On the 4th August 1914 war with Germany was declared. By the end of the year the Wymondham Volunteer Training Corps was formed, consisting of men who were not eligible for enlistment. Some were too old whilst others were not fit for service or were in reserved occupations. All, however, wished to “do their bit” and didn’t want to be labelled “shirkers”.
As the war years rolled on the Volunteer Corps all over Norfolk came together and the Wymondham Corps became 9th (Wymondham) Platoon, 4th Battalion Norfolk Volunteers.
The Germans signed the Armistice on November 11th 1918 and the need for the Volunteers came to an end.
Right from its earliest days the Corps was commanded by Fred Bowden. He had tried to join the Army with all the other enlisted Wymondham men at the start of the war but after 13 examinations was turned down by the Army as unfit for service.
On the 7th May 1919 a smoking concert was held in the Fairland Hall to mark the winding up of the Platoon. After tea there was a musical entertainment and then speeches.
Company Sergeant Major Bird recalled that Fred Bowden had joined the Corps as a Sergeant and had taken command almost straight away. He said that the men joined and left at a great rate, with there being an almost new platoon every three months. Despite this however there were still a few of the old stalwarts still serving. About 150 –200 had passed through the Platoon during its 4 year life.
Fred, now Lieutenant Bowden reminisced about his time with the Platoon, commended the Battalion Commander, Major Kennedy and the Company Commander, Captain Bainbridge for their support and praised the men for the respect they had shown him. He was presented with two framed photographs, one of the men of the Platoon and one of the officers and NCOs. CQMS Fred Roope was presented with a shot gun.
The final line in this epitaph belongs to Lieutenant Bowden who relinquished his commission on 20th November 1919, the event being recorded in the London Gazette on 20th January 1920.
WYMONDHAM TOWN ARCHIVE
Published in Wymondham Heritage Society Newsletter