Tag Archives: War

London – where the bombs landed

I wrote a short article about this resource a few years ago, so I thought I would give you all a chance to have a look.

A jointly funded project, Bomb Sight, has been created to map the London WW2 bomb census between 7 October 1940 and 6 June 1941, which had previously only been available at the National Archives.

Bomb Site map of London within M25

Bomb Site map of London within M25

Visitors to the sight can explore the map by dragging, section by section which can be quite hard to find your way around due to the very large number of red circles – just shows how Londoners suffered, or enter a street or area.  By clicking on one of the circles you can see what type of bomb hit the area.  The read more section can sometimes give a lot more details i.e. current address, people’s memories and sometimes photographs

Take for example one of Londons tourist attractions, Buckingham Palace, within the period covered by the census over 25 bombs fell within the boundary of the palace or very close. The Tower of London and Tower Bridge also feared no better with over 15 bombs landing close.

Taking a look at the map, so that you can see all of the London are, it seems there was no peace for anyone inside the M25, even up to St Albans, Hatfield and Hoddesdon.

A drop down menu gives you the options of, the first day of the Blitz, street view, anti-invasion sights, 1940’s bomb map.  Another menu gives you the option of seeing the first night, weekly or aggregate bomb census.

Why not grab yourself a cuppa, take five minutes and explore.  It does not matter if you have family from the London area or not – I guarantee you will spend more time there than you planned.

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.

Who Do You Think You Are – a Wakefieldfhs Road Trip!

Thursday morning bright and early – well, early, but not necessarily bright, my two friends and I set off for the NEC at Birmingham.  The 7am start set us in good stead as the roads were not all that bad, even though we were travelling in the commuter hours – luckily the traffic queues were all heading north.

20150416_095805We arrived slightly after 9:30am, parked the car and after my friend said goodbye to her ‘hubby’, who had been out driver, we caught the shuttle bus to arena 2.  So, after a committee meeting to decide whether to have a coffee of not.  It was a very short meeting with a unanimous decision – yes, a cuppa was in order.

I was very surprised that there was no queue of people waiting to show their tickets and enter the arena.  Once inside we decided we would go our own ways, but meet at 12:30 for lunch and fresh air.

20150416_10520720150416_105215As we entered the stand that was prominent was Ancestry, well they had a couple of stands – one with people using the free access to find their long lost family, another had a bank of three laptops for membership questions, discounts and offers.  A membership discount was available but the laptops seemed to be having problems and we had to go back again – infact we went back a few times, but the problems seemed to be all day.  Behind the laptops was a nice man who was the the technical side of the company and offered help on searching techniques.  There was also the Ancestry DNA stand.  After the Ancestry section I decided on a  system so as not to miss anything.  Row by row, I progressed down the area one side and up the other – it worked.

The night before our visit I had made a very rough list, and I mean rough list, of people I had wanted to ask questions about, that was if there was any stand that fitted my needs. The list consisted of :-

John Kaye, a Home Child, who later became a regular soldier.  A divorcee, who married my aunt.   John Younie, who died while in a court in India in the war. How could I get a copy of a death certificate and where would he be buried?  Relatives from Germany.  Members of the Grace family, carvers, gilders and one an artist (a friend of Whistler) who lived in Wakefield and Chiswick.  PLUS two distant relatives who had been awarded the Victoria Cross.

Aswell as the professional associations i.e. AGRA, ASGRA etc., there were a plethora  of Family History Societies and Groups, quite a few companies wanting you to have your DNA tested, a few software companies, research supply companies and other companies that had no connection to our subject at all but seemed to need ‘footfall’.

I was surprised at a few well known companies i.e. online research and software companies that had staff manning their expensive stands, and whose staff on Thursday stood around talking to each other, while customers, prospective customers, waited for help. The staff at one particular stand not only had staff stood in a huddle, but they either did not care about the product they were trying to get you to purchase or had not been trained.    Saying that there were a couple of other stands, non-family history stands, whose pressure selling would have been welcomed by the  aforementioned companies.  Apart from this negative bit, the rest of my day was a pleasure.

Some of the stands I will tell you about individually, while others will be mentioned here.

Who did I talk to and why was I impressed enough to tell you about them!

20150416_105743………with my leaflets and brochures sorted and besides me, lets work through them. Firstly, I met a very nice lady from Rootsbid, an online company where you place a request for help, a photograph etc., and people place their bid for the request.  You simply then chose the person you wish to do the job, pay and upon completion the monies are passed over.  Seems a good idea but I would have liked the option of having more than one area where you are willing to help.  But other than that, take a look – could be an idea for out of area or out of country photographs and archive work.

I had a nice chat with a man from the Guild of One Name Studies, who nearly persuaded me to join and register  one or two unusual names – that may have to wait as too much on at the moment…………but maybe one day!  But after a look at their website and searched a few of my family names, it seems I may have to register a lot of names, sometime,  as no one at the moment seems to be specialising in them.

20150416_161715FIBIS – Families in British India Society, seemed like a stop to ask about John Younie.  The stand was well presented and manned with lots of friendly and willing people.  One of the ladies showed me their website and we looked for him.  A few with the same surname were there but not him.  I was however, given a few hints and tips and suggestions of where to look next.  I was given a few hints and tips on where to go and what to ask for.

We, as family  historians research and record information about people who have gone before, but sometimes we forget that there are living relatives.  These family members may be older in years but hold such a vast amount of information.  There were two companies at the exhibition who specialised in recording memories.  Both companies were manned by nice people who knew their product. One was Speaking Lives and the other was Love Your Stories.

cardsThe previous companies were for the recording of history, but there was a stand, promoting Family Legacy Cards. Wonderfully designed cards with a suitable sentiment, covering a variety of occasions.  Set up by two friends, whose children both suffered with Autism and Learning Difficulties.  The cards, each with a thought provoking cover,  can either be sent to an older relative for them to write their memories or stories,  or they can be filled in by parents, grandparents or other relatives to children and kept until an appropriate time to be read.

My attention was caught by a banner advertising Surrey in the Great War – the county are looking to record how the Great War affected those within the area and are asking for volunteers – they say unlike 1914 enlistment, they have no age, height or medical restrictions, all are welcome.  They are also wanting school, college and community group involvement, including family and local history societies.

The Belgian Tourist Board had a small but impressive stand.  They had available wonderful brochures which gave wonderful information about places with WW1 connections.  Their Trade Manager, was a very nice man and promised to post a brochure for around the Ypres area.

In a small corner of one stand were a few people representing F G Marshall Ltd., The skill shown on the stand was amazing and the patience these artists must have, could put us all to shame.

A number of stands were promoting education i.e. courses on family history, heraldry, military subjects.  Some of the courses were complete in a matter of weeks, while others, could take a year or two. Some of the courses were organised by –  University of Oxford Dept., for Continuing Education; University of Dundee, Centre for Archive and Information Studies; Strathclyde University, genealogical studies.  Finally, Pharos Teaching and Tutoring Ltd., 

20150416_155732If you had Caribbean roots, there was a stand that catered for your needs – the Caribbean Family History Group.  The leaflet I collected proved very informative about what is available in the UK, the link take you to Solihull Council website, which give more pointers.

The Imperial War Museum, had a large stand promoting their20150416_145524 website Lives of the First World War.  The site aims to add life events to the men and women who played a part in the Great War.  You can simply remember a person or add facts, pop along and see who is there.

20150416_155527The Jersey Archives had a stand and I met a lovely young lady, who was pleased and surprised when I told her of a connection between Wakefield and the Channel Islands.  The General Register Office were also there armed with facts, information and leaflets to aid research.20150416_115114

I was drawn to a very large dome, 20150416_114048enclosing a statue of a soldier standing at ease, with his rifle barrel down.  On regular invervals hundreds of poppies were blown around.  The Royal British Legion were promoting their site Every Man Remembered at Who Do You think You Are this year.  Met a couple of nice men, one of them gave me a quick tour of the site – he made it look easier than it actually is, but I got there in the end and remembered my Great Uncle Herbert Siddle.

20150416_163456I picked up a few leaflets from the Jewish Genealogical Society of GB – one for a friend who has researched a cabin trunk owned by a lady who managed to get out of Germany a short while before war was declared, I thought they may be of interest to her.   I also picked up a leaflet or two from the Ministry of Defence20150416_142920 stand.  The leaflets were guides to WW2 Casualty Packs, Medal Office Guide, Personnel and Record Guides – all very interesting and useful.  They also had on display a collection of medals, including the V.C., which a couple of my family members were awarded.  I was also told to take the A3 prints they had of all the medals, nice things to keep for reference.

If you do family history you will know of the next stand that caught my attention, the stand of the Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints, namely Family Search, who have been the forerunners in family history research for decades. I don’t need to say anymore about this site, just to to the website and lose an afternoon or a weekend looking for your family.

Another site I stopped at was manned by Chris Patton for Unlock the Past Guidebooks.  Chris has written quite a number of books but all with the family history link. All of the publications can either be purchased in book form or available as an e-book as a PDF document, well worth a look as some of the titles look very interesting.

Another large stand, this time belonging to Find My Past – not only did they have laptops available for look-ups, very helpful staff, they also had a series of free talks during the show.  They were also promoting the 1939 Register.  All making a very busy stand.

The National Army Museum had another good stand packed with very useful information leaflets giving information on events, the study and research centre etc., and again, manned by very nice and helpful staff.

20150416_120926As one of the groups I am a member of is within a non-conformist area, so it seemed natural that I should pay a visit to the Methodist Heritage stand.  Leaflets packed with the history of Methodism plus places to visit that have a Methodist connection.

Just taking a final look through my collection of leaflets and I have very nearly forgotten to mention Forces War Rec20150416_152149ords.  It is a site that I have found when googling the name of many soldiers who were KIA or DofW during the Great War.  While I was chatting to a couple of the people on the stall I mentioned my two V.C. awardees. So, they set too to find them, and show me what the site could do.  Well initially, they could not be found, but eventually we found one and I sneakily took down the edition of The Gazette – tell me you haven’t done the same!  While we were looking for the other elusive VC recipient, other staff members came and started chatting, laughing and joking.  I said that if you can find them, I would join  but would want a discount to do so – I was given a discount code. A few Tweets went back and forth and one told me the elusive man had been found.  A Tweet said, looks like I should join……………I did and used the discount code.    Thank you very much.

20150416_145105I also paid a quick visit to the Western Front Association while wandering around, such a nice set of people and very knowledgeable on their subject.

Lastly, but my no means least, was the stand of The Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Again a wonderful stand packed with information and resource material.  Over the years I have acquired a few of their booklets and pamphlets, now it was time to add some more to the collection.  Some of the booklets would be wonderful as information fillers in a book that I am researching for.  One of the staff was very helpful when I mentioned an error on a headstone – so to gather the evidence and forward to them.

Morayshire man to get memorial 100 years after his death

 After seeing a link to an online version of the Press and Journal, a Scottish newspaper, I was very interested, as the young man concerned was from the same village as my grandad – Dallas, Morayshire.

Anderson, William V.C.

Anderson, William V.C.

William Anderson was born in 1885 in Dallas, but by 1891, the family consisting of Alexander and Bella, the parents, plus children, James, Maggie, William and Alexander, living at 79 North Road. Alexander snr., worked as a labourer to keep a roof over his family’s head.

He went to Glasgow and was employed as a car conductor with the Corporation Tramways for several years before moving  to Newcastle upon Tyne where an elder brother of the family was serving with the Yorkshire Regiment (Alexandra, Princess of Wales’s Own) and enlisted in the same battalion in 1905, serving in it for a period of seven years in Egypt and India. After his service expired William returned to Glasgow and was employed in the Elder Hospital in Govan. He had been there only for a year before deciding to emigrate to South Africa. However, before he could leave war broke out and he was called up as a reservist and went to the front in France with the British Expeditionary Force.

Our soldier, William Anderson, served in the 2nd Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment.  He served as Corporal, 8191.

An extract from “The London Gazette”, dated 21st May, 1915, records the following: “For most conspicuous bravery at Neuve-Chapelle on 12th March, 1915, when he led three men with bombs against a large party of the enemy who had entered our trenches, and by his prompt and determined action saved, what might otherwise have become, a serious situation. Cpl. Anderson first threw his own bombs, then those in possession of his three men (who had been wounded) amongst the Germans, after which he opened rapid rifle fire upon them with great effect, notwithstanding that he was at the time quite alone”.

William’s commanding officer wrote him up for his Victoria Cross – he had died within less than 24 hours, his Soldier’s Effects record states ‘on or since 13.3.15’.  The document also mentions his sister, Mrs Margaret Ingram and his brother Alexander, who would receive monies owed to William.  Various payments had been made to his siblings covering the period 10 May 1916 to 2 December 1919.

Anderson, William V.C., Corporal 8191, has no known grave and is therefore, remembered on the Le Touret Memorial, along with over 13400 other men whose final resting place is known only unto their God.

The Memorial commemorates, as I have said, over 13,400 British soldiers who were killed in this sector of the Western Front from the beginning of October 1914 to the eve of the Battle of Loos in late September the following year – 1915.

Extracted from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission “Almost all of the men commemorated on the Memorial served with regular or territorial regiments from across the United Kingdom and were killed in actions that took place along a section of the front line that stretched from Estaires in the north to Grenay in the south. This part of the Western Front was the scene of some of the heaviest fighting of the first year of the war, including the battles of La Bassée (10 October – 2 November 1914), Neuve Chapelle (10 – 12 March 1915), Aubers Ridge (9 – 10 May 1915), and Festubert (15 – 25 May 1915). Soldiers serving with Indian and Canadian units who were killed in this sector in 1914 and ’15 whose remains were never identified are commemorated on the Neuve Chapelle and Vimy memorials, while those who fell during the northern pincer attack at the Battle of Aubers Ridge are commemorated on the Ploegsteert Memorial”.

Commonwealth War Graves certificate

Commonwealth War Graves certificate

To read the continuing story of William and his V.C. visit the Press and Journal’s website 

For information on other men from the Yorkshire Regiment you might find this of interest.

Drighlington ‘pub lads’ of the First World War by Guest Blogger, Philip L Wheeler

‘Drig Lads’ who lived in the pubs of Drighlington who gave their lives in the First World War

Drighlington Pubs.

Over the years many pubs have come and gone in the small Yorkshire village of Drighlington, which is situated between Bradford and Wakefield on one road and Halifax and Leeds on another. It once thrived with several industries such as an iron works, coal mines, sweet making and mineral water making. Other industries such as woollen mills and horse hair production were also prominent before and for some time after the First World War. Farnells was a good example of an industry that changed with changing times. Situated just off the moor it produced wagon wheels in their thousands, but had to change with motorised transport coming along in the first decade of the twentieth century. The factory went on to make tennis racquets and cricket bats before finally going out of business in the 1920’s.

With good employment prospects the village pubs thrived it seems and the fact that there were still about twenty in the village at the time of the First World War showed that they could make a reasonable living and be an integral part of village life.


A map of the Cockersdale area of Drighlington in 1908 showing some of the industries that would have supported one pub, the Valley Inn.

The area around the Valley Inn in in about 1908 supported coal mines, a brass foundry, at least two mills nearby with others a little further afield and a boiler works. All no doubt with thirsty employees who would frequent the ‘Valley’ and the Cockersdale Arms, which later became the ‘Gas House Tavern’.

The two villages of Adwalton and Drighlington which make up what is now regarded as simply Drighlington also had industries scattered about their sides of the village with their own pubs. Sadly most are now gone. The Waggon and Horses, in whose outhouses I used to play with the licensee’s son as a child is now a children’s nursery the Victoria, a thriving pub in my school days with an exciting football team is now an Indian restaurant and the Painters Arms along the road has gone too.

The New Inn, closed for some time has reopened recently with a view to making it a music venue and good luck to the landlord in that venture. Communities need pubs and hopefully the remaining ones, the Railway, The Malt, the Bull, and the New Inn and Spotted Cow and the Valley, will continue to thrive, even though these days it seems to do so they have to offer food as an incentive in order to do so.

Map of Adwalton in 1908, showing at least five different pubs in the Three Road ends, King Street Area. Only the Black Bull survives, with the White Hart Hotel, the White Horse, The Waggon and Horses and the Unicorn now gone.

Map of Adwalton in 1908, showing at least five different pubs in the Three Road ends, King Street Area. Only the Black Bull survives, with the White Hart Hotel, the White Horse, The Waggon and Horses and the Unicorn now gone.

The area around the Crossroads supported at least three pubs, the Victoria and the Spotted Cow, along with the Painters Arms, along with the ‘Steam Plough Inn’ along Station Road. The Tempest Constitutional Club, which opened in 1911, made the Crossroads a good area for having plenty of pubs to choose from on an evening out. Perhaps the location of the Police Station when it was open, just along Bradford Road, was picked for its closeness to several pubs. The Gas House Tavern existed in Whitehall Road and the nicely named Steam Plough Inn was close to Brooks Buildings in Station Road next to the Drighlington Cricket Ground. Of course the Spotted Cow, infamous for its ‘talking corgi’ publicity stunt of the 1960’s is the only survivor. Perhaps the notoriety gained by the visit of the then very famous DJ and TV presenter David Jacobs gave the pub a boost to the present day!!

A map of Drighlington Cross Roads in 1908 showing the Victoria right on the Cross Roads and the Spotted Cow in Whitehall Road, opposite the old school.

A map of Drighlington Cross Roads in 1908 showing the Victoria right on the Cross Roads and the Spotted Cow in Whitehall Road, opposite the old school.

So, like many villages at the time of the First World War, pubs and clubs like Liberal and Conservative clubs formed a vital part of the community. Who knows what discussions and decisions took place in the bars of those pubs as men met to discuss the war and whether they would decide to join the colours! Certainly the landlord of the Malt Shovel had such discussions, because Harry Liley, himself the licensee joined the army on August 31st 1916. He became Private 203158 Harry Liley of the 1st/4th Battalion, Duke of Wellington’s West Riding Regiment. Harry died on June 17th 1918. He was in the Military Hospital in Endell Street in central London at the time. It seems strange as well that so many licensed premises seemed to thrive in a village which also boasted several well attended Methodist chapels like the Wesleyans, the Zion Methodists, Moorside Methodists and others.

It was whilst researching the war memorial in Whitehall Road, Drighlington, that I became aware of the fact that several of the pubs in the villages of Adwalton, Drighlington and Cockersdale had actually sent their young men to fight with the army in the battlefields of Northern France and Belgium. Of the 62 names on the memorial, 4 had actually lived in pubs that were thriving at the time the war started. Two more, Helliwell and Longley, are not even named on the memorial, but they made the number of men who left the pubs they lived in, never to return, to be six.

Another young man from the village also left the Steam Plough Inn, in Station Road, where his father was the landlord. Percival Millington Brooke was the son of another Percival Brooke, who had lived next door to the Steam Plough Inn in 1901, but by 1905 he had become the landlord of the very same pub! Percy Brooke survived the war but we know little of his regiment or his service. Finding his name as a soldier on his marriage certificate at Tong Church in 1916 showed that his father was an inn keeper and brought to seven the number of young men who left pubs in Drighlington to fight for King and Country. In his case he was lucky as he was to return home from the war.

The marriage certificate for Percival Brooke in 1916

The marriage certificate for Percival Brooke in 1916

Along with Liley from the Malt Shovel, Harold Hainsworth left the Spotted Cow and Ernest Helliwell was resident at the Victoria with his wife according to the Commonwealth War Grave Commission records, when he died in October 1917. His last resting place being at Etaples in France. Allen Longley was the son of the licensee of the White Hart Hotel a large many roomed hotel and public house that fronted Wakefield Road in front of the feast ground, or t’ gang as my old grandfather Joseph Wheeler used to call it. The pub was always bolstered by the horse fairs that were regularly held around the pub from the time of the granting of a fairs licence in the middle ages. Queen Elizabeth the First is reputed to have visited there on her travels, but it is highly unlikely and an urban legend only.

The pub’s main claim to fame in modern times was when it was scheduled for demolition in the 1960’s and the then owner, though not licensee as it had long since ceased trading held a Mexican shotgun standoff with police sent to evict him for some three days before finally giving up! Bernard Brennan, a native of Ireland had come to the village some years earlier and actually married my great aunt, Frances Blakey, one of four sisters of the Blakey family, my Grandma Elizabeth being one of them and Mary Anne being another, the mother of Marion Grayshon a long standing resident of the village and supporter of Moorside Methodist Church who sadly died before getting to her hundredth birthday.

Brennan, whose antics attracted coverage from the fledgling Calendar evening news show, causing a buzz in the village, is buried just around the back of the church, with my great auntie. An obelisk marks the grave.

In 1916 John George Johnson was living at the Waggon and Horses public house with his uncle, the licensee. His father had been so before that and his grandma, Mercy Johnson had also held the licence. Knowledge of John living at the pub only came to light when looking at the probate register for his death, which lists his address as that very same pub. He was to join the 1/5th Battalion of the Duke of Wellington’s West Riding Regiment in 1916. John Johnson was to die of ‘accidental injuries’ in France on February 17th 1917. What the accidental injuries were is not actually known.

The highest honour that France gives to a soldier is the Croix de Guerre and it was this honour that was conveyed upon one Harry Benton, who was the foster son of the Tankards, the so aptly named hosts of the Railway Tavern in Whitehall Road Drighlington. When I first researched the names on the memorial it was the Railway In that I attributed Harry Benton to, but looking again at the list of pubs and the 1911 census it has become clear that the Tankards lived at the ‘Tavern’ and not the Railway Hotel, which is still open and doing good pub food despite the closure of the railway station itself in the 1960’s.

Harry Benton joined the Royal Naval Division in April of 1915 and was killed in action on a battery gun emplacement in Dunkirk in April 1917. His two colleagues on the battery were also killed and all three were afforded a funeral of honour by the French government. All three were buried together in Croxyde Military Cemetery, West Flanders. Their headstones form a group of three on their own, standing out with the badge of the Royal Naval Division on the top section.

Visiting their grave in 2014 was a poignant one for me, as was the visit to other graves of Drig lads, such as John Reynolds, an Adwalton lad like myself. John is buried in the lovely churchyard of Brevern-Uzer in Belgium, a village churchyard which made room for a handful of British casualties only, all buried not in a row but in a circle facing each other, overlooked by a marvellous village church. How funny to think that an Adwalton lad is resting there!! But then most of the men whose names are on the memorial do still reside in graves in the countries of northern Europe, excepting of course Herbert Page, who died in India almost a year after the war had ended in September 1919.

The marriage certificate for Percival Brooke in 1916

The marriage certificate for Percival Brooke in 1916

The last of the seven men to leave the pubs of Drighlington and go to war was Harold Hainsworth. He was the son of the licensee of the Spotted Cow at the time of the war, one Arthur Hainsworth. Harold left the comfortable surroundings of the pub and his wife to join the army on March 19th 1917, joining the Duke of Wellington’s West Riding Regiment. His time before the colours was short lived and by April the following year he was killed in action, being buried in Gonneheim Cemetery Northern France.

So, those are the seven men who no doubt knew from their lives in the pubs, many of the men who had gone before them to fight for their country. Indeed , any or all of them may have been inspired to go and fight by one or more of the men whose names now sadly adorn the village memorial. However, we must never forget that as well as those whose deaths we remember on memorials, many men also seved and came back to the village to live their lives to the full.

No doubt many of these who were lucky enough to get leave to home spent evenings in the pubs of Drighlington, but one wonders if they ever tried to persuade people to join up, knowing what they did about the horrors of war and being glad to be out of it for a short period of leave. One such survivor was my own grandfather, Joseph Wheeler, originally a Birstall lad, but who came to Drighlington after the war and married one of the four Blakey sisters, daughters of the local wheelwright and undertaker. Joseph survived the horrors of the Somme faced by the Bradford Pals and came home to live in Moorside frequenting the Railway hotel two doors awy from his house on many an occasion.

Certainly it is easy to imagine that villain turned hero, Horace Osborne would have spent many hours in the Valley pub, near where he was brought up in Cockersdale, or the Cockersdale Arms. His story is a fascinating one of courage and medals, after a pre war stint with the Guards which saw him serve time in a London prison! John Willie Horsfall, another name on the memorial,who lived in Brooks buildings at the crossroads would have had his pick of the ‘Vic’, the Spotted or the Steam Plough and the Painters Arms, all within just two minutes walk of his front door.

There may well be villages in other parts of the country where pubs sent several men to fight for their country, who knows. Without detailed research into our war memorials it would be hard to tell. Certainly the pubs as community centres must have played their parts in recruiting men, as no doubt many a decision to join was made in one of the pubs as discussion of the war was made over pints of beer. However, it is the known contribution of these seven pubs in one small village that makes for a unique story and now the story of the bravery of these men can be revealed for posterity, which for the residents of Drighlington, past, present and future will hopefully be an inspiration.

A list of the known pubs of Drighlington and their licencees (1830-1917)

A list of the known pubs of Drighlington and their licencees (1830-1917)

Private John George Johnson (1888-1917).

1st/5th Battalion Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding) Regiment.

The headstone for John George Johnson in Le Fermont Cemetery.

The headstone for John George Johnson in Le Fermont Cemetery.

John Johnson was born in Drighlington on February 6th 1888. He was actually baptised at Drighlington Parish Church some three years later in February 1891. In that year the census showed that John’s father, George Johnson was living in Mason’s Yard, Adwalton, with his wife and John George, his 3 year old son. There were also two daughters in the family at the time. Nelley who was a babe in arms and Ellen who was 5 years old. George, who had been born in Leeds, was a cloth miller by trade. By the time of the 1901 census the family had grown to 5 children, though it is believed that Nellie had died by then. John George was working at the time as a ‘Band’ Maker, or rope maker. The Johnson family were living in Adwalton Lane by 1901.

The census of 1911 included much more detail about families than ever before. From this census we can tell that George and his wife Elizabeth actually had ten children. Eight of the children survived by 1911 and seven of them were living with their parents in Thornton’s Buildings. This was a four roomed dwelling and for five working adult people and four children to share it must have been very cramped. John George was shown as a 23 year old cloth miller at this time, like his father George.

By the time of his death in 1917 John George Johnson was actually living at the Waggon and Horses Public House in Adwalton. At the turn of the 20th century there were more than a dozen public houses in Drighlington. There were also working men’s and political clubs such as the Liberal club. Many of these establishments are long forgotten. The Steam Plough Inn, delightfully named but now gone forever from Station Road. The Unicorn no longer exists in Moorside Road, or the ‘Beesom’, though the latter still exists as a building.

Luckily there are still some pubs remaining in the village of Drighlington. Three of the seven pubs which sent men who lived in them away to war still exist in 2014. However, one other, the Waggon and Horses is now no longer a pub, though the building remains and is now a nursery.

The original Waggon and Horses, with George and Elizabeth and their two daughters, probably Nelley and Ellen. The photograph is probably of about 1900.

The original Waggon and Horses, with George and Elizabeth and their two daughters, probably Nelley and Ellen. The photograph is probably of about 1900.

John Johnson enlisted in the army in Bradford on September 26th 1916. He became Private 263023 Johnson of the 1/5th Battalion of the Duke of Wellington’s West Riding Regiment. Other than this little else is known of his war service.

The entry for John Johnson in the Book of Remembrance.

The entry for John Johnson in the Book of Remembrance.

John George Johnson was one of seven men to leave public houses in Drighlington six of whom did not return. His family had been landlords of the pub in the 1890’s when Mercy Johnson, John George’s grandma was the incumbent. The pub then passed to Charles Johnson and thence to his brother George. The actual link to John George and the ‘Waggon’ as it was always known, would be little known were it not for the probate registry entry for John George Johnson. It reads:

Johnson, John George, of the Waggon and Horses inn Drighlington, Bradford a private in the West Yorkshire Regiment died February 17th 1917 in France administration (with will) Wakefield 21st June to Elizabeth Johnson, wife of George Johnson. Effects £159.17s.6d”.

The note on the probate register is at odds with the date of John’s death as posted on his headstone, but only by one day. The commonwealth war graves register shows that he actually died of accidental injuries whilst in France. No trace of what the accident was can be found as yet.

John Johnson was buried at Le Fermont Military Cemetery, Riviere in France.

Le Fermont Military Cemetery, Riviere, France.

Le Fermont Military Cemetery, Riviere, France.

Able Seaman Harry Benton (1893-1917)

Royal Naval Division.

The gravestone of Harry Benton in Croxyde Cemetery, West Flanders.

The gravestone of Harry Benton in Croxyde Cemetery, West Flanders.

Harry Benton was another of our soldiers who left pubs in Drighlington during the First World War to fight for King and Country. He, was not a ‘Drig’ lad but actually came to the village after he was fostered to the family who ran the Railway Tavern which was situated just off West Street near Hodgson Lane. This is not to be confused with the Railway Inn which stood and still stands opposite the old railway station in Moorside Road. The Railway Inn must have been quite a busy public house in the many years before Dr. Beeching’s cuts put paid to the railway station across the road in the mid 1960’s.

Harry Benton was actually born in Cleckheaton on June 2nd 1893. In the 1901 census Harry was shown as a 7 year old, living with his family in Gildersome. His father was Willie Benton and his mother Annie. He had a younger sister and a baby brother at the time. Willie was a hairdresser by profession.

In 1901 Harry’s mother Annie died and by 1911 the family found themselves in circumstances where Harry had to be fostered out. In 1911 Harry was to be found on the census of that year living at the Railway Hotel in Drighlington. There he became the foster son of the adequately named Walter Tankard and his wife Charlotte, who were both from Drighlington and Westgate Hill themselves. Harry was 17 years old at the time and was shown to be working as a cloth finisher.

Harry Benton joined the services on April 15th 1915. His entry in the book of remembrance wrongly states that he was ‘Killed in Action off the Belgian Coast on April 26th 1917’. However, the entry is wrong in that Harry’s unit was not a sea going unit at all. Colleagues back in Drighlington writing the memorial book in the 1920’s probably saw Royal Naval Division and assumed that he died on a ship, as they wrote ‘off the coast of Belgium’. It seems that the concept of the Royal Naval Division as a land fighting force had not filtered through to the people at home even by the 1920’s. Harry was certainly on dry land when he was killed at Dunkirk in 1917.

The entry for Harry Benton in the Book of Remembrance.

The entry for Harry Benton in the Book of Remembrance.

Most Drighlington men were to join local regiments such as the Leeds or Bradford Pals or the Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, but Harold Benton found himself joining the Royal Naval Division. This was a collection of battalions of largely naval personnel who were surplus to navy requirements and were kitted out as a land fighting force during the First World War. Harry though was to be posted to a naval gun unit and was sent to guard Dunkirk in case of a German rush to the coast.

He was on duty at the ‘Carnac’ battery in Dunkirk on April 26th 1917 when a German 6” naval shell burst near his gun emplacement, killing outright Sub Lieutenant Donovan and Able Seaman Harry Benton, another Able Seaman was injured and died later.

Harry Benton’s funeral was held in Belgium on April 28th 1917 and he was buried in the cemetery at Croxyde, West Flanders, Belgium. It seems that a large contingent of French, Belgian and British officers were present at the funeral and they formed a guard of honour as the cortege passed them. Prince Alexander of Teck was also noted to have attended the funeral.

This was obviously a great honour for the three British ‘sailors’ to be treated in this way. The two seaman were transported in one vehicle and the officer in another and a four mile walk was taken by the mourners to the cemetery on the nearby hillside just over the border in Belgium. The transports pulling the carriages were pulled by four horses with French soldiers riding them. A diary written at the time noted that ‘four of our machines hovered overhead’.

All in all this must have been an extraordinary way for the deaths of three servicemen to be treated, as many of their colleagues were unceremoniously buried in hastily dug graves, only to be retrieved later and placed in properly dug cemeteries.

The French must have taken the sacrifice of the three men of the Royal Naval Division to heart and they awarded them the Croix de Guerre. Able Seaman Harry Benton, late of the Railway Tavern Drighlington, went to his grave with the Croix de Guerre Second Class pinned to his uniform on top of his coffin.

A Croix de Guerre Medal like the one awarded to Drig Lad Harry Benton.

A Croix de Guerre Medal like the one awarded to Drig Lad Harry Benton.

Nothing is known of how the news was to reach his foster parents in Drighlington, though one suspects that it was conveyed to them by the dreaded telegram delivered by the local telegram boy, bearing the news from the War Office and expressing deepest sympathy. By the time of his death the Tankards themselves had moved from the Railway to another pub, the Queen’s Head in Drighlington, the latter no longer exists. Thus yet another pub can be said to have mourned for one of its lost sons.

The war memorial at Drighlington with the name of Harry Benton on it.

The war memorial at Drighlington with the name of Harry Benton on it.



    Gunner Ernest Helliwell (1893-1917).

38th Brigade Ammunition Column, Royal Field Artillery

The grave marker for Ernest Helliwell in Etaples Military Cemetery, France.

The grave marker for Ernest Helliwell in Etaples Military Cemetery, France.

Ernest Helliwell was born in Bradford in about 1893. He was the son of Edward and Sarah Helliwell who had three other children by the time of the 1901 census recording the family’s life in East Bierley. Edward Helliwell was shown to be a railway engine driver in the census forms for that year.

By 1911 the census for that year tells us that the Helliwell family were living in Low Moor, Bradford. Edward was still working as a railway engine driver but Ernest was now in work after leaving school and had become a clerk in an office, working for a yarn merchant.

It is not known when Ernest Helliwell joined the colours, but join he did and he was posted eventually to an ammunition column working to supply the guns of the Royal Field Artillery. He was Gunner 165101. He was to die on October 30th 1917 and he was buried in Etaples Military Cemetery in France.

Little else is known about Ernest and where he lived prior to the war. However, the Commonwealth War Grave Registration documents for Ernest’s grave tell us that he was the husband of S.E. Helliwell, and that they lived, at the time of his registration with the commission, at the Victoria Hotel, which of course stood at Drighlington Crossroads for many years. The building still stands but is now an Asian restaurant.

The Victoria, where Ernest Helliwell was living with his wife prior to joining up.

The Victoria, where Ernest Helliwell was living with his wife prior to joining up.

Research into who ‘S.E’ Helliwell was has failed to find any record of the marriage of the Helliwells and it may well be that the couple were at the Victoria Hotel as guests for a short time and not actually living there. We cannot know the answer to that. It seems that the Helliwells reverted to their Bradford roots after the war at least. The CWGC records show that after choosing the epitaph for her husband’s grave ‘Ever Remembered’, she was recorded as living at 673 Manchester Road, Bradford.

The Probate register for Ernest Helliwell, showing his address as the Victoria Public House.

The Probate register for Ernest Helliwell, showing his address as the Victoria Public House.

War diaries for ammunition columns are hard to trace and even when they exist it is difficult to pin down a particular death to days when mainly logistical information regarding shell numbers are recorded in the diaries.

There is somewhat of a mystery as to why Ernest was shown to be living at the Victoria Public House before he went off to war, but his albeit short stay there helps to complete an intriguing picture of no less than seven pubs which gave up their men to send them off to fight in the First World War.

Etaples Military Cemetery, France, where Ernest Helliwell is buried.

Etaples Military Cemetery, France, where Ernest Helliwell is buried.

Private Allen Longley (1895-1918).

9th Battalion King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry.

Allen Longley’s name is carved on the Tyne Cot Memorial in Belgium.

Allen Longley’s name is carved on the Tyne Cot Memorial in Belgium.

Allen Longley was not a Drig Lad as such. He was born in Rothwell on May 5th 1895. His parents were Richard Allen Longley and Gertrude Maude Longley. In 1891 the census shows the Longley family at Rothwell, where Richard’s occupation was shown as a coal miner. By 1901 his occupation had changed to that of gardener.

Richard Longley obviously worked hard to grow his gardening business and by 1911 his son Allen was shown as ‘assisting in the business’ run by his father. He was 16 years old and his 17 year old sister Emily was also employed in the family business.

At some stage around the start of the First World War the Longleys took over the licence for the White Hart Hotel, the old sprawling building which once occupied a frontage along what was Adwalton Lane but was to become Wakefield Road.

The front of the old White Hart Hotel in the 1960’s.

The front of the old White Hart Hotel in the 1960’s.

It was from this address that Allen Longley left to go to war. Sadly, we know little of when this was as his service records do not exist. However, we do know that Allen Longley joined the 9th Battalion of the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry. He was to die on April 23rd 1918, at the age of 22.

The war diary for the 9th KOYLI’s makes interesting reading around that date, and a sad story emerges of how Allen Longley probably became a victim of what is now called ‘friendly fire’. On April 20th 1918 the battalion moved to trenches at Grand Bois, near the Belgian village of Millekruis.

The war diary entry for the date of April 20th shows that even from the very beginning, the battalion, or part of it, was in trouble, but not from the enemy! It reads:

At dark, C Company took over Forth House with two platoons from the 2nd South African Battalion. Our own artillery commenced to shell B Coy trench ( left coy) at 2pm and when the SOS was put up at 9pm bursts falling short from our own 18 pounders killed 4 and wounded 4 men”.

It seems that the battalion were unable to get the rogue battery to stop firing at them and the very next day similar entries are made in the war diary.

In spite of remonstrations one of our gins continued to shell B coys. Trench during the early hours of the 21st, inflicting the following casualties.

One Officer Killed. 2nd Lieutenant Cundall

One officer wounded 2nd Lieutenant Woods.

12 Other ranks Killed

11 Other ranks Wounded.

The strongest protest was made against this discreditable performance and it is to be hoped that the officer of the artillery concerned will be tried by Court Martial for this carelessness.

The war diary shows that on April 23rd 1918 the 9th KOYLI’s were relieved in the trenches by the East Yorkshire regiment. The 9th went in to barracks for two days at Jasper Camp, Millekruis. There is no mention of any casualties on the day of April 23rd 1918, and it seems likely that Allen Longley was one of the ‘other ranks’ who died as a result of a carelessly aimed artillery barrage from men on his own side, dying some days later.

Allen’s body was never found, again supporting the idea that he was actually killed by shelling, albeit from his own side! His name is carved on the Tyne Cot Memorial in Belgium.

The cross at the Tyne Cot Memorial, Belgium.

The cross at the Tyne Cot Memorial, Belgium.

Private Henry (Harry) Liley (1878-1918)

1/4th Battalion Duke of Wellington’s West Riding Regiment

The headstone for Harry Liley (snr) buried in Drighlington Churchyard.

The headstone for Harry Liley (snr) buried in Drighlington Churchyard.

There are two H. Liley’s on the Drighlington War Memorial, one notes snr and the other jnr. This may mistakenly indicate that they may have been father and son but they were not. However, it could be that the words senior and junior were added to delineate that one was 39 or 40 years of age when he died and the other was a mere 19 years of age.

There were several ‘Lileys’ in Drighlington at the turn of the 20th century, many living in the Whitehall Road area of Drighlington. In fact another member of the Liley clan who went by the name of ‘Willie’ Liley was born in Drighlington and was killed in the Great War. However, probably by virtue of the fact that he had moved to Morley by the time of his death he does not figure on the war memorial for Drighlington. His name is to be found on the Morley War Memorial.

Although the ‘H’ Liley’s on the memorial were not father and son they may well have been relatives in some way, but research would be needed to establish that. Coincidentally Harry Liley also had a son who was named ‘Willie’ but he was too young to have fought in the Great War. His full name was William Barraclough Liley, but he is entered on the 1911 census by his shortened name.

In 1911 Harry Liley was the landlord of the Malt Shovel public house in Whitehall Road, Drighlington, which is actually the nearest pub to the war memorial which now bears his name. Another pub coincidence is that when Harry married his wife Emily Bradley in1907, Emily’s address was shown as being the ‘Railway Hotel Drighlington’. However, it is unlikely that she was a landlady or related to the landlord, but possibly worked as a barmaid there. Her father was described as a stone mason on the wedding certificate. Harold Middleton Liley was 27 years old at the time and Emily was 25. Harry was a painter at the time, living in Melbourne House Drighlington. However, they were actually married at Birstall Parish Church on March 27th 1906.

Their first and only child, William, came along on December 2nd 1907, at a time when the family were living in Fieldhead Lane Birstall.

Harry was born as ‘Henry’ Middleton Liley in the summer of 1878. His father Middleton was at that time a rag merchant as well as a grocer and the family lived in a house near to the station named Melbourne House. ‘Harry’ had three sisters and two brothers in 1881. His mother had been Grace Barraclough before marrying Harry’s father. She died in 1881 so Henry was left with just his father and siblings from a young age.

In the 1901 census Henry or ‘Harry’ is to be found working away from home in Nottingham as a painter. However, by 1911 he and his wife were shown to be living at the Malt Shovel Inn, in Whitehall Road Drighlington. Harry was shown to be the publican and his wife Emily was assisting in the business. They had one servant living in the pub, the aptly named Thomas Tetley.

The entry for Henry Middleton Liley (Harry) in the Book of Remembrance.

The entry for Henry Middleton Liley (Harry) in the Book of Remembrance.

According to the book of remembrance Harry Liley joined the army on August 31st 1916. He became Private 203158 Harry Liley of the 1st/4th Battalion, Duke of Wellington’s West Riding Regiment.

Harry died on June 17th 1918. He was in the Military Hospital in Endell Street in central London at the time. He had therefore been brought home from France suffering from wounds received in action. He was taken home to his family in Yorkshire and buried in Drighlington churchyard on June 21st 1918. He left the sum of £393-14s-11d to his widow Emily.

It is impossible to know how Henry Middleton Liley, otherwise known as Harry was wounded unless a member of the family comes forward in the future with family legend of it. The book of remembrance shows that he was wounded in action at the Battle of Kemmel Hill on April 26th 1918.

It is very clear that Harry felt the need to fight for his country and despite having a young child and a wife to support he left to join the colours as many Drighlington men did. One wonders how many regular attenders at his old pub the Malt Shovel actually know that a previous landlord went off to war to fight for them to be able to drink there.

malt shovel people

Corporal Harold Hainsworth (1895-1918).

Second Battalion, Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding) Regiment.

Gonnehem British Cemetery.

Gonnehem British Cemetery.

Harold Hainsworth was another man living in licenced premises in Drighlington who was to lose his life in the Great War. Harold was living at the Spotted Cow Inn, opposite Drighlington Junior School, as it once was.The pub is just about one hundred yards or so from the parish church of St Paul. It is still a lively Drighlington pub today, despite the demise of many others which served the village in that era.

Harold’s father, Arthur Crowther Hainsworth was the landlord of the pub, living there with his wife, Harold’s mother, Mary Hainsworth. By the time that Harold was killed he had married Mary Ellen Tew, who had lived at number 10 Bankhouse, Pudsey. She had taken up residence at the Spotted Cow with her husband’s family. The couple married at Tong Church on July 3rd 1915.

The Hainsworth’s were not actually a Drighlington family originally. Arthur Hainsworth was born in Farnley, nearby, in 1865. He married Mary Schofield, also of Farnley, on May 8th 1886. In 1887 their first son, Albert Vincent, was born but sadly he died at the age of four in 1891. Their second son, Harold, was born in 1895. Both Arthur and Mary lived until the 1940’s, losing both of their sons before their own deaths. However, Harold’s attestation papers for the army show that he had a sister, one Annie Peat. On a form asking the his wife to declare any full blood relative she cites Annie as such. However, Annie Schofield as she was before marrying was not a full blood relative, but was Mary’s daughter from a previous relationship. She is shown as living with Arthur Crowther Hainsworth and Mary in the census of 1901.

Arthur seems to have had differing jobs in his youth before finally becoming a publican. In 1891 he was working as a blast furnace stoker and by 1901 he was working on the roads a labourer, breaking stones.

By the time of the 1911 census he was shown to be a publican, living in Bankhouse Lane, Pudsey. It is likely that he ran a pub there and the Bankhouse Inn, still in use today, may well have been his first public house.

By the time of Harold Hainsworth’s death in 1918 however, the Hainsworth family had moved to Drighlington and Arthur had become the licensee of the Spotted Cow in Drighlington.

The Spotted Cow Inn.

The Spotted Cow Inn.

In 1911 Harold Hainsworth was working as a garden labourer, whilst his father ran the pub in Bankhouse Lane. He was sixteen years old at the time but by 1915 at the age of twenty he was to marry Mary Ellen Tew, who had lived at 10 Bank House Pudsey, no doubt not far from the public house his family owned. By this time Harold had become a fettler in the local mills.

War broke out on August 4th 1914, but it was not until 1915 that Harold Hainsworth enlisted in the army. Surprisingly it was to be another two years before he was called to the colours. Luckily his attestation papers survived the blitz of the Second World War and from these papers we can see his postings and obtain some knowledge of his life in the army. Unfortunately the papers of many soldiers from the First World War were destroyed by Luftwaffe raids on London in the Second World conflict.

On December 8th 1915 Harold Hainsworth travelled to Halifax and signed his enlistment forms to join the Duke of Wellington’s West Riding Regiment. It may be that the enthusiasm shown in the area for joining regiments such as the Leeds Pals and the Bradford Pals inspired him to eventually join the colours himself. It was to be more than a year before Harold was actually mobilised on March 19th 1917. The attrition rate amongst young soldiers in 1916 obviously brought about the need to mobilize those who had already been recruited but not yet called up.

Harold and Mary were to have one child, Iris, who was born on July 14th 1916. Whether the recruiting officer at the time spared Harold from joining his regiment because his wife was pregnant is doubtful, but certainly a possibility which explains the long time between December 1915 and March 1917. Certainly, other men were being called up in their thousands and Harold was not in a reserved occupation, showing on his forms that he was now a ‘Fettler and Grinder’ at a mill making gun cloth.

The service record for Harold Hainsworth.

The service record for Harold Hainsworth.

From his medical notes in his attestation forms we know that Harold Hainsworth was 5’6” tall. Not a very tall man but bearing in mind many of the recruits of the time were much smaller than modern day young men of the same age he was probably of average height for the time. The existence of ‘Bantam’ regiments where recruits had to be less than 5’3” tall to join bears testament to the fact that many men were of small stature, especially in the mining areas of the industrial north. His medical notes show that his teeth were ‘decayed’ and that his joining up was subject to medical treatment, so this may well have been the reason for the delay in him actually being mobilised.

Harold was medically examined for joining up in March of 1917. His weight was shown as 131 pounds. He was then 22 years old. We even know that his chest measurement was 34 ½ inches and that his general physique was ‘good’.

It is not known where Harold received his training in full, although we can tell from his records that by August of 1917 he was at Chirton Camp in South Shields. On August 15th 1917 he was shown as ‘Absent Without Leave’ from the evening of August 15th until 6-30 am the next day. His punishment for this was admonishment and the forfeit of one day’s pay.

Only a few days later Harold embarked from Folkestone for Boulogne on August 23rd 1917. He was posted to the 10th Battalion of the ‘Dukes’ at that time but on August 31st he was posted to the 2nd Battalion, with whom he was to remain for the rest of his service.

There is one incident of note on Harold’s file from this time, this being an injury to his scalp on October 21st 1917. Such were the sensibilities about soldiers injuring themselves intentionally in order to be invalided home (colloquially known as getting a ‘Blighty One’ when wounded), that all injuries had to be investigated and witnesses sought. On October 27th 1917 Harold Hainsowrth was involved in an injury that needed such an investigation. He was an acting Lance Corporal by this time, but unpaid it seems as the status of being paid for the rank was not afforded him until Novembr 7th 1917. On the same day he was appointed Acting Corporal, no doubt to cover for losses in that rank in the regiment.

Harold sustained a injury to his scalp on October 27th 1917 which necessitated him being hospitalised.

Statement of witness as to the circumstances under which L/Cpl No. 31247 H. Hainsworth recived an injury to his head”.

1st Witness. J.C. Marshall 2ndBattalion Duke of Wellington’s Regt. States.

On 27th Oct. 1917 I was in charge of No 3 Platoon, No 1 Coy. The platoon was doing physical training and L/Cpl. H. Hainsworth was present. The order was given for the men to double around a wagon which was standing near and in doubling round this L/Cpl Hainsworth struck his head against an iron pipe which was projecting from the wagon”.

2nd. Lt. J. C. Marshall.

Lieutenant Marshall’s statement was one of three taken to ensure that Harold had not actually inflicted the wound upon himself in order to avoid duties at the front. It was an unfortunate and unlucky incident, and came only one day after Harold was reprimanded because he had a dirty mess tin upon being inspected by his officers on October 26th 1917.

Though the accident happened on October 27th 1917 it seems that Harold did not receive hospital treatment for it until November 6th, when his file shows that he was taken to hospital. It may be that the scalp wound had become infected, as a further entry for November 11th 1917 shows that he was then taken to a casualty clearing station. He was to stay there for some days and finlly rejoined his unit on November 22nd 1917. The infection, if that is what it was, may well have caused the next admission to hospital for Harold in January of 1918. The initials P.U.O. appear in his file, diagnosed by the 10th Field Ambulance Unit on January 26th 1918.

The initials PUO stood for ‘Pyrexia of Unknown Origin’, which was a medical term usually applied to a diagnosis of Trench Fever. He returned to the 2nd Battalion on February 7th 1918, whereupon he was immediately sent to ‘Bomb School’. Corporal Hainsworth remained at the bomb school for about a month, returning to his unit on March 18th 1918.

He was to be with them for just one more month or so, as on April 23rd 1918 he was killed in action. He is buried in Gonneheim Cemetery in Northern France, a village which the Germans were advancing on in April 1918, reaching to within 3 miles of the village. It was an action in what was known as the Battle of Bethune. Harold’s medal record simply states K.A.

When the army records office asked Mary Ellen Hainsworth to fill in a form regarding the nearest relatives to Harold in 1919 the family were still living at the Spotted Cow Inn, but it is not known what happened to them after this time. The form was to sort out who would receive the plaque and scroll given to relatives of fallen soldiers. Mary Ellen, his wife, was already receiving a separation allowance of a paltry 19/6d and this would have been included in the eventual pension calculation she received. It took until 1921 for the family to receive Harold’s Victory medal and the plaque and scroll.

Luckily Harold had filled in the ‘Will Page’ which was included in the paybook of all soldiers at the front at the time. This meant that there were no legal difficulties in Mary Ellen getting what money he did leave. This totalled £96-1s-2d.

On August 28th 1918 the Army Records Office at York wrote to Mary Ellen at the Spotted Cow, asking her to send a receipt in exchange for receiving the effects of her late husband. All that Harold Hainsworth’s wife received from the front were a note book, a photo, and some cards.

The probate record for Harold Hainwsorth.

The probate record for Harold Hainwsorth.

The name of H. Hainsworth, namely Corporal 31247 Harold Hainsworth is featured on the recently refurbished Drighlington War Memorial, in Whitehall Road, Drighlington.

The Commonwealth War Grave Commission Certififcate for Harold Hainsworth.

The Commonwealth War Grave Commission Certififcate for Harold Hainsworth.

Percival Millington Brook

The Steam Plough Inn.

The marriage certificate of Percy Brook, son of the landlord of the Steam Plough Inn.

The marriage certificate of Percy Brook, son of the landlord of the Steam Plough Inn.

Without the discovery of the marriage certificate for Percy Brook and Hilda Stead little would be known about Percy Millington Brook. However, the fact thathis occupation is listed as a soldierupon the certificatetells us that here was another Drig Lad who went to war from his home in a pub in the village.

Percival Millington Brook was the son of Percival and Mary Ann Brook. In 1901 the two were living in Brooks Buildings, a substantial row of houses which stood until late into the 20th century at the beginning of Station Road, on the left before the cricket ground. At that time the Brooks lived right next door to the Steam Plough Inn, in Station Road. The landlord of the pub at that time was Sam Theaker. By 1905, however, Percival Brook senior had taken over the licence of the pub. The 1911 census shows that Percival Brook was now a ‘Beer House Keeper’. This was a change from his job as a weaving overlooker as he was in 1901. Percival (snr) was a Drighlington born man but his wife Mary Ann was from Cleckheaton. In 1911 the Brooks had six children living with them, sadly, one of their children had died by then. Percival Millington Brook was 16 years old in 1911 and was a warehouse boy.

Unfortunately at this juncture it has been impossible to trace which regiment Percy Millington Brook joined when he went to war. It is clear that he was serving as a soldier by July 1916 and he also survived the war to return no doubt to his native Drighlington. Perhaps family historians of the future will be able to fill in the gaps of our knowledge about the men such as Percy Brook who went away but actually came back from the war.

As it is is, the story of Percival Millington Brook, sparse in detail as it is, completes an interesting tale for the village of Drighlington. A small village sent seven of its men from pubs around the village to fight in the Great War. Only one of them came back!

Brooks Buildings in Station Road Drighlington, pictured in the 1960’s.

Brooks Buildings in Station Road Drighlington, pictured in the 1960’s.


The story of these seven men and their pubs will be sent to all of the existing pubs in Drighlington, as well as the local library. One would hope that the present landlords and customers will enjoy reading of men who lived and worked in their pubs one hundred years ago. Who knows, their stories may inspire the landlords to drink a glass of beer to the men on the date of their deaths, in a special evening to remember them. That would be nice. Sadly there are only two of the pubs here mentioned still trading, the Spotted and the Malt, otherwise a good pub crawl between the pubs might have been a good idea.

However, there are still enough pubs in the village for people to visit and think that they are standing drinking in a bar that was undoubtedly visited by many of our soldiers whilst waiting to go or at home on leave. Again, a glass or two might be raised to them, whether in the Bull or the Valley or the Malt or the Spotted.

One hopes that the present landlords might get together with their regulars and find a way to honour these men for one night a year, at least for the next four years or so whilst the country commemorates the losses of the First World War. That would be a nice thing.

Perhaps someone will organise a Battlefield Tour to visit some of the graves of our village fallen. It’s a long way to travel even to get to the channel ports, but I can assure you that any visit made will be poignant and and facsinating to do. I hope that some people reading this might feel inspired to go and visit the places mentioned for themselves.

Villages and communities need pubs. They provide a community spirit and a place to go for people to meet. No doubt that sense of needing somewhere was much more acute in the years between 1914 and 1918. So, if you are not reading this in one of the pubs then make a point of visiting one of the Drighlington pubs in the near future and raise a glass to these men, but not only these, to the 62 men on the village memorial and to the few who are not, but still gave their lives, and also to those who served but came home wounded or damaged by the horrors they had seen. Like many of you reading this they will always be Drig lads through and through, like myself!

Guest Blogger………Philip L. Wheeler

Thank you to Brian Furniss for helping with background information and photographs of the pubs from his great archive of Drighlington photographs.

Additioal information by Donald Briggs :-
In the above guest blog by Philip L. Wheeler I believe some of the information regarding Ernest Helliwell is incorrect. My research has revealed the following: –   Ernest Helliwell – Gunner 165101 Born 1884 in Bradford. Son of William Helliwell and Jane (nee Davenport) who had four other children. William was a Joiner (Journeyman).Ernest married Sarah Elizabeth Ibbitson on 25th September 1911 at Bradford Register Office. At the time of their marriage Ernest was living at 18 Herbert Street, Bradford working as a Telephone Operator and Sarah was a Cloth Weaver living at 673 Manchester Road, Bradford. Their daughter Mary was born in 1912.

Prisoners of War WW1

Over the past week or so I seem to have gone into blogging overdrive – well I have had a gap of over 12 months due to technical problems.  So, I am back with vengeance, as they say!

Those of you who visit my pages on a regular basis, will know that I like to tell you of resources to help with your research, news about places and updates to my website plus the odd mystery that has diverted me from my original path.

I think this bit of information will come under the heading of ‘help with your research’.  A few days ago someone sent a message around about Prisoners of WW1 record cards being put online by the International Committee of the Red Cross, and what a good source of information that is.

I think most people will be like me when a name search is placed directly in their view – yes, I go through most of the main surnames I am researching, well what did you expect me to say!   Siddle, no matches ; Wilkinson, too many ; Riach, not many.  Looks like Riach it is.

But before I tell you about soldier Riach, a little bit of background.   During the Great War 10 million, yes 10 million, sounds a lot dosn’t it? More than I imagined.  These 10 million were servicemen and civilians who were captured and sent to detention camps.  The countries involved provided an index card for each prisoner or detainee and  5 million are available to search through. One must realise, that the ICRC has a great deal of extra information in French, as it is based in Switzerland.

 Riach, was my search criteria, and a soldier named Walter H Riach turned up.

But what do his index cards tell? Walter was a Captain in the Cameron Highlanders. I saw his rank and thought to myself, that his service record won’t be online.  He was classed as wounded and missing on 23 March 1918. Words and references are F.S.E.  R.I.A E70738 with Z154 being struck through.  The card gives the impression that enquiries should be made to Berlin. Details of a Mrs Helen J W K Bakewell, of Forest End, Sandhurst, Berkshire are noted along with the fact he may be a Roman Catholic and that he was a prisoner, but with information that I now know the dates show the information was slow to be passed through.

If certain references are registered on the card it gives a link to other information available for that person – Walter has the relevant references. Another card tells that Walter Riach was a ‘soldat’ and had a reference of PA 28358 prefixed by a printed cross – possibly signifying a Red Cross reference.

Another card gives more references – A34209 with 27819 struck through.  We already know that Walter was wounded and missing since 23 March but now we know that it was between Fries and Equancourt – a look on a map tells me that Fries could be Fins.  We now have another name – Colonel Goff (cousin), Villa Valerie, Bellaria, La Tour, Vaud, Suisse.  the final page has another reference A400 with 30245 struck through.

As I said earlier there are reference that give access to more information and Walter had one, PA28358  which took me to a scanned book, typed and very faint but all in French.  The PA refers to British prisoners in the hands of Germany. The site has screen shots of what each reference means but sadly there was only one set of references for Walter so his information came to a halt here…………….but I wanted to find out what happened to him and more to the point who he was and who were Mrs Bakewell and Colonel Goff, his cousin.

Walter Hamilton Riach was the son of Arthur Hamilton Dundas Hamilton a Lieutenant Colonel in the Royal Engineers who served in India.  There are sources that say that Walter was born in Muree, India about 1897. This is getting very complicated as the more I search for the family the more I find peoples research differs and as this is not my Riach line, well not yet anyway, I am not going to get bogged down in others research, therefore, I will focus on what is out there on original documents. One document I did find was the Roll of Honour of The Imperial Service College which tells that during 1912-1914 Walter was there.

Ancestry has the medal card for Walter which tells what we know already – his name, ranks, that he was eligible for the 1915 Star etc. That he served in France from 30 September 1915 and his date of death.  Yes, Walter died his wounds while a prisoner of war on 5 May 1918 aged 21.  Here is card is unusual as it has information on the reverse.  An application was made by Mrs C H Holmes on behalf of her late nephew Capt., Riach W H for his medals.  An address is given as Rosevale, Newton Abbot presumably for Walter and his fathers address is given as 44 Grange Road, Ealing, W5.

Now, as to who is Mrs Bakewell and Colonel Goff, shall we say that is my next adventure………..see you there!

The CWGC tells that  Walter served in the 5th Bn., of the Cameron Highlanders and that his father at the time information was given regarding his grave was 30 Mattock Lane, Ealing, London.  Additional documentation for the CWGC gives references to his plot and tells that a headstone had been erected, no. 324, with the design 1010/1C with a cross with the words ‘The pure in heart shall see God’ his father’s name is also listed with his address but without seeing the headstone I’m not sure if all the wording is included.

le cateau cwgcWalter rests in plot III F 4 in Le Cateau Military Cemetery, along with over 700 others who gave their lives for King and Country, of which 511 are identified.  The probate for Walter’s estate was granted on 13 August 1919 to Arthur Hamilton Dundas Riach, Lieutenant-Colonel R.E.. Effects £593 9s 7d.

The area had been in German hands since 1914 and Le Cateau had been the site of a German railhead and also the site of an important military hospital.  In 1916 the Germans laid out the cemetery and allocated separate sections for Commonwealth servicemen and German soldiers, of which over 5000 rest within its boundaries and 34 Russian servicemen .

 There are three other people mentioned in this snippet, Arthur Hamilton Dundas Riach, Mrs Bakewell and Colonel Goff, a cousin.  Who they are will have to be another story……………so see you soon!



International Committee for the Red Cross


WW1 Trench Maps

Have you ever tried to place the whereabouts of a family member who served during The Great War?

We have the medal cards, sometimes the service records and pension records, not forgetting the CWGC who can give a clue to an approximate area of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, but how a library in Scotland have scanned over 130 Trench Maps from that period in time, covering France and Belgium.trench map

The changing Front Line, with communication trenches as well as enemy positions.  Also highlighted are observation posts, guns emplacements, machine gun positions, mines and wire entanglements.  Some maps include the names of soldiers that gave the trenches their unique names plus landmarks.

It has been estimated that there were more than 34 million British maps of the Western Front printed during the war years.

These maps are a wonderful resource, adding that little bit of extra information to your soldiers war record.

The National Library of Scotland, who has digitised the maps also includes on their map image link:- maps of Scotland, County maps, Town plans and views, series maps plus more.


The Daily Mail

National Library of Scotland

Henshaw, Pte., Stephen

I’ve not written anything for a while, so while I’ve been away from work for a few days I thought I would put fingers to keyboard and do a few snippets, as you have already will have seen.

Normally I see interesting things and make a note to write later, this time, decided to write something from some of the information passed on by friends – I have some wonderful friends who keep cuttings for me to use as a starting point for my meanderings. This time seems to be a reverse of the norm. Whilst looking through a book I’ve had for ages and is one of many I take away with me, I found the name of a young man and was quite moved by what happened many years after his death.

Stephen was the son of Ephraim and Sarah Ann Henshaw of Quinton, being born in 1887. In 1901 he was 14 years old and employed as a brick maker. His 52 year old father was navvy on the reservoir, while his 18 year old sister was a rivet sorter.

In the census of 1911 Stephen had been married to Sarah for under 1 year, but the enumerator had struck through the written explanation and recorded just a ‘1’ in the relevant box. Stephen worked as a stoker on a stationery engine at a local brickmakers. The young couple lived at 51 Stonehouse Lane, California, Northfield, Worcestershire.

dozinghem cwgcStephen enlisted in Birmingham, serving as Pte 204232 in the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry (The Ox & Bucks). He was wounded during the Battle of Langemarck on 16th August 1917 and lay wounded in the fields for 6 days. After being found he was taken to Casualty Clearing Station 61 (CCS 61) Dozinghem near Proven, but sadly died of wounds on 23 August 1917 aged 30 and rests in Dozinghem Military Cemetery.

The book I had been looking at was by Major and Mrs Holt and in the pages I found the idea for this snippet and that Stephen’s granddaughter had been researching her grandfathers war . It was during a visit to the area and finding local historians that lead to finding the approximate area where Stephen lay for six days and nights. The area back in WW1 was known as Springfield Farm.

As many people who go on pilgrimages to WW1/2 sites will have seen, a laminated information sheet was left attached to one of the farms fence posts – a semi-permanent potted history of a family man whose life was taken away – a notice that passers by may see, stop and take a few moments to read about Stephen.

henshaw stephenWell, someone did stop and read the laminated information about Stephen’s last days – the owners of Springfield Farm (now renamed). So, when Stephen’s granddaughter returned a few years later she was shocked to find that from the information left attached to the farm fence, a memorial had been erected at the farmers’ own expense.

For further information



Images CWGC.org and http://echoesofwar.blogspot.co.uk/

The Truce and a Footballer

100 years ago the noise, chaos, confusion and panic of life in the trenches of Northern France fell silent, it was Christmas Day! No orders came from on high to stop the fighting for one day, yet peace and calm was the order of the day.  The sound of carols rose from the trenches and gradually men from either side risked their lives to enter ‘no man’s land’ – no shots were fired as they left the safety of the trenches – it was Christmas and all was calm and they played footbal.

Some say the events of that day were fiction, while other deny that and have evidence to prove that the truce and the match took place.  Recently, there was a programme on television that produced the actual football – somehow being brought back home.

It seems appropriate with the football match taking place 100 years ago that I chat about a young man, a footballer who gave his life in the Great War,

By the title of the page you know who I am focusing on today – Walter Tull.  Walter Daniel John Tull was born on April 28 1888, the son of Daniel Tull a carpenter from Barbados and Alice Elizabeth Palmer, who he married in the spring of 1880.  When Walter and his siblings were young Alice died and in the winter of 1896 Daniel married her cousin Clara Alice Susannah Palmer but by the time Walter was 9 years old both his parents had died and he was living in a Methodist orphanage in Bethnal Green.

Clara, remarried in 1899 to a William Charles Beer, in the Dover Registration District and the 1901 census the couple are living in Coldred, Kent, with Elsie Tull and Miriam Tull aged 10 and 3 recorded as step-children. The family next door are the Palmers.  In the census of 1911 has the couple living in Kearnsey(?) also in the household is Miriam Victoria Alice Tull, step daughter, aged 13 and a William Thomas Palmer a boarder aged 64.

tullfootballHis brother was eventually adopted, while Walter remained and played football for the orphanage football team.  By 1908 he was playing for Clapham F C and within months had won winners’ medals in various leagues.  The Football Star in 1909 called him ‘the catch of the season’. The following year, 1909 he signed as a professional player with Tottenham Hotspur – it was while playing with Tottenham that he experienced racism from the spectators, one correspondent commented ‘a section of the spectators made a cowardly attack on him in language lower than Billingsgate’  he continued ‘Let me tell those Bristol hooligans that Tull is so clean in mind and method as to be a model for all white men to play football whether they be amateur or professional.  In point of ability, it not actual achievement, Tull was the best forward on the field’.

Tull, Walter officer

In the latter part of 1911 he moved to Northampton Town where he played half-back and scored 9 goals in 110 appearances.  When in 1914, the war started, Walter was the first player to sign up and join the 17th (1st Football) Battalion of the Middlesex Regiment and by late 1915 he was in France.  It was not long before the military took advantage of Walter’s leadership qualities and he was promoted to sergeant.  Walter took part in the Battle of the Somme in 1916 but in the winter of the same year he returned to England due to illness – sources differ with trench fever and/or shell shock’ being the cause.

2nd Lieut.,Walter Tull

2nd Lieut.,Walter Tull

On his recovery Walter was not returned to the front, as many others were, he was sent to the officer training school at Gailes, Scotland.  Even though regulations were against a man of walters birth becoming an officer, he did receive his commission in May of 1917, thus Walter became the first black combat officer in the British Army.  He was posted to the Italian front, being mentioned in dispatches for his gallantry and coolness under fire.

By early 1918 Walter was now serving on the Western Front.  On March 25th he was ordered to lead his men on at attack on German trenches at Favreuil, where shortly after entering No Mans Lane he was hit by an enemy bullet.  He was a highly regarded officer and some of his men made an attempt to bring him back to the British lines. One of the rescuing soldiers told that Walter was killed immediately with a bullet through his head.  And so it was that Walter who had been the first in many fields ended his life on 25 March 1918 aged 29.

Walter Tull had been recommended for the Military Cross, The award was never granted and various campaigns have been hoping that someday 2nd Lieutenant Walter Tull’s family will receive his Military Cross.

Back to Walter, as his body was never found and he is remembered on the Arras Memorial, bay 7.

It may not be the Military Cross, but the Royal Mint announced earlier in 2014 that Walter will be remembered one of a set of £5 coins commemorating the centenary of World War One.

Sources :-






Commonwealth War Graves Commission