Wagoners centenary open day at Sledmere

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On a warm August day 100 years ago, farm workers of the Wolds were called from harvesting to go to war in the fields of Northern France.

It was the First World War and they were among the first to sign up for service. All were members of the Wagoners’ Special Reserve, founded by Sir Mark Sykes 6th Bt of Sledmere.

Men were receruited from the countryside to drive supplies — their skills with horses and pole wagons was invaluable.

The action they saw was a piece of local history which also became a piece of Army history.

The Wagoners, first recruited in 1912, were paid fifteen shillings a year from Sir Mark Sykes’s own pocket. The following year the War Office took responsibility for them and their yearly retainer became a sovereign for a Wagoner, two for a Foreman (Corporal) and four for a Roadmaster (Sergeant).

On September 8, at Sledmere, there will a parade and Open Day to commemorate the men of the Wagoners Special Reserve and their achievements.

The Parade through Sledmere, past the Wagoners’ Monument, will start at 11am and will comprise soldiers from 150th (Yorkshire) Transport Regiment The Royal Logistic Corps.

It will also feature pole wagons pulled by heavy horses, a decorated heavy horse, a pack mule, a WW1 GS wagon and horse ambulance, representatives from the Royal British Legion and the Kirkbymoorside Town Band.

As part of the event, entry to the grounds of Sledmere House will be free and, starting at 1pm, there will be a series of special events in the ring in front of the house, including a replication with heavy horses and pole wagons of the original figure-of-eight 1913 Driving Competition course.

An original WW1 General Service wagon, and an original WW1 Horse ambulance will also drive the course.

There will be a loading competiton, with vintage tractors and a final parade .

Stands include, Yorkshire regiment, a climbing wall for young people, a working farrier, a saddler, wood-working tools, and displays by the Guild of Knot Tyers, heritage groups and local museums.

The Durham pals re-enactors will also stage a camp life demonstration.

The event will be, literally, a once in a life-time opportunity to see all these historical aspects brought together at the place where it all began.