Whitby’s Local War Memorials

Whitby’s Local War Memorials

In 2006, a Thursday outing or war memorial hunt, as my husband called them, ended up in Whitby.

Whitby, a traditional North Yorkshire fishing town, now like quite a lot of coastal towns and villages becoming somewhat commercialised, with many of the traditional shops giving way to cafe’s, bars and charity shops. Once famed for its supply of jet that was sourced and worked locally and made famous by the making of Victorian Mourning Jewellery as worn and made highly popular by Queen Victoria wearing of brooches and other items made of Whitby Jet after the death of Prince Albert. Now, Whitby is known worldwide for its connection to Dracula and Goth Weekends.

Back to 2006, after walking around the town and having a fish and chip lunch we happened upon St Ninian’s Church – well, I had to go in, didn’t I? As it happens the priest was on site, and after the usual polite conversation, I asked where the war memorial was and could I photograph it. After finding out where the memorial was and answering why I wanted to photograph it, he went on his way and I took the photographs.

My partial transcription of St Ninian’s Church and other local war memorials forms part of an exhibition being held at The Brunswick Centre, Brunswick Street, Whitby YO12 8RB on the 16th of June 2018 between 10:00 – 16:00hrs. The exhibition is organised by Whitby Civic Trust will display the war memorials surveyed and researched to date and it is hoped that visitors and relatives of the fallen will be able to help with their research.

The research lead by Joyce Stangoe culminates in the display followed by a self-guided walk leaflet and the publication of a book to preserve and share their work.

I have given The Trust permission to use information from my St. Ninian’s page in their research, but in the meantime, I thought I might give you a little taster as to what could be available on the day!

John and Ann Parkyn  (Parkin) during the war that became known as The Great War, saw three of their sons enlist – Arthur, George and Matthew.

In 1901 John and Ann were living at Low Hospital Road. John was a cab driver, while Arthur and Matthew were at school, aged 12 and 10 – John George by this time had left home.

Ten years earlier in 1891 home was Tynemans (sic) Yard, Whitby. John Parkin worked as an iron miner. His older boys, William J and John G aged 19 and 16 have followed their father into iron mining, while Thomas was aged 9 and attended school. With two-year-old Arthur and eight month old Matthew as the baby of the family.

George (John George) and Matthew served in the military during the 1914-1918 war, but it is their brother Arthur who is positively found on many records

St Ninian’s Roll of Honour © Carol Sklinar 2006

Arthur had been born on January 13th, 1889 and baptised the next month in St Michael’s, Whitby He married Catherine Mary Stephens in 1911 following Banns that were read out on the 10th, 17th and 24th of September. During the war, he enlisted in Whitby and served in the Royal Garrison Artillery, Heavy Battery, as Gunner 31125. He was killed in action on Tuesday 17th of September 1918 and is remembered on the Vis-en-Artois Memorial to the Missing with over 9,800 other casualties with no known grave.

‘Death Penny’

It was over the next 12 months that Catherine, Arthur’s widow, was to receive the sums of £12 18s 4d, 11s 6d plus a war gratuity of £15. She would also be the one to receive his British and Victory Medals (if they were requested), along with the ‘Death Penny’ Plaque and Scroll.

Why not visit The Civic Trust’s exhibition on the 16th of June and see who else from Whitby paid the ultimate sacrifice.

John Rogers, Mason of Wakefield

John Rogers, Mason of Wakefield

Over the past few years, I’ve photographed hundreds of headstones in Sugar Lane Cemetery, Wakefield – the reason, well it’s to do with a project I’m researching that is well on its way to being completed.  Along the way, I seem to have amassed a number of photographs of interesting headstones. Interesting either by a name, a deed done, an occupation, place of birth or death or how the death occurred.  The headstone remembering John Rogers is one of those, falling into the latter category.

John Rogers’ fallen headstone © C Sklinar 2014

The photograph of John’s headstone recently formed part of a display I had done at the monthly meeting of the Wakefield & District Family History Society.  At one of their committee meetings, I suggested a display to be a focal point and promote conversation, as opposed to the members and visitors getting their ‘cuppa and a biscuit’, then sitting down to await the speaker. The displays worked and each month features a different subject.  Previous subjects have been weddings, Lady Pilkington, Polly’s  Story, Remembrance and The Titanic – with more interesting subjects lined up!

Anyway, back to John Rogers, Mason of Wakefield.  John was born in the village of Staincross in 1826,  possibly son of John Rodgers, ag.lab, and his wife Hannah.

By 1851, John had moved to Wakefield, was a married man and a father, living on Wrengate Sun Lane (could this have been at the junction of both roads?).  He had married Elizabeth (nee Shillito ?) around 1849 in Wakefield and by the time of the census their son, Walter was five months old.  As he had done in the previous census, John gave his occupation as a mason, while his wife’s entry was not left blank as other none-workers had been, the census enumerator had entered for every wife without a paying occupation entered ‘Attends her home’.  I must add that his enumerator’s writing was clear, readable and quite a pleasure to look at.

A further ten years on in John’s life, 1861, he is living in Stott’s Yard, working as a stone mason (journeyman).  John is 35 years of age and Elizabeth is 40.  Their family has grown a little – Walter is 10 and attending school, Pheobe is two and little Rowland is one month old.  The age gap between Walter and Pheobe leads me to believe the couple had a few sad years before Phoebe was born as there are quite a few entries for deaths between 1850 and 1859 in the Wakefield area that could fit this family.

Magnificent memorial to the Shaw family © C Sklinar 2014John during his working life had worked on the spire of the All Saint’s Church, Wakefield, now Wakefield Cathedral, but it was while working on the magnificent memorial to the Shaw family that John lost his life.

The Wetherby New, and Central Yorkshire Journal of 14th of August 1862 :

Monument To The Late John Rogers – on Thursday last, a monument was erected in the cemetery to the late John Rogers, stonemason, who was unfortunately killed some time ago by a fall from the monument of Mr. Shaw, in the cemetery, which he was erecting.  The stone, we understand, was given by Messrs. Latham and Son, and the old fellow-workmen of Rogers dressed and prepared the stone after their day’s toil, out of respect for the deceased, who was much esteemed by his friends.  The stone bears the following inscription:- ‘Erected to the memory of John Rogers *** Wakefield, mason, who was accidentally killed.  This monument is erected by his fellow-workmen as a tribute of respect to his memory.’  Rogers did all the crocket work belonging to the spire of the parish church, and when he had finished, he ascended to the top without rope or ladder, a feat which was allowed to be more daring that Steeple Jack’s feat about a fortnight ago.

From the newspaper article, it seems that John was well liked, being a good member of his community and respected by his fellow workers. What more can you ask in life or death?

After his death, Elizabeth, his wife wrote to the Friendly Society of Operative Stonemasons of England informing them of John’s demise. The Fortnightly Returns records held at Warwick University according to their online index hold – Application for accident provision; Letter of thanks from widow, Elizabeth Rogers; Information regarding the memorial.  From 1840 onwards members were eligible for sick pay, superannuation and accident pay and benefit.  The records also include fines levied on members for offences such as working for too little pay, fraud, theft, offensive acts in a lodge house or ‘tattling’ to an employer.

Damaged headstone of John Rogers, mason of Wakefield © C Sklinar 2014

John’s headstone is a large solid column mounted on four tiers.  The tiers are simple with mouldings, indents and fauna.  Each tier the decorations get more complicated, showing off the mason’s skills.  The sentiment on the broken column reads – ‘In memory of John Rogers of Wakefield, Mason, who was ************ killed on the 4th of April 1862, aged 36 years.  This monument was erected by his fellow workmen as a tribute

John Rogers’ fallen headstone © C Sklinar  2014

of respect to his memory.  ‘In the midst of life, we are in death’

 

 

It is known from the newspaper article mentioned above that the working on John’s headstone included the words ‘accidentally killed’ but the headstone now laid in a prone position has had the word ‘accidentally’ removed.  Who had the word removed?  Was it his fellow workers removed ‘accidentally’ as an afterthought?  Or did his wife, Elizabeth ask for the removal?  Does anyone know?

 

C R Noble, VC, Longuenesse Souvenir Cemetery

 C R Noble, VC, Longuenesse Souvenir Cemetery

© 2015 C Sklinar

I came across another interesting headstone while looking through the Longuenesse cemeteries file.  This one belongs to Lance Cpl. C R Noble, V.C. who served in the Rifle Brigade as service number 3697.

The Lance Cpl. Noble’s headstone stands shoulder to shoulder with its neighbours, but who was C R Noble in the early 1900’s.  Let’s start at the beginning so to speak.

Cecil Reginald Noble was born on the 4th of June 1891 Bournmouth the son of Frederick Leopold and Hannah.

Frederick in the census of 1901 told the enumerator that he was 35 years old, born in Yeovil, Somerset and that he was a painter and decorator,  His wife aged 36 had been born in Sussex. Frederick also told that he had two children, Florence aged 11 and Cecil aged 9.  Home for the family of four was 36 Lincoln Street, Bournmouth (which is about a 25-minute walk to the beach).

Ten years later in 1911, Frederick and Hannah were living at 335 Holdenhirst Road, Bournmouth.  The couple had been married for 23 years and the census tells that Hannah had given birth to four children but at the time of the census two of her children had died.  The couple had a boarder in their seven-roomed house – Bertha Tilley, a 29-year-old single lady who worked as a machinists bookkeeper.  We know from the subject of this blog that Cecil was not one of those two children who had died before the census.   Cecil however, seems to be lost in the census. I have tried using all permutations of his name; not including his name and being so vague in the search that there are millions to look through.  He must be there somewhere, maybe someone out there knows where he was! He may not be able to be found in the census but the availability of his service record certainly makes up for that.

Cecil’s service records come to over 20 sheets of forms and letters of which some are slightly damaged and faded.  The first sheet of his Short Service record includes much of the information already known – his address, his occupation and age (19 years 10 months) and his regiment, service number and rank.  What was not previously known was that Cecil had served for a short time in the 6th Hampshire Batallion.  A note written under his service in the Hampshire’s says ‘not being able to attend’.  He signed the form which was witnessed by Sgt Weaver.

It is the second page that clarifies his service with the Hampshire.  He served ‘at home’ for 1 year and 224 days – from the 31st of March 1910 to 9th November 1911.  Further dates confirm he was in service from October 1914, being part of the B.E.F. from November 1914 until the 13th of March 1915, a date his family would always remember.  The second page of his records gives information regarding his service medals, that he was wounded and that he had been granted the Victoria Cross, Gazetted 28th April 1915.  The final information tells of his next of kin – I was expecting Frederick and Hannah but the record gives his next of kin as Alexander and Hannah of 335 Holdenhurst Road, Bournmouth.  Who is Alexander as I’ve not found a connection to a Hannah and Alexander in the area?

Cecil Reginald Noble, V.C.

Would you recognise Cecil if he walked down the street?  Let’s see!  He was a young man, a few months from reaching his second decade.  He was 5′ 8″ in height, weighing 139 lbs (just under 9 ¾ stones and a 38″ fully expanded chest.  He had a fresh complexion with brown hair and eyes.  He had been brought up in the Church of England.   His vision was good and he had a scar beneath his lower lip and two vaccination marks (done in infancy).  You might have to look close for the scar but I think he would be recognisable, don’t you? Anyway, he was classed as fit on the 31st of March 1910 in Winchester. He must have been in Ireland at some time as on the 29th of August 1911 he was given an antityphoid inoculation with a second injection following on the 9th of September. He had another inoculation in May of 1917.  A further page confirms his service in Dublin, with further service in Colchester.

While serving in Dublin on the 24th of February 1911 Cecil was charged with ‘using obscene language to a NCO’.  Acting Corporal Milner was named as a witness.

Cecil was appointed Pioneer in September 1913 and by the 23rd of November 1914, he had been appointed Acting Corporal.

Cecil died of wounds received on the 13th of March 1915 and was posthumously awarded The Victoria Cross, the United Kingdoms highest award in the honour system, awarded for gallantry ‘in the face of the enemy’ to members of the British armed forces. His citation reads:-

Citation: “For most conspicuous bravery on the 12th March, 1915, at Neuve Chappelle. When their Battalion was impeded in the advance to the attack by wire entanglements, and subjected to a very severe machine-gun fire, Corporal Noble and CSM Daniels voluntarily rushed in front and succeeded in cutting the wires. They were both wounded at once, and Corporal Noble has since died of his wounds.” (London Gazette, 28 April 1915)

From now on his service records give information and events that occurred after his death.   Hannah had lost her son in March 1915 and the following year in the March ¼ her husband had died.  A letter to Mr F Noble was received at 172 Capstone Road, Bournmouth you can only imagine how Hannah would have felt, receiving a letter from the Rifle Records Office addressed to her husband who had recently died.   The letter would have been included in a small package that contained the effects of her son, Cecil Noble, V.C., and contained:- a leather wallet containing letters and photographs and a ‘Green Jackets Lodge of Oddfellows’ contribution book.  Hannah wrote:- ‘Articles herein mentioned received with thanks, Hannah Noble’.   By 1919 when most of the paperwork seems to have stopped Hannah and her daughter, Florence Gertrude was still living at 172 Capstone Road.

In June 1915 £12 3s 4d was sent to the family with a second amount of £5 War Gratuity following in 1919.

Hannah had to confirm receipts of medals, the plaque (death penny) and scroll.  There was one final signing to be performed and that was on the 14th of June 1921 when she signed to acknowledge receipt of the Victory Medal – some six years after her son died of his wounds.

As Cecil had been awarded The Victoria Cross he was immortalised on two sets of cigarette cards – one ‘Glory Boys’ by Martins and ‘Victoria Cross Heroes’ by Cohen-Weenen.

C R Noble, V.C. via Wikipedia

Wikipedia has a page for Cecil complete with a picture of him wearing his Victoria Cross.  This image does not seem to ring true as the deed for which The Victoria Cross was awarded took place the day before his death – being wounded he would have been in some form of hospital and not looking as ‘spick and span’ as he is on the photograph – is there some form of doctoring going on with the photograph?

 

Cpl. W C Gibson, KOYLI

Cpl. W C Gibson, KOYLI

© C Sklinar 2015

It was while browsing through my file of LONGUENESSE (ST. OMER) SOUVENIR CEMETERY images that I came across one of many double headstones.  The headstone remembered a soldier from the Cameron Highlanders named J Collins, Private S/14593 and W C Gibson, Corporal 1505 who served in the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry.

As I have a few online subscriptions it seems fit to follow the Yorkshire line – not that I don’t want to find the Scottish young man but Scotland’s People doesn’t seem to want to go down the subscription route, preferring the pay as you view option, which when looking for census, births, marriages etc., can work out a little on the expensive side.  So the subscription route I will follow to find out who the young man from a Yorkshire Regiment came to lie in some corner of a foreign field.

Who was W C Gibson, to his family and friends he was Walter Clarence Gibson, born in Dewsbury and residing in Batley?  He was the son of Harry and Clara Gibson nee Murton.  The couple married in the autumn of 1889 and during the years of marriage had seven children, sadly four of the children were to die before the 1911 census was taken.    Walter in 1911 was an 18-year-old piecener in a local mill, as was his elder brother Robert. His father, however, was employed as a night watchman working for the council.  Both Harry and Clara had not moved very far from their birthplaces – Harry being born in Earlsheaton and Clara in West Ardsley.

Walter had been born on the 21st of June 1893.  The following month his parents had taken him to St Peter’s, Dewbury for his baptism.

War was declared and eventually, Walter enlisted in Batley.  He joined the 1/4th Btn of the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, serving as corporal 1505.   The 1/4th was a Territorial Btn that was in August 1914 stationed in Wakefield as part of the West Riding Brigade, later moving to Doncaster, then Gainsborough (that’s a story in itself) and by February 1915 to York.  They were mobilised for war and entered France in the late Spring of 1915.  From May of the same year, they took part in various actions along the Western Front.

It was on the 4th of August that Walter died of his wounds in No 7 Stationery Hospital St Omer. Walter had been injured by a shell that killed his best friend, Clifford Parkin instantaneously. A report in the Leeds Mercury of 7th August 1915 tells:-

Killed by One Shell – Two Batley Chums Die on the Same Battlefield. – Sergeant Clifford Parkin (son of Mr and Mrs William Parkin of Crlinghow, Batley) and Corporal Walter C Gibson (son of Mr and Mrs Harry Gibson, of Carlton Street, Batley), two chums wervin with the local ‘Terriers’. have fallen in action. It is reported that a shell which instantly killed Sergeant Parkin also seriously injured Corporal Gibson that he died in hospital soon afterwards.
The official notification of the tragedy has been supplemented by a patheric latter written by another Batley N.C.O., Sergeant Albert Greenhalge, who was a friend of Sergeant Parkin as the letter indicates.  He writes :- ‘I am lonely now my pal, or rather brother, has been killed, poor Cliff! He was hit with a shell – the same shell which wounded Walter very seriously.  My heart is broken.  I have nobody left now to confide in like I had in Cliff.  It is the biggest mirale on earth that I wasn’t killed.  Nobody knows what it is like to see your dearest friend killed.  We shall bury him to-night, and I shall see him buried.  Every one mourns his death.  He was the flower of the company.’

The collection of Soldiers’ Effects on Ancestry tells that Walter’s next of kin was his father, Harry, who in 1916 received over £8 from the War Office and in 1919 received a War Gratuity of £4.

Walter was eligible for the Victory and British Medals. His family would have also have been eligible for the Memorial Plaque or ‘Death Penny’ as it became known accompanied by a scroll.

Longuenesse Souvinir Cemetery © C Sklinar 2015

Walter, as we know rests in the Commonwealth War Graves Longenuesse Souvenir Cemetery just outside St Omer.  The cemetery contains the fallen from the Commonwealth, China, Germany, Poland, Czech, nurses and Commonwealth War Graves Commision Staff.

Marshall, Walter’s younger brother also served in the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry- the 8th Btn, as Private 202784.  He was killed in action on the 8th of December 1917 and rests in Giavera British Cemetery, Arcade, Italy along with over 400 identified casualties.

St Mary’s Church, Woodkirk Memorial Window

St Mary’s Church, Woodkirk Memorial Window

Within the fabric of a West Yorkshire church is a beautiful stained glass window commemorating a loving son and soldier – Lt. Maurice Nettleton Wilcock. Why is he remembered in such a magnificent manner when his name is not on the church war memorial which commemorates past churchgoers and local young men?

Maurice Nettleton Wilcock source unknown

Maurice Nettleton Wilcock has been remembered inside St Mary’s Church, Woodkirk for many years. When parishioners sit in the traditional pews do they look up and read the words remembering a young man or do they simply admire the beautiful colours when the sun shines bringing the glass into its full glory. How many members of the church knows who he was or why he is not on the memorial to the dead and missing.

Let me see if I can find the answer!

Maurice was the son of John Henry Wilcock and his wife, Mary Elizabeth nee Terry whom he had married on the 13th of November 1895 in the Parish Church, Mirfield.

John Henry Wilcock was born in Ashton Under Lyne, classed a gentleman on his marriage documents, the son of Henry Wilcock, a leather merchant of Fairfield. While Mary of Royd House was the son of John Nettleton Terry a surgeon. John N Terry had been Gazetted in 1864 being a Surgeon in the West Riding Yorkshire Artillery Volunteers, resigning his Commission in 1872. He had before his service been in partnership with Edwin Casson, Surgeon and Apothecary, this partnership was mutually dissolved in 1858. The Gazette also tells that Terry was both surgeon and apothecary.

Going back to Maurice, he was born on the 14th of June 1897 in Wilmslow, Cheshire and baptised in Mirfield on the 3rd of August 1897, a few days after the death of his father, who had died on the 25th of July in Mirfield.

Maurice’s first census was that of 1901 when he and his mother were living at Wilmslow Park. His mother, Mary was aged 28 and living on her own means. Maurice was only three years of age being born in Wilmslow. Mary Terry, his widowed maternal grandmother was also in the household along with three servants – a nurse (domestic), a cook (domestic) and a housemaid, yes again domestic. Mary Terry, like her daughter, had also sufficient funds to enable a decent lifestyle, which is to be taken for granted after seeing the window.

Ten years later and Maurice is now 13 years of age and a border at Radnor School, Redhill with six other pupils, two assistant mistresses – Zeta and Sybil Rougier from Guernsey and Head of the household Miss Mary Granville Johus (sic). Maurice also attended Mill Hill School, London.

Mary Elizabeth Wilcock remarried solicitor Leonard Richard Brewer Phillips, whom she had married in Wales in 1906 and they appear in the 1911 census living at Bryancliffe(?), Wilmslow, Cheshire, an eleven-roomed house. As well as Leonard and Mary, Margaret Terry was a visitor. The couple had a butler, Bertram Smith and two other servants.

Maurice was one of over 300 Old Millhillians who gave their lives during both World Wars. He was Gazetted in 1917, given the rank of Lieutenant in the 13th Bn. Royal Fusiliers and in a short time would be serving his King and Country in a foreign land. In September of 1918, Maurice’s battalion had been taking part in the Battle of Arras – he was killed in action on the 18th of September of that year. He rests in Lebucquiere Communal Cemetery Extention, on the road from Bapaume to Cambrai. The area around the cemetery had been retaken by the German army in March 1918. Being retaken by the allies in early September. The cemetery extension was begun in late March 1917 and used for almost a year, being enlarged again when burials from outlying areas were brought in from surrounding battlefields. The cemetery contains the graves of over 770 servicemen, of which 266 are unidentified – known only unto their God.

As with all WW1 Army Officers, Maurice did not have a service number, which can sometimes hinder research, The ranking soldiers had an identifying service number which is a boon when looking for similarly named men – that is unless a transcriber has made an error, not an unusual occurrence! The advantage of officers records is that they are held in the National Archives, sadly not online, but available for a fee.

Maurice’s Medal Card via Ancestry

Anyway, back to records and memorials that appeared as a result of Maurice’s death. Maurice would have had money owing to him from the War Department, which his mother, as next of kin, would be eligible for. Firstly, the Army Register of Soldiers’ Effects lists that about £120 was forwarded to Cox and Co. (the same as many officers) before being distributed.

Money in the family – Maurice’s maternal grandfather, died leaving £57,567 to his daughter Mary Elizabeth Phillips. Maurice, of Burdon Brown, Cheam, Surrey after Probate left £20,683 to his mother. Leonard, of Roydene, Gerrards Cross died in 1934 leaving £18,919 to his widow Mary Elizabeth.

Where is Maurice remembered apart from Woodkirk Church? It seems that he is also remembered in another local church. A marble tablet on the west wall of St Mary’s Church, Gawthorpe remembers Maurice with the following words ‘In memory of Lieut Maurice Nettleton Wilcock 13th Battalion Royal Fusiliers only grandchild of the late John Nettleton Terry of Merfield aged 21. After nearly two years active service, killed in
action on 18th September 1918’ (extracted from IWM memorials).

Memorial Gateway Mill Hill School

The war memorial in Cheam also includes Maurice on one of its stone tablets.   I said earlier he is also one of over 300 Old Millhillian’s from Mill Hill School who are remembered by a War Memorial Gateway made of Portland stone which records the names of the fallen on internal panels.  The school memorial can be seen from the roadside standing proudly and slightly set back from a short flight of steps.  The opening of the Memorial Gate was filmed and is available to view on Youtube.  I would like to think that some member of Maurice’s family attended the opening ceremony.

I have found various memorials that bare his name but as yet found no connection to St Mary’s Church, Woodkirk…………. Do you know any different?

An ‘Old Savilian’

An ‘Old Savilian’

In my previous blog when I told you about the book written by Elaine Merckx and Neal Rigby – ‘Some Other and Wider Destiny – Wakefield Grammar School Foundation and the Great War’. Continuing the Wakefield Grammar School theme,   I thought I would tell you about one of the young men mentioned in the book.

I have looked at every photograph in the book and there are many including a number of sports-related images,  I was drawn to the photographs of the men and boys in the Roll of Honour section. As with any collection of photographs, there is always one that stands out from the crowd – this time it was the turn of John Laurence Young Ottley, not because of his name but because of the uniform he was wearing.

John Laurence Young Ottley wearing the uniform of the Punjabi Rifles

John Laurence Young Ottley was born on  April 20th, 1898 and baptised in Wakefield Cathedral on June 3rd of the same year.  He was the son of John Bickersteth and Margaret Ottley nee Wray.  The family lived at 6 Bond Terrace, Wakefield.  His father giving his profession as Solicitor and Official Receiver in Bankruptcy.

Three years later in 1901, at the time the census was recorded, the family were living at 1 Hatfeild Street, Wakefield.  John B Ottley gave his age as 56 and being born in Acton, Suffolk.  His wife, Margaret, was 36 years of age and born at Newmillerdam, Wakefield.  Young John, now aged three had an older sister, Sarah M B (Sarah Margaret Bickersteth) Ottley, well older by one year! Also living with the family was Margaret’s elder sister Ann Wray.

The 1911 census gives a lot more information than previous documents of the same kind.  This census is, however, allows for the head of the family to add or exclude information they deem fit.  For example Mr Ottley, not only writes that he is the head of the family he includes ‘Head of the family’.  He tells that he and his wife have had five children, but one has died. Although all the ages of John’s children are included he seems fit to add that ‘all under 15’. Mr Ottley and I feel by his writings in the census that I should call him Mr Ottley adds that he is both a worker and employer clerks and that he works at his offices at 6 Bond Terrace, which at one time was the family home.  Mr Ottley seems to have been a bit of a ‘stickler’ as he goes on to tell that Newmillerdam was at Sandal, nr Wakefield.  He tells that he and his family are ‘British Subject by parentage’. He includes their 16-year-old servant from Ackworth, Margaret O’Hara as a British Subject.  In the final column, he writes ‘None of the Residents in this house are either wholly or partially Blind deaf or dumb lunatics or imbiciles DG JDC (initials)‘. Home for the family at this time was 12 Wentworth Terrace, Wakefield, a nine-roomed house.

John Laurence Young Ottley’s older sister, Margaret was not living with the family at the time the census was taken.  Where was she?  She was living with her Aunt Caroline A Ottley, aged 62, who lived by private means. Living with them was Muriel K Ottley, Sarah’s 16-year-old cousin.  Muriel had been born in Bakloh, India, but was a British Subject by parentage  – it seems the family liked these words.  Both cousins were at school but home for this period in their lives was 38 Britannia Square, Worcester.  No 38  Britannia Square seems to be of some architectural importance according to Historic England as an entry reads:

Villa. c1820 with later additions and alterations. Painted stucco over brick with hipped slate roof, rebuilt end stacks (2 per end) with string course and pots. Parapet gutter to facade. Central hallway, double-depth plan. 2 storeys with attic. 3 first-floor windows. Stucco detailing includes plinth; full-height Doric-style pilasters to ends and between windows; first-floor band; frieze, cornice and blocking course. Outer bays have 8/8 sashes, centre first-floor 6/6 with margin lights of coloured glass. Ground-floor windows are tall 8/12 sashes. Entrance door is 4-panel; fanlight with radial glazing bars. Flat-topped gables with copings and casement window to attic. INTERIOR: Retains original plasterwork and joinery including narrow open well staircase with stick balusters and wreathed handrail; white marble fireplace to left ground-floor room; moulded cornices, that to hall has decorative frieze with modillions and anthemion design. A similar design to No.39

38 Britannia Square via Britanniasquare.org

This house does seem to fit in with the status of the family, as John Bickersteth and Caroline (Agnes) were two of the children of Laurence Ottley (and his wife Elizabeth Bickersteth), who in turn was the son of Sir Richard Ottley (and his wife Sarah Elizabeth Young).

By visiting Britanniasquare.org, it seems I may have answered one of my queries – where did Sarah Margaret Ottley go to school. By browsing this website I think I have found out!  One image shows the tennis courts of a local school, the Alice Ottley School, now Royal Grammar School Springfield, could she have attended this school named after a relative, which was just a short walk towards the centre of the square?  Alice Ottley was the first headmistress of the school.

Back to John Laurence Young Ottley who was killed in action on April 22nd, 1917 near Instabalat, Mesopotamia.  John has an entry in De Ruvigny’s Roll of Honour, 1914-1919 which gives a brief family history and more about his time in the Punjabi Rifles:

Ottley, John Lawrence Young, 2nd Lieut., 56th Punjabis Rifles, Indian Infantry, Indian Army, eldest s. of he late John Bickersteth Ottley, Registrar of the Court of Birkenhead, by his wife, Margaret (14, Euston Grove, Birkenhead), dau. of John Wray ; and nephew of Rear-Admiral Sir Charles Langdale Ottley; b. Wakefield, co. York, 20 April, 1898; educ. The Grammar School, Wakefield (Scholar); Cathedral King’s School, Worcester (Scholar); gained the 21st place in the Indian Cadetship Examination in Aug. 1915; sailed for India the following months and engered the Royal Military College, Wellington, India; was gazetted 2nd Lieut. 1 April, 1916; joined Regt. at Jullundur; served with the Indian Expeditionary Fore in Mesopotamia from 1917, and was killed in action near Instabalat 22 April, 1917.  A brother officer wrote: “He was only out here with us for a few weeks, but I saw enough of him at that time to be sure that he would have made a fine officer had he lived.  On April 22nd he was with the leading line of the regiment, which had advanced over half a mile of open ground and took the Turkish front line.  It then went on towards a second position, but the Turks counter-attacked, and, lining a railway embankment on the left, poured a heavy enfilade fire into our men.  Captain Watson and your son, with three Indian officers, were killed at once, as well as a number of men.  Very few got back to the captured trench.  Your son was shot through the shoulder and leg, and died almost instantaneously.  He and Watson were buried in the same grave next morning, near Instabalat Police Post, by a Church of England clergyman.  An officer of the regiment at present on the Staff attended, and has marked the position of the grave.  We all feel the deepest regret at the loss of such a gallant and promising young officer, and wish to express our sincere condolences with your in your grief” Unm.

It seems this young man came from a very interesting family with connections to many countries.

To read more about John Laurence Young Ottley and other young men who were educated at Wakefield Grammar School or young ladies from Wakefield Girls High School you might like this link

Wakefield Grammar School Foundation and the Great War

Wakefield Grammar School Foundation and the Great War

The Great War took a great toll on the public and grammar schools of Great Britain.  Many young men left school in the summer only to be lost to their family and friends by the winter, while others had had careers and families of their own cut short by injuries or death.

Some Other and Wider Destiny – Wakefield Grammar School Foundation in the Grear War‘ by Elaine Merckx and Neal Rigby delves deep into the vast archives of the Foundation to bring photographs, documents, minutes, The Old Savilian (the School magazine) and eyewitness reports together in this study of The Great War and its effect on life in both the boys’ school and Wakefield Girls High School.

Some Other and Wider Destiny cover

The book, nearly 500 pages, informs the reader of the background of both schools telling what life was like at school in Wakefield.

Listed within the pages are the names of approximately 200 ‘Old Girls’ who did work of a national importance in various forms. For example, Sophie Appleyard did clerical work at the County Hall, as did Isabella Loudon and Janet Mcqueen Loudon. While Eva Bates was Private Secretary to the Inspector of the Government Shell Factories, Leeds. Marjorie Bygate did work at the United Counties Bank to replace a man at the Front.  Many others were part of the VAD (Voluntary Aid Detachment) and did work of varying natures around the country. Some like Nancy Evelyn Walley was nursing in France by 1916.  Mabel Kitson, it seems went farther afield, working in the Diplomatic Service at the British Embassy, Washington.  She was the first British woman to achieve this and rose to become head of a department.  Others stayed local and worked on various committees, did fundraising and volunteer work, including work at Wentworth House, their former school which had been turned into a hospital. Charles Edwin Woodhead, a Private in the Northumberland Fusiliers was a Prisoner of War, as did Austin Ernest Wilson of the KOYLI.  A young man named Montagu William Wood did service with the Shanghai Light Horse.

The young men.  The ‘Old Boy’s’. The ‘Old Savilians’ who went to war are all named with the years they attended the school, along with their final rank, regiment and any additional information.  This information may include their date and place of death; any additional medals awarded i.e. Military Medal; when they enlisted; if they were wounded or invalided.

Most poignant is the Roll of Honour to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice. From Lieutenant-Colonel’s to the humble private each one has is remembered and in most cases, a photograph is included.

These men are more than mere names on a page or a memorial, they were someone’s son, a brother, a grandson.  They were part of a community, albeit a church or a school.  They were part of a team, either cricket or rugby.  They were a classmate.  They were an ‘Old Savilian’.  They were and shall always be part of the fabric of Wakefield Grammar School.

Elaine and Neal have recorded every part of life at both schools leading up to and including the time of the Great War and no research stone seems to have been left unturned. It is a work of great passion and enthusiasm and is a tribute to the school, the boys and themselves.  Well done!

To get your copy of ‘Some Other and Wider Destiny – Wakefield Grammar School Foundation in the Grear War‘ published by Helion & Co. Ltd., you can contact either the Wakefield Grammar School office or the publisher.  The book is also available on Amazon.

RBL Passchendaele Commemoration Pin

RBL Passchendaele Commemoration Pin

Towards the end of 2016 I purchased a Somme 100 Lapel Pin and had to tell all about the young man that gave his life for his King and Country. The link below will take you to the story of Private G F Wood.

RBL Somme 100 Lapel Pin – Pte. 22851 G F Ward

Passendaele 100 Pin

Following the release of the Somme 100 pin, the RBL (Royal British Legion) released the Passchendaele 100 Pin to commemorate 100 years of battle.  While chatting with someone the other day I found out that one of their relatives had purchased a Passchendaele Pin.  Being a bit, well a lot, on the cheeky side, I asked if she could find out the name of the person who is remembered on the card included with the pin.  A day or so later I had the name of the young man.

Wakefield Family History Sharing’s Gen Blog is letting the soldier tell you about his life.

I am pleased that 100 years on, my comrades and myself are still being talked about and remembered.  By having a name on a card and having a pin with a small amount of Passchendaele soil included in the poppy centre, you know that I died in time between July and November 1917.  The officers told us that we were trying to take control of  the ridges south of Ypres – we all called it Wipers, we had names for a lot of the towns, villages and farms. We had to, we couln’t pronounce the real name! Passchendaele was the last of these ridges.  About half a mile away was a German controlled railway, it seemed that if we could take that station, vital supplies could not get through and hinder their advance.  The weather was not good, mud, mud and more mud.  Many men, horses and transport were continually getting stuck with not all having a happy escape.  But enough of that for a while, let me tell you about me.

Oh, dear, my apologies, I am getting so excited about talking to you, that I forgot to tell you who I am – My name is Charles Frederick Jacklin, pleased to meet you.

I was born in Sutterton, Lincolnshire, in late 1894.  I had three elder sisters: Louisa, and Charlotte and Ethel. Later  I was to have two more sisters and a brother – Helena, George Eno and Beatrice Alice.

My parents were called Joseph and Louisa (nee Barber) who had married on December 25th 1886 in the Boston, Lincolnshire area. My dad had been married before but when he married mum, he was a widow  My father was born in Butterwick, the son of another Joseph Jacklin and mum was from Wrangle, the daughter of Charles Barber. Grandad Barber was a witness at my parents marriage along with Laura Ann Cowham.

Dad’s first wife was called Rebecca Shackelton, he had married her in 1874. Sadly, she died in 1885. So, my brothers and sisters had two half siblings – Joseph, yes another one, and Henry. When Rebecca died, dad found it hard to work and bring up two children.  I don’t know how he met mum, but they did and here we all are.

St Mary’s Church Sutterton

My siblings and I were all born in  Sutterton.  In 1901 we lived in the village, we didn’t have a real address, we just lived in the village, but we were close to everything including school and St Mary’s church.

I remember when the forms arrived for the 1911 census.  We all laughed when mum and dad had to work out how many years they had been married, they’d never been asked that before.  Mum was a little sad though, when dad wrote ‘none’ in the place for how many children had died.  I think she was remembering someone close, who had lost a baby.  Mum thought it a little hartless to ask such a question, but dad said the census people must have a reason to ask a question, as their families would also have to complete the form.

Dad, in 1911 was still working for hiself, as a builder.  I was working on a farm just down the road.  Two of my younger sisters were at school and we had 80 year old Charles Barber, my widowed grandad living with us.  He got a pension, but I’m not sure where from.  It was a good job we had a big house – 7 rooms, but we still had no real address.

If you remember, I said that we had two step siblings – well, in 1911 Henry was married and had 5 children and had lost one. Mum had thought about her grandchild when filling in their form.  Henry was a dock labourer, living with his family at 29 Churchill Street, Hedon, Hull.

Life carried on as normal, well were very upset when dad died in 1912, leaving just me and my younger brother as the men in the family and grandad Barker, but you do what you have to do, don’t you.  In 1914 when war was declared.  All the my friends wanted to do our bit and many of us became part of the Grimsby Chums (10th Lincolnshire Regiment).  All the school, sports or occupation battalions were called Pals Battalions, there were the Leeds Pals, the Bradford Pals, but we were Chums, the only Chums Battalion and we were proud of being the only one. We were part of Kitchener’s Army.

Grimsby already had its own Territorial Battalion gathering in men from Grimsby, Louth, Scunthorpe.  However, there was so much enthusiasm from the men in Lincolnshire  that local dignatries gained permission for us be included in new units.  At first there was no uniforms but plenty of training.  We trained in the grounds of the Earl of Yarborough, he had given his permission for the use of his grounds and it was quite a way outside the town and quite a way from home. We did soon get uniforms, well uniforms of sorts, they were post office uniforms that were surplus to requirements, but at least we all looked the same, well most of us did.

The Chums trained throught he winter of 1914 and by May of 1915 we had unforms, rifles and looked like proper soldiers, ready to go and fight. We marched through Cleethorpes to the park at the other end of town when we passed out.

We were now part of the 10th Lincolnshire Regiment and our training had now moved up to Ripon where we included some lads from Wakefield. Our next move was to Wiltshire.  We had seen a bit of England but none of the fighting, that was until early January of the following year when we set out for France, landing at Le Havre before moving north.  It was during this time that we were inspected by Lord Kitchener.

The Chums took part in the Somme battles, at La Boislle and were sent in to attack just after the explosion of the mine. Things didn’t really go to plan and when we started moving were machine-gunned by the Germans – officers and men dropped to the ground either wounded or dead. We had to retreat.  We lost many good men and officers during that day and the ones that followed.  We did receive replacements, these being from conscriptees as now conscription had been introduced.   After the Somme we were rested.

We saw action at Vimy Ridge.  Some of us stood on the top of the ridge and looked down over the plain at the enemy.  We had been to Arras, took part in one of the attacks on the Hinderburg line  and by 1917 were at the Ypres Salient.  Here we worked repairing roads, replenished supplies and did a lot of general labouring  before taking part in what was to be known as the Battle of Passchendaele.  It was here that I was wounded.

When I’d enlisted I’d gone to the nearby town of Boston and was given the service number 10/1291.  I must have done something right as I was promoted to Lance Corporal.

Mendinghem Military Cemetery

I had been wounded and think I had been taken to Proven Casualty Clearing Station near Poperinge. I died of my wounds on the 25th of October 1917, and was laid to rest with as many military honours as you can have during war time, in Mendinghem Military Cemetery on the road from Poperinge to Oost-Cappel.  There are over 2400 of us including 50 Germans.

My mother, as with all who were left at home, did not take the news lightly, but she carried on, she had the girls to look after and her father.

It was mum who was my next of kin and she was to get my medals – the British and Victory Medals.  She also was sent £5 8s 8d in 1918, £11 11s 2d War Gratuity in December 1919 and my elder half brther Joseph received 13s 7d. It took a while really, didn’t it?

It seems that here at home I was known as Charles Frederick Jacklin, but on all my military paperwork I am Fred or Frederick.  I suppose that could be confusing if someone is trying to look for me. But thankfully, that wasn’t a problem for Wakefield Family History Sharing.  I appear on the village church memorial as Charles and I’m remembered with two other men from the 10th Lincolnshire, George Clarke and Hugh Keal.

The year of 1919 was a year my family would be very happy and also greatly saddened.  My elder sister Louisa married John William Nix and my grandfather Charles Barber died aged 89.  When he came to live with us I oftened chatted to  him about the things he had seen, done and lived through.

That’s my life and death, but before I leave you I must tell you that we, the Grimsby Chums were filmed, yes, Lincolnshire lads on film.  I think many of the women from Sutterton went to the pictures to see if they could see someone local or someone they knew, not sure if they did.  You might like to have a look at it. 

All I ask is that when you see a Passchaedale Pin or even a Somme 100 Pin, think fondly of me and Private Wood so that we shall never be forgot.

Henry Dawkins – A Rifleman’s War by Guestblogger John Dawkins

Henry Dawkins – A Rifleman’s War by Guest blogger John Dawkins

Rifleman Henry Dawkins – John Dawkins family collection

In 1940 my father, Henry Lawrence Dawkins, was 21 years old. He had joined the British Army in 1938. He had tried to join the Essex Regiment, like his father, but it was oversubscribed. He instead joined The Kings Royal Rifle Corps, an elite unit with a distinguished 200-year history. When the war began he was therefore fully trained. He was in B Company, 2nd Battalion, which was sent in May 1940, to defend Calais at the time the BEF was falling back to Dunkirk. With other units, British and French, the total force was around 4,000 men. Their objective was to hold Calais for as long as possible by holding back the advance of a German armoured division moving up from the south towards the Dunkirk area.

The following story was told to me by my father, over the years I was growing up in the 1950’s and 1960’s. As is so often with men of this era, he kept much to himself, and information came to me in short snippets and anecdotes. I have over later years, through book research and the internet, been able to put his story into the context of the broader history. He was a very honest and somewhat religious man, who was not boastful in any way, and therefore I have every reason to believe all he said was true.

He landed at Calais with his battalion on 23rd May. On disembarking, they could hear the shooting had already started. His Company, under the command of Major Poole, was sent to defend the western approaches to the town. They took up position on a railway embankment, and soon after were engaged with Germans approaching across the fields. This fighting was intense, with both sides already taking casualties. (Much later in 1965 on the 25th anniversary of the battle in Calais, which we attended, my father with a tear in his eye, confessed to my sister that he believed he may have brought down a couple of the enemy with his rifle fire. As previously stated, he was a religious man, a Roman Catholic, for whom killing even in self-defence would have posed for him a moral question.)

The following day, with the battle intensifying, his Company was withdrawn into Calais to defend some road bridges, that crossed the comprehensive canal network within the town. Meantime, Winston Churchill had communicated to Brigadier Nicholson, in overall command that there would be no rescue for the troops at Calais, and that they should hold on as long as possible to buy time for the preparations to be organised for the Dunkirk evacuation.

My father said a further fall back was ordered from the roadblocks after another day had passed. His company had repelled many German attacks by tanks and infantry, whilst occasionally being bombed and strafed by the Luftwaffe. They fell back to houses in the old town awaiting orders. Whilst taking cover in one such house, the Company second in command, Captain Henry Scott (see other entry on this website) ordered the men to tidy up the house. A seemingly odd request in the heat of battle. I suspect in this lull in the fighting, his idea was to keep the men busy to help morale. The troops most of which, like my father at 21 years were young had just gone through 2 days of hard fighting. Scott probably thought it better to not let the men be allowed to think too much about their possible fate. At 39, I have no doubt he was cast as a father figure somewhat by the men. After the cleaning up exercise, Scott ordered that the rubbish be thrown outside. He opened the front door, exactly as a German mortar bomb exploded adjacently. Father said he fell back into the house, mortally wounded. Major Poole radioed for a military ambulance. On arrival, the ambulance was machine-gunned by the Germans. Poole, who presumably had been given orders to move, but could not now evacuate Scott, who was by now, slipping in and out of consciousness, either detailed my father or my father volunteered, to stay with Scott, whilst the others moved on.

Just my father and Scott left in the house. Father said that Scott in his lucid moments told father to leave him and save himself. My father did not do this and loyally waited an hour or so till Scott passed away. This is one of those many quiet, unrecorded heroic events that must occur in all wars. The dedicated loyalty of my father to this well-liked officer, and Scott, almost certainly knew he was going to die, still having the welfare of one of his men in mind. After Scott’s passing, my father considered his own fate. Exit out the front door still impossible, he went into the backyard, which was surrounded by a 7-foot wall. My father being 5’6”tall wondered how he would surmount this. Whilst pondering his fate, a friendly voice was heard beyond the wall. Two of his comrades had returned. With their help, he got over the wall.

The next day it became clear the garrison could not hold on much longer and in the afternoon, the order was given ‘every man for himself’. Most of the Calais defenders, who had not been killed were captured. They aided in the clean up of Calais, which the German’s organised. One darkly humorous anecdote of my fathers was how difficult it is to bury a horse. Horses were war casualties as well as men. He said it does not matter how large the hole is, there is always one horse’s leg which will not fit.

My father, now a Prisoner of War, was marched with his comrades, the 600 miles to eastern Germany. They were often pelted with rotten vegetables by German civilians on the way.

He was held at Stalag 8B, a large prisoner of war camp, with some 10,000 plus inmates of all nationalities. The camp was situated in the Lamsdorf area, not very far from Auschwitz. There were British, French, Dutch, Belgians, Poles and Russians in this camp. Unlike officer camps, which under the Geneva Convention excused men from working, all other ranks of POW’s were used as slave labour. Father and many of his comrades were made to work on the construction of a vast oil shale plant. The German’s did not have a reliable source of oil and therefore were keen to develop this resource.

He said the German camp authorities tended to treat all the nationalities differently. British, and later American prisoners were treated reasonably well, in the circumstances. Other western Europeans, such as the French and Dutch slightly less so. People from the east, such as Poles and Russians were at times treated very badly. There were, at the beginning, many Jews within the ranks of the various captured allied soldiers. My father said that over time they ‘disappeared’ never to be seen again. He said that a few of the German guards became friendly with the POW’s, chatting and exchanging cigarettes. They were usually the older men, second line troops, who hated the war as much as the prisoners.

The SS periodically inspected the camp. On one such occasion, a group of four SS officers in an open-topped staff car sped through the camp. Father did not see them until the last second, and as he jumped out of the way, the car’s wheel caught his ankle, and he fell to the roadside. The car slowed and stopped, and he thought for a second knowing the reputation of the SS, that one of them might choose to shoot him for ‘obstructing’ their car, but all four officers turned their heads towards him, laughed, and drove off.

Work on the oil shale plant continued. Then in late 1944, the plant was nearing completion. The Germans planned a big opening ceremony. About a week before, some prisoners heard the distant whine of a single aircraft, very high in the sky. This was unusual so deep in Germany. A couple of days before the ceremony the Germans erected a good luck ‘Christmas Tree’ on the highest tower of the plant. The significance of the lone aircraft became obvious the next day – it had been on a photo recon mission. It appears the allies were just waiting for the plant to be finished because on this fateful day the United States Army Air Force totally flattened the whole installation. Many POW’s, particularly craftsmen such as bricklayers who had worked on the site for the Germans, wept when this happened – it was still their work and their pride in their work destroyed. People often react strangely, to our eyes, in these stressful environments.

During his time there, my father nearly died from rheumatic fever. We only found this out by chance, many years later after he had died, when my mother met a woman whose husband had been in the same camp and remembered this. As a Catholic, he had been read the last rites, but still pulled through. He never told my mother this, although they were together for 35 years before he died.

They knew the war was not going well for the Germans, for one day in the spring of 1945, all of the prisoners were told the camp was to be evacuated. They were soon marching west, away from the Russian advance. This became known as the famous Death March. The cold and exhaustion took their toll. Many POW’s who could not keep up, were too tired or too ill, were shot and left at the roadside. Each day more of the German guards disappeared until in the end thousands of men were being guarded by a handful of Germans. Then they were all gone. The prisoners saw tanks advancing towards them, American tanks. Can you imagine that day, after 5 years of many near-death situations and the constant uncertainty of it all? The Americans took small groups of POW’s to all the local German houses, telling the occupants to feed them and let them use their washing facilities. The German civilians now were only too willing to cooperate.

After the war, it would not have been surprising if he and his comrades had suffered PTSD. I’m sure many did but stoically bore it, in the knowledge that they had survived. I think in my father’s case, the years of deprivation and stress had taken their toll and contributed to his relatively early death at 61 years in 1980.

Charles Thompson by Guest Blogger Jane Ainsworth

Charles Thompson by Guest Blogger Jane Ainsworth

Image J Ainsworth

I decided to research Charles Thompson to tell his story because Barnsley Council has failed to honour him as he deserves on the Somme Centenary Memorial (Light Lines). They created an expensive sculpture supposedly to commemorate about 300 Barnsley men who died on 1 July 1916 – one specific day in a four-year war in which thousands of Barnsley men were killed while serving their country. Regrettably, they did so as a temporary artwork rather than a war memorial and failed to pay due care and attention to accuracy.

Image J Ainsworth

I pointed out to them in July 2016 not only that they had failed to use three photographs of my Old Boys, that I had informed them about when they asked local people for help initially and which were easily available in Barnsley Archives, but, even more carelessly, they had used the wrong photograph for C Thompson. (The one they used is one of my Old Boys Cecil Cuthbert Thompson who died on 14 July 1916, so he stood out for me).

Image J Ainsworth

I hoped that when they erected the Memorial in Churchfields Peace Gardens towards the end of 2017 any errors would be corrected but they have not been.

I recently came across a list of names on the panels on a Council website – inexplicably and most unhelpfully the men are not in alphabetical order of surname making individuals very difficult to find on the 30 panels. I was shocked to find that they had recorded the error on this list but chosen to ignore it – along with another eight or

so mistakes and five omissions!.

Charles Thompson served as a Private in the Second Barnsley Pals and was killed in action on 1 July 1916 along with many of his comrades. He deserves to be properly acknowledged as most of them have been.

I discovered that Charles had two surviving children, who lived in the Wakefield area, and it would be wonderful if any of his grandchildren could contact me to share any photographs they might have of him and other information that I have been unable to find so that we can make sure he is not forgotten.


CHARLES THOMPSON was born in 1888 in Bermondsey and his birth was registered in St Olave (Southwark) district. He was the son of Charles Thompson and Margaret Miriam nee Shutt.

His parents got married on Christmas Day 1891 at St Mary Magdalene’s Church in Bermondsey, where Charles (21) was a Leather Dresser and Margaret (19) was the daughter of Robert Shutt, a Tinman. Their Witnesses were Margaret’s father and Charles’ only sister Ellen Agnes.

Charles’ grandparents were Francis James Thompson and Agnes Bennett, who had married on 14 March 1870 at St Paul’s Church (Cathedral), Westminster Bridge, Southwark. Francis (18) Cellarman, was the son of James Thompson, Bricklayer; Agnes (18) was the daughter of Charles Bennett, Furniture Dealer. They relocated to Bermondsey, where Francis became a Fellowship Porter and they had two children: Charles, Leather Worker, and Ellen Agnes, Tin Plate Worker. Francis died sometime before 1891, leaving Agnes a widow by the age of 38 years. Agnes may have received some support from the Livery Company for her husband’s occupation but she was working as an Office Cleaner by 1901. On the 1911 Census, Agnes (60) ‘Domestic Charing and Washing,’ was a boarder at 86 Abbey Street in Bermondsey with her grandson Charles (18) General Labourer.

Meanwhile, Charles’ parents occupied four rooms at 57 Fendall Street in Bermondsey with the other four of their five children: Agnes (16), Margaret (15), Maud (13) and Ellen (8) as well as their Aunt Ada Shutt (17).

Charles relocated to Yorkshire and took up employment in a Colliery. He was a Coal Miner living in Darton when he got married on 3 February 1912 at St Peter’s Church in Woolley to Mary Jane Hough (19) from Woolley, whose father Charles Hough was a Miner. Although their Marriage Certificate stated that his father was deceased, I found his parents on the 1939 Register still residing at 57 Fendall Street with a lodger. Charles Thompson senior, born on 20 October 1870, was an ‘Electric Fitters Mate Retired,’ while his wife Margaret, born on 24 February 1872, was a Housewife.

I do not know when both parents died as I have found no match in Bermondsey or Southwark for either of them. Charles’ grandmother Agnes Thompson died early 1939, aged 87. His sisters Agnes, Margaret, Maud and Ellen probably all got married and may have moved elsewhere but their surname is too common to be certain about details without purchasing Marriage Certificates.

Charles’ wife Mary Jane nee Hough was born late 1893 in the Wakefield area. In 1911, she was a Cotton Spinner at Bank Mill, residing with her married sister Hannah (26), her husband Thomas Sunderland (23) Coal Miner Filler, and their son Wilfred (2) in two rooms at Clayton West near Huddersfield. (Details of the Hough family are provided at the end).

Charles and Mary Thompson had three children: Alfred, who died in infancy early 1913, Gladys in 1914 and North in spring 1916.

Charles’ first Attestation Form is in his Pension Records, although he does not appear to have been paid any pension. He enlisted at Wakefield on 5 September 1914 and was placed in the Army Reserve until he ‘Rejoined the Colours’ on 14 September, being posted as a Private (Service Number: 17290) in the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry on the 16th. However, about a month later he was ‘Discharged as not being likely to become an efficient soldier‘ after spending several days in the Royal Buckinghamshire Hospital in Aylesbury for ‘Bursitis Prepatellar,’ otherwise known as Coal Miner’s knee or septic arthritis of the knee.

The Medical Form provided some personal information about Charles. He was 22 years 172 days old, born in London, a Coal Miner of 2a Huddersfield Road, Barnsley; height 5’ 3”, weight 117lbs, chest 35”, Fresh complexion, Brown eyes, Brown hair, Religion Church of England. He was initially assessed as fit for the Army with good Physical Development and Vision 6/6 in both eyes. Details were provided about his marriage and birth of his daughter Gladys.

Charles enlisted again in Barnsley when recruitment was underway for the Barnsley Pals and he was attested as a Private (14/328) in ‘B’ Company of the 14th (Second Barnsley) Battalion of the York and Lancaster Regiment. His brother-in-law North Hough was also allocated to ‘B’ Company. Details about their training, service in Egypt then relocation to the Western Front can be found in Jon Cooksey’s Barnsley Pals and in the Battalion War Diary. Charles was killed in action on 1 July 1916, aged about 27. As his body was not recovered for burial or identification was subsequently lost, his name is on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing.

Barnsley Chronicle – 22 July 1916

CRIGGLESTONE CASUALTIES

Mr Charles Hough, Painthorpe Terrace, Crigglestone, has been notified of the death of his son-in-law, Private Charles Thompson, Y and L Regt. Mr Hough has also received information relating to his son, North Hough, who has been wounded whilst serving with the same regiment and in the same engagement.

Mary Jane Thompson was widowed at the age of 22 years and left with two young children to raise. I have not found any more records for her; she may have moved to a different area or got married again.

Gladys Thompson was born on 10 April 1914 in Darton and was baptised on 14 May 1914 at All Saints Church there. She may have got married and had children but I have been unable to verify this.

North Thompson, named after his uncle, was born spring 1916 in Wakefield area as his mother would have probably returned to stay with her parents while Charles was serving overseas. I have not been able to find him on the 1939 Register but he got married early 1940 in Lower Asbrigg to Dorothy Telford. They appear to have had three children in Lower Asbrigg: Joan in 1940, Keith in 1941 and Trevor in 1942.

I would really like to hear from any of these family members or their descendants to find out more about Charles Thompson, to see a photograph of him if possible and to locate the whereabouts of his medals and Memorial Plaque.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning. We will remember them.
(Laurence Binyon: For the Fallen, 1914)

THE HOUGH FAMILY AND ANOTHER BARNSLEY PAL

CHARLES HOUGH was born summer 1856 in Hall Green to Thomas, Coal Miner, and Hannah Hough; he was baptised on 10 July 1856 at St James’ Chapel in Chapelthorpe. Charles was one of 11 children: Joseph, Mary, John, Samson, Abraham, Charles, Ruben, Elizabeth, Amos, Henry and Sarah A. He and his brothers followed the same occupation as their father.

Charles (21) got married on 30 July 1877 at St James’ Chapel to Mary North (19) of Hall Green, whose father William North was a Blacksmith. Mary’s sister Alice Ann was one of the Witnesses.

Charles and Mary lived in Hall Green then Woolley Moor in Crigglestone, before relocating to Brick Row, Berry Moor, Thurgoland, by 1901. They had 14 children but four died by 1911. The surviving ten children were all helpfully listed on the 1911 Census even though several of them were not actually living at home in the four rooms at New Houses, Haigh. North (33) had been married 9 years, Elizabeth (28) married 6 years, Hannah (26) married 3 years, Fred (24) ‘Cripple can’t work,’ Richard (21) married 1 year, Mary Jane (17), Alice Ann (12), William Henry (10) School, Joe (8) School, and Arthur (6) School.

Mary Hough died summer 1916, aged 57, and Charles Hough died late 1924, aged 68, in the Wakefield district.

NORTH HOUGH was born early 1878 in Crigglestone and his baptism was on 6 January 1878 at St James’ Church in Chapelthorpe. His unusual first name was the surname of his mother Mary. He worked in a Colliery like his father Charles, as a Hurrier in 1891 then as a Coal Miner Hewer by 1901.

North got married on 13 January 1902 at Holy Trinity Church in Thurgoland to Annie Elizabeth Sidebottom (21) Servant at Hill Top, whose father Alfred Sidebottom was a Miner.

On the 1911 Census, North (33) and Annie (29) occupied three rooms at Claphouse Fold in Haigh with their three surviving children out of four. They subsequently had three more making a total of seven: Charlie, Arthur, Miriam, Stanley, Ida (before the outbreak of war in 1914), Mary (in 1919 after the war had ended), and one whose name is unknown.

According to the WW1 Medal Card and Award Rolls with additional information from Jon Cooksey’s Barnsley Pals, North Hough enlisted as a Private (Service Number: 14/417) in ‘B’ Company of the 14th (Second Barnsley) Battalion of the York and Lancaster Regiment. The article in Barnsley Chronicle on 22 July 1916 confirmed that he served on the Somme, where he was wounded. He was subsequently transferred to the Labour Corps (Service Number: 119535) but, unfortunately, his Service Records have not survived for more details about his wounding and continued war service. He was awarded two medals, Victory and British War.

I have been unable to find out when he died and I would be very interested to hear from any of his descendants to discover more about him.

Guest Blog by Jane Ainsworth, author of Great Sacrifice: the Old Boys of Barnsley Holgate Grammar School in the First World War (March 2016) and Keeping Their Beacons Alight: the Potter Family of Barnsley and their Service to our Country (November 2017) – both published by Helion & Company.