Non-Hampton & Richmond Borough related posts.
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Post by Les1949 »


Things you may not know, or didn’t know you knew!

British Troops fed up!

With Remembrance Sunday just a matter of days away, a look at a little-known incident related to the First World War – the Kempton Park Mutiny.

When war broke out, all horse racing was cancelled at Kempton Park and their fixtures were transferred to Hurst Park (across the river from Hampton), Sandown & a course at Gatwick – on which was built Gatwick Airport in 1957.

Kempton Park became a transit depot for military vehicles with an army garrison of mechanics on site. Wooden huts were built to house the soldiers.

Despite the use of horses during WW1, the British Army was the most mechanised army in WW1. Kempton Park was used as a staging area, and also as a repair facility for damaged vehicles. The lorries were parked inside the racecourse track, as can be seen in the attached picture.

As most people know WW1 ended in November 1918 but the Kempton Park ‘Mutiny’ did not occur until January 1919. Despite the war having ended months earlier there were still many troops who had not been demobilised from service as there were thousands of vehicles still in store at Kempton. On Tuesday, January 7th, soldiers took matters into their own hands. 13 lorries with 40/50 soldiers aboard each, left Kempton Park, without permission from their officers, and drove to the War Office in London.

The reason that they up-sticks and went to London was after a visit that very morning by General Burns who had been unable to give them any satisfaction. On the lorries were chalked various messages like ‘Kempton is on strike’ – not something you would associate with the British Squaddie, but these men were fed up with their lot. The lorries parked in Horse Guards and a deputation went in to air their grievances. There is nor report of what happened during, or after the interview, but we do know that no one was shot for mutiny!

The situation rumbled on for several months more. In March and May, of 1919, the matter was raised in Parliament by Sir Frederick Hall. On asked a question in May 1919, the Secretary of State for War, stated that there were still 13,177 vehicles on site, many in the open, some under tarpaulins. There were still a large number of men on site and that rent of £1.700 per annum was still being paid to the owners of Kempton Park. The Minister of Munitions, responded that every effort was being made to sell off the vehicles by auction. Sir Frederick Hall retorted that at the rate of sale, currently, it would take a further 8 years to clear the site.

Racing did eventually re-start at Kempton Park in 1919, so, presumably greater efforts were made to move the vehicles off the site. The 1920s did see a major switch of freight onto the roads from the railways, now we can see where most of the lorries at that time came from, bought at a bargain price from the Government!

The Old Historian
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