A Mystery solved

Found amongst Roy Simper’s family papers, this small note, in an unrecognised hand, contains a brief description of an occurrence that sounds so improbable as to be the stuff of fiction However, confirmation that such an event did take place is contained in the following extract from Bob Combes’ book ‘The Life and Times of a Wiltshire Farmer’.

‘It was early in 1914 I believe when the village was invaded by hordes of troops on a series of gigantic manoeuvres. I don’t know if this was the time that Kaiser William 11 of Germany was invited to view the army manoeuvres in this country, but at any rate, we didn’t see him at Fovant.

Father was never a one to be left out of exciting scenes and hearing that the troops were on top of our downs, he harnessed the pony to the trap and we went up with him to where the carters were working the land. Here we saw groups of field officers in conference, with maps spread our and with orderlies running to and fro with messages.

Some of the carthorses were disturbed by the military activities and an officer was sent to apologise to Father. This all took place in Chiselbury Rings, an ancient British encampment of nine and a half acres, surrounded by what had been a fortified ditch and bank.’

As to the other items noted on the same slip of paper, the airship BETA was a relatively common sight in the area and the visit of George V to review the troops and present awards is well documented.


after Bob Combes 

February 2004

Content last updated 

6 February 2004