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Harrowby Camp, Grantham: Machine Gun Training – 1916

Grantham was a goods yard.

Belton Park and Harrowby nearby were the camps for transport and twelve machine gunner companies.

There were mules and officers’ horses and the limbers; a limber was a four wheeled cart or wagon.

The camps held, at any one time, between 25,000 and 45,000 troops.

This was the end of January or early February 1916.

There were no paths so you were always stepping into the mud just to reach your hut.

The mud as a joke; they reported that in the Camp’s Penny Pictorial and the local paper.

The other joke which did the rounds was that once interred in Barrowby Camp the inmates never left their stay seemed so interminable.

Belton Park had been offered to the military authorities when war broke out on the 4th August 1914.

Since the 1880s local volunteers, territorial and yeomanry had used the park. At first they had bell tents but in 1915 these were replaced by rows of wooden barracks. There was a standard gauge railway line using a 0 4 0 track which ran into the camp carrying supplies. It moved extremely slowly due to the weight of the goods and the steepness of the gradient. Soldiers marched the two miles from Grantham Station.

The Machine Gun Corps were based at Harrowby, the other side of Harrowby Lane immediately south of Belton.

The food was ‘Bloody Awful.’ The porridge was dreadful. You’d leave it and you got the same stuff back the next morning.

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