Yateley In the Great War is a non-fiction history of a Hampshire village which is just a few miles from where I live. The author chose to focus his research and subsequent findings around the years of The Great War (First World War). The contents of the book involve the local community and its families.
Yateley was a village with a large transient population due to its proximity to the military towns of Sandhurst, Aldershot and Farnborough. Many families lived in the village for short periods when they came with husbands and fathers who had armed forces positions in the area.
The book had a local interest for me; I enjoyed recognising family names, as a few of their descendants remain in the area today. However, a visitor to Yateley now is more likely to see family and parkland names from the past, now as street names on newer housing estates.
There was one other detail in the book which I particularly enjoyed; a pageant to celebrate the end of the war in honour of a local celebrity. The villagers of nearby Eversley and those in Yateley joined their celebrations using the centenary of the birth of author Charles Kingsley (who wrote The Water Babies and Westward Ho’) as a theme. Eversley village school, which is still used today, is named after him. As a child I had friends who attended the school.
This book would suit local residents and historians who have an interest in the area, or perhaps genealogists searching for family details.
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There were fewer than 500 houses in Yateley in WWI but with Aldershot, Farnborough, Camberley and Sandhurst close by, this Hampshire village’s response to the call to arms was more prepared than most, and punched above its weight.
Using contemporary evidence from many sources researched by our local history team, the Yateley Society recreates the impact of the War on our predecessors. The story of the men who left Yateley to fight — territorials, regulars, volunteers and conscripts — is told alongside that of the battalions of Kitchener’s New Armies training in trench warfare on Yateley Common. At the same time, in the three private houses forming the Yateley Military Hospital, Yateley women of all ages were tending wounded soldiers.
With its intimate glimpses into village life, this book, will fascinate anyone with Yateley connections. The names of many families in the village of 100 years ago are here, while for recent newcomers with perhaps a Victorian or Edwardian house there may be clues to the history of your homes.
With its many illustrations and maps, this exploration of the social network, and social consequences of the Great War on a small community in North East Hampshire has interest for historians and general readers alike.