Want to know what decisions were being made in the town during wartime? The following is research has been taken from local newspapers. Click on the links below for more info.
Brandon Police Court
Details of those unfortunate enough to find themselves stood before the town’s magistrates. Brandon’s magistrates usually sat in the court room of the Police Station, along London Road.
Parish Council and District Council
At the time of the First World War Brandon had two councils. The Brandon Parish Council dealt with matters pertaining to the town, whilst the Brandon Rural District Council oversaw matters to the town and the outlying villages which included those on the other side of Thetford, including Barnham, Hopton, Fakenham Magna, Euston, as well as the more closely associated villages of Elveden and Santon Downham. Council members tended to be those wealthy businessmen of the town.
During the war the Council had an additional task. Following the introduction of conscription in 1915 some of the town’s councilors sat on the local Tribunals. A Tribunal was a court where a man, or his family or employer, was given a chance to argue against a man’s conscription. They would have to have a very good reason for him not to go because each Tribunal had a military representative attached to it to ensure the man went off to war. Two-thirds of all cases were refused.
As war carried on Brandon had to adhere to strict to rationing. Predictably when rationing bit hard for the community there were unscrupulous individuals who sought to make a quick profit from desperate residents. Brandon, like many other places, created a Food Committee whose remit was to ensure people adhered to rationing and where food was available to be purchase that it was at a reasonable price. The committee was made up of the decision makers of the town, usually councilors who met monthly at the Guildhall, in Thetford.
War Agricultural Committee
As war rumbled on it became clear that Britain’s resources were finite and was in danger of running out if war would continue for more years. The nation would not be able to feed itself unless the Government stepped in so local War Agricultural Committees were created, usually run by local councils, with the aim of managing local farming.
Brandon’s committee typically met to discuss how to encourage farmers to sow and harvest their land, combine resources for manpower and machines, control pests, discuss maintaining the river.
Volunteer Training Corps
Brandon’s ‘Volunteer Training Corps’, (V.T.C.) were led by ex-army officers and manned by civilians who were too old or too young, or with able-bodied men waiting to enlist into the Army. By all accounts they were one of the best turned out V.T.C. units in the area. They typically trained on drills, shooting and marching through the town, with Sir John Aird, who owned the Brandon Estate at the time, donating many rifles.
For those men eligible to join the Army it gave them the chance to learn basic drill before going into the Army. The V.T.C. was disbanded at the end of the war.
Lord Derby’s Scheme
In 1915 a scheme was introduced to boost recruitment into the army. This scheme was the brainchild of Edward Stanley, the Director-General of Recruiting, who was also the 17th Lord Derby, hence the name of the scheme. The main feature of this scheme was that volunteers could enlist and defer joining the army until a later date, such as sowing/harvesting a crop, seeing the birth of a child getting married etc.
| 1915-16 |
The fear of invasion was real, especially in 1915 when local newspapers featured instructions about what to do should the enemy invade.
| 1915 |