Milford Camp

Strictly speaking, Percy and his fellow gunners were in Milford Camp, the artillery corner of the larger Witley Camp. The historian of the 60th Battery tells us that the infantry occupied the high ground, while the Artillery, together with the Army Service Corps and the Engineers, were on the “slope of Rodhill.” (1) “Rodhill” is not a name I can find on any map of the area, but if you look closely below, you can see yellow contour lines for Rodborough Hill to the north of Witley Common: it crosses the L of Witley on the map. Let us assume this is the site of Milford Camp.witley-common-1920s-crop

The Battery historian continues:

“Witley is in an ideal situation for the training of artillery. It is surrounded by large areas of rolling common land covered with gorse and heather, giving opportunities for the most extensive manoeuvres. The soil is principally sand, easy to excavate when practising the construction of gun-pits, and adequate cover is available for the purpose of concealment.”(1)

The Canadians recently arrived from Petawawa were familiar with the advantages of sand — not only was it easier to dig,  but it also didn’t turn to mud as soon as it rained. They were also familiar with the discomfort of sand in boots and bedding.

Witley Common is now a National Trust property, which advertises walks amid the heather. There is still heathland on the common, but there is more forested area too. Take a look at “With the British Army in Flanders and France,” whose author includes an entry on uncovering a rubbish dump at Witley.

(1) 60th C.F.A. Battery Book, 1916-1919.[1919]. 19.

The postcard can be found on the site dedicated to the 202nd (Sportsmen’s) Battalion from Edmonton , Alberta.
The map is from the National Library of Scotland collection, accessed at Surrey in the Great War.

Copyright 2016. See “More about this project.”

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