When war broke out 100 years ago, the owner of Morden Hall Park, Gilliat Edward Hatfeild, offered the Hall to the War Office for use as a military hospital. This year, to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, Attic Theatre Company brings the untold stories of the men and women who lived, worked and nursed at Morden Hall Park to life in Fields Unsown, a project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The Gardeners who went to War

Fields Unsown 104

James Field - British Army Service Record

James Field – British Army Service Record

James Field was 29 years old and a gardener at Morden Hall Park when he signed up in January 1916 shortly after the Military Service Act was passed, under which conscription began for unmarried men aged 18-41. He gave his address as “The Gardens, Morden Hall, Surrey”. He was posted to France, and was not discharged until November 1919. It seems likely that he was injured at some point, because in March 1917, he was transferred to the newly formed Labour Corps, which was manned by servicemen who had been medically rated below the “A1” condition required for front line service. The Labour Corps were formed to deal with the immense task of building and maintaining the huge network of roads, railways, canals, buildings, camps, stores, dumps, telegraph and telephone systems in the theatre of war, and also for moving stores, which relied on horse, mule and human. The Labour Corps was often treated as a second class organisation, although its men were often deployed for work within range of enemy guns and during the crises of March and April 1918 men from the Labour Corps were used as emergency infantry. During the war, James Field married Sabina Midler on 18 March 1918. In 1919 he was made a Temporary Sergeant. James and Sabina remained in Surrey after the war, living first in Friars Rise Cottage in Heathside Road, Farnham and then Woodham Lane, Chertsey.


George Frankham's Silver War Badge Record

George Frankham’s Silver War Badge Record





George Everard Frankham was a gardener at Morden Hall Park, aged 30 and living at the Lodge, Morden Hall, when he signed up on 9 December 1915. This was some 6 months before conscription for married men began. He left a wife, Harriett – they had married in June 1914, two months before the war had begun. George Frankham served as a private with the Duke of Wellington’s West Riding Regiment. On 27 March 1918 he received a gunshot wound, and returned to England to be nursed at the London Hospital. He was honorably discharged from the army on 1 November 1918, just ten days before Armistice Day. George Frankham returned to Morden Hall Park, and the census of 1939 shows him still living at the Lodge with Harriett, aged 54. George Frankham received the Silver War Badge in 1919. The Silver War Badge was awarded to all servicemen honorably discharged from service due to wounds or sickness.

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