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Army Camp at Ash in 1925

Camp in 1925 The caption on this postcard gives the names of four regiments who were camped at Ash in 1925; and it looked like the weather was warm and dry, as some soldiers had their jackets off and sleeves rolled up, and two were lying on the ground. An article about training manoeuvres involving all four regiments appeared in The Times on 1 August 1925, page 6, col F.

The training on the Fox Hills began at mid-day on 30 July 1925. The participants were divided into two armies, Northern and Southern. Each army had four "new fast tanks", but the Northern army had more infantry and artillery than the Southerners. A detachment of the Southern army, led by Lieutenant-Colonel FG Spring, consisting of the 1st and 2nd Lincolnshire Battalions, 3rd Pack Battery and a section of four tanks, set off from a position two miles SW of Ash and secured a position on Tunnel Hill. The Northern army's infantry included the 1st Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment, the King's Regiment and a battalion of Royal Fusiliers. A detachment of the Northern army, led by Lieutenant-Colonel W Allason, consisted of the 2nd Infantry Brigade less one battalion, 20th Field Brigade RA and a section of four tanks.

During the afternoon, at Tunnel Hill, there was one of the best sham fights that the reporter had ever seen. The Southerner's held their position with rifles, Lewis guns, machine guns and pack guns. At 4.45pm there was a tremendous noise as tanks approached, and an exciting sham tank battle followed. The Times reported that "These new tanks move over rough ground, if the surface is sound, at a speed of about ten miles an hour, carrying machine-guns and a three-pounder quick-firer, and they can fire them during actual movement." Some interest was added when an umpire simulated a gas attack by releasing a cloud of harmless yellow smoke with a faint odour, and combatants had to put on their gas masks.

This first phase of the training finished at about 6pm, with the Southerners finally falling back. In the second phase the Southern force had to attempt to hold the high ground just north of Ash through the night until 4.30am next morning. The reporter noted that the afternoon was fine and visibility good. The night was dark but fine, until 4am, when it rained heavily. He concluded "A lesson gathered, it is true, upon a silent battlefield instead of in the midst of machine-gun and rifle fire, was the importance of studying the direction of the wind, lest it should cause the roaring of approaching tanks to give warning where secrecy is all-important. A rapid "punch", followed by immediate withdrawal, seems to get the maximum tactical value out of this new engine of war. The impression gained last year, for the need of an anti-tank weapon in the hands of the infantry and available immediately, was strongly confirmed. I have never been present at a more valuable exercise."

This photograph was probably taken before the manoeuvres began, because after heavy rain during the night the soldiers probably wouldn't have been lying on the ground the next day.


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