Before conscription was introduced, men could join any regiment they chose.  Many towns formed 'Pals Battalions' in which men from the same area trained and fought together.  This was not the case in Godalming where men joined a wide range of army regiments as well as serving in the Navy and in the Royal Flying Corps (which became the RAF towards the end of the war). The local regiment was the Queen’s Royal West Surrey Regiment, which had a recruiting office in Bridge Street.


For enlargements, click the image


Image by courtesy of Charterhouse School

Robert Graves (Charterhouse)

Royal Welsh Fusiliers

Poet and novelist Robert Graves left Charterhouse School to join the Royal Welsh Fusiliers at the outbreak of war and was wounded at the Battle of the Somme.  He survived the war and died in 1985.  670 Charterhouse boys died in the First World War, 19% of those who served.  The casualty rate was particularly high among junior officers whose average life expectancy at the front was six weeks.


For more information about Robert Graves, click here


Evelyn Henry Lintott (Wolesley Road, Farncombe)

Footballers’ Battalion and the Leeds Pals

Evelyn Henry Lintott was a footballer who played as an amateur for Woking and Queen’s Park Rangers, then as a professional for Bradford City and for Leeds City.  He played for England between 1907 and 1909.  In August 1914 he joined the Footballers’ Battalion, later transferring to the Leeds Pals.  He was promoted to Lieutenant before his death at the Battle of the Somme

To find out about Evelyn Lintott, click here.


Kindly lent by Mr Henry Collen

Charles Collen

Royal Engineers

Trench map, watch, cards. A Bavarian coin found in a German trench

Charles Collen joined up in 1916 as a Sapper in the Royal Engineers.  He specialised in signals and communications, laying and repairing field telephone wires. The trench map was carefully compiled from aerial photographs.  It shows the German positions  in red and the British in blue.  Barbed wire is indicated by red or blue dotted lines.  Each trench is named - “Cyril”, "Cheapside”, “Regent Street”, “North –“ and ”South Tyne”...  Even the German trenches have been given English names.


William Gottfried Von Ahn

Middlesex Regiment and Royal Engineers

Memorial scroll

William Gottfried Von Ahn was born in 1895 in Hamburg.  His father, Jens Martin Carl Von Ahn was a civil engineer who had worked on the railways in India, where he met and married Evelyn Wilcox.  William attended an English boarding school, the Dean Close Memorial School in Cheltenham, and went on to University College, but left to join the Middlesex Regiment at the outbreak of war.  His fluency in French and German led to his transfer to the Royal Engineers.  He was captured in 1918 and died two days after the armistice, apparently due to neglect and ill health while a prisoner of war.  William is buried in Cologne Southern Cemetery.

William's sister, Viva Alice Mary Von Ahn, was a music teacher who moved to Godalming after the war.  Anti-German feeling in the aftermath of the First World War or during the Second, caused her to change her name to Vonahan. Miss Vonahan was buried in Eashing cemetery in 1969.


Kindly donated by Mr V J Morris


Photograph kindly supplied by the War Graves Photographic Project.  Postcard kindly donated by Mrs Betty Plowman

William Wallis (Catteshall Terrace, Farncombe)

Royal West Kent Regiment and Hampshire Regiment

Field postcards

One of five brothers who served in the war, William Wallis joined the Royal West Kent Regiment as a Private in September 1915.  He was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant and transferred to the Hampshire Regiment. William was killed the day before the Armistice, on 10th November 1918 and is buried in the military cemetery at Haringhe in Belgium. He sent the field service postcards to his wife Emily in September 1918. 


A hand grenade dating from the First World War, presumably brought back as a souvenir as it was found in a Godalming garden.


Princess Mary Gift Box

These boxes containing tobacco, cigarettes and a Christmas card, were distributed to all British, colonial and Indian service personnel at Christmas 1914.


Kindly lent by Alan and Caroline Bott
©Strube/Express Newspapers/N&S Syndication 

S C Strube (1892 – 1956)

Damaged Goods

Strube, who would become the highest paid journalist on Fleet Street in the 1930s served in the Artists’ Rifles during the First World War.  In this original drawing, a war-worn but still cheerful “Tommy” deals competently with “Fritz”.

Kindly lent by Alan and Caroline Bott

Alfred Edmeades Bestall (1892 – 1986)

Still Out of Reach - “Gott punish that fly”

Best known for his post-war Rupert Bear illustrations and stories, Alfred Bestall volunteered for the Army Service Corps in the First World War and spent three and a half years in Flanders.  In this original drawing the fly, “World Power”, escapes the German spider.  This cartoon was published in War Pictures Weekly in 1915.