Billetted in a lousy rat-infested hole

William Hallam was shocked to hear from family members how Lockinge and Wantage were billetting soldiers. It might perhaps have been fair preparation for the trenches, but it shows that not everyone was responding to the war with a generous spirit.

A bitterly cold east wind enough to shave any one as the saying is. I got up at ¼ past 8 and by time we had got breakfast and I had done my work it was too late for church. So we lit a fire, and George and I sat talking, in the front room till 1 then we went up to Old Town station and met my bro & wife and we did not have dinner till nearly 2. None of us went out, it was so cold. So we made up a good fire in the sitting room and sat there talking – hearing all the gossip of Lockinge & Wantage and all about the soldiers who had been billeted in Lockinge mostly the H.A.Co. [Honorable Artillery Company] from London, and the Dorset Yeomanry. These soldiers were put in the old tithe barn at Betterton, up at the Bothy, in Kitford Hotel, the golf pavilion, as well as the people’s cottages. The headquarters were in the Rectory. Old Eady as usual acted like a pig, and instead of letting the soldiers be quartered in the clean and warm farm buildings at his house – the Manor Farm, he made the officers take them up to that lousey [sic], rat infested hole at Chalkhill by the Hine Kiln, and down at Goddard barn and in that old Malthouse at East Lockinge.

Diary of William Hallam (D/EX1415/22)

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