Monthly Archives: April 2019

Lissentheok – in search of Riach’s

Lissentheok – in search of Riach’s

On a recent visit to Lijssenthoek CWGC Military Cemetery, with two purposes in mind, I went on the hunt for two Riach headstones, and I went off on a tangent, yet again!

My first stop, as usual, was the small room where the Roll for those who rest within the cemetery walls is kept along with the visitor’s book. I already had the grave references, but I needed to photograph the cemetery plan so I could go directly to the two headstones in question – Nigel Stewart Riach (I’ve blogged about him before but the photograph of his headstone was added information) and a C Riach.

Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery © C Sklnar April 2019

That particular morning, it was a bright sunny Belgium day and I was the only living person among over 10,000 who had given their lives in conflict – from many nations they are all equal in death.

I quickly found Nigel Stewart Riach and C Riach. The two Riach’s were located in adjacent sections, XXV and XX1V – not that far apart really.

I’ve already told you about Nigel Stewart Riach and now it’s C Riach’s turn.

C Riach headstone Lijssenthoek CWGC © C Sklinar April 2019

C Riach headstone Lijssenthoek CWGC © C Sklinar April 2019

C Riach, was known to his family as Charles. He had married Mary Shield, the couple lived at 17 Barr Street, Glasgow. Charles joined the Royal Field Artillery in Glasgow and became Driver 7219 and entered France in July 1915.

As part of ‘C; Battery, 64th Brigade, he served until he died at no. 10 CCS (Casualty Clearing Station) on the 30th of September 1917 aged 25.

Charles, as he was serving in France in 1915, was eligible for the 1915 Star, along with the Victory and British Medals.

His widow, Mary later remarried and became known as Mary Wilson, as can be seen from documents and from the CWGC entry for Charles.

At the base of Charles’ headstone are the words “He is Gone but Not Forgotten”.

Sayles Family Postcards – who are they?

Sayles Family Postcards – who are they?

At a recent meeting of local family history society, I was shown a set of three WW1 postcards. During the society notices the postcards were mentioned as they had a local connection – did anyone know the family or the surname? No one came forward. In the likely hood that no one came forward I had already I volunteered myself the task of finding who the people were – the sender and the recipient.

Each of the hand coloured postcards portrayed pretty young girls in various seated poses, each one held or had a posy of flowers. The 100-year-old cards were nice but what was written on the back was even more interesting, well it was to me.

After leaving the cards alone for a few days I sat down with them and with a couple of minutes I had the family in 1911. A few minutes later I had the service and pension records of the father of the family.

Who were these people found in records over 100 years later? They were Winnie Sayles and her father Ernest who sent the cards to his daughter while he was in France during March of 1917.

Ernest had been born in 1885 in Kirk Smeaton, Yorkshire, the son of William and Annie. In 1891 the family were living at Cistern Cottage, Hemsworth, where William aged 28 worked as a railway platelayer. Ten years later, their home was now on Sand Hill Terrace, Hemsworth where a young Ernest was a chemists’ apprentice.

In the winter of 1906, Ernest married a young lady named Sarah Briggs and the following year their daughter Winnie was born. A few years later the family were living with Ernest’s parents and a lodger, William Wilson, at 11 Top Street, Hemsworth, the address to where the postcards were sent and my initial find with the 1911 census. Ernest was now working as a cycle repairer, probably as an agent for a larger company.

The years passed and on the 11th of August 1916, Ernest, now aged 31and a mechanic and dealer Attested to the ASC (Army Service Corps) and became Private, M2/201741. He did seem to be a bit picky on where he served as question 9 Are you willing to be enlisted for General Service? Ernest answered Yes, with Motor and Mechanical Transport. Not sure if that went down too well with the recruiting officer as after Yes, has been struck through. There are only three pages of Ernest’s service record but they do give quite a bit of information.

Firstly, information as to his address of 55 Doncaster Road, Goldthorpe, Rotherham. His wife is named along with her maiden name and the date of their wedding – 21st November 1906 in Hemsworth Catholic Church, Next are his children and their place and dates of birth – Winnifred Annie, 31st October 1907; Agnes, 23rd June 1911 and William Edward 13th October 1914.

When Ernest wet to France in September 1916, life carried on for his family. Ernest was in the Motor Transport Depot, Calais and it seems possible that the three postcards to his daughter Winnie were sent from thereabouts

The postcards are dated, even though the date stamp is very faint, between the 3rd of March and the 18th of March. The day following his last postcard Ernest is reclassified as a Technical Storekeeper and on the 11th of January the following year Ernest is ‘Discharged, No longer physically fit for war service para 392 (XVI) KR.

Following Ernest’s discharge, curiosity leads me to wonder why and thankfully there are pension records surviving that can answer that question. There are 13 pages of these records and they include much of the information a service record would, however, this set of records contain much more. They are not in date order so I will go through page by page and pass on information about the father of our family.

The Pension Record Card for Ernest gives a name; date of birth; rank, regiment and service number – which is expected; date of examination; details along with invaliding disability and degree of disablement plus a short medical report. All very interesting headings but the information contained under those headings answers some questions. Ernest was medically examined and was given the diagnosis of Dilation of Myocardium in December 1916 and given a 20% disability. He had been also examined in France – Dyphoera (?) and Palpitations. The card continues with examinations taking place in Sheffield, Barnsley and Wakefield. Ernest complained of shortness of breath, sleeplessness but overall was well nourished. Although the medical examiners writing is quite technical there are some words that can be understood, including – intermittent and irregular sounds, becoming very faint, ‘has a large hypertrophied heart and definite aortic sclerosis’ when talking about Ernest’s heart.

As I’ve already said Ernest’s medical history started in France in December 1916 which was noted in a Medical Board Examination in December 1917 wrote ‘Not the result of but aggravated by military service, overstrain and hard work. Impossible to state if permanent.’ Ernest’s time in France lasted less than 12 months (6 September 1916 to 31 May 1917), having served at home from 9 Aug 1916 to 5 September 1916.

Ernest was discharged from Woolwich Dockyard on the 11th of January 1918 aged 33 years and 6 months old. Whoever completed the form included the wrong age for him and it was struck through. He was 5′ 8” tall and a fully expanded chest of 35½”. He had a fair complexion, grey eyes, light brown hair and had three moles on his back and had a good character.

The Medical History for our soldier seems to have made him shrink ½”. Added details include that he weighed 125lbs and the moles were between his shoulder blades. He also had two vaccination marks. This document also includes Ernest’s birth parish – Kirk Smeaton.

Although these Pension papers are not in any order and while writing I feel his life is a little disjointed I do hope that the information is of interest. One more printed sheet tells that in May to July of 1917 he was in Tooting Military his with abscess of lids – Patient was admitted with boils on neck which resulted in complications. As we already know, Ernest left France in May of 1917 – the day he was admitted to Tooting Military Hospital, which was were, after his medical complications, his heart problems were discovered.

And it was that Ernest left the army with a Conditional disability and was given a 24/- pension plus 14/1 for two children – what had happened to the third child he had previously been given a small pension for? His degree of disability going from 20% to 60% in 1922.

An SWB (Silver War Badge) number 315,128 had been issued to Ernest when he had been discharged due to sickness (KR 392 (xvi) 2 (b) I). This document gave his date of enlistment as 12 December 1915, which contradicts his date of Attesting in August 1916.

Did Ernest and Sarah live long enough to be recorded in the 1939 Register? Yes, they did! 6 Parkhill Avenue, in the Dearne Urban District was where the family called home. Ernest confirmed by his date of birth, 29th June 1884 was a Public Assistance Clerk; Sarah, born on the 22nd November 1882 was UDD (Unpaid domestic Duties) and William Ed. Born on 13th October 1914 was the only other visible entry – the other three being officially closed.

Winnie, the recipient of the postcards married Edward Gray in early 1940 in the Doncaster Registration District.

Sarah, Ernest’s wife died on the 14th of January 1955, a day that has special significance for my family. Don’t you find that in family history there are many coincidences, some stranger than others?

Ernest died in 1967.

Does anyone know this family?

Wakefield in 50 Buildings – A Book Review

Wakefield in 50 Buildings – A Book Review

Cover – Wakefield in 50 Buildings by Peter Thornborrow & Paul Gwilliam

Last night I went to hear a talk at Wakefield Historical Society – it was the second time I’d heard Peter Thornborrow talk but last night was more on the buildings who didn’t make it into his book.  I took this opportunity to spend a bit of ‘pocket money’ and buy a copy which was signed by Peter and his co-author Paul Gwilliam.

Before I tell you about Peter’s book I would like to tell you what Daniel Defoe wrote about  Wakefield.  A town like London and Bath had a SEASON where people came to do their business dealings and banking at traditional times of the year.  Yes, Wakefield at one time was an important part of the West Riding making it worthy of being the Capital of the West Riding of Yorkshire.

Daniel Defoe in his book ‘A Tour Through the Whole Island of Great Britain’ (1734)  wrote :-

Wakefield is a clean, large, well-built town, very populous and very rich; here is a very large church, and well filled it is, for here are very few Dissenters; the steeple is a very fine spire, and by far the highest in all this part of the county………..They tell us, there are here more people also than in the City of York.

If you slow down from everyday life and look around you – not forgetting to look up, you will see some glorious buildings.  Just walk around the Westgate, St John’s and South Parade areas to name a few.  St John’s area has one of the finest Georgian squares in Great Britain and The Great Bull in Westgate was one of the biggest coaching inns/hotels in the county at one time capable of stabling about 150 horses and house a great assembly room – so this just goes to show how great and important Wakefield WAS!

Back to Peter’ and Paul’s book- ‘Wakefield in 50 Buildings‘ is a walk through the history of Wakefield and its surrounding area and takes in buildings both old and new.  Each building has a potted history and includes over 100 full-colour images.

Although I’ve only had my copy less than 24 hours I have had a chance to, over a cup of tea, read about some of the buildings and take in most of the photographs. The individual does not always get a chance to go inside some of these buildings and see roof spaces and staircases.

Peter and Paul have done a great job researching and telling the reader about some of Wakefield’s great buildings.  This book will open up Wakefield to those who not only live locally but have or had a family or local history link to Wakefield when it was Great.

Wakefield in 50 Buildings is published in 2018 by Amberley Publishing.
ISBN –  978 1 4456 5906 0 (book)
978 1 4456 5907 7 (e book)

Available on the publisher’s website and Amazon + other