First World War Training Area provided for the use of the Sheffield City Battalion, comprising numerous in-filled trench complexes and fieldworks dug late- 1914–16. The training area occupies an area of rough pasture and a disused sandstone quarry.
Reasons for Designation
The Redmires First World War Training Area is scheduled for the following principal reasons:
* Diversity: the monument comprises extensive trench systems and various associated fieldworks, that are not a ‘text book model’, but represent a progression in the understanding, knowledge and skill of the soldiers involved; * Rarity: the Redmires training area is unusual in its sheer extent; most other examples in England were small scale and lack the complexity of this example;
* Survival: the training area and its associated trenches and the earthworks survive well and are readable, both as in-filled features and as upstanding fieldworks;
* Potential: the trenches and the various fieldworks within the training area were frequently occupied over a period of at least eighteen months and thereafter on an occasional basis. This period of occupation offers great potential for further understanding the development of trench defence works during the First World War and archaeological information about the soldiers that occupied them;
* Documentation; the date function of the remains is well understood through a combination of historical documents, aerial photographs and archaeological field survey;
* Period: the large-scale training of recruits prior to their departure to the Western Front enhances our understanding of national defence policy, and this training area illustrates this policy in a most eloquent fashion.
During the first decade of C20, in order to mitigate the effects of new classes of weapons, combatants sought a variety of means of providing protection for their troops, while retaining the use of their weapons in defence. These defences moved away from the large permanent fortifications of the C19 and took the form of low-profile fieldworks quickly thrown up by the troops themselves, including barbed-wire entanglements, blockhouses, redoubts, and trenches. The design of the fieldworks was the responsibility of the Royal Engineers, but the construction work was undertaken by regular soldiers in the British army, all of whom were given instruction in their construction. On the outbreak of the First World War, it was still anticipated that the army would be engaged in a war of manoeuvre; in the event, the failure of both sides in 1914 to establish a decisive strategy, consequent to the blunting of the German advance, resulted in a growing deadlock and the need to dig trench systems for protection.
From the outset, contrary to popular belief that the war would be over by Christmas, Lord Kitchener, the Secretary of State for War had foreseen that the conflict would be take place over a number of years and that a massive recruitment drive would be necessary to replace losses, and to dramatically enlarge the army. On 6 August 1914, Parliament gave approval to an increase of the Army’s strength to 500,000, and Lord Kitchener made his call to arms, seeking to recruit 100,000 volunteers. To aid the recruitment drive, special facilities were given to men who worked together, or lived in a close-knit community to be drafted to the same battalions or regiments, so that they could serve together shoulder to shoulder, with their friends and colleagues in civil life; thus spawning the idea of the ‘Pals Battalions’.
In Sheffield, permission was obtained from the War Office to raise a Battalion, drawing upon the young men attending the university and from commerce. Recruitment started on 10 September 1914 and such was the enthusiasm, that within two days the Sheffield City Battalion, the 12th (Service) Battalion York and Lancaster Regiment had reached full strength. Initially the men trained at the Bramhall Lane football and cricket ground but on 5 December 1914, the 1,131 officers and men of the battalion were able to move into Redmires Camp, Lodge Moor, where they were finally able to train in earnest.
The training area associated with Redmires Camp was established 2.25km to the west of the camp at Lord’s Seat, on the eastern edge of the Hallam Moors, on land donated to the city for the purposes of military training by Mr William Wilson in 1914. Additional land on Roper’s Hill to the south of Redmires reservoir was also used for training. The training area was used by the battalion for the next five months, the soldiers receiving periods of individual training in digging drill, construction of weapons pits, clearing fields of view, concealment, construction of obstacles and filling and laying of sandbags. Training was also given at Company and Battalion level where the soldiers were taught broader principles of field engineering including – digging different types of trenches, section posts, platoon posts and company localities, machine-gun emplacements, the importance of drainage, the repair and maintenance of a fire trench, revetment of trenches, loop-holing a wall, and the erection of simple (splinter proof) shelters. It is considered that the digging of the trenches first started on the eastern side of Lord’ Seat Quarry and progressed to the north and to the west. The area to the immediate south-west of the quarry appears to have been primarily dug by individuals or small groups of men.
Having honed their skills at Redmires, the Sheffield City Battalion became part of the 94th Brigade, 31st Division and on the 20 December 1915, the Division was sent overseas for a short stay in Egypt, before embarking in March 1916 for France, where in readiness for the Somme offensive, it occupied trenches near Serre. The offensive started on the morning of 1 July 1916 and by the evening of the 3rd, the Sheffield City Battalion was withdrawn from battle, having sustained 513 Officers and men killed, wounded or missing, with an additional 75 men with slight wounds. Thereafter, the battalion received new drafts of men to bring it back up to strength, but the ‘Pals’ character engendered in the Redmires trenches had gone for ever.
Once the Sheffield City Battalion, had vacated the Redmires training area, it was used by units of the Sherwood Foresters and the Royal Engineers. The training area was abandoned for military purposes by the end of the First World War and the land was rented out for farming. In the Second World War, the name of Redmires Camp was changed to Lodge Moor Camp; becoming Prisoner of War Camp 17. There is no indication that the training area was re-activated during the Second World War and the only military activity appears to have been the establishment of a Home Guard observation post in the spoil heaps of Lord’s Seat Quarry.
Principal elements: First World War infantry training area 1914-15, visible as partially infilled fire, support, and communication trenches and low earthwork banks, standing to a maximum of 0.3m and earth-cut platforms, machine-gun emplacements, weapons pits, crawl trenches, and ‘arrow-head’-plan field kitchens; the complex occupies 22.3 hectares of low-grade reedy pasture and the site of C19 sandstone quarry. The remains are highly visible on aerial photographs due to differential plant growth and some of the trenches are easily identified, as the infill has sunk by up to 20cm in depth.
Description: the training area is situated 7km west of the city of Sheffield, immediately to the north-west of the Redmires Reservoir. It is located on a hill called Lord’s Seat, occupying an area of partially improved agricultural enclosures (possibly intakes) of low-grade reedy-pasture, enclosed by dry-stone walls, on the eastern edge of Hallam Moors, and the former Lord’s Seat Quarry. The Lord’s Seat comprises two distinct areas of ground, the taller eastern plateau (Quarry Hill 402m AOD) and the lower western section (Hill 60 390m AOD). It is approached from the south by a path (right of way) that once served the Lord’s Seat Quarry and from the south-east by a farm track. For convenience of description, the area has been divided into eight sections.
QUARRY HILL EAST: two distinct groups of trench works to the east of the sandstone scarp of Lord’s Seat. The first group is situated parallel to the eastern dry-stone boundary wall, comprising six discontinuous groups of section, platoon, and company localities formed into a pair of approximately 145m long and 0.6m wide trench lines with irregularly spaced fire bays and traverses, probably demonstrating ‘first stage’ trenches. It is thought that these were the earliest trenches dug at the infantry training area, dating to early 1915. The second group comprises two approximately 130m long parallel lines of square trace trenches with alternating fire bays and traverses, roughly parallel to the base of sandstone scarp on a north-west to south-east alignment. The northern end of the group is over-lain by later trenches extending south-east from the Quarry Hill North-East group. An additional 50m long square trace trench has been cut along the base of the central section of the sandstone scarp, with several small platforms, which are typically less than 5m across and a maximum of 0.3m deep and are set in among the trenches, or to the rear in the quarry spoil.
QUARRY HILL NORTH-EAST: complex of trench works, some over-laying others, comprising two main 150m long parallel lines of square trace trenches aligned north-west to south-east, with a change of direction to west by north-west at the northern end. A number of shorter lengths of trench cuts and several small platforms approximately 5 x 2.5m are dug into the 23.6m wide area of ground between the parallel trenches. Additional short lengths of trench have been dug close to the boggy ground situated between Lord’s Seat and Brown Edge. Irregular drainage ditches have been cut from the two lines of trenches down to the boggy ground from their northern ends. It is possible that these ditches were originally dug as communication trenches or saps.
QUARRY HILL NORTH: complex of trench works comprising an approximately 50m long square trace fire trench with equal 5m wide fire bays and traverses, and a parallel zig-zag support trench, linked by a 25m long zig-zag communication trench at their eastern ends. A less regular zig-zag communication trench links the western ends of the trenches, which extends 50m to the rear to link with the Quarry Hill North-East group of trenches. The complex is situated approximately 60m to the north of the northern edge of the sandstone scarp.
QUARRY HILL NORTH-WEST: complex of trench works, comprising two 70m long 1.07m wide parallel regular square-trace trench lines, aligned west by south-west to east by north-east, with 5.5m wide fire bays and 2.75m wide traverses, which are stepped back 2.44m. A communication trench at the western end of the trenches returns back to a further 50m long square-trace trench situated on the raising ground on the north-west slope of Lord’s Seat. Where the communication trench crosses the western end of the southern of the pair of trenches, an un-traversed trench extends some 70m to the south-west before linking up with a further 70m long square-trace trench aligned north-south that deflects to the south-west where it joins the communication trench. An isolated 50m length of square-trace trench is situated approximately 50m to the north-west of the un-traversed communication trench. In addition the area has numerous drainage ditches, rectangular-plan earth platforms approximately 5m x 2.5m in plan, and short lengths of straight-cut trenches.
QUARRY HILL SOUTH-WEST: extensive area of regular square-trace trenches, irregular trenches, crawl trenches, scrapes, earth platforms, weapons pits, machine gun emplacements, field kitchens, and earth banks. Two approximately 75m lengths of square-trace trench are situated towards the south-west and the western boundary of this area marked by a farm track and a dry-stone wall aligned north–south. A No.36 grenade range comprising of two bombing (throwing) bay pits, an earth platform for an assembly and instruction shelter and a store is situated in the south-west scarp of Lord’s Seat, over-looking a square-trace trench.
QUARRY HILL SOUTH: extensive area of irregular trenches, scrapes, banks, and a square-trace trench. An approximately 75m long square-trace trench is situated to the south of the dry-stone wall that is south-west of Lord’s Seat Quarry. Shallow ridge and furrow visible on the gently west-dipping slopes of the hill, visible on aerial photographs, are considered to be associated with a forestry plantation.
LORD’S SEAT QUARRY: a number of level earth platforms, weapons pits, and slit trenches are situated within the C19 quarry workings. A rectangular plan emplacement, revetted with galvanized steel sheets and sections of steel rail, is situated on the crest of a quarry spoil heap at the southern edge of the quarry. It is considered that the emplacement is a Second World War Home Guard observation post over-looking the Redmires Reservoirs. A 12.5m long and 1.3m deep dog-leg plan open trench descends from the northern end of the quarry workings, to link with the Quarry Hill North-East group of trenches.
HILL 60: complex of trench works, raised banks and earthen platforms. The northern group consists of an irregular 70m long 1.07m wide square-trace trench linked by a 70m long zig-zag communication trenches to a 5.6m x 4.4m rectangular-plan sunken platform to the north and a roughly cruciform-plan redoubt to the south-east, which has been intersected by a later farm track. A straight trench leading to the north and a zig-zag communication trench aligned to the north-east give access to two up-standing earth platforms of the same dimensions as the first, parallel and tight against the northern boundary fence. Centrally, a regularly spaced square-trace trench spans the field between the west and east boundary walls, consisting of a 127m length of trench aligned west to east and a 103m length aligned east by north east to west by south-west. Towards the southern end of the complex an irregular dog-leg trace trench is crossed by a modern farm track. This trench connects with up-standing earth banked features approximately 0.4m high and 1.8m wide representing two parallel trenches with island traverses linked by two sinuous communication trenches. Two pairs of 0.3m high, 3m diameter circular earth platforms of unknown function are situated approximately 50m to the north-east of the southern earth bank representing a trench. The platforms face south-east and the northern pair is set back in relationship to the southern pair.
EXTENT OF SCHEDULING: the scheduling includes the full extent of the known First World War trenches and earthworks of the Redmires infantry training area, identified by The Institute of Life Long Learning, University of Sheffield. The sub-rectangular area of protection at its widest extent measures 690m x 426m and is bounded to the east and west by stone-walled field boundaries, to the north by a field boundary fence and to the south by a combination of a hedge line, a farm track and a field boundary fence.