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New Forest Remembers

The New Forest played a vital role in both the First and Second World Wars.

From hospitals and airfields, to prisoner of war camps and D-Day embarkation habours, the Forest has a fascinating wartime past that affected the landscape and people that lived there.

First World War

Little of the First World War history is still visible on the ground today to remind us of our past. But we are able to discover these stories through documents, maps, photographs and written memories.

During WWI Balmer Lawn Hotel and its surrounding land was donated to the war effort by Mrs Morant of Brockenhurst Park and it formed part of the Lady Hardinge Hospital for wounded Indian soldiers between 1914 and 1915. In 1916 the main hospital complex and its satellite sites such as Balmer Lawn became part of the No.1 New Zealand General Hospital.

1914 saw the establishment of the Lady Hardinge Hospital for wounded Indian soldiers in Brockenhurst, funded by a private charity. Balmer Lawn and Forest Park Hotels were commandeered and fitted out as medical facilities and Morant Hall, also called New Forest Hall, was transformed into yet another medical facility known as Meerut Indian General Hospital.

When the New Zealand troops arrived in 1916, the main hospital complex and its satellite sites such as Balmer Lawn became part of the No.1 New Zealand General Hospital and the Hall became a British Red Cross Auxiliary facility (also known as a Convalescent Depot) called Morant War Hospital.

Thanks to photographs from 1916 we can understand more about what life was like in the hospital for staff and patients.

In 1927 one of the Great War’s most celebrated pilots, Samuel Kinkead, attempted to become the first pilot to break the 300 mph barrier. Read his tragic story and how we are working to celebrate the wartime stories of the Forest.

‘The crash that saved my life.’ Discover the fascinating story of Arthur George Simmons who was posted to RFC (later RAF) Beaulieu, a Training Airfield, at East Boldre.

Second World War

The Second World War left a much larger impact on the ground, with visible outlines and remaining areas of buildings and structures leaving a tangible, physical connection to past events.

We are also able to hear the memories of people that once lived, worked and even imprisoned here during the Second World War. Hear some incredible memories in first of a series of podcasts below:

In 2016 two WWII occupants of Setley Plan Prisoner Of War Camp 65 returned to New Forest after 70 years. Watch them return to the site near Brockenhurst and hear their incredible stories.

New Forest Knowledge

A wealth of historical documents, photographs, oral histories and more documenting the role of the New Forest during both WWI and WWII is at everyone’s fingertips through the New Forest Knowledge website.

Remembrance Day 2018 events in the New Forest:

East Boldre Airfield Remembers Armistice Day: 10 & 11 November at East Boldre Village Hall, 10am – 4pm

There will be an exhibition at East Boldre Village Hall to commemorate the ending of WW1 and reveal this hidden history of the Great War in the New Forest – in both East Boldre and Calshot. Included in the exhibition will be hundreds of restored photographs taken during WW1 at East Boldre, including some new, recent additions, the National Park Authority’s Mobile WW1 exhibition and themed works, cards, etc by the East Boldre Painters. Books on the New Forest Airfields will be on sale. Refreshments will be available.

Foresta Artisan Fair: 11 November at Lyndhurst Community Centre, 10am – 4pm

Craft fair with a vast array of unique items made by the stallholders. The charity café this month is run by The Royal British Legion.

Avenue of WWI Remembrance: St Marys, Copythorne

This poignant memorial avenue, with a roll of honour at the church is open for a week amongst the stunning autumn colours.

Ringing Out for Peace: 11 November at various locations, 7.05pm

A united bell ringing across the country for bell ringers as a message of peace around the world.

Netley Marsh Remembers WW1: 27 November, 7 – 9pm

A talk and exhibition about the fallen heroes of Netley Marsh and role of the local area during WW1. All welcome, £3 charge to cover costs.

National Park Archaeologist


'The New Forest was established as a royal hunting forest in 1079 and has a rich and fascinating history.'

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