A new book has been published about Military Bicycles in the Great War. The author has included information gleaned from the 25th London Cyclist website, as well as the 1932 Londons book..
When World War I began, the bicycle was still fairly new—the big-wheeled pennyfarthing had only recently given way to the vastly more nimble and speedy safety bicycle, and while bicycles and bicycling were no longer the fad they had been in the 1890s, they were nonetheless still an indicator of up-to-date modern life. It’s thus no surprise that bicycles were quickly pressed into service at the outbreak of hostilities. At a moment when armies across Europe were still practicing cavalry charges with horses, and it was far from clear what role motorized transportation would play in the war, bicyclists were called upon to play a variety of roles by armies on both sides, including as messengers, scouts, and guides.
Bad Teeth No Bar, which takes its name from an advertisement asking cyclists to volunteer, is a beautifully illustrated appreciation of the role played by bicycles in the Great War. Full of color photographs of vintage bikes and their riders, illustrating accounts of their long-forgotten exploits, it illuminates a little-remembered aspect of the war and celebrates a set of unsung heroes. Perfect for vintage bicycle enthusiasts and military history buffs alike, Bad Teeth No Bar is a remarkable centennial celebration.
The book is available from booksellers including –
University of Chicago Press (US)
Ride to the Somme will commemorate the cycling soldiers that fought and fell during the Battle of the Somme in 1916 as they ride 250 miles over 3 days. The Ride will commence on Wednesday 31st August and will culminate at The Thiepval Memorial. When cyclists enlist for the ride they will be asked to select a battalion that they wish to represent.
It will be a fund raising ride for SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity, is the UK’s oldest national tri-service charity. At the outbreak of World War One, the Government called on it to take care of the families of the Armed Forces going to the Front. Ride to the Somme is a fundraising event with money raised helping servicemen and women, veterans and their families in need following present day conflicts.
It is their intention to lay a wreaths at Pozieres and Thiepval. Serving and former soldiers of the 25th London Cyclists fought in France, by either being either attached to or by being formally transferred to other battalions.
25th London Cyclists I have recorded at Pozieres are –
Cecil Ernest HUMPHREYS
Harold Arthur PACKER
Thomas Augustus PARIS
Charles William RUSSELL
Percy Charles SOMERSET (buried at Lewisham from wounds at Pozieres)
25th London Cyclists I have recorded at Thiepval are –
John Owen ARMSTRONG
For more information – http://www.ridetothesomme.org.uk/
Recently a new item surfaced on Ebay, the battalion’s 1916 Christmas card, which no doubt will be added to Russell’s collection. I thought initially the artist would be Edgard Phillips who penned a number of drawings whilst in India. However it appears that both drawings are signed “AGC”. I scanned the “C” soldiers and there were three with those initials :-
CONGDON, Archibald G.; CONSTANTINE, A. George; COURT, Alfred G.
An article featuring Private John (Jack) Colin SPROSTON has been published in the August edition of Family Tree Magazine. Jack Sproston died on the 20th of October 1918 at Tank, Waziristan, of pneumonia coming after influenza.
The article is titled “Nel’s lost twin” :-
“Nel Leadbetter passed away in 1988 knowing little of how her twin brother Jack died in World War I. Now her grandson David R Roberts has finally filled in the gaps after unearthing a wealth of detail online, allowing Nel’s family to honour her lost brother’s memory at long last”The August issue of the magazine is still on sale but will be shortly replaced by the Sept. issue, so I would suggest a quick visit to your local newsagent if you wish to buy a copy. It is also available online :-
My thanks to David Roberts and Russell Ridout.
Acknowledgements to Family Tree magazine.
Cambridge Independent Press – 9 Jun 1916
Walden Soldier’s Death
Whilst in charge of the guard on Monday morning, Cyclist Corporal Arthur Brand, of the London Cyclists, son of Mrs. Brand, Debden Road, Saffron Walden, was accidentally shot by a comrade.
It appears that he was on duty at nine o’clock. When one of the guard was patrolling the bridge he heard the report of a rifle, and on going into the guard house he found Brand lying on the floor in a pool of blood. A comrade was in the room with him.
Dr. Todd and one of the Army surgeons were sent for, but could do very little, and death took place a few minutes after the accident. The body was removed to an adjoining room to await the inquest.
The inquest was held on Tuesday, when the depositions showed that death resulted from a bullet wound, which entered the top of the right eye and pierced through to the head. It appears that the comrade was handling a rifle, which was supposed not to be loaded, and whilst doing so the weapon went off. The comrade was very much distressed, he being a friend of Corpl. Brand.
The jury returned a verdict of “Accidentally killed” and sympathy was expressed with the relatives.
Corpl. Brand was 25 years of age.
In Memory of
Corporal Arthur BRAND
1282, 25th Bn., London Regiment (Cyclists)
who died on 05 June 1916
Husband of Lily Mildred Brand, of 30, Mersea Rd., Colchester.
Remembered with honour Saffron Walden Cemetery. Grave Ref. Compt. 24. Grave 48.
[British Newspaper Archive]
[Commonwealth War Graves Commission]
The 25th would have been envious of their modern colleagues who not only have their bikes but mountain bikes at that.
Acknowledgements – http://www.victorianwars.com – My thanks to Robert who originally posted this photo.
A late card from the boys on the North West Frontier.
Wishing everyone a merry Christmas and prosperous New Year.
I have added a search function to the 25th London Bn. website. A link has been added to the home page :-
or you can access the search function direct at :-
The benefit of adding the search function is to make sure that you have found all instances of a soldier or place etc. that is on the website.
The search function supports wildcards ‘*’ or ‘?’ which can be used to pick up mis-spellings etc. e.g. search for ‘Chis*ll’ will pick up both Chisnell and Chisnall. Interestingly this search does indeed pickup multiple pages with both spellings. I am unsure whether I have made the mistake or other authors have.
Also words can be excluded by including a minus sign in front of the word e.g. if Russell wanted to search for ‘Ridout’ but wanted to exlude those pages where his own name appears as a contributor he would search for ‘Ridout -Russell’.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any queries.
The following image is taken from the BBC’s Antiques Roadshow World War One Special edition which aired on UK TV on the 2nd of November. One of the items was about Charles Davis of the 25th Londons.
The program is still available to view on the BBC iplayer until the 2nd of December at the following link :
Antiques Roadshow Series 38 – 8
The part featuring the 25th begins at the 48:14 minute mark.
You can see the website page for Charles Davis at :
[Acknowledgements to the BBC and The Antiques Roadshow]
I was recently contacted by Pat Reed of Helensburgh in Scotland, who was in possession of a cup presented to her great-grandmother Emily Rundle-Woolcock. Pat kindly offered to donate the cup to add to the collection of 25th memorabilia held by Russell Ridout.
Pat did not know the history of why her Great-Grandmother was presented with it. She was born Emily Corfield Rundle on 22/4/1864, married to Thomas Cleave Woolcock on 18/10/1888. She died died on the 29/4/1934. Emily lived mainly in the UK, but spent some years in early Rhodesia. She was also a published author of several books – ‘The Bible Punchers : or Shifting the Batteries’, ‘Engineers, Halt!’, ‘Two Artillerymen or Light in Darkness’, ‘A Romance of the Veldt ‘and ‘In Rhodes Land’.
The Cup is 6 ½ inches high, with a circumference of 14 inches and the flanged base is 17 ½ inches. The diameter of the base is 5 ½ inches. It was made from EPNS by James Deakin & Sons of Sheffield.
Perhaps the following explains the connection to the 25th Londons.
The 25th Londons visited Sussex a number of times for training, Battle 1908, Houndean Lewes 1909, Malling Farm, Lewes 1910, Rye 1911, St. Leonards 1913, Rye 1914. After the outbreak of war was declared the 1/25th were mobilised and took up war stations on the South Coast for a week in Aug 1914. The 2/25th took up war stations on the South Coast in Nov 1914, headquarters Lewes, until April 1915. As the cup was presented at Christmas 1914 it was possibly in appreciation of her hospitality to the 2/25th.
My thanks again to Pat for her kind donation.