Old Ledbury - World War One Rifle Range
World War One in Ledbury Rifle Range
World War One Miniature Rifle Range
Newent Reporter Newspaper 08 08 1914
SUGGESTED DEFENSIVE FORCE
To the Editor
Sir, - The dreaded possibility has now become a fact. England is at war with Germany and the nation must do its utmost in every detail. Every man and every woman must be prepared to make personal sacrifices. So far as can be gathered recruiting for the regular army and Territorial Forces is magnificent, but we must not let it rest at that. The whole of the regular Army may be required for foreign service and possibly as many of the Territorials as Volunteer for that purpose. Under existing conditions these cannot be spared, but it need not be so, there are hundreds of thousands of true hearted Britons who for various reasons cannot join the ordinary Territorial forces. My suggestion is that every landowner or person in a position to do so should undertake to teach all the men of suitable age in his district to use a rifle so as to be able to defend the country in case of invasion. I grant that the idea of invasion sounds ridiculous, but cast your mind back one month or less and you will find that the condition of affairs which now exists sounded at that time quite as impossible as invasion does now.
My suggestion is that the War Office should lend out to responsible persons in every district enough rifles for target practice - ten or a dozen would do for 200 men - and that the necessary ammunition should be provided by local subscription, the Authorities giving facilities for its purchase at cost price. By this means some hundreds of thousands of men could be taught to handle a rifle without expense to the Government and doubtless in most districts someone could be found to give them a certain amount of general instruction in Military matters. While this practice is going on the War Office could arrange for the various districts to be affiliated with some regiments and for rifles and ammunition to be deposited ready for use in time of need. They could also formulate regulations suitable for the circumstances. The great point, however, is that no time should be lost and that practice should be carried out while the War Office are getting the scheme into official form.
On my arrival in London last night I went to the War Office to see what steps could be taken to set some such scheme in motion and the matter will be laid before the Authorities to-morrow. Under the present conditions of extreme pressure it may be some time before they will be able to deal with it, but that is no reason why preparations should not be started by way of providing ranges or even starting practice with any kind of rifle. Some knowledge can be gained even from the use of a rabbit rifle.
So far as our district is concerned a range can be provided at Eastnor, and if miniature rifles can be obtained a second or third range could be found. As regards the expense of ammunition £100 would do a good deal and I am certain that that would be forthcoming in no time, in fact if the rifles and ammunition can be obtained I am quite ready in order to save time to make myself responsible for raising the money. I only regret that Lord Somers is in Canada. Had he been here I know he would have thrown himself heart and soul into some such scheme. In his Lordship's absence I have no misgivings as to the provision of the range and any other facilities that may be possible. I should have preferred delaying this communication until after the matter had been considered by the War Office, but your paper comes out to-morrow and much may happen before the following Friday; moreover its publication may I trust lead to some such movement becoming general throughout the country.
I remain, yours faithfully, A Roger ROWDEN, The Royal Automobile Club, Pall Mall, London.
August 6th, 1914
Kington / Newent Reporter Newspaper 08 08 1914
A letter from Mr A Roger ROWDEN, of Hillend, Eastnor, appears in these colorant formulating proposals for training and musketry practice for all able-bodied men. The proposal will receive the support of all patriots.
Ledbury Guardian Newspaper 15 08 1914
LEDBURY AND MINIATURE RIFLE RANGES
Closely following upon the scheme he outlined in these columns last week, Mr. A. Roger ROWDEN, of Eastnor, has so far organised the scheme for miniature rifle practice, and yesterday (Thursday) three ranges in the district were opened, viz., at the Holly Bush Quarry, with Mr. H. B. COURT in charge; at the Limekilns, Eastnor, where Major DRUMMOND is acting; and at Ledbury at Mr. MARTIN's lime quarry at Stoney Hill, where Mr. J. HOLLINGS is acting as instructor.
It must be distinctly understood that these schemes is inaugurated not with a view of detracting possible recruits for the naval or military services, or the Territorials, or the National Reserves, but with a view to supplementing those forces, and if possible to provide recruits for the services. It will probably be found that the scheme will serve to bring forward likely recruits, and in the case of men who cannot join any organised force it will serve a good purpose in giving them some elementary knowledge of rifle shooting and drill. Any man who wishes to avail himself of the opportunity of taking part in rifle practice should give in his name to the superintendent of the range most handy for him and attend there. The ranges will be open daily. Contributions towards the provision of ammunition may be made to the range superintendents.
It is gratifying to know that the scheme is being warmly supported in various parts of the country.
LEDBURY AND DISTRICT AIR RIFLE LEAGUE
Sir, With reference to the sceme outlined in your last issue in the letter of Mr. A. Roger ROWDEN, we would appeal to all members of the Ledbury and District Air Rifle League to place themselves in communication with the Range Superintendent at the Holly Bush, Eastnor and Ledbury ranges, and take part in the miniature rifle practice which commences to-day. We are aware that many of the members of the League have gone to serve their King and country, but there are many still remaining, and we trust that these members will lose no time in attending at one of the ranges indicated. Ledbury members should ? the range at Mr MARTIN'S lime quarry Stony Hill, where Mr J. HOLLINGS of the ? Inn, is in charge.
Yours truly, W.S. BOWES (chairman), A.T. JONES (Hon. secretary), Ledbury and District Air Rifle League
EMERGENCY DEFENCE SCHEME
Dear Sir, I enclose a copy of a communication which has to-day been sent to all members of The Land Agents' Society, numbering 1,349. The scheme has had the hearty approval of gentlemen in this neighbourhood actively engaged in the Territorial movement and recruiting for other branches of the Service. In the hope that it may be taken up generally throughout the country I should be glad if you would publish the communication, together with this letter, as there are doubtless many gentlemen other than land owners an land agents who can assist. The scheme will in no way clash with that started in London by Mr Percy HARRIS, Lord DESBOROUGH, Lord LOVATT and others, which applies exclusively to the Metropolis, whereas our scheme applies particularly to country districts. It will be seen that care has been taken to avoid the possibility of the movement in any way detracting from recruiting, and this view is shared by others whose opinions are more valuable than my own.
I shall be obliged if everyone who is willing to undertake local organisation will at once do so and be good enough to communicate with me. Their names and addresses will be registered, and in due course I shall be glad to be informed as to the numbers they have been able to enrol, in order that the information may be tabulated.
Hoping for your hearty co-operation,
I remain, your obedient Servant,
A. ROGER ROWDEN. Eastnor Castle, Estate Office, Nr Ledbury
11th August 1914.
Dear Sir, - I beg to invite your co-operation in a scheme of Emergency Defence which I have laid before the War Office. The general idea is as follows: -
Recruiting for the Regular Army and Territorial Forces in this time of national crisis happily appears to be magnificent, but we must not let it rest at that. The whole regular Army may be required for foreign service, and possibly as many of the Territorials as volunteers for that purpose. Under existing conditions these cannot be spared, but it need not be so. There are hundreds of thousands of true-hearted Britons who for various reasons cannot join either the Regular Army or the ordinary Territorial Forces. My suggestion is that every landowner or other person in a position to do so should undertake to teach all the men of suitable age (say 17 to 50) in his district to use a rifle so as to be able to defend the country in case of invasion. I grant that the idea of an invasion appears to be to many to be ridiculous, but if one casts one's mind back only a month it will be admitted that the condition of affairs which now exists appeared at that time quite as impossible as invasion does to-day.
My suggestion is that the War Office should lend out to responsible persons in every district enough rifles for target practice - 10 or a dozen would do for 200 men - and that the necessary ammunition should be provided by public subscription, the authorities giving facilities for its purchase at cost price. By this means some hundreds of thousands of men could be taught to handle a rifle without expense to the Government and doubtless in most districts someone could be found to give them a certain amount of general instruction on military matters. A commencement might be made with miniature rifles, which course is in most cases desirable on the score of economy, safety, and lack of full sized ranges. While this is going on the War Office could arrange for each district to be affiliated with some regiment. They could also formulate regulations suitable for the circumstances, and arrange for the supply of the necessary rifles and ammunition to be ready in time of need. In that case they would also have to provide some distinctive uniform, but I suppose that a tunic and cap would be sufficient.
Under the present conditions of extreme pressure it may be some little time before the War Office are able to come to a decision in the matter, but the important point is that practice should be commenced immediately. If they decide in favour of the suggestion a very large force will be ready for their acceptance - and if not, no harm can have been done - and directly enough full-sized rifles are served out for practice the men will have progressed sufficiently to be able to use them for that purpose. Doubtless also many suitable positions for full ranges will have been selected by those who have taken the movement in hand.
The expense of the initial practice will be very small. Unfortunately my employer here (Lord SOMERS) is abroad, otherwise he would have doubtless have taken the matter up more ably than I can, but I have already got the scheme going in this neighbourhood, and in order to save time have myself undertaken the responsibility of the expenses pending the formation of a committee and the solicitation of subscriptions, which am confident will come in immediately they are asked for. Surely there must be any number of others ? ? ? ? the same thing.
In two or three days' time I hope to have three ranges started on this estate and a considerable number of men shooting.
I am sending this letter to all members of the Land Agents' Society, because they, through their employers, are I believe better able to organise the scheme than any other body of men, but many of them will doubtless be able to secure the co-operation of other gentle-men in their districts.
It should be distinctly understood that the suggestion is not in substitution of enrolment in any existing force, but for men who are unable to offer themselves for such. At the same time, it should act as a means of encouraging recruiting in the Regular Army, for which 100, 000 are now urgently required, or for the ordinary Territorial forces. One great point is that it will in its initial stages not increase the strain on the already over-burdened existing organisations, and the men will be taught to shoot without interfering with the usual occupation. Care should be taken not to enrol any men qualified for the National Reserve, and every effort should be made to induce any young men who may join the movement and who could offer themselves as recruits for any existing force to do so.
I should be greatly obliged if you would in the course of a few days, send me a line to say if you have been able to adopt the suggestion and then, in say a week, tell me how many members you have been able to enrol. Then numbers will be registered for the information of the War Office.
I remain yours faithfully,
A ROGER ROWDEN, Eastnor Castle Estate Office, Near Ledbury
August 11th, 1914.
P.S. - I suggest that the County Territorial Associations and the local Miniature Rifle Clubs are asked to place their miniature rifles and ranges at the disposal of the movement. I understand that suitable rifles ( .22 but of about the same weight and " pull as the service") can be purchased from the Society of Miniature Rifle Clubs, Arundel House, Arundel Street, London, W.C. at about £2 each, also ammunition at about 10s. per 1000, and paper targets at a very small cost - A.R.R.
Ledbury Guardian Newspaper 22 08 1914
A MUCH NEEDED WARNING
Sir, - I see that efforts are being made in this country to induce civilians to practice rifle shooting, in order that they may help to defend their country in case of invasion.
This is quite right in the case of men in the National Reserve or of lads who hope to enlist on attaining the proper age: but for others, speaking generally, this is worse than a mere waste of ammunition and range accommodation. Such men, unless they are enrolled in some authorized unit of the defence force and uniformed, would not only be shot like dogs if captured, but would bring down the most savage reprisals on their neighbours and villages.
Let me remind them of the German reprisals in consequence of the actions of the "Franc-tireurs" in the Franco-German war: though they were uniformed they did not belong to any branch of the Army, so villages were burnt and quiet inhabitants ruthlessly shot to stop this irregular way of defending their country.
So, too, now in Belgium.
To prevent further lamentable incidents of this nature all civilians in Namur are today being disarmed.
Let the men enlist, or join the National Reserve.
Of course, civilian expert shots would be very helpful in teaching recruits at this crisis.
ELLIOTT WOOD, Major-General, Retired. Pembridge.
Kington Reporter Newspaper 22 08 1914
The scheme for miniature rifle practice, organised by Mr A Roger ROWDEN in this district, has caught on wonderfully in Ledbury, and last Sunday quite 50 men, nearly all too old to join any of His Majesty's forces, took part in practice at the range at Mr MARTIN's lime quarry. The ranges at the Hollybush Quarry, and the Limekilns, Eastnor, were also well patronised and at all three ranges the shooting was distinctly promising even on the part of men who have had no practice with a miniature or service rifle before. Town Crier
Whatever comes of the scheme for an emergency defence force, and whether it will ever be required, or not, it is to be hoped that advantage will now be taken of the opportunity afforded to form miniature rifle clubs for the three districts named, and not allow the movement to simply drop after the war is over. Apart from the knowledge of rifle shooting gained from practice with a miniature rifle there is no more pleasant sport or recreation for the summer months than this. We have our air-rifle clubs in the winter, and there should be little difficulty in running miniature rifle clubs in the summer. Town Crier
Ledbury Guardian Newspaper 29 08 1914
To the Editor of the Ledbury Guardian,
Dear Sir, - I have read with interest, Sir Elliott WOOD's letter in your issue of last week and endorse all he says as to the utter impossibility of unofficial bodies of troops, but as to rifle practice I cannot agree with him. I sent you particulars of a scheme which a few people took to be a proposal for the establishment of some such unofficial force, but it was really nothing of the sort. The proposition was to teach men to shoot so that those who are not within the age limit now being enlisted should be to some extent prepared in case the War Office later on required their services and at the same time to encourage and bring together men who are of the age now required. The plan has been adopted on a very large number of estates and elsewhere, and I am pleased to say, with most satisfactory results. Enthusiasm has been created and a large number of recruits have been secured for Lord KITCHENER's new Army. Any doubt on the subject is clearly set aside by the number of recruits from this estate where the scheme was first started.
Your obedient servant,
ROGER ROWDEN, Eastnor Caster Estate Office, Near Ledbury
August 27th, 1914
1914 Newent Reporter Newspaper - Herefordshire History
1914 - 1919 Ledbury Guardian Newspaper - Herefordshire History
1916 Tilley's Almanack
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Cuttings from Ledbury Reporter newspapers
Transcribed by Ismet and Sali MUSTAFIC