A Walk around Tyne Cot CWGC

A Walk around Tyne Cot  Cemetery

Tyne Cot Cemetery © Carol Sklinar 2016

Tyne Cot Cemetery © Carol Sklinar 2016

I recently visited Tyne Cott Common War Graves Commission Memorial to the Missing and cemetery as I needed to photograph four names on the vast memorial.  It was a beautiful October day, the sun was shining, the sky was clear and a beautiful shade of blue.  As I had driven for over an hour to get there I thought a quick walk around was in order, well you have to have a mooch around, don’t you?

When I had arrived there was only two other cars in the carpark – joy!  My task was completed within 10 minutes – there was a sense of peace and calm, with the occasional bird song in the air.  This peace and calm were soon to be banished as a school party arrived -

Tyne Cot Cross of Sacrifice © Carol Sklinar 2016

Tyne Cot Cross of Sacrifice © Carol Sklinar 2016

not that I  have anything against schools visiting military cemeteries, I think they need to see the devastation war can bring, but I do think that their teachers should instill a need for respect.  These scholars ran around, shouted at their friends and generally used the walk as freedom from the confines of the coach, while their teachers stood around and chatted obliviously to the fact that they were using the Cross of Remembrance as a launch pad to reach the ground

My camera batteries were playing up – even though they were fully charged, so I chose my headstones carefully as I moved through the rows.  By now a group of army cadets had arrived, probably only a few years older than the school group, but with a totally different attitude to their visit.

Among the vast number of Australian and New Zealand burials, there were quite a few Yorkshire Regiments but they will be saved for a later date.  I tend to focus on certain regiments, unusual names, military awards or just something about a headstone that takes my fancy. For now, I am going to focus on one of the headstones found on my way back to the entrance.

Dafter T E © Carol Sklinar 2016

Dafter T E © Carol Sklinar 2016

It was the unusual name of this young man that caught my eye –  T E Dafter as is displayed on his headstone, served as Private 33513. His headstone telling that he served in the Buckinghamshire Battn., Oxford ad Bucks Light Infantry.  He was aged 19 when he died on the 16th of August 1917.

Who was T E Dafter?  His medal card gives one snippet of detail, his first name – Thomas. Thomas had served in the Hampshire Regiment as Pte 32854 and as we know the Ox and Bucks as Pte 33513.  Looks like I need to use both service numbers when looking for more information about Thomas.

Let’s go back a few years.  Thomas Edward was the son of Thomas Dafter and his wife Ealey Ann Dixon, who had married in the summer of 1894 in Chorley, Lancashire. Thomas Edward was born on the 18th of August 1897 and baptised a few months later, on 10th of October in Apley Lincolnshire. Thomas Snr. and his wife are  in the 1901 census. There is an entry in the 1911 census that seems to fit our family – living at 90 Portland Street, Lincoln with Thomas Snr working as a labourer in a local foundry.  Is this our family?

Bringing our story back to August 1917.  The 1/4th Ox and Bucks, a territorial battalion, by the 14th had been occupying a large part of the line and suffered a number of casualties, the counter-attack had been unsuccessful.  At 2pm the battalion were relieved by the 1/1st Bucks Bn., and then moved to the trenches in the Albert-Bouzincourt line.  The 15th brought bad weather making shelter very difficult to find.  The 1/4th now relieved the 1/1st by the early afternoon of the 16th and shelling continued but not as heavy as in the previous days and several patrols were sent out. Enemy shelling increased in the morning of the 17th and by 9pm had increased according to the diaries ‘increased in intensity on Skyline and Ration Trenches‘. The diary continues ‘Between 9.45 p.m. and 10 p.m”. enemy movement on our left front was suspected, and at 10.15 p.m. suspicion of an actual attack increased. A barrage was asked for and immediately given. A patrol (under 2nd Lieut. Thompson) sent out subsequently found that the suspicious trench had been badly knocked about by the barrage, and had been abandoned by the enemy. Prisoners also stated that the enemy had intended to attack, but that our barrage had broken them up.’  Was it during this time that Thomas Edward Dafter lost his life along with one officer and 44 other ranks killed or wounded.

By the title of this blog, we know that Thomas rests in Tyne Cot Cemetery.  We know from baptism and census records his parents names, but like most evidence where a transcription is involved names, places and dates can be entered wrongly.  For example, the CWGC has information for T E Dafter including his name, rank, serial number and date of death – all correct, but the additional information is slightly misleading, as Mrs Amie Dafter of 90 Portland St. Lincoln is given, when we know from earlier that his mother was Early Ann Dafter nee Dixon. This information could have been obtained from a letter written by Mrs Dafter and her writing was not quit eligible or one military document for example, the Register of Soldier’s Effects, has a couple of additions to the original entry, two being the next of kin, where Early Ann, who was probably known as Annie, has her name entered as the sole beneficiary and could be transcribed as ‘Amie’ or ‘Amnie’.

Medal card for Thomas via Ancestry

Medal card for Thomas via Ancestry

Thomas had enlisted after 1916 and was eligible for Victory and British Medals, known as ‘Mutt and Jeff’.

Thomas is remembered on the St Andrews Parish Memorial on Portland Street, Lincoln as well as Lincoln Roll of Honour.    St Andrews memorial was unveiled by Major H E Newsum in November 1920, due to the church being demolished the memorial was moved south end of Pelham Bridge.

The base of Thomas’s headstone has a short inscription, probably chosen by his mother ‘ We have lost but heaven has gained one of the best the world contained‘.

A walk around East Ardsley churchyard – who did we find?

A walk around East Ardsley churchyard – who did we find?

On a warm and sunny September morning where else would I be than in a quiet and peaceful churchyard. My walk to the church was not my choice, more a favour for a friend, but the short time I spent there was pleasant.

I had recently been talking to a friend about the book he has had published – more on that at a later date, the last entry in his book to be precise.  I just happen to live in the village where the this person is buried with his parents and brother – photo’s taken and a quick nip into the church to take another photo and complete my task.  But, there always seems to be a but, a few more headstones that caught my attention – I was not sure if I already had them in my files, just to make sure I captured their images one more time, just to be on the safe side – one in particular caught grabbed my attention.

© Carol Sklinar 2016

© Carol Sklinar 2016

The headstone, now darkened with time, is a cross standing upon three tiers with a quite ornate embellishment adorning the centre of the cross.  The memorial is not beside any path where passers by may read the words on the top two tiers, it is in the centre of the burial ground behind the church.

Whose monument is it?

George William Young.  Who was this man? What was his occupation? Was he liked within the community?

There is a baptism entry in the St Mary, Whitechapel registers for a George William son of George William Henry and Harriet Young who lived in Pavilion Yard, Whitechapel Road.  George snr was a livery stable keeper. The year of birth from information obtained on the George’s headstone is around 1854/5, so the year of 1850 for his baptism is a slightly larger margin than I would have expected, although I am not surprised.

When George William, his parents and sibling were included in the 1861 census the family were still living at Pavilion Yard – George was 11 at this time and his age confirms his birth year as 1850. His father, George gave his occupation as Licenced Horse Dealer and Stable Keeper.

George married Frances Newton in the early autumn of 1875 in the Stepney area of London. The couple along with their family and friends gathered at St Dunstan and All Saints, Stepney and were married by Banns, which had been read on the 18th and 25th of July and the 1st of August. Frances was marrying in her own parish but George W gave his parish as that of West Ardsley. The wedding party gathering on the 2nd of August. The witness were George Young, George Nicolson (?) and ***** Nicholson (?).

By 1881, but more than likely after his marriage, George and his wife are found in the census living on Wakefield Road.  Although this census does not give a house number or name, it is known that George lived at Woodhouse Hall, on the junction of Wakefield Road and Woodhouse Lane. The enumerator who entered the information included that George was a Medical Practitioner, Thomas his younger brother was employed as his assistant.

Ten years later in 1891 the census confirms that the Young family are living at Woodhouse Hall, East Ardsley. Living with George and Frances are Lilian Clara Young, their nine year old niece and Mary Ann Young, George’s widowed sister in law.

Sketch used in Yorkshire Evening Post article

Sketch used in Yorkshire Evening Post article

During the time George spent in the village he became President of East Ardsley United Cricket Club as the Yorkshire Post of 28th of May 1892 tells “Mr G W Young, East Ardsley. Mr George William Young, whose portrait we give, is the president of the East Ardsley United Cricket Club.  The ‘Doctor’, as he is more familiarly known, is a generous and enthusiastic supporter of all kinds of sport.  For several years he has figured at the head of the ‘United’. Three years ago, on the club winning the Wakefield and District Challenge Cup, for the second time, he presented each member of the team with a handsome silver medal.  Last year he gave five guineas and two bats as prizes to the members, and this year he has again offered a similar amount.  In addition he is always ready to contribute liberally to any special expense of the club.  He is a honorary member of the Yorkshire Country C.C., and a vice-president of several clubs in the locality.  He was elected unopposed as the first member of the Alverthorpe division of the West Riding County Council, a position which he still occupies.

When Aaron Bedford, farmer of West Ardsley wrote his will he asked George who gave his occupation as surgeon, and Robert Chadwick, grocer of West Ardsley to be his Executors.  It was in May of 1883 that Robert and George, as Executors placed a notice in the London Gazette calling for parties with a claim on Aaron’s estate to come forward by the end of May.  The estate of Aaron was worth approximately £270.

 George snr. died on the 18th of July 1890.  The Probate entry for him tells that Pavilion Yard was still home to the family and he was now classed as a Gentleman, leaving a personal estate of £8,225 19s – quite a sum!

Life continued in  and around the village of East Ardsley for a few years until in January 28 1895 when the following article appeared in the Yorkshire Evening Post.

DEATH OF AN ARDSLEY DOCTOR – Sketch of Dr. Young’s career.  Much excitement has been caused in Ardsley and district by the announcement of the death of Mr. George William Young, surgeon.  An inquest will be held tonight at East Ardsley, before Major Taylor.
On Saturday night Dr Young retired to rest about 11 0’clock.  He woke about one a.m. on Sunday but dropped off to sleep again.  He continued to be very restless, and about four o’clock he got up, and, accompanied by Mrs. Young, proceeded to the surgery where he took a sedative with a view to making him sleep.  On getting back into his bedroom he suddenly rell, apparently in a fit, and expired immediately.
Dr Jackson, another medical practitioner in the neighbourhood, was sent for, but on his arrival life had been extinct for some time.  His services were, however required on behalf of Mrs. Young, who suffered terribly from the shock.
It appears that deceased – who was only 44 years of age – had been indisposed for a considerable period, and for a short time up to Wednesday last had been confined to the house, his assistants tending to his practice.  He resumed his duties on Wednesday, however, and attended to them until Saturday night.
The deceased was very widely known throughout the district of West Yorkshire, having taken a very prominent part in public affairs.  He was a native of London but came to Wakefield as assistant to Dr Thomas Walker, who has since retired, and is ow living at Leeds.  Subsequently Mr Young commenced practising at Ardsley, where he has since resided, and has held several positions as medical officer to large concerns in the neighbourhood.  He always took a keen interest in local affairs, and was for some time chairman of the East Ardsley School Board.  He has represented the Alverthorpe Division, which includes Ardsley, on the West Riding County Council ever since its formation.  Some years ago he represented West Ardsley on the old Wakefield Rural Sanitary Authority, of which body he was at one time chairman.  At the recent elections he was returned as one of the representatives of East Ardsley on the Wakefield Rural District Council.

The Leeds Mercury issue for the following day, 29th January 1895, is virtually the same as the entry in the Yorkshire Evening Post with the addition of ‘….. Major Taylor held an inquest last evening, – Mrs. Young said that her husband suffered from a weak heart, and that on a former occasion he was nearly gone.  On the present occasion she tried to administer brandy, but without success. – Dr J J Jackson said that from the appearance of the body, he should imagine that deceased had been suffering from a weak heart for some time. – The jury found a verdict of ‘Natural causes’. and in conveying it they expressed condolence with Mrs young in here bereavement’

© Carol Sklinar 2016

© Carol Sklinar 2016

The headstone in St Michael’s churchyard tells in how much he was thought of within the area –  ‘This stone erected by subscription in memory of George William Young, surgeon, who died Jany 2th 1895, aged 44 years.  As a token of admiration for services rendered to the parishes  of  East and West Ardsley.’

When Probate was granted for George in 1896, his estate of £1226 1s was granted to his widow Frances.

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 Ancestry.com

1911 census via Ancestry.com

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

A Walk around Sugar Lane – Deputy Matron Cameron

A Walk around Sugar Lane, Wakefield

Don’t you find when walking around a churchyard or cemetery the headstone and monuments give answers to unsolved mysteries, but some only give rise to questions and curiosity.

Another headstone in this series is fairly low to the ground, is simple in its design with straight sides, a small pointed top with a plain set of symbolic ivy being carved into a shallow box, centrally situated just below the pointed top.

Margaret V Cameron headstone © C Sklinar 2015

Margaret V Cameron headstone © C Sklinar 2015

I would have walked past this marker had I not noticed a few words as I scanned read the headstones : In Loving Memory of Margaret Veronica Cameron, Deputy Matron, Stanley Royd Hospital. Died 7th December 1951. Aged 46 years. R.I.P.

Where was Margaret born? Was she born in Scotland as her name may suggest? She was in fact born on the 5th of January 1905 and Freebmd confirms there was a Margaret Veronica Cameron born in the Bristol Registration District in the March Quarter. Could this be her?

I have found information on Margaret later in her life, but I’ll come back to that a little later. In the meantime, the 1911 census tells of Margaret Cameron born 5th January 1905, if this is my Margaret, living with her grandmother, Margaret Donovan, her uncle, Edward Donovan and her three siblings; Ronald aged 6, Jeffrey aged 5 and Bernard aged 3. Home was 15 Wood Terrace, Worcester. Margaret’s grandmother, was aged 61 and had given birth to eight children – four surviving to be included in the census, somewhere. Uncle Edward, aged 28 was a Land Agents Clerk and it appears that the four children were not at school or that information had been omitted by whoever completed the form. By the way, Margaret’s younger brother was born in Wakefield. A fair bit of information has been gleaned from the document but still no information on her parents. Were they away for the night, were they working away, could they not afford to keep their children or had they died? I told you more questions arise when you walk around churchyards!

Jumping forward to 1923 and one of the newest sets of information on Ancestry are the Nursing Registers for UK and Ireland and Scotland, which had been accessible from the 4th of August 2016. When I found these I was like a woman possessed looking for my aunt Frances Siddle, cousin Walter Siddle and other people in my family who I knew had been in the nursing profession. Back to Margaret, she is there, being Registered on 18th of May 1923, London and living at 24 College Grove Road, Wakefield. Margaret gained her Certificate in General Nursing at Cumberland Infirmary. Other permanent addresses in the registers include: Council Offices, Rothwell, Leeds and 14 Second Avenue, Rothwell, Leeds. By 1950 Margaret, her full name used this time, on the Mental Register for nurses, no address has been given for this register but her qualification is – R.M.P.A. Certificate.

Hatfeild Hall c 1925

Hatfeild Hall c 1925

Back to 1939 – the 1939 Register to be precise. Margaret Veronica Cameron is listed as a General Trained Nurse – Assistant Matron at Hatfeild Hall, Stanley W, Wakefield along with a list of people classed as ‘In Hospital’. How nice it is to see names for people in hospital and not just initials.

In the 1946 and 1947 Register of Electors Margaret’s address is given as Stanley Hall, Stanley, Wakefield – as local people know, Stanley Hall was used for a home for nurses at one time.

We know quite a bit about Margaret but there are still a few more questions that need to be answered. Firstly, who were her parents? Secondly, she died quite young, was there a reason? And finally, did she leave a will? All important questions if you are tracing your family’s history.

The answer to the first question is a simple ‘don’t know’. But question two, that one I can answer. When visiting Findmypast for the 1939 Register I took a look at the newspaper section……bonus! There were two entries came up from a search of Margaret’s name. The first was the death notice in the Yorkshire Post for the 8th of December which read ‘CAMERON – December 7, at Leeds General Infirmary, MARGARET VERONICA CAMERON, Deputy Matron Stanley Royd Hosptal, Wakefield – Service at Stanley Royd Hospital, Wednesday, December 12. at 2.30 followed by interment at Wakefield Cemetery.’

The second entry was from the Yorkshire Post December 8 1951. On the front cover we find that Henry Moore’s ‘Reclining Man’ was taken by van from Temple Newsam to Leeds Art Gallery the day before and would be on display for 10 days before returning to Temple Newsaam. In a smaller entry in the next column is the heading ‘Deputy Matron dies after injuries’, the small article follows ‘ Miss Margaret Veronica Cameron, deputy matron of Stanley Royd Hospital, Wakefield, died in the General Infirmary at Leeds Yesterday. She received severe head injuries when she was knocked down by a motor cycle in Dewsbury Road, Wakefield on Wednesday night.

The funeral service will be held in the hospital next Wednesday, followed by interment at Wakefield cemetery.’

Another excerpt, this time from the Wakefield Express tells more - “Pedestrians Injured – Miss E (wrong initial – could be a mis-hearing of ‘V’), assistant matron of Stanley Royd Hospital, was taken to Clayton Hospital with a fractured skull on Wednesday night, after being struck by a motor-cycle while she was waiting for a bus in Dewsbury Road, Wakefield. On Thursday she was transferred to Leeds General Infirmary and yesterday was reported to be ‘still very poorly.’ The motor-cycle driven by John Mulvaney of Wood Lane, Rothwell, also collided with a pedestrian, Mr A Benton, of West Street, Horbury. Both men were taken to Clayton Hospital, Mulvaney with a fractured skull and hand injuries, and Benton, with a broken leg. Yesterday, both were stated to be ‘fairly comfortable.’

About a week later the Wakefield Express edition for 12 December 1951 give more details - ‘ Assistant Matron’s Funeral – A funeral service for Miss Margaret Veronica Cameron (46). assistance matron at Stanley Royd Hospital, who died in Leeds General Infirmary last week, after being knocked down by a motor-cycle in Dewsbury Road, Wakefield, was held at the hospital on Wednesday. After the service, members of staff walked in procession to the hospital gates and several of them went with the cortege to the Wakefield cemetery where the internment took place. An inquest on Miss Cameron was opened in Leeds on Monday but was adjourned until December 20 by the Coroner (Dr A J Swanton). Trained for hospital work in the South of England, Miss Cameron had been at Stanley Royd since 1937 and was very well liked by patients and staff.;

I know from the previous newspaper article there would be a Coroner’s hearing, so my trusted ‘partner in family history crime’, who had found the same death notice I had also found, for 12th December and the above notices from the Wakefield Express, continued to look for the Coroner’s entry in the local paper after 20th December and early into the new year – nothing to be found. While I was including Elsie’s finds in this virtual walk, I gave FindmyPast one last try for the Coroner’s verdict, coming up trumps with one more entry in the Yorkshire Post – ‘Woman Died After Motor-Cycle Crash. ‘ ‘Accidental Death’ was the verdict at the resumed inquest in Leeds today on Miss Margaret Cameron (46), deputy matron of Stanley Royd Hospital, Wakefield, who was knocked down by a motor-cycle on December 5 and died the following day in Leeds Infirmary from a fractured skull.

Leeds University via Wikipedia

Leeds University via Wikipedia

The driver of the motor-cycle, Mr John Mulvaney, Leeds University student, Wood Lane, Rothwell, said he was travelling from Ossett to Wakefield when a pedestrian appeared ‘from nowhere’ in the dark, patchy night and the road was wet. Before I had time to pull up the pedestrian, who appeared immediately in front of me, was under the bike. I don’t remember anything after the impact,’ he said.

The Coroner told the jury that after Mulvaney collided with the pedestrian he lost control of the machine which, mounted the pavement and knocked down Miss Cameron, who was waiting for a Wakefield bus with a friend.’

Margaret is listed in the Probate Calender of 1955 and reads ‘ CAMERON Margaret Veronica otherwise Margaret Josephine otherwise Margaret Veronica Josephine or ADAMS Murlie Alice of The Stanley Royd Hospital Wakefield spinster died 7 December 1951 Administration London 16 February to H.M. Treasury Solicitor. Effects £1931 8s 5d. Another mystery has been created by the Probate Calendar’s entry for Margaret – why is Margaret also known as Murlie Alice Adams? Over a cup of coffee, my partner in ‘family history crime’ and I have spent an evening looking for her. Do you know what the link is to Margaret Veronica Cameron?

When deciding to tell you all about this headstone, I did not expect the story to have such an ending. But at least a few more people know about a little headstone in Sugar Lane and a lady called Margaret.

Madam Amy Joyner – Guest Blogger, Jane Ainsworth

A Brave Barnsley Woman in the First World War

Madam Amy Joyner

While researching Bernard Jaques Joyner for my book, Great Sacrifice: the Old Boys of Barnsley Holgate Grammar School in the First World War (Helion and Company 2016), I was very impressed by the talents, bravery and generosity of his oldest sister Amy. I had not realised before that entertainment was provided for troops overseas during the First World War as well as providing distractions for the wounded at home and raising funds to provide comforts for men at the front.

Amy Joyner

Amy Joyner courtesy of Barnsley Archives

Amy Amelia Joyner was born in 1880 in Barnsley, the oldest of five surviving children of Henry Joyner, Coal Miner, and Eliza nee Jaques, owner of a general dealer shop. Amy qualified as a ‘Professor of Singing’ at the age of 20, after studying at the Royal Academy of Music in London. She married Archibald William Jarman, Colliery Clerk, in 1906 and they lived at 57 Hopwood Street, Barnsley. The family headstone in St John the Baptist’s Churchyard in Cudworth tells the tragic story of their only two children, who both died very young: Irene Hope not quite 5 years and Charles less than one day. Amy had already experienced a great deal of death in her family with the loss of her father and five younger siblings by 1900.

A soprano ‘vocalist’ known professionally as ‘Madame Joyner’, Amy organized and participated in concerts throughout the war period. The first concert in September 1914 raised nearly £70 for the main Barnsley Patriotic Fund and when war ended she started fundraising for St Dunstan’s Home for Blind Soldiers. Amy went out to France for five weeks in summer 1917, despite or perhaps because of knowing first hand the danger involved at the front. She was with a group of vocalists who risked their own lives to entertain the men at the front in a series of concerts.

Joyner family headstone

Joyner family headstone

Her youngest brother Bernard was killed in action on the Somme on 30 July 1916, aged 19, serving as a Private in the 6th Battalion of the Black Watch (Royal Highlanders). Another brother William Henry survived; he served in the Royal Army Veterinary Corps before being transferred as a Gunner to the 6th Reserve Brigade of the Royal Field Artillery.

Barnsley Chronicle provides a lot of details in articles, letters and adverts from 1914 to 1919:

12 December 1914 – The second patriotic concert … was very successful. The chief attraction was the fact that Madame Amy Joyner, ARAM, was announced to sing and she received a very hearty appreciation of her beautiful rendering of three songs …

26 May 1917 – The Matron of Lund Wood Hospital wrote: “I have this morning received a cheque from Madame Joyner for the handsome sum of £7, part proceeds of a concert given by her choir, a token of their great sympathies for our sick and wounded heroes. In addition to this magnificent gift our lads were the partakers of a sumptuous tea and supper and were delightfully entertained by Madame Joyner and her choir a few weeks ago ….

4 August 1917 – “I know you will be pleased to know I have been fortunate in coming across a few of our own Barnsley boys out here” writes Madame Amy Joyner from France . “I cannot describe to you what it is like to be singing out here to the boys who are fighting to keep us safe in England. If you could hear the shout when I am announced and see even caps thrown up with intense delight; if you could see their faces light up with pleasure – but more than all if you could feel the hard strong grip of a hand thrust into yours as you pass through on your way to another camp – you would never forget it. One boy said to me “You cannot understand, Madame, what it has meant to us to see you, hear you and really speak with you”. I looked at his war-worn face and my heart simply went out to him and all of our brave boys…

I am having a very busy and harassing time and it is really a great strain but I am becoming daily more thankful and pleased that I stuck to my promise and came. I shall have a large diary and some wonderful scenes to describe; words cannot express them I am afraid. We are in the heart of things and can hear the constant thud of guns.

I have sung already to thousands and thousands of men, been miles out in a huge dark forest to camps where boys are resting from the line and where you would never think there was a living creature. Little do we know in England what these boys are enduring and their wonderful spirit! We take “Little Peter” with us (a small closed up piano) and we sometimes sing outside in a valley. The boys sat up the hill all around and we have an impromptu platform which wobbles about very ungraciously; always a camp dog and sometimes hundreds of frogs leaping about. I used to be afraid but I am now quite brave and don’t mind the frogs at all. We travel about in a car that was a car once upon a time and we are often delayed on our way home when it refuses to go. We give three shows a day most days and we go anything from 10 to 40 miles out. We oftener than not dine at the Mess and arrive back about 2 or 3 o’ clock in the morning and needless to say our mornings are spend in rest. I could write you pages of all I have done but that must be kept for another time. I am the only one from the North in this party except the entertainer who is a Lancashire man. The others are London artistes”.

9 March 1918 - Lieutenant-Colonel J Hewitt presided at Amy ‘s latest fundraising venture and the programme included her “ever popular rendition of “Annie Laurie” plus her account of her experiences performing at the front. Lt-Col Hewitt asked the gathering to consider the situation of the lads at the front: “At that very moment those gallant soldiers might be standing starved, war-worn and hungry looking across “No Man’s Land” where perhaps death was awaiting them …. How these songs (of Amy and musical colleagues) rendered so sweetly on the battlefield must touch the hearts of lads just as water to the lips of men in the thirsty desert!”.

Amy Joyner courtesy of Barnsley Chronicle 1940

Amy Joyner courtesy of Barnsley Chronicle 1940

Amy explained that despite some insinuations, she was not making money from these concerts but doing them “to raise funds for the providing of musical treats for the soldiers”. “I have the boys’ interests at heart and I am doing this work absolutely for the love of it”.

Amy raised more than £3,000 for war charities.

Amy Amelia Jarman (Madame Joyner) was an invalid for some time before she died at home at Kirk Haven, Cawthorne, on 18 February 1940, aged 59. Her husband was Juvenile Employment Officer for Barnsley and a member of the Cawthorne Choral Society. The funeral service was held at All Saints Church in Cawthorne with lots of music and many floral tributes.

I am surprised and disappointed that with the number of references to Madame Joyner in the local newspapers I have not been able to find any good quality photographs of her. If anyone has one that they are willing to email to me I would be extremely grateful and would not use  without prior consent.

younger Amy courtesy of Barnsley Archives

older Amy courtesy of Barnsley Chronicle 1940

Fromelles CWGC Cemetery

Fromelles CWGC Cemetery

Fromelles © C Sklinar 2010

Fromelles © C Sklinar 2010

Years ago my husband and I was on an afternoon jaunt while on holiday in France and we happened upon the work in progress that was to become Fromelles Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery. Luckily there was someone walking about, he happened to be a very nice man who was one of the people in charge – don’t you love moments like that? Anyway, he told us a bit about what was going on and when the cemetery would be opened, but in the meantime we took interest in the information boards that had been put in place to inform visitors and passers by what had happened and what was happening.

In 2010 we visited Fromelle again, which just so happened was shortly after the cemetery had been officially opened, as the wreaths and wooden crosses filled the base of the Cross of Remembrance and were still pristine condition. While the fresh flowers and leaves that had been left at the graves of individuals were no longer fresh and vibrant in colour, they did show that someone had been and paid a visit.

Before I focus on one of the men remembered here, let me take you back in time……..

The Battle of Fromelles took place on the 19th -20th of July 1916 and was supposed to be a diversionary tactic, aimed at keeping the German reserves from joining the Somme battle, some 80 km away. Early on the 19th two divisions that had recently arrived on the Western Front, the 5th Australian and British 61st (South Midland)  attacked a strongly held section of the German front line.  The defenders were warned and ready for the allied attack.  Days before the attack a heavy bombardment had poured down the German lines, this was hugely ineffective.

Hours before the attack was due to start the bombardment intensified. The enemy retaliated pounding the waiting British and Australians who were packed into to their trenches. At 6pm the assault began, advancing in waves. The allied were cut down by machinegun fire with the survivors being forced back to their trenches.

The next morning when the assault was called off the Australians had lost over 5,500 men killed, wounded and missing, the heaviest losses for one assault in Australian history.  The British casualties numbed over 1,540.  These figures amount to over one third of the men who fought in the battle.

 In May 2008, six mass graves were accounted for and the CWGC were given the task by the Australian Government of overseeing the recovery and to create a new resting place for them. The bodies of 250 men were removed by a team of specialists who took DNA samples in the hope of trying to give these men back their names.  By the time the cemetery was complete all but one of these men had been identified.

In January and February of 2010 all but one of the men had been buried with full military honours.  The last soldier was to be laid to his final rest during the service to dedicate the cemetery on the 19th of July 2010 – the 94th anniversary of the Battle.

The cemetery, the first CWGC cemetery since the 1960’s and was designed to be more of a garden than cemetery, well I think it is a very calm and peaceful place.  A place befitting those who rest there.

Talking about resting there.  Who does rest within the walls of Fromelles Pheasant Wood Cemetery?

Pte Willis Frommelles CWGC ©  C Sklinar 2010

Pte Willis Fromelles CWGC © C Sklinar 2010

A few of the headstones had tokens placed at their bases. One headstone that had had a visitor was that of Henry Victor Willis, known as Harry to his friends and family.

The Attestation Papers for Australian and New Zealand soldiers are available via the National Archives of Australia and the records for Henry or Harry are there, all 36 pages of them.  Harry was born in Alberton and at the time of his attestation was employed as a farm labourer.  His mother Janet was given as his next of kin.

Harry, serving as 983 in the 31st Btn. Australian Infantry, enlisted on the 14th of July 1915 was 19 years old 10 months, 5′ 4¾” tall, weighed 155lb and had a fully expanded chest of 39″. He had a sallow complexion, blue eyes, brown hair and gave his religion as Presbyterian.  He had four vaccination marks on his left arm and had a mole on his left shoulder blade.

When going through his paperwork one entry tells that he was appointed Lance Corporal in March of 1916 but by May of the same year had reverted to Private, two months later he is one of many reported missing, amended to ‘now reported Killed in Action’.

A typed note dated 4th November 1916  tells ‘German List received by Wounded and Missing Enquiry Bureau, Australian Branch – Identification marks found on the Prisoner of War are inspected by the General War Bureau, and show in the list as under – DEAD.  Another note from 4th February 1917 reads: ‘Admin. Headquarters War Office Letter 21/1396 Accounts 4 – Identification disc received from Germany. No particulars were afforded except that soldier is deceased.  To be reported Killed in Action.’

On the 28th of October 1921 Janet Willis signed a receipt slip acknowledging receipt of Private 983, H W Willis’s Memorial Scroll and King’s Message, later in the year Janet signed again for the British War Medal, this time a witness was required so Marion Lang signed below Janet’s signature. The signing of receipts continued through 1922 and 1923.

Many of the papers in Harry’s file are out of date order.  One such letter is to Mrs Janet Willis saying that no letter had been received from Mrs Willis, but an account of Harry’s fate could be in a report.  The next piece of paper, tells all.

re Pte H V Willis, No. 983 31st Battn.
Private H  I Rogers, No. 1560, 31st Battn, has stated that on July 19th 1916 at Fleurbaix, Willis was shot through the jaw.  He was in the same Machine Gun Section as informant, but they were not together at that moment.  He thinks that Pte. Ellis (nicknamed Paddy) is likely to know particulars.  Ellis’ address is at present as under ‘8 Training Battn. A I F, Larkhill, Salisbury Plains.
Private A E Hickson, No 872, 31st Battn. states :- ‘ I knew Willis. He was in the same tent as myself.  He was a stout fair man about 21 years of age. He came from Yarran, Queensland, Victoria.  He was killed at Fleurbaix in ‘No man’s land’ I saw his body 13 hours later lying dead.  We had to retire and leave our dead there’
We have also to report that this soldier’s name appeared in the German death list dated 4th November 1916.
(Sgd) Beacham Kiddle.

One of the final letters, well not a letter, more like a quick note on a torn off sheet of lined paper, tells that Janet Willis, was ‘quite agreeable that my son may enlist for active service abroad’. That note was dated the 10th of July 1915 – just over a year later he would be lying in no man’s land with his fellow men.

Wakefield Express – Sgt Beetham

Wakefield Express – Sgt Beetham

Continuing from the previous entry, is another article from the Wakefield Express. In fact it is the article directly above Pte Webster’s entry in the paper.

Wakefield Express 19th October 1918
Sergeant Harry Beetham of the Essex Regiment has been killed in action in France. He belonged to Ossett and his widow lives at his parents’ home in Horbury Road. At the outbreak of war Sgt. Beetham was in the Territorial Battalion, and went out to France with his comrades. On his time expiring, he took his discharge, but after about a year at home he re-enlisted into the Army, that being in May 1917. His civilian occupation he was that of a fireman at a mill, and he worked at Dewsbury.

More about Harry and his live before his enlistment.  He was the son of Joseph and Clara Beetham who in 1901 were living at Manor Road, Ossett.  Joseph was an Ossett born man who worked as a painter, while his wife it seems was a Londoner. At the time of this census Joseph and Clara had three children – Harry aged 8, Rose Cordelia aged 6 and Bertha aged 2.

Ten years later, home for the family was 49 Manor Road, South Ossett – could this be the same address as in the previous census with the house number omitted? The 1911 census is a wonderful source and I praise the person who wanted the number of years married and the children included, even though more often than not, the person who completes the form gets it all wrong.  With these questions in mind, Joseph and Clara had been married 20 years and Clara had given birth to five children, with only three surviving to be included on the census sheet.  Joseph was still a painter, but now specified he was a house painter, Harry, was still a mill hand. Rose Cordelia, now included as Rosie was working as a rag sorter.

In the newspaper article, Harry enlisted, serving in the Territorial Battalion, his time being complete in 1916. There is a Medal Card for a Harry Beetham serving in the Y.L.I., could this be his.  Early the following year he married Edith Ellis in the Parish Church, Ossett, when Rose Cordelia Beetham and Willie Firth had been witnesses. The couple would bid a fond farewell to each other later that year when Harry re-enlisted in May.

Unicorn Cemetery via CWGC

Unicorn Cemetery via CWGC

Harry on his re-enlistment served in the Essex Regiment as Lance Sergeant 50006 and by the 21st of September the following year, 1918 he had been killed in action.  He rests in Unicorn Cemetery, Vendhuile, about 24 km south-east of Peronne. The cemetery is surrounded by trees and fields and is the final resting place for nearly 600 identified casualties.

The Register of Soldiers’ Effects tells that Harry was in the 10th Battalion of the Essex Regiment and that Edith was his sole heir to

CWGC headstone to a fallen Essex soldier

CWGC headstone to a fallen Essex soldier

monies owed from the War Department – the monies being finally signed off on August of 1919.

Talking about money, Harry is recorded in the Probate Calendars for 1919, ‘Beetham Harry of 38 East View Horbury Road Ossett Yorkshire a lance-sergeant in the Essex regiment died 21 September 1918 in france Administration Wakefield 10 February to Edith Beetham widow.  Effects £26 17s 3d. It seems strange to read but the calendars are not punctuated.

Harry, as well as being next to Ernest Webster in the Wakefield Express, he is also on the same war memorial, Wesley Street Burial Ground. Ernest can be found by clicking the link on the left at the bottom of the page or following Ernest’s link above.

Wakefield Express – Pte Webster

Wakefield Express – Pte Webster

The Wakefield Express and other newspapers around the country are a full of articles and snippets of information relating to World War I and the men and women who fought, nursed, gave aid and comfort and who died, as many war memorials say ‘for their country’.

Another in the Wakefield Express series

Wakefield Express 19 October 1918
Private Ernest Webster, of the Mounted Brigade Field Ambulance, has been killed in action in France. He was unmarried, and his home was at Albert Street, Ossett, where his widowed mother lives. He joined up shortly after the outbreak of war, but was only sent out to France in December of that year. He was a prominent member of South Ossett Church Football Club and was also its secretary for several years, and its representative on the Ossett and District League Committee, this is about the fourth playing member of the club who has given his life for his country.

Ernest, was killed in action on the 8th of October 1918 aged 33, with the war only a few weeks to go until peace was declared.  He rests in Beaurevoir British Cemetery, some 25 km south of Cambrai, along with nearly 300 other casualties of war, of which 244 are identified.

Who was Ernest?

Ernest, was a local lad, born and bred in Osset, as had his father and mother, George and Eunice (nee Gunson). Home for the family in 1891 was The Green.  George worked in one of the local mills as a labourer, as did his son, Joshua, while his daughter, Elizabeth aged 22, was employed as a rag sorter.  Young Ernest was five years old and went to school.

Ernest was born on the 28th of May 1885, on the 27th of July, he was taken by his parents to St Peter’s church, Earlsheaton, where he was baptised – more than likely with family and friends in attendance.  George, when asked his occupation by Rev. Tunnicliffe, told he was a spinner and this information was included on the baptism record.

By 1901 Eunice and Ernest are the only two family members living together. Eunice works as a ‘knitting machinist’ on her own account, while Ernest is 15 years old and a rag sorter.  From the above newspaper article, it is known that Eunice is a widow.  When did George die?  There is a death entry for a George Webster aged 51 and registered in Dewsbury in 1892 – is this her husband?

Ten years later in 1911, Eunice and Ernest are living in three rooms at Willey Buildings, Manor Road, South Ossett.  Eunice has no occupation listed but did include how many children she had and now many were now living.  It appears that Ernest completed for form on behalf of his mother as he signed ‘Ernest Webster pp Eunice Webster’ – now-a-days, in this age of texting, emails and computer generated letters, you don’t tend to see ‘pp’ (per pro) do you?

Royal Army Medical Corps headstone logo © C Sklinar 2015

Royal Army Medical Corps headstone logo © C Sklinar 2015

Ernest enlisted in Ossett shortly after the outbreak of war in 1914, joining the West Yorkshire Regiment and becoming Private 20735, later being transferred to the Royal Army Medical Corps and becoming Private 67765, serving with the 9th Cavalry Field Ambulance.  A Field Ambulance, for example an ‘A Section’ of a Field Ambulance Unit consisted of;-

  • 1 Lieutenant-Colonel, in command of the Ambulance and A Section
  • 1 Captain or Lieutenant in command of Stretcher Bearer subsection
  • 1 Sergeant and 1 Corporal
  • 1 Bugler
  • 3 Privates (wagon orderlies) and 36 Privates (bearers)
  • 1 Captain or Lieutenant in command of Tent subsection
  • 1 Quartermaster, 1 Sergeant-Major, 2 Sergeants, 2 Corporals
  • 15 Privates (including a cook, a washerman and 2 orderlies)An “A” Section also had a Sergeant, 10 Drivers and 4 officers batmen attached from the Army Service Corps.

while a B Section had

  • 1 Captain or Lieutenant in command of Stretcher Bearer subsection
  • 1 Sergeant and 1 Corporal
  • 1 Bugler
  • 2 Privates (wagon orderlies) and 36 Privates (bearers)
  • 1 Major, Captain or Lieutenant in command of Tent subsection
  • 1 Quartermaster, 1 Sergeant-Major, 4 Sergeants, 2 Corporals
  • 13 Privates (including a cook, a washerman and 2 orderlies)
Beaurevoir cemetery via CWGC

Beaurevoir cemetery via CWGC

Ernest’s headstone in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery bears a cross, his name, service number and regiment.  One of the documents held by the CWGC inform that Mrs F Harrop, Horbury Road, South Ossett, was his next of kin. While his entry in the Register of Soldiers’ Effects tells that monies were paid to an Emma and later to Eunice, his mother.

Although Ernest rests in a foreign field, he is remembered in his hometown  along with many others.

Dewsbury Reporter, Wakefield and West Riding Herald – A F G Kilby V.C.

Dewsbury Reporter,  Wakefield and West Riding Herald –
A F G Kilby V.C.

A F G Kilby

A F G Kilby

On the front page of the above newspaper dated 19th of August 1916 are a selection of pictures of officers from various regiments who had either been reported missing or killed, including:- Lieut. P E Melly, King’s Liverpool Regt., who was officially reported missing; 2nd Lieut. E Archer, Wakefield Territorials, who was also reported missing.  These men have a connection to Wakefield and the surrounding area, but one seems to have no connection whatsoever – Captain A F G Kilby, V.C., M.C., South Staffordshire Regt.  Why was he included?

Anyway, until I find out otherwise here is a little about A F G Kilby. Arthur Forbes Gordon Kilby was born in Cheltenham in 1885, the only son of Sandford and Alice Kilby, nee Scott.

Before I go any further, I clicked on a link the other day and it took me to a BBC page about a soldier who was classed as ‘Cheltenham’s forgotten VC hero’. I saved the page thinking one day I will have a closer look at who he was. While I was in France – holiday and time out to research, I went through a pile of Wakefield Express cuttings in readiness to blog about.  So today, I pick up the first cutting, start putting a few words down, then decide to Google Arthur. Well, blow me down, I came across the BBC page  I mentioned earlier.  What a coincidence! Or, more to the point how strange for me to chose Arthur out of all the articles I have.

Back to Arthur, his parents had married in India in 1878.  Sandford being at one time in the Bengal Preventive Service.  He had also been Assistant Collector of Customs in Chittagong, served in the Police department, worked on famine relief duty, 1873 and 1876.  He also worked in Madras as  Deputy Commander, abkari and salt departments and retired in 1892. He died in London in 1923 leaving over £11,000.

It seems that by looking into Arthur’s parents I think I have found why he is included in a Wakefield paper.  Alice Flora Scott was born in Wakefield in 1857, while her husband seems, according to various sources, been born at sea.  But with delving a little further I find that Sandford James Kilby was the son of George Henry Kilby (1820), George inturn was the son of John Kilby (1770) (who had been Lord Mayor of York), whose other son was Thomas Kilby, the Rev Thomas Kilby, whose parish was St John’s, Wakefield.  Thomas was also a renown local artist and painted many scenes from the area.  It seems that there was a connection to Wakefield afterall.

Sandhurst College via Wikipedia

Sandhurst College via Wikipedia

Arthur was educated at Bilton Grange, a preparatory school near Rugby followed by Winchester College.  He attended the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, graduating in 1905.  He is found in Forbes List of 1908 as a 2nd Lieutenant commissioned into the South Staffordshire Regiment. FindmyPast have a document online that confirms his graduation in 1905, giving his height as 6ft ½” and his father’s address as Skelton Hose, Leamington.  Promoted to a Captain in 1910, Arthur was fluent in Hungarian and German and could also speak French and Spanish fluently.  At the outbreak of war, Arthur was posted with the BEF to France and Belgium with the 2nd Battalion, arriving about two weeks after war was declared.  In February of 1915, he had been awarded the Military Cross and appears in the London Gazette for this award.

He was killed in action on 25th of September 1915 on the first day of the Battle of Loos, while leading his men on at on enemy positions near Cuinchy, on the Le Bassee Canal. During the first day of the  battle over 40 other men from Cheltenham also lost their lives.  It was what Arthur did during the attack that he was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross .  His citation in the London Gazette dated 30th March 1916 reads :

“For most conspicuous gallantry. Captain Kilby was specially selected, at his own request, and on account of the gallantry which he had previously displayed on many occasions, to attack with his Company a strong enemy redoubt.

“The Company charged along the narrow towpath, headed by Captain Kilby, who, though wounded at the outset, continued to lead his men right up to the enemy wire under a devastating machine gun fire and a shower of bombs.

“Here he was shot down, but, although his foot had been blown off, he continued to cheer his men and to use a rifle.   Captain Kilby has been missing since the date of the performance of this great act of valour, and his death has now been presumed.”

Arthur has an entry in De Ruvigny’s Roll of Honour and his entry includes the following passages :

…being an interpreter in German, Hungarian, the only officer in the Army with the latter distinction, and could also speak French and Spanish fluently; transferred to the 2nd Battn. in 1910, which he joined in the winter of that year, and was put in charge of E Coy. In 1912 his tug-of-war team came out second in the Brigade Sports, and in the Regimental Sports at Lichfield in Sept. the men of his company entered most of the events, and won the shield, worth about 300 points.
When the European War broke out he was preparing for the Staff College; served with the Expeditionary Force in France and Flanders from 12 Aug 1914: took part in the retreat from Mons, the Battle of Aisne, and the First Battle of Ypres when he was severely wounded and invalided home. After six months in England, during the last two of which he was attached to the 8th Battn., he returned to the front in May, 1915, where he performed consistent good work during the months of Aug. and Sept. while the battalion was holding A 2 Section, making some very useful reconnaissances, imbuing ranks with keenness by his example, for which he was subsequently recommended for the D.S.O. and was killed in action near La Basse 25 Sept. 1915, while leading an attack on the strong Railway Triangle Redoubt.  He was buried where he fell, with Lieut. Williams and 13 men of his company, a cross being erected by the enemy.
Brigadier-General A C Daly wrote ‘ Capt. A F G Kilby, on the night of Sept. 5 – 6, went out along the Canal Towpath under cover of darkness, accompanied by a Lieut. (Thompson) of the 1st King’s, and closely reconnoitred the German position on the Embankment Redoubt, and brought back most useful information.  The Reconnaissance was a very dangerous one, as the canal bank is a hot-bed of snipers, and it required by the greatest skill and courage to get right up to the German position as Capt. Kilby did. This is only one specific instance.  this officer constantly made night reconnaissances of this nature,’ and again: ‘I had only the honour of knowing him for four months, but I formed a deep admiration and affection for him, and always said he was the best Company Commander in the Brigade.’
……He was wounded at the very start, but still insisted on cheering his men right up to the German wire, which our guns had been unable to destroy.   He was the best officer in the Regiment, beloved by his men and absolutely fearless…..The regiment received a message of congratulation on the gallantry of the attack under such conditions. Capt. Kilby was twice mentioned in Despatches………….

For his deeds during that day the German defenders erected a cross where he fell. His body was found in 1929 and interred at Arras Road Cemetery, Roclincourt.

The Register of Soldiers’ Effects tells that the War Office were to pay  over £40 to Arthur’s beneficiary, which according to the Probate Calendars, was his father, Sandford James Kilby, gentleman with effects of £849 10s 5d.

Memorial to Capt. A F G Kilby, V.C.

Memorial to Capt. A F G Kilby, V.C. source unknown but acknowledged.

A memorial to Arthur was placed in St Nicholas’s Chapel, York Minster by his family.  The memorial bears the inscription of his deeds and awards and contains the family coat-of-arms and a bust of Arthur.  St Cuthbert’s Church, Peasholme Green, York also has him listed on their war memorial.

In 2012, Kilby’s Victoria Cross, along with another awarded to Private Sidney Godley, the very first VC recipient of World War I, was sold at a London auction for £276,000 each to Lord Ashcroft. Captain Kilby’s medal are now part of the Lord Ashcroft Medal Collection in the Imperial War Museum in London.

 We know that Sandford died in 1923 and The Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer of 8th of March 1923 tells :

Bequest of a V.C. Decoration.      Mr Sandford James Kilby, of Leamington, son of a former Lord Mayor of York, left £11,902, net personalty being £9,14.  He gave the portrait of his late son, Captain Arthur Forbes Gordon Kilby, the tunic he wore when wounded at the Battle of Ypres, and his Victoria Cross and other decorations won by him to Mrs Kilby for life, and then for his daughter, Dorothy Alice Howlett, for her life, with remainder to her eldest son, who shall take the name Kilby.  In the event of the failure of these trusts, these articles are to be offered to the National Portrait Gallery.

Arthur Forbes Gordon Kilby

Arthur Forbes Gordon Kilby

I have found over the past years, especially the past two weeks, that by just find a simple headstone, with only a name and an occupation or by just being given a name and very little else, what wonderful stories are to be found.  Arthur. started off as a photograph in a newspaper, a newspaper quite a distance from where he lived  – it seems that quite an interesting story came to light and answered the question, why he was in the Dewsbury Reporter,  Wakefield and West Riding Herald.  Here is the photograph that appeared in the paper and started the afternoons mystery – quite a distinguished looking man, isn’t he?