Monthly Archives: February 2020

St Catherine’s Church Memorial Service contd.,

St Catherine’s Church Memorial Service contd.,

Frank Hodgson

As Frank was the only one of the soldiers included in the Memorial Service article (see previous entry) to have his Service Record survive the ravages of The Blitz during WW2 it seemed appropriate to tell about him in a separately.

As I said in the previous entry, Frank was the only soldier whose Attestation papers had survived. So when looking at these records, what can we find out about him?

Frank of 32 Montague Street, Agbrigg Road, Wakefield, was aged 18 in 1916 when he attested before Sergt. J Williamson at Pontefract on the 9th of September 1916. Frank worked as a cloth dresser, probably in one of the local mills. At 5′ 4″ in height and a 33″ chest, he was still much more a boy than a man. On this recordset, Frank had included his father as his next of kin.

The following pages tell more of Frank’s army life. He was mobilized in December 1916 and posted to a Training Battalion in February the following year. Finally, becoming part of the BEF (British Expeditionary Force) in February 1918. As a result of this, he was now part of the DLI (Durham Light Infantry).

It was just over one month later on the 22nd of March, 1918, that Frank, like many others before, was Killed in Action, ‘in the field’. In short, Frank had only been in France for five weeks but had served for one year and 35 days.

DLI headstone

Frank had served as Private, 75515 in the 15th Battalion of the DLI, “C” Troop.

During the spring offensive of 1918, the DLI had suffered greatly.  The 2nd battalion had from its original strength of  30 officers and 639 other ranks been reduced to two officers and 58 men unwounded with six officers and 286 other ranks wounded.  The 15th battalion, including Frank, had been reduced to one company.

Turning the pages of Franks Service Record, which are not in date order, it is now possible to find that he weighed 105lbs. There were four vaccination marks visible on his body, and his eyesight was good.

Like many other soldiers during this period in military history, Frank had a series of service numbers. At enlistment, his service number was TR/5/65657. Upon entering the Training Reserve Battalion, it changed to 3221, followed finally by 75515.

While based at Hornsea in May 1917, Frank seems to have been absent for one day – for this he was admonished and forfeited one day’s pay. Following his time in East Yorkshire, Frank moved on to Rugeley, before embarking from Folkstone for France.

Late in October 1918, Ann, Frank’s mother was granted 6s 4d Separation Allowance. Ann completed a form which required her to list Frank’s parentage along with full blood and half-blood siblings – Frank had five full blood siblings ranging in ages from 17 to 38.

Blank ‘Death Penny’

As Frank, had been Killed in Action his parents would receive quite a lot of paperwork from the Army. One of these letters would be to acknowledge receipt of a ‘Death Penny’ and Scroll.

Frank, like Robert Elvey, rests at Poziers, but unlike Robert, Frank has no known grave and is, therefore, remembered on the Pozieres Memorial to the Missing.

St Catherine’s would have been the Hodges family church, and I presume that Frank’s name would have been recorded on their stone war memorial. The memorial survived a terrible fire at the church but sadly did not survive being damaged by one of the workmen working on the fire ridden church. The workman, driving a lorry, reversed over the memorial which had been placed flat on the floor for safety. The result was, as you can guess, unsalvageable.

Frank, had been born on the 18th of September 1898 and baptised the following month in St Catherine’s Church.

Frank, in his short life, is found in two census – 1901 and 1911. In both census Frank, his parents, James and Ann, and his siblings are living on Montague Street. Some of his older siblings by 1911, have left home to start their own lives.

Frank’s father, James died in 1925 followed by his mother the following year.

St Catherine’s Church Memorial Service 1918

St Catherine’s Church Memorial Service

While looking through the pages of a 1918 newspaper I came across the following article and I became curious as to who these men were.

The Express, Saturday, June 15 1918


A Memorial Service was held in St Catherine’s Church on Sunday afternoon last, in memory of Robert Elvey, Arthur Harrison, Joseph Harold Walker, Willie Bolton, Frank Hodgson, and George Wilkin, gallant soldiers who made the Great Sacrifice on behalf of their Country. The service was attended by the relatives of most of the soldiers, and a large number of parishioners came to pay their tribute of sympathy and respect. The service, taken by the Vicar (Rev. W Mahon), was simple, impressive and moving, and the draped National Flag seemed t add to the occasion. Three hymns, “My God my Father, while I stray.” “Now the Labourer’s Task is o’er.” “How bright these Glorious Spirits Shine.” were sung; and the organist (Mr J J Capewell) played Chopin’s Funeral March, Liebe’s Requiem, and Malan’s “Oh Lord my God, hear Thou the prayer thy servant prayeth.”

Let me see if I can find out who these Wakefield lads were when they lived and breathed and walked along our local streets.

Pozieres Cemetery and Memorial via Wikipedia

Firstly, Robert Elvey. During the Great War, after enlisting in Wakefield, he served as Sapper 480716 in 157th Field Company, Royal Engineers. Robert had also served under another service number, T4325. He died on the 25th of March 1918 and rests in Pozieres CWGC Cemetery, France. The Probate entry for Robert tells another snippet of his life – it tells that he lived at 59 Regent Street and that he left a widow, Annie who would have inherited the sum of £469 17s 2d. She would also have received his medals – The British and Victory Medals and a ‘Death Penny’ and Scroll.

Robert had married Annie Kendall in 1915. But let’s go back a few years to 1911 when Robert is living with his parents, Arthur Ed. Elvey aged 46 a Teacher of Pianoforte, and his wife Eleanor Theresa. Robert was one of four surviving children out of 7 born to Eleanor. Robert at this time was 21 years old and earned his living as a bricklayer.

Arthur Harrison is next in line.  After determining which Arthur Harrison was mentioned in the newspaper – there was a few!  This was done by browsing the CWGC (Commonwealth War Graves Commission) website.  I found he enlisted in Wakefield, joining the Yorkshire Hussars (Alexandra, Princes of Wale’s Own), 13th Battalion. He was known as Private, 24657, Harrison, Arthur.  He was Killed in Action on the 24th of November 1917.  Arthur is remembered on Panel 5 of the Cambrai Memorial to the Missing, Louverval, France and is one of over 7100 whose final resting place is known only unto their god.

Arthur enlisted in Wakefield after 1915 and was only eligible for the British and Victory Medals BUT he had been awarded the MM (Military Medal). Arthur’s money owed from the Army was War Gratuitypaid to Mrs Bessie Underwood, his sister. This money included £9 War Gratuity.

Joseph Harold Walker is next in line. According to the CWGC, only one entry fits the bill. Joseph was the son of Walter and Emily of Wakefield. Joseph served in the 1/5th KOYLI King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry as Private, 242886. He enlisted into the KOYLI’s in Wakefield. The 1/5th Battalion was a Territorial Battalion.  

Joseph would have been awarded the British and Victory Medals and his Medal Card also tells that he had served under another service number – 5136. Emily, his mother was registered as his next of kin and was, therefore, granted monies from the Army including £9 War Gratuity.

Joseph died on 3 of February 1918 aged 34. Joseph rests in Anzi -St Aubin British Cemetery in Northern France with 360 other servicemen. After his burial and erection of his memorial stone, his parents had the inscription “Rest in Peace” at the base of his headstone.

Military Medal via Wikipedia

Willie Bolton follows on from Joseph. The CWGC has information on two Willie Bolton’st only one died early in 1918. Willie served in the 9th Btn. of the KOYLI as Private 15271. During his time as a soldier in The Great War, he had been awarded the MM (Military Medal).  The medal being established in 1916 but could be backdated to 1914.

Willie like the other’s remembered in the service enlisted in Wakefield. Willie seemed to have served the longest of the men mentioned so far. He entered France in May of 1915 which made him eligible for the 1915 Star, the British and Victory Medals – plus his MM. Any money owing to Willie was sent to his mother as his next of kin. She was also sent £17 War Gratuity.

Willie has no known grave and is therefore remembered on the Tyne Cot Memorial to the Missing with over 35000 recorded names of other missing brothers in arms.

Frank Hodgson is the penultimate name and the only soldier I can find a service record for. I have decided that he will have a section on his own.

Finally, George Wilkin who sadly at the moment I can’t find anything that positively identifies him.

Clayton’s of Barnsley Road, Wakefield

Clayton’s of Barnsley Road, Wakefield

Who to choose?  Whose life and deeds to tell of?  What a hard decision it has been today.  I thought about the policeman in Wakefield Goal mentioned in my last effort. No. I ended up going through my website to see who was of interest and it was there in the Absent Voters List for 1918 that I found him/them.

As many locals know Barnsley Road, Wakefield is one of the major roads in the area.  The A61, starting in Derby and finishing in Thirst takes you through a great deal of the old industrial areas of Yorkshire.  Now, sections of this road have been absorbed into the M1 and A1.

Why have I told you this?  Well, just to tell the reader that this road, before the addition of motorways was an important part of the infrastructure of the West Riding of Yorkshire.

Just outside the city boundaries and past the bus depot is Broxbourne.  I remember passing this house as a child and I always remember it being painted a creamy colour with blue paintwork.  I also seem to think at some time the house was the home of a doctor – possibly in the 1950s or ’60s.

As they say in a tv programme ‘Who lives in a place like this?’ or should I say ‘Who lived in a place like this?’

Going back to the Absent Voters List for 1918 section H there is William Kitson Clayton a Lieutenant Colonel in the RAMC (Royal Army Medical Corps) and his son William Douglas Clayton a LIeutenant in the 1st Yorks.

William Kitson Clayton was born in Leeds c1860.  By 1881 William was living in Wakefield with Joe (?) Clayton (possibly a brother).  William was aged 21, a medical student living in the home of Wm. Sanderson, a stationer at 77 Kirkgate.  During the next few years, William met Ada Baldwin and early in 1885 the couple married in St Mary Magdelene’s Church, Outwood on February the 11th.  William’s father, Joe stated he was a wine and spirit merchant.  While Ada’s father, William was a farmer.  The witnesses to this union, well there were a few of them, were W C Clayton, E A Clayton, Wm Baldwin, Joseph Clayton, C Baldwin,? Baldwin and C W Baldwin.

The newly married couple then lived on Main Street, Aberford and in the 1911 census they can be found with their children  Gladys B and Madalene, William’s brother John Clayton, a Granter School Scholar, Jessica Edwards a hospital nurse, and two domestic servants.

The family are now back in Wakefield, 83 Northgate, where William is a physician and surgeon.  His family had grown in the last 10 years – Gladys Baldwin was now 13, Madalene 10, and now included Margorie C, 8 and William Douglas aged 6.  The family now had three servants and a visitor, 38-year-old J E Gledhill (?), a medical practitioner born in Mauritius.

The next 10 years in William’s life are tinted with both sadness and joy.  In 1904 Ada died aged 41.  The following year William remarried to Ada Willcox and the newly married couple were in 1911 living in Grove House, Grove Road, wakefield.  No family was living with them only two servants, one of whom was Norwegian.  During the census year, William Douglas Clayton has now aged 16  a pupil at Epsom College.

William Kitson Clayton during The Great War served in the Royal Army Medical Corps and rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.  He must have served from 1915 onwards as he was awarded the 1915 Star plus the British and Victory Medals.  He applied for his medals in August 1921.

Territorial Decoration via Wikipedia

Before receiving his military service medals, he had been awarded the Territorial Decoration in the 1919 New Years Honours List.  The Territorial Decoration being a long service decoration for a minimum of 20 years commissioned service with war service counting as double time.

William Douglas Clayton as we know also served during WW1 – he served in the Yorkshire Regiment as a Lieutenant and later Acting Captain.  Like his father, he was awarded the 1915 Star along with the British and Victory Medals.  William Douglas not only did he serve in Europe, but he also served in India and Ireland.  He Attested in Wakefield on 7th August 1914 before John Hepple, Captain.  He was just 18 years of age, an Oxford Undergraduate of Broxbourne, Sandal.  He was 5′ 7½” tall with good eyesight and now was in the RAMC as a Private number 39 with the Mounted Brigade  Field Ambulance.  He was with the Corps until December 1914 and then left to attend Officer Training College, Camberley.  It seems he might have also been at Sandhurst for some time.

The British Army List has William Douglas born on 24th February 1895 being appointed 2nd Lieutenant in the Yorkshire Regiment on 16th of June 1915.  Attaining the rank of Lieutenant in September of that year.

Sometime after the war but before 1929, the family moved to Scarborough – living on the Esplanade.  And it was on the 17th of October 1929, William Douglas married Hilda Faith Thompson.  Hilda was the daughter of Geoffrey Ward Thompson, Doctor of Medicine, General Practitioner. Less than a decade later, William Kitson Clayton of 13 Esplanade Road, Scarborough died on 12th November 1937.  Probate was granted in Wakefield in February the following year to his widow Edith Mary Clayton and William Douglas Clayton retired Major in His Majesties Army and Thomas Edward Catterall solicitor.  The sum of £5124 11s 1d.

The family were on the move again and Edith Mary by now was a resident of Holloway Sanatorium, Virginia Water, Surrey, on the 6th of  June 1959 died.  Probate again was granted in Wakefield to Christopher Malcolm Percy Willcox, company director, William Douglas Clayton now a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the Army and Harry Moxon solicitor. The sum of £2668 4s.

William Douglas Clayton died in St Albans in the summer of 1978.  Hilda Mary died in late spring 1988 aged 82.  Her death was included in The Times death notices.

There is one member of the family Madalene that according to the CWGC (Commonwealth War Graves Commission) was killed while a firewatcher at the Bar Convent, Blossom Street, York.  Madelene was known as Mother Mary Magnes and was one of five sisters who lost their lives during the Baedeker Raids in April 1942.  The Convent during WW2 gave safety to Belgian nuns and refugee children.  The Concert Hall was converted into a hospital for wounded soldiers.

The Baedeker Raids between April and June 1942 were purposely targetted at Britains historical towns including Norwich, Canterbury, Exeter, Bath and York in retaliation for the RAF bombing Lubeck earlier that year.   The attack on the 28/29th of April saw more than 90 civilian casualties and over 200 injured.  It was estimated at the time that over 9000 properties were damaged or destroyed – including many public buildings suffered damage including the medieval Guildhall.  The old Rowntree factory was burnt to the ground.  The incoming King’s Cross to Edinburgh train heavily crowned with military personnel took a direct hit.