Stories from the War – Avonmouth and Shirehampton
It’s been nearly a hundred years since the start of the First World War but the history and heritage of it is still with us – something that was clearly shown at our latest Know your Bristol event. Held at Shirehampton Public Hall, we had a steady stream of visitors coming to look at the resources gathered so far and contribute their stories to this growing archive – with many being so eager they turned up before we’d even got everything set up.
Shirehampton and Avonmouth both contributed to the war effort, with the latter being a strategically important military depot – a place from which many troops and equipment were dispatched to the Western Front. In addition a remount depot was established at Shirehampton that stabled and supplied over 300,000 horses and mules to the front between 1914 and 1918. Nowadays there are no visible remains of this site, but one of the first oral histories was from a lady remembering the large post that was one of the last remaining features from the depot before being pulled down sometime in the 70s.
We also heard personal stories of grandfathers and other family members who’d fought in the war, and the photos and mementoes that they’d sent back from the front. A beautiful example of this was the collection of postcards decorated with detailed French embroidery, with the colours and patterns looking like they’d just been stitched yesterday. Less attractive, but just as fascinating, was a genuine German bayonet and sheath with a tragic history. The bayonet had been used to kill a British soldier but its owner had been killed at the same time so the bodies of these soldiers from opposing sides were found right next to each other. A sad tale and a reminder of the impact that the War had on people, not just locally but from all over the world.