Since time immemorial countries have needed to raise armies when the likelihood of war loomed near. In Anglo-Saxon times military service was linked to land ownership and this military force was called a fyrd.

In 1066 Harold's fyrd was fighting his traitorous relative, Tostig at Stamford Bridge when news was brought him of William's invasion. After winning the battle, his army, weary, and wounded, had a forced march to meet with William's force at the Battle of Hastings. We all know the result of that battle.

In 1070 William introduced a system called Knight's Service, whereby his tenants in chief provided a number of knights, fully equipped, to be available for military duties. Eventually this system was replaced and commuted to a monetary payment by Henry I. Mercenaries were employed by most armies.

Muster Rolls showing the available men in each of the shires were compiled by the Lord Lieutenant of the Counties and many of these Rolls still exist.

We are fortunate that the Lord Lieutenant of Gloucestershire, Lord Berkeley, in the early 17th century had a most able steward who compiled a record of all the able bodied men in the county, aged between 16 and 60. He set out, parish by parish, a full description of not only what the gentry were to provide in the way of equipment, but a list of all the men able to serve. This list has been published under 'Men at Arms 1608', compiled by Smythe of Berkeley.

The lists, headed by the chief lord of the parish sets out the key names of the men with a description of their military ability linked to a Key. Below is the list of men locally who would have been eligible to serve.

Arle. Whereof John Lygon Esq. Is lord.
Thomas Gregory
Ffrancis Gregory 1 p
John Mason
Robert Yarrington 2 py
Thomas Brooks, his servant 1 ca
Gabriel Newman 2 py
William Smith 2 py
Thomas Gregory the elder 6 py
Thomas Ivory 1 ca
William Pincott
Walter Sharford 1 p
Walter Mylton 1 ca
William Kerby
John Higgins 1 ca
William Brocke th' elder 3 ca
William Brocke the yonger 1 ca
John Holdshippe 2 ca
Robert Rogers 3 py
John Smith 2 ca
Charles Drake
Gyles Hankin 1 py
John Hawling 1 ca
Peter Robyns 1 ca
Inhabytants charged with the finding of Armour not before mentioned.
Will'm Gregory, sub. Unable in body hath one Calyver fur' (furnished)
Walter Lane, sub. Unable in body hath one calyver fur'


The figure (1) sheweth the age of the man to bee about twenty
The figure (2) sheweth the age of the man to bee about fforty
The figure (3) sheweth the age of the man to bee between fyfty and threescore
The L're (p) sheweth the man to bee of the tallest stature fit to make a pykeman
The L're (m) sheweth the man to bee of a middle stature fit to make a musketeer
The L're (ca) sheweth the man to bee of a lower stature fit to serve with a calyver
The L'res (py) sheweth the man to bee of the meanest stature fit for a pyoner, or of little other use
The L'res (tr) sheweth that at the takinge of this viewe hee was then a trayned soldyer
The L'res (sub) sheweth that the said man was then a subsidy man
A calyver was a gun lighter than a musket.

An analysis shows that there were two capable of being a pikeman; ten of lower stature to handle the calyvers; six men of the meanest stature capable of being pioneers and of little use. There were, alas, in Arle no trained soldiers and no musketeers but the men of Arle in those far off days were willing and able, but fortunately, for this motley crew, they were not called upon.

Whether any men from Arle were in Wellington's Army we shall never know. This army in addition to regulars, also comprised much of the gaol's sweepings and Wellington, speaking of his army said, 'I don't know what they do to the enemy, but my God, they frighten me!'

We all know the outcome of that war and a prolonged period of peace followed, until the assasination of Archduke Ferdinand at Sarajevo plunged the whole of Europe again into conflict.

The conflict in which thousands of men gave their lives touched upon Arle, for out of the 40 families or so living in Arle Village and Hesters Way, approximately 15 men went to fight in this war and some, sadly, never returned. Their names are commemorated on War Memorials, Rolls of Honour and in the many, beautifully maintained war graves in France and Belgium.

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