Soham Memorial Soldier


Committee Members

The Royal British Legion
Soham Heritage and Tourism
Soham Town Council


3rd August PoppyLest We Forget Soldiers

Soham Commemorates the WW1 Centenary (1914 – 2014)

One of our committee members has spent a vast amount of time trawling the local newspaper archives for interesting extracts of life in Soham during the war years. Each month we will bring you sections of these extracts which cover many interesting activities and glimpses into life as it was then.


Ely Standard and Cambridge Times 1914.
2nd January 1914.

P.S.A: There was a large attendance of the members at this service on Sunday, which was presided over by Mr. Smith, of Burwell. The scripture lesson was read by Mr Harold Munns, and the solo, “It is Well”, was creditably rendered by Mr John Peacock. An address was given by Mr Earnest Hitch, of Walthamstowe.

Vicar’s Address to Men: This was announced in the December number of the parochial magazine for Sunday afternoon last, but considerable regret was prevalent when the Vicar announced the fact at the morning service that owing to his severe throat strain, he could not very well conduct the same, and would therefore abandon it for that year..

Charitable Waits: A number of young men, mainly from the Primitive Methodist Chapel, went round the district singing old fashioned Christmas Carols and soliciting assistance on behalf of the South East London Mission. The financial result has been most gratifying, the sum of £2 – 8s being hereby acknowledged by the waits for cripples and poor children of South East London.

Christmas Parties: These are again in marked evidence owing to the fact that of this period of the year all members of the family are enabled to meet at least for a day or two together, when full advantage is taken of that privilege. A large influx of visitors arrived in the town on Wednesday, the majority of whom, stayed with friends until Sunday or Monday evening, whilst others unable to get away from business, arrived by special trains on Christmas.

Slate Club: The first meeting for the admission of new members for the new year into the Soham Slate Club, the headquarters of which is the Station Hotel, took place on Monday evening, when 16 applications were received, making altogether a total of 282 members. Further applications for membership are being received by the secretary, Mr S.M. Bullman, who anticipates the total for 1914 will reach 900. The next meeting night is January 12th.

The Frost: With the sharp frosts of Tuesday and Wednesday nights skaters have been enabled to enjoy a few runs. Preparations were soon made by lovers of the sport, directly a sign of frost was apparent, with the result that on Thursday about 100 were enjoying a spin on the pond situate near Mere Farm, which is the only available place in town – apart from the River and the Mere Drain – which up to the time of writing has not been ventured upon, precautions being wisely taken over such deep water.

Heart-In-Hand Slate Club: The club which has had its headquarters at the Waggon and Horses Inn, during the past years has now been transferred to the Fountain Hotel, High Street, where the first meeting of the new financial year took place on Tuesday evening. Several new members were admitted, and the club augurs for a good financial position during the forth-coming year. A number of other applications for membership have been received by the secretary, Mr E. Bullman, and these will be considered at the next meeting on January 12th. Mr Alfred Rawlings, the proprietor of the Fountain Hotel, holds the position of treasurer.

Christmas Day: Christmas Day in Soham passed away quietly. A large number of visitors who had arrived the day previously were apparently enjoying the renewing of friendships ties around the fire. A few were however seen taking various walks around the town.

Christmas Parties: These are again in marked evidence owing to the fact that of this period of the year all members of the family are enabled to meet at least for a day or two together, when full advantage is taken of that privilege. A large influx of visitors arrived in the town on Wednesday ks in the district. Holy communion was celebrated at the Parish Church at 8 and mid-day. Afternoon service was held at 4 o’clock, when the anthem “Behold I Bring You Good Tidings Of great Joy” was sung. A short service was also conducted in the Baptist Schoolroom by the Rev. W. Hughes, at 11am, who delivered a seasonable address upon the text “We beheld His Glory”.

Wedding: An interesting wedding was solemnised at the Parish Church on Saturday by the vicar (The Rev. J.C. Rust), the bride being Miss Ada Hobbs, the second daughter of Mr Herbert Hobbs, of Station Road, and the bridegroom Mr Arthur Peacock, fourth son of Mr Robert Peacock, Bushel Lane. The bride, who was neatly attired in a blue costume, was given away by Mr Joe Peacock, the only bridesmaid in attendance being Miss Ida Hobbs, her sister. Following the ceremony about 20 guests were entertained to the wedding breakfast at the home of the bride’s parents, the happy couple afterwards leaving for their future residence in the “Crofts”.

Christmas Traffic: The amount of business done at this period of the year by our postal authorities in Soham is enormous. Each year has seen an increase in the number of letters and parcels, and when we state that on Monday evening before Christmas two additional conveyances had to be requisitioned for carrying of the mail bags to Ely Station, our readers will quickly discern the magnitude of the work that such a batch necessitated from the genial postmaster and his energetic staff of assistants. At the railway station a huge numbers of parcels were dispatched, the greatest rush being felt on Monday, when each train conveyed from Soham very heavy consignments. Congratulations are extended to both these public authorities for the able manner, which the Christmas rush was so promptly and satisfactorily dealt with.

Pigeon Shoot: The fourth annual pigeon shoot, arranged by Mr William Turner, the proprietor of the Tiger Hotel, Soham Fen, took place on Boxing Day. There was a good attendance of spectators and a number of excellent contests took lace. Mr Bert Fuller, who was in fine form, won the fat lamb, easily beating six opponents. He also won three sweepstakes and divided on three occasions. Mr W. Gutteridge, of Thaxted, won one sweepstake and divided on four occasions. Mr R. Fuller shot well and divided no less than four sweepstakes. Mr W. Turner won one sweepstake and divided another, as did also Mr L. Seymour and Mr J. Wake. An excellent lunchion was provided, to which a good number sat down. A billiard tournament was played in the evening, Mr A. Stittle winning after a closely contested game, the runner up being Mr W. Turner. The remainder of the evening was spent in conviviality’s, and an enjoyable time was spent by all.

Salvation Army: A very pleasant and enjoyable evening was spent at the People’s Hall on Wednesday amongst local Salvationists, the evening being the annual band league tea and social evening. The arrangements were creditably carried out under the management of the Captain Bambridge, who was assisted by the members of the local corps band. An excellent tea was provided, those helping at the tables being sisters Mrs Bradley, Beeton, W. Webb, and Aspland. A large company were present at the tea, which was followed by a social evening, during which a lecture was given by Captain Bambridge entitled “Shadows on the Blind”. Gramophone selections were rendered at intervals by the band, so that all together a very happy and profitable time was spent by everyone. Several members and friends also attended the subsequent night watch service, when an appropriate address was delivered by the Captain..

Cattle Market: A short supply of both fat and store pigs was registered at Messrs Slack and Adams market on Monday. Fat pork was well up to standard, fetching from 8s-6d to 8s-9d per stone. Stores both large and small were also a brisk trade. Numbers penned:- 21 fat, 67 stores, and 1 calf.

Funeral: The funeral of the late Mrs Alethea Gisbourne Elsden, whose death was reported in our last issue, took place On Tuesday of last week in the Soham cemetery, the vicar (the Rev. J.C. Rust) officiating. The mourners in attendance were; Messrs Arthur, Archibald, and Albian Elsdaen (sons), Mr Francis Roote, (brother) Mr E. Elsden, (nephew) Mrs R. Garner, Mrs. W. Attlesy (nieces). The remains were enclosed in an Elm Shell, the coffin being of plain oak with brass fittings and breastplate, bearing the inscription “Alethea Gisbourne Elsden, died December18th 1913 aged 62 years”

Excelsior Prize Band: Under the conductorship of Mr J. Conner (Bandmaster), the Soham Prize Band journeyed to Mildenhall on Saturday last, where they were accorded a particularly hearty welcome in commemorating the yuletide season with a well chosen programme of appropriate music. West-Row was also visited and the financial result said the bandmaster proved very satisfactory. In the evening they returned hence and rendered a series of musical items on the lawn opposite the “Place”. The customary band concert was postponed on Sunday evening owing to the special rendition of carols at the Parish Church on Sunday at the close of the church service. (reported elsewhere)

Carols at the Church: At the conclusion of the evening service at the Parish Church on Sunday a series of Christmas carols were sung by specially augmented choir. There was an exceptionally good attendance, including many visitors who arrived from other places of worship in the town., at 8pm. The proceedings were greatly appreciated, and under the able tuition of Mr G.F. Fenton (choirmaster) each carol was rendered with great effect. Mr C. Greensmith, presided at the organ. The following are the titles of the various pieces; “Manger Throne”, “O Babe in a Manger Lying”, “The Virgin is Hushing her Baby to Rest”, “What Child is This”, “See Amid”, “Sleep, Baby Sleep”, “When Christ Was Born”, “Cradle Song”, “First Noel”.

Adieu 1913: With the advent of year 1914 we bid adieu to the old year with it’s sorrows and success and failures, entering upon a new year with renewed hope and vigour, and trusting that what one has been accustomed to hear in the last few days may so be fulfilled in all our readers experiences, viz that they spend a bright and prosperous new year. Many watched the dawn of another year from their own firesides. In according to custom, the old year was rung out and the new year heralded in upon the peal of bells, which our Parish Church possesses. A merry peal was rang out about 11.15pm, to a few minutes before 12, when a signal peal signposts the fast declining year and the near approach of the new. After the clock in the tower has struck the hour, the full peal is again in evidence for another quarter of an hour. – Thus Soham ushers in 1914.

Sunday at the Churches: There were excellent congregations at the various laces of worship in the town on Sunday. The festive season, which has brought a large numbers of visitors to the town, was of course largely responsible, and the day being bright and cheerful, was also a chief factor. At the Parish Church sermons were delivered by the Rev. J.C. Rust (Vicar) and the Rev. H.T. Harvard Jones. Both services at the Baptist Chapel were conducted by the Rev. W. Hughes, and at the Primitive Methodists by Mr E. Brown of Isleham. The morning service at the Congregational Chapel was conducted by Mr W. Wells. The sermon in the evening being preached by Mr R. Proctor. Both morning and evening services in the Wesleyan Chapel were conducted by Mr Smith of Burwell. The usual series of Army meetings in connection with the local Corps were led by the Captain and Mrs Bambridge, other officers also assisting.

Congregational Sunday School: On Wednesday the scholars had their Christmas treat in the schoolroom when needless to say most, if not all were present. The Misses P. Palmer, N. Smith, M. Long, and N. Fulcher arranged an excellent tea, to which the youngsters did ample justice. After the tea the children had a most enjoyable time in all kinds of games, and the teachers doing their very best to make everyone happy. At seven o’clock a good number of friends and parents arrived to witness the distribution of the prizes, which consisted chiefly of beautiful books, and were presented by Mr Wyatt Manning, the superintendent. The prizes were awarded for good conduct, regular attendance etc. Some of the scholars made the full number of marks – 400, and several made over 390. Each scholar also received a Bon Bon, containing two new half-pennies and a fancy paper cap., and also a nice fancy box of sweets. These presents were sent by Mr Herbert Fison, of Ipswich, to whom vociferous cheers were also given for his great kindness. Loud cheers were also given to the teachers who managed and waited at the tea table and to Mr Manning the superintendent. The hearty singing of the doxology brought a very enjoyable evening to a close.

Wedding: A pretty and attractive wedding, which will prove a considerable interest to many of our readers, was solemnised at St. Peter’s Church, Brandon, on Saturday. The contracting parties, who have been resident in Soham for a number of years, and enjoy the acquaintance of a large number of friends in the vicinity, were Miss. Eva May Cooper, the daughter of Mr John Cooper, Brandon, and Mr Wm Daniel Manning of Combs, near Stowmarket. The Rev. Wyatt, vicar of Brandon, officiated at the ceremony. The bride who was charmingly attired in a dress of white silk, trimmed with lace and ninon, and wore an embroidered veil with a coronet of orange blossoms, was given away by her father. She also carried a handsome bouquet of white flowers. Two bridesmaids were in attendance, Miss. Annie Lenanton, of Soham (chief), and Miss Constance Manning, sister of the bridegroom. Both were exquisitely dressed in pale pink silk, trimmed with lace and ninon, and also wore mob caps to match, trimmed with ribbon velvet and carnations and ferns. They also wore gold gemset broaches, the gifts of the bridegroom. Following the ceremony, a reception was held at the bride’s parent’s home at Brandon, at which a good number were present. Mr and Mrs Manning returned to Soham on Monday to take up their new residence at “Ravinia” Fordham Road, and carry with them good wishes of a host of town’s people for a very happy, prosperous, and long future. The presents numbering about 70 included many valuable, handsome, and useful articles.