The centenary of the First World War is a time to remember the huge sacrifice and devastation caused by war on the Western Front, at Gallipoli and in many other theatres.

It is also a time to remember the impacts on families and communities closer to thousands of soldiers in camps along today’s A30. There are few signs of these camps today, but the soldiers also left carvings of their cap badges cut into the downs.

FWW_Centenary__Led_By_IWM_Red rgbThe badges at Fovant – so carefully renovated and maintained by the Fovant Badges Society – are striking and well-known. It is less well-known that Sutton Down also has two regimental badges: the 7th (City of London) Battalion of the London Regiment (known as the ‘Shiny Seventh’); and the Royal Warwickshire Regiment.

Solders of these regiments and others from the British Army and Australia were based in Sutton Mandeville during the First World War. Today it is difficult to imagine what it must have been like here both for them and the surrounding community, but it is not too late to catch a glimpse of the past.

The two badges at Sutton Mandeville were maintained until about a decade ago. Subsequently they became quite overgrown and almost lost from sight. We are now working on both badges so that they can take their place in the landscape once again.

Sutton Mandeville has an exceptional opportunity to commemorate the First World War Centenary in a distinctive and enduring manner. The badges will provide a widely visible reminder of the camps and of all the people who marched through them. They will also provide a focus for people from far beyond this parish who wish to follow the footsteps of their forebears or to learn about what happened here. It falls to this generation to enable future generations to remember also.

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