WRITER Barney Alston is compiling a book on the 13th (Service) Battalion (West Ham) Essex Regiment, which was raised during the Great War, and he needs your help to tell this amazing story.
The Regiment was raised in the borough of West Ham in December 1914 and formed part of Lord KitchenerÂ¹s Volunteer Army. Many of the volunteers were local men from West Ham, East Ham, Forest Gate, Custom House, Barking and Stratford. They were not professional soldiers but ordinary working-men, many of who came from the Thames Ironworks, the company owned by Arnold Hills where West Ham United has its roots. It was this connection that earned the BattalionÂ¹s nickname, OThe Hammers.
On 17th November 1915 the West Ham Battalion, made up of 1200 men, landed on the coast of France. Their battle cry of Â³Up the IronsÂ² was heard on some of the Great WarÂ¹s bloodies battlefields, including Vimy Ridge, the Somme and Cambrai before the West Ham Battalion was disbanded in February 1918. Sadly, by this time many of the original Battalion members had been killed in the fighting, and in the intervening years all of those who served in the West Ham Battalion have passed away.
However, the local area remains rightly proud of the West Ham Battalion and Barney Alston is looking to speak to anyone who may have had connections to it. So, did your relative or anyone you know serve with the Battalion? Do you have any letters, anecdotes, personal memories, diaries, photographs, newspaper cuttings, medals, postcards or any other items of memorabilia that can help provide an insight into the lives of the men from West Ham who volunteered to fight in one of the most horrifying wars in history.
If you can help please contact Barney Alston on 07904 255933. With your help, this remarkable Battalion will forever be remembered.