A WORLD War One ‘trench club’ inherited by a Kendal man is providing a fascinating insight into how British soldiers adapted to close combat encounters while carrying out bombing raids on enemy lines.

The remarkable cudgel passed down to Eric Ferguson is believed to have been used by his great uncle John Frith, who fought through five battles in France during 18 months of the conflict.

It was fashioned using a 15-inch long bamboo stick topped with a knob of heavy lead, like a builder’s plumb ‘bob’, and Mr Ferguson believes it was made by soldiers in the trenches for a specific deadly purpose.

“It seems that when our bombers crawled out on raids in no-man’s land, they were ordered to leave their rifles behind,” he said.

“There was a fear the rifle’s report and flash could give the soldier’s position away and would be no help in hand-to-hand combat.

“So some of the bombers fashioned their own cudgels which they could use if they encountered the enemy.”

Mr Ferguson, a former Westmorland Gazette van driver, has no idea if his great uncle’s club was used ‘in anger’.

“It was handed down to me by my grandmother and I always assumed it was something my great uncle used when he went out poaching,” he said.

“But then I read about something very similar on display in the Imperial War Museum.”

Mr Ferguson said his uncle survived the war and returned to Kendal where he ran a wine shop until his retirement.

The cudgel is now on display at the From the Fells to Flanders exhibition at the Museum of Lakeland Life at Kendal.