Category Archives: General

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.

Gascoigne Family of Portobello House ii

Gascoigne Family of Portobello House ii

The other week I blogged about Archibald Gascoigne and mentioned that two of his brothers also lost their lives during The Grear War.  I also mentioned that a follow-up blog would come later.  It looks like ‘later’ has arrived a little later than expected!

Peter Herbert Gascoigne in 1917 and Edward Fairfax Gascoigne who accidentally drown while on war service, near Alert Bay, Canada.

Logic seems to take me to the first in the list – Peter Herbert Gascoigne.

Peter’s life in Wakefield very much mirrors that of his brothers until 1912 when he and his elder brother Frank travelled halfway around the world to start a new life in Adelaide, Australia. On the 11th of April 1912, the two brothers departed their home country bound for Adelaide onboard the P & O Steamship ‘Ballarat’ in 3rd class accommodation.  The brothers classed themselves as farm hands and travelled along with engine drivers, carpenters, dressmakers and maids.

Before his enlistment on the 28th of February 1916, Peter had been working as a labourer.  He joined the 50th Btn., Australian Infantry aged 23 years and 8 months. As he was in an Australian regiment, it could be classed as a boon for family historians as his service records were safe.  Australian, Canadian and American records – never having had to suffer damage caused by fire and water during the bombing of London during WW2,  In all there are 26 pages of Peter’s service records.  Each page is a moment in his service to King and Country and the Commonwealth.

Signature of Peter Herbert Gascoigne taken from his Attestation Papers

Page one of his Attestation Papers tells information we already know from the previous blog about his brother Archibald Gascoigne – his name, his birthplace, his next of kin (his mother in this case)  and something I find very personal and touching on all the records I look at  – his signature. Unique to him.

Although Peter’s service records are in no particular order I will try to put the events in the order that they occurred, well try!

Private 1682, Gascoigne Peter Herbert embarked from Adelaide, on board HMAT Aeneas on the 11th of April 1916 – practically four years to the day since he left his home country, he was returning but not to visit his family, he was going to war.  After training at Mitchem, England he was in Etaples, Northern France near the end of September 1916.

Before I tell you the reader a little more about Peter, let me describe him to you.  He was 5′ 6″ in

Peter Gascoigne

height.  He weighed 128lb.  His chest range was 33 – 36″.  His complexion was fresh, he had blue eyes and his hair was brown. He had two vaccination marks on his left arm.  His vision was R 6/6 and left 6/9. His dental examination – Peter had none of his own teeth, he had  ‘full sets’ of artificial. In the words of the Examining Officer, ‘This man should be referred to Special Board’.

The 50th Battalion was originally raised in 1916 following the Gallipoli Campaign, later men from Southern Australia raised their numbers.  Following the Battalion arriving in France, they took part in the battle at Mouquet Farm. They saw service on the Hindenberg Line and took part in battles at Messines and Polygon Wood in 1917. Later in the war, the Battalion served in Belgium and took part in the final Allied offensive of the war in the country around Amiens.

It was on the morning of the 2nd of April 1917, that the 50th Battalion of the AIF attacked the village of Noreuil. A small village in the centre of a triangle between Bapaume to the south, Proville to the east and Arras in the north. Noreuil was at the time an outpost village near the Hinenberg Line.  The battle was a success but the costs were heavy with some 239 casualties.  It was on this day, the 2nd of April 1917, that Peter was classed as  ‘Missing in Action’. A few days later his status had been changed to ‘Killed in Action’.

Ada Gascoigne had already lost one son in 1915, she had bow lost another.  The only thing Ada received from Peter’s effects was his ‘Disc’. Ada signed a postcard confirming receipt of Peter’s disc, dating it August 11th, 1917 and duly posted to the return address – The Officer in Charge, The A.I.F. Kit Store, 110, Greyhound Road, Fulham, London, S.W.6.  Peter was eligible for The British War Medal and the Victory Medal, both of which would have been sent to Ada.  She would also have received a Memorial Scroll.

Peter’s headstone

I think the most poignant thing sent to Ada, apart from Peter’s disc was a pamphlet entitled ‘Where the Australians Rest’.  Peter does rest, he is not remembered in name alone on a memorial wall, he rests in Noreuil Australian Cemetery, along with 218 other casualties, 83 being from the 50th Australian Infantry Battalion.

Peter’s brother Edward Fairfax Gascoigne seemed to be fairly invisible in his online presence for his time in Canada.  He was included with his family in a few online family trees where a few gave information about the place of his death.  But nothing about what he was doing in the war.  It is known that he was accidentally drowned near Alert Bay, Canada while doing some form of war work in lighthouses. It was while trying to elaborate on Canadian lighthouse keepers or workers in the Canadian Archives for the period around WW1 that a light flashed in the old brain cells! One website I had not searched was FamilySearch.  The site was able to point me toward original documents.

The first document was a marriage entry for him and Edith Marie Colwin, a widow aged 38.  Edith was the daughter of Charles and Susan Ward of Victoria, British Colombia.  The wedding took place by Licence on the 11th of October 1910 in St Barnabas Church.  Witnesses to the union were Walter B Colwn and Arthur W Plowman. Edward was 29 years old, having been born on the 15th of May 1881 and baptised in the All Saints Chuch, Wakefield on the 29th of June the same year.  His occupation was given as carpenter.

Edward had left England from Liverpool on the 7th of September 1907 onboard the Allan Line vessel ‘Corsican’ bound for Montreal, Quebec.  A manifest dated 27th of October 1914 for Victoria B.C. sees Edward now aged 33 working in advertising.  The date that he left Liverpool is confirmed, and his destination was now Seattle, Washington.  Edward had taken $125 with him on his trip to Seattle.  The document also gives a good description of Edward – 5′ 6″ in height.  Medium complexion.  Brown hair and blue eyes.  Does that remind you of anyone?

Edward and Edith had one daughter, Dora who had been born in 1917.  Edith had two children to her marriage to James Burgess Colvin, who she had married in 1890 – Walter and James.

With not a lot to say about Edward.  I had better let you know that Frank, who went to Australia with Peter, and lived until 1970.

One question remains to be answered!  Did the family resemblence of height, complexion, hair and eye colour along with build match that of Frank?  If you know, don’t forget to let me know.

 

Mill Hill Chapel War Memorial, Leeds

Mill Hill Chapel War Memorial, Leeds

Mill Hill Chapel sits quietly and unassuming on one side of the very busy City Square in Leeds its stonework darkened by decades of industrial smoke and grime. Set back from the main thoroughfare the chapel is fronted by its war memorial which stands to one side of the main entrance and remembers the fallen from both world wars.  For those who venture inside the chapel, either for or after a service or on a Heritage Open Day, standing proudly on the wall facing you is the chapel Roll of Honour and bears the names of all the chapel men who went to war for King and Country in the second decade of the twentieth century.

Which of the 28 or so men from the War Memorial shall I bring back to life, and who from the 100+ on the Roll of Honour shall I remember?

The congregation must have been proud of the soldiers from their community as on the Roll of Honour they included alongside names any medals that had been awarded.  This includes a Victoria Cross, Military Medals, Distinguished Service Cross, Distinguished Conduct Medals and Croix de Guerre’s.  The War Memorial also includes the rank and regiment of those who fell.  The congregation at the time would have made this information visible to all who passed, with no knowledge that 100 years on this information would give family and military historians a ‘leg up’ with their research.  I for one say thank you to them for their foresight!

Whose name on the War Memorial stands out?  Whose regiment differs from his comrades? Should I choose an officer or someone from the other ranks?……………….. L Fishburn.

Mill Hill Unitarian Chapel © C Sklinar 2017

All who passed by the War Memorial at Mill Hill Chapel would have known that L Fishburn died during the Great War, but who was L Fishburn?

According to the Commonwealth War Graves website, there is only one L Fishburn, which is a bonus!  All the information seems to match up with what is already known – Leonard Fishburn, the son of Mr E and Mrs E A Fishburn of Claypit Lane, Leeds. Leonard served in the West Yorkshire Regiment (Prince of Wales’s Own) as Rifleman 267077.  Leonard died on the 17th of February 1917 aged 21 and rests in Ten Tree Alley Cemetery, Puisieux, France along with over 40 other casualties of war.

Leonard enlisted in Leeds joining the 2/th battalion of the regiment.  The medal roll for Leonard clearly tells the reader that he was Killed in Action, while the record card gives the added information of another service number – 4900.  When looking for Leonard in the Army Register of Soldiers’ Effects, it seems there are two records for the same person – both with slightly different information but being cross-referenced by the army, both have the service number of 4900.  Leonard’s mother was to receive all monies owing to him from the Army, the final payment being made in 1919.

Going back to a more peaceful time in Leeds.  Leonard was born on the 20th of December 1893 and was taken to Leeds Parish Church on the 28th of January 1894 by his parents Edward and Elizabeth Ann.  The family at the time lived in Beverley’s (sic) Yard, Kirkgate, Leeds – Edward at the time was a brewer.  Could Beverley’s Yard have a link to Beverley’s Yorkshire Brewery?

No 11 Grove Place, Leeds was home for the family in 1901.  Edward was now aged 43 and still working as a brewer, while Elizabeth was a year younger, aged 42 and was the mother of four children aged between 21 and seven.  The census of 1911 gives more information of use to family historians, namely how long a couple had been married and how many children are alive at the time of the census being taken.  Elizabeth Ann had given birth to six children, with four being alive to be counted, not necessarily being counted in the home of their parents.  Edward, now a shopkeeper,  and Elizabeth Ann were living at 5 Hampshire Terrace, Leeds, with Leonard who was now 17 years old worked as a  tailor (wholesale).  Also in the house was John MacWaters, a 54-year-old widower, who had been married for 33 years,  employed as a bespoke tailor from Dundee, Scotland and Thomas Watson aged 60, who had been married for 35 years and worked as an advertising agent born in Durham.

image via Google

As we know Leonard rests in Ten Tree Alley Cemetery with the following quotation at the base of his headstone ‘Shall they join the host above wearing their wounds like stars‘.

Mill Hill Unitarian Chapel © C Sklinar 2017

I now must draw your attention to the Roll of Honour where two members of the Hirsch family are included.  Firstly, D P Hirsch who was awarded the Victoria Cross but I want to focus on his younger brother F B Hirsch.

The Hirsch family in 1901 lived at 4 Woodhouse Cliffe, Leeds.  Harry was the head of the household and was a Woollen Shoddy Manufacturer, being born in Dundee. His wife was Edith and mother of 3 children aged between 1 and 11 – David P was 11, Frank B was aged 3 and Marjorie aged 1. The family were looked after by two servants.  Harry and Edith Brindley had been married in the September quarter of Leeds in 1895.

Ten years the brothers were boarders at Woollaston School, Nantwich, Cheshire. Meanwhile, Harry and Edith were living at what could be Parkside, Harehills, Leeds.  Included in the household were Betsey Hirsch, Harry’s 74-year-old mother, Alice Brindley, probably Edith’s sister and three servants – a cook, sewing maid and housemaid.  Life carried on the for the Hirsch family, the boys were having a private education, Harry owned property in Leeds and Dacre. Harrogate.

Frank Brindley Hirsch served as a Major in the Green Howards, the same regiment as his brother – a regiment that is very close to my family. Later being part of the 5th Btn. Durham Light Infantry  Frank survived the war and went on to marry Amy Megson in 1921 in the Cambridge area.  The couple went on to have four children, three of which went on to serve in WW2.

The family lived in Low Hall, Dacre, Harrogate.  Harry was one of the Bradford wool merchants, Hirsch Son and Rhodes.  In Dacre, he was involved in the local community including the Royal British Legion and the local Nidderdale Show. The 1939 Register confirms the family lived at Low Hall, Dacre and also tells that as well as being a farmer, Harry was also a topmaker and Chairman of the West Riding Agricultural Society (?).

Frank Brindley Hirsch can also be found on numerous passenger lists departing and arriving from New York, Boston, Quebec, Montreal – could this be business or pleasure? The Leeds Mercury of 15 December 1933 has the company claiming damages for an alleged breach of contract – Harry was living at King Lane House, Adel, Leeds and Frank was residing at Kent Road, Harrogate. Again during WW2 the company run by the Hirsch family attended Bow Street Court involving the Treasury.

Frank Brindley Hirsch was born on the 1st of March 1898 and died in the Claro District in the September quarter of 1995.

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, was now living with the family – aged 68, with 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 Ancestry.com

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 Ancestry.com

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.