Memories of Marlow during WW1

In the late 1980s, members of Marlow Society recorded interviews with people from the town who had lived through and remembered World War One. The transcript of those interviews is attached here – it provides a fascinating insight into how the War changed the town and its people.

Download a searchable PDF transcription of Memories of Marlow (2.5 Mb)




Major Sidney Chalk

I note that Cyril Chalk contributed to “Marlow remembers” but makes no mention of his brother, Sidney Chalk’s contribution to the War.

I was a  Pupil at Liverpool Collegiate School from 1957 -1963 and Mr S. F. Chalk was the Woodwork and Metalwork Teacher as well as the organiser of the C.C.F. (Combined. Cadet Force).

In this capacity Major Chalk M.C. Organised a weekly parade in school time, a weekly parade after school, a rota for practice with 22s on the indoor firing range, a post-Xmas  and an Easter camp at Altcar Camp and a summer camp at various locations eg Ballikinler Camp Northern Ireland and finally an Adventure Expedition at Marlow.

The Military Cross was rumoured to have been won by Major Chalk for bravery in single handedly  capturing an enemy Bren gun post and I have seen this mentioned on the website for the School.

I have to place on record my gratitude to him for giving me and many other 11plus boys like me the opportunity to raise my horizons beyond the everyday experiences and to wet my appetite for new people and places.

The Adventure Expedition to Marlow started in Birkenhead where the lucky participants assembled at the station and in the care of senior NCOs boarded a series of trains to Banbury.

At Banbury the challenge was to get to  Bicester T.A. where we were met by Major Chalk who showed us how to fill our palliasses with straw ready for the night’s sleep – on the floor.

Next day the challenge was to reach Marlow using our map- reading skills  by tea-time. The Major and a Senior NCO travelled in a 10 ton truck with all the camping gear.

Our destination was a requisitioned orchard belonging to a Farm, near where the Industrial Estate seems to be, and distinguished by the presence of a gypsy caravan that was occupied by a Brass Player from a London Orchestra.

Our time in Marlow was spent on rowing/swimming in the Thames, church parade, visiting Stanley Spencer’s Cookham, sightseeing at Windsor Castle ,exploring Marlow especially the Chalk family’s High Street Ironmongers and attempting to get served at the Railway Inn.

You can well imagine that places on the Adventure Expedition were highly sought after among those we left behind!

The people of Marlow do well to remember their townsfolk and I want them to know the high regard in which their fellow citizen, Major S.F.Chalk, is held for his endeavours both in the Great War and in the peace that followed.

Happy memories of Peter W. Isaac