The glorious Mildmay Club on Newington Green was part of 'Open House London' last weekend, and I took the chance to make another visit. It was also an opporunity to look again at the terrific collection of letters from club members serving in the First World War thanking the club for food and 'baccy parcels.
These were on display in what was the club library - and is now a room off the bar. And I noticed for the first time a board commemorating the Mildmay Chums - a roll of honour of sixty names. Six of those listed had 'Gone West' - soldiers' slang from the First World War for death (perhaps because that's the direction of the setting sun).
The WW1 'pals' were groups of volunteers who enlisted in the army as a group and served together often constituting a full battalion (which consists of somewhere between 300 and 1,000 soldiers). The Grimsby Chums were the only pals battalion to used the word 'chums'. The Mildmay Chums may have been a smaller and more modest version of these pals battalions - but it had a history which pre-dates the war.
There's little online about the Chums, but a post on the excellent Spitalfields Life site about Ken Sequin's badge collection includes this item. The Mildmay Chums also get a mention in the London Gazette in October 1910 - four years before war broke out. Perhaps this was a self-help society which became a group of friends who enlisted.
The sixty 'chums' listed on the roll of honour are certainly not the only members of what was then the Mildmay Radical Club who served in the forces during the First World War. Elsewhere in the club there's a huge board commemorating hundreds of members who died during the conflict.
What was the purpose behind the Chums? Anyone recognise any of the names on the roll of honour? And why are they not listed in alphabetical order?
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