Category Archives: General

From George Street to Upper Kirkgate

From George Street to Upper Kirkgate

In 1967 a friend of my father, a Mr R G Pearson or Pawson made a list of the shops on Kirkgate from

Kirkgate – opposite side of the road copyright info

the junction with George Street to the junction of Upper Kirkgate.  I found the names shop titles fascinating and evoked wonderful memories of the area.

“Demolition work commenced in Kirkgate from George Street to the corner of Upper Kirkgate, (on the west side) in mid-September 1967.

Prior to this when George Street was widened the corner shop of Kirkgate and George Street, was that of Mr Fred Wood, the Sadder, this was demolished, and it was thought to be the only Sadlers shop in the country to have a Wind and Spirit Licence.  

Also demolished was the Music Shop of Mr Arthur Webster, (Piano’s etc.,) 

Therefore when demolition started in September 1967 the following is a list of premises affected from the corner of George Street:- The British Oak, a public house; Sammy Herbert’s Fish and Chip Shop; Wakefield Radio Co.; The Spinning Wheel, Wool Shop; Hoffman, Confectioners; The Wool King – then an entry into the car park, with a Police Box on the corner (This entry was made by demolishing two shops). Then Malcolm’s Flower Shop; Wormald’s Butchers; Progress Butchers – then a passage.  Halford’s Cycle Shop; The Criterion, public house.  Then an entrance into a yard.  Scarr’s Hardware Shop; Morton’s Post Office; Dewhirst Butchers; The Double Six, public house; Kay’s, gents outfitters; King’s, gents outfitters; Hilton’s, boot and shoe shop; Cavendish Furniture shop (Once Jackson’s Arcade). Another shop occupied by Halford’s (after they left their shop previously mentioned.  The Army Stores, and before that Isherwood’s Radio and Television.  Entrance to a yard.  Timothy White’s, chemist; Leicester and Kettering, boot and shoe shop.  Pickles, gents tailors.  Then Kirkgate Corner.”

So many memories, On a Saturday after shopping it was occasionally fish and chips from Sammy Herbert’s.

One of my school friends lived at the Criterion public house which was run by her parents.  Inside the place was a rabbit warren of rooms, you could easily get lost.  I also remember the man from Wakefield Radio, he had a very large German Shepherd dog who I seem to remember sat a great deal of time in the entrance of the shop.  Timothy White’s and Scarr’s are also vivid in my memory, as is a gents shop, I remember going there with my father – something to do with the fact they would order military blazer badges and re-ribbon medals.

Fred Stringer, or is he?

Who is Fred Stringer, you may ask? Why is he deserving of a page in my ramblings?

Fred has been mentioned before. Where? In my previous blog about Arthur Moorhouse. Remember near the end I said I would tell about ‘Betty and Fred’. It seems their time has come!

Starting from where my interest in Fred began while looking for a Service or Pension record for Arthur Moorhouse, his brother,  I came across an entry for ‘Arthur Moorhouse, Wakefield, brother’. Could this be the Arthur I was looking for, well yes it was, but in the wrong context – I wanted a soldier, not a brother. But saying that, and after a little diversion from Arthur I found something just as interesting – his brothers Pension Record – a bonus and interesting.

Warrengate area via Wakefield MDC

The record set opened and told me Fred’s relatives – his mother was Betty Moorhouse of 23 Warrengate, Wakefield. His elder brother was William of Briggs Yard, Northgate, Wakefield and two younger brothers, Arthur (we know of) and Ezekiel, both of Warrengate. This family were all mentioned in Arthur’s section and confirmed in census records.

Fred’s Pension Records – Fred Stringer of Ossett near the town of Leeds, according to his Attestation – don’t start me on that one! Was nearly 21 when he signed before a local magistrate in Leeds in November 1911 and on the same day he was determined to be fit for the Army.

Have you noticed the name difference? Fred is a Stringer, while his mother is Moorhouse. Fred seems to have changed his name as on his and his siblings’ baptism records he is the son of a single woman, Betty Moorhouse. Anyway, back to Fred’s Pension Records.

Fred 5ft 6½ in I height weighed 154lbs. He had a 37½ chest which included a 7-inch expansion – seems quite large compared to other records I’ve seen but could be an error or bad writing on behalf of the medical staff. His complexion was fresh, he had blue eyes and fair hair and gave his religion of C of E. Fred had a scar on his scalp, a mole on his right forearm and one on his left shoulder. His pulse was recorded as 80, you don’t see that mentioned a lot in records. So, Fred Private 7721 was in the Hussars.

It looks like Fred’s service got off to a bumpy start, as after being in the army only three weeks, he is in the Guard Detention Room from the 23rd of November to the 20th of December (given 28 days and loss of pay until he made good the sum of £1 12s 11d in respect of his kit). All former service was forfeited. Service not allowed to reckon. His service began again on the 15th of December 2011.

Fred was posted to the 18th Hussars on the 15th of March, 1912 BUT the day before, the 14th, he is ‘Declared a Deserter’. Towards the end of April, he was given 35 days for being ‘Absence without Leave, making the Detention Barracks his home once more. .

Working through his service records in order and not always in date order, he gave his next of kin as his sister Jane Reed of 20 Vicarage Street, Wakefield.  Jane Reed answers another question posed in Arthur Moorhouse’ entry – who was the Reed who completed the 1911 census for Betty and her family – seems that one is now answered, could it be her son in law?

While looking through this recordset I have been wondering why Fred joined the services in the first place. He was posted again in May 1912 and by the 6th of the following month was absent again. He was in custody by the 15th of June. In July he was tried by DCM and sentenced to ’84 days and to be discharged with **ming for (i) Deserting his Majesty’s Service (ii) When a prisoner in confinement attempting to escape. The sentence has bee confirmed by GOC 2nd Cav Bde. who raises the sentence to read ‘To **dey detention for 84 days’ All forms forfeited on conviction desertion’. And so it goes on – Detention; Absent; Stop Pay; Disrespect for uniform.

And so it was on the 25th of May 1914 he was Discharged for Misconduct under paragraph 392 (xi) Kings Regulations. Fred’s Application for Discharge confirm his age and height but also include the reasons for discharge with his character being marked as BAD. A footnote told ‘I do not know whether this man misconducted himself with a view to discharge but I have no reason to suppose so’. Signed by C H Corbett, Major at Tidworth.

The plot thickens as on the 10th of November 1910 Fred Moorhouse Attested in Wakefield, joining the Royal Artillery as 62880. And so on to his description – 5ft 6½ inches in height. Weight 152 lbs. . He had a 39-inch chest with a 4 in expansion. With a fresh complexion, grey eyes, light brown hair he told his religion was C of E. He had a pulse rate of 70 and still had a scar on the back of his head. Again he was found to be fit to join the Royal Regiment of Artillery in Halifax.

He was given the rank of a driver and posted on 27th of November 1911. By the 11th of June 1911, he had deserted at Newbridge.

The next few lines tell ‘Fraudulently enlisted into Corps of Hussars of the Line on 1.11.11 as no. 7721. Pte: Fred Stringer and held to serve therein’. The next page seems to be where we began Fred’s tale, with his mother and siblings. Is there any more to tell? Just a little.

The Attestation for service in the RA gives Fred’s occupation as Rural Labourer, a change from carter. He had been vaccinated in infancy and in later life. In October of 1912 and also in May 1913 Fred had been admitted to hospital in Tidworth with boils, the cause of which were not known.

And so Fred’s service records end. He seems to be a bit of a character but at least consistent in his actions.

One question remains – why did he enlist under the surname of Stringer?

This is where Arthur and Fred’s lives cross as I omitted some information from Arthur entry.

In 1881 Betty Moorhouse was aged 24, employed as a rag sorter and living with her daughters, Anna aged 5 and Elizabeth Ann aged 2. Fred was baptised at St Paul’s. Alverthorpe on the 26th of November 1890 after being born on the 22nd of December 1888. He was registered and baptised as Frederick Stringer Moorhouse in the first quarter of 1889 – where did the Stringer name come from that he used later in life?

The answer is to be found in 1891 – Betty Moorhouse was now living at 5 Blakeys Row, Alverthorpe. She was now aged 34 and had 5 children living with her, including 2-year-old Frederick. But the head of the household was one William Stringer, aged 36, a joiners journeyman, with whom she said she was cohabiting. Does that answer the question, I think it goes a long way to do that, don’t you?

But to continue on to 1901, where Betty is now saying she is the head of the house. She has 4 children with her – some have moved on but Arthur and his younger brother are included, as is, William Stringer who is now a lodger.

I find it fascinating the twists and turns families take and lead us in wrong directions, but not so Betty and her brood. Ten years later in 1911, Betty once again, tries to confuse the later generations when she classes her self as a widow! Did she try to have some form of conformity in her life, a little bit of respectability, or had she and William been together so long it was taken for granted by the community they were married………….who knows. But it does go some way to answer the question of why Fred enlisted as a Stringer and a Moorhouse. But not the more burning question of why he enlisted twice. I think that one lies with Fred himself.

William Stringer died in the summer of 1907 aged 55. Betty Moorhouse died aged 64 in 1920.

Frederick S Moorhouse born in 1888 died in June 1957 aged 69.


Private Arthur Moorhouse, York and Lancaster Regt.,

Wakefield Soldiers Killed

After being in France only a fortnight, Pte. Arthur Moorhouse, of the 10th Batt. York and Lancaster regiment met his death in the battle of Loos. He was 23 years of age, and lived in Warrengate, Wakefield. Pte. S H Whitehead, of the 10th Batt. K.O.Y.L.I., who lived in Pinderfields Road, Wakefied, has died of wounds. He was only 18.

“While ever someone says my name, I did not die”.

Let’s say his name again………….  Arthur Moorhouse.

Firstly, Arthur Moorhouse, for no other reason than he was mentioned first in the Sheffield Independent article dated Saturday 16 October 1916. With only a name and a regiment for me, there is only one place to start – The Commonwealth War Graves Commission website. I’m starting there due to the fact that in the census, although, the newspaper says he was from Wakefield, he may not have been born there and there is an awful lot of Arthur Moorhouses dotted up and down the country, plus he may not have lived at his address in Wakefield for long. For me, the CWGC website will give back more information than I have to input to find him. Luckily there are just 9 Arthur Moorhouse’s in their records. If he had not been there it would have more than likely meant that his first name was cut short to just an initial. Luck was on my side! Well, somewhat on my side.

With one search, there he is. Moorhouse, Arthur, Private, 19770. York & Lancaster Regiment. Died Sunday, September 26, 1915, and that was it. No next of kin attributed to his entry. I do, however, know more than I did a few minutes ago.

Next recordset. The Medal Cards. This set tells, obviously, which medals Arthur’s next of kin were able to apply for – Pip, Squeak and Wilfred. The theatre of war in which he fought is given as France along with the date of 10 September 1915 when he arrived. His death date is given as ‘KinA 26.9.15’.

On to the next search, this time, Soldiers Died in the Great War (SWDTGW) – there he is. I find this set of records very informative as they can tell quite a lot if there is no surviving Service Record, as in Arthur’s case. Anyway, I’ve still not looked at a census, hopefully, this could lessen the search when I get there. It seems that Arthur was, according to SWDTGW, born in Scarborough and moved to Wakefield sometime after. We know his date of death, so that’s nothing new, but what I didn’t know was that he enlisted in Pontefract. Most of the other information was already know but one little gem of information stood out – Arthur had previously served as 18488 in the Yorkshire Light Infantry – bonus!

On to the next set of records – the Army Registers of Soldiers’ Effects and with the absence of a service record this can give, hopefully, a next of kin. I am not let down, there it is written in dark blue ink ‘Mo Betty’ (mother Betty) followed by confirmation in bright red ink ‘Mo Sole Leg Betty’. Betty was to receive in 1916 the sum of £1 11s 2d, followed by a War Gratuity of £3 10s in 1919.

Loos Memorial via CWGC website

Not a lot for the life of a son. Sadly, the family, like many others, have no place to mourn. No headstone to include a private tribute to a fallen son. Arthur is remembered on the Loos Memorial with over 20,500 casualties with no known grave. The site is also the final resting place for many, many Commonwealth soldiers who are marked with the well known CWGC headstone.

I’d looked at my usual record sets, with only one not visited yet. I was dithering thinking, no he would not be included there, but as I used to tell to my class a few years ago, it was always better to have a look and waste a few minutes and find nothing, than miss something that could be of use later. So with my voice ringing in my ears, I followed my advice. I am so glad I listened to myself and visited the WW1 Pension Records.

I wondered why good old Ancestry had opened up on a page in the middle of a set of records, but they were records of a Moorhouse of 23 Warrengate, Wakefield. Betty was there as the mother. Whose records were they? Time to scroll to the beginning. Well, that was a shock as I found who the record was for and continued reading the pages – he was a bit of a character. These were the records of Fred Moorhouse, the elder brother of Arthur. Fred seems to warrant a blog all to himself. Anyway, Arthur is there, in these records, mentioned as being relatives of Fred.

So much has information has been gathered as a result of a few lines in a newspaper – not even a local paper, at that!

It’s census time – 1901. 33 Georges Square is home to Betty and her family – Esme aged 16; Frederick, aged 12; Arthur, aged 8 and Ezekiel, aged 7. There I one other brother, William but he has left home. Betty, the head of the house, tells the enumerator she is a single woman working as a worsted spinner. Do you remember when I looked at the SWDTGW and Scarborough was given as Arthur’s place of birth, well that now differs – Alverthorpe is now his place of birth. But could that have been confused with New Scarbo’? Who knows?

Ten years later things all change. Betty is now a 53-year-old widow working as a shopkeeper on her own account (from home), born in Ossett. William is a pipe fettler in an iron foundry, born in Wakefield and Ezekiel is a wetter off in a local glassworks, again born in Wakefield. Home is 23 Warrengate, three-roomed house. Betty did not complete the compulsory form herself, A Reed, was tasked with the job. Who was A Reed? Was he a friend, a neighbour or even a relative?

Betty, was she a widow or a single woman? Whichever, she had born 13 children and sadly lost half of them before the 1911 census. Could Arthur baptism entry answer this question? Yes, it does and answers another question I asked earlier. In Alverthorpe parish on the 24th of July 1894, Arthur was baptised along with his younger brother, Ezekiel. Arthur had been born on in February 1891 with his younger brother following on May 10 1894. Betty seems to be the only name recorded on these entries – I’m leaving you to make your own conclusion. But home was New Scarboro’!

I don’t want to go off on a tangent and take away anything Arthur, I do that a lot? But it seems that Betty and Fred also have a story to tell.

The first paragraph of my ramblings give you, the reader, the sense that another person is to be mentioned, Private Whitehead, was that second soldier but alas, he will also have to wait a little longer to have his story told.

Ernest W. Litherland, RFC, The Grange, Monckton.

Ernest W. Litherland, The Grange, Monckton.

John Edward Litherland, born in Darton, was married to Edith Mary nee Braithwaite who he had married in the summer of 1889.

Their first child Ernest William Litherland was registered in the same quarter the following year and baptised in the Parish Church of Darton on the 13th of July. By the time the census was taken in 1901 the family had grown a little – John was by now 37 years of age, his wife was 30.  Their children ranged from Ernest aged 10 to George just two years old – with Muriel aged nine and Cyril aged seven, filling the gaps in between.

In the following ten years, the family seems to have grown somewhat and developed a little mystery!   I love a mystery, a problem, can I sort this one out?

Google map showing the proximity of Felkirk to The Grange, Monckton.

In the census taken in 1901, there were four children in the family, but 1911 census as well as being the accepted children that follow George, there seems to be one that fits in between Cyril and George – where was that child in the previous census?  Was she living with grandparents or staying with friends?  Before I go off and look for her I’ll tell you who was in the house in at Monckton in 1911 – Jno Edward Litherland was still head of the house, followed by his wife, Edith.  She was followed by Ernest, 20; Muriel, 19; Cyril, 17; Francis Jane, 16 (our new inclusion); George Thomas, 12 and followed by Richard Douglas aged 6.  There was also a visitor and his wife, George Edwin Hoey and Ann.  George was an Accountant. The family were looked after by one servant, 23-year-old Susannah Moore from Royston.  Life must have been good for the family as their home in Monckton, was called The Grange – a rather nice Gentleman’s residence consisting of two big receptions rooms, four bedrooms, attic rooms, approx. three acres of land and various outbuildings.

Where are you, Frances?  As Frances was born in c1895 it seems obvious to look for her in the 1901 census.  After a few minutes of looking through the transcriptions, there she was!  Frances was living in the house of widow, Thomas Braithwaite, aged 52 from Darton but living in Selby and employed as a Surveyor Highways.  Remember the surname Braithwaite, well it looks like Frances was living with her uncle and three cousins – that problem is solved, but why was she there?  That one I don’t know the answer to!

Ernest is the main focus of this blog, so let me tell you what happened next. Ernest, along with his younger brother Cyril, was employed as Clerk’s at a local colliery, probably, the same one his father was Commercial Manager at.

The war, The Great War as it became known, the war to end all wars, well, they did say that at the time, but we all know it didn’t.  Ernest joined the army in 1916 – the 3rd of August 1916, he became part of the Royal Flying Corps., with the service number 42446 and rank of a driver in the 27 KBS (Kite Balloon Section). On the 1st of April, Ernest became part of the RAF (Royal Air Force), after its formation that same year.  A promotion followed two months later when he was given the rank of Air Mechanic 2nd Class.

Ernest was 5 ft 5¾ in tall with a chest of 32 inches.  His hair or eye colouring is not noted on his Airman’s Record, neither is the colour of his complexion – would you or I recognise him walking down the street, possibly not but sometimes even the smallest bit of information tells so much.

Ernest Litherland memorial in Felkirk church © C Sklinar 2018

With Ernest being part of the Kite Balloon Section, was he serving in Belgium, France or a little farther afield?   Yes, he served in Salonika. Anyway, the good news is that Ernest survived his service for the Duration of the War’, but, sadly, while on demobilisation furlough he died from malaria fever on the 22nd of February 1919.  How devastating for his family, to have him be home, ready to be demobbed and then he died,  How many other families

Ernest’s headstone in Felkirk Church via Find a Grave

would have gone through similar torment?

Ernest was laid to rest on the 26th of February, in the churchyard in the small hamlet of Felkirk, beneath a family headstone, bearing the inscription ‘In Affectionate Memory of Ernest William, beloved and eldest son of John Edward and Edith Mary Litherland of Monckton Grange, who passed away February 22nd 1919 after service in Salonica with the Royal Air Force. Aged 29 years.  Thy Will Be Done, O Lord’,  only a short way away from his home, The Grange.

Probate for Ernest was granted in London and the sum of £579 5s 11d granted to his brother Cyril, who was now working as a Colliery Salesman.

Money from the military, £22 4s 7d, including a War Gratuity of £14 10s, was paid by draft to his brother Cyril in March 1920.

Ernest’s family were eligible for his medals, the British and Victory Medals – only those two as he enlisted after 1915, which were dispatched to the family in September of 1921.

Further sadness was to come to the family in 1926 when John Edward Litherland died aged 61, followed by Edith Mary in 1932, aged 62.

Earlier there was a mention of members of the Hoey family living with the Litherland’s in 1911.  Who were they?  Well, it appears the Hoey’s were related as John Edwards mother was a Hoey, another question answered.

 There is another memorial plaque in Felkirk church, but that will have to wait for another time.

John Fraser Hoyland

John Fraser Hoyland

Memorial to John Fraser Hoyland © C Sklinar 2018

It is known that if you are remembered on a plaque inside a church, you are more than likely dead. Some who are remembered on those plaques have lived a long and fulfilling life, while others, their future was cut short. Their dreams not fulfilled or their potential never achieved.

John Fraser Hoyland was one of those whose life was cut short. The memorial remembering John is secured to the stone wall inside the beautiful church at Felkirk and reads

‘In ever honoured memory of John Fraser Hoyland. Captain 4th Batt Lancashire Fusiliers. Only child of Clement Edward and Louisa Eddie Hoyland of Stock Park, Finsthwaite, Co. Lancs., & only grandchild of John and Mary Anne Hoyland of Brierley.
He fell in action at Mouquet Farm, Thiepval, France on Sept 26 1916. Aged 21 years.’

John being killed in action must have been such a devastating loss for the family – an only child and only grandchild – a families future, gone forever.

To go back to happier times for the family.

Clement Edward Hoyland had been brought up at Brierley Lodge. He attended Uppingham School, followed by Trinity College, Cambridge and gained employment as a mining engineer. He married Louisa Eddy Fraser in St John’s Episcopal Church, Forres, Morayshire, Scotland and brought her south.

In 1901 Clement and Louisa were living at Shatton Lodge, Embleton, Cumberland. He gave his occupation as ‘living on his own means’. John Fraser was not with his parents. Where was he? He was a boarder at the High School, Keswick.

Inside Felkirk church © C Sklinar 2018

John Fraser Hoyland was baptised on the 1st of July 1895 in the church at Felkirk, while his parents were living at Ravenfield Cottage, Rotherham.

When the census of 1911 was taken Clement and Louisa were staying at Grange Hotel, Grange over Sands, while their son was a boarder at Malvern College. While at the College he became a House Prefect and was part of the Shooting 8 1913-1914. A sound reliable boy, the College classed him as an excellent leader and a good shot. On leaving the College he secured a commission in the Lancashire Fusiliers.

John’s rank was 2nd Lieutenant when he entered France, which must have been before 1916 as he was eligible for the Star, the British and Victory Medals. His service records confirm this, by telling that he went straight into the army from school and had seen service in Surla, Imbros and in Egypt.

Thiepval Memorial

John was reported missing in October 1916 and presumed killed in action – according to his College. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission has his death date as 26th September 1916. He is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing near Picardie, France. Probate for John’s estate was left to his father, Clement Edward Hoyland, gentleman – the sum of £285 12s 10d. His father on the other hand when he died in 1951 left £44623 15s 3d to The Midland Bank Executor and Trustee Company Ltd., Arthur Herbert Moss and Charles Edward Copley. Chartered Accountants.

By the time of his death, John Fraser Hoyland had been promoted to the rank of Captain. His entry in the Register of Soldiers’ Effects informs that he died ’28. 9. 16 on or since’ and that the sum of £148 9s 11d was due to be paid.

After his son’s death Clement, in November 1920, applied for the medals relevant to his sons service, which was sent in January 1921 to Finsthwaite House, Ulveston.

The family seems to have been well connected with a variety of houses connected to the family including, Stock Park, Ulverston; Brinkworth Hall, Elvington; Finsthwaite House, Ulveston; Brierley Hall, Yorkshire; Shatton Lodge, Embleton and Felkirk Vicarage.

Nigel Stewart Riach in Lijssenthoek

Nigel Stewart Riach in Lijssenthoek

Riach was my mothers maiden surname, so it seems appropriate to include another Riach in my rambles.

Born in Oxfordshire in 1899, Nigel was the son of Lt. Colonel Malcolm Stewart Riach and his wife Marion Alexandra Gertrude Hall.

Bandrum House via Visit Dunkeld

Shortly after Nigel’s birth, the family had moved to Bandrum House, Saline in the County of Fife and it is here you will find them in the 1901 census.  Malcolm aged 40 gives his occupation as Major in the Cameron Highlanders.  Marion, his wife is aged 36.  Malcolm A S Riach is aged 9, while Ronald is 7 and Nigel is 1.  Bandrum House is quite a large property and now, heavily extended, is a nursing home, but back at the turn of the century 7 servants  ran the house – including a 22-year-old Governess named Rosa Shelton; 47-year-old Cook, Harriet Bridges other domestic servants including a Domestic Nurse and finally a young man, aged 22, with the lovely name of William Heavens was the Coachman.  The family could possibly have taken some of their staff with them as a few of their staff were born in England.

Ten years later, in 1911, Nigel is an 11-year-old student of Wellington College.  The College founded in memory of Arthur, Duke of Wellington has always had strong military connections.  Many Old Wellingtonians were already serving in the military but during the outbreak of what became known as The Great War, many more were to join their ranks – over 400m signing up within the first months of the war, with hundreds more signing up on completing their education.  The College has a website to remember their former pupils who paid the ultimate sacrifice.

Nigel Riach via Peerage website

Nigel, like old Wellingtonians, before him enlisted in the services. It is his medal card that gives a clue to when his enlistment took place.  There are two medals attributed to Nigel – the British and Victory Medals, this means that he enlisted after 1915 in Taunton, Somerset, which ties in nicely with him being aged 11 in 1911.  The card also informs that he served in the  A & S H ((Princess Louise’s) Argyl and Sutherland Highlanders) regiment with the rank of Private and service number S/23725.   He had initially served with the 14th Bn. A & S H but later became part of the 42nd Brigade.

Nigel and his fellow soldiers took part in the Battle of St Quentin Canal in 1918 and it is during this time on the 28th of September that he was wounded.  He was taken to a CCS (Casualty Clearing Station) and it was here that he died of wounds on the 30th of the month aged 19.

Nigel’s memorial via Steeple Barton church

St Mary’s Church, Steeple Barton has within the fabric of the building a memorial placed by his parents and reads “In ever loving memory of Nigel Stewart Riach, 14th Battalion Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders youngest and dearest son of Colonel and Mrs Stewart Riach of The Grange, Charlcombe who died 30 September 1918 of wounds received in action at St Eloi near Ypres.  His body rests in the cemetery of St Bartholomew at Poperinghe in Belgium”

Marion, his mother was, in 1919, to receive just over £10 from the Army, which included a £4 10s War Gratuity.

Nigel’s elder brother, Malcolm served in The Grear War as an officer in the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders, while Ronald served as a Lieutenant in the Motor Transport section of the Royal Army Service Corps after entering France in February 1916.

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.