Category Archives: General

Pte. Archibald Gasoigne of Wakefield

Pte. Archibald Gasoigne of Wakefield

This morning I started to look into the history of a local building – that was my intention!  The starting position.  But the name of one of the inhabitants seems to have come to the fore, so I veered off on another of my tangents.

Fairfax Gascoigne – a good sounding name to start me off on my tangent!

Fairfax was born in Leeds on 23rd of November 1850, the son of William Hector Gascoigne and Margaret nee Nicholson.  A few months after his birth, the 1851 census was taken and it was at this time that the family were living in Bell Street, Leeds (off Mabgate). By 1871, William, a painter and engraver had moved his family to Wakefield, and could now be found living in Rodney Yard, Kirkgate. Fairfax was 20 years old and employed as a Saywer’s Clerk, his 16 year old brother, Joseph was a Carriage Trimmer.  By looking at the census and seeing Joseph’s place of birth, it can be determined that William brought his family to Wakefield between 1851 and 1855.

Fairfax met a lady named Hannah Ward and on the 11th of September 1875, she was to walk down the aisle of St John’s Church, Wakefield on the arm of her father Samuel, a farmer of St John’s, Wakefield. The witnesses to this union were Edward Latham and William Dixon or Dyson. Two years later Hannah gave birth to a son, Samuel Hector Gascoigne.  Sadly, less than a year later, in July 1878, Hannah died.  Fairfax, now had a young child and a full time job, what was he to do?

On the 21st of August 1880 at Holy Trinity Church, George Street, Wakefield, Fairfax Gascoigne married for the second time.  His new wife was Ada Purchas a 21 year old spinster living in Kirkgate with her father William Henry Purchas, who was working as a tobacconist.  The witnesses were William Henry Purchas and Annie Purchas.

The following year the newlyweds were living on Bank Street.  Fairfax’s son Samuel Hector was now three years old.  Ada was not the only woman in the house, as Margaret, Fairfax’s mother, aged 68, who had no occupation.

The years are passing by now but Fairfax and his family are still not living in the house that started these ramblings of mine.

Ten years have passed since the last census was taken, the family are at 5 Bank Street, in the South Westgate Ward.  Fairfax and Ada now have 5 children between them and Samuel who is now 13 years old, who along with 2 younger half-siblings, is a scholar at St John’s National School.  Margaret, Ada’s mother in law is still living with the family along with 42 year old Mary Fallen who was visiting the family.

In 1901 the growing family had moved to 16 York Street. Fairfax was a Solicitor’s Clerk, some of the children were no longer living at home.  There were, however, at least two children that had not been in the previous census.  The youngest of these children, Archibald Gascoigne, was mentioned in a newspaper, it was that newspaper article that led me to Fairfax.

Meat once again has been put on the bones of Fairfax, and he will be mentioned again, but for now, it’s Archibald’s turn. It is through Archibald’s life that the house, the building I earlier today set out to researching.

Archibald Gascoigne was born in 1894/5 and baptised at Christ Church, Thornes on the 21st of March 1895.  In the census of 1911, the house finally gets a mention!  Fairfax, is now 60 years old and been married to Ada, his second wife for 20 years.  Fairfax has fathered eight children, of which seven have been with Ada.  In the house are 10 people – eight are Gascoigne’s, then there is Mary Ann Burney a 90 year old boarder, followed by Alice Binks, a 51 year old widow, who classes herself as a farmer – she has been married for 23 years and given birth to eight children, seven of whom are surviving for the census to include them. Did Alice know the family well as she was a visitor. Fairfax, in this census, is a Law Clerk, while his other children are employed as ‘Teacher of Domestic Subjects (night classes’, ‘French Polisher (apprentice), ‘Dairy Farm Assistant ‘, and Archibald who is an Office Boy for a local engineering works.  Home for the family and visitors is ‘Porto Bello House’ (sic.), Wakefield.

Portobello House via Wakefield Libraries

Portobello House was owned by J H Holdsworth, who according to a Tax Valuation, had a connection to Sandal Hall. Portobello House, covering 2 acres, 1 rod and 10 perches, had a Gross Annual Value of £17 10s and a Rateable Value of £14 15s. Mr Holdsworth was the owner of seven further properties listed below Portobello House.

A short piece in the Leeds Mercury of 20 October 1915 was the instigator, with its mention of Portobello House and the name of Fairfax Gascoigne – look where this has got me!

Leeds Mercury 20 October 1915

Archibald enlisted in Wakefield on the 29th of August, soon after the outbreak of war, having left his employment at Messrs. E Green and Sons, where he worked as an Engineers Draughtsman.   He joined the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, the KOYLI, serving as Private 14995 in the 7th Battalion.  The 7th Battalion was part of the New Armies, having been formed in Pontefract.  By May of 1915, they were on Salisbury Plain before being mobilised and landing at Boulogne-sur-Mere in July 1915, before heading to various engagements in the area around Fleurbaix, some 5km southwest of Armentieres, including further training and familiarising themselves with trenches. Archibald arrived in France on the 16th of July and probably like his fellow soldiers undertook further training along with normal duties.  It was while on guard on the night of the 13th of October 1915 that he was killed.

Rue-du-Bois CWGC

Archibald Gascoigne rests in Rue-du-Bois Cemetery 5km south-west of Armentieres, along with over 800 casualties of which only 455 are identified.  The Headstone Report for Archibald’s headstone has his regiment encircled in red ink, along with three others whose ‘headstones are not to be executed until further notice’. While the other headstones put ‘on hold’ have a sentiment at the base, Archibald’s is blank.  The other information on his headstone is quite minimal – having no age of death only his regimental information i.e. service number, rank and regiment and finally his date of death.

Upon enlistment, Archibald gave details of whom he wished to be his next of kin – he chose his mother, Ada.  Archibald’s service would have provided this information, of which there are 21 entries for the service number 14495, sadly, this his has not survived the ravages of WW2. It wherefore, the Register of Soldier’s Effects came up with the information, also giving details of how much money was owed to him from his time in service.  Ada was to receive in 1916 £4 17s 1d followed by a further £4 in 1919, she would also have received his three medals, The 1915 Star, The British and Victory Medals –  ‘Pip, Squeak and Wilfred’ as they came to be known.

Pte. A Gascoigne has an entry in De Ruvignys Roll of Honour, I bought the set many years ago and find it a fantastic resource.  Not every soldier has an entry but if you are lucky enough to be looking for someone who is remembered within the pages you could find the cherry on the cake!  Anyway, although Archibald has no picture, there is an extract of a letter from his Captain and Adjutant ‘Your son was killed by a trench mortar on the night of the 13 Oct. 1915, whilst on sentry duty.  His death is a matter of personal regret to myself, as he had on several occasions done map work for me, and had also done work for the Brigade Headquarters, with much credit to himself.  Apart from his qualifications, he has proved himself a good soldier with an exemplary character, and his death is a loss to the regiment.

Going back to Fairfax Gascoigne, he died on the 28th of April 1923, leaving, according to probate the following month £498 12s 8d to his widow Ada.  Ada died in 1935 in Worthing, Sussex.  Not only had she lost her youngest son Archibald, she also lost two other boys in the Great War, Peter Herbert Gascoingne in 1917 and Edward Fairfax Gascoigne who accidentally drown while on war service, near Alert Bay, Canada.  Looks like there could be a follow-up blog about Archibald’s siblings.

Portobello House via Wakefield Libraries

Wakefield Libraries have in their collection another photograph labelled ‘Portobello House’, where the house is in the background and a young man is sitting on a cart, could this be Archibald or one of his elder brothers?  The house, built in 1825 and demolished in 1956 was situated on the edge of Portobello Estate.







Wakefield Soldier

Wakefield Soldier

I am sorry to say that I have not put fingers to keyboard for a while now, so having come back from a few days in Poland I thought it was time for me to get my act together!

Where to start?  So many things I have written down ready to research.  Who will be next? Who will have lead an interesting life or left a paper trail for me to follow?

While having another cuppa I mooched around the newspapers uploaded to The British Newspaper Archive site I came across the picture of a lady.  The title of the article was short and to the point – well, really you can’t even call the piece an article, it is more of a question. But, with all questions, there is an answer on most occasions.

Leeds Mercury 2 Oct 1916 via British Newspaper Archive

The Leeds Mercury’s heading on Monday the 2nd of October 1916 is simply ‘Found in the Trenches’, followed by this picture.

The Leeds Mercury continued ‘The photograph seen above was picked up in the Balkans, nearly a year ago, by a Wakefield soldier now serving there.  He believes it to be a Yorkshire girl.  Do you recognise her?’

I wonder, now over 100 years later, did anyone contact the Leeds Mercury informing them to the identity of this young lady.

Do you know who she is?

Another Walk around St Michael’s Churchyard, East Ardsley

Another Walk around St Michael’s Churchyard, East Ardsley

While looking through online newspapers I found the following article interesting.

Who was this man mentioned in this short article?

The Yorkshire Evening Post of Monday 20th of March, 1916 tells:- ‘Soldier’s Funeral at East Ardsley. The burial, with full military honours, of Sapper Harry Hick, took place at East Ardsley Churchyard, on Saturday afternoon. Deceased, who died on Tuesday last, at Farnborough Camp, leaves a widow and two children. A firing party, under Sergeant-Major Spink composed of comrades in deceased’s company of the Royal Engineers, came from Aldershot, and a beautiful wreath was sent by the officers of the regiment.’

Sometimes curiosity overtakes me and the smallest amount of information can get the research juices going. I recently found a great deal about someone from just his name on a broken kerbstone, and believe me he had a wonderful and fascinating story to tell.

Sapper Harry Hick CWGC headstone C Sklinar 2014

What do we know so far about Sapper Hick? Well, he was a soldier, a Sapper, which meant he was in the Royal Artillery. He was married, and a father of two. Lived in the East Ardsley area or his family lived there. And, it seems he was a well respected by all ranks.

My first internet stop was the CWGC (Commonwealth War Graves Commission) website. I chose this step first as to lessen the as there would only be one man named Harry Hick in a CWGC grave in St Michael’s Churchyard. From here I obtained his service number, company, and the names of his parents and wife’s names, plus his wife’s address at the time information was given to the CWGC. Not bad for just one search. My next step was to search SDWTGW (Soldiers who died in the Great War), this would hopefully give information as to where Harry was born, lived and enlisted and the type of casualty i.e. killed in action, died of wounds etc.,

Sapper Hicks, according to the SWDTGW was born in Lofthouse and enlisted in Wakefield – joining the Royal Engineers as Sapper 107187, serving in 229th Field Coy., (Company). Harry’s type of casualty was simply ‘Died’ ‘At Home’. Harry died in the U.K., therefore his place death on some documents would say ‘At Home’.

Leaving behind military information for a time, let me take you on a journey through the census and Parish Registers.

In 1901 Harry is a 14 year old young man employed as a labourer being born in Robin Hood. His parents were John William Hick and his wife Harriett Annie.nee Jarratt, whom he had married in the summer of 1875 in the Wakefield Registration District. John William was at the time 47 years old, born in Cross Flatts, Leeds, being employed as a Journeyman Blacksmith. Harriett Annie was a few years younger, aged 43, born in Thornton. Harry was the fourth child of seven, aged from the eldest aged 21 to the youngest aged five. His brothers and sisters were all born in Robin Hood except the last two who were born in Lofthouse and Lingwell Gate, Stanley.

It seems that when it came for Harry to marry his wife Annie McAlister Kennedy there was just a little ‘hitch’. Both families turned up at the Primitive Methodist Chapel, Market Street, Wakefield on the 18th of June 1910. Harry aged 23, of 5 Wolsley Terrace, East Ardsley, turned up. Annie, also attended – aged 24 living at 114 Woodhouse Lane, Leeds. She was the daughter of the late John Kennedy, a carpet weaver. Witnesses John Marshall and Edith Hick were also there. The entry was signed off by D. D. Waters, Authorised Person for the said Chapel. BUT! There always seems to be one of those, doesn’t there?

Primitive Methodist Chapel, Market Street, Wakefield via

A handwritten note in the space at the side of their entry in the Parish Register tells ‘ Owing to a misunderstanding a ceremony of marriage was performed as this entry made without the presence of an Authorised Person. The Parties were legally married on June Twenty Firth 1910 and their Marriage was recorded as Entry No 44. George Edwards, Authorised Person of said Chapel’. It looks like D. D. Waters was not as authorised as he thought he was!.

So, on the 25th the couple take their place again at the front of the church, all seems the same, except – Frederick Laughton and Gertrude Harriet Edwards were the new witnesses and George Edwards was the officiator. Did the couple have their wedding breakfast on the 18th as the family were witnesses at the chapel, and the 25th was just a formality with the witnesses being needed just for legality.

By the census of 1911 24 year old Harry and 25 year old Annie had been married for under one year, with no children. Harry was a joiner working on his own account. His place of birth still being Robin Hood. Annie’s entry reads ‘NB, Ayrshire, Kilmarnock’. As she was not born in England or Wales, ‘(Resident)’ was entered in parenthesis. Home for the newlyweds at this time was Jeffrey View, East Ardsley, a 2 roomed terrace house.

From the newspaper entry, we already know that the young couple had two children. In the September ¼ of 1911, John Hick was registered, followed by Annie registered in the June ¼ of 1915. By the time of Annie’s birth the Great War had been going on for a while now, and it hadn’t been over by Christmas.

It’s now time to return to military records, some 30+ pages of them. Some are duplicate, some have been damaged by water and fire. Nevertheless, they are interesting and complete the life of Sapper Harry Hicks.

On the 8th of November 1915, Harry Attested. He gave his address as 27 Newton Hill, Wakefield, and his age as 29 years 3 months. The next page gives Harry’s height as 5′ 6”. He has a chest fully expanded of 35”, weighing 114lbs. His physical development is classed as good.. His date of marriage is confirmed as the 25th of June 1910, not the original date of the 18th when all the family turned up in Market Street. His two children’s date of birth is given – John’s being 7th of August 1911 in Wakefield and Annie being born on the 12th of March 1915 in East Ardsley.

Harry was posted to Aldershot. On the 10th of March 1916 he was admitted to hospital with Cerebrospurial fever (sic). A doctor’s note tells ‘An acute attack of cereb** spinal fever, with especially marked *** re-infection………’.Harry died on the 15th of March 1916 – just a few day after his daughter Annie’s first birthday. He was in the Isolation Hospital, Aldershot.

Letters and notes would now go too and fro from the MOD to Mrs. Hick. The first of which was to informer her of her husband’s untimely death, followed shortly a note asking if she wished to claim her husband’s body and where she wanted him to ‘be placed at rest’. Harry had died in 1 916 yet the paperwork his death generated was still continuing until 1919.

Annie M Hick of 27 Newton Hill, Leeds Road, Wakefield was in November 1916 receiving 17/6 Separation Allowance and 3/6 Allotment of pay. Annie also received a box of her husband’s belongings which were despatched in January 1917. One damaged document from 229th Field Company Commander informs that some of Harry’s personal effects had not been received by Annie, she had written to the Army asking if these items could be found.

1.2.17 6 Jeffrey View, East Ardsley, Wakefield. Captain Hopkins. Sir, I think you for sending watch etc., belonging to Sapper Hick, 107187, R.E. But was disappointed to find most of his things had not come but I suppose they will have been dispersed with his kit which would be at Blackdown, if any more comes to your office, I shall be willing to pay postage for same, I can mention most things he had. Vis, Steel shaving mirror, Black S. mounted Stick (silver mounted), Leather Belt, New Brush, Fountain Pen, about 6 Handkerchiefs, Waistcoat (dark blue), Letters and photos & etc., will be destroyed I expect, thanking you again for your kindness in attending to my letters to you. I Am Yours Truly, Mrs. A Hick.

Letter from Mrs Hick asking about her husband’s effects via

An official memo was generated but the answer was not positive. It was presumed that some of his effects, his letters and photo’s may have been destroyed by the Isolation Hospital staff, Aldershot.

Harry’s burial is entered in the registers for St Michaels, East Ardsley on the 18th of March 1916. The fourth entry above Harry’s is the entry for Harriet Annie Hick of Wolsley Terrace, who was buried dated 57 on the 1st of March. Not only had John William Hick lost his wife, the same month he lost one of his children.

Sapper Hick, seems to have served his war ‘at home’. And according to his recruiter, Harry seems to have been ‘A good all rounder’.

Individual documents give small insights into a life. However, when you put multiple documents together how much more can they tell you about one person’s life.


NIMZ, Arthur William

Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery entrance © Carol Sklinar

Gunner Arthur William Nimz, service number 32847 served in the Royal Field Artillery, C Battery, 177th Brigade, after enlisting in Lodon. He rests in Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery after dying of wounds on 29th July 1917.

Arthur was the son of Frederick and Mary Nimz who when giving information to the newly formed Commonwealth War Graves Commission told they were living at 123 Harslesden Road, Wilsden Green, London.  Arthur was awarded the British and Victory Medals.

Arthur had bee born in 1896, being at the time one of four children.  Frederick his father had been born in Germany but was now a British Subject, who was ‘living on own means’. Home for the family was Selina House, Southal Beach(?).


A W Nimz headstone

A W Nimz headstone

Ten years later in 1911, Mary and five children were living in a flat with three rooms in Albert House, Harlesden Road, Willesden Green, NW.  Mary was a widow working as a tailoress in a gentleman’s tailoring business.  Fifteen year old Arthur was working as an assistant book seller.

Frederick William Nimz had died in the late summer of 1908.  Probate for Frederick William Charles of Albert House, was proven in 1912 – monies totalling £1587 10s were left to Mary, his widow.  Mary Harriet Nimz of 123 Harlesden Road, died on 14th of June 1926 with her monies totalling £2128 16s 14d being left to Alfred Frederick Nimz, tailor and Edward William Charles Nimz, metal worker.

During the Great War Arthur’s brother Frederick William also served.  He served in the Middlesex Regiment as a Private.  His serial numbers being 4706 and 291756.

Frederick like his brother was granted the British and Victory Medals, but unlike his brother he would have been able to claim them himself.



Pvte Frank Rothery

Pvte Frank Rothery

Bagshaw Museum Collection

Last year I visited Bagshaw Museum to see History Wardrobe give one of their fantastic talk –  talk is not really the correct word, words like performance and event come to mind but then you have to be part of the audience to understand.

I arrived early, too early for my complimentary drink to be ready, so I had a quick walk around the museum’s ground floor before partaking of my glass of Prosecco. I focused on a cabinet containing photographs and military memorabilia. Photographs are always moving and thought provoking and bring to mind a ‘what if’ or ‘if only’, especially military photographs as you don’t know initially if the young man ‘came home’.

Two photographs caught my attention, one of an officer in a quite elaborate guilt frame and the other, a soldier, unframed and simply mounted on card. What made this special to me was the fact that there was a smaller photograph propped up against one corner and original documents scattered alongside. Without this smattering of documents, the photograph would be just a photograph from someone’s donated collection.

The document that brought this soldier to life was the scroll that accompanied each ‘Death Penny’.

He whom this scroll commemorates was numbered among
those who at the call of King and Country,
left all that was dear to them, endured hardness, faced danger,

and finally passed out of sight of men by the path of duty
and self-sacrifice, giving up their own lives
that others might live in freedom.
Let those who come after see to it that his name be not forgotten.
Pte. Frank Rothery
Royal Lancaster Regt.

I now knew his name, Pte., Frank Rothery.

A ‘Death Penny’ also came with a smaller note, one of many identical notes, sent from the King to grieving families across the nation –   ‘I join with my grateful people in sending you this memorial of a brave life given for others in the Great War’.

Well, by the family receiving the Scroll and ‘Death Penny’, we know that his family’s life changed in one fleeting moment when Frank died. But who was Frank before he went to war and before that eventful day.

Frank was the son of John Rothery and his wife Martha Annie nee Wharton. Frank aged 22, married Annie Teale aged 19 on December 18th 1915. Frank worked as a spinner and Annie was a weaver.

Frank being enlisted in Gomersal in 1915. His regiment had been used for home defence before being sent to France. By January 1917 his regiment had become part of the B.E.F. (British Expeditionary Force) landing at Etarples on the 9th inst. He served as Private 4489, in the 8th K.O.R.L. (King’s Own Royal Lancaster) but was transferred on the 10th of January to the 1/4th K.O.R.L.

Pvte. Rothery’s Service Records have survived as part of the ‘Burnt Records’, destroyed and damaged by fire and water during WW2.  Frank’s records have certainly been burnt and damaged by water.

One damaged form tells that while at Southampton, on the 25th of November 1916 Frank was AWOL, not returning until 12.30pm on the 27th. For this demeanour, he was deducted 6 days pay.

Frank was wounded and died shortly after, according to official documents, on 22nd November 1917. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission has marked his headstone the 25th November 1917.

During the period following Frank’s death, Annie received numerous letters from the War Office, including a receipt for the ‘Death Penny’, and on the 22nd of April Annie signed for ‘his 3 Identity Discs, Letters, Cards, Note book’. Letters and memo’s between the War Office departments had Annie’s address as 65 Highfield House, Whitelea, Batley. Annie was awarded a pension of 20/- per week for her and one child with effect from 8th of July 1918. It makes you wonder how she coped from November 1917 to the mid summer of the following year.

Annie in December 1917 was sent a letter by R R Sayers C.F., I/4 K.O. R. Lancs Regt., B.E.F., which went on to say:

Dear Mrs Rothery, I should have written before this, but have had so many letters to write, that I am only slowly overtaking my correspondence. You have doubtless heard of your husband’s death in action on Nov. 20th (different date). I write to sympathise with you in your very great loss. He was a favourite with his company, both men and officers. He is missed especially by his intimate pals. A good soldier, he died bravely doing his duty, in the cause of righteousness and truth against evil and wrong.

It will be a comfort to you to know that his body was recovered and given Christian burial by a Church of England chaplain. His grave is in the military cemetery in Villiers-Faucon, and he is buried in nice dry soil. A cross will be, if it is not already, set up on his last resting place.

Bagshaw Museum Collection

I am a Non-Conformist chaplain, but I thought I should write a note of sympathy, as I am attached to your late husband’s battalion. If you write to the Registrar of Graves B.E.F., you can have a photograph of the grave. I would have written to you sooner but we have been on the move for almost a fortnight, Yours, with deep sympathy’.

It looks like Annie did request a photograph of Frank’s grave as it forms part of his display.

One last receipt received by Annie was for Frank’s Medals – the Victory and British Medals which she signed for on January 10th 1922. But, and there always has to be a ‘but’, Annie was now signing as ‘Annie Grayshon’, yes, she had remarried, marrying John W Grayshon in the September ¼ of 1919 in the Dewsbury Registration District. John had also been a soldier in the Great War.

image via Find a Grave

Frank and Annie’s daughter, Leah, married Arthur Heward in September 7th 1938. Leah ad Arthur lived at 105 Leeds Old Road, Heckmondwike in 1939. Arthur born on 30th October 1913 worked as a ‘raw hide classer’ and Leah born on the 18th of June 1916 was classified as ‘unpaid domestic duties.

With a photograph giving only one clue, it is amazing how much you learn about their lives.

The CWGC gradually replaced all the wooden crosses with the familiar headstones we now associated with those commemorating the dead


Wakefield Express 24th August 1918

Wakefield Express – 24th August 1918

More extracts from the pages of the Wakefield Express during the Great War.

Pvte. Fred Hopwood, K.O.Y.L.I., Moorland Place, Flockton, has been admitted to hosptal suffering from shell wounds and shell shock. He is nineteen years of age, and before enlisting he worked at Messrs. Stringer and Son’s colliery at Emley Moor.

Private Norman Fenton, Queen’s Westminster Rifle’s, son of Mr. and Mrs. W Fenton, Leeds Road, Tingley, has been gassed, and sent to Gosforth near Newcastle-on-Tyne. Pte. Fenton is barely twenty years of age, was educated at the Morley secondary School, and just previous to enlistment had obtained a clerkship at one of the local banks.

Private A Smith, Highland Light Infantry, son of Mrs. Batty, Carlton Street, Lawfield Lane, Wakefield was admitted to the 1st Australian General Hospital, Rouen on July 31st, suffering from a fractured arm, the result of gun-shot. He enlisted when sixteen years of age, and had been in the army three years.

Private Percy Taylor, Black Watch of Methley, is reported to have been killed in action. He was twenty years of age, and son of Mr and Mrs W G Taylor, of 7 Middle Row, Methley Junction. He enlisted on May 1st 1917 having previously been employed at the Junction Haigh Moor Pit of Messrs. Hy. Briggs and Son, and Co. Ltd. He was wounded in the right hand on August 2nd last year, but was soon able to return to the Front.

Gunner Wilfred Speight of the R.F.A., whose parents live at Reyner’s Yard, Horbury, is now at Springburn Hospital, Glasgow. While on active service in France he accidentally fell over some wire in a shallow trench, and the weight of his body falling on his right arm fractured the bones at the elbow joint. He pluckily stayed on duty, with his arm fractured for two days, and then had to report sick, not being able to carry on longer. He was sent to the rear to a Casualty Clearing Station, and then to a hospital, and was next sent over to hospital in this country. Before enlisting he was employed in the offices of Messrs. Chas. Roberts and Co. Horbury Junction.

Cadet Sydney Hudson, K.O.Y.L.I., son of Mr and Mrs Hudson, Queen Street, Normanton, was killed in action on July 20th, and he leaves a widow and one child. He went to France with the 1st 4th K.O.Y.L.I., and was gassed in the first enemy gas attack. He came home on leave in April, twelve months afterwards, and was wounded in July after returning. He came home to England for his commission and passed his first examination, but in his second he was turned down. He returned to France three weeks after Easter for three months further instruction, but, unfortunately was killed before he was able to gain his commission. He was 23 years of age, and before the war he worked at St. John’s Colliery, Newland.

The above notice for Sydney would have been sad news for his family and friends but, a boon for family historians.

What do we now know about Sydney?  We know his parents address.  We know he was married and had a small child.  We know his regiment, part of his service history and his date of death. We also know by his rank that he was in line for a commission, this is confirmed his death notice. We also know how old he was and where he was employed before he joined the army.  Information that could have taken longer to find and confirm.

Koyli CWGC headstone emblem

A visit to the CWGC website has a Serjeant S Hudson dying on the 20th of July with a service number of 242739, serving in the 5th Btn., KOYLI and resting in Chambrecy British Cemetery  along with over 400 other casualties.  The cemetery is on the outskirts of Riems on the road to Chateau Thierry.

The Registers of Soldiers’ Effects has a Sidney (change of spelling) confirming the CWGC’s information of service number and date of death.  This series of records also includes the amount of money due to his family – his wife, Florence who was sent the sum of £26.  There is a marriage of a Sydney Hudson to Florence Bennett in the Bramley registration district who went on to have a child in the Pontefract area in the summer of 1917 – could this be the couple?

Soldiers Died in the Great War 1914 – 1919 is a fantastic collection of information.  These records were a few year ago only available in a cd format, quite an expensive cd, I might add. This information, now one of the many sources available from Ancestry, gives name, rank regiment, service number, place of birth and enlistment along with date of death and type of casualty. So, Sidney was born in Normanton and enlisted there.  Information that tallies with the birth of a child to him and Florence in the Pontefract area.

The Medal Card for Sydney tells that he enlisted as a Private and entered France in April of 1915 and later attained the rank of Serjeant.  He was eligible for the 1915 Star, along with the British and Victory Medals – Pip, Squeak and Wilfred.

 Florence had a young child to support after Sydney was killed in action. Did she re-marry?  There is an entry on Freebmd for a Florence Hudson marrying a James F Hampshire in the summer of 1927 – was this her? Or is the entry for Florence Hudson and George E Pawson who marrying in the Pontefract region in the winter of 1930 the right entry?  Or, did Florence not marry again…………….Do you know?

Shipley Times & Express

Shipley Times & Express

The Letter Home is an extract from the Shpley Times & Express dated 7th June 1944.

via Shipley Times and Express 7 June 1944

The Letter Home
Each lad as he writes to his Mother
Is conjuring up in his mind
All the scenes and sounds of his homeland
And he folk that he’s left far behind

The tinkle of sheep on the hillside
The chime of the village church bells
The tang of the spray off the Solent
The grandeur of Cumberland dells

Some yearn to be tramping the moorland
Some sigh for the Yorkshire dales
The warm sunny slopes of the Mendips
The blue hazy hilltops of Wales

So let’s give Salute to our soldiers
And remember, wherever they roam
That when they’re not fighting, they’re thinking
And dreaming of England and home.

via Shipley Times and Express 7 June 1944

Wakefield Express 6th May 1944

Wakefield Express 6th May 1944

Extracts from the Wakefield Express

Missing  – Mr and Mrs H Walton, of the Gardeners Inn, Baker Lane, Stanley, has received official notification that their son, Donald, is missing as from March 14th, 1944.  He has served abroad for more than four years as L/Cpl in the Q.O.Y.D. (Queen’s Own Yorkshire Dragoons). Prior to joning up he worked at the Yorkshire Copper Works.

Killed In Action – Mr. Wm. Tennant, of 3 Chadwick’s Yard, Kirkgate, Wakefield, has received notification of death of his son, Private Jack Tennant, aged 20, of the York and Lancaster Regt., C.M.F., on March 22nd. A letter received from his captain says he was the first of a carrying party when a shell came over and killed him and three others.  Before joining the army he was employed at R.S. Dyson, Peterson Road.  He served in the North African campaign.

Wakefield Soldier Wins M.M.

Wakefield Soldier Wins M.M.

Military Medal via Wikipedia

Wakefield Express 10th February 1945.
Wakefield Solder wins M.M. – It is announced that the Military Medal has been awarded to L/Cpl Harry Ward, King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, of Wakefield, for services in North West Europe.  The citation states: “He has done outstanding work since he came into the line. On one occasion he commanded a stretcher bearer party which brough in a wounded officer and man under fire; he persevered even after he had made two attempts which were not successful and on the third attempt led his party up the road, which was covered by the enemy’s machine-guns and finally crawled back with the wounded men although it necessitated two journeys.  The distance that he had to cover was almost 200 yards on each occasion.  Ob many other occasions this N.C.O. has displayed courage and leadership by leaving his slit trench in the midst of  enemy mortar fire and artillery fire to go to the assistance of wounded men.  His example and constant cheerfulness has been a outstanding example to his comrades.”

The above information tells of how Harry was awarded the Military Medal, but who was he before he went to war?

Victoria Cross Trust

Victoria Cross Trust at Ashworth Barracks

After wanting to visit Ashworth Barracks for quite a while, I finally visited earlier this month armed with a small file with information about one of my two distant family members who had been awarded the Victoria Cross..

Ashworth Barracks

Set within a disused school, the museum is surrounded by houses and feels part of the community. Access is easy. I arrived via the A1, exiting at junction 36 and heading towards Doncaster where there were a few signs pointing the way.

After paying my entrance fee, I was already to go, but it was suggested that if I wait a few minutes I would be on the next guided tour…… I glad I waited!

Paul, one of the volunteer guides arrived and as I was the only visitor at the time, I had a personal guided tour.

I had mentioned at reception that I had a distant connection to two V.C holders and as my guide and I walked across to the museum entrance, he commented to a couple of men about my connection. One of the men had heard of my recipient – I was surprised as it is hard to find any mention of him in books connected to either the Victoria Cross or Victoria Cross recipients. Could my day get any better………………yes, it could and it did.

The museum depicts the story of the Victoria Cross from its early days to modern times by the use of static displays, individual displays and representation. Paul and the other volunteer guides have a vast knowledge of the recipients, all men, and their deeds. Although women have been eligible to receive the Victoria Cross since 1921 there have been no female recipients since then.

During my visit one of the stories I heard was that  of Stanley Elton Hollis VC, who served in the Green Howards who had the distinction of receiving the only Victoria Cross awarded on D-Day. My father served in the Green Howards and like Stanley landed on Gold Beach.

One of the exhibits is a living room and backyard depicting a house during the time of WW2, with a welcoming fire, chair and outhouse with a bath hanging on the wall. Other exhibits include a mound of army desert boots under a draped Union Flag – the exhibit has no explanation, no photographs, it doesn’t need anything, the boots and the flag say all that needs to be said.

Another section of the museum houses a collection of German militaria. Some may not agree or feel comfortable that German artefacts are kept within the walls of a museum focusing on Commonwealth forces. But, and there is always a but! To have a war or conflict there has to be an enemy. Without the enemy would there be the Victoria Cross? Without the Victoria Cross would there be the Ashworth Museum? There are always two sides – and you can’t have one without the other. Artefacts included in this small section are letters, documentation and militaria.

A guided tour normally take around two hours – I think mine lasted a little longer than that. Did I mind?  No, as I was fortunate enough to hold a medal worn by one of my distant relatives. Paul, my guide was as surprised as I, when we learnt that the medal was part of the museum’s collection. I told you my day could only get better and it certainly did.

Did I have a good visit?      Yes.
Was the entrance fee of £7 worth it?      Yes.
Would I recommend the museum?     Yes.
Will I be going back?      Yes, of course I will.