Garden Fete at Perdiswell in Aid of Gouzeaucourt

Fine weather on Thursday afternoon favoured the opening of the fete at Perdiswell Park, the proceeds of which are to go towards relief of Gouzeaucourt, the French village destroyed during the war which Worcester has adopted.There were present at the opening ceremony, the Mayor (Ald.Charles Edwards) and Mrs Edwards, Mrs Kirkham, Colonel W.R. Chichester, Ald. A. Carrton and Mrs Carrton, and many others who were helping to organise the fete. So worthy a cause commanded a great effort, and it was made. There were plenty of stalls with loads of good things and side shows, such as hoop-la, bowling, fortune telling etc without number. In addition to this, the Committee (of which the Mayor is the Chairman) and Col. H.T.Clark the energetic Hon.Sec. had obtained the services of such people as Mrs Day (dramatic entertainments) Mrs Nancy Harrison (dancing display) Mrs Ernest Oram (concert), and the Sportsmen’s committee who organised a very successful program of sports. The Band of the Depot Worcestershire Regiment played selections in the evening, and later played for dancing. A tennis tournament was also played during the afternoon. In such a way there was very little time for the afternoon or evening to become uninteresting and everybody appeared to enjoy themselves.

The Mayor, in asking Col. Chichester to declare the fete open, said that he had played a great part in the war, and since his retirement from the Army he had proved himself on many occasions, a good sportsman and a good English gentleman. He was one of those who was always willing to play his part in anything that was for the betterment of his fellow countrymen.

In declaring the fete open, Col. Chichester said that his only claim to such an honour was that he had been connected with the Worcestershire Regiment for a long time. He briefly described why Worcester had adopted Gouzeaucourt. Two battalions of the Worcestershire Regiment were identified very closely with that village – the 2/8th Battalion and in a lesser degree, the 4th (?) Battalion. They must go back to the November days of 1917, when an offensive was arranged with Cambria as its objective. It was the first offensive in which tanks were used to any great extent, in company with infantry. The attack was successful to a certain degree, but about 6 miles from Cambria the offensive was held up. For about a week “scrapping” went on. The Boche then advanced a counter blow with a tremendous barrage, employing troops specially trained which they had brought over from Russia. They broke our lines and drove through. The position was critical for the Third Army. The 61st Division, of which the 2/8th Battalion of the Worcestershire Regiment formed a part, were hurried from Arras and the 2/8th took up their position in front of the village of Gouzeaucourt. They withstood the attack for a long time but through the troops on either side being driven back, they found themselves with their flanks in the air. Captain Stallard, who was in command of the leading company of the Battalion withdrew by sectional rushes, and in this retreat Captain Stallard was very severely wounded. The Battalion under Captain Holcroft reformed and made a counter attack, and so successful was it that the Boche offensive was stopped. He thought that the attack was the means of holding the rest of the advance up for the winter. The Battalion suffered very severely 400 or 500, including officers being killed. In adopting Gouzeaucourt they were doing what was being done all over the country and he thought their choice was a very happy one. He explained what the need of Gouzeaucourt was. They wanted a pump to obtain water, and he hoped that the fete would go along way to realising the sum required. He was in the neighbourhood of Gouzeaucourt last autumn, and if they had only seen the place as he saw it, with hardly a fresh blade of grass or a stick standing, they would feel very much for the poor inhabitants of that village.
On the proposition of the Mayor, seconded by Alderman Carlton, a vote of thanks was passed to Colonel Chichester. Alderman Carlton remarked that none knew better than he did, the wonderful work which Colonel Chichester did, when he came as Commandant at Norton. Not only did he do his military duties in the best possible manner, but was willing to give his best for the benefit of the City of Worcester.

A vote of thanks was also passed to Mrs Kirkham, through whose generosity the Committee were able to use the gardens for the fete.

The stall holders were:- Refreshments Mrs Knott and a very large number of workers. Sweets:- Mrs Turner, MrsKnowles and Mrs V Ridlington. Hoop-la:- Mrs Brimmacomb, Miss Brimmacomb and Mrs Sandy. Produce:- Mesdames Hobbs, EC Harrison, Legge, Brettle, Clarke, Bennett, J Moore, Miss Heale and Miss Middleton. Clock golf and Ladder croquet:- Messers E Oran, Kernaught, Jordan and Cartwright. Tennis:- Miss Kirkham.

The first entertainment of the afternoon was a dramatic one organised by Mrs Ernest Day, in which there were many well known amateurs. The play – a play of the (?)teenth century was entitled “King Rene’s Daughter” and the plot evolved around the daughter who was cured of her birth affection of blindness. Mr F Underwood played the part of King Rene very ably, and Miss Peggy Edwards Lolanthe the daughter, gave a natural and convincing interpretation of a difficult part. Mr Maurice Webb was equally successful in his role as her suitor, Count Tristram of Vandermont. In company with Mr LS Agington as Sir Geoffrey of Orange, his friend there was much interesting, and well expressed dialogues. Mr Douglas Herbert as Eon Janis the Arabian physician, who cured Lolanthe’s blindness, had a severe and restrained part to play, and his interpretation of this character was very praiseworthy. Mr WFS Underwood as Almerio; Mr Leonard Knowles as Bertrand, and Miss Southall as Martha, each contributed in their separate ways to what was undoubtedly a very successful entertainment.

Miss Nancy Harrison’s pupils, whose popularity increases with each fete which they attend, gave an exhibition of dancing, similar to those which they have given elsewhere. Their pretty and entertaining costume dances attracted a large audience. Another well patronised event was a concert arranged by Mrs Oram. With Mr CH Baker she opened the program with a capital duet “Key(?) of Heaven”. Miss Dona Lucking, whose delightful singing is well known to Worcester audiences, sang very sweetly “What’s in the Air”. Mr E Davis’s “Senora” was very well received, and in response to an encore he gave a popular if rather light song “Wild Wild Women”. Mrs Oram concluded the programme with a song which was very well received. Mr HH Burgess was the accompanist.