Search

Bravery of the West Ham Battalion remembered in new book

12:51 07 July 2014

Original vounteers to the West Ham Battalion during their

Original vounteers to the West Ham Battalion during their

Archant

As memories of the First World War fade more and more as the years go by, Elliot Taylor decided the “heroic efforts” of soldiers must be kept alive.

The memorial unveiling in 2009, with (from L to R) Elliot, Sir Trevor Brooking, Tony Cottee, Major Dave Lee of the Parachute Regiment and Tony Gale (Brooking, Cottee and Gale are former players of West Ham Utd)The memorial unveiling in 2009, with (from L to R) Elliot, Sir Trevor Brooking, Tony Cottee, Major Dave Lee of the Parachute Regiment and Tony Gale (Brooking, Cottee and Gale are former players of West Ham Utd)

His interest was sparked after stumbling across a family photograph of his great-grandfather, who he was enthralled to learn had served in the West Ham Battalion.

Eight years of research later and he has published a book, “Up the Hammers,” documenting the day-to-day lives of the local men who put their lives on the line.

Elliot, 47, from Leyton, also fought hard to erect a memorial at the football club’s grounds, after discovering there was nothing in place to remember his ancestor’s bravery.

“The thing that made this really special for me was the idea that the battalion had more or less become forgotten,” he said.

West Ham Battalion marching down Stratford Grove, April 1915West Ham Battalion marching down Stratford Grove, April 1915

“These guys fought for civilisation and stood up and defended their families and yet their efforts had been forgotten, that’s why I wanted to do the memorial and write this book.

“Nobody knew. West Ham fans had no idea there was a West Ham Battalion, no one was aware of this unit.”

In the Great War, which lasted from 1914 to 1918, more than nine million combatants are believed to have lost their lives.

The West Ham Battalion was made up of volunteers with no military experience and Elliot was shocked to discover his great-grandfather joined at the age of 40.

The header image on Elliot's blogThe header image on Elliot's blog

“I was stunned to find out he was a member of the Essex regiment but in the West Ham Battalion.

“Being a West Ham fan myself I found that quite amazing and it made me feel proud.

“I wanted to find the memorial, I presumed there’d be one somewhere in the area, but it turns out they never had one! So I set about getting one put up.

“Sir Trevor Brooking unveiled it in 2009. It’s at West Ham’s Boleyn ground, right by the club shop. I wanted it somewhere central.”

The book explores the day-to-day lives of the soldiers, with his primary sources being war diaries, action reports, newspaper clippings and letters from loved ones at the National Archives.

He discovered there were no West Ham Players in the West Ham Battalion but they served alongside the Middlesex regiment which was formed by professional football players, including the entire first team of the Clapton Orient, which later became Leyton Orient.

The West Ham Battalion marched around Stratford and trained near Wanstead flats and in November 1915, sailed off to France.

“My great-grandfather was killed in action in France,” Elliot said.

“I was very humbled when I found out how he died but I’m lucky he has a grave there which I have visited. Lots of the men don’t even have graves”

The research on the West Ham Battalion was started by co-author Barney Alston 15 years ago, but Elliot picked up the baton and “took it a lot further.”

You can buy the book on Amazon for £14.99.

It is also available from Newham Bookstore in Barking Road and the Chelmsford Museum

You can follow his blog at http://westhampals.blogspot.co.uk/

Latest Newham News Stories

Emergency services outside Barking station respond to reports of a person on the track Picture: Zoah Hedges-Stocks

A person on the track has interrupted services as emergency services investigate.

British Transport Police
Yesterday, 15:06
Elena Ciochina has been found

A man has been arrested after a 15-year-old girl who went missing from Newham six days ago was found.

Spain
Yesterday, 12:54
West Ham are moving to the Olympic Stadium (picture: WHUFC)

If you’ve ever wanted to walk in the footsteps of some of your favourite sports stars, a behind-the-scenes tour at the Olympic Stadium offers just that.

Slaven Bilic
Yesterday, 10:00
Swaminarayan House Temple followers took part in a charity bike ride starting in Newham

Hindu cyclists pedalled from temple to temple across the capital, raising more than £6,000 for a children’s hospice.

London

Newsletter Sign Up

Most read news

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Competitions

Which book character do you share cleaning habits with?

Whether you have more in common with put-upon Cinderella, emotionally turbulent Jane Eyre, or easily distracted Mole, you’re sure to appreciate that one lucky winner will receive four sessions of free cleaning. Enter our quiz for your chance to win. All runners up will get £10 off their first clean when making a repeat booking.

Read more
£15k prize bundle

Imagine having the opportunity to win an incredible £15,000 bundle of some of the most amazing prizes available. Well, for one lucky contest entrant that dream could soon become a reality because we at MyOffers are offering an incredible free prize bundle that will make even the most hardened person wild with excitement.

Read more

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Newham Recorder
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now