Monthly Archives: February 2016

Thomas Watson Cook – Rifle Brigade

Thomas Watson Cook – Rifle Brigade

St George’s Chapel, Ypres, is a haven of solace just five minutes walk from the busy main street of the town where locals and visitors shop, or have a drink or a meal in one of the many cafe’s and bars.  It is here that we find the memorial to Thomas Watson Cook secured to the back of one of the chairs.  Thomas is one of many who are remembered either in brass or wood on the wall of the chapel or, as Thomas, on the back of one of the chairs.

St George’s Memorial Church, is an Anglican Church within the Church of England’s Diocese and falls under the care of the Lord Bishop of Gibraltar. The Chapel is visited by  thousands of people each year who are visiting the area for a holiday or military pilgrimage.

Thomas Watson Cook memorial chair in St George's Chapel , Ypres© Carol Sklinar 2014

Thomas Watson Cook memorial chair in St George’s Chapel , Ypres© Carol Sklinar 2014

Thomas’s plaque tells ” In Memory of My Brother 4855 Rifleman Thomas Watson Cook Rifle Brigade July 31st 1917″.  A simple memorial to his Thomas from his brother.  Who was the brother that thought so much of his sibling to have paid for the memorial within the walls of this special Chapel so far away from home?

Firstly, looking at the CWGC collection, in the hope of the parents and their address being recorded on the site.  Yes, parents are mention but sadly, only by initials – Mr W W and Mrs S A

Menin Gate, Ypres © Carol Sklinar 2014

Menin Gate, Ypres © Carol Sklinar 2014

Cook.  Also recorded is their address – Mill House, Hamptons, Tonbridge, Kent.  A good start so far!  I now also know his age and that he is remembered on the Menin Gate Memorial, just a short walk away from St. George’s Chapel.

The collection of records named Soldiers Who Died in the Great War, tell that Thomas was born in West Wickham, Kent. At the time of his enlistment in Maidstone, he was living in Hampton, Kent.

I seem to be going out of the order in which I research men and women in the hope of finding the names of Thomas’s parents.  The Register of Soldiers’ Effects helps in a little by having his mother, Sarah A, as his beneficiary.  Armed with this information the 1901 census would find fewer results.  It did.  William W Cook aged 47 was a foreman rag cutter in a paper mill living at Hamptons in West Peckham.  Sarah A is there along with Frances aged 11, Thomas aged 6, Minnie and a young man who has been transcribed as Vancouter.  I did think that this could be a mis-transcription and was proved correct when I input one word into Freebmd – Vancouver. Yes, Vancouver George Cook was born in the Malling Registration District in the March Quarter of 1892.  Just as an added extra, there were a few people with the same first name, our Vancouver died in 1946 aged 54.

Ten years later, Thomas now 16 years of age, is in London working as a servant in the home of Leopold Victor Swaine,  no occupation or other information given, aged 70 and his wife Charlotte Jane  aged 66 – the couple having been married two years.  Thomas was one of six servants in the house at 14 Queens Gate, London.  As a snippet of added information Mr Swaine was born in Germany and his wife came from Mauritius.

Still in 1911,Vancouver, was now 21 and serving in the 136th Battery, Royal Field Artillery based at Louisberg Barracks, Borden.  His Victory Medal Roll entry gives his service number as 50662

Vancouver Cook DCM Citations

Vancouver Cook DCM Citations

and rank as W.O.II.  His Medal Card gives a little more information – as W,O.I he served as 1029855.  Abbreviations on this card LS & GCM. AO 368. 1926 – GCM could be the abbreviations for General Court Martial, Army Order. Plus Col. Comdt Peshawar Dist – interesting, but not out main focus!  But saying that there is an entry for a Vancouver George Cook in the Probate Calendar, who has been awarded the D.C.M. and the M.B.E., he left over £2000 to his wife – are these two men the same?  Well, it looks like it according to the D.C.M. Citations having the same serial number as previous records. The next question and I am not going to answer this one, is, did he get the M.B.E. or have I led myself up a long garden path?

Back to the main man and who was the brother who had the inscription ” In Memory of My Brother 4855 Rifleman Thomas Watson Cook Rifle Brigade July 31st 1917″ placed in St George’s Church.  It seems that brother was none other than Vancouver George Cook.

History Wardrobe – Fairytale Fashion

History Wardrobe – an afternoon of Fairytale Fashion.

Bagshaw Museum

Bagshaw Museum

What better way to spend a chilly Saturday afternoon than listening to Lucy Addlington of History Wardrobe and her partner in costume Meredith (Merry) Towne.

The afternoon started well with a cheeky glass of Cava.  I took my seat, the room within Bagshaw Museum started to fill. Lucy entered, wearing a kingfisher blue costume based on 18th century designs, to a full house.

Lucy Addlington of History Wardrobe

Lucy Addlington of History Wardrobe

Not only does the History Wardrobe brand delight with fashion in all its forms, but you, the audience, are given lessons in social and economic  history with the odd bit of political history thrown in if needed.

As it says in the title, we were entertained with fairytales – their beginnings, their formation, their development and how no matter in the world you are from, there is a similar story at the other side of the world.   Lucy passed on the results of her research by telling us that the tales were written by men from as far back as the 1600’s by Charles Perrault, The Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Anderson (lift right leg, slap right thigh and say rhythmically ‘I’m Hans Christian Anderson, that’s me!).  But! who told these tales to the men? It was women – grandmothers, mothers, elder sisters, the ladies who gave solace and nursing care to the poor, needy and infirm.  Passed down the generations by word of mouth – no matter what your ethnic origin is, stories were always told.

What stories and tales saw no generation, gender or ethnic boundary?  Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, Raupunzel and Beauty and the Beast, they all appear in some variation or other……….So to the reason why we spent Saturday afternoon in Bagshaw Museum – the costumes.


Lucy and Merry

As I have said, Lucy entered wearing a kingfisher blue costume and then introduced Merry who was dressed as Little Red Riding Hood and the couple described Merry’s outfit, which apart from the cape, had been made by Merry, by hand.  The couple bounced witty jibes and comments to each other and it was soon time to see how the costumes were held together and held in place.  Well, it seems that for most of the time it is pins and drawstrings and laces.

Although, each of Lucy’s talks has costume as it’s main theme, she also brings extra items of fashion and memorabilia that compliment the theme.  This talk was no different, so we had fairy tale books, pretty red dancing shoes, sequin shoes – just like Dorothy’s.  But the icing on the cake, and according to Lucy, she had mortgaged Merry’s house and sold her unborn children on ebay, to obtain a width of material that was approximately 200 years old.  The back of the material was beautiful but the front was 20160213_143625fantastic and had held on to its vibrant colours.


Lucy with Merry as Cinderella

Lucy with Merry as Cinderella

We had been given a clue as to the ‘Cinderella’ dress by being told that the dress would be white and silver, given the reasons for these colours and shown the ‘stomacher‘, which had been hand embroidered by a friend of the duo.

By now we were building up to the pièce de résistance –   Merry was taking the roll of Cinderella, and every good ball gown needs good foundation garments, including stays.  With her undergarments secure, Merry left us, while Lucy continued talking about costume, shoes and fairy tales.

Cinderella gown made by Merry

Cinderella gown made by Merry

Merry entered after being introduced by Lucy – the dress, also made by Merry,  was a work of art.  Further information was given about the dress and then all too soon the talk was over and it was time to go home or stay, look at the memorabilia and chat to Lucy and Merry.


Now doesn’t that look like a work of art?

Lucy, on her own, or with other members of the History Wardrobe team, are invited and welcomed to treat groups and open audiences throughout the country, to the History Wardrobe brand of information and humour.  If History Wardrobe is in your area, you MUST make time to go – go on your own or take a friend, it doesn’t matter, you will be welcomed with open arms.

Dorothy Fox by Guest Blogger, Jane Ainsworth


When I started researching War Memorials in Barnsley in 2013 for my initiative to create a Barnsley Roll of Honour, Dorothy Fox was the only woman I came across.

Dorothy Fox image Barnsley Archives

Dorothy Fox image Barnsley Archives

Dorothy was born on 26 September 1894 in Barnsley to Thomas Fox, Wine Merchant, and Mary Emily Tomlinson nee McLintock. Dorothy was the fifth of 8 children, 2 of whom had died by April 1911; her grandfathers were both businessmen: James Fox, Wine Merchant of Cockerham Hall and Harbrough Hill House, Barnsley, and Robert McLintock, Manufacturer / Linen Weaver of Barnsley.

Dorothy was well educated and supported by a well off family. On the 1911 Census, she was a student boarder at Malvern College for Girls in Worcestershire, while her parents had moved temporarily from Barnsley to Broadstairs, where her father was a Brewer Employer, and her brother Charles Fox, aged 18, was a Brewer at the Portland Hotel in Malvern. (Charles was Lieutenant Colonel in the 5th Battalion of the York  & Lancaster Regiment in the First World War).

The British Red Cross Personnel Record shows that Dorothy was engaged as a Nurse in the Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) on 1 July 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme. She served in Ipswich Hospital until 4 February 1917 then transferred to the 4th Northumberland V A Hospital at Corbridge from 27 April to 21 May 1917. Dorothy moved to the 2nd Western General Military Hospital in Manchester on 8 October 1917 and was there until she died of pneumonia on 3 November 1918, just days before the war ended. Dorothy probably died of infection in the influenza epidemic that ended up killing more people than the war itself had done.

(The British Red Cross and the Order of St John of Jerusalem were empowered to raise, train and supervise VADs to provide nursing support to qualified medical teams at the vast network of Military and Auxiliary Hospitals, established across the United Kingdom to deal with the huge number of casualties from various theatres of war. The 2nd Western General Military Hospital in Manchester with its Auxiliaries dealt with more casualties than any other in the country).

Dorothy’s death was reported in Barnsley Chronicle on 9 November 1918: ‘FOX: on November 3rd at 2nd Western General Hospital in Manchester, Dorothy, aged 24, dearly loved daughter of Thomas and Mary Fox, Hall Bank, Barnsley.’ She was buried in Barnsley Cemetery in an area that has several Fox graves with ornate monuments.

There are several memorials to Dorothy in the South Chapel of St Mary’s Church in Barnsley, where her parents had got married and she had been baptised. Her name is listed on the beautiful painted column War Memorial along with about 200 local men, who sacrificed their lives serving their country. Dorothy’s grieving parents paid for a stained glass window, representing St Elizabeth (mother of John the Baptist), St Mary (the mother of God) and St Helena (mother of Emperor Constantine the Great) to be erected in this chapel dedicated to their daughter by a plaque underneath.

To the Glory of God and in loving memory of DOROTHY FOX, Hall Bank, Barnsley, who died 3rd November 1918 aged 24 years, at the 2nd Western General Military Hospital, Manchester after over 3 years faithful and devoted service as a nurse in the Volunteer Aid Detachment of the Order of St John of Jerusalem during the Great War 1914 – 1918, this window, representing St Elizabeth, St Mary and St Helena was erected by her Father and Mother.

Dorothy Fox's memorials in St Mary's Church Barnsley.  Window o left with dedication plaque photo Jane Ainsworth

Dorothy Fox’s memorials in St Mary’s Church Barnsley. Window on left with dedication plaque. photo Jane Ainsworth

 Sources:  Ancestry, The Long Long Trail, CWGC, British Red Cross & Barnsley Archives

Western Front Association

Western Front Association meeting, having recently rejoined, I was looking forward to attend one of its talks.

A few years ago I joined the Western Front Association and alas, I never renewed my membership, that is until a few weeks ago.

Within a few days I received a quite heavy A4 envelope in the post, which included my welcome letter from Sarah Gunn, the Membership Administrator (she had found my old membership number), my membership card, an issue of the Bulletin and a Special Edition of Stand To!  Armed with a ‘cuppa’ I began to look at when the meetings were, and who was going to share their knowledge with the membership.

There was one talk that rapidly caught my attention, but I’ll come back to that shortly!   The second talk would mean taking a few hours holiday from work to venture down the M1.  The talk was about a man whom I had a particular interest in, as he was one of the 250 people I am researching – what a bonus. After contacting the Chair of that local group I was disappointed to learn that the talk had been cancelled but I was to be put in touch with the speaker who duly contacted me a few days later.

Back to the initial talk that caught my attention.  The talk was to be in Allerton Bywater – not a million miles away, and a quick look at Google Maps gave me the whereabouts of the meeting

Red Cross Voluntary Aid Detachment

Red Cross Voluntary Aid Detachment

hall – quite a nice hall, small but warm, compared to some. After signing in and meeting a familiar face or two I sat down with a cuppa – you must think all I do is drink tea!

The talk was about the Voluntary Aid Detachment (V.A.D.), and given by Tim Lynch.  Tim is a former soldier, serving in the Falkland Islands and Ireland and is a military historian and photographer with numerous books under his belt.  The title of his talk was of interest, as I was researching a lady, who had served in the V.A.D., massing a total of over 8,000 hours over a four year period in a rather large house that was converted to a hospital.  Tim told that quite a few of these women

Tim started his 60ish minutes with how medical care and nursing care was given to military personnel prior to WW1.  Many volunteer groups were started being ‘staffed’ by both men and women.  The thousands who volunteered were self supporting – had their own private incomes or allowances.  The ladies uniform was similar to that of a nurses, and this did upset some nurses who had trained for years with very little remuneration.  The men, on the other hand had a uniform similar to that of a soldier but not in the khaki colour.

Recently decorated with the Order of Léopold: Lady Dorothie Feilding, from 'The Illustrated War News', 1915 via Wikepedia

Recently decorated with the Order of Léopold: Lady Dorothie Feilding, from ‘The Illustrated War News’, 1915 via Wikepedia

What did these volunteers do in their working day.  Well, basically, anything that needed doing, from making beds, washing, cleaning, driving, very basic nursing, entertaining patients, fundraising and reading and writing letters.  The women volunteers were titled gentry, daughters of the ‘well to do’, merchants, ministers of the church, industrialists and so on and included Nancy Frances Cave, the daughter of an Estate Agent for Lord Cadogan’s Chelsea; Isabel Emslie, a Scottish doctor who specialised in mental health and social work; Elsie Fenwick; Dorothy Fielding M.M. (the first Englishwoman to be awarded the Military Medal for Bravery in the Field; Elsie Knocker and her friend Mairi Chisholm to name a few. One I would like to mention on her own right, was Flora Sandes.  Tim gave a good insight into her service.  She began as a St John’s Ambulance volunteer, travelled to Serbia

Flora Sandes via Wikepedia

Flora Sandes via Wikepedia

where in the confusion of the was was enrolled in the Serbian army – went through the ranks and ending up as a Captain and became the only female on the front line during both World Wars. What fantastic stories these women have to tell.

Time was passing and Tim began to tell us about an autograph book he had found in a shop – it belonged originally to Nancy Frances Cave, one of the many V.A.D. ladies.  Working over 4,000 hours in Maidenhead Drill Hall Hospital, she collected the autographs of the men that she and the other volunteers cared for.  Tim is researching those that have written poems, included a ‘ditty’, drawn a picture or in one case embroidered ‘Nancy’ on a page.  Many remarked how cheerful Nancy was and how she brightened their day.  One photograph does remain a mystery though.  A handsome young man writes ‘Nancy’, the date and ‘Richmond’.  Is Richmond the mystery man’s first name?  Or is Richmond the place where he had been or was stationed.  I do hope that the mystery can be solved.

With the talk over, it was time to look at the items Tim had brought for us to look at, including Nancy’s autograph book and a copy of the ‘Richmond’ photograph.  Tim had also brought a selection of his books, of which I bought one and had it signed.

Did I enjoy my trip to Allerton Bywater…………..Yes, I did

Great Sacrifice

Great Sacrifice – The Old Boys of Barnsley Holgate Grammar School in the First World War.

In the past few years there has been a influx on the book market, of commemorative books- remembering those who died as a result of conflict during WW1, battles and the military hierarchy.

Many seem to have hopped on the World War 1 bandwagon, while others, like myself, have been transcribing war memorials and researching soldiers for many years.

Another person who has had a long standing interest in The Great War, as it became known, is Jane Ainsworth.  Jane, like myself, has decided that the men of her home town should be the focus of her putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard!  But neither of us are forgetting the women!

Great Sacrifice cover

Great Sacrifice cover

The Great Sacrifice focuses its attention on the 76 men, ‘old boys’, of Holgate Grammar School, Barnsley who went to war.

…...also included is a detailed history of the grammar school and extracts from the school’s magazine. Barnsley Holgate Grammar School was prestigious and its first headmaster, Reverend Charles Stokes Butler, was inspirational. The Old Boys felt a strong loyalty and affection for their school and this feeling was reciprocated by the teachers and other pupils. During the First World War, details of all those serving their country were recorded in the Old Boys’ Association magazine Alumnus, which was sent to men fighting at the front along with copies of the Barnsley Chronicle. Many of the men in the forces visited their old school when home on their precious leave and some contributed articles and letters about their experiences, which have been reproduced in this book. Determined to create a Memorial Book that was different from others Jane’s breadth of her research clearly demonstrates how she has achieved this. The men’s life stories are told in as much detail as possible, concentrating on their family and personal development as well as experiences during the war. It is important to remember that 42 additional brothers served and five of these died, as did three brothers-in-law. The invaluable contributions from Alumnus and many obituaries from newspapers allow us to get to know these men as real people. Jane’s aim is for these young men to be remembered as individuals, who could have achieved so much more if they had survived the sacrifice of their valuable lives for their country. Attending the Holgate encouraged the majority to go on to achieve their potential after school, with a lot becoming teachers. It instilled in them the values that led to early enlistment and rapid promotion in the forces. This is what united them – not the disparate “resting places” for their bodies, whether buried in a foreign grave or just a name on a War Memorial overseas. They were all much loved as sons, brothers, friends, colleagues, Old Boys of various educational establishments, husbands and fathers.

 Jane’s book is available in paperback from Helion & Company contains 408 pages with over 200 black and white and colour illustrations  is available from March 2016.     at a cost of £25.00 and an ISBN number of 9781911096085.

Great Sacrifice – The Old Boys of Barnsley Holgate Grammar School in the First World War is also available  at the book’s launch on Sunday the 20th of March, 11am – 3pm, in Barnsley Town Hall during Barnsley History Day, at an introductory price of £20.

Barnsley History Day 2016

Barnsley History Day 2016

Also during the day local groups will provide information about their projects.  Plus, three talks will be taking place during the day:- Vikings  in Yorkshire; The life of Maurice Dobson and Pre-Raphaelite links in Barnsley, with FREE entry, it looks like it could be an interesting event for those with a Barnsley connection.