The Batters Trenches in Corsham – Practice before you go, lads!
The Batters is an area of land in Corsham that runs alongside the railway line between Prospect and Brook Drive. Today it is a wildlife area, but in 1915 it was used by the Scots Guards for trench-digging and shooting practice before they went into battle.
The Scots Guards were based in Corsham – it is believed they camped out in tents on the Corsham Court estate, at the invite of Lord Methuen who was their Colonel in Chief.
A newspaper article in June 1915 reports the departure of a second contingent of Scots Guards from Corsham, where over the previous weeks:-
[The Scots Guards have] transformed the Batters near the railway line into a miniature Front with trenches, dugouts, redoubts etc., and carried out many interesting night attacks.
The Scots Guards also enjoyed themselves whilst billeted in Corsham, as the following news article describes:-
At the invitation of the members of the Mechanics Institute and the Liberal Club, the Scots Guards attended a social at Mr. Butt’s gymnasium on Monday evening, and it was attended with so much success that a series on Monday evenings is contemplated. Among those who kindly contributed to the programme were:- Vocalists, Messrs.A. Bird, F.W. Perry, and G.Head: violin solos. Mr. Herbert Spackman: and Mr. Lloyd, of the Methuen Arms, proved himself an able raconteur in some amusing and racy stories. Quite half of the programme was contributed by the Guardsmen themselves, and quite good talent they have. Lieuts. Barry and Brand were present and the former thanked the members for their invitation, and also the performers. He said that the Corsham people had made them quite at home, and they had received nothing but kindness. They hoped to remain as long as their duties permitted, but they had to do their best to kill the devils over the other side. (Cheers). Mr. C.W. Churchill ably presided.
The people of Corsham gave the second contingent of the Scots Guards a hearty send-off at the station: “They were inspected on Monday afternoon by the Commanding Officer, who expressed himself well satisfied with the appearance of the men,” reports the Devizes and Wiltshire Gazette. “They are of fine physique, and are a thoroughly self-respecting, well-behaved company. On their side we have reason to believe that they much enjoyed their stay.”
To mark the centenary of the outbreak of World War One, in October 2014 the Town Council staged a two-day ‘Trench Event’ with World War One expert Steve Williams on hand, as a ‘Tommy’, to explain what life was like in the trenches.