921 the tender from Messrs Moulding Bros was accepted by the hall committee and building began shortly thereafter. The Aldbourne War Memorial Hall, a target determined in 1917, was opened by Lord Methuen on 7 July 1922.

See also: