Hinckley During the First World War

The events that happened during the years of the First World War in Hinckley.


Hinckley first world war ww1
Belgian refugees in Hinckley 1914.

4th August An excited throng of people gathered outside the Drill Hall, on the corner of Wood Street and New Buildings, the incessant chatter and feverish speculation was of world events - Britain was now at war with Germany.

5th August Sydney "Togo" Bolesworth who was a local Hinckley middleweight boxer joined the 1st Battalion Leicestershire Regiment as a Lance-Corporal, he would leave for France during September 1914.

8th August The local Territorials returned from a trip to the seaside. The Reservists were told to make their way to the Battalion Headquarters at Leicester.

25th September An advertisement was placed in The Hinckley Times asking for particulars of accommodation available in the town for 34 Belgian refugees.

November The annual performance of Hinckley Operatic Society staged at the Drill Hall on New Buildings, but was laced with the spirit of the moment. The programme sellers were dressed in the various national costumes of the allies and patriotic songs were sung before the performance. The performances were in aid of the Prince of Wales National War Fund.

2nd December Hinckley gained 20 more Belgian refugees who were all from Antwerp.


February, one of the Belgian refugees, Madame Seraphina Delafaille, died and was buried in Hinckley Cemetery.


5th February Zeppelins fly over the Midlands. Over 220 bombs were dropped in six counties, including Leicestershire where 10 deaths from the bombs were reported.

Togo Bolesworth on Barwell recruitment drive 1916
Togo Bolesworth (third left) on Barwell recruitment drive 1916.

19th February A grand reception was held for W.H.Buckingham VC, Leicestershire's only VC. With him would be Lce. Cpl. T.Newcombe DCM, Lce. Cpl. A.Robinson, Russian Order of Merit, and the English Order For Gallant and Distinguished Service in the Field, and accompanied by other soldiers. They were met at Hinckley Railway Station, followed by a welcome in the Market Place. After a procession through the town, the visitors were entertained to a tea in Trinity Hall. The real purpose of the visit would be to entice young men to join the colours.

18th March Sydney "Togo" Bolesworth (along with William Buckingham VC) was one of the central figures in a recruitment drive for the Leicestershire Regiment at Hinckley, Barwell and Earl Shilton. Togo had been awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal and the French Croix de Guerre, for bravery around the area of Hooge in the Ypres Salient late 1915.

July An agreement was reached between the Trimmers Union and the local manufacturers, an accommodation was reached in relation to employing women in the trimming departments of local factories. Strict rules were disclosed regarding the fact that women could only be employed in situations where there were not enough men.


1st October Sydney "Togo" Bolesworth serving with 9th Battalion Leicestershire Regiment (for the past month) was killed in action in No-Man's land, in front of Polygon Wood, near Ypres, in Belgium. If that was not enough for Togo's grieving mother, Togo's brothers Corporal William Bolesworth and Lance-Corporal James Bolesworth would also lose their lives in the First World War.


Peace celebrations at Hinckley July 1919
Peace celebrations at Hinckley July 1919.

11th November The Armistice is signed in Marshall Foch's railway coach in France. The first Hinckley knew peace was declared was hearing the prolonged blowing of sirens in the far distance. These were at Birmingham and Coventry. Even then the town's people were not convinced and there were many telephone enquiries to The Hinckley Times.

Eventually a message was posted on the window of The Hinckley Times. Then from all directions people streamed into Castle Street. The workers in the factories took French leave, and the manufacturers had no option but to close down. Before midday thousands of people were in Castle Street. Lads and lasses passed in rows stretching the entire width of the street, singing patriotic songs.

Soon news was received of the removal of lighting restrictions and at night the town was brilliantly lit. In many homes there was great sadness that loved ones would not be coming home from the war, having given their lives for King and Country.

Other events that happened after the war.

27th February 1919 Hinckley Railway station was the departure point for the Belgian refugees on their trek home via Leicester.

3rd February 1920 A First World War Tank was gift to the town by The National War Savings Committee, The town had generated £750,000 in war bonds and savings certificates. The Tank placed at Granville Gardens along Coventry Road.

20th May 1922 The Hinckley War Memorial was opened to the public with all the names of those who lost their lives in the First World War.

Other World War 1 pages of intrest