A personal look-back on the town during those momentous years from the outbursts of patriotic fervour of August 1914 when many believed the war would be over by Christmas, to the Armistice of November 1918 and a short time beyond.
In Yeovil in the Great War 1914-1918, Jack Sweet takes a personal look back on the town during those momentous years from the outbursts of patriotic fervour of August 1914 when many believed the war would be over by Christmas, to the Armistice of November 1918 and a short time beyond.
Jack recalls how Yeovil welcomed Belgian refugees fleeing the German invasion of their home land, how the Baptist Newnam Memorial Hall was converted into a hospital for wounded soldiers, the beginnings of Westland Aircraft and of a test pilot who was later convicted of murder. There is an account of a deserter from the Salonika Front and how young women from many parts of the country helped to harvest the important flax crops. He relates how the town suffered in the influenza pandemic of 1918 and how the Peace Treaty of July 1919 was celebrated.
Scarcely a Yeovil family remained untouched by the Great War; over two hundred men would lose their lives and several hundred more would be wounded. Alderman Jabez Matthews, a future Mayor, would lose three sons. Jack Sweet’s father, who was severely wounded and suffered from the effects for the rest of his life, would lose a great friend and two cousins, and one of his mother’s cousins would return home to die from his wounds.
The Great War, or as it was said at the time, ‘The War to End Wars’, changed the world forever but tragically only twenty-one years later the Second World War broke out in September 1939.
235 x 165 mm
15 February 2014
44 black-and-white photographs
Jack Sweet has lived all his life in Yeovil, where he was born. After leaving the RAF in 1958 he worked for thirty four years' with Yeovil Borough Council and later the South Somerset District Council before taking early retirement. His passion for history has inspired this prolific author to write numerous articles for local publications as well as many books including Shocking Somerset Murders of the Nineteenth Century and Shocking and Surprising Somerset Stories. Although retired Jack undertakes voluntary work for the Museum of South Somerset. He is also a keen photographer and has travelled extensively.