Tag Archives: names

Victoria Cross Trust

Victoria Cross Trust at Ashworth Barracks

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

Ashworth Barracks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Wakefield Express WW1 – J W Mann, East Ardsley

J W Mann, East Ardsley found in the Wakefield Express

In the recent months I have gathered quite a few photocopies of sections of the Wakefield Express for periods during WW1.  I have extracted the information I needed but there are still little snippets of information surplus to my requirements, but could be of interest to others.

Here goes with the first snippet:-

EAST ARDSLEY SOLDIER KILLED – Information has been received that Private J W Mann, of the Green Howards, who formerly lived with his parents at Bradford Road, East Ardsley, and who had been previously reported as missing since Aug. 21st 1915, was killed on that date. Deceased who was 21 years of age, enlisted soon after the outbreak of the war.  He was an engine cleaner at the G.N.R. shed at East Ardsley.  He was a good worker in the Weslyan Sunday School, and at the time of his  enlistment he was Secretary of the Hope of Thorpe Juvenile Temp(?), Independent Order of Rechabites. His father, Lance-Corporal C H Mann is now serving in France.

Wakefield Express 10 February 1917

Not a lot to go on, but I know which regiment he served with, where he lived and worked and who his father was.  I also know where his religious leanings were.

Where to look first, to me there seems be a couple of places, but which one to search first? Commonwealth War Graves Commission – not many to chose from, but his entry may only have his initials. It may not parental information listed.  He could be entered under another regiment (if he was transferred) – retreat and recover!  Looks like the 1911 census is next for a visit.

Here he is!  Joseph William Mann, the son of Charles Henry Mann and his wife Mary Jane Hornsey, whom he married in the autumn of 1894, their marriage taking place within the York Registration District.  Their first two children, our Joseph and his sister Dorothy were born in York in 1896 and 1900 respectively. Their third child, Doris was born in Carr Gate in 1905. Charles, born in York, worked as a house painter.  Mary, one year her husband junior, was born in Newcastle. The census form has the family living at 2 Binks Buildings, east Ardsley.

Now we are on first name terms with Joseph, I stand a better chance of finding him in the CWGC  – there are two Joseph William Manns, both are Private’s, but here they differ.  One is aged 35 and the other is 20 – the 20 year old seems to fit the bill with our Joseph being 15 in the 1911 census.  Now we have access to his service number.

Helles Memorial, CWGC

Helles Memorial, CWGC

Joseph Mann, born in York, enlisted in Leeds. He served in the Yorkshire Regiment or Yorkshire Hussars (Queen Alexandra, Princes of Wales’ own) 6th Batt., as Private 10567.  Joseph was sent to the Balkans and it was there on the 21st of August 1915 that he was Killed in Action.  Back to the CWGC entry for Joseph and we find that he is remembered on the Helles Memorial, panel 55-58.  Additional information for Joseph, gives his parents and their address of 22 Gordon Street, Heslington Road, York – looks like they moved back to were Charles and two of his children were born – after Joseph’s death but before the details were collected for the CWGC.

The Register of Soldier’s Effects gives information we already know and  a little more – The entry tells that he was in the M.E.F. (Mediterranean Expeditionary Force), entering the Balkans on 14th July 1915.  His date of death is given, 21st August, 1915, with the following note:- Death pres? His parents are again listed as being granted his monies in 1919.

St cuthbert's War Memorial.  http://yorkandthegreatwar.com

St cuthbert’s War Memorial. http://yorkandthegreatwar.com

Although, Joseph had lived in the village of East Ardsley, he is not remembered on the village memorial.  He is however, mentioned in The King’s Book of Yorkshire Hero’s, held in a locked case in York Minster, and St Cuthbert’s War Memorial.

A little more information has now been added to that in the newspaper regarding Joseph, but what happened to Charles, his father.  Well, as he is mentioned in his sons entry in the CWGC and not entered as ‘the late Charles………..’ I feel it is safe to say he came home to his family.  There is a possible death entry for him in the September Quarter of 1953 in York.

Golf Club Professional Killed in Action

Wakefield Golf Club Professional killed in action

While doing a little research into a Wakefield soldier killed in World War One, I came across a newspaper article that mentioned he had been a member of Wakefield Golf Club, Sandal. Finding that information was the catalyst for another diversion!

Wakefield Golf Club Golf Professional, killed in the Great War

CWGC headstone logo of King’s (Liverpool) Regt., from a headstone in my collection

This morning – two lots of washing have been done, the dishwasher is going, the cats have been fed and watered and so have I! I thought a few minutes to tidy the newspaper articles, so very kindly copied from the libraries collection of Wakefield Express newspaper by a friend, and I would then start getting organised. The plan being to file each article away in the corresponding soldiers file………….did I start, well I filed one away, then I noticed one of the names of those killed in the Great War, who were members of previously mentioned golf club, had died on June 20th. I thought a small bit about him would not lead me astray too far.

George Ernest Skevington – George was one of over 100 members of the Club who served in the Great War, with 20 never coming home to their families and friends.

Who was George?  He was born in 1888 in Brough, the son of Charles W Skevington, a rural postman, born in Arlesey, Bedfordshire and his wife Annie, who was from Little Ouseburn. The family in 1891 lived at Hawthorne Cottage, Broughton Road Elloughton with Brough.

Ten years later in 1901, the family were at Hawthorne Cottage, Elloughton with Brough, the cottage now seemed to be on Welton Road.  George, was now one of nine children, the majority of which were born in Brough.

In 1911, the family were still at Hawthorne Cottage – Charles was now 57 and still a postman. His wife, Annie, was 51 and had been married 26 years, borne 11 children, with eight living to be named in the census.  George, now 23 gives his profession as ‘Pro Golf Club’ with ‘assistant professional’ written above in a different hand – it is possible that George was employed at Brough Golf Club.  Between 1911 and his enlistment in Dewsbury in the October of 1915, George  took up his position as Club Professional at the golf club in Sandal.

He served originally as 15586, in the Army Cyclist Corps., being transferred The King’s (Liverpool) Regiment, 18th Battalion and now becoming Private 57660. While George was away ‘doing his bit’, Wakefield Golf Club still continued to pay him 10s per week. George served in

Wakefield Golf Club Golf Professional, killed in the Great War

Railway Dugouts Burial Ground from Google maps

Belgium and was Killed in Action, by a shell,  on the 20th of June 1917 aged 30, and rests along with over 2,450 others who gave their lives For King and Country, in Railway Dugouts Burial

Ground, some 2kms west of Zellebeke.

The monies owing to George, from the military, were eventually paid to his father, Charles and were finalised by August 1919.  Charles would also have received George’s medals.

By 1918, a replacement had been found for George, Mr S H Lodge, from Barton-on-Sea Golf Club, Hampshire.

The Club in 2000 were able to purchase a hickory shaft putter, made by George, while he was a Professional, at Woodthorpe.

Wakefield Golf Club Golf Professional, killed in the Great War

War Memorial C Sklinar copyright 2015

Although, George rests in Belgium, he will always be remembered as his name is engraved on the Golf Club memorial and the memorial in his home town.  The memorial on Welton Lane, Brough, not only bares his name, but also, that of his younger brother 2nd Lieut. William Percy Skevington, who died on the 8th of September 1918.  He rests in Trois Arbres Cemetery, Steenwerck, near Bailleul, France with over 1200 other identified casualties plus 400+ who are known only unto their God. William had enlisted into the East Yorkshire Regiment going through the ranks, as Sapper 62, 12423, then Private 10/111, later to become a 2nd Lieutenant.  William had entered the Egyptian Theatre of War on 22nd of December 1915.

William Percy, was not with his family in the 1911 census, he was in fact a lodger at Bosworth

Wakefield Golf Club Golf Professional, killed in the Great War

Trois Arbre CWGC cemetery

Avenue, Fountain Road, Hull – he worked as a Railway Porter.

In just over twelve months, Charles and Annie Skevington had, like so many other families, had seen two of their children killed in Action.

A Letter sent home

Letter sent from the Front during World War 1 – could this be written to your family member?

While researching for a project, I came across an article in the Wakefield Express issue of the 3rd of March 1915. Instead of continuing, as I should do with the project, I ended up going off on a tangent and finding out who the soldiers were…………Not, I might add, good for the project, but my curiosity would be fulfilled!



The following is an extract from a letter from Ernest Turner, one of the two sons of Mr Joshua Turner, of Woolley Colliery, who are both serving with the R.A.M.C. at the front. Ernest is in the Field Ambulance Section, belonging to the 27th Division of the R.A.M.C. :-

     “We go down for a rest shortly for three weeks, I believe, so you see it is A1 now.  We are not hard worked up here, still a rest won’t do us any harm.  I am pleased to tell you that I am in very good health.  Thank God, I haven’t clicked a German bullet yet.  I now know where poor Jack Melson is buried, but I daren’t go to his grave; it is too dangerous, but it is marked with a cross.  We had a bathing parade before we came here; I mean hot baths.  Just fancy about 50 of us in together and the fun we had.  We are then given a complete change of underclothing.  I felt a different man afterwards.  I have been helping to fetch the wounded in for a while now.  There is plenty of mud out there.

     “Poor Jack Melson said to his sergeant “Is my hour up yet, sergeant?” and the sergeant replied “No, you have 20 minutes more duty yet.” Just then a shrapnel shell came up, and killed them both.  Poor Jack got caught in the side with one of the bullets”

     Melson was in the King’s Royal Rifles and was brother to A Melson, of Woolley Colliery.

Letters printed in the Wakefield Express during World War 1 - is this from someone in your family tree?

Long Row, Woolley, source unknown but acknowledged

Who is mentioned in the above article – Ernest Turner, Jack Melson and his brother A Melson, lets start with Ernest Turner, our very clean soldier.  We know from the article in the Wakefield Express that he is the son of Joshua Turner of Woolley Colliery. But from 1901 the census – there are two Joshua Turners living in Woolley.  One of the Joshua’s is from Barugh, and the other from Hoyle Mill.  One has a family and the other is just listed with this wife, and would seem to be older that I presumed him to be, aged 61, especially with young children…..but not impossible!

The second Joshua is 38 years old, his wife Charlotte E  is also 38 and their children range from 15 down to 1 – this seems more like it!  The census has Charles E Turner, could this be Ernest?  A brother is also mentioned.  I am going to eliminate the youngest brother, Frank, aged 1.  So that leaves Earle aged 7 and George Bennett aged 15.

A Service Record survives for George Bennett Turner – the article said ‘both brothers are serving in the R.A.M.C.’  George is serving in the Coldstream Guards (service no. 16667), was living at the time of enlistment at the Villas, Darton, Barnsley, with his wife Mary (nee Overend, who he married in June of 1911) and daughter Eileen Mary, when he attested in August of 1915.  George survived The Great War, even though he had been gassed in May of 1918, and was demobilized on the 9th of February 1919.

Looks like ‘the other brother’ is Earle, who served as Private, No. 54, in the Royal Army Medical Corps.  Earle, like his brother’s seemed to survive the war and he married Ivy Ellis in the summer of 1920.

Letters printed in the Wakefield Express during World War 1 - is this from someone in your family tree?

Menin Gate Last Post © C Sklinar

The Wakefield Express letter also mentions that Ernest is sending home news of a friend, or someone from the village – Jack Melson, well after looking for Jack and drawing a blank I started looking for John Melson (Jack and John being interchangeable), and there he was.  John Melson.  John served as Rifleman 9530 in the K.R.R.C., into which he enlisted in Huddersfield.  He was Killed in Action on the 25th of January 1915 and is remembered on the Menin Gate Memorial, after entering France in December 1914.  He certainly won’t have been lonely this year, always busy at 8pm, the last couple of years have seen many

Letters printed in the Wakefield Express during World War 1 - is this from someone in your family tree?

Menin Gate © C Sklinar

more visitors drop by and look at the enormous panels of names to remember and reflect.

Who had John been in life?  John was the brother of A Melson, but from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission site, we now know that Alfred was his name.  So, in 1911 John was already a serving soldier, aged 20 he was in the New Barracks, Gosport with over 300 others, including 5 women.  The Medal Card for John/Jack tells – his medals earned, his entry into France and his demise.  The Soldiers Register of Effects confirms

Letters printed in the Wakefield Express during World War 1 - is this from someone in your family tree?

Menin Gate © CWGC image

already known information, but also includes how much was owed to him by the Army and the recipients were ‘Mo & Fa joint Regotees Norah and Alfred Giggal’, who in 1915 received £7 8s 9d and later in 1919 shared another £5.

The war memorial in Woolley, does not bear the name of John Melson.

Alfred, there is an Alfred in the R.A.M.C., service no. 41962. Alfred according to his Medal Card, had started service in Egypt in June 1915 and was eligible for the three medals – 1915 Star, British and Victory Medal (Pip, Squeak and Wilfred).

As to who the parents of John and Alfred were, there are a few entries in the census but nothing that gives a perfect clue to the family – if anyone knows, why don’t you drop me a line!

A Poacher’s Tale is not always happy one!

A Poacher’s Tale is not always happy one!

A few years ago, well it seems like that but is probably longer, I was given a box of photographs to scan and do something with. Some of the carte de visite’s had that were handed to me in a shoebox had names or a clue to who they were.  While others, the only clue was the name of the photographer and the place where they had their studio.

The box held a wonderful time capsule of images, with many having a Morley, West Yorkshire connection, but others linked by the photographer to places as far away as America and Canada, but that is another tale.

James Clough

James Clough

One of the pictures was handed over on its own………why?  Well, I soon found out.  I was asked it I could find out a little more about the person who would be  forever the age when the image was taken.  The reverse of the carte gave a name – James Clough, and I was also given a clue that he was a gamekeeper, that would also be suggested by the fact in the photograph he was holding a rabbit and a gun – just a few clues! It was also mentioned that James had been killed, but no idea when – now that would surely give me something to get my teeth into!

So, off to find a gamekeeper – James, found in the 1881 census as a gamekeeper. I now had 1819/20 as as approximate time of birth (61 years old), with Morley being given as his place of birth and confirmation of his occupation.  He is living with his wife Mary, from West Ardsley, aged 56 and sons George A and Scott, aged 10 and 8, both being born in Soothill.

Going back in time to find James as a young man, back to 1851.  James was living at Northgate, Dewsbury, working as a blacksmith with  Martha, aged 27 from Dewsbury, as his wife – looks like things could get complicated.  Martha was Martha Pickles who he married in Dewsbury All Saints in July 1839 after banns were read on the 7th, 14th and 21st of July.

24 jul 1858

Lancaster Gazette 24 July 1858

Forward in time with a search through newspapers came up with a bit of a surprise!  The Lancaster Gazette of 24th of July 1858.  The small headline in the newspaper column read ‘Daring Outrage by Poachers’.  James along with three others appeared before Wakefield Magistrates in July 1858 for night poaching in West Ardsley near Wakefield accompanied by violence. Three gamekeepers were keeping watch on the land owned by Joseph Ellis, esq.  The poachers were seen and followed by the gamekeepers and their dog. If you read the article you will see what the reporters said in the paper.  But it must have made a stir to be reported in Lancaster.

Leeds Mercury June 14 1859

Leeds Mercury June 14 1859

1859, only a year after being accused of poaching, James is now in the papers, and we see the first reference of him being a gamekeeper.

A few years late, 1861, James is living as a lodger in the home of Joseph Whittaker – The Joseph Whittaker who he was caught poaching with, in 1858. James is listed as married but his wife is not mentioned.

1871 came around and James is living in Soothill, with Sarah, his wife and son George Albert, aged 4 months.  By now James is 51 and Sarah, is 38 – who is Sarah his wife?  What happened to Martha?  There is a death of Martha Clough in the March Qtr of 1852 and a marriage of a James Clough to Sarah Westmorland on 23rd of July 1866 in Dewsbury Parish Church.  James was a widower aged 47 and the son of William Clough, while Sarah was a spinster aged 34, the daughter of Charles Westmorland.

1881 – James is still living in the Soothill area but now quite close to the Babes in the Wood, he is 61 years old. He now tells that he is a gamekeeer and living with his wife – Mary.  Who is Mary, you may ask?  Well, here we go again.  It appears that Sarah died in 1874 as there is a burial entry for her in Hanging Heaton churchyard on 13th of November 1874.

The year of 1884 brings another turn-up for the books – James Clough aged 64 married Leah Delbridge, a 53 year old widow, daughter of Thomas Griffiths,  on 7th January 1884 again in Dewsbury Parish Church, I hope by now he received a discount!

Hanging Heaton church copyright C Sklinar

Hanging Heaton church copyright C Sklinar

I hope life was going well for the couple who had seen the loss of their spouses, in James’ case he had seen the death of more than one wife.  But, life has a habit of throwing things at you.  It was in October of 1885 that James Clough, gamekeeper was killed by poachers.

James was laid to rest on the 19th of October 1885 in Hanging Heaton Churchyard.

Voluntary Aid Detachment volunteers

Over 90,000 people volunteered for the British Red Cross at home and overseas during the Great War, providing vital aid to naval and military forces and caring for the sick and wounded. County branches of the Red Cross had their own Voluntary Aid Detachments (VADs) made up of both men and women. The VAD’s work included such jobs as nursing, transport, rest stations, working parties and auxiliary hospitals. They ran libraries, did air raid duty, and a service that is still being used today – Missing and wounded service.

As women volunteered for jobs normally undertaken by men prior to the war it enabled over 11,000 men to be released for military service of some sort.

Agatha Christie record. London Evening Standard

Agatha Christie record. London Evening Standard

Did you know that Agatha Christie, volunteered for the Red Cross before publishing her first novel in 1920 and worked in a Torquay hospital. Her work, dispensing drugs, gave her an insight into poisons – this information she used in her books. Vera Brittain, famous for her ‘Testament of Youth’, joined the VAD in 1915 and by 1917 was working in France. Enid Bagnold, of National Velvet fame, served in London. Did you also know that E M Forster, novelist, critic and essayist, was a pacifist and instead of fighting he worked with the Red Cross. Lady Diana Manners, mentioned in an earlier article, – reputedly the most beautiful woman in England at the time and it was expected that she should marry the Prince of Wales. Her mother was not enamored at her joining the VAD. Diana stated in her memoirs, The Rainbow Comes and Goes. “She explained in words suitable to my innocent ears that wounded soldiers, so long starved of women, inflamed with wine and battle, ravish and leave half-dead the young nurses who wish only to tend them,” The Duchess relented “… knew, as I did, that my emancipation was at hand,” Diana says, and goes on to admit, “I seemed to have done nothing practical in all my twenty years.” The VAD plunged her and other young ladies into four years that would change their lives forever. I’ll dot in a few more volunteers further down the page.

Deaths – even though the VADs were non-combatant, they suffered many deaths. During the war,it is estimated that 128 nursing members and over 100 other VAD members not all directly working for the Red Cross died or  were killed. The Roll of Honour contains records of the deaths of 498 Joint War Committee members. This figure includes 8 VADs who died as a result of the sinking of the SS Osmanieh on 31 December 1917. The vessel was contracted by the British navy and was struck by a mine laid by the German submarine UC34 and sank, killing 199 people. They are remembered at the Alexandria (Hadra) War memorial cemetery. The most common cause of death of the VADs was pneumonia caused by Spanish flu.

An obituary in the Red Cross Journal, 1918 stated:

Miss Elger died on February 10th from pneumonia following influenza… For two and a half years she was a devoted and conscientious worker at Clayton Court Hospital, where her loss is felt most keenly by all who knew her. Clayton Court, it will be remembered, was most generously placed at the disposal of the Red Cross by Mr and Mrs Elger early in the war. After doing so much to help their country, it seems hard that they should have to bear this further personal sacrifice”.

The Red Cross has recently transcribed personnel records and at the moment surnames starting with the letters A and B are currently available to search. Volunteers are still working to update the site with more names. One such volunteer was Achsah Bradley of Westbourne, St Andrews Avenue, Morley. Her record card shows that she had originally lived at Denshaw, Morley. Achsah served from March 1917 to January of 1919. Her work as a Special Service Probationer, a pantry worker, was at Roundhay Auxiliary Military Hospital, Leeds, where she worked part time. In total she worked 3,920 hours, which roughly equates to nearly 40 hours per week for her 2 years’ service.

Thornes House, Wakefield home of the Milne-Gaskell's

Thornes House, Wakefield home of the Milne-Gaskell’s

Another volunteer was Lady Constance Milnes Gaskell, of Thornes House, Wakefield.

One of the gentlemen who volunteered was Retired Major Ernest James Gibson Berkley of 70 Camberwell Road, London, S.E.5.  Major Gibson served from June 1918 until June of the following year, working as a Divisional Inspector, with duties at the P.M.O. Hospital, and Southward V.A.D. Hospital.  He had been awarded the M.B.E. and O.B.E.  Major Berkley, in 1911 was aged 49.  He gave his occupation as ‘SURGEON MAJOR R A M C T CAPTAIN HUNSBURY’. Information about him can be found in The Gazette here and here.  Probate for Major Berkley tells that he died on 30th of April 1928 and Probate (to Barclays Bank) revealed that he left £20813 5s 7d. His wife will can be found here.

Source – The Red Cross archives

Four years of our war website

Batley Lads – Roll of Honour of Batley Grammar School – Book Review

We recently published an article by Guest Blogger, Philip L Wheeler, who wrote about Drighlington ‘pub lads ‘ who gave their lives during WWI.  Well I am pleased to say that Philip, with three others has written a book about the lads from Batley Grammar School, who died in the Great War 1914 – 1918, with the support of the National Lottery, Heritage Lottery Fund.

Batley Lads cover

Batley Lads cover

The paperback book, A4 in size contains over 300 pages. Before you visit the pages of the young men, you are invited to become familiar with life in Edwardian Batley and Batley Grammar School at the time leading up to 1914 enlistment and the period when the ‘old boys’ started to enlist.

You are then introduced to the 61 fallen boys and one headmaster from the school who paid the ultimate sacrifice, by a full colour page bearing their rank and name, lifespan and regiment, with at least one image per entry. Each of these pages has a selection from a poem or prose for example:-

“Earth has waited for them, All the time of their growth Fretting for their decay: Now she has them at last! In the strength of their strength suspended—-stopped and held.” Isaac Rosenberg 1917.

The book is easy to read, and is overflowing with information about the men and their families; what was happening during their war and where they now rest.   One of the men mentioned and highlighted on the back cover is Private Horace Waller, V.C., born in 1896, he served in the KOYLI 10th Batt.  Horace died on the 10th of April 1917 aged 20 from wounds received while throwing bombs at the enemy.  It was a result of these actions and actions earlier in the day that he was awarded The Victoria Cross.  Another young man was Corporal Gilbert Pattison, who served in the Royal Flying Corps.

The Epilogue, goes on to tell how the school and other schools continued after the war and bringing the school to the future, hoping that the current pupils will visit the cemeteries of their fallen.

Finally, there are the resources and index.

If you have a connection to Batley Grammar School, or the Batley area, this is a wonderful book to ‘pop in and out’ of.  All in all, this book has been researched in depth by Philip, an ex-pupil of Batley Grammar School and his co-writers – this is a book to be proud and well worth the £10 price tag!

If you would like a copy of this very informative book please email :  info@projectbugle.org.uk

Lizzie Riach’s little black book

A while ago I wrote about my Aunt Dolly’s autograph book, a book that I had looked through many times as a child, pondering over the small painting and pencil sketches and wondering who had taken the time to write within its pages.

Original white heather

Original white heather

While looking through my ‘stuff’, mainly photographs, I found my mum’s autograph book. Many of Aunt Dolly’s entrants had been nurses at Stanley Royd, family and friends, mum’s was different and at the moment it seems fitting to write about the people in Lizzie Riach’s little black book, as the other day it was 70 years since the war ended  in Europe and most of the writers in the little book are members of the forces.  Wouldn’t it be nice for a relative to find their entry now, years, many years later!  Or what would be even better, would be for someone who wrote their little dittie to see it  – and wouldn’t it be fantastic if they remembered my mum!

Opening the book, Jimmy (James 427), in March 1943, also wants the privilege of being first.  The following page has two twigs of white heather still sticking to the page by their original tape.  Eve Cook, writes simply ‘ To one of the nicest girls I’ve known, Best always’, she goes on to say ‘not so primitive as I sound’.  What did that mean?  Obviously, it meant something to Eve and my mum.

To Ann, wishing you all the happiness you deserve – for they who look only for the best in everyone they meet are too rare’ .  Neville Sibley, Dunearn House, 26 Jan. ’43.  Who was Neville and where is or was Dunearn House?  That was an easy one, a quick google, and there it was!  I know it is the correct one, Dundearn House, Burntisland, as mum served in the A.T.S. at Burntisland during WWII. Now to answer the question ‘Was Dunearn House a billet during the war or did it have some other purpose.

Neville Sibley

Neville Sibley

Dunearn House, source not known but acknowledged

Dunearn House, source not known but acknowledged

No drawing, no little dittie or simple sentiment, just a name – Clark D L, O.F.C., 501 Hy. AA bty, Donibristle Point, 19/4/1943.  And so back to Google maps to find that Donibristle is just inland from Burntisland, but where Donibristle Point is, Google is keeping that a secret! ‘In the parlour there were three. Ann, the parlour lamp and he.  Two’s company without a doubt.  So the parlour light went out’. Nan Cunningham penned that on 17th January 1943.

‘What do we live for if it is not to make life less difficult to each other.  In your golden chain of friendship, regard me as a link’. W Blackwood, A.T.S., who is she?  Could she be called Winifred?

Audrey Kettle

Audrey Kettle

The next few words are from Audrey Kettle, H.P.C., Notts (mum was also posted there and it was there that she met her future husband).  What Audrey wrote, although then, was meant in all innocence and probably is featured on many pages, in 100’s of autograph books, the wording in this politically correct culture, would be taken in the wrong context by a few.  But needless to say, Audrey’s words made me smile – all based on the sound of words and a space in the right place!  A google search brought up the Burma Star Association website telling me that HPC was Home Postal Service.

 An earlier entry for J M that gave nothing away as to who J M was now, further in the book, ‘a lonely spot’, they now tell they are at Arlands (?), Fochabers.   Later in the book I may find out a little more.  Back south of the border to Nottingham and Joan (A.T.S.). ‘Happy memories of the “Vic” at Nottingham’.  What memories, what happened at the Vic, that mum and Joan shared in 1944? Was the ‘Vic’ a theatre, was it a pub, one this is for sure it is not a shopping centre.

A pretty pencil sketch of a lady wearing a flowing, frilly dress and bonnet.  In the background

P Gregg

P Gregg

birds flutter and drink from a birth bath.  The artist is P Gregg – who was she, I am presuming a lady drew this.

It is sad that modern technology has done away with the autograph book, as within the pages, filled with words, poems, all written in different styles of writing………making the book very personal to the writer and the owner of the book……many memories held within those pages.

S D Williamson, 2 Forest Crescent, Thornton, Fife writes ‘Health, Happiness and the Best of Luck, where every you may be….. Mac’.  Looking again at the page – the name and address are in a different pen and a different hand.  Conclusion……..they are two people, Mac and S D Williams of Fife.  Now another question…..who is Mac?

Still only about half way through and Sig med, Rita, A.T.S, on 17th of January 1943, writes ‘ Down the street there walked a peach.  Who was both pretty and fair. A stealthy look, a half closed eye, and the Peach, became a Pair’.

D Watson 'Wot no!'

D Watson ‘Wot no!’

Another page with two entries, this time both from men.  ‘We’ll miss you at camp, Ann. how much, we only know, but your, smile, your wink in our memories lingers, where-ever you go’ A starred Romeo………..D Watson.  At the foot of the page and just managing to say ‘Wishing you all the best of Love……Josh, Wot no Kisses’.

Frank Smith writes ‘Thank God for girls like you Ann.  I shall miss your happy smile, and with you all you wish yourself, where-ever you may go’.

‘Long may you live! Long may you love! and long may you be happy’. S W Lewis wrote on the now faded and blotched page on 19th of January 1943.

Every autograph book has ‘Roses are red, violets are blue, honey is sweet and so are you’, this time written by  E Aitken of 11 Manse Avenue, Whitburn, West Lothian.

The next entry came as quite a surprise, well not the wording but who had written the words.  Firstly, the entry……….’Life is but a great hotel, a hand shake and our au-revoir.  We’ll meet again if all is well.  When we have passed the open door’.  Now who wrote the words.   They were  written by a man who would have had to travel many miles  – John Wilson, Gladstone, Queensland, 5.11.45.  As to whether John was in the services, I have no idea, but it would be nice to know if he made it back to Gladstone.

Blantyne Camp magazine

Blantyne Camp magazine, image Secret Scotland

‘Women darn their husbands socks, with never ceasing care.  But when they get a whole in theirs, they buy another pair’.  So true, and written by Irvin Skelton(?), 501 Bty, R.A., Blantyne Farm Camp, 24 May 1943.  Turning over the faded yellow page Joan Hemingway, A.T.S. wrote ‘Ann now, Ann ever, Riach now but not for ever. This book I see in later years, I wonder what your name will be’.

On the 6th of May 1945, Helen F Caldie, A.T.S., H.P.C., R.E., Wittingham, wrote about friendship being a chain that is never broken.   A greeting from A Hepburn, (42 Land S***d), Kirklands, Fochabers, written in a pen that seems to have had better days!  While Len, thanks Ann, for the letters she brought and her smiling happy face that added to the happiness contained within the envelopes from home.

The 24th of February 1946, two young men named Joe and Ted, wrote ‘Remember the Paiaise, Nottingham that afternoon?  We kept the ‘Poles’ up alright didn’t we!!!‘.  Also on the same page, but tucked into a corner, Mary wished Ann, her old pal, all the best.  Barbara, signing herself (Lady) Barbara, wrote ‘I wish I had someone to love me. Someone to call me his own. Someone to buy me chocolate. As I’m sick of buying my own!’.  Barbara writes from Craigend, Bathgate, West Lothian on 23rd Jan 1943.

Other entries are from J Mathieson, 69 Mid Street, Keith and G Newton Burntisisland, 16 January 1943. Turning the faded pink page, Val Peek, A.T.S., wrote on 18 January 1946, ‘Very best of luck from a ‘little’ Cockney girl’.  Well at least we have a clue as to where Val originated from.  Another entry is written by S Frost, West Melton, on 26 October 1945.

A little saucy poem follows ‘Ann, had a little lamb, she also had a bear.  I’ve often seen her little lamb, but never seen her bare!’ ‘Wishing you all you wish yourself, Rita M Cromrie, 24 February 1946’.  Doesn’t the English language make you chuckle at how two words pronounced the same can mean something totally different, and so many autograph books have similar entries.

Signaller Rita Walker penned her effort on 17th of January 1943, while over the page, Frae Rosie Vernon of the A.T.S., wrote about roses being red. No poem, no greeting came from the next page but details that looked as though they should be on an envelope – Pte D.Abbott, A.T.S., 501 (M) Bty R.A., Woodend Camp, Helensburgh. 

A E Walker

A E Walker

An entry on one of the faded yellow pages is from A.E. Walker, ex-trooper. Written on an angle in very small writing and in Italian (?) and using Google translator for one word, I think that A.E. Walker wrote the following ‘Un notta in Campo Concentraimento di Prigioanieri de Guerra’ – something about a prisoner of war camp, possibly.

Joan Bradshaw and Mary Wilkinson, both serving with the A.T.S., wrote on 9th June 1943 – Mary having two entries back to back.   Mac or Mal Pearson B.H.Q., wrote ‘A little bit of powder, a little bit of paint. Makes the ladies faces, really what they ain’t’, on 14 May 1943.  I get the feeling that how the verse is worded that Mal or Mac was a soldier.

D Robinson

D Robinson

M Jamieson, Seaview, Kingston-on-Spey, wrote another little dittie with a play on words, ‘ A tablespoon is rather large, a teaspoon rather small.  But a spoon upon the sofa, is the best spoon of all’. While Pte., Emilia Race, A.T.S, on 6 May 1943 wrote the words to the well known Vera Lynn song, We’ll meet again. A simple one liner  ‘ Two mugs from Milltown, remember the kilts!’ was written by D Robinson, R.A.F., and what could be L Kenneth R.A.A.F. Feb 1945, followed very quickly by ‘Just another mug, Alice Milne, Seafield Bank, New Elgin, 18 February 1945′.

‘Twinkle Twinkle little star, I took a girl out in a car.  What we did we’re not admittin’, but

Joy Wood

Joy Wood

what she’s knittin’ ain’t for Britain!’ Another cheeky little poem from ‘Daisy’ Day, 8th May 1943.  Getting close to the final pages, Joy Wood W.A.A.F., C.R.S., Nottingham, on 11 November 1946, wrote her own poem and apologised for the ‘shocking poetry’.  J Cumberland, C.R.S., January 11th 1946.  A rather bold entry from W.A.A.F., Jean Brown of Lossiemouth was written on 20 June 1943, while on 8th of August, 1944, Joan Demers wrote ‘ Sincerest wishes always Ann! Remember Just 1 of Room 5, 5 Carrisbrook’.  I wonder what that meant?

Entries by Gladys Rowberry and E Freeman, are followed by ‘I’d lie for you my darling, in thrilling tones she cried.  She was brunette. He preferred blonde, and so the damsel dyed’. Yet another play on words by Mitch, who wishes Ann, all the best in Civvy Street.

E Elizabeth Bingham

E Elizabeth Bingham

E Elizabeth Bingham, 12 Sect. E. Coy., H.P.C. (V), Notts., wrote on 5 June 1944 – the day before D-Day – ‘This ring is round and hath no end, so is my love for you, my friend.

The Bridle Pie, by Peggy Innes is the next entry ‘Take a cup of kindliness, a tablespoon of trust.  Add a pinch of confidence. Roll out a loving crust.  Flour with contentment and keep free from strife. Fill with understanding and bake well for life’.  Followed by Doris E Wells on 16th January 1945.



A young man called Artie seems to have reserved his page by writing ‘? leave this for me’.  He then draws a line down the page, thus reserving for later.  He then writes’ Remember the hilltop.  Remember the lake.  Remember me on your wedding day, but remember my piece of cake! Artie’

Finally, two entries, back to back by Pte Wells, A.T.S.,  501 Bty on 6

May 1943.

Who were these people who thought so much of my mum, Elizabeth Ann Riach.  At home in

Pte., Wells

Pte., Wells

Urquhart and to her family she was Lizzie.  In the army, to her husband and friends in Yorkshire she was Ann.  Oh!, how I would have loved to know the smiling, fun loving woman written about so fondly in her little black book.

A new princess

On the second of May 2015 HRH Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana of Cambridge came into the world.  Her birth was officially registered on the 5th of May and signed by her father William.

William, gave his occupation as that of Prince of the United Kingdom, and informed that his wife, Catherine Elizabeth, HRH The Duchess of Cambridge, was a Princess of the United Kingdom – people laughed at this!  Is he the first to enter such a position as his occupation?  I am not going to discuss his reasons, if it is correct in this day and age, even though one day he will be a King.

Lets have some fun looking around the census, birth entries and other records to see if others have done the same as William.

In the winter of 1841 Edward, son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha was registered as Gotha being his family name and his first names being Prince of Wales – not a mention of Edward!  gotha saxe coburg

1851, the first census to give a place of birth other than ‘in county’, and we find Her Majesty Alexandria Victoria, wife, aged 31 and her occupation is ‘The Queen’.  Her husband, HRH Francis Albert Augustus Charles Emanuel, head of the house, and his occupation is Duke of Saxony, Prince of Coburg and Gotha. Their children are also listed as having occupations as :- Princess Royal, Prince of Wales, Princes and Princesses, while Arthur William Patrick Albert aged 11 months is recorded as Prince of the United Kingdom, Duke of Saxony, Prince of Coburg and Gotha.

The census of 1881 is  similar with Victoria’s occupation being Queen of Great Britain and Ireland and her children being Prince of Princesses.  I must say this census return is rather untidily written to say who is the Head of the Household!

By 1911 King George was on the throne, his census has him as the Head of the Household, been married 17 years to Mary, his Queen and they had at the time six children, all who were alive at the time.  His occupation, as with that of his wife’s is blank.  Their sons, Princes Albert and Edward both give their occupation as being in the Royal Navy.

Also in 1911, the Duke of Northumberland, Harry George, aged 64, gave his personal occupation as Peer.  The Duke of Buccleuch, was just entered as ‘Buccleuch’ with the later addition of ‘The Duke’ in parenthesis.  His wife is listed as Peeress, while their son,  Lord Herbert Scott is a Lieut. Col.  in the 23rd London Regiment.   A visitor at the time of the census, Lord Claud Hamilton, aged 68 gives his occupation as Member of Parliament.

While Edmund, Lord Faber, gave his occupation as Banker, being an old Etonian, and a senior partner in Becket’s Bank of Leeds and York.  He was also a Justice of the Peace and Deputy Lieutenant of the West Riding of Yorkshire. Lord Stratheden aged 81, gave his occupation as that of private means.

Princess Elizabeth on her birth certificate is indexed as Windsor Elizabeth A M and her mother’s maiden name is Bowes-Lyon.

Queen Elizabeth II on her wedding certificate to Philip Mountbatten, her rank or profession is given as Princess of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, while he entered HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, KG.

It looks like it boils down to how you understand the question asked.  To other generations the wording would be ‘your rank of profession’, while today it seems to be just ‘occupation’ as the wording on the certificates – but who asked the question of occupation and how was it asked!  Simple questions but could mean a world of difference.

Giving an example of census questions asked by the enumerator.  1. Where are you from?  2. Where were you  born?  I suppose they could be classed as similar questions, but when rooting your your ancestor  it could mean a world of difference.  1. Where are you from?  Could be understood as ‘I’m from Methley’.  The enumerator has an answer, he is happy.  Ten years later our family member has moved and he now says he is from Sheffield, again the enumerator has an answer and he may now know the family, so he is happy with the answer.

2. Ten years have passed and the enumerator asks ‘where were you born’ and our head of the household says ‘Bradford’.  Both questions could be understood as the same, but they could also mean something totally different.

It is not always how someone perceives themselves but how someone asks a relevant question.



It’s May – an eventful month

Well, only a few days into the merry month of May and so much has happened.

We have see the birth of another great grandchild to Her Majesty The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, but that will have to wait for another blog.  There has also been celebrations taking place for the end of the war in Europe – V E Day.

We have see the commemorations to those who lost their lives in the sinking of the Lusitania, 100 years ago and we have seen an election which I don’t think anyone predicted the outcome of.  But enough of politics, so back to the Lusitania a more fitting subject for this blog.

RMS Lusitania - Wikipedia

RMS Lusitania – Wikipedia

She, RMS Lusitania was a British ocean liner and holder of the Blue Riband (an unofficial accolade given to passenger liners crossing the Atlantic at a record high speed – of 35 holders of the Blue Riband, 25 were British).  She was launched on 7th of June 1906, becoming part of the Cunard Line.  RMS Lusitania was the biggest passenger ship – for a short time.  Built by John Brown & Co., at Clydebank, she weighed in at 44,060 tons. She had 9 passenger decks, provided approx. 50% more passenger capacity that any other ship at the time.  The ship was equipped with lifts, electric lights, wireless telegraph and her first class accommodation and decks were magnificent in their furnishings.

The Lusitania left New York on the 1st of May 1915 for the port of Liverpool with 1962 people onboard including a crew of 850.

Advert from American papers - Wikipedia

Advert from American papers – Wikipedia

By this time the German Government had declared that all Allied ships would be in danger of being attacked in British waters.  Submarine activity was intensifying around the Atlantic making any vessel in our coastal waters a target for attack.  It is said that the German Embassy in the United States placed an advertisement in newspapers warning passengers of the danger of being a passenger on the Lusitania.

On the 7th of May, RMS Lusitania, was off the coast of Ireland ready to complete her 202nd crossing and was due to dock in Liverpool later that afternoon.  A course running parallel to the south coast of Ireland,  and roughly 11 miles off the Old Head of Kinsale when the liner crossed in front of U-20 at 14:10hrs. The Commanding Officer of U-20, Schwieger, gave the order to fire one torpedo, which struck the Lusitania on the starboard bow – just beneath the wheelhouse.  Shortly after, a second explosion came from within her hull, and the ship began to founder with a prominent list to starboard.

The crew rushed to launch the lifeboats but the position of the vessel and the conditions made their deploy quite difficult and in some cases almost impossible.  As it was only six of the 48 boats were launched.

Eighteen minutes after the torpedo struck, the bow touched the seabed, with the stern still visible above the surface of the water – finally, sliding beneath the waves to her grave.

Of the 1962 passengers and crew on board the Lusitania 1,191 lost their lives, 405 members of the crew lost their lives including John Henry Lowrie Hayes .

 The Lusitania had signalled her distress which brought Irish rescuers to the scene.

By the following morning the news if the sinking, of this unarmed passenger liner,  had spread worldwide.  Most of the passengers were either British of Canadians, there were 128 Americans on the passenger list who lost their lives and this outraged many in their country.

Dr. Bernhard Dernburg, a German spokesman published a statement saying that the Lusitania carried ‘contraband of war’ and also she was ‘classed as an auxiliary cruiser’ Germany had the right to destroy her regardless of any passengers on board.  He also stated that because of the published warning in American papers that Germany were relieved of any responsibility for the deaths of the American citizens.  He stated the ammunition and military goods listed as her cargo, which included an estimated 4,200,000 rounds of rifle cartridges, 1,250 empty shell cases and 18 cases of non-explosive fuses.

Cunard denied that she was carrying munitions but admitted her transportation of small-arms ammunition.

100 years later on the 7th of May 2015, Cunard’s MS Queen Victoria underook a voyage to the site of the sinking to lay a wreath to remember those who lost their lives on that day.

Previous commemorations had taken place, including  a lifeboat crew rowing the 12 miles to the site of the disaster.