Category Archives: News

Wakefield Express – Butel Brothers

Wakefield Express – Butel Brothers

Extracted from the Wakefield Express June 1944.

BROTHERS WOUNDED – Cpl. B butel and Pte. J. Butel, Dorsetshire Regiment, sons of Mr P.A. Butel, of la Moye, Jersey, Channel Islands, now living at 16, St John’s North, Wakefield, have been wounded in Normandy.

Butel brothers via Wakefield Express June 1944

Butel brothers via Wakefield Express June 1944

Although not a very good photocopy of the Butel brothers – the image was very dark. You can get an impression of the young men.

What were the Butel brothers doing in Wakefield.

Quite a few people from the Channel Islands came to Wakefield during WW2, leaving their home as the islands had been taken over by the German Army.  Were the brothers part of this migration to safety? Or, had they already left to join the British Army? Does anyone know?

Photographs – Who are You?

Photographs – Who are You?

A while ago I was donating somethings to charity – my chosen charity shop was closed, and as the items I wished to donate were in my car I stopped off at another charities shop to pass on the items. While in the shop one of the staff, I think it was the deputy manager, started talking when he spotted my interest in a framed photograph. It was old, in a wooden frame and was of a couple and looked to be from the first 20 years of the 1900’s. I love old photographs but I wish people would write on the back – passing on the information of who is who. My mum was an example of non-writing on photographs, well, why should she, she knew who the people were.

DSCF6080Anyway, moving on. I walked out of the shop armed with an envelope containing a handful of WW2 photographs and one of a lady who looked to have been captured in time a little earlier. I also had a simple wooden frame securing a grey board, upon the board was a printed military crest. Below the crest was the name, service number and regiment of a man written in what looked like a pencil, with the passing of time had faded and only the faint indentations of the writing implement were visible…………..that is another story!

I was told in the charity shop that they came from a house clearance in the Castleford/Normanton area.

Now is the time to try and link names to a lady and a few soldiers.

Starting with the lady, as you should in polite circles. Her dress looks to be from around the second decade of the 1900’s. Her hair is in a simple off the face style and she has a wistful look that could be tinged with sadness. Her dress or top is buttoned through and finished off with a brooch which looks to be in the form of a bow and a long securing pin. The photograph was taken by Muller Portrait Co., 4 Silver Street, Halifax.

DSCF6092 lady cropped 20170417_102406

The photographs of the soldiers seem to be taken in various places including Talbot Studios (T H Louden) 61 Talbot Road, Blackpool; Swift Studios in either Plymouth of Exeter; Modern Studios, 11 Boar Lane, Leeds; Pictorial Studios, The Esplanade, Redcar; T  E Cox, Ripon and a couple in Bombay that look like pictures taken by fellow soldiers.

A few of the photographs have names on the back, as if sent with a letter, while others are blank.

Who to start off with?  The man at the top.  A soldier with his cap at a jaunty angle and no signes of a regiment apart from a cap badge.  On the reverse are the words ‘Plows Histon 170 Street (?)’.

Eric on the left and Mr Plows on right

Eric on the left and Mr Plows on right

Next is a man who writes on the reverse of his image ‘To Forrie and Harold with love from Eric’. At least we know this young mans name!

Following on is a man serving in the RAF and written on the reverse is ‘Mr Plows’ – could he  be a relative of the soldier at Histon?

Florrie and Harold must have been well known and liked in the area as the photographs from Bombay are for them and they received two photographs within a month.  ‘To Florrie and

Raymond, Bombay 1945

Raymond, Bombay 1945

Raymond, Bombay 1945.

Raymond, Bombay 1945.

Harold from Raymond xxxxxx, Bombay Aug 45′ and then ‘ To Florrie and Harold from Raymond xxxxx Bombay 15th Sept 45′.  What connection had Florrie and Harold to Raymond and our first young man? On close inspection of the coloured photograph, it looks like it is hand coloured as his cap badge on the left clearly shows it should not be red and the pink/red colouring runs in two places onto the white border.

The following pictures have no names or clues except the group image was taken by a photographer from Ripon. Do you know who these men are, if you do, let me know!

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10 WW1 things to do in Northern France and Belgium

10 WW1 things to do in Northern France and Belgium

1 Toc H and the Shot at Dawn Post – Poperinghe

2 Lijssenthoek CWGC Cemetery and Visitor Center

3 The Blochaus de Eperleques

4 Tyne Cot CWGC and Visitor Center

5 Langermark German Cemetery

6 In Flanders Field Museum

7 Vimy Ridge and Visitor Center

8 Le Carriere eWellington

9 Passchendale Museum

10 Victoria Cross: The Heroes’ Trail

Before you visit – check for opening times, entrance charges, facilities and access.

If you are going to look for a specific soldier or place, do a little bit of research before you go, it will be worth the pre-planning.

Family History Diary

Family History Diary

Recently I collected another print run of my Family History Diary and I was delighted with the new section I asked them to included.

What is a Family History Diary?

Family History Diary

Family History Diary

An A4 40-page booklet printed on quality 120gsm paper offering a simple and easy way to organise your research. It is a handy and easily transportable way to keep your information at hand when visiting archives, libraries, relatives or family history fairs and events.

No longer is there the need to be laden down with files and lose papers while researching.

The centrally held family tree forms the core of your work with each ‘couple’ having a unique page number – a simple and quick way to find who you need without flicking through the pages.

The page for each couple has sections for their names, places of birth, death and burials with ‘tick boxes’ so you can see at a glance if you have a birth, marriage and death certificate for the couple.The marriage information also has a section.  Plus spaces to include up to 12 children and their relevant details.

The census is the next important fact to be included from 1841 up to the current 1911 census – space is also available for the address and the census reference, which is also a boon when wanting to follow up or print the information at a later date.

As well as a notes section at the front of the booklet the back has pages for monumental inscriptions, including such information: where the headstone is, a brief description and most importantly, the wording.

The booklets are in a choice of colours – if using more than one booklet for different sides of the family you can have a specific colour to a family.

Now it’s even easier to transfer the newly found information to your main way of storing your family history, be it a computer, database or card system.

All in all a good tool for the beginner or more experienced researcher and now includes an extra page for a new family history source.

Don’t forget to use a pencil – if you find an error you can simply erase !

Click here to get yours 
Note: there is a variation in the colour choice in this print run but the cost including postage and packing is still only £5.25.

Available in: Yellow, Cream, Turquoise, Pale Blue, Orange

West Yorkshire History Center

West Yorkshire History Center

Yesterday afternoon I met my friend for lunch. I have known her nearly 60 years and we seem to have, over the years gone through good times, very good times and the not so good – we have dealt with things in our own way but always been there for each other. We may not be in each other’s pockets on a day to day basis but if anyone asks who my best friend is, I do not hesitate and say her name.

Anyway, soppy stuff over.

West Yorkshire Family History Centre

West Yorkshire Family History Centre

Before lunch, it was suggested that we pay a visit to the Open Day of the West Yorkshire History Center, which opens on Monday. The purpose built building sits on a plot of land in Kirkgate and it a very modern building, the very opposite of its predecessor on Margaret Street, Wakefield.

The weather outside was cold, wet and windy so it was pleasant to be in the warm new building. The entrance is an open space, which includes a reception desk and a few tables to sit and have a drink from the installed vending

West Yorkshire Archives, Margaret Street

The previous home of the West Yorkshire Archives on Margaret Street, Wakefield

machines. As you walk up the corridor to the research area you are greeted with a few display cases, which at the moment are focusing on WW1 items.

The research area is large, bright and airy with plenty of tables and computer terminals, also having a reception desk area for ordering archive material. This room was quite busy but we were greeted as we entered by a member of staff, who we chatted to and my friend, Judy Gorbutt nee Alexander, explained that she had been brought up within yards of the centre, as her grandfather and father owned Alexander’s, which at one time had been a pet shop and seed merchants then became well known in the area as the place to go for fishing tackle. The member of staff suggested that Judy look in the Register of Deeds to see if she could find any information about the purchase of the Kirkgate shop. Guess what we did next?

The Register of Deeds indices are housed in sliding units, well, we were like kids in a sweet shop. We had only a vague idea of the date of the purchase of the Kirkgate shop, therefore, a process of elimination took place. We did find him owning property on Haddingley Hill, Milnthorpe Lane and a few other places – the Kirkgate shop seemed to be as elusive as the man himself, as he had been hard to find in many records, his life still remains a mystery in many decades.

Armed with this information, Judy and I continued our visit looking at the conservation area -many items looking familiar to those in my art teacher’s room at school.

Extracted from -

The archival collections held by are an unparalleled record of the history of the West Riding of Yorkshire and its communities from 1194 to the present day.

The West Yorkshire Archive Service in Wakefield is the third largest local authority archive in Great Britain comprising over 10 million documents. The service exists to make this history accessible to the public and to look after the region’s heritage for future generations.

Many collections have national significance, among them the unique records of the pioneering Stanley Royd Mental Health Hospital, recently awarded international status as part of the UNESCO UK Memory of the World Register.

Other major collections that will be cared for at the centre are the unparalleled West Riding Registry of Deeds made up of 12,763 volumes containing 7 million extracts of property transactions from 1704 to 1970, as well as the massive National Coal Board collection of over 2000 boxes relating to collieries and coal miners in Wakefield and the south Leeds area.

The History Centre cares for the late John Goodchild’s collection which represents an unrivalled and rich source of information for local history research and contains manuscripts, books, maps, illustrations, indexes and research files covering a vast range of subjects and stories associated with local individuals and organisations.

Our visit over it was time to venture out back into a cold, wet and dismal Wakefield to decide where to go for lunch and a chat. But with so many records available to researchers it looks like another visit is on the cards.

The centre is open on the following times:-
From Monday 13th February 2017
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday
Wednesday, Sunday
Open 2nd Saturday a month
Bank holidays

Morley & District Family History Open Day

Morley & District Family History Open Day

poster-snipped-versionMorley & District Family History Group are celebrating their 30th Anniversary with an Open Day on Saturday 17th of September 2016 from 10am – 3pm at St Mary’s in the Wood, (opposite Morley Library), Commercial Street, Morley, Leeds, LS27 8HY.

With Free Admission, why not pop in and see who is going to be there.

30 years ago a small group of people attended an evening class for those interested in family history. The classes ended after six weeks, and it was then that Morley & District Family History Group began and is still here today.

Morley & District FHG may not be the biggest family history society/group but they are a friendly lot, so if you have family from the local area or are thinking about beginning your family history, why not drop in on Saturday and have a chat.

Morley & District FHG will have their collection of transcriptions available for sale.

Who else is going to be there?

leaflets-1There will also be a small information desk with leaflets and information from The Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Find My Past and The Western Front Association.

On the day there will be a HELP DESK which will have access to major family history online resources.  A collection of family history magazines plus a good selection of family history society magazines from various areas will be FREE for you to take away  – you may find something of interest to help with your family history research.

Bring along your family and local history questions.

But don’t forget to bring some of your research with you or make notes of the questions you wish to find an answers to!

See you on Saturday for a chat, a cuppa and a Yorkshire Welcome.

Why can’t I find them in the census?

Why can’t I find them in the census?

When transcribing a document for online research should you transcribe the document as it is written or transcribe the document, making it suitable for online searching?

A transcription by definition is ‘copied’ word for word, error for error.  But are there times when common sense should prevail?   There are other forms of transcriptions, but that can be for a later date.

Many online documents are transcribed abroad, where names and places are transcribed by those who have no knowledge of the country that the documents relate to.

Example : Latham family of 17 Cambridge Avenue, Crosby.

Example : Latham family of 17 Cambridge Avenue, Crosby.

Imagine you are looking for your maternal grandmother. You know her married name, eventually find her maiden name but her parents and siblings are unknown. A search of the census does not give any information that is helpful.  Could it be that the enumerator has tried to save his time and effort by being scrimpy with the details by using ‘Ditto’ or ‘Do’. And there seems to be a large number of people with ‘Ditto’ or ‘Do’ as their surname.

For example in the Great Grimsby census for 1911 Mr Myers of 10 Bull Ring, Grimsby completed his form telling he was a grocer.  His wife Rose was completed using her full name, Rose Myers, while the children, two of them were entered as Hilda Do and Harold Do. Percy Cahill, a window cleaner living at 125 Walnut Street, Hr Broughton, completed his form by entering his name in full, then completing the form by adding his wife and children’s names followed by ‘Do’.

Another example from the 1911 census is for Joseph Preedy who lived at 10 Acacia Avenue, St John’s, Wembley.  Mr Preedy, a Head Glazier, who had been married to Alice for 16 years completed her name in full, then proceeded to name his children, each one’s name followed by ‘Ditto’.

That’s all well and good but there are also a number of people with ‘Ditto’ or ‘Do’ as a first name…….

Thomas Barns of Gaul Road, March, Cambridge, seems to have been a bit unsure on how to complete his census form – there are quite a few crossings out and a good old ink blot! Thomas enters his name, his wife’s details then complete his children’s information.  Now, did he intend to put his eldest child Dorothy first, or enter his son first?  There is a ‘Do’ before Ernest’s name, which may be due to Thomas being unsure of how to complete the form, but Ernest is now on the index as Do Ernest Barnes.

Henry Charles Wills of Sackville Gardens, Hove, is an Engineer and Tea Planter living with his wife and two children plus  two servants – Mary Ann Tidball and Agnes du Cruyard, Agnes is found on the index as Agnes do Cruyard.

1911 census via

1911 census via

One young man in the 1911 is destined never to be found as he is entered by his father on the census as Ditto  ”  “.  But the transcriber has shown a bit of thoughtfulness when placing him in the index.  Michael Mcdonough, a widower, living with his family on Railway Street, Liversedge, Yorkshire, had named his second son after himself and therefore entered Ditto  ”  ”  on the line below his name.  Michael junior is followed by his elder brother Thomas, then John and a sister, Annie, whose surnames are all completed in full.

According to the Cambridge Dictionary the meaning of ‘Ditto’ is ‘a symbol that means ‘the same’ and is used in a list to avoid writing again the word written immediately above it‘.  The ‘Do’ is a shorter form of ‘Ditto’ and can save even more time when writing repetitive words.

It might be worth while looking for a ‘Ditto’ or a ‘Do’ in a first and/or last name if you have lost a relative in the census

Wakefield Express – Official Wounded List

Wakefield Express 2nd September 1916

Wounded King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantrymen

As mentioned in an snippet earlier today, the Wakefield Express published a list of men from the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry who had been placed on the official list of wounded.

One of your family members may be on this list:

Blankley G and Breakwell W (Normanton);
Cadman M (Ossett); Callighan R (Wakefield);
Carter, Corpl. P C (Horbury);
Chappel C (Wakefield); Clarke A E and Commons H (Wakefield);
Dobson J (Wakefield); Freeman H (Wakefield);
Garett R (Normanton); Hampson H (Normanton);
Hetherington J W (Streethouse); Jinks A (Normanton;
James A (Featherstone); Kilner S O and Lodge Lce Crpl. J (Wakefield);
McGowan H (Wakefield); Parker F (Ossett);
Poole S (Normanton); Sykes Sergt., G (Wakefield);
Thompson A (Wakefield); Waltham G (Wakefield);
Whitworth J W (Wakefield); Wicking S (Crofton);
Haigh W (Wakefield); Milthorpe H (Thornes).

Somme Centenary Commemoration – Guest Blogger

Somme Centenary Commemoration 

BARNSLEY AND BEYOND by Guest Blogger, Jane Ainsworth

I was inspired to organise a Somme Centenary Commemoration by the many Old Boys from Barnsley Holgate Grammar School who had served on the Somme in 1916:

one had died in the preparations for the Big Push
ten of them were killed in action on 1 July 1916 with others wounded that day
18 died during the rest of Somme Offensive in 1916
at least 12 survived fighting on the Somme to die later in the war.

Their individual stories are told in detail in my book Great Sacrifice: the Old Boys of Barnsley Holgate Grammar School (published by Helion & Company) and this also includes two accounts by men of their experiences (John Middleton Downend and Harold Marshall) and two poignant last letters (Francis John Potter’s to his parents and James Stuart Swift’s to his wife).

I had visited the outdoor chapel at Silverwood Scout Camp in Silkstone in 2013 while researching war memorials for the project I founded to create a Barnsley Roll of Honour. The site was originally called Newhall Camp, where the Barnsley Pals were billetted and trained, and there is a small sandbag memorial to the Pals in the chapel. As the Barnsley Pals had participated in the Somme Battles of 1916, this seemed the ideal venue for a centenary commemoration on 1 July 2016.

Although I wanted to remember all of the men who served in the two battalions of the Barnsley Pals (13th and 14th York and Lancaster Regiment), many of whom were killed in action on the First Day of the Somme, I did not want to limit my commemoration in any way. I invited people from Barnsley and surrounding areas to attend and to nominate relations they would like to have remembered at this event who had served on the Somme, wherever they had lived and whether they had died or survived. I publicized that:

The aim is to remember ALL those who participated in the Somme Battles of 1916, throughout 1916 and in whatever capacity.

We will pay special tribute to the massive number of troops who were killed in preparations for the ‘Big Push’, on the First Day of the Somme and the 140 days afterwards in many different Regiments, Battalions and other services.

However, we will not forget that many more men were wounded, some died later in the war and others survived, but all involved suffered psychological trauma from their experience.

I invited various people to be involved and I received invaluable support and practical help from the Scouting volunteers, Horizon Community College and Silkstone Primary School. I was extremely grateful to Paul Unsworth and team for allowing me to use the site free of charge as I was not obtaining any funding. (We held a collection towards the upkeep of this important site and, thanks to the generosity of those attending, I was able to donate over £80).

I was very lucky that the Scouts had erected a new building with kitchen facilities this spring so I was able to use the Billingham Centre for displays and refreshments. The event took place from 1pm to 3pm and displays included the history of the site (including the report and photographs from a survey carried out by Elmet Archaeological Services in 2015 with some new survey results from Master’s student Andrew Edwards plus details about its occupation by the Barnsley Pals), background to the Somme Battles and details of many men to be remembered. The DVD of original film footage taken on the Somme in 1916 was also available for people to watch.

Somme Centenary Commemoration © Barnsley chronicle

Somme Centenary Commemoration © Barnsley chronicle

The secular Remembrance Service was in the outdoor chapel from 2pm until about 2.30pm and it involved readings interspersed with music. I placed a vase of poppies and three large candles on the altar, which was covered in a white cloth, poppies and photographs of men who served on the Somme. A CD of military bagpipe music was played as people assembled then, after welcoming everyone, a replica WW1 whistle was blown before background information was provided. As the number of men killed is too great to comprehend or remember everyone as individuals, the diverse and poignant stories of 12 families affected were read by three relations (Adrienne McEnhill, Deborah Toft and Ian Potter), Tom West and five students from Horizon – twins Lewis and Reece Smith (Marine Cadets, who also played bugles), Emily Linford (Army Cadet), Ethan Hepworth and Harry Houlston. Alex Simon’s Class 5 from Silkstone Primary School sang verses from two songs popular in the First World War: It’s A Long Way To Tipperary and Pack Up Your Troubles. Lewis and Reece sounded the Last Post then Reveille after a minute’s silence and the laying of two wreaths then my husband Paul had to thank everyone for participating and attending as my emotions had overwhelmed me. People were offered a Peace Baby as they left the chapel – after the war ended in 1918, Jelly Babies were packaged as Peace Babies.

The outdoor chapel was very atmospheric with the overhanging beech trees and very dark skies. We were fortunate that we only had a light shower but everyone had come prepared with waterproofs and umbrellas. Unfortunately, we were unable to video the service because of the wet conditions; we had hoped to show it to those relations who were unable to attend – several were actually visiting the Somme for 1 July.

The following men participated in the Somme Battles from the families remembered in the service; their dates of death are shown in brackets if they died during the First World War.

Arthur Almond (1 July 1916, aged 24)
Stanley Bell (8 August 1916, aged 26
John Middleton Downend (
24 November 1917, aged 29)
Christopher Gascoigne (1 July, aged 34)
Bertrand Harrison (15 September 1916, aged 33)
George Alfred Guest Hewitt (27 November 1917, aged 24)
Sidney Nicholson (
10 October 1916, aged 26) and Ernest Nicholson
Thomas William Penaluna
Francis John Potter (1 July 1916, aged 23)
Percy Sawyer and Francis Sawyer Harold Skelley (7 February 1919, aged 24)
Llewellyn Weigh and John Weigh (5 September 1917, aged 23)

It was an enormous amount of ‘work’ for me but very satisfying on a personal level. Despite not being able to rehearse together, the Remembrance Service went very smoothly and everyone was impressed with how all of the children performed.

I received a lot of very positive feedback about the whole event and one relation, John Camm, emailed me to say:

“Just wanted to say thank you for the Service on Friday. Listening to the stories of the local men who fought on the 1st July was very moving.

“I especially liked the fact that their stories were read out by the local school children. It was great to see them taking an active part in the commemorations. It gives us hope that the Somme and the First World War will be remembered for a very long time to come.

“I did have a look at the displays. They were excellent. When you read one soldier’s tragic story and then think that it was repeated 20,000 times in one day, it’s very powerful”.

Somme Centenary Commemoration © J Ainsworth

Somme Centenary Commemoration © J Ainsworth

The Somme Remembered – 31st July 1916

The Somme Remembered – 31st July 1916

The final post, or should I say the Last Post.

Geoffrey Slater who was 21 years old when he was killed in action in July 1916.

Bedfordshire Regiment logo via Bedfordshire Council

Bedfordshire Regiment logo via Bedfordshire Council

Geoffrey had enlisted in Royston, Hertfordshire into the 1st Btn., Bedfordshire Regiment and became Private 14947. The Soldiers who Died in the Great War transcription for Geoffrey tells that he was born in Barley, Hertfordshire. Just incase some of you are unaware of the Soldiers who Died in the Great War 1914 – 1919 it is a fantastic source for initial research when looking for a soldier – the online version is good but the cd’s are easier to search.

Anyway, what is the SWDTGW?  In 1921 his Majesty’s Stationery Office published on behalf of and with permission of the War Office two lists of those who died during the Great War. One volume gave details of nearly 42,000 officers casualties. To list all the ‘other ranks’ 80 volumes were needed.  Each entry gives the following information: name, birthplace, enlistment place, residence, service number, decoration (if any), rank, regiment, battalion, type of casualty, date and place of death and finally, theater of war.

Back to Geoffrey, our 31st man.  Geoffrey was the son of Thomas and Sarah Ann nee Peck – the 1911 census tells that his parents had been married 31 years, with his mother had given birth to 10 children.  Two of Sarah’s children had died before the census was taken.  On census night there were two of the 8 surviving children living with their parents at Smith End, Barley, Royston, Hertfordshire. Geoffrey and his father were both Farm Labourers while Sarah was a dressmaker.  Two other people were in the house, namely Charles Thompson, a carpenter (building) and his wife, Eva.

Medal Card for Geoffrey

Medal Card for Geoffrey

The medal card relating to Geoffrey tells that he was originally G Slater – ‘eoffrey’ being written at the side of the capital ‘G’ in a different coloured ink.  The qualifying date for entering France was 12th of May 1915.

What did Geoffrey do in the next 12 months?  What would he endure? Did he manage to have some time of rest and calm before he took part in The Battle of the Somme?

Geoffrey has no known grave and is remembered on The Thiepval Memorial to the Missing.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.