A unique piece of Army history is to be celebrated and re-enacted in the picture-postcard Wolds village of Sledmere next Sunday when it celebrates the centenary of the legendary Wagoners’ Special Reserve.
It was just 100 years ago the farm workers on Sir Mark Sykes’ country estate were called from harvesting to go to war in the fields of Northern France at the start of what was to prove to be the First World War.
All were members of the Reserve, founded by Sir Mark, the 6th baronet, and they were to drive supplies using their skills with horses and pole wagon.
Sandra Oakins, curator of the Wagoners’ Museum at the imposing stately home of Sledmere House, said: “It was to become a piece of local history that in turn became Army history.”
On Sunday there will be a parade through Sledmere, starting at 11 am, and going past the landmark Wagoners’ Monument, and will include soldiers from the 150th (Yorkshire) Transport Regiment The Royal Logistic Corps, pole wagons pulled by heavy horses, a decorated agricultural horse,a pack mule, a wagon and horse ambulance used in the 1914-18 war, together with representatives of the Royal British Legion, all led by the Kirkbymoorside Town Band.
Entry to the grounds of the house will be free and during the afternoon there will be a re-enactment by the Durham Pals of the heavy horses hauling the pole wagons or the original figure-of-eight 1913 driving competition course. In addition a number of vintage tractors will be taking part.
Historic crafts will be re-created – a working farrier, saddler, the Guild of Knot Tyers, heritage groups and local museum exhibits.
“It will be, literally, a once in a lifetime opportunity to see all these things brought together at the place where, 100 years ago, it all started and we want people to come and be part of the story,” said Sandra.