Horror conditions of those preparing for war

Share this article

Research into part of the Hindle family history has led to the “find” of what would be a great uncle.

His name was Henry Norman Taylor, who lived in Pimlico Road before joining up to the 50th Manchester Regiment in early 1917 when he was 18 years old.

His unit was sent to Prees Heath Camp, Shropshire, for training.

He died on March 17th that year in Prees Heath Military Hospital. There appear to have been numerous deaths like this at this camp.

At least two questions were asked in Parliament during WWI concerning the conditions of the place and the number of deaths among those training there.

The death certificate gave as cause of death: “Cerebro Spinal Fever” (meningitis?).

The Clitheroe Advertiser, on March 23rd 1917, gave a report on his last days, his funeral at Tilstock Parish Church near the camp and Memorial Service in Clitheroe Parish Church.

A website has revealed his name is on a war memorial in the Craven area, but as yet we have not been able to locate it.

His sacrifice (albeit not in the trenches) was being remembered, alongside other trainee soldiers who died at Prees Heath Camp, at Tilstock Parish Church on November 11th.

Will his death (and any others who died in training to serve their country in war) have been remembered in any way at all in Clitheroe?

Further research has revealed Prees Heath Camp was “a hastily erected camp, which under adverse weather conditions would have been quite uninhabitable, even for hardened soldiers. No duckboards.people slept on groundsheets and straw (mattresses)...”

Little seems to be known by the public about conditions which trainees had to endure before going to France. For morale’s sake, it was necessary until November 11th, 1918, but after the war?

Perhaps this letter will show a little more about what did happen to some of our trainee soldiers during the First World War and the horrendous conditions in at least one camp here in England.

Tony Hindle (by email)