Lance Corporal Joseph Needham

Joseph Needham was born in 1882 in Mattersey. His father, William, had previously been married with three children before marrying Mary Browne, 16 years his junior, in 1872. In 1885, Joseph had a sister who was also born in Mattersey. In 1910, Joseph married, registered in Doncaster, to Mary Steel, who was a native of Mattersey. In 1911 they were living at 3 Castle Street, Conisborough, Yorks where Joseph was working as a carter for a railway company. The couple also had a daughter born to them who they named Florrie.

L/Cpl Joseph Needham Retford Times 11 Feb 1916 Mrs Jos. Needham of 10 Claremont Terrace, Conisborough, wife of Lance Corpl Needham, 6th Batt York and Lancaster Regt has received the sad intelligence that her husband died through natural causes whilst in hospital at Alexandria on or about the 29th November. This sad news deeply affected the people of Mattersey as deceased was born and reared in their midst and was living in the village at the time of his enlistment at the age of 18 years. When war broke out he had been living in, Conisborough about six years. He was well known there as his employment in the Great Central Railway goods department bought him in contact with people of all classes. As a reservist, he responded cheerfully to the summons and went out to France with the Expeditionary Force. Unfortunately, he was buried under the debris caused by the bursting of a shell and received injuries which necessitated his going to a hospital. He was afterwards invalided home last August and took great interest in the local recruiting meetings obtaining many recruits by his rugged eloquence. He also spent a few days in his native village. After being declared fit for further service he was drafted out to the Dardanelles and previous to his departure to this new sphere of military operations he told his wife of a presentiment that she would never see him again. Unhappily his fears have proved to realised. For his gallant services, he was promoted to L/Cpl. Needham was a hero indeed. He had served in South Africa, gaining the King Edward Medal (1901-2) with two bars and the Queen Victoria Medal with four bars (Laing’s Nek, Transvaal, Orange Free State and Cape Colony). L/Cpl Needham would have obtained his discharge had he survived till the 17th March. On the 16th November, he wrote cheerfully to his wife, stating that he was in the best of health. He was 34 years of age and leaves a young widow and two children. Not they alone will mourn his loss, as his widowed mother, now over 70 years of age and still resident at Mattersey, as well as his only sister, Mrs H Walker of Drakeholes, will feel most keenly the great trouble that has been thus thrust upon them.

23 Nov 1915

34

607320

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Lance Corporal

Buried in Hill 10 Cemetery, Gallipoli 2.I.2
Research by Colin Dannatt
https://secure.nottinghamshire.gov.uk/rollofhonour/People/Details/14382

Did Flying Ace Kill Pit Lad?

Leonard Savage

Leonard Savage was born early in 1903 at Mansfield in Nottinghamshire. His parents were Henry and Mary Savage, Henry was a coal miner. Leonard was the second oldest son, after George. He had at least 3 younger siblings: Charles, Henry, and Dorothy. The family lived in Mansfield until at least 1911. As the Yorkshire Main Colliery opened around this time, the family probably moved into the worker’s housing being built at New Edlington. Leonard Savage joined his father as a pit lad.

In November 1916 a pilot flying from London to the North of England got lost. He landed at the New Edlington Recreation Ground to check his map. A small crowd of locals gathered around the plane. As the plane took off again Leonard Savage, now 13 years old, was struck by the plane and killed instantly. A newspaper article from the time titled ‘Boy Killed By Aeroplane’ records the plane’s pilot as a Lieutenant Kiddie of the R.F.C. (Royal Flying Corps) This tallies with the life of future flying ace Andrew Cameron Kiddie.

Andrew Cameron Kiddie

Later described by the London Gazette as ‘A gallant officer, who has proved himself resolute and courageous in aerial combats’, Kiddie was born in South Africa on the 7th of November 1889. He first served in the 18th South African Mounted Rifles before travelling to England to join the Royal Flying Corps. Kiddie received a Royal Aero Club Aviator’s Certificate to fly a Maurice Farman biplane on the 17th of October 1916. On the 1st of August 1916 Kiddie had been appointed a 2nd Lieutenant, and he was confirmed in this position on the 31st of October 1916. Only a few days later Leonard Savage was accidentally killed by an R.F.C. Lieutenant, not long before Kiddie’s 27th birthday.

Kiddie would go on to serve in the No. 32 Squadron R.F.C. in France early in 1917. Later that year, he was transferred home to instruct other pilots, including Ira Thomas Jones who he would soon serve alongside. In 1918 he returned to France in the 74 ‘Tiger’ Squadron where he racked up victories against 15 enemy planes. Kiddie had the 5th highest aerial victory count in his squadron, behind more famous aces such as Ira Jones and Edward ‘Mick’ Mannock. Mannock was among the best pilots drawn from the British Empire, and Jones was infamous among his squadron for shooting down German parachutes. While others considered it unsporting Jones said that he’d never been to public school and learned sportsmanship, all he knew was that there was a bloody war on. Kiddie was the only pilot to survive an attack by 10 Fokker Triplanes despite his plane being ‘riddled like a sieve’.

Given his future as a flying ace it is strange that no mention of Leonard Savage appears in records related to Kiddie, or the accounts of his life. At the time of Savage’s death, Kiddie wasn’t as well known as later in his life. Still it wouldn’t be too hard to have the R.F.C. find a Lieutenant Kiddie who may have been in the area at the time. Whether any inquiry was ever made remains unclear. Whether Leonard Savage got in the way of the plane, or Andrew Kiddie didn’t leave enough time for the crowd to get clear, may never be known.

Skipton Camp, German Prisoners of War and the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry

In March 1919 546 German officers and 137 German orderlies were imprisoned at Skipton Camp in North Yorkshire. 47 of these prisoners were to die in the influenza pandemic which would sweep the world in the wake of World War One. The officers had been guarded by members of the Royal Defence Corps (RDC) when the camp opened in January 1918. Following the armistice in November 1918 the RDC was replaced by a guard which was formed from units of the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry (KOYLI), Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment and the Stafford Regiment. The German officers decided to write their memoirs in the months between the end of the influenza outbreak (March 1919) and their eventual repatriation in October 1919. Unusually the German officers’ book, Kriegsgefangen in Skipton was published when they returned home. This very same book is currently being translated by quite a large team of translators including staff and students at the University of Leeds. Page 20 of this book represents our only reference to KOYLI. We know from cross-checking other stories against local newspapers, for example, that this book was remarkably accurate. The book does however state that these British guards were young and straight from the front, or else had been former prisoners of war in Germany. The book continues to suggest that these guards may have had some good memories of being prisoners in Germany, because they often attempted to engage the Germans in conversation in more or less fluent German!

The staff at the museum in Doncaster have checked their archives for references to Skipton Camp, but to no avail. It may be that someone, perhaps still living in the area, remembers that great-grandfather or grandfather was not demobilised immediately after the end of the war, but rather was moved to a prisoner-of-war camp to guard some of the thousands of German prisoners still left in Britain. If that is the case we would love to hear from you. We currently have two websites http://www.raikeswoodcamp.co.uk/ which is focussing on an archaeological dig being conducted on part of the Skipton Camp site and https://arts.leeds.ac.uk/kriegsgefangen/ which concentrates more on the translation of the book. Contact details can be found on this second website.

It would be wonderful to finish with a photograph of KOYLI troops at work at Skipton. Unfortunately the nearest we can come to this is a photograph of a detachment of guards from the camp attending the funeral of a number of German officers at Morton Bank Cemetery in Keighley. The German officers are on the right of the photograph. The enlisted men, possibly from the Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment but equally possibly from one of the other units, are in the background resting on their rifles. Colonel Ronaldson, the British commandant of the camp and a British army chaplain are standing in front of them. Ten or more funerals took place over several weeks in February and March 1919. The Keighley News mentions that a guard from the Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment fired three volleys over the open graves of the deceased. A British bugler also played the ‘Last Post’. Unfortunately there is no record of the KOYLI. However…

Alan Roberts

German funerals Morton Bank 4

Title: German funerals Morton Bank 4
Description: by-nc

Colonel William Picton Bradley-Williams

William Picton Bradley-Williams was born in Wotton-under-Edge in Gloucestershire on 9th October 1890. William had two sisters and two brothers. He was born into a wealthy family because his father, Herbert Edward, was a Bank Manager. After his family moved to Bristol, they had up to 5 domestic servants including Cooks and Governesses. Although listed as a student on the 1911 census, he had joined the army by 1909. His brothers Edward de Winton and Evan Vincent would also join up.

He was in 3rd Battalion Monmouthshire regiment from June 1909 to May 1912. During this time, he was briefly attached to the South Wales Borderers in April 1911 up to December 1911. At the end of his time there, he was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant on the 22nd May 1912. He transferred to the KOYLI (King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry) regiment from May 1912 to December 1912 then joined them abroad in January 1913 to July 1915. On the 4th August 1914, he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant. He worked as a Regimental Transport Officer from December 1914 to June 1915 before becoming a Brigade Transport Officer for 3 months (April 1915 – June 1915). He was also standing in temporarily as the rank of Captain from the 13th April. He was there until he was wounded on 20th July 1915. He was then promoted to the rank of Captain a few months later on the 1st October 1915.

A year later, he was transferred to the KLR (King’s Liverpool Regiment) back in Britain from August 1916 to January 1918. During this time, he worked as a company commander for 2 months and also as a transport officer for 5 months. He also went to the Senior Officers’ School from August 1916 to the 15th December 1917. His syndicate commanding officer described Bradley-Williams in the report as ‘[A]n Officer of smart appearance with plenty of drive and self-confidence. He is quick to learn, is a good drill and handles troops well. After more experience abroad he should make a good Commanding Officer.’ He added that Bradley-Williams ‘would make a good instructor’.

His commandant, Brigadier-General F. J. Marshall, said he was ‘[A] capable Officer who should be given an opportunity of gaining more experience in the field.’
He re-joined KOYLI abroad in January 1918 to April 1918. He was transferred to the border regiment in April 1918 and was standing temporarily as a Major from 20th April. Two months later, he was acting Lieutenant Colonel from the 5th June until he was wounded on 10th August 1918. Captain William Picton Bradley-Williams was awarded the Distinguished Service Order in 1919 whilst serving in 2nd Battalion KOYLI (although he was attached to 5th Battalion at the time). After the war had ended, he was stationed in Mhow, India with 1st Battalion KOYLI.

In the 1930s he lived at The Grange in Fittleworth, Sussex. He also frequently made trips around the world whilst working for the army. Capt Bradley-Williams boarded a ship bound for Bombay (now Mumbai) on 1st August 1930; he left the ship at Karachi. He moved around the subcontinent, first in Peshawar (now Pakistan) around 1930-31 and later in Arga, India around 1934. He was a part of 2nd Battalion KOYLI during his service there. He then took several trips working in Gibraltar. Now a Major, his first trip was in 1934 on 29th September. The second was in 1936 on 19th December. After this time, he had been promoted to Lt Colonel as part of 1st Battalion KOYLI in a Machine Gun Support Company. On 21nd January 1938, Lt Colonel Bradley-Williams boarded a ship to Gibraltar for a third time to stay there during his service. His wife, Francis Mary Bradley-Williams visited him in Gibraltar with their children on 15th Feb 1936; Priscilla M. & Phoebe J. who were 12 and their son S.G. who was 6. Francis visited again with their son S.G. Bradley-Williams on 7th Nov 1936. She visited alone on 4th December 1937. By 1939, he had returned to the mainland and was working in Strensall in York.

During World War II, now too old to serve on the front at the age of 50, he became Commander of the Hull Garrison. He had been promoted to Colonel by this point.

Col. William Picton Bradley-Williams died in early 1981 in Bury St. Edmunds. By the time of his death, he had been awarded the Distinguished Service Order, 1914-15 Star, British War Medal 1914-20, Victory Medal 1914-18, General Service Medal 1918-64, India General Service Medal 1908-35, France & Germany Star 1939-45, Defence Medal 1939-45, War Medal 1939-45, and the Coronation Medal 1937 throughout his military career.

Private Arthur Edward Clayton killed by Tetanus from a gunshot

Arthur Edward Clayton was born in mid-1885 in the parish of Alverthorpe near Wakefield. It appears he moved with his family a lot. His family lived in East Ardsley when he was born and baptised. Then, he and his family briefly lived in Grimsby with the Thos & Lucy Power Household whilst Arthur was a toddler. During his teen years, his family moved back to Wakefield. Whilst living on Vicarage Street, he worked as a Drayman delivering beer at a Beer Bottling Store.

Due to only being 15 in 1901, he lied about his age in order to enlist. He attested on 24th February 1902 stating he was 17 year and 9 months. Then he enlisted in the army on 21st April 1902 and joined 3rd Battalion KOYLI (King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry). Earning his Third Class Certificate of Education on 20th June 1902, he became a signaller for 8 years. He later earned a certificate for Mounted Infantry on 16th October 1910 and was consequently employed with the mounted infantry where he was posted with 1st Battalion KOYLI. He was posted around China and Hong Kong during this time. In a letter of recommendation, his Lieutenant, G. H. Kent, described how Clayton understood the care of the horses and also described him as a ‘hardworking, sober, honest and trustworthy man’ and a man of good character. His Lt Colonel also described him as a ‘smart and intelligent man’. He continued to serve with the army until he left on 20th February 1914.

Only two months later, on 22nd April 1914, he transferred to the reserves and signed up for 4 years. He had only left the army for a few months when the First World War broke out. He was consequently called up and joined 3rd Battalion KOYLI. After only a few months, he was wounded in action by a gunshot and was sent to 2nd General Military Hospital in Craigleith, Edinburgh. Arthur Clayton died a week later on 15th October 1914 from tetanus as a result of his gunshot wound.

His British War medal and the clasp of the 1914 Star were sent to his father Albert Clayton on 2nd Dec 1920 and 1st July 1921 respectively. He was buried in the Comely Bank Cemetery in Edinburgh. He was commemorated on the East Ardsley War Memorial in the St Michael’s Churchyard.

Lance Sergeant George Henry Wyatt

George Henry Wyatt was born on 5 September 1886 in Worcester and lived on Britannia Road. His parents were Sarah and Arthur Wyatt and his father worked as a groom. George was baptised on 29 September 1886 at St Mary Magdalene’s Church in Worcester. George had three brothers and a sister. His family moved in 1892 to Hadzor, near Droitwich where his father, Arthur, worked as a coachman. George worked as a blacksmith’s boy. He attended Holloway School at Droitwich. When he turned 18, he enlisted in the Coldstream Guards at Birmingham in November 1904. He served in Egypt for two and a half years and left the Army in November of 1909. Wyatt joined the reserves which were attached to the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry. He moved to Barnsley and boarded at 16 Highfield Terrace. He worked as a police constable in Barnsley. On the outbreak of the war, was called up as a reservist. He rejoined the Coldstream Guards and as a member of the British Expeditionary Force. He left for France on 14 August 1914.

After arriving on the Western Front, he took part in the Battle of Mons. On 25-26 August 1914, under heavy fire in full view of the enemy during the retreat from Mons, Wyatt extinguished burning straw where his battalion was positioned. He was later wounded in the head, but continued firing and held the position.

The London Gazette wrote on 16 November 1915 about the event:

‘At Landrecies, on the night of 25th – 26th August, 1914, when a part of his Battalion was hotly engaged at the end of a street close to some farm buildings, the enemy, by means of incendiary bombs, set light to some straw stacks in the farmyard. Lance-Corporal Wyatt twice dashed out of the line under very heavy fire from the enemy, who were only 25 yards distant, and extinguished the burning straw. If the fire had spread it would have been quite impossible to have held our position. Also at Villa Cotteret, after being wounded in the head, Lance-Corporal Wyatt continued firing until he could no longer see owing to the blood which was pouring down his face. The Medical Officer bound up his wound and told him to go to the rear, but he at once returned to the firing-line and continued to fight.’

He was awarded the V.C. for these actions. He was presented with the medal at Buckingham palace on the 4 March 1916. When he returned to France, he was promoted from Lance Corporal to Lance-Sergeant on 28 February 1917. On two occasions, he was wounded but he survived the war.

After the War, he moved to Doncaster and rejoined the Police Force. He is noted to have bravely stopped a runaway horse in June 1924. In February 1934, he retired from the police and became a farmer. He died 30 years later on 22 January 1964 in Sprotborough. He was buried at Cadeby Cemetery near Doncaster.

George was interviewed after the war. When asked about how he won the Victoria Cross, he said:

“Well, there’s not much for me to say about it. I just did as I was told. During the retirement from Mons the 3rd Coldstream Guards reached Landrecies. It was dark at the time, and there we were attacked by a large number of Germans who must have been rushed up in motor lorries. We lost our machine-gun, and had to rely solely upon rifle and bayonet. Suddenly something flared up between us and the enemy, and Major Matheson shouted, “Put out that light”. So I did it. I never thought it would bring me the Victoria Cross. How did I put the fire out? Oh, I jumped on it and dragged some equipment over it. After a while it burst out again, and I ran back and extinguished it. Yes, there was heavy fire from the Germans when I first obeyed the order. That affair at Villers Cotterets. I got hit on the head and went on firing. That’s all.”

A commemorative plaque was laid in Guildhall on 26 August 2014. In attendance of the plaque laying was the Worcestershire County Lieutenancy, Lord Richard Faulkner, Robin Walker MP, Worcester City Council, and the Coldstream Guards. Like all Victoria Cross winners, he is commemorated at the Union Jack Club in Waterloo, London.

Victoria Cross winners of the Brigade of Guards with Lord Gort

Title: Victoria Cross winners of the Brigade of Guards with Lord Gort
Description: © IWM (Q 66161) by-nc

Doncaster and the War Charities Act of 1916

Fundraising was of paramount importance during the First World War; and without the work of volunteers, civilians and charities many historians feel, not only the troops on the front-line, but the nation as a whole would have suffered considerably more than it did. The money and resources the charities and fundraising organisations received went towards services for soldiers both at home and abroad. The Red Cross state that by the end of the war, £21,885,035 had been raised and £20,058,355 spent on hospitals, medicine, clothing, grants and care for the sick and wounded. However, the overall effect on British society was even more creditable. Peter Grant, author of Philanthropy and Voluntary Action in the First World War, suggests the efforts of the Home Front ‘were crucial to the success of the war’ creating a social cohesion that transcended class and boosted morale.

Between 1914 and 1918 nearly 18,000 charities were established – the most popular causes being “comforts” which typically consisted of clothing, books and food for British and European troops, medical services, refugees, prisoners of war etc. Out of the 37 Doncaster charities listed in the 1916 War Charities Register, 6 of these were ‘comforts’ funds. The Doncaster Military Hospital Comforts Fund was one of these and it provided funds for purchasing tobacco, cigarettes and other comforts, travelling expenses to soldiers and their relatives, and even pocket money for men in the hospital.

ABCLERK-27-1

Title: ABCLERK-27-1
Description: Doncaster Military Hospital Comforts Fund by-nc

The War Charities Act of 1916 was passed on the back of a Departmental Committee report which highlighted the lack of control in certain charities. The Third Sector writes: the report showed ‘large sums of money which had been collected were found to be under the control of an individual who had placed them in his own banking account’ for personal use. In other cases no accounts had been published and no proper records had been kept. Seeming as most of the population were in one way or another involved in fundraising, this became a real problem and as a result the Act was generally accepted as a very necessary measure. The Act of 1916 prohibited the raising of money for war charities unless the charity had been registered and gave local authorities the power to decide which organisations would be registered or exempt. The War Charities Register for Doncaster was created as a result of the Act, detailing the personnel and objectives of the 37 registered charities in Doncaster. Some of the larger charities in Doncaster, such as the Doncaster Sailors and Soldiers Christmas Comforts Fund, were chaired by Councillor G. Raithby – the Mayor of Doncaster at the time. The involvement of high-up individuals, such as the Mayor, accentuates the importance given to charity work in wartime Britain.

One of the first funds during the First World War was the Belgian Refugees Fund. The Third Sector states that ‘in the first 10 months of the war, 265,000 Belgian refugees arrived and the government looked to volunteers to offer all the necessary services.’ In Doncaster, a Belgian Refugee Committee was set up on the 10th November 1916. The town clerk for Doncaster, R.A.H. Tovey, was the secretary of the committee and its objective was to relieve and provide for Belgian refugees in England. Donations of money and goods for the Belgian refugees poured in all around the country, as did thousands of offers of accommodation.

ABCLERK-27-1

Title: ABCLERK-27-1
Description: Belgian Refugees Fund by-nc

Another very significant charity in Doncaster was the Doncaster and District Prisoners of War Fund, which provided ‘money or goods for the comfort of members of his majesty’s forces who are prisoners of war’, as stated in the Doncaster War Charities Register. Initially, the Central Powers (Austria-Hungary, Germany, Bulgaria and the Ottoman Empire) refused to allow food or any sort of comforts to be sent to prisoners of war by the British government. However, through the work of the Red Cross packages were sent fortnightly to those in prison abroad. The Red Cross article, titled Fundraising during the First World War, states ‘donations from the public for these parcels reached £674,908 19s 1d.’

Y.M.C.A. Doncaster Hut was one of the more influential and recognised charities in Doncaster, providing proceeds for relief stations at home and in France, as well as notepaper for letters, cups of tea and other refreshments. Y.M.C.A. was one of the largest providers of civilian support to soldiers, munitions workers and families during the First World War; spending in excess of £200 million pounds throughout the course of the war. The Third Sector notes ‘over 40,000 Y.M.C.A. volunteers gave their time and left their homes and families to follow the troops and go wherever they were needed, and many lost their own lives in the process, either from injury or illness.’ Those that fell have been recognised by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and many received military and civilian honours.

The help provided by ordinary citizens, volunteers and charities during the First World War was unprecedented, and thanks to legislation such as the War Charities Act of 1916 charities became better coordinated and as The Third Sector claim: were in ‘better shape by the time the Second World War loomed in the 1930s.’

For more information on fundraising during the First World War and The War Charities Act of 1916 visit:

http://www.redcross.org.uk – Fundraising During the First World War
http://www.thirdsector.co.uk/1914-1918-charities-helped-win-ww1/volunteering/article/1299786
https://www.theyworkforyou.com/debates/?id=1940-06-11a.1222.0

Mary Effie Skipwith

During the First World War, Sophia Skipwith of Loversal Hall opened her home up as a hospital treating wounded soldiers. Sophia’s late husband Grey brought children from his previous marriage into Sophia’s family and they all contributed to the war effort. Mary Effie Skipwith, the oldest of the children from the first marriage, worked at Loversal Hall assisting nurses and doing pantry work. Mary’s three brothers, Fulwar, James and Frederick served with the military in India and France.

Joseph James Birkett a very short war!

Joseph was born in Thorne, Doncaster in 1873/4, son of Robert and Hannah Birkett, Robert was a Miller and Baker.

By the time Joseph was 7 years old the family were living at Balderton near Newark.  In the 1891 census Joseph was not living with the family who were still in Balderton but in 1901 he had returned to the family who were now liviing at North Gate, Brewery Lane, Newark, Hannah now a widow.  Joseph was a Millers Traveller.  Joseph’s siblings were Cecilia, Hannah, Elizabeth, Robert, Kate, George, Alice and Clemmie.

In 1905 Joseph was on board the ship “Oroya” out of Plymouth.  Destination was Adelaide which landed on the 20th September,  1905.

On the 1912 Electoral Roll Joseph was living in Shepparton, Victoria. Australia.  Working as a Clerk.

Joseph enlisted on the 15th September, 1915 aged 45 years and 10 months.  He had taken  the oath on the 10th September, 1915 in Melbourne.  He embarked From Melbourne aboard  HMAT “Orsova” A67 and headed for Egypt on the 12th November, 1915 and marched into the Moascar Camp at Ismailia. Egypt.  Nine days later he left the camp and boarded the ship H.T “Vestalia” and headed back to Australia.

Joseph  was demobilized on the 5th December, 1915.  The reason is unknown as to  why Joseph had such a short time in the service other than that his  unit was disbanded (1st.Remount Unit.  1st Squadron.)

Joseph was awarded The British War Medal and The 1914/1915 Star. He sent a letter asking for The Victory Medal dated 28th August, 1922.  There is no return letter saying if he ever received it.

Troops boarding HMAT Orsova (A67), seen in the background. The roof of a motor car visible beyond the gangway. Compare with PB0339.
Item copyright: Copyright expired – public domain
Public Domain Mark This item is in the Public Domain
H.M.A.T. “Orsova” A67.  Date 16/07/1916.  4 months before Joseph boarded the same ship.

Joseph married Helen Elizabeth Mclaren in 1920 in Victoria Australia.  In 1931 Joseph and Helen livid in Pearson Street.  Mafra

 

 

 

Harry Slingsby in the goldfields of Australia

Harry was born in 1886 in Doncaster. He lived with his father George, his mother Sarah, sister’s Ada, Elizabeth and Bertha, his brother’s Arthur, Fred and Frank along with a Arthur Scholes at 56 Elesworth House, Doncaster. By age 15, Harry was working as a milk seller and living on Green Dyke Lane.

Some time after this Harry emigrated to Australia.  He was prospecting at Peak Hill Goldfields when war broke out, and joined the Australian Volunteer Force. When he enlisted in August 1915 at Blackboy Hill, Western Australia, he was 31 years old and working as a farmer. He served as a Private in the 11th Battalion.

Harry was received a gunshot wound to the leg in July 1916 and returned to England for treatment. He returned to Australia and was treated in an Australian hospital.

An interest letter that Harry sent home was reproduced in the Doncaster Chronicle on the 1st September 1916. In the letter, he gives a graphic account of the fighting in which he says:-

“You have read in the papers about the hard fighting going on in the village of Pozieres. Our battalion was one of the units detailed off to take that village, and it had to be taken at any cost, and that means NO RETREAT.  We were the first line to go and poke Fritz out of it, but we did it all right without a murmur. It was very hard fighting, and I am sorry to say many of my “comrades” found their last resting place on that patch of ground. You have a chance of being knocked ourselves, but there’s a certain amount of sport attached to it after all. We had a got the Hun out of his front line, and I never got a scratch, but when we where making in to the village he managed to put all manner of deadly shell’s into us.  They were thick. I tell you. Something caught me right on the top of my foot. Just felt as if it had been hit with a sledge hammer. I stopped for a second then I tried to run on, but it refused to carry on. I found it was no use trying to go forward, so I crawled into a deep shell hole pulled out a cigarette and then my field dressing, bandaged it up and crawled back to the dressing station.  When I got there the place was packed right up with stretcher cases, and of course the R.A.M.C boys were going their lives carrying them away to the field ambulances wagons. Well I thought I had crawled here, so I started off on my hands and knees and I last reached the wagon, but I was fairly knocked up. I was taken to a hospital at Rouen. I thought I’d only got a bad bruise and that it would be all right again in a few days. It swelled up to an enormous size, so they sent me over here. The doctor examined as soon as I arrived at Bristol. He said “Well what hit you?” I told him either a nose cap or a long lump of shell. He ordered me under the X Rays the following morning. I had the shock of my life when I discovered it was “shrapnel bullet” and that it had fractured the bone. They put me straight into bed with my leg in a splint, and I haven’t been off it since. The next problem was to take out the bullet. Owing to the septic they couldn’t open it on me until the wound got clean, so I was operated on until last Thursday week, August 10th, the day before my birthday. It turned out very successful indeed. I am under one of the cleverest men in England, Major Morton. A fine gentleman.  Since then I have had absolutely no pain. The only thing that worries me is the confounded having to lie in bed. This is not a civilian hospital the patients are soldiers, and I assure you it is one of the strictest places of the kind in England. Every man gets the best medical and surgical attendance and every kindness that is possible to get from the Sisters, but they bar the place being over run by all and everyone, and in my opinion, quite right.  We are here to get well, not to be pampered with. If they have a bad case they send for parents.”

Harry survived the war and continued to live in Western Australia.