|Trumpington Local History Group
Trumpington Volunteer Training
Corps (VTC), WWI
|Copyright © Trumpington Local History Group, 2018. Updated 3 October 2018.
|A local Volunteer Training Corps (VTC) was established in Trumpington
early in World War I. News and photographs of the VTC were regularly
included in local newspapers, copies of which are held in the
Cambridgeshire Collection. These give a valuable social context to the
local War effort. This is one of a number of pages about Trumpington and
World War I.
|The Volunteer Training Corps was a national home defence corps, incorporating men who were
too old for military service or required for reserved occupations, etc. Following the declaration of
war on 4 August 1914, a central committee was formed in September 1914 and recognised by
the War Office as the Central Association of Volunteer Training Corps on 19 November 1914.
Local units had to be financially self-supporting.
The first report of a potential VTC group in Trumpington was in November 1914, “We hear it is
possible that a company of “old crocks” i.e. men over the military age, will be organised in the
near future on lines similar to the Cambridge Civilian Corps; 50 is the required number we
understand. It is also rumoured that an excellent site has been kindly offered for the purpose of
drilling and a miniature rifle range will be established in the parish for the use of members. There
is no doubt that the older men will rally round and make it a success.” (Cambridge Chronicle,
27 November 1914, p. 7).
The group was established on 3 December 1914 when a meeting was held at the Institute
(Village Hall). “The Vicar (the Rev. R.G. Bury) presided, supported by Mr. G.R.C. Foster
(Anstey Hall), Mr. J. Colin [Collin], Mr. G.S. Todd, Mr. W. Martin, Mr. Duke, Mr. Gentle, Mr.
Hacon, and many others. The Vicar read the War Office conditions in respect to Voluntary
Training Corps, and Mr. Foster then very kindly offered to provide a rifle range and courtyard
for training. Members, however, will have to provide their own ammunition. Mr. P.R. Robinson
is acting as hon. secretary pro. tem., and the first drill was held last Tuesday. All residents
wishing to join the corps should communicate with Mr. Robinson at once.” (Cambridge
Chronicle, 11 December 1914, p. 8).
In the new year, “the training of the Trumpington detachment is proceeding apace under the
direction of Mr. D.E. Cowell, who is attached to the University range at Cambridge. There is an
excellent range for firing practice at Anstey Hall, kindly arranged by Mr. G.E. Foster, and the
sections (four in number) attend on alternate evenings for practice prior to the usual drill. Mr.
Griffith S. Todd is the responsible head of the Corps.” (Cambridge Chronicle, 23 January 1915,
A further public meeting was held in February 1915 to encourage involvement. “A corps
affiliated to the Central Association, V.T.C., has been formed in the above village since
December 3rd, but there are many who, either from lack of knowledge of the aims and ideas of
the movement, or apathy, have as yet taken no active part in the movement. In order to
endeavour to arouse some interest in the matter, a meeting was held in the village hall on
Monday last, when Dr Bury gave an interesting address on the principles of the movement. He
put forward the following reasons why men, not able to enlist, should join a V.T. Corps; (1)
That they might set free younger men to fight on the other side of the Channel; (2) that they
should be prepared to resist invasion and to defend our homes; (3) that England should have a
good backing when peace is declared. The question of expenses appeared to be an obstacle in
the way of some joining, but the only payment required was the entrance fee of 1s, which has
been reduced to 6d in the case of labourers. Another drawback was the War Office regulation,
whereby a member under 38 years of age is required to enlist if called upon but an extract from
Captain Passingham’s address to the Optimists’ Corps was read, and this made it clear that those
who had good reasons for not enlisting would not be called upon, and that those who had any
doubts on the matter should place themselves in the hands of the Responsible Officer (Mr. G.S.
Todd for Trumpington). The following resolution was put to the meeting: “That this meeting is in
cordial sympathy with the Volunteer Training Corps movement, and urges its claims on the
active support of all able-bodied citizens who are ineligible for enlistment.” In seconding, Mr. J.
Collin remarked that he, like a good many more, liked to spend his evening at home, but he felt it
his duty to do something for his country, and wondered what reply would be made by those who
now held aloof, when, in future years, their children asked them “What did you do to help your
country in the great war?” Mr. Porter also supported the resolution, which was carried
unanimously, and several present who were not members of the Corps signified their intention of
joining at once.” (Cambridge Independent Press, 5 February 1915, p. 8; also Cambridge
Chronicle, 5 February 1915, p. 7).
In May 1915, the local corps had been in training for six months. “In response to an appeal for
financial assistance to provide uniforms and equipment the following amounts have already been
received or promised: - Lieut. G.R.C. Foster, £5 5s; Mr. T.B. Bumpstead, £5; Mr. T.B.
Bumpstead, £5 (for special purposes); Mr. H. Vinter, £5; Mr. C.F. Foster, £5; Mr. G. Duke, £5;
Professor Browne, £5; Mr. H.W. Lewin, £3 10s; Mr. G.S. Todd, £2 2s; Mr. W. Briggs, £2 2s;
Dr. Bury, £2 2s; Mr. A.W. Bishop, £2 2s; Mr. W. Martin, £2 2s; Mr. J. Venn, £2; Mr. C.E.
Grant, £2; Mr. J.E. Whiting, £1 1s; Mr. A.E. Chaplin, £1 1s; Mr. J.B. Bilderbeck, £1; Mr. C.
Hering, 5s; Mrs. Pare, 2s 6d; Mr. Stevenson, 2s 6d. Many of the Corps have promised to
provide their own uniform, but further donations are necessary to meet the most urgent
requirements. The register has been inspected on three occasions by a representative from the
War Office and approved as being in proper order. Since the inception, nine members have
joined His Majesty’s Forces.” (Cambridge Chronicle, 28 May 1915, p. 6).
This was followed by “The order for uniforms for the Corps has been given, and it is expected
that members will be supplied in the course of a week or two. The following donations in
addition to those already published have been received or promised: - Canon Pemberton £5, Mr.
A.W. Bishop 2 guineas, Mr. A.E. Bartlett, £2; Sir Clifford Allbutt £2, Mr. J.H. Flather 1 guinea.
The amount received is still far short of the sum mentioned in the appeal, and further donations
will be gladly welcomed.” (Cambridge Chronicle, 2 July 1915, p. 6).
By this point, the VTC involved a cross section of Trumpington men, including the local vicar,
Dr Robert Gregg Bury; the owner of Anstey Hall, George Ralph Cunliffe Foster; the school
master, Percy Robert Robinson; the head gardener at Anstey Hall, Charles Forbes; and four
members of the Haslop family, including the Coachman at Anstey Hall, Henry Haslop. The
facilities at Anstey Hall were a valuable base for the group, through G.R.C. Foster who was a
Lieutenant in the Suffolk Yeomanry (Cambridge Independent Press, 30 April 1915, p. 2).
On Sunday 29 August 1915, the first of three village Rolls of Honour was unveiled in the parish
church. “The service was attended by thirty-five members of the Trumpington Volunteer
Training Corps, under the Commandant, Mr. Griffith S. Todd, and accompanied by Mr. A.W.
Peel, of the O.T.C., who has done so much for the Corps. The Corps, wearing their new
uniforms, gave a semi-military touch to the service, which was in every way appropriate to the
occasion.” In his service, Dr R.G. Bury said “I must not close without one special word of
welcome to our V.T.C. on the occasion of their first Church parade in full uniform. I need not
say what satisfaction it gives me personally to see such a fine turn-out of the Corps in which I
have taken such a deep personal interest from the beginning.” (Cambridge Chronicle, 3
September 1915, p. 8).
In October 1915, a photograph of a VTC patrol was published in the newspaper. In November
1915, the VTC met in front of Anstey Hall and a group photograph of this event appeared in the
newspaper. The following week, there were more photographs of the “Trumpington V.T.C. on
Duty”, in this case “Patrol No 3, on duty guarding a railway bridge “somewhere in Cambs.” ”
(Cambridge Chronicle, 20 October 1915, p. 8, 10 November 1915, p. 6, 17 November 1915, p.
7). Very usefully, the newspaper reports included the names of the individuals. Three of the
photographs were included in the collection put together by Percy Robinson and used in lectures
he gave in later years.
|Trumpington Volunteer Training Corps at Anstey Hall, November 1915.
Photograph by Stearn, Cambridge. This photograph was reproduced in
Cambridge Chronicle, 10 November 1915, p. 6. Percy Robinson collection.
|With the help of the Cambridge Chronicle caption, the individuals have been identified as:
top row: 1) J.N. Wynhall; 2) H. Haslop; 3) A.C. Hacon; 4) E.L. Peters; 5) H. Dasley; 6) C.
Careless (in suit); 7) A. Haslop; 8) G. Pamplin; 9) T.H.J. Porter; 10) W.R. Haslop
middle row: 1) A. Mansfield; 2) J. Medlock; 3) A. Warley; 4) R. Haslop; 5) H.J. Haslop; 6) A.
Parker; 7) H. Gray; 8) R. Smith; 9) H. Wilson; 10) A. Gentle; 11) E.J. Smith; 12) I. Parker
seated, front row: 1) C. Forbes; 2) Section Leader H.E. Foster; 3) Section Leader W. Duke; 4)
[P.J. Collins]; 5) Sub-Commandant D.E. Cowell (Cambridgeshire Western Division); 6) Platoon
Commander G.S. Todd; 7) Lieut. G.R.C. Foster (President); 8) Cadet Instructor Peel; 9) Dr
Bury (Vicar, Vice President); 10) Section Leader P.R. Robinson (Secretary); 11) Section Leader
R. Burrell; 12) F.W. Lander; 13) H. Vinter
|Trumpington Volunteer Training
Corps guarding the railway line over
the river bridge “Somewhere in
Cambs.”, November 1915. These
photographs by “Haslop,
Trumpington”, were reproduced in
Cambridge Chronicle, 17 November
1915, p. 7. Percy Robinson collection
(above and left).
|With the help of the Cambridge
Chronicle caption, the individuals
have been identified as (left to right):
Above: 1) W.R. Haslop; 2) T.H.J.
Porter; 3) P.J. Collins; 4) Sergt P.R.
Robinson; 5) F.W. Lander; 6) I.
Parker; 7) R. Haslop
Left: 1) P.J. Collins (sentry); 2) P.R.
Robinson (sergeant); 3) T.H.J. Porter
(patrol); 4) W.R. Haslop (patrol)
|The firearms training seems to have been very effective, with the Trumpington VTC performing
well in a number of shooting matches with other local groups through 1915. For an inter-platoon
match in December 1915, “In order to give increased stimulus to the members of the Corps to
attain greater proficiency in musketry, the Responsible Officer, Platoon-Commander G.S. Todd,
generously promised to present spoons to the winning patrol.” (Cambridge Independent Press,
30 April 1915, p. 2; Cambridge Independent Press, 25 June 1915, p. 7; Cambridge Chronicle,
2 July 1915, p. 6; Cambridge Independent Press, 27 August 1915, p. 8; Cambridge
Independent Press, 10 December 1915, p. 5).
The Trumpington Volunteer Training Corps took part in a church parade led by the Cambridge
Volunteer Training Corps on Sunday 5 December 1915. “The Trumpington V.T.C., under
Commandant Griffith S. Todd, joined the Corps at the corner of Trumpington Street. The Corps
attended the 11 o’clock service at Great St. Mary’s.” (Cambridge Independent Press, 10
December 1915, p. 5).
There was a further report on the corps in early 1916: “A social evening in connection with the V.
T.C. was held in the village hall on Tuesday. The members sat down to a good ‘spread’
contributions to which were generously given by Messrs. H. Vinter, T.B. Bumpsted, Mrs. G.S.
Todd, Mrs. Bury and Mrs. G.R.C. Foster, whilst Messrs. C. Forbes and G. Pamplin provided
the table decorations. Dr Bury, Vice-Pres T.V.T.C. presided (in the absence of the President,
who is on military duty), and was supported by Adjt G.G. Goodman, Platoon Commander G.S.
Todd, Sub-Commander J. Collin (West Cambs) and Cadet-Instructor Peel. A number of the
Cambridge V.T.C. were also present. During the evening, Commander Cronin arrived. He
addressed the Corps and complimented the members on their general efficiency, mentioning
particularly their shooting, and thanked all for their loyal devotion to duty. He afterwards
presented prizes to those who had won them in the shooting handicap held on December 27th.”
(Cambridge Independent Press, 14 January 1916, p. 8).
From August 1916, the War Office included the VTC battalions in the County Infantry Regiment
system and they became numbered as Volunteer battalions of the local regiments. The
Trumpington volunteers were part of the 1st (Cambridge) Battalion Cambs. Volunteers who
paraded and marched to Trumpington Church on Sunday 3 September 1916, when the second
Roll of Honour was dedicated (Cambridge Chronicle, 6 September 1916, p. 7).
|Trumpington VTC Number 4 Patrol. Cambridge Chronicle, 20 October 1915.
Standing: H. Haslop, A.H. Wardley, H. Wilson, H. Dasley
Seated: E.L. Peters, Sergt. D.E. Cowell, A. Parker.
|In February 1917, there was an “emergency call on volunteers: Yes they were quite ready. An
aeroplane having descended in the district, the police asked for an armed guard to be sent to do
duty through the night. Within 20 minutes all the emergency men in the village had been
acquainted of the ‘call’ and told to be in readiness, and the first guard in uniform, with arms and
ammunition, were ready to proceed to duty, when a message was received stating that their
services were not required.” (Cambridge Independent Press, 16 February 1917, p. 8).
In February 1920, “at the conclusion of the Parish Council meeting, Mr. P.R. Robinson was
presented with a collection of plate and cutlery in recognition of the valuable services he
rendered as platoon sergeant of the Trumpington V.T.C.. Lieut. G.S. Todd presided, and
testified to the enormous amount of time and service devoted by Mr. Robinson to the
movement. The gift was subscribed for by his fellow Volunteers, and was accompanied by an
address. Sergt. Robinson responded feelingly, and said he had made many good friends, and
would always remember with pleasure the happy time he had spent with them, and their gift with
gratitude and appreciation. Many of the old Volunteers were present, amongst whom were
Messrs. J. Collin, T.H.J. Porter, C. Forbes, H. Gray, A. Gentle, C.G. Pamplin, J. Medlock, H.
Dasley, H.E. Foster, F.W. Lander, etc., also Messrs. J.H. Chapman and F. Freestone.
Expressions of regret for inability to be present were received from Dr Bury (chaplain), Lieut. G.
R.C. Foster and Mr. H Vinter.” (Cambridge Independent Press, 20 February 1920, p. 12).
|The 1st (Cambridge) Battalion Cambs. Volunteers, Trumpington Church, Sunday
3 September 1916. Cambridge Chronicle, 6 September 1916, p. 7.
|Hotel Ritz sign: "a sense of humour displayed by
the War-time Volunteers, who tacked this imposing
sign and the menu on their hut when they were
guarding the Pile Bridge" (caption for this
photograph when it appeared in the Cambridge
Chronicle report on Percy Robinson's lecturers in
"Menu. Clear Pewit Soup; Sleeper Sauce, Tender
Corns; Devilled Water Snakes; Saddle of Heifer;
Roast Rats, Bats, Owls; Diplomatic Granite
Pudding; Crème Otter on Toast; V.T.C.'s Own
Dessert; (R.D.C.) Camp Coffee, Woodbines;
Proprietor: John Bull".
The sign had been on the Trumpington Volunteer
Training Corps hut beside the railway bridge
carrying the Cambridge-Bedford line over the
River Cam, between Trumpington and
Percy Robinson collection.
|Cambridge Chronicle caption:
Members of the Trumpington V.T.C.,
Patrol No.3, on duty guarding a
railway bridge “Somewhere in
Cambs.” Left to right: F.W. Lander
(sentry), R. Haslop and I. Parker
(patrol), P.R. Robinson (sergeant).