New Forest at war

World War I

The New Forest during World War I

The New Forest played a significant role in World War I through its military hospitals, which treated wounded soldiers from the trenches.

Troops were brought to Brockenhurst to be treated in hospitals set up in some of the village’s larger houses and hotels and in fields near the parish church. Brockenhurst residents called the facility Tin Town and village children were sent to collect sphagnum moss and cotton grass for use as wound dressings.

Many of the troops were from around the British Empire, including soldiers from the Indian Army Corps. After they were posted to Egypt, around 21,000 New Zealand casualties were treated in Tin Town before the hospital finally closed soon after the war.  

An annual Anzac Service is held in St Nicholas’ Churchyard to remember the 93 New Zealand soldiers who were buried there after dying of their wounds.

At White Moor and the old race course, just outside Lyndhurst, thousands of soldiers camped before embarking for the fronts. In October 1914, villagers lined the streets to wave off the ‘Immortal 7th Division’ as they headed for the battlefields of Ypres. Of the 15,000 soldiers who departed, only 2,380 were still alive within a month of going into action. The west window of the Catholic church in Lyndhurst commemorates some of these men.

White Moor was the site of a bombing school, also known as a grenade school, where troops were trained to use hand grenades and landmines. There were many occasions when men were blown up.

Calshot Spit was converted into a Naval Air Station in 1913 and became responsible for coastal defence of the English Channel when war broke out.  Many of its offices, hangars and workshops are still evident today. In 1920 Calshot was renamed RAF Calshot and was used as a training centre as well as a base for coastal reconnaissance.

  1. New Forest at war
  2. The New Forest during World War I (you are here)
  3. The New Forest during World War II

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New Forest Remembers World War I Project

Find out about the role the New Forest played in World War I and how you can get involved.

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