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138th Heavy Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery

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The development of the Hampstead Heavies website

My father never spoke of his experiences in the First World War although I was aware that he had served with an artillery unit. It was not until after his death in 1963, when I found a copy of Walter Wright's Narrative in his papers, that I discovered this unit was in fact the 138th Heavy Battery RGA. I also gained from the Narrative some idea of what those who served with the Battery had experienced during the years of fighting in France and Belgium and felt that these experiences should be known to a wider audience. I was unable to achieve this aim until my retirement which came when development of the internet was accelerating. Clearly this was the ideal way to make the Heavies' experiences known to a much wider audience.

Progress was slow until 2005. Apart from having to learn a new computer language it was not easy at that time to find a reliable host for the website. I did have some small successes in making contact with others who were interested in the experiences of the Heavies but it was not until Brian Bristow got in touch through the website in 2005 and subsequently came to see me that development of the website began in earnest.

Brian, grandson of Major Paris, Commanding Officer of the Battery, kindly made available much information from his family's archive and also put me in touch with a reliable web host. Since then the website has grown in content and accuracy from responses I have received from all over the world.

I am particularly pleased that the website aided events associated with the centenary of the First World War. In 2014 the Hampstead Museum at Burgh House used some website material in their Fellowship and Sacrifice Exhibition. Later I was in contact with Alain Chaupin and David Robillard from Bully-les-Mines responding to their queries about the Battery and its members for use in their exhibition and commemoration ceremony at Bully-les-Mines in 2016.

Now, over a 100 hundred years after the foundation of the Hampstead Heavies during the First World War, I should like to place on record my appreciation and thanks to all those throughout the world who have helped to make the website a more comprehensive and accurate record of the courage, bravery and suffering experienced all those years ago.

John Ridler, April 2016