Mexborough Courage

The unveiling of the Barron’s Glassworks War Memorial around 1920

INTRODUCTION

By 1914 Mexborough was an important industrial town in the heart of the Yorkshire coalfield. Many men joined up in the early weeks of the War, mainly joining the York and Lancaster Regiment, the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry and the Royal Engineers. On the ‘Home Front’ Mexborough’s women supported the war effort, making munitions, working on the railways, in other local industries and on farms.

Dr Huey, in the dark suit and his distinctive top hat (second from right).

DR JOHN JAMES HUEY

Dr Huey served Mexborough as Medical Officer of Health from 1899 until 1942. He examined Mexborough’s recruits at the various recruiting centres.

He held many other positions including military representative on tribunals for men who did not want to or could not serve. During the war Dr Huey pushed for improvements in sanitary conditions and children’s health within the town. In 1918 he was appointed Medical Officer in Charge of the Royal Air Force, Mexborough.

Sapper Hackett in Royal Engineers Uniform, November 1915

SAPPER WILLIAM HACKETT V.C.

William Hackett was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross (V.C.) for attempting to rescue a comrade from
a collapsed tunnel under German defences at Givenchy.

Rather than saving himself he attempted to save his comrade, but in doing so was entombed on the night of 22-23 June 1916. His widow, Alice, received the V.C. from King George V at Buckingham Palace in November 1916. The town’s people mounted an appeal to collect funds for a memorial tablet which was erected on 19 May 1917.

Willie Barker, Mexborough and Swinton Times

ORDINARY SEAMAN WILLIAM BARKER (WILLIE)

William Barker was born in Kilnhurst in 1899. He moved to Mexborough with his parents shortly before war began. William joined the Royal Navy in 1915.

He saw action aged sixteen at the Battle of Jutland in May 1916. Willie’s experiences in the battle almost undoubtedly impacted on his health. Following leave in June 1918, he left his home to return to his ship, but took his own life by throwing himself in front of a train between Swinton and Kilnhurst.

A group of Women Workers at the brickyards about 1916

WOMEN WORKERS AT SIMPSON’S BRICKYARD, LOWER DOLCLIFFE ROAD

In 1916, the introduction of conscription took men away from the town and into the military. Women
took up employment previously undertaken by men, working in munitions factories and on the railways.

Many women were also engaged in fundraising for soldiers, sailors and their families, the wounded and Belgian refugees. Hundreds of dedicated female nurses worked at Mexborough Montagu Hospital treating over 2,000 servicemen during the War.