Church Lads Brigade

The Church Lads Brigade

The Church Lads Brigade movement set out to train lads in discipline, morality and physical training and instil the values of the wider citizen by social and religious training based on the religion of the Christian faith and the teaching of the Church of England. The discipline was military. During WW1, at the age of 18, as the lads were drafted into the Army, they had a considerable advantage having learned in the ranks of the C.L.B. The C.L.B. cadets became affiliated to the Kings Royal Rifle Corps and the connection between the K.R.R. and the C.L.B. was very close as a special battalion of the K.R.R. was raised in World War One and equipped from the ranks of the C.L.B.

Above: St Edward's Church Lads Brigade circa 1916 with Rev.G.O. Lewis centre and Joseph Fretwell seated second on the left. Photograph thanks to Marjorie Townend. 

St Edward's Church Lads Brigade

There are no official records available to tell us about the St Edward's Lads Brigade, but we know from newspaper articles that it was going strong in April 1917 and applications had exceeded all expectations. Requests for a second Company had been received, but it was reported that this depended on adequate funds.

Harry Hampson, born in 1905 and a member of St Edward's Church Lads Brigade, remembered that there were about 70 members and it's influence helped form character and gave everyone a standard to live by. The K.R.R.C. uniform was khaki, and the C.L.B. was blue. The St Edward's group twice won the P.T. Shield for all England, and one year shared it. They were always in the top rank for foot drill and were often complimented on their smart turnout. 

The following individuals were closely connected to the C.L.B. 

  • G.G. Orrell, Warrant Officer, Armourer Staff Sergeant was a strict disciplinarian on parade but just one of the lads afterwards. He would lead the lads in singsong when the training session was finished.* 
  • Robert Bawcutt, Captain
  • Henry Hampson, Sergeant
  • Joseph Fretwell
  • Mr Whitham
  • J. Ward
  • Walter Hall
  • Rev. Boyd was not afraid to put the gloves on and do a bit of boxing. He would sit and play the piano for the singsongs and always went to camp with the lads.*
  • Mr Lowrance, a great friend and benefactor of the CLB was confined to a wheelchair. He took a great interest in activities and would march with the lads after church. If any of the lads had to go to another town for a competition he would invite them to Longcar House where he would wish them luck and give them a chocolate bar and half a crown.* 

Photograph above thanks to Sheila Melville.

*From Harry Hampson's memories, with thanks to Sheila Melville.

Click this link for more photographs.


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