Great War Centenary

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Creative Commons Licence [Some Rights Reserved]   Text © Copyright July 2016, John M; licensed for re-use under a Creative Commons Licence.
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Training Areas and Camps

Large numbers of troops were mobilised in August 1914 with the BEF dispatched to France and the Territorial Battalions to defend the coast or into temporary camps for further training. A mass recruiting campaign for Kitchener's New Armies in August 1914 brought in hundreds of thousands of recruits requiring training and accommodation.

As the front line developed the recruits were trained for trench warfare with many miles of practice trenches constructed. Cannock Chase is an example of a typical training area.

Cannock Chase, Staffordshire

SK0015 : Great War Hut by John M SK0017 : 1st WW Shower Block by Mick Malpass SJ9918 : Great War Rifle Range D by John M SK0018 : View up the rifle range by John M
SJ9917 : Great War Practice Trenches - Sher Brook valley by John M SJ9817 : Great War Training Trenches - Sher Brook valley by John M

The Brocton and Rugeley camps were constructed in the winter of 1914 to accommodate up to 40000 troops together with training facilities and a hospital on open heathland near to Stafford.


Clipstone Camp, Nottinghamshire

SK5961 : WW1 trench, Sherwood Pines by Lynne Kirton SK5961 : A view from the trenches by Lynne Kirton SK5961 : Another WW1 trench, Sherwood Pines Forest Park by Lynne Kirton

Clipstone Camp opened in May 1915 with space for 30000 troops.

Bodelwyddan Castle, Denbighshire

SH9974 : First World War Training Trenches at Bodelwyddan Castle by Jeff Buck SH9974 : First World War Training Trenches at Bodelwyddan Castle by Jeff Buck SH9974 : First World War Training Trenches at Bodelwyddan Castle by Jeff Buck

Rothbury, Northumberland

NU0403 : First World War practice trenches, Rothbury Common by Andrew Curtis NU0403 : First World War practice trenches above Cartington by Andrew Curtis NU0402 : Disused rifle range above Rothbury by Andrew Curtis


Thirty one camps were established in Wiltshire with twenty five on or around the pre-war training area on Salisbury Plain. The training area had been established prior to the Boer War.

Chiseldon Camp, Wiltshire

SU1877 : Quebec Road, Draycot Foliat by David Hawgood SU1877 : Parade Ground, Chiseldon Camp, Swindon (2) by Brian Robert Marshall SU1878 : Close-up of memorial to Chiseldon Camp at SU186780 by Brian Robert Marshall

Fovant Camp, Wiltshire

SU0128 : Fovant Badges in August 1990 by peter robinson SU0128 : Four of the Fovant Badges [eastern end] by Christine Johnstone SU0128 : Four of the Fovant Badges [western end] by Christine Johnstone SU0128 : One of  the Fovant Badges from the A30 viewpoint by Ian S SU0128 : One of  the Fovant Badges from the A30 viewpoint by Ian S

Larkhill Camp, Wiltshire

SU0939 : Watertower at Druid's Lodge by Phil Williams SU0939 : Water tower, Druid's Head by Mike Faherty
The permanent training camps on Salisbury Plain were supplied by railway spurs taken off the existing lines. The Larkhill Military Railway operated ten miles of standard gauge track supplying Larkhill, Rollestone and Bulford Camps and the airfield near Stonehenge. The line closed in 1924 and only the water tower at the end of the line at Druid's Farm survives.

Bovingdon Green, Buckinghamshire

SU8286 : World War One Training Trenches by Sandy B SU8286 : World War One Training Trenches (2) by Sandy B SU8286 : World War One Training Trenches (3) by Sandy B SU8286 : World War One Training Trenches (4) by Sandy B

Steyning Camp

TQ1611 : First World War memorial, Mouse Lane by Simon Carey TQ1611 : The Rifle Range by Simon Carey

Stobs Camp, nr Hawick

NT5009 : Military building, Stobs by Richard Webb NT5009 : Disused building at Stobs Military Camp by Jim Barton NT5009 : Chimney Of A Meldrum Destructor by James T M Towill NT5009 : Stobs Camp Sewage Works Site by James T M Towill NT4909 : Tanks At Stobs Camp by James T M Towill

The Stobs Castle Estate was purchased in 1903 to provide training areas for the Volunteer forces at their summer camps using tented accommodation and Stobs Castle for the Commandant and officers. The camp was identified as a site for a Prisoner of War Camp in 1914. The camp held up to 6000 prisoners and the training camp up to 15000 troops in wooden huts with water supply and sewage treatment plant. Sidings were built on the Waverley Line with a horse-drawn tramway to the camp. The area contains a hut, buildings and hut bases, the remnants of rifle ranges, practice trenches and roads. Link

The group researching Stobs camp have identified fifteen surviving huts sold after the war.

NT4314 : Large wooden hut at Roberton by Oliver Dixon Roberton

Rifle Ranges

Where not associated with permanent training camps these would have been used by Territorial units and may often been inherited from the Rifle Volunteers from 1860-1880. Safety rules on design and use of ranges were tightened up leading to some of the older ranges falling out of use and new ranges constructed. Ranges were re-used during the Second World War and beyond but the main elements are often of Great War origin.

SS8477 : View over disused rifle range in the west of Merthyr Mawr Warren by eswales SS8477 : Firing point on disused rifle range below Wig Fach by eswales SS8477 : On the old rifle range to the south of Wig Fach by eswales Wig Fach, Merthyr-Mawr Warren, Bridgend

SO2609 : Bullet traces by Alan Bowring SO2609 : Rifle range revisited by Alan Bowring SO2609 : Rifle range on Gwaun Felen by Alan Bowring Ball's Pond, Blaenavon

SD8364 : Attermire Rifle Range by John Illingworth SD8364 : The track to Settle by Peter Worrell SD8364 : Target - Attermire Rifle Range by Peter Worrell Attermire, Settle, North Yorkshire

TG1623 : The rifle range on Cawston heath by Evelyn Simak TG1623 : Cawston Heath rifle range by Evelyn Simak TG1623 : Wall along trench by Evelyn Simak Cawston Heath, Norfolk

TQ9765 : Rifle Range, Teynham Level by Chris Whippet Conyer Teynham, Kent

SO8639 : Rifle range target area by Bob Embleton Upton-on-Severn, Worcestershire

Prisoner of War Camps

By the end of 1914 prisoner numbers were 7000 rising to 14000 by the end of 1915 and to 50000 by end of 1916 with numbers from the Somme offensives. Numbers rose significantly to 120000 in 1917 and peaked in 1918 with nearly 250000 prisoners.

Stobs Camp, nr Hawick
NT4909 : A View Across Stobs Camp by James T M Towill

Kinlochleven Camp
NN2060 : Site of Prisoner of War Camp by Alan Partridge NN2060 : Concrete remains of hut foundations by Steven Brown

The camp housing 1000 prisoners and 500 guards opened in August 1916. Prisoners were engaged in the construction of a pipe line from Loch Eilde Mor to the Blackwater reservoir to increase the capacity for hydroelectricity for the increased production of aluminium from the local smelter and on the construction of the road on the south side of Loch Leven towards Glencoe.

Inverarish Camp, Raasay
NG5535 : Inverarish Terrace by Richard Dorrell NG5535 : Inverarish Terrace by Richard Dorrell

The camp housing up to 260 prisoners established in 1916 occupied half of the row of cottages separated by barbed wire and guard-posts from the other half housing the guards and miners. The prisoners worked in the local iron mine on the island operated by the Ministry of Munitions.

Dawyck Camp, Borders
NT1735 : German Hill Wood by Walter Baxter NT1735 : A memorial stone in German Hill Wood by Walter Baxter

The camp housing 100 prisoners and 60 guards was established in July 1916. The prisoners would have worked on forestry operations to feed the local sawmill.

Brocton Camp, Cannock Chase, Staffordshire
SJ9719 : Site of P.O.W. Camp at Cannock Chase 1914-1918 by Nevin Arrow SJ9719 : Lagerstrasse by John M SJ9819 : Brocton Camp - Hut base in Hut Lines 'C' by John M SJ9819 : Brocton Camp - Hut Bases in Hut Lines 'B' by John M SJ9719 : Brocton Camp - POW Camp perimeter watchtower base by John M SJ9719 : Brocton Camp - POW Camp Flower Bed by John M

In April 1917, part of the training camp was converted into a POW camp with space for 6000 prisoners including a 1000 bed hospital. Guards were drawn from the Royal Defence Corps.

Donnington Hall, Leicestershire
SK4226 : Donington Hall, Castle Donington by Stephen Richards

The camp for around 90 officers was established in 1914 and was the height of luxury. The officers were waited upon by other ranks who lived in huts in the grounds.

Breary Banks, Masham, North Yorkshire
SE1580 : Old Camp Site, Breary banks by Gordon Hatton

The former hutted navvy reservoir construction camp had been taken over by the Leeds Pals as a training camp in September 1914. In 1917 it became a POW camp for 400 officers.

Internment Camps

TQ2479 : Olympia in the morning by Dave Pickersgill

The main hall at Olympia was used in August and September 1914 housing up to 1500 civilian internees.

By September 1914 there were 10500 internees rising to 20000 by the following and peaking around 29500 by November 1917.

SC2382 : Knockaloe from Corrins Hill, Isle of Man by kevin rothwell SC2482 : Patrick Churchyard - Isle of Man by Jon Wornham Knockaloe Camp, Isle of Man

The Knockaloe Camp opened in November 1914 and would house 24000 enemy 'aliens' in 23 barbed wire compounds with 4000 guards. Nationals of Germany, Austria and Turkey were among those detained. The camp had its own rail connection using SC2668 : Preserved locomotive Caledonia by Richard Hoare as one of the locomotives.

TQ2989 : Alexandra Palace: the Palm Court Entrance by Chris Downer Alexandra Palace

It was originally requisitioned in September 1914 for Belgian refugees and converted to an internment camp for up to 3000 persons in 1915.


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