Private Wilkinson Day killed in action on the Somme

Private Wilkinson Day 15449 “A” Coy. 9th Bn. York and Lancaster Regiment
Submitted by his great-granddaughter

Wilkinson Day was born on 6th February 1892 and baptised on 28th February 1892 at a Methodist church in Mexborough, South Yorkshire. His address at that time was Roman Terrace. It appears he lived with his family on Wragby Row, Wath Road, Mexborough from birth for most of his life. (Due to boundary changes, some records show that he was born in Swinton, others show him living in Adwick upon Dearne and others record Mexborough.)

His father, Walter Day was born in Bradford. His mother, Rose Hannah (nee Bell) was born in Saltburn by the Sea. Daughter of an Iron Stone Miner, she appears to have been working in a Worsted Mill from an early age. They married in Bradford.

Wilkinson had 9 brothers and 3 sisters. His older sister Edith and older brother Ernest were born in Queensbury/Halifax. The family then moved to Swinton where Walter became a Coal Hewer at one of the local collieries. Wilkinson and all of his younger siblings appear to have been born in the Roman Terrace/Wragby Row, Wath Road area where the family settled. His younger siblings were: – Fred, Susan, George Arthur, Walter, Albert, Violet Ellen, Edmund, Joseph, William Edward and Herbert.

The 1911 census shows Wilkinson was living at Wragby Row and was a Pony Driver below ground.

Wilkinson married Elizabeth Hough on 27th August 1914 at Bolton upon Dearne. The marriage register records Bolton upon Dearne addresses for both bride and groom.

His only child, a son named Edward (Ted) was born in Bolton upon Dearne in May 1915.

Wilkinson served in World War 1 and was Killed in Action on 3rd October 1916 on the Somme.

His medal record shows: Theatre of War first served in – France. Date of Entry therein – 27th August 1915. Victory Medal, British Medal and 15 Star Medal.

Wilkinson is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial (Pier and Face 14A and 14B) Somme, France. Also, the WW1 Memorial cross in Adwick upon Dearne and the WW1 Memorial in the cemetery at Bolton upon Dearne.

His photograph, copied from a newspaper, can be seen in an entry for December 1916 on website
His details have also been researched and recorded by The Barnsley War Memorial Project.

His name appears in the book “From Pit Town to Battlefields: 1914-16 Mexborough & the Great War” by Bill Lawrence. Page 310 “This particular letter also mentions that Percy Sale was buried by a local comrade from Bolton-upon-Dearne. Private W Day, who himself died two hours after his acting Sergeant Major.” He is also listed on page 361. Perhaps Wilkinson and Sgt Percy Oswald Sale 15440 knew each other and perhaps enlisted together as they have similar service numbers? Interestingly, Percy Sale is recorded as having been killed on 1st October 1916.

His widow remarried twice and had 2 further sons in her second marriage.

Wilkinson’s son Edward, a collier, remained in the coal mining communities of the Dearne Valley where he and his wife raised their daughter and 3 sons.

Possible Doncaster area WW1 soldier

I recently lost a close relative and, amongst his inherited material, was a 1914-1919 War Medal awarded to Pte R Peel (Service No 206921) for the Labour Corps. I have tried various search engines but cannot find an exact match. I would be interested to hear from anyone who thinks this may be a relative.

Alan Watson

Shell Shock, gas and imprisonment, but life goes on.

George Frederick Hallgate was born on the 17th December 1892 and grew up at 89 St Johns Road Balby. He was the eldest of a family of five and his father worked as a brick layers labourer. By the age of 18 in 1911 George was working as a steel wire tester possibly at British Ropes. It seems likely the George joined up around October 1915 by which time he was working at the Plant railway works and would have been about 23.

Initially posted to the 10th Battalion of the West Yorkshire Regiment he was given the army No 3823. From family stories it seems that he did some of his basic training at Rugely Camp in Staffordshire. This was one of two huge hutted camps on Cannock Chase built early in the war primarily as training establishments. Together they were capable of holding 40,000 troops.

From his medical record it seems likely that George was transferred to France around September 1916 and it may have been at this time that he was allocated to the 1/6th Battalion of the West. Yorkshire. Regiment. This battalion was present at the battle of Flers-Courcelette which was the first battle where tanks were used and formed part of the battle of the Somme. Unfortunately George was reported as wounded, shell shock in the Doncaster Gazette on the 22nd of September 1916. So he may not have been at the front for very long before becoming injured. It seems likely that he returned to England to recover as a later newspaper report says that he went to France three times.. It could have been at this time that his Army number was changed to 263008. Back with the 1/6th Battalion George was injured again around July 1917, this was just before the start of the battle of Passchendaele. Conditions were already appalling and his family recall that George told them that he was buried by shell and gassed. He then had to spend two days in a shell hole with several corpses before being rescued. It is difficult to know what gas George was exposed to or what his injuries were, but he arrived in hospital in England on the 4th August 1917 and was discharged home on the 14th September 42 days later. During this time he was in the County of Middlesex War Hospital at Napsbury near St Albans. Though the effects of gas were terrifying the actual number of fatalities was relatively low. From the local newspaper we know that George was back in France for the third time in November 1917 but this time he was probably with the 1/7th Battalion of the West Yorkshire Regiment. George returned to Ypres, where the battle of Passchendaele was now mainly over. Unfortunately for George in April 1918 Germany launched its great offensive and broke through the allied lines. On the 25th of April George was reported missing, probably during the battle of Kemmal. His imprisonment was recorded by the International Committee of the Red Cross

This must have been a very worrying time for his parents Kirk and Hannah, who eventually received a post card from George in June to say that he was a prison of war at Limberg. Limburg an der Lahn is a German town in the Hesse region, the pow camp there during the first world war could hold 12,000 men. It had been used by the Germans as a location for Irish prisoners, these were encouraged to join the Irish Legion and fight against the British in Ireland.

With the end of the war in November 1918 George would have been released, however many men found it difficult to find their way home and we know that George was not discharged until the 4th March 1919. For his services to the nation George was awarded the British War and Victory medals.

George returned to Doncaster and his job at the Plant where he joined The National Union of Railwaymen in 1925 giving his occupation as fitters mate. In 1923 he married Elsie Broomhead and their daughter Alice was born soon afterwards. In 1939 George was working as a fitter labourer for the L.N.E.R. and was living at 22 Byron avenue Balby with Elsie and one other probably Alice. George died in 1960 aged 67.

Thank you to David Marson for submitting information for this story.

Brave KOYLI soldier Philip Bedford

This is a story about a brave soldier who fought for King and Country in the Great War of 1914-1918 and his tragic death 36 years after the war had ended.

Philip was one of nine children born to Philip and Rose Bedford of New Street Darfield near Barnsley.

The Bedford family were no strangers to Army life; Philip’s late father was a Sergeant Instructor in the 42nd Black Watch, his brother Henry was in the Royal Horse Guards Artillery and his brother Samuel (Sammy) was in the York and Lancaster’s Regiment 14th Battalion (2nd Barnsley Pals)*

Henry Bedford

Title: Henry Bedford
Description: Phil's brother. Mexborough and Swinton Times. by-nc

All three Brothers previously worked at the Houghton Main Colliery where they left to join the army and fight for King and Country.

Philip at the age of 23, answered Kitcheners call and enlisted in the Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry (K.O.Y.L.I.) 7th Battalion, one of the many coal workers of Yorkshire who were lured by the offer of regular pay, three meals a day and the adventure of a life time with their best mates.

The 7th Battalion K.O.Y.L.I. which was formed at Pontefract on the 12th September 1914  became attached to the 61st Brigade and went into training in Aldershot, then onto Witley and finally to Salisbury Plain were the Division was inspected by King George V. and found to be ready for war.

The Battalion left Salisbury Plain on the 22nd July 1915 and went by train to Southampton were they boarded the Mona’s Queen, a passenger ship which had been commissioned by the government as a troop carrier for the duration of the war. They crossed the English Channel to Le Have arriving the following day and stayed at a rest camp at Sanvic.

On the 24th July they bordered a train bound for Arques a journey of 182 miles where they went into billets. On the 28th July they route marched to La Creule near Hazebrouck were they rested over night. The following day they marched to their destination at Steewerck near Nieppe close to the Belgium boarder, where they received training in trench warfare. This training which would be of the utmost value for their morale, and knowledge of trench routine which ultimately could save their lives.

After their training the 7th/K.O.Y.L.I. took over trenches of its own as a fully fledged fighting unit, and were destined to spend the remainder of the war on the Western Front, where they would see action on many famous theatres of war.

Ypres, Passchendaele, and the Somme

The  trenches they occupied were typically 3 meters deep by 2 meters wide, mostly filled with mud and water. Sanitary conditions were poor, and the Soldiers were unable to bathe for weeks at a time and found it difficult to rest and sleep, they also lived in constant fear of being buried alive by shell fire. The trenches were infested with rats, and many Soldiers suffered from cholera, gangrene, trench foot, and trench fever, if that wasn’t enough, there was always the constant threat of gas attacks, and when it was finally time to go over the top, they all knew that they were forbidden from turning back, and had no choice but to advance.  Even their injured mates had to be left where they fell.

In August 1916, Phil was sent home suffering with trench fever and returned to duty in early September 1916, where the 61st Infantry  Brigade found themselves in action in  the Guillemont and Ginchy areas of the Somme. The onset of fierce fighting and gas attacks resulted in  many casualties, and this is probably where Phil is thought to have sustained shrapnel wounds to his shoulder and back which would cause him pain and suffering for the rest of his life. After treatment he returned to his unit and in October was awarded a Wound stripe to signify that he was a wounded soldier.

Samuel Bedford

Title: Samuel Bedford
Description: Phil's brother. Mexbourgh and Swinton Times August 1916. by-nc

Ironically, two months earlier and just 10 miles away at a Village called Serre, his younger brother Sammy was killed on the first day of  the Battle of the Somme on the 1st July 1916. Sammy was just one of tens of thousands of under aged soldiers who joined the Pals Battalions’ for comradeship and adventure, but paid the ultimate price for King and Country.

Phil was finally given a honourable discharge on the 29th December 1917, and received the following medals; the Victory Medal, the British Medal and the Silver War Badge, which was awarded to service personnel who had been honourably discharged due to wounds or sickness from military service in World War 1. The lapel badge was made from sterling silver and worn on the right breast of their civilian clothes.

His Battalion went on to fight many heroic battles on the Western Front before it was finally disbanded on the  20th February 1918.

Phil returned home and went to live with his Mother Rose Bedford.  He was one of many men who came back from the War suffering from serious injuries and the effects of mustard gas and shell shock, better known now as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Tormented by his experiences and not being able to return to his former work, family recollections indicate that Phil never fully recovered  from the traumas he endured.  He suffered from depression and financial difficulties which only added to his already devastated life.

Our family have fond memories of Phil, my sister Ann in particular, can recall visiting their house each week and do her grandmother’s hair, whilst listening to her uncle Phil play the organ in the parlour.

He looked after his mum for many years through her old age until she passed away at the age of 90 in April 1954.  Shortly afterwards in May 1954, Phil aged 63 took his own life while the balance of his mind was disturbed.  We can only presume that with the loss of his mum, he lost his will to live and wanted to put an end to his pain and suffering.

Whether people agree that this was the right or wrong way for someone to end their life I cannot say. All I know is that I am proud of my Uncle’s for doing their ‘bit’ for King and Country and I am sure if they were around today, they would be the first to volunteer again to keep our Country great and safe for all of us to enjoy.

I have dedicated this story to his Regiments Museums Archives who have provided me with the Battalions War Diary’s which has helped me put his story together, for which I am deeply indebted.

By Richard Ward – Philip’s Nephew


Horace Eric Leek

Horace was born in December, 1898 in Scarcliffe, Bolsover, North Derbyshire before his family moved to Haywood, near Askern where he was a young farm worker before enlisting in the Queens Own Yorkshire Dragoons as Private 39798 on 1st March, 1917 aged 18 years and 2 months. Although originally a cavalry regiment the mode of transport during the later part of the war was as a cyclist battalion.

In October, 1918, shortly before the end of the war he was injured by a shell fragment in the left thigh fighting near Ypres. He was stretchered off the battlefield by German POW’s and initially cared for by a local family who gave him a silver ring engraved “Ypres”. He was then admitted to 3 Canadian General Hospital in Boulogne on 13th October, 1918. He was subsequently repatriated to the UK and spent some time recovering from his injuries in the Eastern General Hospital (Bed 851) in Cambridge. During his convalescence he made an embroidery of the regimental insignia. Having served 1 year and 343 days he was discharged from the Duke of Wellingtons West Riding Regiment on 6th February, 1919 as “no longer physically fit for war service”.

Due to his leg injury he had to wear a special boot and leg iron to support his left leg for the rest of his life.

A postcard sent to Horace while he was convalescing in Cambridge

Title: A postcard sent to Horace while he was convalescing in Cambridge
Description: Submitted by Nigel Leek by-nc

Details of Horace's discharge

Title: Details of Horace's discharge
Description: Submitted by Nigel Leek by-nc

Horace's discharge certificate

Title: Horace's discharge certificate
Description: Submitted by Nigel Leek by-nc

A souvenir ring from Ypres

Title: A souvenir ring from Ypres
Description: Submitted by Nigel Leek by-nc

Horace went onto marry Elsie Blogg in 1925 and it is noted in newspaper cuttings of the time that due to their church connections; Horace was a churchwarden and Elsie a member of the Church council; they were greatly honoured for the Bishop of Sheffield to agree to officiate at the wedding ceremony. The couple had 3 daughters, Brenda, Stella and Jean, plus one son George Eric.

Horace subsequently worked for the National Coal Board on the surface at Bentley pit. Horace and Elsie lived in Bentley before moving to Mapperley, Nottingham when he retired.

Sadly his retirement was short lived and Horace passed away in August, 1965 following heart problems.

Written by Nigel Paul Leek (Grandson of Horace)

Private Michael Foster

1911Census-Foster RG14-28-3-94-28394_0473_03

Title: 1911Census-Foster RG14-28-3-94-28394 0473 03
Description: by-nc

At the time of the 1911 census my grandfather James Foster was 11 and he and his family lived at 25 Hope Street in York.

By the time he had a family of his own, he was living in Spalding.  However, he often visited York and he would bring back Rowntree’s chocolates for his grandchildren.   However, he never spoke about his childhood in York, nor about WWI, nor about his brother Michael who joined the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry.  However, he named his first son (my father) Michael.  I can only assume he named him after his brother because he died fighting for his country when he was 19 years old.

Looking at the few records I have, the family was extremely poor.  The legend is that the boys got their first pair of boots only when they joined the army.

Michael was born in 1898 and he died on 9th October 1917.  Using this date, I think he must have died in Flanders at the Battle of Poelcappelle.  One record shows that he died in France but it could have been Belgium as that’s where he is commemorated.

Michael Foster Tyne Cot Memorial

Title: Michael Foster Tyne Cot Memorial
Description: by-nc

I cannot find any photographs of Private Michael Foster but I’m hoping there might be one somewhere.  I can’t find any record of his service either.  However, I know his name is on the Tyne Cot Memorial.  Brief though it is, this is the only story I have.


Michael Foster register of effects

Title: Michael Foster register of effects
Description: by-nc

Walter Clempson

Walter Clempson was killed in action on 3rd May 1917, aged 36. At the time, he was serving with 2nd/5th Battalion King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry. Walter’s remains were never found but he is commemorated on the Arras Memorial in France.

1882 – Walter Clempson was born in 1882 in Amington, near Wilnecote, in Warwickshire. His parents were Joseph Clempson and and his first wife Catherine Capenor.

1890 – Walter’s mother Catherine died in Amington when Walter was about 8 years old

1891 – The national census, taken on 5th April, shows Walter, aged 9, living with his widowed father Joseph, an agricultural labourer, in Amington. Also living in the household were Walter’s siblings Mary Jane (19), Joseph (14), Thomas (6) and Harriett (3). Mary Jane Capenor, who was likely a relative of Walter’s late mother, was visiting the family.

1897 – Walter’s father Joseph remarried to Jane Scott in 1897

1901 – The national census, taken on 31st March, shows Walter, aged 18, living in Amington, Warwickshire. He was working as a brickyard labourer. Walter was living with his father Joseph, stepmother Jane, his siblings John (26), Thomas (16) and Harriett (14). His stepmother’s children, William, Mary and Eleanor Scott, were also residing with the family.

1907 – Walter married Rose Amelia Pearsall in 1907 in Tamworth, Staffordshire. The same year, the Tamworth Herald reported that “Walter Clempson, late of Kettlebrook and Fazeley”… “signed on for Wilencote Victoria” football team

1909 – Walter and Rose’s daughter Lily Clempson was born in Tamworth

1911 – The national census, taken on 2nd April, shows Walter living at 221 Dearne Street in South Elmsall, working as a collier, likely at Frickley Colliery. His wife Rose and daughter Lily were living in Kettlebrook. His daughter Violet was born later that year.

1917 – Having previously enlisted at Pontefract a few years earlier, Walter was killed in action on 3rd May 1917, aged 36. His widow Rose was by this time residing at 221 Dearne Street in South Elmsall



The Kitson Photo Gallery

The Kitson Family 

Head – James Kitson born in 1843 Marr, Doncaster.  James became a GNR Locomotive angle iron Blacksmith at The Doncaster Plant Works  and was still working there at the age of 67.  In retirement he moved to Pontefract to live with his daughter, Alice. There he died on 30th December 1922. His photograph is the featured photo of my story.

Wife – Mary Ann Kitson neé Otley, born in 1851 Carcroft. Mary died on 23rd February 1902 in Carcroft aged 50. Sadly I have no photo of my Gt. Grandmother. I would love to have one.

James Kitson and Mary Ann Otley, my Gt. Grandparents, were married on Boxing Day 1868 at Doncaster Register Office. (Surprisingly they were open in those days and at New Year too).

Their children:

Dau – Mary Sophia Kitson, their firstborn, born in 1873 – Doncaster.

Son – *George Edward Kitson born on 17th October 1875 – Doncaster.

Dau – Alice Jane Kitson born in 1878 – Doncaster.

Dau – Lilian May Kitson born in 1881 – Doncaster. Died in 1908.

Dau – Grace Kitson born in 1883 – Doncaster. Died 24th May 1885 age 1 year and 11 months at Carcroft. I have no photo of baby Grace.

Son – Arthur Charlie Kitson born in 1886 – Doncaster.  He was a GNR Coach Builder at the Doncaster Plant Works and as a Railway Worker he was in a Reserve Occupation during WW1 and WW2. Their son Douglas Arthur Kitson was born before the First World War in 1913 and their daughter Audrey Alice Kitson was born during the War in 1916.

Dau – Janet Eleanor Kitson born in 1891 – Doncaster. She lived in Pontefract during her adult life and was a dedicated church goer. Janet  is now buried there.


Tom Parkinson Darnton was born 1878 in Featherstone, a Grocer, age 26 of Pontefract married Mary Sophia Kitson age 28, a Spinster of Carcroft in Owston, Doncaster on 20th November 1901 at All Saints Church in the Parish of Owston, in the County of York.

Thomas Parkinson Darnton wearing his WW1 Army uniform

Title: Thomas Parkinson Darnton wearing his WW1 Army uniform
Description: Submitted by Janet Roberts by-nc

The Parkinson Darnton Family Group

Title: The Parkinson Darnton Family Group
Description: Thomas in his Army uniform with his wife Mary Sophia, daughter Gertrude and son Thomas by-nc

This picture was taken at a photographer’s Studio in Dover where Sophia had gone to meet Tom having returned home to England at last from his War duties.

Tom Parkinson Darnton served in the Army during WW1 and survived the ordeal.

George Edward Kitson age 31, Bachelor. Petty Officer, Royal Navy of ‘HMS Warrior’, married Eliza Bailey age 21, Spinster of Somerby, on 8th June 1908 at the Parish Church in the Parish of Somerby, Leicestershire.

Alice Jane Kitson a spinster, age 25 of Hexthorpe, Doncaster married Alfred Atkinson, a gardener, age 29 of Pontefract at the Parish Church of St Jude, Hexthorpe, Doncaster on 24th December 1903.

Alfred Atkinson married Alice Jane Kitson

Title: Alfred Atkinson married Alice Jane Kitson
Description: Submitted by Janet Roberts by-nc

Alfred Atkinson wearing what appears to be a variation of the tropical khaki uniform worn by the British Army of WW1. He holds a riding crop and is wearing ‘putties’ wrapped around each leg. This was part of the British Army uniform.

Alfred Atkinson  survived his time in the Forces.

Lilian May Kitson married Edwin Hedges (born Bromsgrove near Birmingham) in Doncaster in the first qu. of 1902. Cert No. 9c 1088. Lilian May died in 1908, having been sadly predeceased by two of her babies.

Arthur Charlie Kitson married Edith Alice Richardson on October 11th 1911 at St Mary’s Church, Wheatley, Doncaster.

Janet Eleanor Kitson age 22 of Baghill Lane, Pontefract married Richard Birkby age 27, a gardener of South Bailey Gate, Pontefract on 16th September 1914 at All Saints Church Pontefract.

Richard Birkby in his WW1 Army uniform

Title: Richard Birkby in his WW1 Army uniform
Description: Submitted by Janet Roberts by-nc

Richard Birkby also survived the War.

Bagshaw and Son photographers of Doncaster.

Luke Bagshaw was born in 1877. After leaving school his interest in photography led to a joint business venture with his father. Bagshaw and Son, Luke began business in a studio on Hexthorpe Bridge.They moved to premises at 150-152 St. Sepulchre Gate where the firm remained as photographers and photographic retailers until the 1960s, although Luke died in 1944.

Luke Bagshaw Photography Records:

I am pleased to say that two of the Kitsons photographs were taken at Bagshaw’s Photographer’s, Doncaster and their glass negatives were discovered among the Bagshaw collection. I am proud to be able to place them in The Kitson Photo Gallery.


Alice and Lilian Kitson

Title: Alice and Lilian Kitson
Description: Submitted by Janet Roberts by-nc

George Edward Kitson at Bagshaw's

Title: George Edward Kitson at Bagshaw's
Description: Submitted by Janet Roberts by-nc

Eliza Kitson and Baby Geoffrey in 1912

Title: Eliza Kitson and Baby Geoffrey in 1912
Description: Submitted by Janet Roberts by-nc

The two Kitson sisters, Edith and Alice, went to Bagshaw’s Photographers for their image to be captured for all time in the early 20th Century.

George Edward Kitson wearing mufti, the image taken at Bagshaw’s Photographer’s, Doncaster c. 1901 when he was on leave from the Royal Navy.

The third photo is of George Edward Kitson’s wife, Eliza and their first baby son Geoffrey George Kitson c.1912.

*George Edward Kitson, Petty Officer (Chief Stoker) Royal Navy 280647, H.M.S. ‘’Recruit’’ died in his 42nd  year on August 9th 1917. He was the son of James Kitson, of Doncaster and the late Mary Ann Kitson; Husband of Eliza Kitson, of Garthorpe, Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire. Father of Geoffrey George Kitson. Awarded Bronze Medal for Valour (Italy). Remembered with Honour – CHATHAM WAR MEMORIAL – Panel 23. Commemorated in perpetuity by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

Kitson siblings for comparison of facial features

Title: Kitson siblings for comparison of facial features
Description: Grace and Janet are not among the images by-nc















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




Lance Corporal

Buried in Hill 10 Cemetery, Gallipoli 2.I.2
Research by Colin Dannatt

They refused to believe he was dead – the sad story of John Richard Pearse

Pam Bailey tells the sad story of her great-uncle John Richard Pearse, many of whose family refused to believe he had been killed in Flanders in the First World War.

John Richard was born in 1897 in Sykehouse to farm labourer Charles and his wife Ada. His mother died when he was only two, while giving birth to his sister Elsie. His father married again in 1900, to Minnie who was also from Sykehouse and judging by the way Minnie reacted when John was killed she must have loved him as though he was her own. Charles and Minnie gave John and Elsie four step brothers and sisters and they all grew up together in Sykehouse. By 1911 at the age of 13 John was already working as a farm servant. It was a hard life and who knows whether it was the prospect of a better one or to serve his country, but John enlisted in the army in July 1915 at the age of 19.

Elsie Pearse

Title: Elsie Pearse
Description: John Richard's mother by-nc

He served in the 22nd Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry as a private soldier and after his training would have been sent out to serve at the front. We don’t have any details of how long he was out there or how he got on – only that he was reported killed on the 16th August 1917. His stepmother and other members of the family refused to believe it, insisting instead that he was missing with loss of memory. This seemed to be confirmed when a friend said he’d seen John in Scarborough. They appealed for information in the papers and on the radio for information about John, so convinced were they that he could not be dead. Sadly they never saw him again and John is commemorated with many other fallen soldiers in Dochy Farm New British Cemetery in Flanders, Belgium.

John Richard Pearse's British War Medal Certificate

Title: John Richard Pearse's British War Medal Certificate
Description: Addressed to his family by-nc