1914 tent version
Winter of 1916-17 Aussies in huts
Perham Downs (nicknamed Perishing Downs) is located north of Salisbury, between Tidworth & Ludgershall on the northern edge of the Salisbury Plain. It was part of the Tedworth Estate purchased by the British Army in 1897. At the outbreak of the 1914-18 war, Tent City was home to some of the new Kitchener Battalions of British soldiers and recruits who were concentrated on Salisbury Plain and under canvass until at least Dec 8th 1914. Marquees blew away in winter gales from over their sleeping heads - hence Perishing Downs. Things improved in 1915 when a hutted camp was built on the site for 5,000 men.
It was one of four Australian command depots in the UK dealing with soldiers who had been discharged from Hospital and needed training before being sent back to France. Command Depot No.1, capable of accommodating 4,000 men was established at Perham Downs in the summer of 1916, before moving to Sutton Veny in October 1917..
The Pioneer Training Battalion was based at Perham Down. Perham Downs also housed the 1st Division's 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Training Battalions until they moved to Durrington in July 1917 and then in turn to Sutton Veny on October 1917. The Overseas Training Brigade which prepared men who were discharged from hospital for their return to France was formed here in June 1917, before moving to Sand Hill (Longbridge Deverille) near Sutton Veny in October 1917.
The WW1 camp was rebuilt between 1972 and 1974, with wooden huts replaced by brick buildings and renamed Swinton Barracks. It is now one of the major garrisons on the Salisbury Plain.
Soldiers who passed this way
- Leonard Henry (Lennie) Buckingham MM 6 - 24 Jul 1916 - 3rd Training Battalion
- Thomas Albert Leslie Cheney 2 - 22 Sep 1916 - 3rd Training Battalion
- Claude Francis Cooper 3 - 14 Sep 1916 - 2nd Training Battalion
- William Barge 21 Sep 1916 - No. 1 Command Depot
- Edward Bailey 25 Sep - 3 Dec 1916 - 3rd Training Battalion
- Richard Beattie 25 Sep - 3 Dec 1916 - 3rd Training Battalion.
- Alexander Donald 24 Oct - 21 Dec 1916 - No. 1 Command Depot
- Charles Henry Davis 4 - 8 Nov 1916 - No. 1 Command Depot
- Arthur Charles Grafham 3 - 31 Dec 1916
- Richard Beattie 7 - 9 Apr 1917 - No 1 Command Depot
- Jack Hayden Gibson 17 - 21 May 1917 - No 1 Command Depot
- Arthur Leworthy Bettenay 11 Jul - 15 Sep 1917 - No. 1 Command Depot
- Alexander Donald 31 Jul - 9 Aug 1917 - No. 1 Command Depot
- Charles Fielder 9 Aug - 11 Sep 1917 - No. 1 Command Depot
- Charles Fielder 12 Sep - 13 Oct 1917 - Overseas Training Brigade
- Claude Francis Cooper 25 Mar - 10 Jul 1918 - No 1 Command Depot