Joseph Havenhand – Bentley Man Wins DCM

Joseph Havenhand was born on 8th April 1893 at Parkgate, Rotherham, the fourth son of Arthur and Elizabeth Havenhand. By 1901 the family were living in Mansfield Woodhouse, Nottinghamshire. Arthur a miner is a widower, his wife Elizabeth having died in 1900. Arthur remarried in 1902 to Emma Prendergast, and by 19 11 Joseph now had two sisters and two more brothers. In 1911 the family is living at Cawdor Street, Bentley and Arthur is once again a widower, Emma had died in 1910. Arthur is still a miner and Joseph is now working as a pit pony driver and according to Doncaster Gazette they both worked at Bentley Colliery. The Gazette report also tells us that before the war Joseph was ‘an ardent member of the “Church of Christ,” on Askern Road’ and that he was ‘a hard worker for the Sunday School’.

From reports in the Doncaster Gazette we learn that Joseph was one of of the earliest recruits when war broke out joining up on 28th August 1914 and leaving for France the following summer with the 7th K.O.Y.L.I. . In 1917, newspaper reports tell us that Joseph, now a Corporal, has been awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal and also a promotion to Sergeant. We learn that Joseph has been in France for two and a half years and come through most of the heavy engagements, including the Battle of the Somme ‘without receiving a scratch’. We are also told that in a letter to his parents Joseph tells them that he has ‘been awarded the D.C.M and a special certificate for conspicuous bravery in action’.

Joseph’s D.C.M citation was printed in the London Gazette on 26th January 1918 and reads:

Distinguished Conduct Medal

2305 Cpl J. Havenhand York L.I. (Doncaster)

For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. At a critical moment in the attack when his company was held up by heavy machine-gun fire from a concrete post, he worked forward with a few men and succeeded in getting up to the post and bombing it. This gallant action overcame the enemy resistance, and the taking of the first objective was assured.

It is reported that later in 1917 Joseph was ‘gassed in action’ and as a result spent some time receiving treatment in hospital in Oxford and Winslow and was then ‘engaged for a time as a drill sergeant on the East Coast’, he returned to the front in August 1918 with another battalion of the K.O.Y.L.I. . Early in October 1918 Doncaster Gazette reports the sad news that on 2nd September 1918, aged 25, Joseph was killed in action. Commonwealth War grave records tell us that Joseph was serving with the 2nd/ 4th Battalion K.O.Y.L.I. at the time of his death and that he is buried at the Vaulx Hill Cemetery in France.

John William Dore – From Pony Driver to Double Military Cross Winner

John William Dore was born on 9th December 1893 in Halifax, the eldest child of William and May Dore. He had three brothers, James, George and Frederick, and three sisters, Beatrice Dallas and Bertha. By the time of the 1901 census the family were living at 1 Wilkinson’s Yard, Warsop, Mansfield in Nottinghamshire. By 1911 the family had moved to Doncaster and were living at 19 Holly Street, Balby. According to the Doncaster Gazette, John and his father worked at Brodsworth Colliery, John as a pony driver and William as a sawyer. The Same Gazette report tells us that John had attend Stirling Street School during the time when a Mr Redmayne had been the Headmaster. The family moved to 59 Wellington Street, Hyde Park around 1914.

A report in the Doncaster Gazette in November 1917 with the headline ‘Brodsworth Pony Boy Wins Commission And M.C.’ told of John’s war time exploits. It states that before the war started John was a member of the Doncaster Territorials and ‘was mobilised in August of 1914’ and went abroad with the K.O.Y.L.I. early in 1915. The report tells how John has for two years been through some heavy fighting and has been twice wounded. This report also says that John had shown ‘such qualities as to be marked out by his officers for promotion’, and that in December of 1916 he was ‘sent home to train for a commission, and after passing through his cadet course in Hampshire’, he returned to to the front in June 1917 ‘as an officer with another battalion of the Kings Own’. This commission was reported in the London Gazette Supplement in June 1917, John was to be a Temporary 2nd Lieutenant, attached to the Yorkshire Light Infantry. The Gazette reported that before returning to France as an officer John returned home on leave to Hyde Park, and the members of Hyde Park Club where both John and his father were well known arranged for a large portrait of John to be hung in one of the club rooms. The club president had formally unveiled the portrait just a few days before the report.

On the 26th November 1917, the London Gazette listed Second Lieutenant Dore as a recipient of the Military Cross.

The Citation for John’s Military Cross was printed in the London Gazette on 6th April 1918 and reads:

“T./2nd Lt. John William Dore, attd. Yorks. L.I.
For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty in an attack. He went through a heavy, hostile barrage on three occasions to reconnoitre the position , and obtained valuable information. Later, he took out patrols well forward of the front line. He set a splendid example of cheerfulness and pluck on all occasions.”

In June of 1918 the Doncaster Gazette again has news of John but this time John’s parents have received a telegram informing them that he has been missing since May 27th and that ‘at the time of writing no further news had been received’. The article explains that John had spent Christmas 1917 on leave at home and that on his return to France he spent some time away from his unit on special duty, only rejoining the battalion a few days before being reported missing. Then at the beginning of July it was reported in the Gazette that John was a prisoner in Germany and that the news that John was alive was ‘of some cheer to his father who at this time was in Doncaster Infirmary after sustaining a severe injury while working on a circular saw’.

The Gazette report informs us that the news that John is a POW comes through ‘John’s fiancée in London, via his banker’s there, who in turn received the news from the Central Prisoner Of War Committee, though his friends and family had not received any official notification’. Records relating to John’s time as a POW show that he was captured at a place called Cauroy (Couroy/Conroy) on the 27th May 1918 and was taken to O.G.L. Karlsruhe camp, before being transferred to a camp called Schweidnitz, both camps for officers. These records also give the names of two people who had made requests for information about John, one was a Rev W.Roche and the other a Miss Laura Crowcroft who was John’s future sister-in-law and who was living in London.

In September of 1918 John’s name is again in a Supplement to the London Gazette when he again won the Military Cross, resulting in a bar being added to the medal, for ‘gallantry and devotion to duty’. The citation says:

T./2nd Lt. John William Dore, M.C., York L.I.
For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He led his company with great dash and efficiency in an attack under heavy machine-gun fire, and captured and killed several of the enemy. He set a brilliant example to his men.

John survived the war and as of March 1919 relinquishes his commission on completion of his service, and was granted the rank of Captain. On 21st of April 1919 at St. Wilfred’s Church in Cantley John William Dore married Annie Crowcroft. John died in 1929, aged 35.

Percy Parkin Pease – One of the Best

Percy Parkin Pease was born 1888 in Doncaster, the second son of John and Fanny Louisa Pease. Percy had 3 brothers Fred, William and Horace and 3 sisters Mary, Asadelah and Florence. Percy’s father John Pease was a Railway Coach Builder and his brothers Fred and William were both Glass Bottle Blowers.

It was reported in the Doncaster Gazette in July 1916 that Percy had originally joined the Tramway Company in July 1905 when he would have been about 16 years old. He had been a motorman (driver) since 1911 and it was said that Percy was “a reliable driver and a popular member of staff.”. Percy’s younger brother Horace also worked at the Tramway Company as a conductor. Percy had joined K.O.Y.L.I. in 1914 and trained as a machine gunner. He was serving with the 1/5 K.O.Y.L.I. when he was killed during a German bombing raid on 4th July 1916. The same report also told how an officer from his company, who wrote to Percy’s mother, sent his deepest sympathy and said that he had ” always found him a most cheerful fellow” and that “as a gunner he was one of my best. I shall find it hard to replace him.”

Percy is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial and his name is also on the Hexthorpe War Memorial. The Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme remembers over 72,000 service men from Britain and South Africa who lost their lives in the Battles of the Somme during the First World War and who have no known grave.

Company Sergeant Major John Henry Ward

John Henry Ward was born in Derbyshire in 1889, the only son of Henry Thornton and Maud Mary Ward, he had three sisters Mabel, Kate and Henrietta.  His father Henry Ward was a colliery clerk.  At the age of 22 John was working as a Colliery Shot Firer.  A Shot Firer was a miner who tested for gas and then fired explosive charges.  John’s father died in 1903 aged 44 and his mother Maud remarried in 1909 and moved to Worksop to live with her new husband Arthur Stinson.  Arthur was a well known Worksop Jeweller.

It was reported in Doncaster Gazette in August 1916 that John was educated at Worksop Grammar School and that ‘after a successful course of technical study at Sheffield University, came to the Yorkshire Main Colliery.’  John was a deputy at the colliery in Edlington when war broke out.  A deputy was an underground official responsible for the management and safety of a district (area) in the pit. John joined the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry in September 1914, enlisting the day after he got married to Grace Eva Tooley.  He had rapidly gained promotion and by the time his battalion left for France the following year he had attained the rank of Company Sergeant-Major.  At the time of his death John was Acting Regimental Sergeant-Major.

In the Doncaster Gazette 28th July 1916 it was reported that John Henry’s wife was “anxiously awaiting official news” of her husband who had “been missing since the early days of the big advance.”  The only information they had from a regimental source was that John had not returned from a charge in which he had led the men of his company.  A later search of “No Man’s Land” found no trace of him.  A soldier from another regiment had found John’s pay book on the battlefield and returned it to his wife, who appealed for any information that would help to solve the mystery of her husbands disappearance.  In the following weeks Gazette it was reported that after seeing this report a ‘Miss Amy Jeffs of Nottingham, daughter of a Refuge Assurance superintendent at Doncaster’ contacted Grace Ward.  Having read Grace’s anxious plea in the Gazette, a copy of which they had sent to them every week, Amy was able to give Grace the information she had been so anxiously waiting for, it was not good news.

The report in the Doncaster Gazette from 4th August 1916 explained that John, Amy’s brother ‘Billy’ Jeffs and a third young man named Mason, a school teacher from Bentley, were best friends and had all enlisted together and were all in the same battalion.  They had been involved in the ‘Big Push at Thiepval Wood’ and after the battle was over Billy had sent a letter to his family giving a detailed account that Amy said was ‘terrible to read’.  Amy said ‘It is with the very deepest regret that I would tell you that he has ‘Gone West’, as the lads themselves term it.’  John had been killed on July 1st, the first day of the battle of the Somme.

John is remembered with a special memorial at the Gordon Dump Cemetery, Ovillers – La Boiselle.

Herbert Hawes – Stretcher Bearer ‘Was Dead and is Alive Again’.

In 1987 Joseph Hawes was in service with the Royal Engineers who were stationed in Gibraltar and it was here that his second son Herbert was born.  In the Doncaster Gazette in July 1916 we are told that Joseph served for 12 years with the Royal Engineers and fought in the second Boer War (1899 – 1902) and ‘received both the Kings and Queens Medals’.  While Joseph was away fighting, Herbert, his mother Louisa and his three brothers, Joseph, Thomas and Edwin were living in Peckham, London.

By 1905 the family has moved to Doncaster and are living on Palmer Street, Joseph is now working as an Electrician in the Loco Department at the Great Northern Works.  At the age of 14 Herbert is working as an Errand Boy for the Co-op Friendly Society, but by the time the war started Herbert was an apprentice at the Carr Wagon Shops along with his brother Joseph.

The Doncaster Gazette reported that at the outbreak of the war Herbert, who was only 17, ‘enlisted in the K.O.Y.L.I. as a stretcher bearer and served for three years in that capacity before taking up combatant duties with the rank of corporal’.  In July 1916 the Gazette reported that Herbert had been injured, receiving a bullet wound in his left arm, and had been transported to Wharncliffe Hospital at Sheffield.  The report tells us that Herbert had been at the front for 16 months with only one leave of absence and that whilst carrying out his duties as a stretcher bearer he had had several narrow escapes.  The report told how he had been buried twice in dug-outs and how ‘when a shell burst among the stretcher bearers killing 12 of them, Herbert and one other Doncaster stretcher bearer were blown several yards by the blast but they both escaped without injury’. It was the day after the latter incident that Herbert was wounded.

In April of 1918 the Doncaster Chronicle reported that ‘It is almost certain that Corporal Hawes, son of Mr and Mrs Hawes of Elmfield Road, may be numbered among the slain’. His parents had not received official confirmation but ‘according to a comrade he had last seen him among a group of men who had been surrounded and were fighting like devil’s’.  Then in June 1918 both the Chronicle and the Gazette reported that after a three month wait his parents had received a letter from Herbert telling them that although ‘he was a prisoner in Germany, he was very much alive’.  The Gazette article also reported that Herbert had in the last 18 months ‘been in most of the hardest fighting’ and had been ‘wounded in one battle and gassed in another’.

In the 20th December 1918 issue of the Doncaster Chronicle it was reported that Herbert had returned home two weeks previously and that while a prisoner of war ‘he was employed for sometime behind the German lines and was 2 months at the Giessen camp’.  Herbert was ‘the last survivor of the original K.O.Y.L.I. stretcher bearers who had enlisted when war broke out’.

From the report in the Doncaster Gazette on 7th June 1918 we learn that two of Herbert’s brothers are also ‘serving with the colours – Joseph with the Hussars, and Thomas in the Flying Corps’.  Also that Herbert’s father Joseph Hawes, at the outbreak of the war joined up with the National Reserve, where he did four months service before being released to do munitions work.

Sapper John Edward Severn

John Edward Severn’s  apprenticeship at Doncaster Gazette had just been terminated when he enlisted in ‘Doncaster’s Own’ Royal Engineers.

On the 11th February 1917 Joseph was admitted to hospital With Scabies, he was released the following day.  Scabies was one of several conditions that was quite common due to conditions in the trenches.  The record of this admission tells us that he was a member of the 231st Field Company of the Royal Engineers.  He received the British War and Victory Medals.  (Scabies is a contagious skin condition caused by tiny mites that burrow into the skin.)

In 1928 John married Gertrude Deakin in Doncaster.  They had one daughter called Audrey.  In 1939 John and Gertrude were living at 5 Hunt Lane, Bentley and John was employed as a Printers Letterpress Machine Man.


Private Ernest Catling

Ernest was a member of the Commercial Staff of Doncaster Gazette in 1916 when he enlisted.  He was enlisted into the 11th Batt. K.O.Y.L.I. which was a training battalion and later posted to the Machine Gun Corps where he received both the British War and Victory Medals.

Ernest was born in Weybread in Suffolk in 1891, the youngest of Richard and Sarah Ann Catlings 9 children.  In 1911 at the age of 20 Ernest was living in Bury St. Edmunds with his parents and was employed as a Printers Clerk.  Ernest was married to Annie Elizabeth Williams in 1914 in Doncaster.  In 1939 Ernest and Annie were living at 12 Armthorpe Lane with their daughter Madge and Ernest was employed as a Newspaper Cashier.

Private Henry Leonard Peet

Henry was born and grew up in Newark, Nottinghamshire, where the family were still living in 1911, and he was employed as an ironmongers clerk. Henry must have moved to Doncaster sometime after the 1911 Census and also changed his occupation. Henry became a member of the the Reporting staff at the Doncaster Gazette and when he enlisted in 1916 became a Private in the Army Ordnance Corps. The Army Ordnance Corps dealt with the supply and maintenance of weapons and munitions and other military equipment. (The A.O.C wasn’t granted the Royal prefix until 1922)

In 1924 Henry married Benedicta Stella Allaby in the parish church at Denaby Main, and they had two children, Ronald and Stella. In 1939 the family were living at 58 Thorne Road, Doncaster and Henry was still a journalist.  Henry died in 1977 aged 82.

David Hillyard Hall

David was in the 2/2nd West Riding Field Ambulance which was part of the Royal Army Medical Corps for the 62nd (2nd West Yorkshire) Division.  They didn’t go to France until April of 1917.  David’s brother Alfred also enlisted but lied about how old he was, he said he was 19 when in fact he was only 16.

A Field Ambulance was a mobile unit of the Royal Army Medical Corps and was situated quite close behind the fighting front and received injured and sick men. A Field Ambulance was generally made up of 10 officers and 224 men.

David married Mary A Hartas in 1920 and they had 2 children John and Edith.  In 1939 the family were living at 78 Cedar Road, Balby, Doncaster.  David died in 1966 aged 71.

Arthur William Cooke

Arthur William Cooke was born in 1875 in Alford, Lincolnshire. In 1916 he was working for Doncaster Gazette as an Overseer and was also a Director of the newspaper.

Arthur would have been 41 in 1916 and he was married and had 3 children, when conscription was first introduced it applied to single men aged between 18 and 41. It was only later in 1916 that it was extended to include married men. Arthur joined the Doncaster Volunteer Training Corps.

 The Volunteer Training Corps was set up as means of service for those men who were over military age or had business or family commitments that made it difficult for them to volunteer for the armed services.

In 1939 Arthur and his wife Lizzie and daughter Dorothy were living at 137 The Grove in Wheatley and Arthur was now retired.   Arthur died in 1960 aged 86.