Royal Star and Garter reflects on Great War

Royal Star and Garter reflects on Great War

Proud history: The old Royal Star and Garter in Richmond

Horace Ham: Resident who was shot in WWI

Open ward: Many servicemen were helped at RSG

Groundbreaking: The home was a first for treating soldiers

Special: The home has now moved to Surbiton

First published in World War One Centenary Surrey Comet: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

The centenary of the outbreak of World War One has arrived, and commemorations have begun nationwide.

The anniversary is particularly poignant for the Royal Star and Garter Homes - a charity established to care for the severely injured young servicemen returning from the battlefields of Europe.

One serviceman, Horice Ham, came to the home on Richmond Hill after becoming permanently disabled when he was shot in the arm in France in 1917.

He enlisted in 1915, aged 20, and a year later, along with his regiment the 16th Middlesex, fought at the Battle of the Somme, where he recalls seeing friends die within moments.

"I joined up with four friends and we stuck together until the Somme," he says, "Then, within a few minutes two were dead and two of us injured.

"Only 100 men out of our 800-strong battalion made it back."

As war raged in Europe, Britain’s military hospitals became overwhelmed with wounded troops.

When Queen Mary expressed concern for the future of these disabled servicemen, an independent charity was set up and, in 1916, the Royal Star and Garter Home on Richmond Hill opened its doors to 65 residents, with an average age of 22, in the former Star and Garter hotel.

Some residents were able to return home, while others were helped to live fulfilled lives for many years.

A new purpose-built home, the iconic listed building we know today, was specially designed by Sir Edwin Cooper and funded by the British Women’s Hospital Committee under the auspices of Queen Mary.

It was Her Majesty, along with King George V who opened the new home in July 1924.

The home, which moved to Surbiton in August last year, provided a permanent haven for paralysed and severely disabled men of the king’s forces.

After recovering from his injuries sustained during the Somme, Mr Ham returned to France where he was shot and left permanently disabled.

Standing in waist-high water in the trenches also caused osteoarthritis in his spine.

After his wife died, he came to live in the home on Richmond Hill.

The ex-serviceman hopes the charity will long continue to help people wounded through wars.

"The Star and Garter is my home now," he says. "It’s a wonderful, wonderful place. I only hope, just as the home was here for me when I needed it, it will be here in years to come for brave service men and women."

Comments (2)

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5:32am Mon 4 Aug 14

Dennis R says...

"Only 100 men out of our 800-strong battalion made it back." I simply cannot believe the Germans were that good, so these horrendous losses must be attributed "elsewhere."
"Only 100 men out of our 800-strong battalion made it back." I simply cannot believe the Germans were that good, so these horrendous losses must be attributed "elsewhere." Dennis R
  • Score: -5

9:43am Mon 4 Aug 14

bandit63 says...

I suggest you read up about the first world war - over 57000 allied troops were killed in the 16 days of the Battle of The Somme of which 14000 died on the first day. The Germans lost between 10000 and 12000 in the whole battle - it was a disaster as far as the Allies were concerned, and the whole war was just carnage on both sides. It was the first "modern" war using sustained bombardments, well dug in defences, machine guns, gas later on in the war etc. There are plenty of stories / evidence of regiments etc. being nearly totally decimated in a short space of time. A visit tp the Ypres area of Belgium will soon bring home how horrendous the war was......
I suggest you read up about the first world war - over 57000 allied troops were killed in the 16 days of the Battle of The Somme of which 14000 died on the first day. The Germans lost between 10000 and 12000 in the whole battle - it was a disaster as far as the Allies were concerned, and the whole war was just carnage on both sides. It was the first "modern" war using sustained bombardments, well dug in defences, machine guns, gas later on in the war etc. There are plenty of stories / evidence of regiments etc. being nearly totally decimated in a short space of time. A visit tp the Ypres area of Belgium will soon bring home how horrendous the war was...... bandit63
  • Score: 5

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