At the outbreak of World War I there was an urgent need to find areas to accommodate the increased requirement for military training camps. Towards the end of 1914, John Combes of East Farm, Fovant, was informed that part of his farmland was to be requisitioned for one such camp. Many thousands of men from all parts of the globe were temporarily stationed in the area.
At the end of hostilities the men departed, the buildings were demolished and John Combes, having been compensated for the disruption caused, returned his land to agricultural use. However, he left undisturbed the area of the Downs behind East Farm on which men of various regiments had carved replicas of their regimental badges into the hillside.
It is thought that the first badge, cut in 1916, was that of the London Rifle Brigade. Naturally, other regiments, not to be outdone, quickly followed suit and the hillside blossomed with regimental badges. By the end of World War I there were some twenty badges on the hillside. In 1970, the last badge to be cut, that of the Royal Corps of Signals, was made to mark the 50th anniversary of the Corps’ foundation.
Not all the WW I badges survived. During the period between World Wars I and II, care of the crests ranged from the regular maintenance made by some Regimental Associations to virtually no care at all. Furthermore, at the outbreak of World War II, in order to eliminate landmarks which might assist enemy aircraft, an official edict decreed that all the remaining badges were to be allowed to become overgrown. By the end of World War II the outlines of the badges were virtually invisible.
Luckily, Terry Crawford has researched the lost badges and his list can be found on the next page, or by clicking here.
However, help was at hand. After being disbanded the Fovant Home Guard, having formed themselves into the Home Guard Old Comrades Association, undertook, with the help of local volunteers, the formidable task of restoring the badges on the hill. Additionally they added what might be called their own badges, those of the Wiltshire Regiment and the Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry, to those they rescued.
Ken Walker gives a local ‘Dad’s Army’ tale on a following page which describes these efforts and the story continues with the transformation of the Old Comrades to the Badges Society.
A list of the people in the photographs of the Home Guard and the Old Comrade's Association can be found by clicking this link Names from the photographs
More recently, Nigel Brodrick-Barker has written a poem entitled The Fovant Badges. You may click on any of these links to follow the story or use the Navigation Panel to the left.
Click on the link below to find more information on the collection that used to be in The Pembroke Arms in Fovant:
|The Pembroke Arms Collection|
Content last updated
28 Novamber 2015
© 2002 Design - dingo web design. Text - Fovant History Interest Group
Home | Available pages | Credits | Top of page